Last year, Barnette correctly predicted 63 of the 65 teams in the tournament in his final bracket, including 59 teams perfectly or within one spot of their eventual seeding, making it--as with our 2005 mock draft--the most accurate predictions found anywhere on the internet, mainstream media or not.
Barnette continues to monitor the scores, RPI and which 65 teams will end up in the NCAA tournament in March with his latest weekly projection. Also included is a rundown of every conference in the NCAA with a look at how their teams have fared individually and collectively.
And now for the bracket. The notes are below it.
You can read Drew's daily look at the happenings of the NCAA and follow his weekly bracket projections on the BracketExpress section of the site.
-Let me reiterate that these projections are not a prediction of what the bracket will look like in March, but more of a report card as to what has already happened. That is why some of the seedings and selections may appear to be a little unusual.
I believe all those teams have an excellent chance of making the tournament in March. In fact I expect some of them to not only make it, but to receive a good seed. Its just that this bracket is based on what HAS happened already and not what I think WILL happen later on. Many of them just havent put together enough notable wins yet.
-Other teams who have impressive records and in some cases high rankings, but have also yet to beat a big time opponent yet are Louisville, Oklahoma, Pittsburgh, Georgia, Tennessee, Clemson, Xavier, Ohio U and Buffalo. That is why some of them are either seeded lower than you might expect, or not in the bracket at all. Nearly all of those teams will get a chance to get some quality wins and improve their resumes though. Arizona can be included on this list as well because they are nationally ranked, but they dont have all that impressive of a record and really only have one notable win against Kansas.
-The RPI is still not to a point where it could be used as a practical tool for selecting and seeding teams. For what its worth, Duke is #1. The reason for that is because they are undefeated and have played multiple teams with only one or two losses. Indiana State and Bucknell are in the top ten as well, but that likely wont last as the season continues.
Other teams that will probably be moving up quite a bit before the season is over are #88 Oklahoma, #103 Kentucky, #107 Kansas, #152 LSU and #165 Oklahoma State. The reason the RPI is so scattershot right now is because were still at a point where a teams individual opponents are more important to the ranking than their own wins and losses. In other words, it is more important for Michigan State that Gonzaga wins than it is for Michigan State to win. Obviously, once we hit January that scenario will no longer be the case and the RPI will be more practical. It really isnt supposed to be a reference point until the end of the year anyway. So, there is no reason to think Oklahoma State will remain at #165. There is also no reason to think that Northern Illinois will remain at #2.
-Head to head competition is still something that Im factoring in pretty heavily. That is something the committee looks at very closely in March, especially if two teams have similar resumes. Since its still early in the season, many teams currently have similar resumes, so thats one of the reasons Im putting so much emphasis on it now.
GAMES OF NOTE MONDAY, DECEMBER 12TH
-For whatever reason there arent many at all. The biggest game is probably UNC WILMINGTON AT WISCONSIN. UNCW is unbeaten on the season except for one loss to Colorado. Although they have some pretty nice wins by their standards and have played pretty well, they still dont have any wins that will likely jump out and impress the committee. If they beat Wisconsin, it would certainly help them out big time. For Wisconsin, it is another good RPI game for them because UNCW is playing well and should be one of the frontrunners in the Colonial. They just beat archrival Marquette pretty handily so they have to be feeling pretty good about themselves right now.
-Norfolk State is also visiting Ohio State. Other than that there arent any games featuring likely tournament contenders.
-ACC. Duke continues to impress. They blew out Texas over the weekend and continue to build on what appears to be the best resume in college hoops. Wake Forest and North Carolina are playing very well as well. Clemson is unbeaten, but also untested. Everyone in the conference is at or above .500.
-BIG EAST. Louisville remains unbeaten and untested, but they finally looked impressive in their last game this weekend. Their opponents werent any good, but least the Cardinals finally looked like a nationally ranked team. Pitt is unbeaten, but untested as well. Nova continues to dominate. West Virginia is on a four game win streak, but still dont have a high caliber win. Syracuse is playing well, but still doesnt have a high profile win. Cincinnati and Notre Dame got huge wins this past week. Notre Dame won at Alabama and Cincinnati won on the road against unbeaten Vanderbilt.
-SEC. Florida continues to look like one of the best teams in the country and has a very impressive resume. Georgia has been very good as well. They havent lost since their season opener against Old Dominion. Kentucky is struggling. They were blown out against Indiana this past weekend. Im sure theyll get better because it seems like they always do, but right now they look like a middle of the pack team in the SEC. Alabama has lost two straight and is struggling as well. Vanderbilt suffered their first loss this past weekend to Cincinnati. Tennessee is unbeaten, but also untested. The entire conference is above .500.
-BIG TWELVE. Kansas got a big win over the weekend against Cal, which is their best win of the season so far. Texas A&M remains unbeaten, but they are also untested. Oklahoma continues to beat up on cupcakes, but has yet to beat a quality opponent. Theyll get plenty of chances later on though. Oklahoma State has lost two straight games and has no big wins, but they also played very well in their last game against Gonzaga. Kansas State and Colorado have been playing very well this season as well. Nebraska got off to a good start, but was clobbered by Creighton in Sunday. Speaking of clobbered, I think Duke just hit another three against Texas.
-BIG TEN. Illinois, Michigan and Ohio State are all undefeated. They havent played the toughest of schedules, but they havent been loading up on cupcakes either. Michigan State is playing extremely well. They destroyed a pretty good Wichita State team over the weekend. Indiana also got a huge win against Kentucky. As of now, everyone in the conference is at or above .500.
-PAC TEN. Washington is unbeaten and will likely remain unbeaten until conference play begins. They got a nice win against New Mexico over the weekend. Arizona is winning, but against low caliber teams in games where theyve struggled more than youd think they would. UCLA got a massive win against Nevada over the weekend, which is their best of the year so far. Stanford is really struggling and is probably playing worse than anyone else in the league. Californias six game win streak came to an end Saturday with a loss against Kansas.
-CONFERENCE USA. Memphis continues to play and look like a top ten team. No one else in the league is even close to them. Houston has two big wins against LSU and Arizona. They are 4-1 on the year. UCF and UTEP are 4-1 as well, but havent really been tested.
-ATLANTIC TEN. Other than a matchup with NC State, George Washington should skate through the remainder of their non conference schedule. Temple got a big win against Alabama over the weekend and has a good record despite playing a challenging schedule. Charlotte, who was expected to be a conference frontrunner, appears to be collapsing on themselves. Xavier is playing well, but has no notable wins.
-WEST COAST. Its no surprise to anyone that Gonzaga is the dominant team in this league by a big long shot. They dont have their starting point guard, and theyre still winning against big teams. San Diego is an impressive 7-2, but all of their games, including the losses, have come against low caliber teams. They did beat San Diego State, but the Aztecs arent looking too much like a quality team right now.
-MISSOURI VALLEY. Missouri State and Indiana State are both undefeated on the season. Indiana State also has a big win against Indiana to go along with that. Creighton is struggling without Nate Funk, but they blew out rival Nebraska on Sunday who only had one loss coming into that game. Northern Iowa is a very impressive team. They have just one loss on the season and have a big win against Iowa. Evansville is at 3-3 and amazingly everyone else is above .500. This is a very strong league this season that should definitely get multiple bids to the dance.
-MOUNTAIN WEST. Air Force and Colorado State are playing extremely well and only have one loss. Utah is coming off a blowout loss at Colorado. BYU is a respectable 6-2, but is untested.
-WAC. Nevada suffered their first loss of the season to UCLA over the weekend, but that isnt likely to be all that damaging. They are clearly better than anyone else in the league right now. Hawaii is continuing their trend of playing great at home and poor on the road. They lost to Wisconsin Milwaukee over the weekend to fell to 3-2. They are 3-0 at home and 0-2 on the road.
-COLONIAL. Drexel blew out Old Dominion over the weekend, which is a massive conference win for them. They had really been struggling before that game. It was as bad for Old Dominion as it was good for Drexel. UNC Wilmington is having a great year as well. They have a big game against Wisconsin tomorrow. Northeastern is off to a pretty good 5-1 start as well.
-MAC. Ohio appears to have the best team, but they havent played many games and havent really been tested yet. They will face both Kentucky and Cincinnati out of conference though. Miami, OH had been playing well, but lost at home to Xavier on Sunday. Buffalo is doing extremely well. They have just one loss on the season and are coming off a big win against Rutgers. They might be for real.
-BIG SOUTH. Winthrop continues to look impressive out of conference and should dominate the league. High Point, Birmingham Southern, Charleston Southern and Radford are all above .500 as well. That should help out Winthrops RPI if they are able to blow through conference play, which is important to their NCAA Tournament resume.
-PATRIOT. Bucknell is playing fantastic. The rest of the league is not. Bucknell is the only team who is better than .500. Their only loss came to Villanova last week.
-METRO ATLANTIC. Iona had a close call on Sunday, but got by Marist to remain unbeaten on the year. The Gaels are for real. Loyola, MD lost their first game of the year against Manhatta, which was also a conference game.
-SOUTHERN CONFERENCE. Davidson is having an incredible year so far. They are 5-2 on the season and 1-0 in conference play. You may remember that they were a perfect 16-0 in conference play last season, but failed to win the conference tourney and missed the dance. UNC Greensboro is an impressive 5-3 as well.
-OHIO VALLEY. Tennessee Tech and Murray State are both playing very well. Tennessee Tech has won six in a row. Murray just blew out Eastern Kentucky and is 2-0 in conference play. Jacksonville State has gotten off to a 2-0 start as well, but only has one other win against a div1 team.
-HORIZON LEAGUE. Wright State has won the only conference game of the year so far when they defeated Detroit. They are far from the most impressive team though. Loyola, IL is 6-1 on the year and is coming off of a decisive win against Purdue. Wisconsin Milwaukee got a monster win against a good Hawaii team this weekend as well.
-BIG WEST. Pacific just got a big road win against Western Kentucky to improve to 6-3 on the year. Cal State Fullerton is also playing well, but they are coming off a disappointing overtime loss to San Francisco.
-BIG SKY. Both Idaho State and Montana have won seven games in a row. Montana also have a blowout win against Stanford this season.
-SOUTHLAND. Southeast Louisiana is 5-1 on the year, but their one loss was to a div2 team and they are just 3-0 against div1. Northwestern States record isnt as good, but they do have wins against Oklahoma State and Mississippi State, so they appear to have the best resume by far.
-SUN BELT. Denver is playing well, but they suffered their second loss over the weekend and really havent been tested this season. Western Kentucky also lost over the weekend to Pacific. South Alabama is looking good at 5-1 with four consecutive wins.
-MID CON. Valparaiso got a monster win over Charlotte this past weekend. Oral Roberts has been playing much better, but is coming off a loss to undefeated Missouri State. Still, both teams will be a force in the conference.
-IVY. Columbia got off to a good start, but has lost two of their last three. Penn is just 3-3 on the year, but have played a very tough schedule. Harvard is good as well, but theyve lost three in a row.
-ATLANTIC SUN. Gardner Webb has won three games in a row and is 2-0 in conference play. Their should be a ton of parity in this league.
-NORTHEAST. Fairleigh Dickinson is 2-0 in conference play and 5-3 on the year. Central Connecticut, Sacred Heart and Robert Morris are all 1-0.
-AMERICA EAST. Boston U is 2-0 in conference play, but just 3-5 on the year. Harford is the only team in the league that is over .500, but they are coming off a loss to a pretty weak Long Island team.
-MEAC. No one in the league has a winning record. Bethune Cookman is 3-5 overall and won their conference opener against Florida A&M. Norfolk State, South Carolina State and Howard are 1-0 in conference play as well.
-SWAC. Arkansas Pine Bluff, Jackson State, Southern and Alabama State are the only teams who have managed Div I wins this year. Each team only has one. Still, it doesnt matter how poor this conference does in their OOC games, theyre guaranteed to get at least one team to the dance.
-INDEPENDENT. Utah Valley State got a nice win against Arizona State over the weekend. TX A&M Corpus Christi came close to beating Missouri, but couldnt get over the top. Northern Colorado, Savannah State and Longwood continue to play like the worst in Div I. They have a combined total of one win this season.