Bracketology: Duke falls to a No. 2 seed and Villanova leaps Virginia for No. 1 overall

Virginia's place at the top of the bracket did not last long. Villanova has passed the Cavaliers for the overall No. 1 spot in the bracket the Wildcats beat Seton Hall and Creighton last week. Virginia also won twice, defeating Louisville and Syracuse, but with the razor-thin margins between the top two teams, it was enough to move the Wildcats back to the top.

Xavier replaces Duke on top line: Another slight blow to Virginia's resume was the inexplicable loss by Duke at St. John's, which dropped the Blue Devils from the top line of the bracket. Xavier took their place, narrowly edging out Auburn. The Tigers have a better record, but the Musketeers have the edge in strength of schedule, quality of wins and quality of losses.

Purdue vs. Michigan State big for both teams: The other No. 1 seed, Purdue, has a big week ahead. The Boilermakers have the last two Tier 1 games left on their regular season schedule coming up. Wednesday, Ohio State will visit Mackey Arena and Saturday, Purdue will take on Michigan State in East Lansing, Michigan. It is the only meeting the Boilers have with each of those teams in the regular season.

That Purdue game is huge for Michigan State as well. The Spartans are doing well in the rankings, but do not have the resume to back it up. Michigan State does not have a bad loss, in terms of the quality of its opponents, but was not competitive in the losses at Ohio State and at home to Michigan. The Spartans' only win over a team in the bracket came over North Carolina, and the Tar Heels recent indifferent play is not helping MSU's cause. Purdue is the last opponent on the Spartans' schedule where they can hope to make an impression on the committee. Their strength of schedule is not very good relative to other top teams, and all of this is why I still have them as a No. 3-seed in the most recent bracket.

The middle of the SEC continues to be a jumble that is hard to sort out: Conference record and standings do not matter to the selection process, but 11 of the league's 14 teams are between 6-4 and 4-6 in conference play. Four teams are 15-8 overall, another is 14-8 and two more are 13-9. The only reliable teams this season have been Auburn and Tennessee. There are eight SEC teams in the bracket, but five are seeded between Nos. 9-11. There are still five weeks left to sort all this out, but just about every conference game matters for the bracket at this point.

Bids by conference

ACC (9)
Projected Champion: Virginia
At-large bids: Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Louisville, Miami, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Virginia Tech

AMERICA EAST (1)
Projected Champion: Vermont
At-large bids: None

AMERICAN CONFERENCE (4)
Projected Champion: Cincinnati
At-large bids: Houston, SMU, Wichita State

ATLANTIC 10 (1)
Projected Champion: Rhode Island
At-large bids: None

ATLANTIC SUN (1)
Projected Champion: Florida Gulf Coast
At-large bids: None

BIG 12 (6)
Projected Champion: Kansas
At-large bids: Oklahoma, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech, West Virginia

BIG EAST (6)
Projected Champion: Villanova
At-large bids: Butler, Creighton, Providence, Seton Hall, Xavier

BIG SKY (1)
Projected Champion: Montana
At-large bids: None

BIG SOUTH (1)
Projected Champion: UNC Asheville
At-large bids: None

BIG TEN (4)
Projected Champion: Purdue
At-large bids: Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State

BIG WEST (1)
Projected Champion: UC Davis
At-large bids: None

COLONIAL (1)
Projected Champion: Coll of Charleston
At-large bids: None

CONFERENCE USA (1)
Projected Champion: Middle Tenn State
At-large bids: None

HORIZON LEAGUE (1)
Projected Champion: Wright State
At-large bids: None

IVY LEAGUE (1)
Projected Champion: Pennsylvania
At-large bids: None


MAAC (1)
Projected Champion: Rider
At-large bids: None

MAC (1)
Projected Champion: Buffalo
At-large bids: None

MEAC (1)
Projected Champion: North Carolina A&T
At-large bids: None

MISSOURI VALLEY (1)
Projected Champion: Loyola (Chicago)
At-large bids: None

MOUNTAIN WEST (1)
Projected Champion: Nevada
At-large bids: None

NORTHEAST (1)
Projected Champion: Wagner
At-large bids: None

OHIO VALLEY (1)
Projected Champion: Belmont
At-large bids: None

PAC-12 (5)
Projected Champion: Arizona
At-large bids: Arizona State, Southern California, UCLA, Washington

PATRIOT LEAGUE (1)
Projected Champion: Bucknell
At-large bids: None

SEC (8)
Projected Champion: Auburn
At-large bids: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas A&M

SWAC (1)
Projected Champion: UA Pine Bluff
At-large bids: None

SOUTHERN (1)
Projected Champion: East Tenn State
At-large bids: None

SOUTHLAND (1)
Projected Champion: Nicholls State
At-large bids: None

SUMMIT LEAGUE (1)
Projected Champion: South Dakota State
At-large bids: None

SUN BELT (1)
Projected Champion: UL Lafayette
At-large bids: None

WAC (1)
Projected Champion: New Mexico State
At-large bids: None

WEST COAST (2)
Projected Champion: St. Mary's
At-large bids: Gonzaga 

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Jerry Palm started writing about sports on the Internet right after Al Gore invented it. He was the first to bring RPI out in the open and is one of the pioneers of predicting the March Madness bracket.... Full Bio

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