Tennessee's 82-80 overtime loss at LSU and Kentucky's 80-53 domination of Auburn, we give us our first change in the No. 1 seeds in the bracket since Feb. 3.
The Volunteers will drop down to a No. 2 seed and be replaced on the top line by the Wildcats. Kentucky will be the fourth overall No. 1 seed, behind Duke, Virginia and Gonzaga.
At 23-4, Kentucky has one more loss than the 24-3 Volunteers, but makes up for that with a high number of quality wins and a head-to-head win over Tennessee. Head-to-head record is not as important in college basketball as it is in seeding for the College Football Playoff, but it is also not nothing.
Virginia defeated Louisville 64-52 earlier Saturday and Duke defeated Syracuse 75-65. Gonzaga was also in action vs. BYU late Saturday night.
The other seed swaps among the top four involved Texas Tech and LSU moving up to the 3-seed line after big wins, while Purdue and Kansas dropped to a four. The Red Raiders hammered the Jayhawks on Saturday night in Lubbock and Purdue did nothing wrong to move down. The Boilermakers won at Nebraska. and LSU and Texas Tech just have better resumes now as a result of those big wins. The bracket is not a poll, where you hold your spot if you win. It always depends on what other teams do.
At the bottom of the bracket, we welcome Alabama back in after a win over Vanderbilt and say goodbye to Furman, for now, after the Paladins lost at home to Wofford. That part of the bracket figures to churn heavily over the next three weeks.
When it comes time for the committee to bracket the teams, geography is the driving force. As much as possible, they want to give teams the chance to play close to home. However, sometimes other bracket principles get in the way of that.
Nevada is a 5-seed, and as it turns out, two of the four pods that 5-seeds can play in are in San Jose. That would be perfect, but Nevada ended up in Hartford anyway because all of the other 5-seeds are currently Big Ten teams. Purdue is a 4-seed in Hartford, so in an effort to keep the other Big Ten teams out of that pod, Nevada ends up getting sent there. The bracketing rules technically allow either Iowa or Wisconsin to be in the same pod as Purdue because each of them have the Boilermakers on the schedule only once in the regular season; however, a second meeting with either team in the conference tournament would preclude that. I try to keep teams from the same conference out of the same pod unless it is unavoidable and the committee will do that too.
Another principle that sometimes gets in the way is protecting teams seeded 1-4 from a potential home crowd disadvantage in the first round. The 15-seeds work out not too badly geographically, which isn't always the case. Radford can play in the South and South Dakota State gets a relatively short trip to Des Moines, Iowa. Geographically, Wright State, from Dayton, fits nicely in Columbus, but that is too close and violates the home crowd principle. Therefore, it gets shipped to Jacksonville to play Tennessee and Loyola goes to Columbus to play Michigan.
Bracketology No. 1 seeds
[Check out Palm's full bracket with all 68 seeds and the first four four teams out on our Bracketology page]