Projected Field of 64 (April 27)

Evan White and Kentucky are now a national seed (Photo by Alyson Boyer Rode)

SEE ALSO: Top 25 Coverage

SEE ALSO: Field of 64 Coverage


As conferences around the country push into the second half of their seasons, the race to host regionals and earn at-large bids in the NCAA tournament continues to tighten. This week’s projections include two new national seeds and two new hosts, all involving the evolving Southeastern Conference race.

First through 10th place in the SEC is separated by just three games and eight of the top 10 teams are ranked in the top 25 of the RPI. With so many teams vying for hosting spots so tightly packed in the standings, the landscape can change quickly.

This week, Kentucky and Florida move up from regional hosts to national seeds. The top two teams in the SEC East both rank in the top 10 of the RPI and are coming off big home series wins, Kentucky against Louisiana State and Florida against South Carolina.

Two SEC West leaders join the hosting picture this week, as Auburn and Mississippi State are increasingly well-positioned to host. Mississippi State has won five straight SEC series, moving to the top of the conference standings, and improving its RPI to 16. Auburn is just a game off the pace and has elevated its RPI to 25. The Tigers and Bulldogs will meet this weekend for a key series in Starkville, but both look to have what it takes to remain at the top of the conference standings.

As Auburn and Mississippi State rise in the division, LSU has fallen three games off the pace. It also falls out of the hosting spots this week, but remains very much in the mix. LSU and Wake Forest both can make strong cases for one of the final hosting spots. In the end, Wake Forest’s top-10 RPI was too much to ignore, but LSU’s 12 wins against top 50 opponents (to Wake’s three) make it a tough call.

Cal State Fullerton also falls from the hosting spots following a series loss at Cal Poly. That result dropped the Titans to third place in the Big West Conference and their RPI to No. 32.

At the back of the field, two new Pac-12 Conference teams move to the right side of the bubble. UCLA and Utah both moved into the field as they pushed their records above .500 and made significant RPI improvements in the last week.

PROJECTED FIELD OF 64
Corvallis, OR Long Beach, CA
1. (1) Oregon State^* 1. Long Beach State^*
2. Mercer* 2. Stanford
3. Gonzaga* 3. Texas A&M
4. Jackson State* 4. Yale*
Chapel Hill, NC Morgantown, WV
1. (2) North Carolina^* 1. West Virginia^
2. St. John’s* 2. Vanderbilt
3. Charlotte 3. UCLA
4. Navy* 4. Kent State*
Clemson, SC Fayetteville, AR
1. (3) Clemson^ 1. Arkansas^
2. Baylor 2. Houston*
3. Connecticut 3. Texas
4. Fairfield* 4. Oral Roberts*
Fort Worth, TX Starkville, MS
1. (4) Texas Christian^* 1. Mississippi State^
2. Missouri State* 2. Southern Mississippi*
3. Utah 3. Oklahoma
4. Central Connecticut State* 4. Binghamton*
Louisville Auburn, AL
1. (5) Louisville^ 1. Auburn^
2. Central Florida 2. Florida State
3. New Mexico* 3. Louisiana-Lafayette*
4. Northeastern* 4. Jacksonville*
Lexington, KY Winston-Salem, NC
1. (6) Kentucky^* 1. Wake Forest^
2. Michigan 2. Louisiana State
3. Oklahoma State 3. Old Dominion
4. Wright State* 4. Winthrop*
Lubbock, TX Tucson, AZ
1. (7) Texas Tech^ 1. Arizona^
2. McNeese State* 2. Cal State Fullerton
3. Nebraska 3. San Diego
4. New Mexico State* 4. Rhode Island*
Gainesville, FL Charlottesville, VA
1. (8) Florida^ 1. Virginia^
2. South Florida 2. Maryland*
3. Indiana 3. South Carolina
4. Bethune-Cookman* 4. Tennessee Tech*
*-Automatic bid; ^-Regional host

Last Four In: San Diego, Utah, Charlotte, Connecticut
First Four Out: Mississippi, Southeastern Louisiana, Washington, Louisiana Tech
Next Four Out: Coastal Carolina, Oregon, South Alabama, Minnesota


New Hosts: Auburn, Mississippi State
New Auto Bids: Central Connecticut State (NEC), Gonzaga (WCC), Louisiana-Lafayette (Sun Belt), Yale (Ivy)
New At-Large Bids: Charlotte, Indiana, Oklahoma State, San Diego, UCLA, Utah
Dropped Out: Florida Atlantic, Minnesota, North Carolina State, Oregon, Southeastern Louisiana, Washington


Bids by Conference:
9: SEC
7: Big 12
6: ACC
5: Pac-12
4: AAC, Big Ten
3: Conference USA
2: Big West, WCC
1: A-10, A-Sun, America East, Big East, Big South, Colonial, Horizon, Ivy, MAAC, MAC, MEAC, Missouri Valley, Mountain West, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot, Southern, Southland, Summit, Sun Belt, SWAC, WAC

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