Projected Field of 64

The latest projection of the tournament field

Austin, Texas Louisville, Ky. Chapel Hill, N.C. Tuscaloosa, Ala.
1. (1) Texas^* 1. Texas Christian* 1. (5) North Carolina^* 1. Alabama^
2. Texas State* 2. Louisville^* 2. Elon* 2. East Carolina
3. Oregon State 3. Eastern Illinois* 3. George Mason* 3. Illinois
4. Monmouth* 4. Kent State* 4. Army* 4. Troy

Irvine, Calif. Oxford, Miss. Fullerton, Calif. Clemson, S.C.
1. (2) UC Irvine^* 1. Mississippi^ 1. (6) Cal State Fullerton^* 1. Clemson^
2. Vanderbilt 2. Western Kentucky* 2. Ohio State 2. South Carolina
3. Hawaii 3. Baylor 3. San Diego State 3. College of Charleston
4. Washington State 4. Manhattan* 4. San Jose State* 4. Rhode Island*

Baton Rouge, La. Tallahassee, Fla. Houston Norman, Okla.
1. (3) Louisiana State^* 1. Florida State^ 1. (7) Rice^* 1. Oklahoma^
2. Missouri 2. Coastal Carolina* 2. Texas A&M 2. Arkansas
3. Middle Tennessee State 3. Kansas 3. Boston College 3. Oral Roberts*
4. Tulane 4. South Florida 4. Southern* 4. Illinois-Chicago*

Tempe, Ariz. Manhattan, Kan. Atlanta Gainesville, Fla.
1. (4) Arizona State^* 1. Kansas State^ 1. (8) Georgia Tech^ 1. Florida^
2. Virginia 2. Minnesota* 2. Georgia 2. Miami
3. Cal Poly 3. Gonzaga* 3. Georgia Southern 3. Jacksonville*
4. Binghamton* 4. Missouri State* 4. Dartmouth* 4. Bethune-Cookman*

^ Regional host
* Automatic qualifier


• There's still time for things to change, but at the moment the national seed picture has crystallized somewhat. All three West Coast hosts (UC Irvine, Arizona State and Cal State Fullerton) have simply performed too well to be deprived of national seeds, which could set up three cross-country super regional trips. Texas is the current front-runner for the No. 1 overall seed thanks to its Big 12 regular-season title, strong standing in the Ratings Percentage Index, gaudy overall record and quality series wins. Assuming LSU holds on to win the Southeastern Conference regular-season title and has a strong showing in the SEC tournament, the Tigers should earn a high national seed despite a surprisingly modest RPI (10, according to Boyd's World). In the Atlantic Coast Conference, North Carolina and Georgia Tech get national seeds over Florida State thanks to superior RPIs—the Seminoles rank 16th and figure to take a hit this weekend with four games against Grambling State. Rice hasn't dominated Conference USA the way it did the last two years, but the Owls still earn a lower national seed. And Pacific-10 Conference leader Arizona State has a national seed all but locked up.

• The hosting picture after the top eight teams is still very much up in the air. Florida and Florida State are the strongest bets, but the final two weeks will decide which teams earn the other six hosting spots. For now, give Mississippi and Alabama the edge over stumbling Georgia and Arkansas in the SEC, and give Clemson the nod over Virginia in the ACC based on more quality wins, particularly out of conference. If Texas A&M wins a series at Oklahoma this weekend, the Aggies could steal a host spot away from the Sooners. The third Big 12 host is Kansas State, which has series wins over Texas and Texas A&M, making up for a borderline RPI (27th). TCU has a very strong resume and RPI (seventh), but the Horned Frogs will be plagued by their poor record against the Big 12 (1-6). One of the two Big Ten teams that submitted bids to host (Ohio State and Minnesota) has a chance to do so, thanks to performance as well as geographic considerations. The Gophers have the more impressive resume thanks to a good performance against a tough nonconference slate, but Ohio State has better facilities. The Metrodome is unavailable for the Golden Gophers, so they would have to bring in auxiliary bleachers at 1,100-seat Seibert Field, where they last hosted a regional in 2000. But we'll give the nod in the Midwest to Louisville, which destroyed the Buckeyes twice in midweek action last week to improve its record against the Big Ten to 6-1. The Cardinals also blew past OSU in the RPI thanks to yesterday's win against Western Kentucky, which vaulted them up to 28th.

• Don't overlook Indiana's chances to win the Big Ten tournament and steal an automatic bid, but for now we'll reward the three teams that have performed the best in that conference: Minnesota, Ohio State and Illinois. The Illini get in off the bubble on the strength of series wins against LSU and Minnesota.

• The SEC's eight teams are pretty much locked in at this point, and no other team in the conference is particularly close to an at-large bid. The ACC and Big 12 each have six teams that are pretty secure, and we'll put one bubble team from each conference (Boston College and Baylor) into the field of 64 thanks to solid RPIs and a lack of more deserving candidates. Both teams have some work to do in order to make that happen, however; BC must win at least one game this weekend against North Carolina and win a game or two at the conference tournament, and Baylor needs to win (and preferably sweep) lowly Nebraska this weekend, followed by a decent showing in the Big 12 tourney.

• Other bubble teams that get bids include South Florida, Washington State, Tulane, Troy, College of Charleston, Hawaii and San Diego State. In a down year for the West, expect the Sun Belt and Southern conferences to garner three bids apiece, and CUSA figures to get three teams despite a poor year for that league. The Cougars are the third and final team in from the Pac-10, leaving Stanford on the wrong side of the bubble. Other teams that just miss the cut include Southeastern Louisiana, Brigham Young, Indiana State, UC Riverside and San Diego.

• Dartmouth is the only team that has already punched its ticket to the NCAA tournament, winning the Ivy League championship last weekend. The Patriot League and Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference will crown their champions this weekend.