Bracket Watch: Who’s safe and who still has work to do this week? –

The No. 1 question of Championship Week for fans of any bubble team is, “How many do we need to win? Obviously, there’s no exact formula, because one team’s fate depends in part on how the other contenders do.

But here’s a general guide:

As of today, everyone that’s a No. 9 seed or better in this bracket is a lock.

The No. 10 seeds (VCU, Michigan State and Xavier) and highest No 11 (Providence) could use one more win to feel better about themselves. (The fourth No. 10 seed, Wichita State, is an automatic.)

The other No. 11 seeds (Wake Forest, Middle Tennessee, USC and Vanderbilt) and one at-large No. 12 seed (Syracuse) might be in with one more but would feel better with two. (Illinois State, my second-to-last at-large, is already done.)

Kansas State, my first team out, is likely in with two more wins because they’d come against highly ranked Baylor and, barring an upset, West Virginia. Iowa and Illinois may be in the same boat if enough teams above them exit early.

Everybody else probably needs three, which in all but a few cases, means … winning their conference tournament.

* — Denotes projected conference champion, automatic berth. Teams in bold have secured an automatic berth.

This edition’s bracket is Midwest vs. West and East vs. South in the national semifinals, based on the order of my No. 1 seeds.


LAST FOUR BYES: Michigan State, Xavier, Wake Forest, Providence

LAST FOUR IN: USC, Vanderbilt, Illinois State, Syracuse

FIRST FOUR OUT: Kansas State, Iowa, Illinois, Rhode Island

NEXT FOUR OUT: Cal, Ole Miss, Indiana, Ohio State

MULTIPLE BID CONFERENCES: ACC (10), Big Ten (7), Big East (7), Big 12 (5), SEC (5), Pac-12 (4), A-10 (2), American (2), MVC (2), WCC (2)

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