The first bracket of February brings a change on the top line. Kansas had rejoined the party after dispatching Kansas State 90-78 at home on Tuesday. That gave the Jayhawks nine Quadrant 1 wins, the most of any team. Only overall No. 1 seed Purdue has as many and no other team has more than seven.
At the moment, the Boilermakers have enough of a cushion between themselves and the rest of the No. 1 seeds that they could sustain a loss and remain the overall No. 1 seed.
Kansas State dropped down to the No. 2 line following that loss to Kansas. Those are two of the six Big 12 teams in the top four seeds. I am making an effort to keep those teams as separated as possible in the bracket.
Bracketology top seeds
Check out Palm's latest bracket, full field of 68 and all the teams on the bubble on the Bracketology hub.
Duke might not win a Quad 1 game at home
The strength of the Big 12 is such that eight of the Jayhawks' nine remaining opponents would be Quad 1. Kansas could end up with seven home games that are Quad 1. For a home game to qualify as Quad 1, the opponent must be ranked in the top 30 of the NET.
Contrast that to Duke, which does not have a Quad 1 home game on its resume yet, nor do they have one left on the schedule. That could change, of course, as the Blue Devils' opponents move in the NET rankings. However, it speaks to the relatively low quality of the ACC this year that as of now, only Virginia is high enough in the NET rankings to qualify as a Quad 1 opponent when it plays on the road.
Potential Duke vs. Kentucky game in first round?
The No. 6 vs. 11 matchups were a chore to bracket. Typically, the at-large First Four games are more challenging to bracket because you want to try to apply bracketing rules to two teams instead of just one, even though those rules will be set aside for those matchups if necessary.
Originally, I was going to put the Kentucky vs. Utah State winner in Sacramento because those are the lower seeded teams, but I didn't want a potential matchup of Mountain West foes in the next round. Instead, I now have a potential first-round pairing of Duke and Kentucky.
Sacramento needs to be used for the play-in games in this bracket because there needs to be one game in a Thursday-Saturday site and one in a Friday-Sunday site. Sacramento is the only Thursday-Saturday site for the No. 3 seed pods.
Because Virginia is a No. 3 seed and there are two other ACC teams as No. 6 seeds along with Clemson as a No. 11 seed, the ideal situation would be to put them all in separate regions. However, because Sacramento had to host a play-in game and did not have an ACC team in its pod, I had to double up Clemson with Virginia. That is allowed because they only play each other one time in the regular season.
Tough week for top mid-majors
It was a rough week for a couple of non-majors hoping to qualify for at-large bids should they need them. Charleston got off to a 20-1 start on the season including a win over Virginia Tech and the only loss coming at North Carolina. That was until this week, which saw the Cougars lose back-to-back games (at home to Hofstra on Saturday and at Drexel on Thursday) as they fell from 48th in the NET down to 69th. Now it's win the CAA Tournament or nothing for Charleston.
FAU took just its second loss of the season Thursday at UAB. The Owls have had a great NET ranking most of the season, but it had started to creep down as they played conference foes. It's down to 21 now, but with only two Quad 2 games left on the schedule, you can expect that to continue to fade. Unless Florida, which lost to the Owls earlier this season, makes a run up into the bracket, FAU will be without a win over a team in the at-large portion of the field.
In the latest bracket though, the Owls are a No. 11 seed and ended up getting a first-round matchup with Miami as part of the No. 6 vs. 11 seed forced bracketing. I am sure FAU would be more fired up about playing that game than the Hurricanes would be.