(Editor's note: Today's edition features minimal changes from Tuesday's bracket, but Gonzaga, South Dakota State, Mount St. Mary's and Northern Kentucky all secured automatic bids by winning their respective conference tournaments. All the major conferences are in action Wednesday, plus the final in the Patriot League, so more movement is on the way.)
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:
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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. (The Demon Deacons picked up a win Tuesday over Boston College and next face Virginia Tech. 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. Clemson beat NC State on Tuesday to jump into my "next four out." The Tigers face Duke on Wednesday.
* -- 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.
|16||Texas Southern*/North Dakota*|
|6||Wisconsin||at Salt Lake City|
|7||Iowa State||at Indianapolis|
|1||Gonzaga||at Salt Lake City|
|16||South Dakota State/Mount Saint Mary's|
|4||Duke||at Greenville, SC|
|13||East Tennessee State|
|14||Cal State Bakersfield*|
|7||Virginia Tech||at Sacramento|
|6||Saint Mary's||at Orlando|
|1||North Carolina*||at Greenville, SC|
|4||West Virginia||at Buffalo|
|14||Florida Gulf Coast|
LAST FOUR IN: USC, Vanderbilt, Illinois State, Syracuse
FIRST FOUR OUT: Kansas State, Iowa, Illinois, Rhode Island
NEXT FOUR OUT: Cal, Ole Miss, Indiana, Clemson
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)