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Bracketology: Tennessee joins Michigan, Virginia and Duke atop first 2019 bracket

Projecting the full field of 68.

NCAA Basketball: Northwestern at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

With the college football season behind us, save for a few all-star games, and the NFL winding down, many across the sports landscape are shifting their focus to college basketball and looking ahead to the NCAA Tournament in just two months. Though I’m sure Tennessee fans have been following quite closely since November thanks to their impressive start.

As we begin our trek through the remaining two months of the season, we’ll start ramping up the bracket projections here at RTT, starting with today’s projection, the first of the 2019 calendar year.

And not really a surprise, Tennessee is on the top line, headlining the West Region as the fourth No. 1 seed in today’s field.

The two remaining undefeated teams, Michigan and Virginia, are the top two overall seeds and lead the Midwest and East Regions, respectively, while Duke comes in at No. 3 atop the South Region.

Sitting on the No. 2 line are Gonzaga, Texas Tech, Michigan State and Kansas. A big reason why Tennessee is currently a No. 1 seed is because their marquee victory is a neutral-court win over Gonzaga. In fact, Tennessee has four victories against the top NET group and all have come away from home (Gonzaga, Louisville, Florida, Memphis). Keep in mind, Group 1 victories are those that come at home against the top 30, on a neutral court against the top 50 and on the road against the top 75. The lone blemish on the Vols’ sheet is the six-point overtime loss to Kansas back on Black Friday.

Tennessee is one of seven teams from the SEC in this projection, tied with the ACC. The others are Florida, Ole Miss, LSU, Mississippi State, Kentucky and Auburn. The Gators are among the last four in, along with Butler, Syracuse and Arizona State. The Big Ten leads the way with ten teams in the field, three more than any other conference.

Here’s a look at the latest bracket projection. (Note: This is up to date through last weekend’s games.)

Bracket Projection: January 15th

Midwest Region (Kansas City) East Region (Washington, D.C.)
Midwest Region (Kansas City) East Region (Washington, D.C.)
Columbus (Mar. 22/24) Columbia (Mar. 22/24)
1. Michigan (Big Ten) 1. Virginia (ACC)
16. Wagner (NEC) / 16. UMKC (WAC) 16. Detroit (Horizon)
8. Cincinnati 8. Seton Hall
9. Kansas State 9. Purdue
Seattle (Mar. 22/24) Salt Lake City (Mar. 21/23)
5. Houston 5. Buffalo (MAC)
12. Wofford (Southern) 12. Liberty (Atlantic Sun)
4. Nevada 4. Ole Miss
13. Winthrop (Big South) 13. Hofstra (Colonial)
Hartford (Mar. 21/23) Tulsa (Mar. 22/24)
6. Wisconsin 6. Louisville
11. Butler / 11. Syracuse 11. Saint Louis (Atlantic 10)
3. Virginia Tech 3. Marquette
14. South Dakota State (Summit) 14. Lehigh (Patriot)
Des Moines (Mar. 21/23) Columbus (Mar. 22/24)
7. Ohio State 7. Iowa State
10. Temple 10. LSU
2. Kansas 2. Michigan State
15. Valparaiso (Missouri Valley) 15. Rider (MAAC)
West Region (Anaheim) South Region (Louisville)
Jacksonville (Mar. 21/23) Columbia (Mar. 22/24)
1. Tennessee (SEC) 1. Duke
16. Prairie View (SWAC) / 16. Norfolk St (MEAC) 16. Sam Houston State (Southland)
8. Minnesota 8. Mississippi State
9. St. John's 9. Nebraska
Salt Lake City (Mar. 21/23) Des Moines (Mar. 21/23)
5. Maryland 5. Indiana
12. Murray State (Ohio Valley) 12. Georgia State (Sun Belt)
4. Oklahoma 4. Florida State
13. UC Santa Barbara (Big West) 13. Stony Brook (America East)
Hartford (Mar. 21/23) Jacksonville (Mar. 21/23)
6. Villanova (Big East) 6. North Carolina State
11. Florida / 11. Arizona State 11. Arizona (Pac-12)
3. North Carolina 3. Kentucky
14. UNLV (Mountain West) 14. Texas-San Antonio (C-USA)
Seattle (Mar. 22/24) Tulsa (Mar. 22/24)
7. Iowa 7. Auburn
10. Texas 10. UCF (AAC)
2. Gonzaga (West Coast) 2. Texas Tech (Big 12)
15. Weber State (Big Sky) 15. Princeton (Ivy)

Conference Breakdown

Big Ten — 10

ACC — 7

SEC — 7

Big 12 — 6

Big East — 5

AAC — 4

Mountain West — 2

Pac-12 — 2

One-bid leagues — 24

Last Four Byes: St. John’s, Texas, LSU, Temple

Last Four In: Butler, Florida, Syracuse, Arizona State

First Four Out: TCU, VCU, Washington, Alabama

Next Four Out: San Francisco, Baylor, Dayton, Creighton