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ESPN releases updated Bracketology for 2023 March Madness after upset-filled November

Sam Gillenwater12/01/22
Article written by:On3 imageSam Gillenwater

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Bob Levey | Getty Images

The college basketball season is not even a month in and we haven’t had to wait for March for madness to arrive. For as many teams as we’ve seen rise early on, we’ve seen even more stumble out of the gates. Now, as we enter December, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has released another update of Bracketology to give us a preview of what The Big Dance could look like.

While the sport’s staples in North Carolina, Kentucky, Duke, and Gonzaga have all fallen several spots in the update, programs like Virginia, Creighton, and Purdue are securing top seeds in the projection. Meanwhile, the Houston Cougars have quietly held firm as the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed.

NCAA Tournament Bracketology: Last Four In / First Four Out

Last Four In (with byes): TCU, Kansas State, Michigan, Penn State
Last Four In: Arizona State, LSU, Ole Miss, NC State
First Four Out: UAB, Oklahoma State, Utah State, Texas A&M
Next Four Out: Rutgers, Florida, Seton Hall, Marquette

West Region

1) Arizona vs. 16) Montana State
8) Saint Mary’s vs. 9) Iowa State

5) North Carolina vs. 12) Sam Houston
4) Arkansas vs. 13) James Madison

6) Michigan State vs. 11) Ole Miss/NC State
3) Kansas vs. 14) MTSU

7) Wisconsin vs. 10) Kansas State
2) UConn vs. 15) Bryant

Midwest Region

1) Houston vs. 16) Texas A&M CC/Southern
8) Oklahoma vs. 9) Miami

5) San Diego State vs. 12) Drake
4) Illinois vs. 13) UC Irvine

6) Maryland vs. 11) Arizona State/LSU
3) Gonzaga vs. 14) Oral Roberts

7) Mississippi State vs. 10) Virginia Tech
2) Baylor vs. 15) Norfolk State

East Region

1) Virginia vs. 16) SIU Edwardsville/Wagner
8) West Virginia vs. 9) Xavier

5) UCLA vs. 12) Kent State
4) Alabama vs. 13) Furman

6) Kentucky vs. 11) Penn State
3) Indiana vs. 14) Liberty

7) Ohio State vs. 10) TCU
2) Creighton vs. 15) Wright State

South Region

1) Texas vs. 16) UNC Asheville
8) St. John’s vs. 9) Memphis

5) Auburn vs. 12) Towson
4) Duke vs. 13) Yale

6) Iowa vs. 11) Saint Louis
3) Tennessee vs. 14) Iona

7) Texas Tech vs. 10) Michigan
2) Purdue vs. 15) Colgate

ESPN’s bracket has the Big Ten finishing with 10 teams in the field, the most of any conference. The Big 12 is right behind them, though, with nine while the SEC is a close third with eight.

Kelvin Sampson’s team has made a statement early as the best squad to start the season. The Cougars are doing so as one of the most balanced teams in the country. Through their 7-0 start, Houston is first in points allowed (48) and defensive rating while also being 13th in offensive rating. That’s the kind of recipe that, even in the AAC, will lead them to success and, in the end, a region’s No. 1 seed.

However, the story of the year really is the struggles of some of the sport’s most well-known programs. Kentucky, UCLA, Duke, and Gonzaga all have two losses at this point of the season. North Carolina was amongst that group before they suffered their third straight loss on Wednesday night against Indiana that has the Tar Heels sitting at an unconvincing 5-3.

There’s a lot of time left for all these teams to prove to Lunardi at ESPN that they’re worthy of a higher seed. Still, their early faults have allowed other programs to take center stage when it comes to this early preview into the NCAA Tournament.