2020 NCAA tournament bracketology: Examining potential No. 1 seeds for March Madness

Had Maryland won on Sunday at Ohio State, the Terrapins would have vaulted up to become a projected No. 1 seed in USA TODAY Sports' latest bracketology. 

Instead, the Terrapins suffered a road loss to the Buckeyes. While the defeat didn't significantly damage their NCAA tournament credentials. The setback cost them the opportunity to move past vulnerable No. 1 seeds Gonzaga and San Diego State — both teams that were upset Saturday.

When assessing the profiles of the Aztecs (26-1) and 'Zags (27-2) compared to Maryland, the Terrapins have too many losses (five). However, everything else falls in the Terps' favor (including six Quadrant 1 wins and no Quad 2, 3 or 4 losses) should either San Diego State or Gonzaga falter again.  

Darryl Morsell of the Maryland Terrapins reacts late in the second half of the game against the Michigan State Spartans at the Breslin Center. (Photo: Rey Del Rio, Getty Images)

Gonzaga owns five Quadrant 1 victories while San Diego State has four. No. 2 seeds Duke and Dayton also have four each, but it's possible the Blue Devils (23-4, top-10 strength of schedule) or the Flyers (25-2) could vault ahead of Maryland to snag a top seed. Dayton has a NET score of 4, a top-25 non-conference strength of schedule and no losses outside of Quadrant 1. While Dayton's also a mid-major, one more loss for Gonzaga (non-conference SOS of 242) or San Diego State (overall SOS of 101) could pave way for the Flyers to secure a No. 1 seed alongside locks Kansas and Baylor. 

Meanwhile, at the No. 3 line, Big East front-runner Creighton's 22-point win over Butler on Sunday positions the Bluejays to porentiall climb up to a No. 2 seed. 

► No. 1 seeds: Baylor, Kansas, Gonzaga, San Diego State.

► Last four in: Rutgers, Oklahoma, Utah State, Cincinnati.

► First Four out: Richmond, Georgetown, Memphis, UCLA.



NCAA tourney explainer:

  • Quadrant 1 wins: Home games vs. 1-30 NET teams; Neutral-site games vs. 1-50 NET; Away games vs. 1-75 NET
  • Quadrant 2 wins: Home games vs. 31-75 NET; Neutral-site games vs. 51-100 NET; Away games vs. 76-135 NET
  • Quadrant 3 wins, losses: Home games vs. 76-160 NET; Neutral-site games vs. 101-200 NET; Away games vs. 136-240 NET
  • Quadrant 4 wins, losses: Home games vs. 161-plus NET; Neutral-site games vs. 201-plus NET; Away games vs. 241-plus NET

Others considered for at-large bid (in order):  Stanford, Arkansas, UNC-Greensboro, South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi State, Clemson, Syracuse, Tennessee, Notre Dame, Purdue.

On life support (in no particular order): Virginia Tech, Tulsa, Texas, Utah, St. Johns, Furman, Oregon State, Minnesota.

Multi-bid conferences: Big Ten (10), Big East (7), ACC (5), Big 12 (5), Pac-12 (5), SEC (4), AAC (3), West Coast (3), Atlantic 10 (2), Mountain West (2). 

Leaders or highest RPI from projected one-bid conferences — (22 total): America East – Vermont, Atlantic Sun – Liberty, Big Sky – Montana, Big South – Radford, Big West – UC Irvine, Colonial – Hofstra, Conference USA – North Texas, Horizon – Wright State, Ivy – Yale, MAAC – St. Peters, MAC – Akron, MEAC – North Carolina A&T, Missouri Valley – Northern Iowa, Northeast – Saint Francis (Pa.), Ohio Valley – Belmont, Patriot – Colgate, Southern – East Tennessee State, Southland – Stephen F. Austin, SWAC – Prairie View A&M, Summit – South Dakota State, Sun Belt – Little Rock, WAC – New Mexico State.

  • Transition schools ineligible to participate: Cal Baptist, North Alabama, Merrimack.
  • Banned from participating: Georgia Tech, Detroit.


Note:  Mostly all statistical data is used from WarrenNolan.com. The NCAA's NET rankings are also a reference point. 

About our bracketologist: Shelby Mast has been projecting the field since 2005 on his website, Bracket W.A.G. He joined USA TODAY in 2014. In his seventh season as our national bracketologist, Mast has finished as one of the top three bracketologists in the past six March Madnesses. He’s also predicted for The Indianapolis Star, collegeinsider.com and is an inaugural member of the Super 10 Selection Committee. Follow him on Twitter @BracketWag.

Follow college basketball reporter Scott Gleeson on Twitter @ScottMGleeson.

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