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Bracketology Update

Informed speculation is not binding but it’s still fun.

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Miami v Duke
DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA - MARCH 02: Alex O’Connell #15 of the Duke Blue Devils reacts after a three-point basket against the Miami Hurricanes during the first half of their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on March 02, 2019 in Durham, North Carolina.
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Did Gonzaga’s shocking loss to St. Mary’s hurt its standing much?

Not according to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, who still has the Zags as #1 in the West.

Over at CBS, Jerry Palm also keeps them at #1 but with some cautions.

Both guys put Kentucky and Duke in the South bracket as #1 and #2 seeds, which would set up a rematch of the season opener and there’s no chance Duke would win by 34 again.

Both also have UNC as the #1 seed in the Midwest and both also have a serious wild card in the second round: UCF.

If you haven’t been paying attention, Johnny Dawkins’ Central Florida team features 7-6 Tacko Fall.

A serious student, Fall has taken a long time to grow into his body but is now more than just a curiosity. If a team is not hitting threes against UCF they’re in serious trouble. He’s a particularly bad matchup for Duke so if you’re hoping that the Blue Devils take away UNC’s #1 seed in Charlotte, keep that in mind. You can certainly outrun Fall but it’s going to be hard to get past him. Take a look.

He’s also really filled out, which is not easy to do when you’re 7-6. Take a look at him in high school.

For the rest of this we’re going to go by ESPN’s version.

There are some interesting matchups. Maryland would get Ja Morant and Murray State and the winner would get Kansas, still a 4 seed. the Jayhawks would open with Northeastern, a team that could shoots its way to an upset.

There’s a path there for the Racers to meet the non-Racers - i.e., Virginia - in the Sweet Sixteen.

In a poignant matchup, Lunardi has Minnesota as #7 in the East taking on Louisville, thus giving Richard Pitino a chance to avenge his father’s dismissal by the Cardinals and leading to the great question: would dad show up?

In the Midwest, a potential rematch between Auburn and Clemson looms although he has the Tigers in the play-in game (Clemson Tigers, not Auburn Tigers) against TCU. If they advance, that should be fun.

Also in the Midwest there’s a potentially great game between Buffalo and Texas Tech if both advance past the first round. Wow!

Sticking in the Midwest, Lunardi has Wofford at #7 and with a potential second round matchup with Michigan State. Since the Spartans have some critical injuries, we could conceivably see a Sweet Sixteen matchup between Buffalo or Texas Tech and Wofford. How cool would that be?

Lunardi’s West really doesn’t look that compelling. He has Baylor and Syracuse in the 8/9 game which could be interesting. Marquette would get New Mexico State and that’s one of those sort of under the radar basketball schools that you need to keep track of. It’s a big deal in Las Cruces.

Lunardi has LSU as the #2 seed in the West. The turmoil around Wade Will will either shake the team or bond it together. Which will it be?

If Virginia Tech plays St. Mary’s in the South regional, that could be fun, sort of a poor man’s Virginia-Virginia Tech matchup.

Of course it’s all speculation until the field is released Sunday evening but there are some wonderful potential matchups and paths for Cinderellas to emerge.

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