It’s never too early for some bracketology, as we look forward to 2013 March Madness. This will be my 5th year to do an official bracketology, having been more accurate at projecting the bracket than ESPN’s Joe Lunardi 3 of the past 4 years. So, without further ado, here is the projected bracket before the season starts in early November and before we get word on suspensions, academic eligibility, injuries, etc...
(Projected Conf. Champs in CAPS)
1 INDIANA vs 16 (SAVANNAH STATE vs MONTANA- 1st First Four Game)
Indiana returns by far the most talent from a year ago, including Cody Zeller, Christian Watford and Jordan Hulls, making them the #1 Overall Seed.
8 ST LOUIS vs 9 Pittsburgh
Majerus is looking for some consistency in STL, and may have it with a corps group returning, while Jamie Dixon looks to get back to the dance after a rare miss.
5 Unlv vs 12 HARVARD
Watch out for UNLV this year, as they brought a top-10 class in and return a lot of scoring from a 6-seed team while Harvard looks to continue Ivy League dominance.
4 Duke vs 13 NEW MEXICO STATE
It’s a rebuilding year for Duke after an early tournament departure, as they will lose Rivers and Miles Plumlee, but still have a lot of scoring, while NMSU continues to change it’s transfer-first culture back to 4 year players.
3 Syracuse vs 14 BELMONT
Syracuse loses Waiters, Joseph and Jardine, but still have Triche, Southerland and Melo and more to hold down the fort, while Belmont looks to continue their A-Sun reign, but it may be more difficult this year with Mercer looking strong.
6 Missouri vs 11 Oregon
Mizzou lost almost all of their scoring from a year ago, but got a solid class and still have Flip Pressey coming back, and Dana Altman is trying to get over that hump and reach his first tourney in Eugene.
7 Texas vs 10 Illinois State
Texas was average last year, but returns nearly all their scoring and brought in some nice frontcourt guys, and Illinois St looks to continue their late-season success from 2012.
2 MEMPHIS vs 15 BUCKNELL
Since Pastner arrived in Memphis, they’ve been getting better and better talent, and this is the year it will all catch up with the rest of the country, talent all around.
1 Florida vs 16 CHARLESTON SOUTHERN
The Gators lost Erving Walker and Bradley Beal, but return everyone else and had a solid recruiting class.
8 Kansas State vs 9 Drexel
Bruce Weber’s first year in Manhattan will be interesting, and I’m not sure what to expect, but they do have a lot of talent, and Drexel has almost everyone back from a team that deserved a bid in 2012.
5 Marquette vs 12 Brigham Young
With Buzz Williams at the helm, Marquette will always overachieve, expect nothing less this year, and BYU continues to be an underrated program on the national stage, making tourney appearances regularly.
4 ARIZONA vs 13 BUTLER
Both teams had absences from the 2012 Madness after recent success, but both expect quick resurgence, as Sean Miller’s recruiting class was fantastic, and Brad Stevens brought in some nice transfers and young guys.
3 Michigan State vs 14 IONA
Sparty loses face-of-the-franchise Draymond Green, but Izzo will have them overachieving and playing great defense, and Iona has the talent to continue to be successful in that wide-open, shoot-when-you-cross-half-court offense.
6 GONZAGA vs 11 MURRAY STATE
Probably the 2 most consistent mid-major programs year-in and year-out, and Gonzaga looks to continue its legendary success despite a few key departures, while Isaiah Canaan returns for a similar-looking Racer team.
7 Notre Dame vs 10 Xavier
Notre Dame can always be counted on to overachieve, and Chris Mack is one of the most underrated coaches in America at Xavier, and I think X will be seeded even higher once their young guys gel.
2 NORTH CAROLINA vs 15 CAL STATE-FULLERTON
The Heels are always a threat, and, despite the departure of Marshall, Barnes, Henson and Zeller, they will reload in Chapel Hill and be just fine, and CSF is trying to end the UCSB-LBSU reign in the Big West.
1 LOUISVILLE vs STEPHEN F AUSTIN
Pitino always does a ton with nothing, and this year he has something, including all-everything guy in Peyton Siva returning, so we imagine he will do a large something.
8 Iowa State vs 9 St Joseph’s
Hilton Magic has returned for ISU since Fred Hoiberg took over, and even though they lose Royce White, there’s still a lot there, and St Joe’s tries to return to the dance after a bit of a dry-spell following the legendary Nelson-West team of ’04.
5 CREIGHTON vs 12 California
Creighton could probably be higher, returning McDermott and virtually everyone else, WATCH OUT FOR CREIGHTON, while Cal continues to survive being just an adequate program.
4 Ohio State vs 13 (Colorado State vs Virginia- 2nd First Four Game)
Losing Sullinger and Buford would cripple most programs, but keeping a solid PG helps, as well as bringing in a nice class, and Colorado State and Virginia try to make back to back tourneys, a rarity for both these days.
3 NC State vs 14 MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE
NC State is a team I absolutely love. They finished last season as strong as anyone, return almost everyone and had a nice recruiting class, and Middle Tennessee is easily the best in the Sun Belt, they just need to finish this year.
6 Tennessee vs 11 New Mexico
Cuonzo Martin has things brewing in Knoxville, Tennessee is a serious contender in the SEC, and Alford just keeps on keeping on at UNM where he has developed a solid program.
7 VCU vs 10 Stanford
I can only say one thing: Don’t pick against VCU ever again. Also, this looks to be the year that Johnny Dawkins finally breaks through and gets the Cardinal back in the Madness.
2 KANSAS vs 15 SOUTH DAKOTA STATE
Bill Self has the most consistent program in the country, and don’t expect anything to change just because Robinson and Taylor are gone. As for SDSU, they have a nice program developing.
1 KENTUCKY vs 16 (VERMONT vs TEXAS SOUTHERN- 3rd First Four Game)
Don’t expect Kentucky to slow down a bit, bringing in another top recruiting class and they still have one of the best coaches around.
8 OHIO vs 9 Georgetown
Ohio had an awesome run in the ’12 tourney, and they will build on that with great athletes, great shooters and a terrible MAC. Georgetown’s consistency has been impressive, and they still have the talent coming in to keep it up.
5 Wisconsin vs 12 Saint Mary’s
These 2 programs are the definition of doing a lot with nothing. Both consistently make and win in the NCAA Tourney, and 2012-13 should be more of the same.
4 SAN DIEGO STATE vs 13 (West Virginia vs UMass- 4th First Four Game)
SDSU had a top recruiting class and return a lot of scoring from last year’s 6-seed, while West Virginia is trying to get back to their winning ways and UMass is trying to end a very long tourney drought.
3 Baylor vs 14 DAVIDSON
They lose Perry Jones, but Baylor’s consistency and staying power is apparent with their recruiting, reloading every year, and Davidson is similar in a mid-major form.
6 Ucla vs 11 Temple
UCLA was awful last year, but got the top recruiting class, watch for Shabazz Muhammad, and Temple behind Fran Dunphy is as consistent as any program in America.
7 Cincinnati vs 10 Miami FL
Mick Cronin, even though he looks shockingly like a leprachaun, is a great coach and has a great program going in Cincy, while Miami is trying to change its image and style under Jim Larranaga.
2 Michigan vs 15 ROBERT MORRIS
Michigan loses their white guys, but still have Hardaway Jr, Trey Burke, and got a top-5 recruiting class, and Michigan could easily hop up to that 1-seed line before this season is over.
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