Tourney Locks

At this time of year, it’s popular for  various bracketologists to call teams locks to make the tournament, even when they aren’t quite locks. So, my list is smaller than most because I want to assure this team can lose out and still have a 100% chance of making the tournament. So, here are the teams that will definitely make the tournament:

ACC – Virginia, UNC, Miami, Duke, Notre Dame

Big 10 – Michigan State, Iowa, Indiana, Wisconsin, Maryland, Purdue

Big XII – Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Texas Tech, Baylor, West Virginia, Iowa St

Big East – Villanova, Xavier, Seton Hall

Pac-12 – Oregon, Arizona, Utah, Cal, Colorado

SEC – Kentucky, Texas A&M

You’ll notice I don’t have a single team “locked” from outside the power six conferences. The reason is because of the damage that losses in the other conferences can do. Losing to two teams outside the top 100 will really hurt the profile.

Specifically, let’s look at Dayton.  They seem like a lock at first  with three top 50 wins, a 21st rating in the RPI, and a terrific non-conference strength of schedule (4th).  Dig a bit deeper, though, and you’ll see a team who is playing very poorly (which really hurts the eye test), a team with two bad losses (one at home to Rhode Island and one at dreadful LaSalle), and a team who has played just 12 games against the top 100 in the RPI.

While Dayton has about a 95% chance of making the field, they better not lose to VCU at home and in their first A-10 game. The profile isn’t so air tight that they are a lock if both of those happen.

Another team I want to discuss is Wichita State.  The Shockers are one of the nation’s most efficient teams, but bracketologists are calling them a lock, and I can’t figure out why. Look, it’s not how good we think a team can be; it’s how good a team has been.  WSU may have been missing Fred Van Vleet for some early season games, but they still have just one win against the top 92 in the RPI (though it is a very good Utah team), just four top 100 wins, and two fairly bad losses (at HOME to Northern Iowa and at Illinois State). I have WSU at an 11 and they will likely need to win the Missouri Valley tournament to get in.  If not, they will get in by the skin of their teeth. If WSU is a high seed in the tournament, I will admit I’m wrong. But to me, the best case scenario for WSU is the 8-9 game. And that’s if things go really well.

The last team I want to mention is Oregon State. Many have them in the First Four, just barely making the field. Not me. I will lock them with a win over USC or UCLA.  They have no bad losses, SIX top 50 RPI wins, and they have four wins over other locked teams. They may not end up as a single digit seed, but they are almost assured of making the field.






3/2 Bracket Projection


1 Kansas

16 Tex Southern / Wagner

8 So Carolina


5 Purdue

12 San Diego St

4 Duke

13 Akron

6 Iowa

11 Wichita St

3 Utah

14 Stony Brook

7 Colorado

10 UConn

2 Michigan St

15 SF Austin


1 Oklahoma

16 Weber St

8 Oregon St

9 Vanderbilt

5 Cal

12 Valpo

4 Kentucky

13 UNC-Wilmington

6 Arizona

11 St Mary’s


14 Hawaii

7 Notre Dame

10 Michigan

2 Oregon

15 N Mexico St


1 Villanova

16 Bucknell / North Florida

8 St Joe’s

9 Pitt

5 Baylor

12 Monmouth

4 Indiana

13 South Dakota St

6 Texas Tech

11 Alabama / Butler

3 Miami

14 Yale

7 Seton Hall

10 Syracuse

2 West Virginia

15 Winthrop


1 Virginia

16 Hampton

8 Dayton

9 Providence

5 Texas A&M

12 Little Rock

4 Iowa St

13 Chattanooga

6 Texas

11 St Bonaventure / Tulsa

3 Maryland

14 UAB

7 Wisconsin

10 Cincinnati

2 Xavier

15 Belmont


First Four Out – VCU, Temple, Florida, Stanford


Bracket Projection – 2/28/16


1 Kansas – 16 Texas Southern / Wagner

8 Pitt – 9 Dayton

5 Iowa St – 12 S Diego St

4 Purdue – 13 Akron

6 Indiana – 11 Syracuse / Alabama

3 Miami – 14 IPFW

7 Notre Dame – 10 Cincinnati

2 Xaver – 15 SF Austin


1 Oklahoma – 16 Weber St

8 Oregon St – 9 Vanderbilt

5 Texas A&M – 12 St Mary’s

4 Duke – 13 Yale

6 Cal – 11 Michigan

3 Maryland – 14 Hawaii

7 Seton Hall – 10 Uconn

2 Oregon – 15 New Mexico St


1 Virginia – 16 Hampton

8 St Joe’s – 9 Providence

5 Baylor- 12 Little Rock

4 Iowa – 13 UNC Wilmington

6 Arizona – 11 Wichita St

3 Utah – 14 Stony Brook

7 Colorado – 10 Monmouth

2 W Virginia – 15 Winthrop


1 Villanova – 16 Bucknell / N Florida

8 USC – 9 South Carolina

5  Kentucky  – 12 Valpo

4 Texas – 13 Chattanooga

6 Texas Tech – 11 Florida / VCU

3 UNC – 14 UAB

7 Wisconsin – 10 Tulsa

2 Michigan St – 15 Belmont


Last 4 Out –  Butler, St Bonaventure, Temple, Gonzaga


I’m Graham Doeren, former NCAA / Turner Sports Super 10 Men’s Basketball Selection Committee member. I’ve been projecting brackets since I was in elementary school (which was a long time ago now) and will be updating brackets on this site.

I do a bi-weekly radio show with USA Today bracketologist Shelby Mast and RPI expert Warren Nolan. You can listen to us live on Sundays at 11 am eastern and Wednesdays at 8 pm eastern, or you can listen to previously broadcasted podcasts (which we call Bracket Rabble).