This edition of "Bracket Math" includes games through Friday, Jan. 10. Rankings reflect an up-to-date S-Curve from yours truly, posing as one hypothetical member of the NCAA men's basketball committee.
Today's lesson: Never underestimate the value of a good road win. A pair of Pac-12 teams, California and Arizona State, make our latest NCAA field due solely to their ability to post key conference victories away from home.
Late Thursday, both stayed above .500 in league play with dominant (Arizona State, at USC) and unexpected (Cal, at Oregon) road triumphs. The Golden Bears won previously at Stanford, so they have "broken serve" twice in the Pac-12 and are now well-positioned to stick around the bracket. The Sun Devils have more work to do, but a 3-0 overall road record can only help their cause.
Another bubble team, Oklahoma, stayed in the field this week with a significant win at Texas. The Longhorns, meanwhile, drop to "First Four Out" following that semi-unexpected defeat.
With 139 Division I games Saturday and 24 more Sunday, it is impossible to predict all the rising and falling that will occur in our Monday update. But if you're looking for clues, look for teams that win on the road and beware of those failing to defend their home court.