Bracket Math update

Villanova takes over final No. 1 seed in latest NCAA tourney projection

Updated: January 20, 2014, 2:03 PM ET
By Joe Lunardi | ESPN Insider

Villanova/SyracuseRich Barnes/USA TODAY SportsJames Bell and Villanova have been playing well so far this season.

This edition of Bracket Math includes games through Sunday, Jan. 19. Rankings reflect an up-to-date S-Curve from yours truly, posing as one hypothetical member of the NCAA men's basketball committee.

As soon as I heard the Wisconsin score Saturday -- the Badgers losing at home to Michigan -- I knew this moment was coming. We would need a new No. 1 seed, and the choice would come down to Wichita State or Villanova.

On paper, you can make a solid argument for either. They are a combined 35-1 against legitimate schedules, the only loss between them (Villanova) coming on the road at Syracuse. The knee-jerk reaction would be to tab the unbeaten team -- Wichita State -- and be done with it.

The Shockers have been one spot ahead of the Wildcats on the S-Curve for several weeks and figure to remain just ahead of the Cats in the two major polls. These are two additional reasons to elevate Wichita State -- but I'm not going to.

It's actually Villanova with the better profile -- even factoring in how the Shockers waxed Indiana State on Saturday -- and that was becoming more apparent to me over the weekend.

We may be splitting hairs, but Villanova has played a tougher schedule than Wichita (No. 11 vs. No. 82), a slightly tougher nonconference schedule (No. 21 vs. No. 63) and has beaten more teams (4 vs. 3) in the projected field or under consideration. And the quality of Villanova's best wins -- N-Kansas, N-Iowa -- surpasses anything Wichita State (N-BYU, @Saint Louis, Tennessee) can put on the table.

Two final thoughts on the topic:

• I am fully aware Villanova could lose Monday night to Creighton and render all of this moot.
• I actually think the fourth-best team in the country is neither the Wildcats nor Shockers but in fact is Kansas. However, that's another story for another day.

The bracket


This is where teams would fall if Selection Sunday were today. Remember, the S-curve flows left to right, then right to left, then back again as you read down the chart.


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Joe Lunardi | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com