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Kansas supplanted Gonzaga at No. 1 in the USA TODAY Sports coaches poll.
USA TODAY Sports

Baylor’s back-to-back losses to Texas Tech and Kansas in mid-February pushed the Bears out of the No. 1 seed conversation. And Saturday’s road loss to Iowa State pushed them out of second place in the Big 12.

Consider them back in the hunt for a top seed after a sound victory against West Virginia — to avenge a Jan. 10 loss to the Mountaineers that just so happened to be the team’s first loss of the season, as the Bears finished non-conference play with the country’s best RPI. Baylor (24-6, 11-6) is now 9-4 against teams in the top-50 RPI and own the country’s toughest strength of schedule.

Should current No. 1 seeds Oregon and North Carolina falter, as the Tar Heels did on Monday night against Virginia, the Bears are still in the running. Barely, though.

UNC is still safer than Oregon, which doesn’t have the same résumé breadth. Should the Bears win out and those teams buckle, it very well could come down to a debate of whether Baylor, a six-loss team, or Gonzaga, a one-loss team, deserve a top seed. The ‘Zags loss to BYU doesn’t count for five losses but this is where good wins hold more weight than a near-perfect record, and the committee would likely notice Baylor’s wins against Oregon, VCU, Michigan State, Louisville, Xavier, Iowa State, Oklahoma State and now West Virginia. It’s a lot to like.

As for the bubble, Virginia Tech’s win over Miami on Monday night has locked them in.

BUBBLE: Which teams are wild cards?

► No. 1 seeds: Kansas, Villanova, North Carolina and Oregon

► Others considered for at-large bids (in no particular order): Wake Forest, Tennessee, Georgia Tech, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio State, Georgia Tech

► On life support: Pittsburgh, Houston, Ole Miss, TCU, Kansas State, Alabama

► No longer considered for at-large: UConn, Texas, Charleston, New Mexico, Boise State, LaSalle, Davidson, Chattanooga, Saint Bonaventure, Saint Joseph’s, BYU, Oklahoma, Charleston, Nebraska, Temple, North Carolina State, Stanford, Nevada, Texas A&M, Memphis, Utah, Auburn, Texas Tech, Georgetown, Penn State

► Multi-bid conferences: ACC (9), Big Ten (8), Big East (7), Big 12 (5), SEC (5), Pac-12 (4), A-10 (2), AAC (2), MVC (2), WCC (2).

Conference Leaders

► Or highest RPI from projected one-bid conferences – (23 total): Vermont (America East), Florida Gulf Coast (Atlantic Sun), North Dakota (Big Sky), UNC-Asheville (Big South), UC Irvine (Big West), UNC-Wilmington (CAA), Middle Tennessee State (Conference USA), Valparaiso (Horizon), Princeton (Ivy League), Monmouth (MAAC), Akron (MAC), N.C. Central (MEAC), Illinois State (Missouri Valley), Nevada (Mountain West), Mount Saint Mary’s (Northeast), Belmont (Ohio Valley), Bucknell (Patriot), East Tennessee State (Southern), New Orleans (Southland), Texas Southern (SWAC), South Dakota (Summit), Texas-Arlington (Sun Belt), CSU Bakersfield (WAC).

  • Banned from participating: Hawaii, Southern Mississippi, Alcorn State, Savannah State, Northern Colorado
  • Transition Schools, ineligible for the tourney: Abilene Christian (Southland), Grand Canyon (WAC), Incarnate Word (Southland), Massachusetts-Lowell (American East)    

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Note: All RPI and statistical data is used from WarrenNolan.com.

About our bracketologist: Shelby Mast has been projecting the field since 2005 and has finished as one of the top 5 national bracketologists for his website, Bracket W.A.G. He’s predicted for The Indianapolis Star, collegeinsider.com and is an inaugural member of the Super 10 Selection Committee. Follow him on Twitter @BracketWag.

NCAA TOURNAMENT BUBBLE TEAMS