With six weeks until Selection Sunday, every game matters.
Case in point: Two weeks ago, Stanford was No. 9 in the NCAA's NET ratings and looked on track to reach the NCAA Tournament comfortably. Since then, the Cardinal have gone 0-3, including losses at California and at home against Oregon State. Now, Stanford is squarely on the bubble.
Another example: Virginia and Mississippi State have spent much of January on the wrong side of the bubble. But with wins this week over Florida State and Florida, respectively, both teams would make my projected field of 68 - for now.
Here's a full look at my projected NCAA Tournament field as January comes to an end.
Some notes before we get to the projection:
• The No. 1 seeds, in order, are Baylor, Kansas, Gonzaga, San Diego State. So, Baylor, the No. 1 seed in the South region, would line up on the same side of the bracket as San Diego State, the No. 1 seed in the East region. Duke, my 2-seed as of Friday, is in the East region with the Aztecs.
• Automatic bids were decided based on conference standings at the end of Thursday's games. The teams in bold were given automatic bids in this projection.
• Northern Iowa, an 11-seed, is in the field as the Missouri Valley Conference champion, but the Panthers could also earn an at-large bid. I would have UNI as one of the "last four byes" in the at-large conversation as of Friday.
• Here's a look at the bubble entering the weekend. Minnesota and Memphis are clinging to the last two spots in my field over Cincinnati and Stanford.