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Projecting the NCAA field

Bob Stanton/USA TODAY Sports

I have been asked a number of times for my opinion about who will make the NCAA tournament field of 68. It is complicated this season, but a lot of the teams on the so-called bubble will make it into the Big Dance just by sheer numbers. This will all be settled on Sunday, with conference-tournament play being a factor in some decisions.

Here is the way I break down the field of 68 teams.

ONE-BID CONFERENCES (21): America East, Atlantic Sun, Big Sky, Big South, Big West, Colonial, Conference USA, Horizon, Ivy, MAAC, MAC, MEAC, MVC, OVC, Patriot, Southern, Southland, SWAC, Summit, Sun Belt, WAC.

CONFERENCES WITH MORE THAN ONE BID (AND LOCKS):
AMERICAN (5): Cincinnati, Louisville, Memphis, SMU, Connecticut.
ACC (4): Virginia, Syracuse, Duke, North Carolina.
ATLANTIC 10 (4): Saint Louis, VCU, Massachusetts, George Washington.
BIG 12 (6): Kansas, Texas, Iowa State, Oklahoma, Baylor, Oklahoma State.
BIG EAST (2): Villanova, Creighton.
BIG TEN (4): Michigan, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Ohio State.
MOUNTAIN WEST (2): San Diego State, New Mexico.
PAC-12 (3): Arizona, UCLA, Oregon.
SEC (2): Florida, Kentucky.
WCC (2): Gonzaga, BYU.

That gives us 55 teams into the field, with 13 slots remaining open.

Those teams sweating out the process want to impress the selection committee with a good showing in conference-tournament play or hope that there are not too many upset tournament champions -- bid stealers that would shrink the at-large pool even further.

Of the 13 slots still available as of now, here are the primary contenders: Pittsburgh, Florida State, Dayton, Saint Joseph's, Kansas State, Xavier, St. John's, Providence, Georgetown, Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, Colorado, Arizona State, Stanford, California, Utah, Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas and Missouri.

Southern Miss or Louisiana Tech figures to get serious consideration out of Conference USA as well. And Stephen F. Austin would merit discussion if it does not win the Southland tournament.

Right now, I would have the following in the field: Pittsburgh, Iowa, Kansas State, Xavier, Nebraska, Colorado, Arizona State, Tennessee and the Providence/St. John's winner. That leaves Arkansas, Dayton, Saint Joseph's and California as my current last four in the field.

Of course, a lot can happen in the next few days, leading up to an exciting Selection Sunday.