Illinois won't have to sweat out Selection Sunday according to CBS Sports Bracketologist Jerry Palm, but that's one of the few certainties heading into a week of conference tournaments.
"How many teams out there have beaten two potential No. 1 seeds? Them and Butler," Palm said while speaking to CSN Chicago on Tuesday. In his most recent projection of the NCAA tournament brackets, Palm placed Illinois in an No. 8 vs. No. 9 game, and doesn't see much at stake in their Thursday first round match-up with Minnesota.
"A loss would hurt, but losing to Minnesota isn't the end of the world," said Palm.
While Illinois may be stable, Palm sees plenty potential for upheaval in the seedings in the the final week.
"Those conference tournaments are going to have a lot to say about who gets in and out of this bracket," Palm said.
The No. 1 seeds
Palm identified Duke, Indiana, Gonzaga and Louisville as his picks to grab top seeds next Sunday, but warned that just because Gonzaga currently holds the top spot in the AP and Coaches' polls, does not mean they are guaranteed a No. 1 seed in the tournament.
"Gonzaga could possibly not be a No. 1 seed if the committee feels they didn't do enough outside of their league," Palm said.
Bubble teams to watch
Iowa and Providence, a pair of teams with 9-9 records in major conferences, were tabbed by Palm as having a chance to attract some attention from the committee with a deep run in their respective conference tournaments. But he also thinks the top team from the Sun Belt could compete for an at-large bid.
"It will be interesting to see what (the committee will) do with with Middle Tennessee St., a team that doesn't really meet the traditional criteria," Palm said.
While acknowledging they will probably be a double-digit seed, Palm thinks Villanova could surprise and termed them as a team that "either is dangerous to the team they play or maybe dangerous to themselves."
Palm also mentioned St. Mary's, led by Australian-born point guard Matthew Dellavedova, as having the potential to make noise "if they make the tournament."
"There's always surprises," Palm said.