Originally Published: Feb 17, 2014

Predictions a month before Selection Sunday

Exactly one month from now the full NCAA field will be official, the bracket in your hand ready for analysis. A lot can happen between now and then. Teams can get hot. Teams can get cold. Players could get hurt or go on a roll for the ages.

So we gathered around some of our experts and made them decide what the world will look like the day after Selection Sunday. Some predictions they feel pretty good about. Some, well, try not to hold those against them.

Down with Jayhawks ... I think

By C.L. Brown | ESPN.com

Prediction I feel good about: Arizona, despite holding the No. 1 ranking for most of the season, will not receive a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

The Wildcats' loss of forward Brandon Ashley was more devastating and makes them more vulnerable than previously thought. Their bench was never that deep to begin with, but without Ashley and his 11.5 points and 5.8 rebounds, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has moved into the starting lineup.

That leaves Matt Korcheck as the most experienced frontcourt reserve, and he's only played in 12 games.

Their starting five now has more pressure on it than ever -- each played at least 45 minutes in their double-overtime loss to Arizona State on Friday.

Fatigue will set in, especially with Arizona playing four of its final six games to close the regular season on the road. Utah, Colorado and Oregon are prime road venues to get upset. The Wildcats needed a late collapse by the Ducks in Tucson to escape with a 67-65 win. They won't be so lucky when they close out the season in Eugene.

Its two remaining home games are against California, which ended its unbeaten streak, and Stanford, which it beat by only three. The Wildcats will potentially take three losses in their final six games, which will bump them out of contention for a No. 1 seed and make way for the Big Ten or Big 12 champion to claim it.

Prediction that will make me look stupid: Texas will win the Big 12 and position itself for as high as a No. 2 seed in the tournament.

Side note: Picking the Longhorns in and of itself isn't what could possibly make me look stupid. It's the fact that I'm picking against Kansas, winners of roughly the past 9,000 Big 12 regular-season titles.)

The Longhorns easily handled a West Virginia team that was playing as well as any team in the Big 12 on Saturday. The Horns welcomed back leading scorer Jonathan Holmes, who had missed the win over Oklahoma State with a knee injury.

Meanwhile Kansas, which currently owns a one-game lead over Texas, is hoping center Joel Embiid can nurse back to good health. Embiid sat out Saturday's win over TCU while battling knee and back injuries. In his last game appearance he played 18 minutes in the overtime loss to Kansas State, but he was physically not the same and was noticeably absent during the game's deciding minutes.

Texas handily won its first meeting with the Jayhawks 81-69 and won't lose the rematch Feb. 22 if Embiid isn't at full strength. And with a season sweep of Kansas, the Longhorns are poised to capture the league title -- provided they avoid potential road traps at Iowa State and Oklahoma.

The committee will get this thing right

By Eamonn Brennan | ESPN.com

Prediction I feel good about: The selection committee will draft a better, more sensible bracket than ever before.

There are two essential parts to the construction of the NCAA tournament bracket: selection and seeding. The former gets almost all of the attention. Our emotions are all tied up in whether a team is in or out of the field, for understandable reasons. If you're in, you've got a shot -- you might pull a VCU! It could happen! But if you're out? Your dream, like Hannah Horvath's e-book, is dead.

The seeding process tends to get a bit less attention, then, but it shouldn't -- a seed line or two is often the difference in a season. The seeding half of the equation is also the one most plagued with needless cruft -- rules and guidelines that seem to serve little purpose other than to make the committee members' lives more difficult.

Back in August, the committee made a small but profound change to its bracketing guidelines, one that last week's mock selection committee exercise highlighted in real time. No longer must the committee avoid early conference rematches at all costs; no longer will it trade teams up and down several seed lines just to avoid doing so. Now, members of the same leagues that have played only once to date can meet as early as the round of 32.

It's a minor thing, yes, but just as the 68 team-expansion forever made the bubble disproportionately soft, the committee's newfound freedom should lead to a smarter bracket with seeds that more accurately reflect teams' performance. A calmer, more sensible bracket awaits.

Prediction that will make me look stupid: Wichita State will get a No. 1 seed.

Don't get me wrong: I think Wichita State *should* get a No. 1 seed. I think what selection committee chairman Ron Wellman said last week about schedule intent -- that...

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