Blue-bloods back near top after off year

Last season marked one of the worst for men’s college basketball’s elite programs that have been atop the sport in different variations for decades. 

Consider that a fluke season. 

In assessing the top seeding lines in USA TODAY Sports’ first bracket projection for the 2021-22 campaign, one thing is hard to miss: Blue-blood programs are back this year.

Following a résumé-boosting victory over Baylor this weekend, Kansas vaulted up the seeding line to secure one of the four No. 1 seeds alongside Auburn, Gonzaga and Purdue.

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COLLEGE BASKETBALL:Winners and losers from the weekend

Kentucky and Duke are near the No. 2 line. They are back in great seeding positions following ugly seasons that saw them both miss the NCAA Tournament – the first time that’s happened since 1976. Joining Kentucky and Duke as projected No. 2 seeds are reigning national champ Baylor and a revitalized Arizona program that’s emerged ahead of UCLA in the Pac-12 title race. 

Although it’s early February and there’s still plenty of basketball left to be played, it’s fair to say that Kansas, Duke and Kentucky are back to where we’re used to seeing them. All three blue-bloods have a shot at securing a No. 1 seed on Selection Sunday. 

Christian Braun of the Kansas Jayhawks reacts after hitting a layup and drawing a foul against the Baylor Bears at Allen Fieldhouse.

No. 1 seeds

Auburn, Gonzaga, Purdue, Kansas. 

Last four in

West Virginia, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Creighton.

First four out

San Diego State, Oregon, Florida, SMU.

Next four out

Mississippi State, Washington State, Minnesota, Florida State.



Others considered for at-large bids: Cincinnati, Texas A&M, Saint Bonaventure, Santa Clara, St. Johns, Colorado, South Carolina, Memphis, Kansas State, Saint Louis, Michigan, Toledo, Virginia, Fresno State, North Texas, Stanford, Dayton, VCU.

On Life Support: Virginia Tech, Penn State, Rutgers, Drake, Vanderbilt, Wichita State, Louisiana Tech, Richmond, Central Florida, Missouri State, Clemson.

Multi-bid conferences: Big 12 (8), Big Ten (7), Big East (7), SEC (6), ACC (5), West Coast (4), Mountain West (3), Pac-12 (3), Ohio Valley (2). 

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