Selection Sunday live: Updates as NCAA Tournament bracket comes into focus for March Madness

Erased by the pandemic a year ago, conference tournament week did not disappoint, bringing the men’s college basketball world to the most important date on the calendar: Selection Sunday.

The 68-team field – all bound for the Indianapolis area – will be released at 6 p.m. ET on CBS.

Automatic bids have been gobbled by teams on the outside of the top 68, such as Oregon State (Pac-12) and Georgetown (Big East), shrinking the bubble and leaving programs without conference tournament titles sweating.

Entering Sunday, according to USA TODAY Sports’ bracketology, the first four out included Wichita State, Colorado State, Boise State and Saint Louis, with Memphis, Ole Miss, Seton Hall and St. John’s also on the outside looking in. Meanwhile, VCU, Syracuse, Drake and Utah State are slotted as the “last four in.”

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The No. 1 seeds are Gonzaga (East), Baylor (South), Michigan (West) and Illinois (Midwest) — check out the rest of the bracket here.

Colgate Raiders players celebrate on the court after defeating the Loyola (Maryland) Greyhounds in the Patriot League Conference Championship game.

Wolverines No. 1 in feisty East region

Michigan was the second Big Ten team to secure a No. 1 seed, and assuming the Wolverines get by either Mount St. Mary’s or Texas Southern in the first round, they could have their hands full in the second round with either LSU or St. Bonaventure, which should be one of the region’s best first-round games.

Georgetown will likely be a popular 12-5 upset pick over Colorado after the Hoyas captured the Big East Tournament title. Michigan State and UCLA will participate in one of the four play-in games for a chance at BYU. Texas (3), Connecticut (7) and Maryland (10) provide name-power to the region.

A fascinating coaching matchup will be on display in the 2-15 matchup: Nate Oats’ Alabama, SEC regular-season and tournament winners, against Iona’s Rick Pitino, who is perhaps saving his best work for March.

SEE EACH MATCHUP HERE.

Illinois leads crowded Midwest region

Sister Jean. Cade Cunningham. The Big Ten conference tournament champion. A red-hot ACC squad. The Midwest has a ton going on.

Loyola-Chicago earned the No. 8 seed, which means Sister Jean and the Ramblers faithful will set their sights on Josh Pastner and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Oklahoma State has a date with Liberty in the No. 4 vs. No. 13 game, and plenty of eyes will be on Cunningham, a potential top-five pick in the NBA draft.

Leading the region are two teams that won their conference tournaments on Sunday. No. 1 Illinois will face Drexel, while No. 2 Houston is taking on Cleveland State. West Virginia (No. 3), Tennessee (No. 5) and San Diego State (No. 6) add some depth to the region.

To round out the region, San Diego State takes on Syracuse in the 6-11 matchup, while Clemson and Rutgers will battle in the 7 vs. 10 game.

SEE EACH MATCHUP HERE.

Bears lead the South

The Baylor Bears entered the season with high expectations and won the Big 12 for the first time in more than 70 years. Now they have a No. 1 seed.

Ohio State, less than a half hour removed from their Big Ten championship game loss, learned it would be the region’s No. 2 seed. Utah State survived the bubble (proving its win over Colorado State was needed).

Virginia Tech (10) faces Florida (7) in the first round, and there’s more SEC flair with No. 3 Arkansas. Purdue checks in as a No. 4 seed, while Villanova — a two or three seed in most people’s minds until recently — faces Winthrop in a 5-12 matchup. The 8-9 game between North Carolina and Wisconsin should make things interesting for the Bears in the second round.

SEE EACH MATCHUP HERE.

Gonzaga Bulldogs are No. 1 overall seed in West region

While “regions” don’t matter much this year, Gonzaga earned the top seed in the West – their fourth No. 1 seed in the last eight seasons. Except this time, the Bulldogs are the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament. But there is championship pedigree on the horizon.

They will play the winner of Norfolk State-Appalachian State play-in game. Also in the region are the No. 5 Creighton, defending champion Virginia (No. 4), Oregon (No. 7) and VCU (No. 10).

Two bubble teams, Drake and Wichita State, will play each other in the 11-seed play-in game and the victor will have a date against USC.

At the bottom of the region, Iowa will face Grand Canyon in the 2-15 matchup. That sets up for a potential battle between National Player of the Year candidate Luka Garza and the Bulldogs’ frontcourt.

Of note: No times or dates have been announced.

SEE EACH MATCHUP HERE.

Illinois wins Big Ten Tournament title in OT battle vs. Ohio State

They can’t call themselves the regular-season conference champions, but the Illini are kings of the postseason in arguably the sport’s best conference this season.

In a fitting way to lead into the bracket reveal, Illinois and Ohio State battled at a high level for 45 minutes with the Illini winning 91-88 in overtime. It was the Buckeyes’ second overtime game in three days.

Andre Curbelo was Illinois’ spark, and he and Kofi Cockburn finished with 16 points. Buckeyes guard Duane Washington Jr. put up a career-high 32 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the loss. The Illini bench outscored Ohio State’s reserves by a 37-15 margin

The win almost surely locked Illinois into a No. 1 seed – the first time they will have that distinction since 2005, when Illinois fell to North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament championship game.

Now it’s time for the brackets.

Houston throttles Cincinnati in AAC Championship

Junior guard Quentin Grimes went 5-for-9 from deep to lead all scorers with 21 points, while sophomore guard Marcus Sasser added 16 in the 91-54 blowuot. Defensively, Houston held Cincinnati to shooting 27.7 percent from the field.

The Cougars entered the day as a No. 2 seed and their first American Athletic Conference tournament championship will keep them on that line later Sunday (bracketology had them in Illinois’ region, with Texas and Purdue as the No. 3 and 4 seeds, respectively). Houston’s win should help the bubble teams, as a Cincinnati victory would have cannibalized another automatic bid.

Alabama holds off LSU in wild finish at SEC Tournament championship

The Tigers hung with the Crimson Tide all game and had multiple, point-blank chances for a last-second victory but simply could not put the ball in the basket.

Alabama defended its regular-season title with its first conference tournament victory in 30 years.

Saint Bonaventure defends Atlantic 10 title at tournament

For all of the upsets during championship week, No. 1 St. Bonaventure did not relinquish its stranglehold on the Atlantic 10. The Bonnies dispatched the VCU rams in the title game behind Kyle Lofton’s 23 points. Saint Bonaventure entered Sunday as a 10-seed.

Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.

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