Who's in? Our projected men's bracket

Catholic in the tournament with a great record and a strength of schedule barely over .500? There was a lot of discussion.
Catholic athletics photo 

This year we took a different route to coming up with our projected teams and our bracket. We selected the teams live on Sunday night's Hoopsville show, and if you missed it, you can tune in and see the extensive discussion that led to each of these teams getting selected in our mock bracket. The video should take you to the 1:35:25 mark, but if not, that's the spot you're looking for.

There's no Pool B slot in this tournament any longer, so we jump straight to Pool C, true at-large teams.

Here's who we picked, in order: Virginia Wesleyan, UW-Stevens Point, Marietta, Washington U., Johns Hopkins, Illinois Wesleyan, Amherst, William Paterson, Trinity (Conn.), Ohio Wesleyan, Wooster, Bates, Eastern Connecticut, Springfield, Elmhurst, John Carroll, St. Olaf, Catholic, WPI.

Pat Coleman and Dave McHugh debated it live on the air, with input from Hoopsville analyst Bob Quillman and D3hoops.com columnist Ryan Scott. And some of that was needed near the end, especially when Pat wanted to recuse himself with his alma mater on the board. The bubble starts to get pretty tight around the Springfield area. The teams remaining on the table when WPI was selected were Brooklyn, Plattsburgh State, Franklin and Marshall, Hope, Centre, North Central (Ill.) and Buena Vista.

When it came to bracket, Pat and Ryan picked through the 62 teams selected and created a bracket. We picked 16 teams that were deserving of hosting in the first two rounds, and then we matched up 14 teams (because of the two byes) that deserved, based on their record and strength of schedule, to be matched up with that caliber of team. Then we tried to mix and match teams from the middle to get a neutral site first-round game and potentially play the host on the second night.

These are our projected first-weekend sites. The NCAA committee likes to send men's basketball teams as far as a bus will take them (you know, 499 miles) and mix as many regions at each site as possible. We like what we came up with:

at Emory: Emory vs. Spalding; Claremont-Mudd-Scripps vs. LaGrange.
at East Texas Baptist: ETBU vs. Hendrix; Whitworth vs. Texas Lutheran.
at Augustana, first-round bye. St. Olaf hosts Dubuque for the right to play Augustana.
at UW-Stevens Point: UWSP vs. Northwestern (Minn.); Elmhurst vs. Washington U.

at Stockton: Stockton vs. Oswego State; Bates vs. WPI.
at Skidmore: Amherst vs. Colby-Sawyer; St. Vincent vs. Skidmore (hosting because Amherst is in position to host women's games).
at Mount Union: Mount Union vs. Medaille; Alvernia vs. Baruch. 
at Dickinson: Dickinson vs. Sage; Wooster vs. Springfield.

at Randolph-Macon: Randolph-Macon vs. Westfield State; Scranton vs. Eastern Connecticut.
at Marietta: Marietta vs. Neumann; Illinois Wesleyan vs. Salisbury.
at St. Norbert: St. Thomas vs. Concordia (Wis.); St. Norbert vs. DePauw (hosting because St. Thomas women will host).
at UW-Whitewater, first-round bye. John Carroll hosts Defiance for the right to play UWW.

at Babson: Babson vs. SUNY Cobleskill; Trinity (Conn.) vs. Catholic.
at William Paterson: William Paterson vs. Keene State; Virginia Wesleyan vs. Misericordia. 
at Johns Hopkins: Johns Hopkins vs. Endicott; Ohio Wesleyan vs. Wesleyan.
at St. John Fisher: St. John Fisher vs. Regis (Mass.); Albertus Magnus vs. Calvin.

The tricky part is always trying to see how many "west" teams we can cross over to the "east" side of the bracket, and where we can mix them. There are a lack of hosting options in the new West Region since the WIAC was moved out into the Central. Plus, St. Thomas women will be hosting, and Whitworth will be on the road. But St. Olaf would be hosting a first-round game in our scenario.

We have some great pods with some great mixtures of teams from different regions. Take note, NCAA: Ryan and Pat are available for hire for the future.

The NCAA selection show airs at 12:30 p.m. ET, and you can watch it all here on D3hoops.com.