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Jay Bilas lists Kentucky among national title favorites

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Bilas ranked the top 68 teams and determined who the title contenders are.

USA Today

There are NCAA Tournament projections everywhere and bracketology around every corner. The latest prognostication comes from ESPN’s Jay Bilas, who ranked teams 1-68 in their potential to cut down the nets in Minneapolis.

Bilas released his ranking of 68 teams on Thursday by grouping them together by their likelihood to win a title. The top tier is listed as the “National Championship favorites,” and the Kentucky Wildcats made the cut.

“Don’t be too concerned about the loss to LSU. Kentucky is looking more like the team that was ranked No. 1 before the season. Is this team as good as Duke? No. But this team can beat Duke or anyone else. A major difference has been the stellar play of PJ Washington, who is averaging 21 points and almost six rebounds in his past three games. Washington is a legit pro.”

Kentucky is ranked No. 5 overall and is the final team listed in group one. The Wildcats are joined by the Duke Blue Devils, Tennessee Volunteers, Virginia Cavaliers, and Gonzaga Bulldogs, in that order.

The second tier consists of eight “Final Four contenders.”

6. Michigan State Spartans

7. Michigan Wolverines

8. North Carolina Tar Heels

9. Marquette Golden Eagles

10. Houston Cougars

11. Nevada Wolf Pack

12. Buffalo Bulls

13. LSU Tigers

The next tier is a list of teams that have Sweet 16 aspirations, and then you get a ranked list of some teams that should be tournament bound. After LSU, you do not see another SEC team on this list until you get to the Auburn Tigers at No. 23. They are joined by the No. 28 Mississippi State Bulldogs in the group with Sweet 16 potential.

Bilas believes the following SEC teams should plan on dancing in March:

31. Ole Miss Rebels

40. Florida Gators

43. Arkansas Razorbacks

The remaining teams listed are schools Bilas believes will be on the bubble. The only SEC squad that makes an appearance in this last tier is the No. 46 Alabama Crimson Tide.

That list would put nine SEC schools in the NCAA Tournament. I think the coaches from the conference could have taken that in a heartbeat in the preseason.

What do you think about Bilas’ tiers? Did he get it right?