Bracketology: The 2022 Final Edition!

Here is the final edition of bracketology before we get to the Selection Show! And I don’t know about you, but I’m really glad the tournament will return to its traditional Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday format this year. I’ve always thought that the opening Thursday of the tournament should be a national holiday, and it was just weird to have it start on a Friday last year (of course, that was far better than the year before…).

Disclaimer: this feels like the most wide-open year as far as the cut line in a long time. I get that sense from doing my own work and talking with other bracketologists on Twitter (and we’ve all been at this for hours every day all week!). Projections are all over the place here, and I truly wouldn’t be surprised to see any of about 10 different teams either in or out, including:

  • Michigan, Wyoming, Texas A &M, and Rutgers (above the cut line for me).
  • SMU, Notre Dame, Xavier, Oklahoma, Wake Forest, Dayton (below the cut line for me).
  • Even if a VCU, a BYU, or a North Texas gets in – who I have as 7th, 8th, and 9th out – I wouldn’t be shocked, as there tends to be a surprise team in the field. And I’d love to be wrong about one of these teams (ala Belmont in 2019), as I think it’s great for the game and the fans to get more solid mid-major teams in the tournament.

But this is a prediction of what the Committee will do, not what I want to see. On that note, it’s also worth saying thatas I scrubbed, I applied a rule I want to see for replay in college basketball: if you can’t make a decision after a couple minutes, stick with what you had. I’d rather be wrong about something in which I was semi-confident than wrong about something I felt compelled to change for some reason I couldn’t really explain.

With that said, here are some changes to highlight since last night:

  • Tennessee moves up to the 2 line, Duke moves down to the 3 line. Tennessee is now 11-7 in Quad 1 and has 5 wins vs. teams who are likely on the top 4 lines. Duke did well in their limited opportunities to pick up high-end wins but in the end, I think Tennessee will have the resume that impresses the Committee more.
  • Iowa jumps all the way up to the 5 line (from 7 yesterday, and 8 on Friday) after a scrub. I wasn’t nearly as sold on them as other bracketologists seemed to be until I took a really close look at metrics along with quality wins. They edged out Texas for the last 5 seed on the basis of going 11-9 vs. Quad 1/2 to Texas’ 10-11 record versus the same group (the teams were really close for me).
  • There were numerous changes along the 8-11 lines, as always seems to be the case for me when I do my final projection. It always feels like there is a lot of interchangeability between these lines, so I looked at them very closely and made my best guess!
  • And the big ones: Richmond’s bid thievery in a classic Atlantic 10 final over Davidson causes all kinds of chaos on the bubble. It came down to Rutgers or SMU as the team I’d eliminate (I had already decided it’d be one of those two teams in the morning). I stuck with Rutgers because I had them in the field from the beginning of the week, while SMU jumped in later (my replay rule!). And I had Rutgers in the field to begin with despite their relatively poor metrics because in the past, good wins seem to be the most important criterion and the February bracket reveal suggested good wins will be prioritized more than metrics. In fact, I used that theory for my close decisions throughout the field.
  • Of course, we have a couple of auto-qualifiers that weren’t projected last night either: Yale (defeating Princeton in the Ivy League final) and Cal State Fullerton (defeating Long Beach State in the Big West final). You know what these games had in common? The losing team failed to get a shot off before the buzzer in a one-possession game! It’s March, and it’s madness!

So here we go! As usual, moves up or down since last time are in parentheses, auto-qualifiers are in bold. Thanks for reading and following along this past week! Before the tournament tips off on Thursday, I’ll bring you my thoughts on the bracket here and on Twitter, so stay tuned.

In since last night: Virginia Tech, Richmond, Yale, Cal State Fullerton

Out since last night: Notre Dame, SMU, Princeton, Long Beach State

1s: Gonzaga, Arizona, Kansas, Baylor

2s: Kentucky, Auburn, Villanova, Tennessee (+1)

3s: Purdue, Duke (-1), Texas Tech, Wisconsin

4s: UCLA, Providence, Arkansas, Illinois

5s: Connecticut, Houston, Saint Mary’s, Iowa (+2)

6s: Texas (-1), LSU, Alabama, Colorado State

7s: Southern Cal, Michigan State, Ohio State (-1), Boise State (+1)

8s: Murray State (-1), San Diego State, Seton Hall, Creighton (+1)  

9s: TCU, Memphis (+1), Marquette, North Carolina (+1)

10s: Iowa State (-2), Davidson (-1), Loyola-Chicago (+1), San Francisco

11s: Virginia Tech (new), Miami (-1), Indiana, Michigan, Wyoming (+1)

12s: Texas A & M, Rutgers, UAB, South Dakota State, Richmond (new)

13s: Chattanooga, Vermont, New Mexico State, Akron (+1)  

14s: Longwood, Montana State, Colgate (+1), Delaware

15s: Yale (new), Saint Peter’s, Georgia State, Jacksonville State (+1)

16s: Cal State Fullerton (new), Norfolk State, Bryant, Wright State, Texas A & M – CC, Texas Southern  

Last Four Byes: Davidson, San Francisco, Miami, Indiana

Last Four In: Michigan, Wyoming, Texas A & M, Rutgers

First Four Out: SMU, Notre Dame, Xavier, Oklahoma

Next Five Out: Wake Forest, Dayton, VCU, BYU, North Texas

Thanks for reading, and check out the Bracket Matrix to see where other bracketologists have the teams!

Posted in March Madness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bracketology: Closing in on Selection Sunday

Here’s a quick update as we head into a night full of championship games! Since I last posted around 9 PM (Eastern) Friday, we’ve had a few notable results that have shaken up the bubble:

  • First, VCU’s loss to Richmond pushes them out of the field. I was higher on the Rams than were other bracketologists; I now can’t really see much of a case for them given their relative lack of quality wins and mediocre metrics.
  • Rutgers jumped back into my field this morning, when I tweeted a bubble update.
  • Another key result happened since that tweet: Texas A & M dismantled Arkansas to pick up their second great win (i.e., vs. a team fighting for a top 4 seed) in as many days. I’ve been higher on the Aggies than have most bracketologists all week. I will confidently put them in the field now, as I do not expect them to be left out after greatly improving their resume this month (remember, they won big at Alabama on March 2 as well).
  • Xavier drops out, as I believe their failure to pick up any Quad 1A wins will hurt them. On that basis, Wyoming is also in danger. But to that end…

I’ll be starting my final scrubbing tonight! I’ll be examining how win quality, loss lack of quality, and metrics have changed the past couple of days. I’m 100% sure that some wins that looked good on Thursday won’t now; conversely, some losses that looked questionable suddenly won’t. As I wrote yesterday, it’s hard to really look at that closely on Thursday and Friday with so many critical games happening; the changes the past 48 hours are more of a rapid-fire reaction to what we’re seeing in the conference tournaments.

I’ll have an eye towards putting my final projection out by early afternoon (Eastern time) Sunday. From the past, I know my best work is done by 1 or 2 on Sunday afternoon. Think of it like taking an exam that you’ve studied for effectively: if you finish and quickly check over your answers, you’re very likely going to do better than if you spend the entire rest of the allotted time poring over your answers. You’ll end up overthinking and making changes that ultimately reduce your score. Inevitably, I’d hear something like what Jay Bilas said during Duke-Miami last night: “if Duke ends up winning the ACC tournament, I think they’ll be a 1,” panic, make the change, and be reminded that listening to pundits is the fastest way to tank your projection. This has absolutely been the case for me the past few years – when I don’t make last-minute changes, I do better.

So here we go! As usual, moves up or down since last time are in parentheses, auto-qualifiers are in bold.

In since last night: Rutgers, Texas A & M

Out since last night: VCU, Xavier

Eliminated from consideration: St. Louis, Colorado

1s: Gonzaga, Arizona, Baylor, Kansas

2s: Kentucky, Auburn, Duke, Villanova (+1)

3s: Purdue, Tennessee, Texas Tech, Wisconsin (-1)

4s: UCLA, Providence, Arkansas, Illinois

5s: Connecticut, Houston, Saint Mary’s, Texas

6s: Colorado State, Ohio State, Alabama, LSU (+1)

7s: Michigan State (+1), Iowa (+1), Southern Cal (-1), Murray State

8s: Seton Hall (-1), Boise State, San Diego State (+1), Iowa State  

9s: Marquette (-2), TCU, Creighton, Davidson

10s: Memphis, North Carolina, Miami, San Francisco

11s: Michigan, Notre Dame, Loyola Chicago, Indiana (+1)

12s: Wyoming (-1), SMU, Rutgers (new), Texas A & M (new) UAB, South Dakota State

13s: Chattanooga, New Mexico State, Vermont, Princeton  

14s: Kent State, Delaware, Montana State, Longwood

15s: Long Beach State, Saint Peter’s, Colgate, Georgia State

16s: Jacksonville State, Norfolk State, Bryant, Wright State, Texas A & M – CC, Alcorn State

Last Four Byes: San Francisco, Michigan, Notre Dame, Indiana

Last Four In: Wyoming (-1), SMU, Rutgers (new), Texas A & M (new)

First Four Out: Virginia Tech, Xavier (-1), Oklahoma, VCU (-1)

Next Six Out: Dayton, Wake Forest (-1), BYU (-1), North Texas, Florida

Thanks for reading, and check out the Bracket Matrix to see where other bracketologists have the teams!

Posted in March Madness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Bracketology: Kansas to the 1 Line, Indiana to Dayton?

Welcome to tonight’s bracketology projection, as we go into the final weekend before the tournament! Tonight’s update is based on games from the final time slot last night through 8:00 PM tonight. So, there are some results that have just come in (e.g., Michigan State beating Wisconsin) that are likely to impact things but are not yet accounted for. The changes you’ll see from last night’s projection are mostly ones that it’d be crazy not to make, such as moving Indiana into the field. Their run the last two games – or really, the last 1.25 games – is true March Madness. If you’re not watching the conference tournaments, start now!

I will do another deep dive into everything starting tomorrow afternoon. This will allow me to closely compare teams based on how quadrant records and metrics have changed over the past couple of days. Also, the quality of some wins and… lack of quality of some losses… becomes further cemented as some teams move up and others are eliminated from consideration entirely.

Also, with 19 conferences now in their quarterfinal or semifinal round, tonight brings us a ton of games and they all have bracket implications. This makes it difficult to really study teams’ resumes closely because there are so many moving parts. This especially comes into play when a previously projected auto-qualifier from a one-bid conference loses (such as Toledo vs. Akron a couple hours ago). It will be less time-consuming – and preserve bandwidth – to simply study the eventual conference champion tomorrow night. So it’s a great night to enjoy the games and try to make sense of the results tomorrow!

What’s the latest on the 1 line?

  • I will lock Arizona in if they beat Colorado tonight.
  • I still see Baylor as a 1 because they have 9 to 12 wins vs. teams who will be in the field (depending on what happens with VCU and Oklahoma).
  • With Auburn’s loss to Texas A & M, Kansas has passed them for the final 1 seed.
  • Kansas has 7 to 9 wins against teams in the field; Kentucky, who is now the highest 2 seed (#5 team overall) has 6 to 7 and Auburn has 6 to 8.
  • I see the margin between Kansas and Kentucky now as razor-thin, and will do a deeper dive into it tomorrow. For now, keep in mind too that Kentucky had a resounding win at Kansas in January, which could make the difference for the Committee if all else is equal on Sunday.
  • Finally, Duke has made the most of their good win opportunities, but they just haven’t had enough of those opportunities for me to see any realistic path to a 1 seed at this point.
  • TL;DR: So I now believe Gonzaga, Arizona, and Baylor will be 1 seeds, while the final spot is likely to go to Kansas or Kentucky (Auburn still has some hope).

OK, OK, what about the bubble?

At this point, I think you can be confident that all teams on the 10 line or better are safe (that means everyone from San Francisco on up). I have 10 teams out that I still see as under consideration, but a few can no longer help themselves. Also, there are fewer potential bid thieves than there were a couple nights ago – though teams like Colorado and Dayton are threatening.  

Also, Indiana entering the field was a must. The victim of this is Rutgers. People will talk about all the quality wins Rutgers has, but my read of the situation right now is that they have too many bad losses and they also have poor metrics compared to the Last Four In (VCU, Indiana, Xavier, and SMU). It also won’t help that their non-conference strength of schedule is 301 – it seems like every year, some team who is close to the cut line gets left out in part because of such a low non-conference SOS. Of course, I will look very closely at this again tomorrow but this is my best guess as to what the Selection Committee would do now.

So here we go! As usual, moves up or down since last night are in parentheses; projected auto-qualifiers are in bold.

In since last time: Kent State (projected auto-qualifier), Texas A & M-CC (projected AQ), Indiana

Out since last time: Toledo, Nicholls State, Rutgers

Eliminated from consideration: Toledo, Nicholls State, Oregon, Saint Bonaventure, Virginia

1s: Gonzaga, Baylor, Arizona, Kansas (+1)

2s: Kentucky, Auburn (-1), Duke, Wisconsin

3s: Villanova, Purdue, Tennessee, Texas Tech

4s: Providence, UCLA, Arkansas, Illinois

5s: Connecticut, Houston, Saint Mary’s, Texas (+1)

6s: Southern Cal (+1), Colorado State, Ohio State, Alabama (-1)

7s: LSU (-1), Murray State, Seton Hall, Marquette

8s: Iowa State, Michigan State, Iowa, Boise State

9s: TCU, San Diego State, Creighton, Davidson

10s: Memphis, North Carolina, Miami, San Francisco

11s: Michigan, Notre Dame, Loyola Chicago, Wyoming

12s: VCU, Indiana (new), Xavier, SMU, UAB (new), South Dakota State

13s: Chattanooga, New Mexico State, Vermont, Princeton (+1)                

14s: Kent State (new), Delaware, Montana State, Longwood

15s: Long Beach State, Saint Peter’s, Colgate, Georgia State

16s: Jacksonville State, Norfolk State, Bryant, Wright State, Texas A & M – CC, Alcorn State

Last Four In: VCU, Indiana (new), Xavier, SMU

First Four Out: Rutgers (-1), Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma (+1)

Next Six Out: BYU, Texas A & M, Dayton, North Texas, Saint Louis, Colorado

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you on Saturday night with an updated projection. Check out the Bracket Matrix to see where other bracketologists have the teams!

Posted in March Madness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bracketology: Gonzaga Will Get a 1 Seed. Who Else?

There are three Thursdays of March Madness. This is the first, and we’ve already had a couple of teams come back from nearly 20 down in the second half today (Indiana over Michigan, TCU over Texas). Florida very nearly completed a comeback from 16 down late in the game against Texas A & M, before falling on a last-second 3 in overtime. All around the country, we’re seeing games go right down to the wire (St John’s vs. Villanova as I write this). It’s March!

So, going back to something I brought up last night, let’s look at how the 1 line is shaping up.

There are two teams that I think are locked in. These are Gonzaga and Baylor (who apparently haven’t fallen off at all since they faced off in last year’s championship game). Let’s look closer:

  • Gonzaga is 5-2 in Quad 1A (the top half of Quad 1), which is better than almost anyone else in the field. That includes 3 very high-quality non-conference wins (Texas Tech, UCLA, Texas), another figure that sets them apart. Finally, the West Coast Conference – despite the naysayers – was arguably high-major quality this year, and Gonzaga cleaned up against the likes of St. Mary’s (taking 2 of 3) and San Francisco (taking 3 of 3). St. Mary’s is going to be a fairly high seed (I think no worse than a 6) and San Francisco is very likely in the tournament.
  • Baylor is an amazing 10-4 in Quad 1, including a 6-3 road record, which outpaces the entire field. That includes wins at Texas, Iowa State, and TCU, all of whom are safely in the tournament. They also have a tremendous non-conference win against Villanova.

Then there are five other teams who I believe are competing for the last two top seeds. In order of how likely I think they are to get a 1 seed, they are Arizona (who I think is just about locked in), Auburn, Kansas, Kentucky, and Duke. Let’s look at each team’s record in Quad 1, Quad 1A, Quad  1 + Quad 2, and best wins and we will see why this is so close. Just for fun, we’ll also look at Duke,

TeamQuad 1Quad 1AQ1 + Q2Best wins
Arizona5-33-214-3At Illinois, vs. UCLA
Auburn8-43-315-4Vs. Kentucky, at Alabama
Kansas9-53-416-6Vs. Baylor, vs. Texas Tech
Kentucky9-63-513-6At Kansas, vs. Tennessee
Duke5-14-110-4Gonzaga (neutral), Kentucky (neutral)

Even Wisconsin, who I have as the 8th team overall, appears to have 1-seed potential when you consider they are 6-2 in Quad 1A (best in the field). The Badgers’ problem is they are #21 in the NET (predictive metrics are unfavorable too, relative to other teams on the top two lines), and as far as we know, that is just too low to earn a 1 seed.

One last point before we move on – I see the margin between Auburn and Kansas for the last 1 seed as razor thin right now. So up next…

How much do the conferment tournaments change things?

Ah, an appropriate time to talk about this given that Oklahoma (out of the field currently) just upset Baylor in the Big 12 quarterfinal. If you watched, you heard commentary late in the game that Kansas would replace Baylor on the 1-line if Kansas wins the Big 12 tournament, and that Oklahoma having 3 top-15 wins could be enough to get them in (in so many words). Let’s look at these two claims one by one.

  • Baylor being replaced by Kansas on the 1 line wasn’t going to happen before today, and it’s not going to happen just because Baylor lost to a decent Oklahoma team. I feel that I explained well why Baylor is locked into the top line. Additionally, they are a unanimous 1 seed on the Bracket Matrix as of Thursday afternoon. And the people on the Matrix are, overall, really good at this. So I feel 100% comfortable debunking the claim about Kansas replacing Baylor, for all of the reasons just stated.
  • With all due respect to Oklahoma, they are now 3-11 in Quad 1, and any remotely competent team could pick up 3 good wins in 14 tries. They are also 0-8 in Quad 1 road games. This is an absurdly bad statistic, and everyone I’m projecting as an at-large has won at least one Quad 1 road game. Beating Baylor was really impressive but I still don’t have the Sooners particularly close to the field. They could get an at-large but a lot would have to go their way the next couple of days.

The conference tournaments do matter – just not as much as a lot of commentators and pundits would have you think. After all, you’re talking about 3 or 4 games after teams have already played 30 or so. The most important thing about them, simply from a fan perspective, is that they are a lot of fun to watch and should rightfully be considered part of March Madness!

So what about the bubble?

Last night, I said the cutoff for “safely in the field” was at the last spot on the 8 line. I now think that everyone on the 9 line and above is safe. I think that TCU and Creighton have solidified their bids today with quality wins, and San Diego State was already locked in as of last night (I just moved them down to the 9 line while moving Boise State up to the 8 line).

So now, let’s get to tonight’s projection! Moves up or down since last night are in parentheses; auto-qualifiers are in bold. You’ll notice there are more changes than last night – these are largely the result of seed scrubbing, more so than today’s results.

1s: Gonzaga, Baylor, Arizona, Auburn

2s: Kansas, Kentucky, Duke, Wisconsin

3s: Villanova, Purdue, Tennessee, Texas Tech (+1)

4s: Providence (-1), Illinois, UCLA, Arkansas

5s: Saint Mary’s, Connecticut, Houston, Alabama

6s: Texas, Colorado State, Ohio State, LSU (+1)

7s: Southern Cal, Murray State, Seton Hall (+1), Marquette (-1)

8s: Iowa State, Michigan State (-1), Iowa, Boise State (+1)

9s: TCU, San Diego State (-1), Creighton, Davidson (+1)

10s: Memphis, Miami, North Carolina (-1), San Francisco

11s: Michigan, Notre Dame, Loyola Chicago, Wyoming

12s: VCU, Xavier, Rutgers, SMU, North Texas, South Dakota State

13s: Chattanooga, New Mexico State, Toledo, Vermont                

14s: Princeton, Delaware, Montana State, Longwood (+1)

15s: Long Beach State, Saint Peter’s, Colgate (+1), Georgia State

16s: Jacksonville State, Nicholls State, Norfolk State, Bryant, Wright State, Alcorn State

Last Four In: VCU, Xavier, Rutgers, SMU

First Four Out: Wake Forest, BYU, Indiana, Virginia Tech (+1)

Next Four Out: UAB, Dayton, Oklahoma, Texas A & M

Hanging by a thread: Oregon, Saint Bonaventure, Saint Louis, Virginia, Colorado

Eliminated from consideration: Saint John’s, Florida, South Carolina, UNLV, UCF, Iona, Mississippi State, Santa Clara, Belmont, Drake

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you on Friday night with an updated projection. Check out the Bracket Matrix to see where other bracketologists have the teams!

Posted in March Madness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bracketology: Are Michigan and Michigan State on the Bubble?

Welcome to my second bracket projection! In my 2022 debut last night, I told you that tonight, I’d take a closer look at how the field is shaping up. So let’s get right to the burning questions that are on college basketball fans’ minds at this time every year.

First, who will be a 1 seed?

For the sake of keeping this a blog post and not turning it into a book, I’ll dive deeper into the rationale behind my next statement tomorrow. But I think Gonzaga and Baylor are locked in as 1s, while Arizona, Auburn, Kansas, Kentucky, and Duke are in the running.

Who else is safely in?

So I think everyone from Wisconsin (#8 overall) to Texas (#21 overall) is in the running for a protected seed. This means they are a 4 seed or better and the Selection Committee tries to have them play as close to home as possible in the first weekend. Of course, Texas, who is now a 6 seed, has no shot to move up to Wisconsin’s spot. All I’m saying is I see them as the lowest team in tonight’s projection who could possibly get up to a 4.

Then, I’d say that everyone from Colorado State (#22 overall) to San Diego State (#32 overall) is in the field, period. And now, the biggest question of all…

Who’s on the bubble?

If we start at Boise State (#33 overall) and go down to SMU (#48 overall, last team in) – that gives us 14 teams on the right side of the bubble (Loyola-Chicago, in that range, has won their conference tournament and Davidson is projected to do so, giving them automatic bids). Seems like a lot of teams to still be unsafe this late, right? Yeah, but there are a lot of moving parts.

First of all, I feel there are almost as many teams on the wrong side of the bubble with more than a minimal chance of getting an at-large (and obviously the closer you get to the cut line, the higher the chance). Second of all, we have to be weary of the classic “bid steal,” in which a team who would only get in by winning its conference tournament does so and the top team in that conference is also getting in (i.e., the bid stealer turns a projected auto-qualifier into an at-large qualifier, thereby shrinking the field). I think that there is a decent chance of a bid steal from these conferences:

  • ACC. Did you see Syracuse beat Florida State by 39 today? Neither did I, but Syracuse has a way of heating up at just the right time, and the ACC isn’t that strong. If they knock off Duke tomorrow, all bets are off.
  • Pac-12. Oregon also has a way of heating up at the right time. I think they’re closer to the field than most do anyway but still not in. Competition in the Pac-12, like the ACC, is not that stiff and so it wouldn’t surprise me if the Ducks swiped a bid.
  • Mountain West. Utah State, Fresno State, and UNLV are all good enough to make a run and crush some bubble team’s dreams.
  • Atlantic 10. Some only have one A10 team in (Davidson) and that is understandable. I also have VCU in but even with that, watch out for Dayton. They just beat Davidson last week and it’s not hard to imagine them taking the A10 crown.
  • American. Houston has not been tested much and when they have, their results haven’t been optimal, going just 1-4 in Quad 1. Memphis and SMU are playing well but are certainly beatable. So watch out for someone unexpected taking the American.

So, when we consider all of the above, it’s no wonder that there are still a fair number of teams who aren’t safe. That said, I think everyone down to Memphis (#40 overall) will make it, but we can’t be sure in this part of the field. Which brings up…

Michigan

Yes, Michigan, who seemed to alternate between playing their way in and playing their way out on a game to game basis the past month. I think the Wolverines picked up enough good wins in that stretch alone – vs. Purdue, at Iowa, at Ohio State, vs. Michigan State, vs. Rutgers – that when combined with their overall strong metrics, they will make it. But what if they lose to Indiana on Thursday afternoon to fall to 17-14? History has not been kind to teams only 3 games above .500 when it comes to getting an at-large. So Michigan could really solidify their cause by winning tomorrow.

And what about their in-state rival, Michigan State?

The Spartans have played poorly the past few weeks, going only 3-7 and even getting blown out on several occasions (87-70 by Michigan, 86-60 by Iowa, etc.) But this is about the whole body of work, and Michigan State simply has too good a resume to be left out. They piled up quality wins early on against the likes of Purdue, Wisconsin (away), Connecticut (neutral), Loyola-Chicago (neutral), and Michigan, and their metrics are solid. I have them on the 7 line, which is a bit higher than most, but I still see absolutely no way the Spartans will be left out of the Big Dance.

Keep in mind, too, that every bracketologist will do their share of “seed scrubbing” these next few days, meaning they look closely at the resume of every team they are considering. This will lead them to change their projections. For that matter, the Selection Committee will do this too. And of course, with the conference tournaments really gearing up, we’re sure to have games that produce some movement in the field (a topic I’ll cover in greater depth tomorrow or Friday). With that said, let’s check out tonight’s updated field.  

Clinched bids since last time: Colgate

In since last time: St. Peter’s, SMU

Out since last time: Iona, Wake Forest

Eliminated from consideration since last time: none yet, but I anticipate several teams will be when I’m able to do more “scrubbing” leading up to the weekend.

1s: Gonzaga, Baylor, Arizona, Auburn (+1)

2s: Kansas (-1), Kentucky, Duke, Wisconsin

3s: Villanova, Purdue, Tennessee, Providence

4s: Texas Tech, UCLA, Illinois, Arkansas

5s: Connecticut, Saint Mary’s, Houston, Alabama

6s: Texas, Colorado State, Ohio State, Marquette

7s: LSU, Southern Cal, Murray State, Michigan State

8s: Iowa State, Seton Hall, Iowa, San Diego State

9s: Boise State, TCU, Creighton, North Carolina

10s: Davidson, San Francisco, Miami, Memphis

11s: Michigan, Notre Dame, Loyola Chicago, Wyoming

12s: Rutgers, Xavier, VCU, SMU (new), North Texas, South Dakota State

13s: Chattanooga, New Mexico State, Toledo, Vermont (+1)                

14s: Princeton, Delaware, Montana State, St. Peter’s (new)

15s: Jacksonville State, Georgia State, Long Beach State, Longwood

16s: Colgate, Nicholls State, Norfolk State, Bryant, Wright State, Alcorn State

Last Four In: Rutgers, Xavier, VCU, SMU

First Four Out: Wake Forest, BYU, Indiana, Oregon

Others Still Alive: Texas A & M, Florida, Virginia Tech, UAB, Dayton, Oklahoma, Saint Louis, Virginia, Saint Bonaventure, Mississippi State, Santa Clara, Belmont, Saint John’s, Colorado, Drake, South Carolina, UNLV, UCF

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you on Thursday with an updated projection and a closer look at the top seed lines. Also, check out the Bracket Matrix if you want to see over 100 more of these.

Posted in March Madness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bracketology 2022: I’m Back!

I’m back and it’s Champ Week! And if you’re not tuning in, you’re missing out. We’ve already had, just in the last few days, all kinds of games down to the wire in true March fashion. Illinois vs. Iowa in the final game of the regular season (a 2-point Illinois win to clinch the Big Ten title) and Chattanooga vs. Furman in the Southern Conference final (a buzzer-beating Chattanooga win) are a couple of examples. The madness has begun…

Before I get into the projection, here’s a brief overview of criteria I’m looking at. Basically, I’m looking at the team sheets the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee uses – these give detailed breakdowns of each team’s results and metrics. A good example can be found at Warren Nolan’s website, without which I (and probably many other bracketologists) would be wandering in the wilderness. The most important criteria – and thus the ones I’m most focused on – seem to be:

  • Good wins. Just about any Quad 1 win counts; road wins and/or those in the top half of Quad 1 are especially helpful. Some Quad 2 wins count too.
  • Bad losses. Just about any Quad 3 loss counts, and all Quad 4 losses count. A note about Quad 2 losses: some of these are in the questionable category, but do not seem to be judged as truly “bad” losses.
  • Quad 1A record. This is the top half of Quad 1. You pile up wins here and you’re not only in, you’re very likely looking at a high seed.
  • Combined Quad 1 + Quad 2 record. A very quick, useful way to get a picture of a team’s ability (or lack thereof) to beat good or at least decent teams.

Another point worth making is that beyond numbers, the percentages matter too. For example, Murray State and Florida both have two Quad 1 wins. But, I have Murray State as a 7 seed and Florida is well out of the field. Why? Murray State got those 2 Quad 1 wins in 3 opportunities, while it took Florida 11 such opportunities.

Another really useful tool with teams like Murray State, who play in “mid-major” conferences and just don’t get a lot of good win opportunities, are the advanced metrics featured on the team sheets. I don’t spend the same amount of energy examining these because it’s not clear which of the five are more prioritized by the Selection Committee than others, but they do come into play – we know that much. So, looking at those metrics, we can see that Murray State is, in fact, a good team (which was also clear just by watching them play this season).

Wednesday night, I’ll dive into a few topics on every college basketball fan’s mind this time of year:

  • Who will be a 1 seed?
  • Who else is safely in?
  • Who’s on the bubble (everyone’s favorite topic)?
  • And for my local readers, what is the range of possibilities for Michigan and Michigan State?

For now, it’s pushing midnight, so let’s get to my first projection! The teams in bold are auto-qualifiers (teams who have already won their conference tournaments).

1s: Gonzaga, Baylor, Arizona, Kansas

2s: Auburn, Kentucky, Duke, Wisconsin

3s: Villanova, Purdue, Tennessee, Providence

4s: Texas Tech, UCLA, Illinois, Arkansas

5s: Connecticut, Saint Mary’s, Houston, Alabama

6s: Texas, Colorado State, Ohio State, Marquette

7s: LSU, Southern Cal, Murray State, Michigan State

8s: Iowa State, Seton Hall, Iowa, San Diego State

9s: Boise State, TCU, Creighton, North Carolina

10s: Davidson, San Francisco, Miami, Memphis

11s: Michigan, Notre Dame, Loyola Chicago, Wyoming

12s: Rutgers, Xavier, VCU, Wake Forest, North Texas, South Dakota State

13s: Chattanooga, Iona, New Mexico State, Toledo

14s: Vermont, Princeton, Delaware, Montana State

15s: Jacksonville State, Georgia State, Long Beach State, Longwood

16s: Colgate, Nicholls State, Norfolk State, Bryant, Wright State, Alcorn State

Last Four In: Rutgers, Xavier, VCU, Wake Forest

First Four Out: SMU, BYU, Indiana, Oregon

Others Still Alive: Texas A & M, Florida, Virginia Tech, UAB, Dayton, Oklahoma, Saint Louis, Virginia, Saint Bonaventure, Mississippi State, Santa Clara, Belmont, Saint John’s, Colorado, Drake, South Carolina, UNLV, UCF

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you on Wednesday night with an updated projection and a breakdown of what it all means. Also, check out the Bracket Matrix if you want to see over 100 more of these.

Posted in March Madness | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bracketology: We Made it to Selection Sunday!

Here we go, Selection Sunday, one of the greatest days on the calendar, a day that should be declared a national holiday!

*** This paragraph is an update at 3:30 Eastern, with Colgate having earned the Patriot League autobid and my decision to put Louisville in the field and drop Wichita State out. When I looked at it more closely, Louisville does have 5 wins vs. at-large quality or close to it teams. And simply put, I don’t think Wichita State’s wins vs. Houston and at Ole Miss will be enough to overcome their poor NET ranking of 72 (You can see below why I originally had it the other way around with these two. Hopefully this change is correct!) ***

I mostly didn’t make a lot of changes since yesterday, after going through the data for hours late last night while watching the Pac-12 and other conference finals (and man, if you missed Bill Walton declaring “you can’t make your picks after the tournament starts, please!” in reference to Joe Lunardi, and his barrage of animal noises, you just missed out on life). This means I believe in what I’m doing here, which is a good thing! I’ll let the chips fall where they may. Before I get to the projection, here’s a quick update on the changes.

Texas and Oklahoma State flipped because I think the Big 12 winner will be rewarded, and even more so because they are similar enough in resume to justify it. And with all due respect to a very good Houston, their resume just isn’t good enough to put them on the 2 line. It might happen- but I don’t see a credible argument for it. (Of course, it wouldn’t be a Selection Sunday without at least one such occurrence, so we’ll see!)

Georgia Tech and Saint Bonaventure flipped because the Yellow Jackets have a slightly better body of work at this point, after beating Florida State for the second time this season in last night’s ACC final. The same can be said for LSU moving up to a 7 and Clemson dropping to an 8, as well as North Carolina moving up to a 9 and Maryland dropping to a 10, and San Diego State to a 7, Oklahoma to an 8.

I had my hardest time with the cut line today, as I’m sure most bracketologists are. Georgetown and Oregon State broke a lot of hearts last night with their bid thievery. Neither was going to make it as an at-large – but both won their conference finals in impressive fashion and knocked two teams out of the bracket.

Yesterday, I wrote about having Boise State in and Syracuse out. Today, they’re both out.

  • Louisville was one victim of the bid thievery, because – while I get that their 6-0 Quad 2 record could help them – they are just 1-6 vs. Quad 1, a far worse mark than any at-large team I have in. And if you’re relying on your record vs. Quad 2 – which can consist of good teams but also bad ones – to make up for a terrible Quad 1 mark, that shouldn’t be enough. (Updated at 3:30 EST; see above.)
  • Boise State was the other victim of the bid thievery because, while they do have two good road wins, as I noted yesterday, they also have a Quad 4 loss. No team I’m projecting as an at-large has this dubious claim. They also have a 14-6 conference record in the Mountain West, in which everyone plays everyone else twice. While conference record isn’t a criterion for the Selection Committee per se, it does tell us something when the conference schedule is balanced. And….
  • Colorado State went 14-3 in the Mountain West. They could have gone 14-6 if they got all their games in, but they also could have gone 17-3. Either way, 14-3 > 14-6. And the Mountain West just feels like a three-bid conference to me, plus Colorado State has two quality road wins (at San Diego State, at Utah State).
  • Drake also stays in. While their overall body of work is light on quality wins (just one vs. a good Loyola-Chicago), it’s also light on bad losses. And I think/hope the Committee will reward them for a great overall record (25-4) combined with a solid NET (45), as they did fellow mid-major Belmont in 2019.
  • Finally, Wichita State is in serious jeopardy of being snubbed after falling to a bad Cincinnati team yesterday and their NET ranking being a middling 72 (was 64). But I left them in on the strength of a great win vs. Houston this season. We’ll see! (Updated at 3:30 EST; see above.)

Nothing would surprise me here, but I have to make a decision and live with it. And I’m fine with these decisions given the rationale I have for them! No one is going to do this perfectly, and it is better to be wrong with conviction than to be wrong with no conviction.

So here’s today’s projection. As always, moves up or down since last time are in parentheses. Please note that there were three contingencies, now just one (the “if Cincinnati wins” one):

  1. If Loyola-Maryland beats Colgate in the Patriot League final:
    1. Loyola-Chicago is a 16 seed. This means:
    1. UNC-Greensboro jumps to a 13
    1. Cleveland State jumps to a 14
    1. Iona jumps to a 15
    1. All else remains as it is below
  2. If Cincinnati beats Houston in the American Athletic final:
    1. Cincinnati is a 14 seed. This means:
    1. A third bid thief! Unfortunately in this scenario, Colorado State is victimized and falls out of the field.
    1. Georgetown jumps to an 11
    1. UC-Santa Barbara jumps to a 12
    1. UNC-Greensboro jumps to a 13
    2. All else remains as it is below.
  3. If Loyola-Maryland AND Cincinnati win their finals – this is a nightmare for everyone involved, and the kind of thing that will make you start using Excel sheets if you’re not already (I already am, so good for me):
    1. Colorado State falls out of the field
    1. Georgetown jumps to an 11
    1. UC-Santa Barbara jumps to a 12
    1. UNC-Greensboro AND Abilene Christian jump to a 13
    1. Cleveland State jumps to a 14
    1. Iona jumps to a 15
    2. All else remains as it is below.

There, that wasn’t so bad, was it? Here we go with the projection!

In since last time: Georgetown, Oregon State, North Texas, Ohio, Texas Southern

Out since last time: Wichita State, Boise State, Western Kentucky, Buffalo, Prairie View

1s: Gonzaga, Baylor, Illinois, Michigan

2s: Ohio State, Alabama, Iowa, Texas (+1)

3s: Oklahoma State (-1), Houston, Kansas, Arkansas

4s: West Virginia, Virginia, Purdue, Florida State

5s: Tennessee, Villanova, Creighton, Colorado

6s: USC, Missouri, BYU, Texas Tech

7s: Oregon, Wisconsin, LSU (+1), San Diego State (+1)

8s: Clemson (-1), Oklahoma (-1), Florida, Loyola Chicago

9s: Connecticut, Rutgers, Georgia Tech (+1), North Carolina (+1)

10s: Maryland (-1), Saint Bonaventure (-1), Virginia Tech, VCU

11s: Michigan State, UCLA, Drake (+1), Utah State, Louisville (+1), Colorado State (+1)

12s: Georgetown (new), Winthrop, North Texas (new), Oregon State (new)

13s: UC-Santa Barbara, Colgate, Liberty, Ohio (new)

14s: UNC-Greensboro, Abilene Christian, Morehead State, Eastern Washington

15s: Cleveland State, Grand Canyon, Oral Roberts, Drexel

16s: Iona, Hartford, Mount Saint Mary’s, Appalachian State, Norfolk State, Texas Southern (new)

Last Four Byes: Virginia Tech, VCU, Michigan State, UCLA

Last Four In: Drake (+1), Utah State, Louisville (+1), Colorado State (+1),

First Five Out: Wichita State (-1), Boise State (-1), Ole Miss, Syracuse, Saint Louis

Thanks for reading, and check out the Bracket Matrix to see 150-200 projections and how they all stacked up! And, enjoy March Madness!

Posted in March Madness | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Bracketology: The Final Countdown to Selection Sunday

Here we go, the day before Selection Sunday, one of the greatest days on the calendar! At this point, most of the teams outside of the one-bid conferences are entrenched on their seed line, in my opinion. Also, from what we know, the Selection Committee doesn’t make a lot of changes from this point forward. So, with that in mind, here’s some insight into a few specifics in today’s projection.

Oklahoma State is the biggest mover, rising from the 4 line all the way to the 2 line. Interestingly, I’ve been high on Oklahoma State since I started my projections in February. Their run as of late – most recently defeating a sure 1 seed in Baylor yesterday – now has them with 10 Quad 1 wins. This is second in the nation only to Illinois, a likely 1 seed.

I rarely make such drastic moves this late in the process but when I compared Oklahoma State to Houston, who had the final 2 seed yesterday, I had to make this move. No disrespect to Houston, as they are a very good team. They only have 2 Quad 1 wins, though, and I don’t see any way this will be enough to surpass Oklahoma State – or potentially Texas, should they defeat Oklahoma State in tonight’s Big 12 final.

As we work our way down a bit further, we see that Colorado and USC flipped, such that Colorado is now a 5 and USC is now a 6. You could make a case either way; to their discredit, Colorado has 3 Quad 3 losses, while USC has none. But, USC has lost to Oregon State and Utah – neither of whom is good – and most importantly here, they’ve now lost three times to Colorado after dropping last night’s Pac-12 semifinal to the stampeding Buffaloes.

Descending further into the (March) madness, I had my hardest time with the 9 and 10 lines today. There are just so many teams with basically the same pros/cons here. Ultimately, I just left it the same as yesterday instead of out-thinking myself. The one exception is VCU rose up to the 10 line while UCLA fell to the 11 line. It was a “which one of these isn’t like the others” situation” where UCLA’s resume is clearly inferior to the other previous 9s and 10s (UConn, Rutgers, Maryland, St. Bonaventure, North Carolina, Georgia Tech, and Virginia Tech) and just a bit worse than VCU’s.

Finally, I’ve been in the minority with Boise State in and Syracuse out the last couple days. I believe in it and I’m sticking with it. Why? Well, let’s look back to 2019 for a historical precedent, first of all. That year, when Belmont picked up an at-large – to many bracketologists’ surprise – it was established that being able to pick up a good road win will be a decision point for teams at the cut line. Actually, this has long been true, but obviously, 2019 is the most recent example. So here’s the deal:

  • Boise State has 2 Quad 1 road wins (at BYU, at Colorado State)
  • Syracuse has just 1 – in 7 tries – and that’s at North Carolina State, who isn’t a tournament-quality team
  • Let’s throw in Drake and Louisville too, because the way I see it, the last spot is between these two and Syracuse. Drake has beaten the best team of the bunch, in terms of beating Loyola-Chicago this season (though it was at home, so I’ll give this one more look before my final projection tomorrow). Louisville won at Duke, who was on the fringes of the discussion before withdrawing from the ACC tournament… so there’s that.

Nothing would surprise me here, but I have to make a decision and live with it. And I’m fine with that decision given the rationale I have for it!

So here’s today’s projection. As always, moves up or down since last time are in parentheses.

In since last time: Buffalo, Norfolk State

Out since last time: Toledo, North Carolina A & T

Gone Fishin’ (i.e. eliminated from at-large consideration; I named this section in honor of the greatest sports studio show on earth, that of the NBA on TNT, who will bring us March Madness coverage):

  • Seton Hall (losing to Georgetown in the Big East semis yesterday tops off what was already not a very impressive body of work; they have one win over a tournament-quality team at UConn, and several bad losses)
  • Saint John’s (similar to Seton Hall, plus a home win vs. Villanova; still not enough)
  • Xavier (similar to their Big East counterparts I just discussed)
  • SMU (they were treading water to begin with and probably needed to win the American Athletic tournament to get in)

1s: Gonzaga, Baylor, Michigan, Illinois

2s: Ohio State, Iowa, Alabama, Oklahoma State (+2)

3s: Texas, Houston (-1), Kansas, Arkansas

4s: West Virginia, Virginia, Purdue, Florida State (+1)  

5s: Creighton, Tennessee, Villanova (-1), Colorado (+1)

6s: USC (-1), Missouri, Texas Tech, BYU

7s: Oklahoma, Oregon, Wisconsin, Clemson  

8s: LSU, Florida, Loyola Chicago, San Diego State  

9s: Connecticut, Rutgers, Maryland, Saint Bonaventure

10s: North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, VCU (+1)

11s: UCLA (-1), Wichita State, Michigan State, Utah State (+1)

12s: Colorado State (-1), Boise State, Drake, Louisville, Winthrop, Western Kentucky

13s: Colgate, UC-Santa Barbara, Liberty, Buffalo (new)

14s: Abilene Christian, Morehead State, UNC-Greensboro, Eastern Washington

15s: Cleveland State, Grand Canyon, Oral Roberts, Drexel

16s: Iona, Hartford, Mount Saint Mary’s, Prairie View, Appalachian State, Norfolk State (new)

Last Four Byes: UCLA (-1), Wichita State, Michigan State, Utah State (+1)

Last Four In: Colorado State (-1), Boise State, Drake, Louisville

First Four Out: Syracuse, Ole Miss, Saint Louis, Memphis (+1)

Thanks for reading, and look for my final update tomorrow before the Selection Show! Check out the Bracket Matrix in the meantime!

Posted in March Madness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bracketology: Bubble Watch!

It was a rough day for bubble teams yesterday. Michigan State continued their incredibly inconsistent (sometimes incompetent) ways, going on their second 10-minute-plus field goal drought in their past 3 games and dropping a 68-57 decision to Maryland. Boise State lost to Nevada for the third time this season. And Syracuse came close to solidifying their case for a bid against Virginia, but fell on a buzzer-beating 3.

As I wrote yesterday though, we had already hit the point where other than extreme cases, teams were likely to stay within a seed line of where they were. Michigan State was an 11 and stays in today. Boise State and Syracuse were both 12s, so they were in more jeopardy of falling out of the tournament field entering yesterday.

Here’s the thing: Boise State has road wins at BYU (a 6 seed in today’s projection) and Colorado State (an 11 in today’s projection), while Syracuse has no road wins over a team of any quality. Thus, Syracuse fell out of the field today and they were replaced by Louisville. The Cardinals don’t have an impressive body of work either, but at least they beat Duke – who was pushing the cut line before yesterday’s unfortunate news (see below) – on the road. So, whatever, I might change my mind about these two teams again tomorrow, but for now, it’s Louisville in, Syracuse out.

So here’s today’s projection. As always, moves up or down since last time are in parentheses.

In since last time: Louisville

Out since last time: Syracuse

Gone Fishin’ (i.e. eliminated from at-large consideration; I named this section in honor of the greatest sports studio show on earth, that of the NBA on TNT, who will bring us March Madness coverage):

  • Duke. Whether you love ‘em or hate ‘em (and believe me, I don’t love ‘em), no one should be happy about how this happened. The Blue Devils had a positive COVID test come up before they were to play Florida State in the ACC quarters yesterday and decided to end their season. They were still on the wrong side of the bubble but obviously, a W over Florida State would have really helped their cause. Let’s hope that there won’t be more COVID casualties in March Madness.
  • Minnesota. The Golden Gophers had enough quality wins before their February/early March meltdown (Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa, Purdue) that an at-large was in the realm of possibility if they picked up a W vs. Ohio State yesterday and kept it rolling vs. Purdue today. But, they didn’t, and so they’ve gone fishin’, or probably ice fishin’ given that it’s March in the coldest metro area in the United States.

1s: Gonzaga, Baylor, Michigan, Illinois

2s: Alabama, Iowa, Ohio State, Houston

3s: Texas, Kansas, West Virginia, Arkansas

4s: Oklahoma State, Virginia, Purdue, Villanova  

5s: USC, Creighton, Florida State, Tennessee

6s: Missouri, Colorado, Texas Tech, BYU (+1)

7s: Oklahoma (-1), Oregon, Wisconsin, Clemson  

8s: Florida, LSU, Loyola Chicago, San Diego State  

9s: Connecticut, Rutgers, Maryland (+1), Saint Bonaventure (+1)

10s: North Carolina, Virginia Tech (-1), Georgia Tech (+1), UCLA (-1)

11s: VCU (-1), Wichita State, Michigan State, Colorado State

12s: Boise State, Utah State, Drake, Louisville (new), Winthrop, Western Kentucky

13s: Colgate, Toledo, UC-Santa Barbara, Liberty

14s: Abilene Christian, Morehead State, UNC-Greensboro, Eastern Washington

15s: Cleveland State, Grand Canyon, Oral Roberts, Drexel

16s: Iona, Hartford, Mount Saint Mary’s, Prairie View, Appalachian State, North Carolina A & T

Last Four Byes: VCU (-1), Wichita State, Michigan State, Colorado State

Last Four In: Boise State, Utah State, Drake, Louisville (new)

First Four Out: Syracuse (-1), Ole Miss, Seton Hall (+1), Saint Louis (+1)

Next Four Out: Saint John’s (-1), Xavier, Memphis, SMU

Thanks for reading, and look for my next update tomorrow (Saturday). Check out the Bracket Matrix in the meantime!

Posted in March Madness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bracketology: What Will it be for Duke and Michigan State?

After a couple days/nights of bids being clinched and some key wins for at-large contenders (Duke beating Louisville for example), we have a few shifts in the NCAA tournament projection. These are mostly towards the cut line, as the high seed contenders will be getting into the action today after receiving byes from the opening rounds of their conference tournaments.

Generally speaking, I’d say just about every team is capable of rising or falling one line from here; in extreme cases, a team might rise or fall two lines. So, in my view, everyone from Michigan State (the 3rd team on the 11 line) on up is safely in the field. The last five spots (Colorado State, Boise State, Syracuse, Utah State, Drake) are precarious. And with three of those five being occupied by Mountain West teams, that conference tournament alone could really shake things up.

So here it is. As always, moves up or down since last time are in parentheses.

Clinched bids since last time: Drexel (Colonial Athletic), Mount Saint Mary’s (Northeastern), Cleveland State (Horizon), Oral Roberts (Summit), Gonzaga (West Coast) (these teams and other auto-qualifiers are bolded below)

In since last time: Mount Saint Mary’s, Iona, Syracuse

Out since last time: Bryant, Siena (both eliminated due to losing in one-bid conference tournaments), Louisville (first team out today after their loss to Duke last night)

Gone Fishin’ (i.e. eliminated from at-large consideration; I named this section in honor of the greatest sports studio show on earth, that of the NBA on TNT, who will bring us March Madness coverage):

  • Providence (lost to Depaul in the Big East 1st round), though they were barely ever in consideration. But a couple of good wins in the Big East tournament could have given them an argument for being included in the March Madness field.
  • North Carolina State (lost to Syracuse in the ACC 2nd round). Like Providence, they were barely in consideration, but a couple of good wins in the ACC tournament could have given them a case.
  • Stanford (lost to Cal in the Pac-12 1st round). Stanford is the ultimate example of a team worn down by COVID-19 protocols, having spent nearly three months straight on the road. Historically though, the Selection Committee tends to surprise us each year by including one team as an at-large that no one saw in the field… and that team is often on the 11 line. So why do I have a weird feeling the Selection Committee will use Stanford’s crazy schedule as a reason to overlook their poor performance of late and put them in the field? Stay tuned….

1s: Gonzaga, Baylor, Michigan, Illinois

2s: Alabama, Iowa, Ohio State, Houston

3s: West Virginia, Arkansas, Texas, Kansas (+1)

4s: Villanova (-1), Oklahoma State, Virginia, Purdue

5s: USC, Creighton, Florida State, Tennessee (+1)  

6s: Texas Tech (-1), Colorado, Missouri, Oklahoma

7s: Oregon, Wisconsin, BYU, Clemson  

8s: Florida, LSU, San Diego State, Loyola Chicago  

9s: Connecticut, Virginia Tech, Rutgers, UCLA

10s: Maryland, Saint Bonaventure, North Carolina (+1), VCU

11s: Georgia Tech (-1), Wichita State, Michigan State, Colorado State

12s: Boise State, Syracuse (new), Utah State, Drake, Winthrop, Western Kentucky

13s: Colgate, Toledo, UC-Santa Barbara, Liberty

14s: Abilene Christian, Morehead State, UNC-Greensboro, Eastern Washington

15s: Cleveland State, Grand Canyon, Oral Roberts, Drexel

16s: Iona (new), Hartford, Mount Saint Mary’s (new), Prairie View, Appalachian State, North Carolina A & T

Last Four Byes: Georgia Tech (-1), Wichita State, Michigan State, Colorado State

Last Four In: Boise State, Syracuse (new), Utah State, Drake

First Four Out: Louisville (-1), Ole Miss, Duke (+2), Saint John’s (+1)

Next Six Out: Saint Louis (-1), Seton Hall, Xavier (-1), Memphis, SMU, Minnesota (+1)

Thanks for reading, and look for my next update tomorrow (Friday). Check out the Bracket Matrix in the meantime!

Posted in March Madness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment