Bracketology: The Field is Narrowing

With March almost here, the field is narrowing.  Once we get past the Next Four Out, teams are hanging on by a thread.  Take Indiana, for example.  With last night’s loss at Iowa, the Hoosiers fall to 15-13 overall, 5-10 in the Big Ten.  Since 2011, no team has gotten an at-large bid with more than 13 losses.  By that logic, the Hoosiers need to win out, including through the Big Ten tournament.

I still think that because of their early season wins against Kansas and North Carolina, the Hoosiers could sneak into the NCAA field by winning their three remaining regular season games – Northwestern, Purdue, and Ohio State, which would add two more quality wins – and getting to the finals of the Big Ten tourney.  But, that’s a tall order for a team that has lost 5 in a row and doesn’t ever seem interested in playing defense.

Of course, every team still has chances for good wins and bad losses, with the last few regular season games and the conference tournaments approaching.  The field could look much different by Selection Sunday.  With that said, let’s get to today’s projection.

As always, moves up or down since the previous update are in parentheses after the team’s name, and projected automatic qualifiers are in bold.

 In since Sunday’s update: Providence

Out since Sunday’s update: Syracuse

1s: Villanova, Kansas, Gonzaga, North Carolina

2s: Louisville, Baylor, Oregon, Duke

3s: Florida State, Florida, Arizona, UCLA (+1)

4s: Kentucky (-1), West Virginia, Purdue, Butler

5s: Creighton, Wisconsin (+1), Cincinnati, Virginia

6s: Notre Dame (-1), SMU, Saint Mary’s, Maryland

7s: Iowa State, Minnesota, South Carolina, Oklahoma State

8s: Xavier, Dayton, VCU, Miami (+1)

9s: Northwestern (-1), Virginia Tech, Wichita State (+1), Michigan

10s: Michigan State, Kansas State (-1), Marquette, Southern California

11s: Arkansas, Seton Hall, California, Providence (new), Middle Tennessee

12s: Illinois State, TCU, Texas-Arlington, UNC-Wilmington, Nevada

13s: Vermont, Monmouth, Princeton, Akron

14s: UNC-Asheville, Belmont, Oakland, Florida Gulf Coast

15s: Bucknell, Cal-Bakersfield, Furman, North Dakota State

16s: North Dakota, Texas Southern, Cal-Irvine, Mount Saint Mary’s, New Orleans, North Carolina Central

Last Four In: California, Providence, Illinois State, TCU

NIT Projection

 1s (First Four Out of NCAA Tournament field): Syracuse, Rhode Island, Tennessee (+1), Wake Forest

2s (Next Four Out): Georgia Tech, Texas Tech (-1), Alabama (+1), Georgetown

3s (Third Four Out): Houston, Vanderbilt, Indiana (-1), Illinois (+2)

4s: Boise State, Georgia, Clemson (-1), Utah

5s: Ohio State, Charleston, Pittsburgh, Valparaiso (+1)

6s: Ole Miss (-1), Arkansas State, Auburn (+1), Chattanooga (+1)

7s: New Mexico (-1), Memphis (-1), BYU, Colorado State (+1)

8s: Iowa (+1), Winthrop (-1), San Francisco, Richmond (+1)

Look for my next update before the weekend, and check out the Bracket Matrix in the meantime!

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Bracketology: North Carolina is a 1 Seed

We all knew this would happen.  An ACC team has reached the top line.  With the strength and depth of the conference, it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which the ACC doesn’t get a 1 seed.  A classic between Kansas and Baylor, won by the former after Baylor failed to score in the final three minutes, moved Baylor down to the 2 line and opened up the last 1 seed.

The winner, for the moment, is North Carolina.  An embarrassment – to the tune of 65-41 – of a very good Virginia team was the selling point.  That adds to very high-quality wins over Florida State (home), Wisconsin (neutral), and Notre Dame (home).  Beyond that, the Tar Heels have four more wins over teams currently in the field.

Louisville also has a strong case for the 1 seed right now.  They actually have a better strength of schedule than North Carolina at the moment, and a KenPom rating of 4, to North Carolina’s 6.  It is really a thin margin between the two teams.  They even have similar quality wins, or it could be argued that Louisville’s are better, having beaten a current 2, 3, and 4 seed: Duke, Kentucky, and Purdue.  It really came down to the style points: Louisville beat a good Virginia Tech team at home by 4 yesterday, while North Carolina crushed an excellent Virginia team.  I wouldn’t be surprised at all if this seed goes back and forth in the next couple of weeks.  For now, Louisville is the top 2 seed.

With all that said, it’s time for me to watch Michigan take on Minnesota in a key matchup for both teams, so here’s the projection.  As always, moves up or down are in parentheses after the team’s name, and projected automatic qualifiers are in bold.

 In since yesterday’s update: North Dakota

 Out since yesterday’s update: Weber State

1s: Villanova, Kansas, Gonzaga, North Carolina (+1)

2s: Louisville, Baylor (-1), Oregon, Duke (+1)

3s: Arizona, Florida State (-1), Florida, Kentucky

4s: UCLA, West Virginia, Purdue (+1), Butler

5s: Virginia (-1), Notre Dame, Cincinnati, Creighton

6s: SMU, Maryland, Wisconsin, Saint Mary’s (+1)

7s: Iowa State, South Carolina (-1), Minnesota, Oklahoma State (+1)

8s: Xavier (-1), Northwestern (+1), Dayton (+1), VCU

9s: Virginia Tech, Michigan, Miami (+1), Kansas State (+1)

10s: Wichita State, Marquette (+1), Michigan State (-2), Southern California (-2)

11s: Arkansas, Seton Hall (-1), Syracuse, California, Middle Tennessee (+1)

12s: Illinois State (-1), TCU (-1), Texas-Arlington, UNC-Wilmington, Nevada (+1)

13s: Vermont (-1), Princeton, Monmouth, Akron

14s: UNC-Asheville, Belmont, Florida Gulf Coast (+1), Oakland

15s: Cal-Bakersfield, Bucknell, Furman (-1), North Dakota State

16s: North Dakota (new), Texas Southern, UC-Irvine, Mount Saint Mary’s, New Orleans, North Carolina Central

 Last Four In: Syracuse, California, Illinois State, TCU

NIT Projection

 In since yesterday’s update: La Salle, Eastern Tennessee State, San Francisco

Out since yesterday’s update: Penn State, Iowa, Colorado

 1s (First Four Out of NCAA tournament field): Providence, Texas Tech, Rhode Island, Wake Forest (+1)

2s (Next Four Out): Tennessee, Georgetown, Indiana (-1), Georgia Tech

3s (Third Four Out): Alabama, Vanderbilt (+1), Clemson, Houston

4s (Fourth Four Out): Utah, Boise State, Georgia, Ohio State (-1)

5s: Illinois, Charleston, Ole Miss, Pittsburgh (+2)

6s: Valparaiso (-1), New Mexico, Arkansas State (+1), Memphis (+2)

7s: Auburn (-1), Chattanooga (-1), BYU (-1), Winthrop (+1)

8s: Colorado State, La Salle (+1), Eastern Tennessee State (+1), San Francisco (+1)

Look for my next projection early in the week, and check out the Bracket Matrix for more bracketology in the meantime!

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Bracketology: Another Michigan Team in the Mix

As we head into a huge Saturday of college hoops, complete with a rematch of Kansas vs. Baylor, there is one major change in the field from last night.  This is in the Horizon League, where Oakland is now projected as the conference winner.  They are one game behind Valparaiso, but they completed the season sweep of Valpo last night with a double-digit win.  In fact, both of Oakland’s wins over Valpo are by double digits, leading me to believe they are the better team.  So welcome to the field, Grizzlies!

Let’s get right to it.  As always, moves up or down since yesterday’s update are in parentheses after the team’s name, and projected automatic qualifiers are in bold.

 In since yesterday’s update: Oakland

 Out since yesterday’s update: Valparaiso

1s: Villanova, Kansas, Gonzaga, Baylor

2s: Louisville, North Carolina, Oregon, Florida State

3s: Arizona, Duke, Florida, Kentucky

4s: Virginia, UCLA, Butler, West Virginia

5s: Purdue, Notre Dame, Cincinnati, Creighton

6s: Maryland, SMU, Wisconsin, South Carolina

7s: Saint Mary’s, Iowa State, Minnesota, Xavier

8s: Oklahoma State, Michigan State, USC, VCU (+1)

9s: Virginia Tech, Northwestern, Dayton (-1), Michigan

10s: Miami, Wichita State, Seton Hall, Kansas State

11s: Arkansas, Marquette, TCU, Syracuse, California, Illinois State

12s: Middle Tennessee, Texas-Arlington (+1), UNC-Wilmington, Vermont

13s: Nevada, Princeton (+1), Monmouth, Akron

14s: UNC-Asheville, Furman, Belmont, Oakland (new)

15s: Florida Gulf Coast, Cal-Bakersfield, Bucknell, North Dakota State

16s: Texas Southern, Weber State, Cal-Irvine, Mount Saint Mary’s, New Orleans, North Carolina Central

Last Four In: TCU, Syracuse, California, Illinois State

And today I’m starting something new… since I’m tracking teams far down anyway, I’m doing an NIT projection.  Keep in mind that any regular season conference winner who doesn’t make the NCAA tournament goes to the NIT, and there are always a few of those.  That makes this super hard to project, but why not do it for fun?

NIT PROJECTION

 1s (First Four Out of NCAA field): Texas Tech, Providence, Indiana, Rhode Island

2s (Next Four Out of NCAA field): Georgia Tech, Tennessee, Wake Forest, Georgetown

3s (Third Four Out of NCAA field): Clemson, Houston, Alabama, Ohio State

4s: Boise State, Utah, Georgia, Vanderbilt

5s: Illinois, Charleston, Ole Miss, Valparaiso

6s: New Mexico, Auburn, Chattanooga, BYU

7s: Pittsburgh, Iowa, Colorado, Arkansas State

8s: Penn State, Colorado State, Memphis, Winthrop

Thanks for reading, and look for the next update tomorrow morning after today’s huge slate of games.  As always, check out the Bracket Matrix!

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Bracketology: Michigan is Surging

After the home loss to Ohio State two weeks ago, it looked like you could write off the Michigan Wolverines for the year.  The team was 4-6 in a weak (relative to recent years) Big Ten, without enough quality wins to make up for it.

Fast forward two weeks, and my hometown team has three wins a row now, starting with an annihilation of Michigan State (86-57) last Tuesday.  Next was a win at Assembly Hall, something I hardly ever remember seeing.  And then last night, a huge home win over Wisconsin.  John Beilein has his team surging at the best possible time, holding the past three opponents to an average of 59 points.  That kind of defense, combined with hot 3-point shooting, could make the Wolverines a dangerous team in March.

With that said, let’s get right into the update as we head into the weekend.  As always, moves up or down are in parentheses after the team’s name.  Projected automatic qualifiers are in bold.

 In since last update: Nevada, Arkansas, Syracuse

 Out since last update: Boise State, Rhode Island, Indiana

1s: Villanova, Kansas, Gonzaga, Baylor

2s: Louisville, North Carolina, Oregon, Florida State (+1)

3s: Arizona (-1), Duke (+1), Florida, Kentucky

4s: Virginia (-1), UCLA, Butler, West Virginia

5s: Purdue, Notre Dame, Cincinnati, Creighton

6s: Maryland, SMU, Wisconsin, South Carolina

7s: Saint Mary’s, Iowa State, Minnesota, Xavier

8s: Oklahoma State, Michigan State (+1), Southern California, Dayton

9s: Virginia Tech, Northwestern (-1), VCU, Michigan (+1)

10s: Miami, Wichita State (-1), Seton Hall (+1), Kansas State

11s: Arkansas (new), Marquette (-1), TCU, California, Illinois State, Syracuse (new)

12s: Middle Tennessee, UNC-Wilmington, Vermont, Valparaiso

13s: Texas Arlington, Nevada (new), Akron, Monmouth

14s: UNC-Asheville, Princeton, Furman, Belmont

15s: Florida Gulf Coast, Cal-Bakersfield, Bucknell, North Dakota State

16s: Texas Southern, Weber State, Cal-Irvine, Mount Saint Mary’s, New Orleans, North Carolina Central

Last Four In: TCU, California, Illinois State, Syracuse

First Four Out: Texas Tech, Providence (+1), Indiana, Rhode Island

Next Four Out: Georgia Tech, Tennessee, Wake Forest (-1), Georgetown

Third Four Out: Clemson, Houston, Alabama (+1), Ohio State

Fourth Four Out: Boise State, Utah (-1), Georgia, Vanderbilt (+2)

Thanks for reading, and look for a couple more updates over the weekend.  Check out the Bracket Matrix in the meantime!

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Bracketology: Almost, ACC

Monday had a light schedule, but it had major implications for the tournament.  First off, can you believe West Virginia’s meltdown at Kansas?  With 3 minutes to go, the Mountaineers were up 64-50 and in complete control of the game.  And somehow, Kansas won the game in overtime, basically guaranteeing themselves their 13th straight Big 12 regular season title.  With the win, West Virginia would have been a game behind Kansas in the Big 12 standings with the sweep of the regular season series.  It was one of the craziest endings to a game I’ve seen in a long time, and a good reminder that March is almost here.

Elsewhere in the Big 12, Baylor lost at Texas Tech, for their third loss in February.  I was ready to move them down to the 2 line and to move Louisville up to the 1 line.  It is almost certain that an ACC team will get a 1 seed and that either Baylor or Kansas will wind up as a 2.  But looking at the resumes, I couldn’t quite do it yet.  Baylor has 12 wins against teams currently projected in the field, versus 7 for Louisville.  And, one of those wins for Baylor is on a neutral court against Louisville.  So expect an ACC team to reach the 1 line, but not quite yet.

Finally, I have to mention the Connecticut women’s basketball team, who has now won an unreal 100 games in a row!  Just as amazing, they have gone 837 games without consecutive losses.  That’s a span of probably a quarter century.  That is ridiculous.

With all that said, here’s tonight’s projection.  Moves up or down since my last projection are in parentheses after the team’s name, and projected automatic qualifiers are in bold.

In since last update: Boise State, Seton Hall

Out since last update: Nevada, Wake Forest

1s: Villanova, Kansas, Gonzaga, Baylor

2s: Louisville, North Carolina, Oregon, Arizona

3s: Florida State, Virginia, Florida, Kentucky

4s: UCLA, Duke, West Virginia, Butler

5s: Creighton, Purdue, Notre Dame, Cincinnati

6s: Wisconsin, South Carolina, SMU (+1), Maryland

7s: Xavier (-1), Saint Mary’s, Iowa State, Minnesota (+1)

8s: Northwestern, Southern Cal (-1), Oklahoma State, Dayton

9s: Virginia Tech (+1), VCU (-1), Michigan State, Wichita State

10s: Kansas State (-1), Miami, Michigan (+1), Marquette

11s: TCU, California, Indiana (-1), Rhode Island, Illinois State (+1), Seton Hall (new)

12s: Middle Tennessee (-1), Valparaiso, Vermont, UNC-Wilmington (+1)

13s: Boise State (new), Texas Arlington, Akron (-1), Monmouth

14s: Princeton, UNC-Asheville, Furman, Belmont

15s: Bucknell, Florida Gulf Coast, North Dakota State, Cal-Bakersfield

16s: UC-Irvine, Mount Saint Mary’s, Texas Southern, Weber State, New Orleans, North Carolina Central

 Last Four In: Indiana, Rhode Island, Illinois State, Seton Hall

First Four Out: Arkansas, Syracuse, Texas Tech (+1), Wake Forest

Next Four Out: Tennessee (-1), Georgetown, Georgia Tech, Providence

Third Four Out: Utah, Ohio State, Clemson, Houston

Fourth Four Out: Alabama (+1), Georgia, Temple, Pittsburgh (+1)

Look for my next update later in the week, and check out the Bracket Matrix in the meantime!

 

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Was the Bracket Preview a Surprise?

What did you think of the NCAA’s bracket preview yesterday?  Nothing was too surprising to me.  The two biggest questions on ESPN, on Twitter, and seemingly everywhere else college hoops was being discussed were how was Gonzaga the last 1 seed, and how did the Big Ten not have a team on the top 4 lines?

I had Gonzaga as my final 1 seed going into yesterday, as did the Selection Committee.  There’s no doubt that the Bulldogs played – and beat – many tough teams in the non-conference, including Arizona, Florida, Iowa State, and Tennessee.  They also had the big home win over St. Mary’s (and added a road win against the Gaels last night).  But, this is where playing in the West Coast Conference holds them back.  They’re a power team in a non-power conference, and they just don’t get the quality win opportunities that fellow 1 seeds Villanova, Kansas, and Baylor get.

Now, the Big Ten.  I had Purdue as a 4 seed and Wisconsin as a 5 seed in my projection yesterday.  The first time any Big Ten team reached my top 4 lines was two weeks ago on January 27 – that was Purdue  (This was the same day Gonzaga reached the 1 line for me.)  It seemed like more of the questions yesterday, though, were about how Wisconsin couldn’t be up there.  They pass the “eye test,”  they’re ranked in the Top 10.

The problem for the Badgers, though, is that their best win is at Minnesota.  After that, it’s two wins against Indiana, a home win against Michigan, a home win against Marquette, and a neutral-court win against Tennessee.  Looking at yesterday’s update of the Bracket Matrix, that’s a 7 seed (Minnesota), and then three 11 seeds – Marquette, Tennessee, and Indiana – with Tennessee and Indiana being the last two teams in the field.

The other message here seems to be that most of the Big Ten teams near the cut line are in trouble.  The Indiana-Michigan game that is happening right now has huge implications right now for that reason.

So, here’s today’s projection.  To start, I put the teams on the top 4 lines in order of how they were in the Bracket Preview, and went from there.  Of course, there were changes based on the results of yesterday’s games.  Moves up or down since yesterday are in parentheses next to the team’s name, with projected auto qualifiers in bold.

 In since last update: Texas-Arlington, Cal-Bakersfield, Illinois State

 Out since last update: Georgia State, New Mexico State, Seton Hall

1s: Villanova, Kansas, Baylor, Gonzaga

2s: Louisville, North Carolina, Oregon (+1), Arizona

3s: Florida State (-1), Virginia (-1), Florida (+2), Kentucky

4s: West Virginia (+1), Duke, UCLA (-1), Butler

5s: Creighton (-1), Purdue, Notre Dame (+1), Cincinnati

6s: Wisconsin (-1), Maryland (+1), South Carolina, Xavier

7s: Saint Mary’s (-1), SMU, Iowa State (+1), Southern Cal

8s: Dayton, Minnesota, VCU, Oklahoma State (+1)

9s: Northwestern (-1), Michigan State (+1), Wichita State, Kansas State

10s: Virginia Tech, Miami, Marquette (-1), Indiana (+1)

11s: TCU, Michigan, California (+1), Rhode Island, Middle Tennessee

12s: Wake Forest, Illinois State (new), Valparaiso, Vermont, Akron (+1)

13s: UNC-Wilmington (-1), Nevada, Monmouth, Texas-Arlington (new)

14s: Princeton, UNC-Asheville, Furman, Belmont (-1)

15s: Florida Gulf Coast, North Dakota State, Bucknell, Cal-Bakersfield (new)

16s: Texas Southern, Mount Saint Mary’s, Cal-Irvine, Weber State, New Orleans, North Carolina Central

Last Four In: California, Rhode Island, Wake Forest, Illinois State

First Four Out: Arkansas, Syracuse, Tennessee, Seton Hall

Next Four Out: Georgetown, Georgia Tech, Providence, Texas Tech

Third Four Out: Utah (+1), Ohio State, Clemson (-1), Houston (+1)

Fourth Four Out: Boise State, Georgia (+1), Illinois (-1), Temple

Look for my next update mid-week, and check out the Bracket Matrix in the meantime!

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Bracketology: The Pac 12 Powers

Here’s a quick update as a big day of college hoops gets underway.  As I wrote about on Wednesday night, we still have no clarity as we move towards the middle and bottom of the field.  There are so many teams from lines 7-12 who could easily be two seeds higher or lower than where they are now.

The top of the field is getting more intriguing too.  Check out the Pac 12, for example.  Arizona is now a 2 seed (7 overall), with Oregon a 3 seed (10 overall) and UCLA a 3 as well (11 overall).  Oregon just destroyed Arizona last Saturday by 27 points.  But consider this: Arizona is now the leader in the Pac 12 at 11-1 in conference play (Oregon is 10-2, UCLA is 9-3).  And, Arizona’s three losses are to Gonzaga, Oregon, and Butler – three of the top teams in the nation.

Of the three Pac 12 teams near the top, Oregon has the best quality of wins, which include Arizona and UCLA, plus three other teams currently in the field.  But I had to give the nod to Arizona for now.  With a few weeks to go in the regular season and then the conference tournaments, we’ll see who emerges as the winner out west.

With all that said, here’s today’s projection.  Moves up or down since my last update are in parentheses after the team’s name, and projected auto qualifiers are in bold.

 In since last update: UNC-Asheville, Nevada, Furman, New Orleans, California

 Out since last update: Winthrop, Boise State, Chattanooga, Sam Houston State, Illinois State

1s: Villanova, Kansas, Baylor, Gonzaga

2s: Florida State, Virginia, Arizona (+1), North Carolina

3s: Louisville, Oregon (-1), UCLA (+1), Kentucky

4s: Duke (+1), Creighton, Purdue, Butler (+1)

5s: West Virginia (-1), Florida, Wisconsin, Cincinnati

6s: Saint Mary’s, Xavier, Notre Dame, South Carolina

7s: Maryland, SMU, Southern Cal, Dayton (+1)

8s: Northwestern, Minnesota, VCU, Iowa State (+1)

9s: Kansas State, Oklahoma State (-1), Marquette, Wichita State (+1)

10s: Michigan State, Virginia Tech (-1), Seton Hall (+1), Miami (+1)

11s: TCU, Michigan, Indiana (-1), Rhode Island (-1), Middle Tennessee

12s: California (new), Wake Forest, UNC-Wilmington, Vermont, Valparaiso (+1)

13s: Akron, Nevada (new), Monmouth, Belmont (+1)

14s: Princeton, UNC-Asheville (new), New Mexico State (-1), Furman

15s: Georgia State, Florida Gulf Coast (-1), North Dakota State (+1), Bucknell

16s: Texas Southern (-1), Mount Saint Mary’s, Cal-Irvine, Weber State, New Orleans (new), North Carolina Central

Last Four In: Indiana, Rhode Island, California, Wake Forest

First Four Out: Syracuse, Illinois State, Tennessee, Arkansas

Next Four Out: Georgia Tech, Georgetown (+1), Clemson, Providence

Third Four Out: Texas Tech (-1), Illinois, Vanderbilt, Ohio State (+2)

Fourth Four Out: Utah (+1), Boise State, Houston (+1), Temple

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the games today!  Look for my next update tomorrow (Sunday) and check out the Bracket Matrix in the meantime.

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Bracketology: Mix up in the Middle

As we get further into February, the bottom of the at-large pool gets even harder to seed.  There is so little separation between the teams ranging from the 9 to 12 lines right now, and teams who are well into the “Out” lines can make a strong case to be in the field.  One thing I expect is that by the time the conference tournaments tip off, this part of the field will look nothing like it does now.

Before I get into the projection, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the big win last night for my hometown Michigan Wolverines over archrival Michigan State.  Michigan now has a 30-point home win over Indiana and last night’s 29-point home win over Michigan State sandwiched around an 8-point loss at Michigan State and a 4-point home loss to Ohio State.  This team exemplifies what makes this part of the field (I have them as an 11 seed) so hard to seed.  They look unbeatable in some games and look average or worse in others.  With a very difficult schedule the rest of the way – at Indiana, vs. Wisconsin, at Minnesota, at Rutgers (OK, not difficult), vs Purdue, at Northwestern, at Nebraska – we’ll find out what’s real and what’s fake with this team.

With that said, here’s the update.  As always, moves up or down since my last update are in parentheses next to the team’s name.  Projected automatic qualifiers are in bold.

 In since last update: Michigan, Chattanooga

 Out since last update: Arkansas, East Tennessee State

1s: Villanova, Kansas, Gonzaga, Baylor

2s: Florida State, North Carolina, Virginia (+1), Oregon

3s: Kentucky, Louisville (-1), Arizona, Creighton

4s: Purdue, Florida, UCLA, West Virginia

5s: Butler, Wisconsin, Duke, Cincinnati

6s: Saint Mary’s, Xavier, Notre Dame (+1), South Carolina

7s: Maryland (-1), SMU, Southern California, Northwestern

8s: Dayton, Minnesota, VCU, Oklahoma State (+1)

9s: Virginia Tech, Marquette, Kansas State (+1), Iowa State

10s: Michigan State (-2), Wichita State, Indiana, Rhode Island

11s: TCU, Michigan (new), Miami, Seton Hall, Middle Tennessee

12s: Illinois State, Wake Forest (-1), UNC-Wilmington, Boise State, Vermont (+1)

13s: Valparaiso (-1), Akron, Monmouth, Chattanooga (new)

14s: New Mexico State, Belmont, Florida Gulf Coast, Princeton

15s: Georgia State, Bucknell, Winthrop, Texas Southern

16s: North Dakota State, Weber State, Sam Houston State, North Carolina Central, Mount Saint Mary’s, Cal-Irvine

Last Four In: Miami, Seton Hall, Illinois State, Wake Forest

First Four Out: California (+1), Syracuse (+2), Tennessee, Arkansas

Next Four Out: Georgia Tech, Clemson (-1), Texas Tech (-1), Providence

Third Four Out: Georgetown (-1), Illinois (+1), Vanderbilt (+2), Nevada

Fourth Four Out: Temple, Charleston, Ole Miss (-1), Georgia (-1)

Thanks for reading, and look for my next update Saturday morning, before another huge Saturday afternoon and evening of college hoops.  As always, check out the Bracket Matrix in the meantime!

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Bracketology: Super Sunday Edition

And now, we have our first great debate over whether or not a mid-major deserves an at-large bid.  Enter Illinois State, who got absolutely blasted by 41 points at Wichita State last night.  Before that, I had Illinois State as a 10 seed, now I have them as a 12, just making the field via the Last Four In.  Their resume benefits from a home win over Wichita State and dominating a decent Missouri Valley Conference up until last night (they are now 11-1 in conference play).  They also have an RPI of 33.  The merits of the RPI have been picked apart endlessly, but it is still one of the metrics the Selection Committee leans on heavily.

Elsewhere, the Louisville Cardinals are making a strong push to be a 1 seed.  I still have Kansas and Baylor holding on the 1 line for now, but it is extremely close between Baylor and Louisville at the moment.  Let’s look at a quick comparison:

  • Baylor beat Louisville on a neutral court earlier in the season. They also have wins over Oregon, a current 2 seed, and Xavier, a current 6 seed.  They round out those impressive showings with 7 more wins against teams currently in the field.
  • Louisville has home wins against Kentucky, Purdue, and Duke – currently 3, 4, and 5 seeds. They have 2 more wins against teams in the field.  What is really pushing them right now is the style points.  Louisville crushed Pittsburgh by 55 points a couple of weeks ago, and has followed that up with 2 more wins by 25 and then 23 points.

The bottom line is that with a win over Virginia tomorrow night, it would be very hard for me to keep Louisville off the 1 line.  And looking ahead, the ACC is such a strong conference that it’s almost impossible to see the ACC not getting a team on the 1 line.

Elsewhere in the ACC, Syracuse made a major move, rising all the way from what would be an 8 seed in the NIT up to the Third Four Out (or a 3 seed in the NIT).  The Orange have gone from losing to a bad UConn and a worse Saint John’s in non-conference play to beating Florida State and Virginia over the last few days.  They also have wins over Miami and Wake Forest (both in the field right now) and sit at 7-4 in the ACC.  We all remember what happened last year, when a Syracuse team that no one thought had any business in the tournament was selected… and advanced to the Final Four.  Don’t be surprised to see the Orange in the field again come Selection Sunday.

Here at home, the Michigan Wolverines disappointed in a big way, losing by 4 to a mediocre Ohio State team.  I now have the Wolverines as my first team out.  The rest of the month doesn’t look too bright either, starting with a home game against Michigan State on Tuesday.  But this team is so inconsistent, that the only thing we can expect is the unexpected

With all that said, it’s time to give you the projection and head off to watch the Super Bowl!  As usual, moves up or down are in parentheses following the team’s name.

 In since last update: Seton Hall, Kansas State, Oklahoma State

 Out since last update: Clemson, Michigan, Tennessee

1s: Villanova, Gonzaga, Kansas, Baylor

2s: Louisville, Florida State, North Carolina (+1), Oregon (+1)

3s: Kentucky (-1), Virginia, Arizona (-1), Creighton

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

5s: Wisconsin, Butler (-1), Duke (+1), Cincinnati

6s: Saint Mary’s, South Carolina, Xavier (+1), Maryland (-1)

7s: SMU, Notre Dame (-1), Southern Cal, Northwestern

8s: Minnesota, VCU, Dayton, Michigan State

9s: Marquette, Iowa State (+1), Oklahoma State (new), Virginia Tech

10s: Wichita State (+1), Kansas State (new), Indiana (-1), Rhode Island

11s: Miami, TCU, Middle Tennessee, Wake Forest (+1), Seton Hall

12s: Illinois State (-2), Arkansas (-2), UNC-Wilmington, Boise State, Valparaiso

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

14s: Belmont (-1), Florida Gulf Coast, Princeton, East Tennessee State

15s: Georgia State, Winthrop, Bucknell, Texas Southern (+1)

16s: North Dakota State (-1), Weber State, Sam Houston State, North Carolina Central, Mount Saint Mary’s, Cal-Irvine

Last Four In: Wake Forest, Seton Hall, Illinois State, Arkansas

First Four Out: Michigan, Tennessee, Clemson, Texas Tech (+2)

Next Four Out: Providence, California, Georgetown, Georgia Tech

Third Four Out: Syracuse (+5), Ole Miss, Nevada, Georgia (-1)

Fourth Four Out: Charleston, Temple (+1), Ohio State (+2), Illinois

Thanks for reading, and look for my next update on Wednesday.  As always, check out the Bracket Matrix in the meantime!

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Bracketology: Marqueee Saturday Matchups

Purdue vs. Maryland.  Xavier vs. Creighton.  The hometown Michigan Wolverines taking on the hated Ohio State Buckeyes.  Kentucky vs. Florida.  And in the marquee matchup of the day, Arizona travels to Oregon for a game that will definitely have NCAA tournament seeding implications.

Yep, we have another huge Saturday of college hoops on tap, so it’s time to get right to the projection for today.  Moves up or down since my last update are in parentheses after the team’s name.

 In since last update: Boise State, Tennessee

 Out since last update: Nevada, Seton Hall

1s: Villanova, Kansas, Baylor, Gonzaga

2s: Louisville, Kentucky, Arizona, Florida State (+1)

3s: Virginia, North Carolina (-1), Creighton, Oregon (+1)

4s: West Virginia (-1), Purdue, UCLA, Butler

5s: Wisconsin, Florida, Maryland, Cincinnati

6s: Duke, South Carolina, Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame

7s: Xavier, SMU, Southern California, Northwestern

8s: VCU, Michigan State (+1), Minnesota (+1), Dayton

9s: Indiana, Virginia Tech (-1), Marquette, Middle Tennessee (-1)

10s: Illinois State, Rhode Island, Arkansas (+1), Iowa State

11s: Miami (-1), Clemson (+1), Wichita State, TCU (+1), Michigan (+1)

12s: Tennessee (new), Wake Forest, UNC-Wilmington, Valparaiso (-1), Boise State (new)

13s: Akron, Monmouth, Vermont, Belmont (+1)

14s: New Mexico State (-1), Florida Gulf Coast, Princeton (+1), East Tennessee State

15s: Georgia State (-1), Bucknell, Winthrop, North Dakota State

16s: Texas Southern, Sam Houston State, Weber State, Mount Saint Mary’s, UC-Irvine, North Carolina Central

Last Four In: TCU, Michigan, Tennessee, Wake Forest

First Four Out: Seton Hall, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Providence

 Next Four Out: Georgetown (+1), Georgia Tech, California (+1), Georgia (-1)

Third Four Out: Nebraska (-1), Nevada, Texas Tech, Ole Miss (-1)

Fourth Four Out: Vanderbilt (-1), Charleston (+1), Illinois, Pittsburgh

Look for my next update in the next couple of days and in the meantime, check out the Bracket Matrix!

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