There is no doubt that this is exactly how the field will look come Selection Sunday. Book it.
I mean, what could be easier than projecting the March Madness bracket in the middle of December? Solving a quantum physics equation or figuring out how to travel time come to mind. The most fun part of this will be seeing just how much the projection changes from now until Selection Sunday.
For now, I’ve seeded the top 12 lines only. At this point in the season, trying to figure out who will make it from the one-bid leagues is the definition of an exercise in futility, and I’m not even going to bother with it. Starting around mid-January, once each team has gotten a few conference games in, I’ll begin seeding the entire field.
Before I get to it, a brief explanation of the criteria I use:
- Strength of schedule
- KenPom ratings
- RPI… it’s stupid, but at least it’s used by the Selection Committee in a slightly less stupid way than this year than in the past. Anyway, since this is a projection, and my goal is to be right, I have to take RPI into account.
- Good wins: in my view, these are wins over teams that are also projected to be in the tournament or who at least have a reasonable shot of getting there right now.
- Bad losses: I define these as losses to teams that have as much chance of getting to the tournament as one of my middle school Rec & Ed teams. In other words, zero.
- Road records: go out and play someone!
With that in mind, here we go. A couple things that jump out at me – the SEC looks stronger than it has in years, and Wichita State might finally get the respect they deserve this year. Anyway, I ranked the teams 1-50 and here is what I came up with.
1s – Villanova, Duke, Michigan State, Arizona State
2s – Kansas, North Carolina, Wichita State, Gonzaga
3s – Texas A & M, Tennessee, West Virginia, Kentucky
4s – Xavier, TCU, Virginia, Purdue
5s – Florida, Missouri, Syracuse, Butler
6s – Florida State, Arizona, Utah, Seton Hall
7s – Miami, Arkansas, Alabama, Ohio State
8s – Notre Dame, Michigan, St. John’s, Rhode Island
9s – Cincinnati, North Carolina State, UCF, Clemson
10s –Baylor, Minnesota, Nevada, Northern Iowa
11s –SMU, Washington, Maryland, Middle Tennessee
12s – Oklahoma, USC, Texas Tech, LSU, Texas-Arlington, Towson
LAST FOUR IN – Oklahoma, USC, Texas Tech, LSU
FIRST FOUR OUT – Texas, Louisville, Connecticut, UCLA
Beyond the First Four Out, there are 22 other teams in consideration for me right now. The real issue this time of year is that, with a few exceptions, every team is equivalent to every other team within three seed lines of it. The sample size of games is very small and teams haven’t had a chance to establish themselves in their own conferences. In other words, don’t be surprised to see huge moves up and down over the next few projections.
So, that will do it for the first of many projections I will do before the end of the conference tournaments. If you want to rip me because I have your team too low or want to discuss anything else related to bracketology, feel free to do so in the comments. And as always, remember to check out the Bracket Matrix, a must for those of us who are obsessed with this stuff.