Bracketology: Kentucky is #1, And Then…?

Finally, the long-awaited (at least by me) Mike Broman Bracketology.  This proved to be a massive project, and it was worth every minute of the work I put into it.  It combines two of my favorite things, sports and numbers, and includes a lot of analysis.  Here’s how I did it.

I realized about five minutes into the project that I would need an Excel spreadsheet.  There is just way too much information to juggle to write it on paper.  So, I set up a spreadsheet and recorded the following info for each team: Overall Record, Conference Record, RPI, Good Wins, and Bad Losses.  Here’s how I defined those last two:

Good Wins: I counted any win over a team that is projected to be in the field or that even has a chance.  Obviously, there’s a huge disparity between Virginia (my overall #2 team right now) and, say, Yale, who has a shot at winning the Ivy League.  So I broke it down further to distinguish really, truly good wins from those versus bubble teams.

Bad Losses: Essentially, any loss to a team with an RPI in the triple digits fell into this category.  As with good wins, there’s a huge gap between Nebraska and Austin Peay (North Florida actually lost to the latter, but somehow beat Purdue… go figure).  So I also broke this category down further to really dig in deeper.

I then noted all losses by every team in the spreadsheet, and made notes on how teams had performed lately.  This was invaluable when I started seeding the 7-12s (I had done 1-6s and the 12-16 auto-qualifiers first).  There is so much parity between these teams that in a lot of cases, the differences were microscopic.  After this, I had finally finished.

So, if I were the Selection Committee and the tournament started tomorrow, this is what you would get!  I ranked the teams 1-68 as the real Committee does, and I present them here in that order (i.e. Kentucky is the overall 1, Virginia the overall 2, Duke the overall 3, and so forth).

Teams in bold are those that I am projecting as automatic qualifiers.  This means more in the case of the mid-major conferences that fill out the bottom seeds, as these conferences rarely get more than one team to the Dance.  In the case of a Virginia, for example, they are obviously going to be part of March Madness whether or not they win the ACC tournament.  This holds true for any of the teams above the 12-line who are projected as auto qualifiers.  Of course, anything can (and does) happen in the conference tournaments, which causes some movement leading up to the Selection Show.

1s – Kentucky, Virginia, Duke, Villanova

2s – Arizona, Wisconsin, Kansas, Gonzaga

3s – Maryland, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Iowa State

4s – Baylor, Louisville, Arkansas, Butler

5s – West Virginia, Northern Iowa, Wichita State, North Carolina

6s – Providence, Georgetown, Utah, Southern Methodist

7s – Saint John’s, Virginia Commonwealth, Dayton, Boise State

8s – Iowa, San Diego State, Indiana, Oregon

9s – Xavier, Ohio State, Cincinnati, Michigan State

10s – Purdue, Texas A & M, Georgia, Colorado State

11s – Louisiana State, Tulsa, Mississippi, Davidson, Temple

12s – Brigham Young, North Carolina State, Wofford, Stephen F. Austin, Lousiana Tech

13s – Valparaiso, Murray State, Buffalo, Iona

14s – Harvard, California-Davis, High Point, South Dakota State

15s – Georgia State, North Carolina Central, Albany, William & Mary

16s – Texas Southern, North Florida, New Mexico State, Sacramento State, Saint Francis-New York, Bucknell

 LAST FOUR IN: Davidson, Temple, Brigham Young, North Carolina State.  Thus, the First Four would feature Davidson vs. Temple and Brigham Young vs. NC State.  It would also include New Mexico St. vs. Sacramento St. and St. Francis-NY vs. Bucknell.

FIRST FOUR OUT: Oklahoma State, Texas, Pittsburgh, UCLA

NEXT FOUR OUT: Illinois, Miami (Florida), Stanford, Central Michigan

It was interesting to see how many teams from the same conference were bunched up in similar seeds when I finished.  For example, the Big Ten has two 8 seeds, two 9s, and a 10.  The SEC has two 10s and two 11s.  I anticipate that when we get to the conference tournaments, some changes will happen because of first-round losses or deep runs (semifinals or finals).

Well, that was a huge project and a lot of fun for my first foray into bracketology.  As someone who does everything possible to clear my schedule during March Madness, and who watches a lot of regular season college hoops as well, I’m surprised it took me this long.  Next year, I’m going to start earlier.  For now, it’s time to sit back and watch the chaos leading up to Selection Sunday!

Finally, if you want to see a really cool site that aggregates projections from around the web, check out the Bracket Matrix.  I’ll be back with more of my own projections later this week after most of the teams have played again.


About Mike B.

Avid sports fan, particularly of the Detroit Lions, Pistons, and Tigers, and University of Michigan.
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3 Responses to Bracketology: Kentucky is #1, And Then…?

  1. Amy says:

    It will be interesting to see how this plays out. So why do some seeds have more than 4 teams? Maybe this has something to do with the first 4, last 4, which I don’t understand at all. I hope you can forgive me for my naïveté!


    • Mike B. says:

      Amy, good question. It is tied into the First Four, which are the four games played Tuesday-Wednesday, March 17-18.

      The total field is 68 teams. Of those, 60 get a first-round bye, and start on Thursday or Friday, March 19 or 20. The other 8 aren’t so lucky. The “Last Four In” refers to the last four teams selected at-large. At-large means you didn’t win your conference tournament, thus you aren’t an automatic qualifier. So the 11 line and the 12 line have 5 teams each because that’s where the Last Four In are. The two 11s play each other and the two 12s play each other in the First Four. Then, the rest of the 12 line, as well as lines 13-16, are automatic qualifiers from small conferences. This is almost always the case – teams from these conferences are rarely strong enough to be seeded above 12. So, the last four teams on the 16 line also meet in the First Four (that’s why that line has 6 teams).

      It is probably easier if you think of it in terms of overall seed number. The Selection Committee actually ranks the teams 1-68. So 65 vs. 66 and 67 vs. 68 meet in the First Four, as do 44 vs. 45 and 46 vs 47.


  2. Pingback: March Madness Has Arrived Early | The Mind of Mike Broman

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