What a great time of year to be in Orlando. It’s probably about 70 degrees warmer there today than it is here in Ann Arbor. You’ve got Disney and Universal. You just can’t go wrong.
Unless, that is, you’re the UCF Knights. In my inaugural edition of bracketology for 2016-2017 this past Monday, I wrote about the apparently strange seedings and the volatility this time of year. The Knights exemplify that, having fallen all the way from a 6 seed on Monday to… NIT-bound as of today. They suffered losses this week at home against Penn and on the road at George Washington. Now, Penn and GW could both turn out to be good teams, but at the moment, they are nowhere close to meeting that description. And as a result, we have our first massive seed change of the season.
It also seems that there are two schools of thought on making projections at this time of year. If you look at the Bracket Matrix (this is last updated December 10), you’ll see a ton of variation in terms of where any given team is according to different bracketologists. One school of thought seems to take into account the predictive aspect: how will these teams look at the end of the year? The other, which I’m using currently, is how do they look right now and where would they be seeded if the season ended today? As the season continues and we get a few games into conference play, I will merge the two approaches as I get a better sense of who’s for real and who’s not.
For now, here’s what I have. Moves up or down seed lines since my last update are in parentheses.
1s: Baylor, Villanova, Kansas, UCLA (+1)
2s: Creighton (-1), Louisville, Kentucky, North Carolina
3s: Gonzaga, Duke, St. Mary’s, Xavier
4s: Florida, Florida State, Butler (+1), Minnesota
5s: USC, Maryland, Temple (-1), Dayton (+1)
6s: Middle Tennessee (+1), Virginia (+1), Arizona (+1), South Carolina (-1)
7s: Indiana (+2), Ole Miss (-1), Northwestern (-1), Arkansas
8s: Purdue, West Virginia (+1), Wake Forest, Providence
9s: Michigan State, Michigan (+1), Pittsburgh (+1), Notre Dame
10s: TCU, Nevada, Auburn (-2), Georgia (+1)
11s: Houston, Stanford, Wichita State, Rhode Island, Wisconsin (+1)
12s: Oregon, Cincinnati (NEW), Texas-Arlington, UNC-Wilmington, Charleston
13s: Tennessee State, IPFW (+1), Valparaiso, New Hampshire (+1)
14s: Ohio, Winthrop (-1), Bucknell, Iona (+1)
15s: Chattanooga, Eastern Washington, New Mexico State, Florida Gulf Coast (-2)
16s: Yale, Sam Houston State, North Carolina Central, Texas Southern, LIU-Brooklyn, UC-Irvine
Last Four In: Rhode Island, Wisconsin, Oregon, Cincinnati
First Four Out: VCU, Nebraska, Miami, UCF
Next Four Out: Clemson, Illinois, North Carolina State, Colorado
Third Four Out: Virginia Tech, Massachusetts, Davidson, Texas A & M
Fourth Four Out: Iowa State, Oklahoma State, SMU (+1), Texas (+1)
Others Receiving Consideration: St. Bonaventure, Rutgers, Georgetown, Marquette, Ohio State, Colorado State, Vanderbilt, St. Joe’s, Seton Hall, LSU
At this early stage of the season, all of these teams and then some are still very much alive. Take Ohio State, for example. They are expected to be good, and they were an 8 seed in the last update of the Bracket Matrix. But for me, they don’t have the resume right now. They have a quality home win against Providence and a decent home win against North Carolina Central. Their problem is a damaging home loss against Florida Atlantic (#310 in the RPI) and an overall poor strength of schedule of #168, and a middling RPI of 80. With a marquee matchup against UCLA tomorrow, the Buckeyes will have their chance to prove me wrong about them.
That’s it for now. Look for another projection from me next week!