As an Uncle Sam-dressed Bill Walton marveled many times last night during ESPNU’s broadcast of the college football championship game, basketball and football are really different. Not just in style, but in terms of who is any good.
For fun, let’s look at where the four teams who made the College Football Playoff are in the current bracket projection. The winner, Clemson, is a 10 seed in hoops. The others? Nowhere near the field. I have Ohio State as a 5 seed… in the NIT. Alabama just cracks the NIT field as an 8 seed. And the Huskies of Washington? With signature wins over no one (the best being Long Beach State), losses to Yale and Washington State, and a strength of schedule well into the 100s, this definitely isn’t your Washington football team.
Who is achieving the most in both sports right now? The Florida State Seminoles. After their Orange Bowl win over my hometown Wolverines, the success has continued on the court, with FSU up to a 2 seed today.
And then we have Notre Dame. Have they officially become a basketball school? After years of mediocrity (despite endless proclamations year after year by the media of how they are a Top 10 team) in football, the Irish have built a consistent basketball program. The Irish made back-to-back Elite Eight appearances, nearly knocking off an undefeated Kentucky squad in 2015. Today, the Irish have risen 3 spots from my last update, up to a 6 seed, thanks to an impressive opening to ACC play that features wins over Louisville, Clemson, and Pittsburgh.
We also have some teams who are lower than you might expect. Namely, West Virginia and Wisconsin. (Note that I am writing this before the Baylor-West Virginia game ends, so take that into account.) Both have been highly ranked most of the season. Both are expected to be very good. However, both have a non-conference strength of schedule in the 200s. The Mountaineers have a win at Virginia, but the other side of that coin is a loss at Texas Tech. The Badgers have no bad losses at all, but only one win over a team currently projected to be in the field, at Indiana. In the past, these types of resumes haven’t earned teams high seeds from the Selection Committee. With the grind of conference play, we’ll see if these two teams can live up to their high AP rankings.
And with that, here’s my projection.
In since last update: Vermont, Radford, Princeton, LIU-Brooklyn, Indiana, Seton Hall, and Ole Miss
Out since last update: New Hampshire, Winthrop, Yale, Wagner, UCF, Michigan, and Miami
Changes since my last projection are in parentheses.
1s: Baylor, Villanova, Kentucky, Kansas
2s: Gonzaga, Florida State (+1), North Carolina (+1), UCLA
3s: Xavier (-1), Louisville (-1), Creighton, Duke (+1)
4s: Florida (-1), Butler (+1), Minnesota (+1), Oregon (+2)
5s: Arizona (-1), Virginia (-1), Saint Mary’s (-1), Purdue (+2)
6s: Maryland, Dayton (-1), Cincinnati, Notre Dame (+3)
7s: West Virginia (-1), Southern Cal, Wisconsin (-2), SMU (+3)
8s: South Carolina (+1), Northwestern (-1), Middle Tennessee (-1), VCU
9s: Rhode Island (-1), Temple (-1), Pittsburgh, Michigan State
10s: Clemson, Arkansas (-2), Indiana (prev First Four Out), Wichita State (+1)
11s: Wake Forest (-1), Nebraska, TCU (-1), Nevada (+2)
12s: Virginia Tech (-2), Georgia (-1), Ole Miss (prev First Four Out), Seton Hall (prev Third Four Out), UNC-Wilmington, Valparaiso
13s: Chattanooga, Tennessee State (+1), Florida Gulf Coast, Texas-Arlington (-1)
14s: Monmouth (+1), New Mexico State (-1), Princeton (new), IPFW
15s: Akron, Bucknell (-1), Radford (new), Vermont (new)
16s: Texas Southern, Eastern Washington, North Carolina Central, Cal-Irvine, Sam Houston State, LIU-Brooklyn
Last Four In: Virginia Tech, Georgia, Ole Miss, Seton Hall
First Four Out: Michigan (prev 12), Oklahoma State, Providence, UCF (prev 11)
Next Four Out: Miami (prev 12), Vanderbilt (+1), Iowa State (+1), Houston
Third Four Out: Charleston (-1), Illinois (-1), Auburn (-1), North Carolina State
Fourth Four Out: Saint Joe’s (+2), Kansas State (+2), Colorado, Marquette
And plenty of other teams are still in the hunt, this early in the conference season. I actually track all the way down to the 24 line – in a perfect world, every team from the First Four Out down to this line would make the NIT. Of course, that won’t happen because the rule is that a conference champion who loses its conference tournament AND fails to make the NCAA tournament gets to the NIT.
With that, time to go watch the games. As always, check out the Bracket Matrix, and look for my next update over the weekend.