Bracketology: Breaking Down the Field, Seeds 1-76

As I said earlier today, I want to bring you a breakdown of all of the teams who stand a chance to make the NCAA tournament (and those who are surely in the field).  Check out that post to read about how awesome Motor City Madness was last night.  Now, let’s get to the breakdown.  First, to reiterate, here is my projection for today.

I’ve bolded auto-qualifiers, and noted moves up or down since yesterday in parentheses following the team’s name.

 1s: Virginia, Gonzaga, Kentucky, North Carolina

2s: Duke, Michigan State, Tennessee, Michigan

3s: LSU, Texas Tech, Houston, Purdue

4s: Kansas, Florida State, Kansas State, Wisconsin

5s: Marquette, Virginia Tech, Maryland, Mississippi State

6s: Villanova, Auburn, Cincinnati, Buffalo (+1)

7s: Wofford, Nevada, Iowa State (-1), Louisville

8s: Oklahoma, Iowa, Ole Miss, UCF (+1)

9s: VCU (-1), Baylor, Syracuse, Washington

10s: Seton Hall, Minnesota, Utah State, St. John’s

11s: Indiana, Ohio State, Florida, TCU (+1)

12s: Temple (-1), Creighton, Clemson, Arizona State (new), Murray State, Liberty

13s: New Mexico State, UC-Irvine, Vermont, Hofstra

14s: Old Dominion, Yale, Georgia State, Northern Kentucky

15s: Montana, Bucknell, Nebraska-Omaha, Gardner-Webb

16s: Bradley, Sam Houston State, Texas Southern, Iona, Norfolk State, St. Francis-PA

Last Four Byes: Indiana, Ohio State, Florida, TCU (+1)

Last Four In: Temple (-1), Creighton, Clemson, Arizona State (new)

First Four Out: Belmont (+1), North Carolina State, Alabama, Furman (+1)

Next Four Out: Georgetown (-1), Lipscomb, UNC-Greensboro (-1), Texas

Still Alive but Hanging by a Thread: Dayton, Memphis, St. Mary’s, Toledo, Oregon, Fresno State, Davidson, Xavier, Providence

Within the field (or just below it), we can distinguish several tiers of teams:

Tier 1, Overall Seeds 1-8: This is Virginia down to Michigan.  What distinguishes these teams is that a 1-seed is still in play for all of them.  We can even further subdivide this group and say that a 1-seed is nearly a lock for Virginia and Gonzaga, a toss-up for Kentucky, North Carolina, Duke, and Michigan State depending on conference tournament performance and potential changes in records by quadrant, and unlikely but still a possibility for Tennessee and Michigan.

Tier 2, Overall Seeds 9-13: This ranges from LSU down to Kansas.  The floor for these teams is a 4-seed.  And any could rise to the 2 line, depending on the multitude of factors that come into play this week.

Tier 3, Overall Seeds 14-21: This ranges from Florida State to Villanova.  For one reason or another, these teams are all likely to settle in the 4-5 seed range, though of course, the worst of the bunch would fall on the 6-line.

The main feature that separates them from Tier 2 is more losses outside of Quadrant 1.  The exceptions would be LSU (Tier 2), who has 3 Quad 2 losses, and Virginia Tech (Tier 3), who has no losses below Quad 1.  But, LSU stands out because of a road win at Kentucky (who I have in Tier 1) and Virginia Tech has only gone 4-7 against Quad 1, making them the only team in these top 3 tiers to be substantially below .500 in that quadrant.

Tier 4, Overall Seeds 22-28: This ranges from Auburn to Louisville.  These teams should settle on the 6 or 7 lines, though rising to 5 or falling to 8 is possible.

Tier 5, Overall Seeds 29-37: This is the last tier of teams that is safely in, and ranges from Oklahoma to Seton Hall.  Seton Hall put themselves in this position by virtue of recent home wins over Marquette and Villanova to complement a neutral-court win against Kentucky, bringing them to a respectable 6-7 in Quad 1.  This helps offset their 5 losses below that quadrant.  The teams on the higher end of this group might rise to a 7 seed.  The lower end seem likely to maintain at least a 10 seed.

Tier 6, Overall Seeds 38-45: This tier ranges from Minnesota to Temple.  These teams are likely in, but absolutely on the bubble.  A poor performance this week along with a strong performance by the teams below them could flip the script.

A word about Indiana – every year, the Selection Committee surprises us by not only including a team with a severely flawed resume, but putting them on the 11-line or higher (the 11-seed Arizona State last year and the 11-seed Tulsa in 2016 come to mind as recent examples).  The Hoosiers have a sweep of Michigan State among their six Quadrant 1 wins.  This is in 15 chances and accompanies five Quad 2 losses, but I see them in as of now.

Tier 7, Overall Seeds 46-48 and 69-72: This is the last three teams in and the First Four Out, ranging from Creighton (who is an unsightly 3-10 vs. Quadrant 1 but owns a win at Marquette) to Furman (whose only high-quality win right now is at Villanova but has mostly avoided bad losses).

North Carolina State has fallen out of the field today due to their terrible non-conference SOS and nothing even resembling a good win away from home, but I see all of these teams as a toss-up to get in the field right now.  You could put them in any order and I wouldn’t argue with you.  My reasoning is that the three who are in have some combination of better wins or “better” losses compared to the four who are out.  But, expect this grouping to keep changing throughout the week, not only within the tier, but even with some rising to the “likely in” category and some falling to the “likely out” category.

Tier 8, Overall Seeds 73-76: This is the Next Four Out.  These teams either have serious work to do (Georgetown and Texas) or need serious help (UNC-Greensboro and Lipscomb).  On that note, what separates Belmont (Tier 7) and Lipscomb?  They are very similar in NET, records by quadrants, and non-conference SOS.  It is that Belmont beat Lipscomb twice.  So, in what is no doubt the most interesting in or out of the field debate so far this week, I see Belmont with a decent shot at getting in.

I’ll bring you another breakdown like this later in the week, as things continue to take shape.  In the meantime, look for my next projection tomorrow (Wednesday, March 13) and don’t forget to check out the Bracket Matrix!

 

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Bracketology: Madness in the Motor City

For the first time so far in Champ Week, form held last night in the conference tournaments.  The top-seeded Wofford Terriers and Iona Gaels clinched bids from the Southern Conference and the MAAC, respectively.  With five more bids on the line tonight, we’re just getting started with a thrilling week of hoops.  Really, I (and other college hoops aficinados) will tell you that the conference tournaments are just as exciting as the NCAA tournament.

On that note, let’s talk about Motor City Madness!  This was my first live postseason experience, taking in the semifinals last night.  The first game, which featured the 1-seed Wright State knocking off the 4-seed Green Bay, featured a 20-point lead by Wright State early in the second half shrinking to 4 points in a matter of minutes.  Wright State went on to win by 12, but the next game embodied the chaos and the emotional roller coaster that we love about March.

In the second Horizon League semifinal, the 3-seed Oakland got off to a hot start against the favored 2-seed, Northern Kentucky, jumping out to a 28-11 lead.  But, Oakland went ice-cold after that, looking confused by some different defensive looks by NKU.  Foul trouble for Oakland’s center, Brad Brechting, didn’t help, as the rim wasn’t sufficiently protected for most of the second half.  Next thing you know, that 17-point lead had become an 11-point deficit, as NKU took a 61-50 lead with 4 minutes to go.

But, we were just getting started.  Brechting had come back into the game a couple minutes prior, enabling Oakland’s defense to get some desperately needed stops down the stretch.  A series of threes from Jaevin Cumberland and Trey Maddox cut the lead to 61-59 with about a minute to go.  The excitement was building in the mostly pro-Oakland crowd, spilling over into euphoria when Cumberland calmly sank two free throws to put Oakland ahead 63-61 with 9 seconds left.  This seemed unfathomable just a few minutes earlier!

And then, in a familiar scene this time of year, Northern Kentucky’s Drew McDonald was left open behind the long line, and he knocked down a 3 with 1.6 seconds left to give NKU a 64-63 lead.  Oakland’s amazing comeback went to waste, as the subsequent desperation shot from three-quarter court was no good.  What a game, and what an effort from both squads.  I can only hope for another game this good when I attend the final tonight.

As we get into today’s projection, some distinctions between teams are looking clearer.  Let’s get to it, and then I’ll offer some thoughts on how I see the field solidifying right now in another post later this afternoon.

Clinched bids yesterday: Wofford, Iona

In since yesterday: Arizona State

Out since yesterday: North Carolina State

I’ve bolded auto-qualifiers, and noted moves up or down in parentheses following the team’s name.

 1s: Virginia, Gonzaga, Kentucky, North Carolina

2s: Duke, Michigan State, Tennessee, Michigan

3s: LSU, Texas Tech, Houston, Purdue

4s: Kansas, Florida State, Kansas State, Wisconsin

5s: Marquette, Virginia Tech, Maryland, Mississippi State

6s: Villanova, Auburn, Cincinnati, Buffalo (+1)

7s: Wofford, Nevada, Iowa State (-1), Louisville

8s: Oklahoma, Iowa, Ole Miss, UCF (+1)

9s: VCU (-1), Baylor, Syracuse, Washington

10s: Seton Hall, Minnesota, Utah State, St. John’s

11s: Indiana, Ohio State, Florida, TCU (+1)

12s: Temple (-1), Creighton, Clemson, Arizona State (new), Murray State, Liberty

13s: New Mexico State, UC-Irvine, Vermont, Hofstra

14s: Old Dominion, Yale, Georgia State, Northern Kentucky

15s: Montana, Bucknell, Nebraska-Omaha, Gardner-Webb

16s: Bradley, Sam Houston State, Texas Southern, Iona, Norfolk State, St. Francis-PA

Last Four Byes: Indiana, Ohio State, Florida, TCU (+1)

Last Four In: Temple (-1), Creighton, Clemson, Arizona State (new)

First Four Out: Belmont (+1), North Carolina State, Alabama, Furman (+1)

Next Four Out: Georgetown (-1), Lipscomb, UNC-Greensboro (-1), Texas

Still Alive but Hanging by a Thread: Dayton, Memphis, St. Mary’s, Toledo, Oregon, Fresno State, Davidson, Xavier, Providence

Enjoy the games, and look for my detailed breakdown of the teams later today.  Check out the Bracket Matrix in the meantime!

 

 

 

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Bracketology: Monday Update

After yesterday, I’ve added a few more teams to the Gone Fishin’ list.  They are Colorado, Oregon State, East Tennessee State, and South Florida.  I just don’t see any way for these teams to get an at-large bid.  Meanwhile, expect the “Still Alive” list to keep shrinking throughout the week.  By the time we get to the weekend, the only teams not projected in the field who I think will have a realistic chance of getting in are the first few out.

I’m getting ready to head to Motor City Madness to catch some live conference tournament action, so here is today’s projection.  Most of the changes came around the mid-seed lines.  As always, changes since yesterday are noted in parentheses after the team’s name.  Feel free to drop me a line on Twitter, @Mike_Broman1, if you want to talk bracketology and college hoops in general.

1s: Virginia, Gonzaga, Kentucky, North Carolina

2s: Duke, Michigan State, Tennessee, Michigan

3s: LSU, Texas Tech, Houston, Purdue

4s: Kansas, Florida State, Kansas State, Wisconsin (+1)

5s: Marquette (-1), Virginia Tech, Maryland, Mississippi State

6s: Villanova, Auburn (+1), Iowa State, Cincinnati (+1)

7s: Buffalo (-1), Nevada (-1), Wofford (+1), Louisville

8s: Oklahoma, Iowa, Ole Miss, VCU (+1)

9s: UCF, Syracuse (-1), Baylor (+1), Washington

10s: Seton Hall, Minnesota, St. John’s (-1), Utah State (+1)

11s: Indiana, Ohio State (-1), Florida, Temple

12s: Creighton, Clemson, TCU, North Carolina State, Murray State, Liberty

13s: New Mexico State, UC-Irvine, Vermont, Hofstra

14s: Old Dominion, Yale, Georgia State, Northern Kentucky

15s: Montana, Nebraska-Omaha, Bucknell, Gardner-Webb

16s: Bradley, Sam Houston State, Texas Southern, Iona, Norfolk State, St. Francis-PA

Last Four Byes: Indiana, Ohio State (-1), Florida, Temple

Last Four In: Creighton, Clemson, TCU, North Carolina State

First Four Out: Alabama, Arizona State, Georgetown, UNC-Greensboro

Next Four Out: Lipscomb (-1), Belmont (-1), Furman (-1), Texas

Still Alive but Hanging by a Thread: Dayton, Memphis, St. Mary’s, Toledo, Oregon, Fresno State, Davidson, Xavier, Providence

Enjoy the games, and look for my next update tomorrow (Tuesday, March 12).  Check out the Bracket Matrix in the meantime!

 

 

 

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Bracketology: March Madness Has Arrived

March Madness has officially hit, as some top seeds fell in conference tournament action yesterday.  Loyola-Chicago and South Dakota State are both NIT-bound.  Belmont fell to Murray State in the Ohio Valley final, inspiring our first great debate of this year’s selection process: should Belmont get an at-large?  And as I wrote this, Lipscomb fell to Liberty, which should cause more debate.  We’ll take a closer look at that shortly.  First, let’s honor those who have fought hard but have now lost any hope at getting into the NCAA Tournament.

As I watched Oregon take on Washington last night, Bill Walton – in one of his many musings about things totally unrelated to basketball – talked about being a great boat captain.  So, maybe he could lead the expedition for today’s Gone Fishin’ participants.

In addition to Drake (who I had projected as the Missouri Valley Conference winner and also was upset in the semifinals yesterday) and South Dakota State, it’s over for Arizona, Butler, and San Francisco after losses yesterday.  All of them were long shots to make the field anyway, and none of them could sustain a loss at this point.  Joining them this afternoon is Radford, who fell to Gardner-Webb in the Big South final.

Now, back to Belmont and Lipscomb.  With the continuing chaos around the cut line – Clemson and Temple picking up big wins yesterday, Alabama losing at Arkansas, and so on – where do they land?  I believe both are good teams and I would love to see them in the NCAA tournament.  But, the Selection Committee has shown a bias towards middle of the pack teams from major conferences lately.

So for now, I am going with that, and Lipscomb and Belmont are on the wrong side of the cut line.  The problem is that for both, about two-thirds of their wins are in Quadrant 4.  The best win between the two is Lipscomb’s win at TCU.  Belmont actually beat Lipscomb twice and won at Murray State, but Murray State wouldn’t be in the field without the auto bid.

Because of all of this, I don’t see Belmont or Lipscomb having their names called on Selection Sunday… but I hope I’m wrong.  We’ll find out what matters more: accruing good wins or avoiding bad losses.  The first three out – Alabama, Arizona State, and Georgetown – have plenty of good wins but also a number of bad losses.  The next three out – Furman, Lipscomb, and Belmont – don’t have a lot of good wins, but also have mostly avoided bad losses.

One last thing: yeah, I’m still leaving Texas Southern in over Prairie View A & M, despite being 3 games back in the SWAC now.  The winner of that conference is going to be a 16 seed anyway, and I’m going with Texas Southern because of wins at Baylor and Oregon.

Here’s today’s projection.  Moves up or down since yesterday are in parentheses after the team’s name.  Teams who have secured bids are in bold.  As always, drop me a line on Twitter, @Mike_Broman1, if you want to talk bracketology and college hoops in general.

In since yesterday: Murray State, Liberty, Gardner-Webb, Bradley, Nebraska-Omaha, Georgia State, Creighton, North Carolina State

Out since yesterday: Belmont, Lipscomb, Radford, Drake, South Dakota State, Texas State, Texas, Alabama

1s: Virginia, Gonzaga, Kentucky, North Carolina (+1)

2s: Duke (-1), Michigan State, Tennessee, Michigan

3s: LSU, Texas Tech, Houston, Purdue

4s: Kansas, Florida State, Kansas State, Marquette

5s: Virginia Tech, Wisconsin, Maryland, Mississippi State (+1)

6s: Villanova, Iowa State (-1), Buffalo, Nevada (+1)

7s: Auburn, Cincinnati (-1), Louisville, Wofford (+1)

8s: Oklahoma, Iowa (-1), Ole Miss (+1), Syracuse

9s: UCF, Washington, VCU (+1), St. John’s

10s: Seton Hall (+1), Minnesota, Baylor (-1), Ohio State

11s: Utah State, Indiana, Florida (-1), Temple (+1)

12s: Creighton (new), Clemson, TCU, North Carolina State (new), Liberty (new), Murray State (new)

13s: New Mexico State, UC-Irvine, Vermont, Hofstra (+1)

14s: Old Dominion (-1), Yale, Georgia State (new), Northern Kentucky

15s: Montana, Nebraska-Omaha (new), Bucknell (+1), Gardner-Webb (new)

16s: Bradley (new), Sam Houston State, Texas Southern, Norfolk State, St. Francis-PA, Iona

Last Four Byes: Utah State, Indiana, Florida, Temple

Last Four In: Creighton, Clemson, TCU, North Carolina State

First Six Out: Alabama, Arizona State, Georgetown (+1), Furman (+1), Lipscomb, Belmont.  I set it up this way because you really could make a case for any of these teams in any order.  It is way too difficult at this point to put any of the two on a line below the other four.

Next Four Out: UNC-Greensboro, Texas, Dayton, Memphis.  A quick note on Texas – they are now 16-15, and it is really hard to imagine them making the field if they lose their opener in the Big 12 Tournament.

Still Alive but Hanging by a Thread: Saint Mary’s, East Tennessee State, Fresno State, Oregon, Toledo, Colorado, Davidson, Oregon State, Providence, South Florida, Xavier.  These teams must win their next game to keep any hope alive (and it looks like ETSU is on their way to losing as I write this).

Enjoy the games, and look for my next update tomorrow (Monday, March 11).  Check out the Bracket Matrix in the meantime!

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Bracketology: Who Can Get a 1 Seed?

Let’s shift gears from my usual bubble watch and look at the top of the NCAA tournament field.  Who has a shot at a 1 seed, and how likely is it for these teams?  To do this, I’m looking at the metrics that I know the Selection Committee as a whole uses: overall record, road record, NET, win-loss record by quadrant, strength of schedule (especially non-conference), and the most important one of all.  That is who did you beat, who did you lose to, and where did it happen?

I won’t go into detail about every metric for every team, because that would result in a 10-page post.  If you want to know more, drop me a line on Twitter, @Mike_Broman1.  I’ll be watching games all day, and I’d love to hear from you.

Let’s start off with Virginia and Gonzaga.  In short, I don’t see how either team falls off the 1 line.  UVA has lost 2 games all year and they play in arguably the best conference.  They have 6 wins over teams who are in position for a protected (4-line or above) seed, including at North Carolina and at Maryland.  Their only 2 losses are to Duke, before Zion Williamson got hurt.

Gonzaga doesn’t have the win profile of the teams around them, but they were a top seed in the bracket reveal on February 9 and they’ve been winning by mind-boggling margins ever since, helping them to reach #1 in NET.  Their only losses are at North Carolina and to Tennessee at a neutral site.

Next, we have North Carolina or Duke.  In all likelihood, one of them will get a 1 seed.  Duke is better positioned right now primarily because they swept Virginia and beat Kentucky at a neutral site.  But, it’s really close, and UNC won at Duke to complement the early-season win over Gonzaga.  A home win against the Dukies in tonight’s rematch might give UNC the push they need to be a 1 seed.

After that, we have two more pairs of teams where one could earn a 1 seed.  These are Kentucky or Tennessee, and Michigan or Michigan State.  Of course, it’s likely that three top seeds are already taken (see above), so only one team among these four is going to earn a 1 seed.  I think it’s more likely to come from the SEC.  There’s not a huge difference between any of the four; all have had great seasons and have an argument for that 1 seed.  Let’s look a little closer at what I think the differences are.

When you look at Kentucky and Tennessee, each has a win over the other.  Of course, the same will be said for Michigan and Michigan State if Michigan wins tonight.  Kentucky and Michigan both beat North Carolina; Tennessee beat Gonzaga, and Michigan State might have the best road win of the bunch, at Wisconsin.  Then again, Kentucky won at Louisville, while Michigan won at Maryland and at Villanova (by 27 points).  See how close this is?

Here’s the difference: non-conference strength of schedule is 18 for Kentucky, 83 for Tennessee, 110 for Michigan State, and 192 for Michigan.  Also, the SEC pair has avoided any bad losses.  Michigan lost at Penn State.  This is actually a Quadrant 1 loss, but let’s be real.  Penn State is a bad team.  Michigan State lost at Illinois.  So, I’d say Kentucky is the most likely of the group to get a 1 seed, followed by Tennessee.

Now, let’s get to today’s projection.  There were some exciting games last night, but nothing that really inspired movement in the bracket, in my opinion (check out my post from yesterday if you want to see my thought process about moving teams up or down a lot this time of year).  Only nine teams that were in or even near the projected field yesterday were in action last night.  Also, I’m going to hold off on making changes to the teams that can only get in with auto bids (lines 13 and below) until the conference tournaments really get into full swing over the next couple of days.

That said, our first ticket will be punched tonight, as Murray State takes on Belmont for the Ohio Valley Conference championship.  A team with a high lottery pick in Ja Morant versus a team that will definitely inspire debate as to whether they should get an at-large if they lose tonight, in Belmont.  I can’t wait for this game.

This is really a reiteration of what I projected yesterday; expect some shifts after the weekend, as we have two days packed with games on tap.

1s: Virginia, Duke, Gonzaga, Kentucky

2s: North Carolina, Tennessee, Michigan, Michigan State

3s: LSU, Houston, Texas Tech, Purdue

4s: Marquette, Kansas, Florida State, Kansas State

5s: Wisconsin, Virginia Tech, Iowa State, Maryland

6s: Villanova, Mississippi State, Cincinnati, Buffalo

7s: Nevada, Louisville, Auburn, Iowa

8s: Oklahoma, St. John’s, Wofford, Syracuse

9s: Baylor, Washington, UCF, Ole Miss

10s: Minnesota, VCU, Ohio State, Florida

11s: Utah State, Seton Hall, Texas, Indiana

12s: Clemson, Temple, TCU, Alabama

13s: New Mexico State, UC Irvine, Vermont, Old Dominion

14s: Hofstra, Yale, South Dakota State, Texas State

15s: Northern Kentucky, Radford, Montana, Drake

16s: Texas Southern, Bucknell, Sam Houston State, Norfolk State, St. Francis-PA, Iona

Last Four Byes: Utah State, Seton Hall, Texas, Indiana

Last Four In: Clemson, Temple, TCU, Alabama

First Four Out: Creighton, North Carolina State, Arizona State, UNC-Greensboro

Next Four Out: Furman, Georgetown, Dayton, Memphis

Still Alive (in no particular order): St. Mary’s, Butler, Murray State, Toledo, Oregon, East Tennessee State (these teams could, in theory, get in with a great performance down the stretch and some collapses by the teams above them).

Hanging on by a Thread: Providence, San Francisco, Davidson, Xavier, Colorado, Oregon State, South Florida, Arizona (really, these teams have almost no shot short of winning out and everyone above them losing out but, I thought I’d list them for fun).

Enjoy the games, and look for my next update tomorrow (Sunday, March 10).  Check out the Bracket Matrix in the meantime!

 

 

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Bracketology: How Much do the Conference Tournaments Matter?

If my team wins the conference tournament, they’ll definitely move up a few seed lines, right?  If your team is on the bubble, one good win in the conference tournament or getting to a certain round gets them in, doesn’t it?

Not really.

I absolutely love this time of year, as teams fight it out to make the NCAA tournament field and establish their position in it.  But, the kind of overreactions you see above are too common.  It makes for good talking points on the major networks, but it’s all sensationalized.  Don’t get me wrong, teams do help or hurt their causes by how they play at this time of the season.  But, there are two really important considerations that people tend to overlook when they reduce the team’s chances to one or two games at the end of the season.

One, it’s about the entire season.  The semifinal of whatever conference tournament doesn’t count any more than the first game played in November.  And two, seeding is all relative.  It also matters what comparable teams do.

Of course, the one game that does matter more is the final of the conference tournament because for 18 to 20 teams in the field this year (all who are on the 13 line or below, and probably Belmont and Lipscomb), winning that game will be the difference between making the tournament and watching it at home.  But besides that, the conference tournaments are just fun to watch and don’t guarantee anything on Selection Sunday.

With those thoughts in mind, I made a couple of key changes today.  First, Kentucky is back on the 1 line over Tennessee.  It’s really close, but Kentucky has 11 Quad 1 wins to Tennessee’s 8.  Both have beaten a few top teams, so the difference is that Kentucky has better road wins.  They’ve won at Mississippi State and Louisville, while Tennessee’s best road win is at Ole Miss.

At the cut line, Indiana and Alabama have jumped into the field, while North Carolina State and Arizona State have fallen out.  NC State doesn’t have a good win on the road and has the #352 non-conference strength of schedule – these factors never bode well on Selection Sunday.  Arizona State just has too many bad losses, and early-season wins over Kansas and Mississippi State aren’t enough to offset those losses right now.  Indiana has six Quadrant 1 wins, including at Michigan State, and I have to include 68 teams, so Alabama jumped back in because they have a slightly better resume than the teams among the First Four Out.

With that said, here’s the latest update.  Moves up or down since my update on Wednesday, March 6 are in parentheses after the team’s name.

In since Wednesday 3/6: Indiana, Alabama

Out since Wednesday 3/6: North Carolina State, Arizona State

1s: Virginia, Duke, Gonzaga, Kentucky (+1)

2s: North Carolina, Tennessee (-1), Michigan, Michigan State

3s: LSU, Houston, Texas Tech, Purdue

4s: Marquette, Kansas, Florida State, Kansas State

5s: Wisconsin, Virginia Tech, Iowa State, Maryland

6s: Villanova, Mississippi State, Cincinnati, Buffalo

7s: Nevada, Louisville, Auburn, Iowa

8s: Oklahoma, St. John’s, Wofford, Syracuse (+1)

9s: Baylor (-1), Washington (+1), UCF (+2), Ole Miss (+1)

10s: Minnesota, VCU (-1), Ohio State (-1), Florida (-1)

11s: Utah State, Seton Hall, Texas, Indiana (new)

12s: Clemson, Temple, TCU, Alabama (new)

13s: New Mexico State, UC Irvine, Vermont, Old Dominion

14s: Hofstra, Yale, South Dakota State, Texas State

15s: Northern Kentucky, Radford, Montana, Drake

16s: Texas Southern, Bucknell, Sam Houston State, Norfolk State, St. Francis-PA, Iona

Last Four Byes: Utah State, Seton Hall, Texas, Indiana

 Last Four In: Clemson, Temple, TCU, Alabama

First Four Out: Creighton (+1), North Carolina State, Arizona State, UNC-Greensboro

Next Four Out: Furman, Georgetown (-1), Dayton, Memphis (+1)

Still Alive (in no particular order): St. Mary’s, Butler, Murray State, Toledo, Oregon, East Tennessee State (these teams could, in theory, get in with a great performance down the stretch and some collapses by the teams above them).

Hanging on by a Thread: Providence, San Francisco, Davidson, Xavier, Colorado, Oregon State, South Florida, Arizona (really, these teams have almost no shot short of winning out and everyone above them losing out but, I thought I’d list them for fun).

Enjoy the games, and look for my next update tomorrow (Saturday, March 9).  Check out the Bracket Matrix in the meantime!

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Bracketology: Let’s Look at the Bubble, For a Change

As you know by now, I’m obsessed with looking at the bubble this time of year.  And really, who do you know that isn’t, as far as people who enjoy bracketology?  So, in honor of my favorite sports studio crew – the “Inside the NBA” crew that always brings us their insight and hilarity during March Madness – let’s start off with a special Gone Fishin’ segment.  This will probably be updated often from here on out (as you’ll see when you get to the end of the seed list).  These teams either never had that much of a chance, or have put on such a poor display recently that they have only one hope of getting in the Tournament now, which is to win out.

Today, let’s honor Nebraska.  Unbelievably, this team was ranked in January.  Their absolute last chance to preserve any hope of an at-large bid was to beat Michigan State in East Lansing last night, and that game was over about 12 minutes in.  Nebraska is now 15-15, and no team has ever received an at-large with 16 losses.  I believe this year, two teams have a shot at doing so, but the Huskers aren’t one of them.  Goodbye, Nebraska.  It’s been real.

OK, enough negativity from me.  Let’s also mention a few teams that have played their way off the bubble in recent days and into certainty that they’ll make the tournament, unless the Selection Committee just hates them for some reason.  Those teams include Wofford and VCU, with Minnesota getting close after beating Purdue last night.

Most already felt that Wofford was in no matter what a couple weeks ago, but I was taking a cautious approach because they haven’t beaten anyone who’d clearly get an at-large bid, and recent history hasn’t been kind to such teams.  But this year is different.  In a year with so many average or worse teams in the major conferences, it would simply be a crime against humanity if Wofford were left out.

With that said, here’s the latest update.  No new teams are in or out of the field since my update on Monday, March 4.  Plenty of moves up or down have happened though, which are in parentheses after the team’s name.

 1s: Virginia, Duke, Gonzaga, Tennessee

2s: North Carolina, Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State

3s: Houston, Texas Tech, Purdue, LSU (+1)

4s: Marquette, Kansas (-1), Florida State, Kansas State (+1)

5s: Wisconsin (-1), Virginia Tech, Iowa State, Maryland (+1)

6s: Villanova, Mississippi State (-1), Cincinnati, Buffalo

7s: Nevada, Iowa, Louisville, Auburn

8s: Oklahoma, St. John’s (+1), Wofford (+1), Baylor

9s: Syracuse (-1), VCU, Ohio State (+1), Florida (+1)

10s: Ole Miss (-1), Washington, Texas (-1), Minnesota (+1)

11s: UCF (-1), Seton Hall, Utah State (+1), North Carolina State (+1)

12s: TCU (-1), Clemson, Arizona State (-1), Temple, Belmont, Lipscomb

13s: Old Dominion, New Mexico State, UC Irvine, Vermont (+1)

14s: Hofstra (-1), Yale, South Dakota State, Texas State

15s: Montana, Northern Kentucky, Radford, Drake

16s: Texas Southern, Bucknell, Sam Houston State, Norfolk State, St. Francis-PA, Iona (new)

Last Four Byes: UCF, Seton Hall, Utah State, North Carolina State

 Last Four In: TCU, Clemson, Arizona State, Temple

First Four Out: Alabama, Indiana (+1), Georgetown, UNC-Greensboro

Next Four Out: Furman, Creighton (-1), Butler (+1), Dayton

Still Alive (in no particular order): St. Mary’s, East Tennessee State, Memphis, Murray State, Oregon, Providence, Toledo (these teams could, in theory, get in with a great performance down the stretch and some collapses by the teams above them).

Hanging on by a Thread: Xavier, Arizona, Colorado, Davidson, Oregon State, San Francisco, South Florida (really, these teams have almost no shot short of winning out and everyone above them losing out but, I thought I’d list them for fun).

Enjoy the games, and look for my next update on Friday, March 8, at which point updates will become daily.  Check out the Bracket Matrix in the meantime!

 

 

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Bracketology: Utah State Is In

What a weekend of college hoops!  It seems like every game had an impact on the NCAA tournament projection.  At this point, I am only sure of one thing: this is going to look different on Selection Sunday.  How different, I don’t know.  But up and down the bracket, there is so little difference between teams within a couple seed lines of each other (and I feel like I say that every year).  Some marquee matchups in the last week of regular season play, as well as good win (or bad loss) opportunities in the conference tournaments, will help distinguish the teams a little bit.

For now, let’s get into the projection.  The biggest change as far as teams moving in or out of the field is Utah State replacing Alabama after a key win over Nevada the other night, while the Tide continue to fade.  Really, it was a toss-up between the Tide and Clemson as the last team in right now (imagine that in football), but the difference for me was Alabama just has too many unacceptable losses right now.

With that said, here’s the latest update.  Moves up or down since my previous update on Friday, March 1 are in parentheses.

In since Friday 3/1: Iona, Utah State

 Out since Friday 3/1: Quinnipiac, Alabama

 1s: Virginia, Duke, Gonzaga, Tennessee (+1)

2s: North Carolina, Kentucky (-1), Michigan, Michigan State

3s: Purdue, Kansas, Houston, Texas Tech (+1)

4s: LSU, Marquette (-1), Florida State, Wisconsin

5s: Kansas State, Virginia Tech, Iowa State, Mississippi State

6s: Maryland, Villanova, Cincinnati, Buffalo (+1)

7s: Nevada (-1), Iowa, Louisville, Auburn (+1)

8s: Baylor (-1), Syracuse, Oklahoma, Texas (+1)

9s: St. John’s, Wofford (+1), Ole Miss (-1), VCU (+1)

10s: Ohio State (-1), Washington, Florida (-1), UCF (+2)

11s: Seton Hall (-1), Minnesota, Arizona State, TCU

12s: Temple, North Carolina State (-1), Utah State (new), Clemson, Belmont, Lipscomb

13s: Old Dominion, New Mexico State, UC Irvine, Hofstra (+1)

14s: Vermont, Yale (-1), South Dakota State, Texas State

15s: Montana, Northern Kentucky, Radford, Drake

16s: Texas Southern, Bucknell, Sam Houston State, Norfolk State, St. Francis-PA, Iona (new)

Last Four Byes: Seton Hall, Minnesota, Arizona State, TCU

Last Four In: Temple, North Carolina State, Utah State, Clemson

First Four Out: Alabama, Georgetown, UNC-Greensboro, Creighton (+1)

Next Four Out: Furman, Indiana (+1), Dayton (-1), St. Mary’s

Others in Consideration (in no particular order): Butler, East Tennessee State, Memphis, Murray State, Oregon, Providence, Toledo, Xavier

Enjoy the games, and look for my next update on Wednesday, March 6.  Check out the Bracket Matrix in the meantime!

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Bracketology: March Badness

The title says it all.  As we move into March, the games get closer and even more intense, making them that much more fun to watch.  At the same time, some teams fighting for their seasons just put on truly bad performances.

Let’s start with Nebraska, who is dead and gone unless they can somehow pull off a shocking win at Michigan State on Tuesday night.  That would keep them alive for the time being.  Having seen the game at Michigan last night in person and looking at the Huskers’ results the past few weeks, it is really hard to believe they were ranked in January!  The team is in absolute disarray.  They didn’t even look like they wanted to be there and they were dominated by a Michigan team who was clearly playing with an edge after their rivalry loss to Michigan State last Sunday.

You can also say so long to San Francisco – a lack of any Quadrant 1 wins, and losses to San Diego and Santa Clara in the past week have done them in.

Out west, the Pac-12 is in legitimate danger of only sending one team to the Dance, which would be the first time in a quarter-century that a major conference has hit such a low.  Arizona State suffered a loss at Oregon last night that is questionable at best, adding to an array of other bad losses.  Would their wins against Kansas, Mississippi State, Utah State, and Washington save them?  I don’t know; for one thing, I’m not even convinced that Washington is a lock to make the field after their loss at California last night.  That is their only bad loss, but it’s not like they have a ton of good wins to offset it.  The Huskies haven’t beaten anyone who is likely to make the field as an at-large, and they have only one Quad 1 win.

In general, you hear it all the time and it’s playing out this week: as the grind of the conference season takes its toll, the weaker teams often start to pull upsets.  It wasn’t just Washington losing to Cal.  St. John’s lost at home to a Xavier team that is suddenly making some noise after appearing dead in the water early in February, but is still a long shot to make the field.  Earlier in the week, we saw Penn State blow out Maryland.  Louisville losing to Boston College wasn’t a good look either, especially given how much Louisville was already fading before that game.  Louisville, St. John’s, and especially Maryland are all safely in, but these losses absolutely hurt seeding.

With that said, here’s the latest update.  Moves up or down since Wednesday are in parentheses.

In since Wednesday 2/27: Northern Kentucky, Quinnipiac

 Out since Wednesday 2/27: Wright State, Canisius  

1s: Virginia, Duke, Kentucky, Gonzaga

2s: North Carolina, Michigan State, Tennessee, Michigan

3s: Houston, Kansas, Marquette, Purdue

4s: Texas Tech, LSU, Florida State, Wisconsin

5s: Mississippi State, Iowa State, Kansas State, Virginia Tech (+1)

6s: Maryland (-1), Nevada, Villanova (+1), Cincinnati (+1)

7s: Iowa (-1), Buffalo, Baylor, Louisville (-1)

8s: Auburn (+1), Syracuse (+1), Oklahoma (+1), Ole Miss

9s: Ohio State, Saint John’s (-1), Texas (-1), Florida (+1)

10s: Wofford (+1), Washington (-2), VCU (+1), Seton Hall

11s: Minnesota, North Carolina State (-1), Arizona State (-1), TCU

12s: UCF, Clemson, Alabama, Temple, Belmont, Lipscomb

13s: Old Dominion, New Mexico State, Yale (+1), UC Irvine (+1)

14s: Vermont (-1), Hofstra (-1), South Dakota State, Texas State

15s: Radford, Montana, Northern Kentucky (new), Drake

16s: Texas Southern, Sam Houston State, Bucknell, Norfolk State, St. Francis-PA, Quinnipiac (new)

Last Four Byes: Minnesota, North Carolina State (-1), Arizona State (-1), TCU (here, it’s worth mentioning that everyone from Texas on down is squarely on the bubble, should they fail to win their conference tournaments).

 Last Four In: UCF, Clemson, Alabama, Temple

First Four Out: Utah State, UNC-Greensboro, Georgetown (+1), Dayton

Next Four Out: Furman (-1), Butler, Saint Mary’s, Creighton (+1)

Others in Consideration (in no particular order): Providence, Xavier, Indiana, Toledo, Murray State, East Tennessee State, Memphis, Oregon, Arizona

Enjoy the games, and look for my next update by Monday, March 4 at the latest.  Check out the Bracket Matrix in the meantime!

 

 

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Bracketology: Watch the Bubble

Little has changed at the top since my last update on Monday, with most of the important action taking place on the bubble.  A lot of critical games took place last night.  On the losing side of the ledger were TCU, Butler, and Temple.  TCU and Temple keep a precarious grip on a spot in the field for now, and Butler is becoming a long shot to make it (though with the “softness” of the bubble, that notion could change by the end of the weekend).  On the even worse side of things was South Carolina.  Their home loss to Alabama puts them at 14-14, and they don’t have the resume to get in the tournament with 15 losses.  Nothing short of winning out will get them in the field at this point.

On the winning side of the ledger were Dayton, Ohio State, Alabama, VCU, and Utah State.  VCU is leading the A-10 at this point, but I think they would get in as an at-large if the field were selected today.  Utah State is making a strong push and I love seeing mid-majors get in, but I still think they need to add a win over a team that will make the field (or have teams just above them lose more), and they’ll have the chance to do that against Nevada this Saturday night.  Basically, by avoiding a bad loss against San Diego State last night, they stayed on the cusp of the field.

Lastly, Providence and Indiana kept their faint hopes alive with wins at Butler and at home against Wisconsin, respectively.  Indiana is a case worth looking at because at 14-14, you would think they have to win out.  But, the past two seasons, 15-loss teams have earned at-large bids, which had never happened before 2017.  And, the Hoosiers have some really high-end wins now, having beaten Marquette at home and Michigan State on the road in addition to last night’s win against Wisconsin.  So, they’re a long shot, but don’t count them out just yet.  With the unprecedented level of mediocrity on the bubble this year, we might even see a 16-loss team get an at-large.

With that said, here’s the latest update.  I didn’t move anyone in or out of the field since my last update, but there was a lot of movement around the cut line.

1s: Virginia, Duke, Gonzaga, Kentucky

2s: North Carolina, Michigan State, Tennessee, Michigan

3s: Marquette, Houston, Purdue, Kansas

4s: Texas Tech, LSU, Florida State (+1), Wisconsin

5s: Maryland, Iowa State, Kansas State (-1), Mississippi State

6s: Virginia Tech, Nevada, Iowa, Louisville

7s: Cincinnati, Buffalo, Baylor, Villanova (+1)

8s: Ole Miss (-1), St. John’s, Washington, Texas

9s: Ohio State (+2), Syracuse, Auburn, Oklahoma

10s: Seton Hall, Arizona State (-1), Florida (+1), North Carolina State

11s: VCU, Minnesota (-1), Wofford, TCU (-1)

12s: Alabama, UCF, Clemson, Temple, Belmont, Lipscomb (+1)

13s: Old Dominion (-1), New Mexico State, Vermont, Hofstra

14s: Yale, South Dakota State, UC-Irvine, Texas State

15s: Radford, Montana, Drake, Wright State

16s: Texas Southern, Sam Houston State, Bucknell, Norfolk State, St. Francis-PA, Canisius

Last Four Byes: Florida, North Carolina State, Minnesota, TCU

 Last Four In: Alabama, UCF, Clemson, Temple

First Four Out: Utah State, UNC-Greensboro, Dayton (+1), Furman

Next Four Out: Butler (-1), St. Mary’s, Georgetown, Nebraska

Others in Consideration (in no particular order): Creighton, Davidson, Murray State, Oregon State, San Francisco, Toledo, Providence, Indiana

Enjoy the games, and look for my next update on Friday, March 1.  Check out the Bracket Matrix in the meantime!

 

 

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