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Bracket update: Nothing happens in a vacuum

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Whether its early January or early March, remember one thing when it comes to bracket projections:  Nothing happens in a vacuum.  Sometimes team lose ground when they win and sometimes they gain ground when they lose.  Odd, but true.  Take for example, Purdue.  The Boilermakers actually jumped two spots on the S-Curve (No. 5) despite a loss at Wisconsin.  Why?  For one, almost no one wins at the Kohl Center – so close is good.  Second, Tennessee put on quite a show for the home folks in Knoxville, handing Kansas its first loss.  Back in November, Purdue edged Tennessee at the Paradise Jam.  Outcomes and outlooks change for all three teams – perhaps others. 

The NCAA men’s basketball season didn’t end on Sunday.  That’s why we try to base projections on both where teams stand today and where we anticipate they might be next week and next month (either bracket projection method is fun; just a bit different).  Washington is a good example.  The Huskies are a good team, but would lack an NCAA profile if today were Selection Sunday.  As down as the Pac-10 is, it’s hard to imagine a BCS league earning just one bid.  Until we know whether such a train-wreck would actually occur, Washington still projects as the best bet to make a run (behind California).  As we progress through conference play, however, a losing league record is much less acceptable.

Mountain West and the BYU factor … Take your pick of New Mexico, UNLV, and BYU.  All three should contend – with San Diego State on the fringe.  Who emerges as champ is anyone’s guess at this point.  Thus, the three are bunched very close in today’s bracket.  The BYU factor?  Because the Cougars can only be assigned to Thursday-Saturday sites and regions, they bump down a line (from a true 7 seed to an 8).  This happens during bracketing for a variety of reasons.  Only six spots separate the three on the S-Curve.   Several other teams also moved one seed line this week – see the Notes on the Bracket.

Sorting our the Atlantic-10:  Hard to separate Dayton and Temple at this point, but the Owls project as league champion in this bracket.  Overall a strong beginning for the A-10 with Rhode Island, Xavier and Richmond all in the mix.  Guess is the A-10 gets four teams in the Field on Selection Sunday.

New teams … Three new teams join the bracket projection: Missouri, Louisville and Miami-FL.  The ‘Canes are most likely to experience a quick stay, as they’ll have to win a meaningful road game at some point.  For that reason, Mississippi State is our first team out.  Huge win at Ole Miss, but the Bulldogs have been inconsistent; so let’s see how they progress.  You can see the last in and last out on the Bracketology page.

What is 8-over? … Teams in the lower half of the bracket (8 and higher) would all be bubble teams at this point.  

Injuries and information … If a player is injured and misses games, the results of those games can be re-evaluated if the player returns.  Evan Turner at Ohio State is a good example.  The Buckeyes are certainly a different team with him in the lineup.  Returning earlier than expected, the Buckeyes’ seed this week reflects a more positive outlook.

For those interested, Texas is now the No. 1 overall seed, followed by Kansas, Kentucky and Syracuse.  Given the strength of the Big East, the outright league champion is almost certain to earn a No. 1 seed unless a lot of losses are involved.  Even with Purdue closing fast, the Orange remain on the top line as Big East favorite.  Not that it really matters; Memphis and UConn were in a similar position last year; both in the same region.  As always, thanks for your interest and send a rebound.

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