Inside the Bracket: News, notes, and bubble talk
Let’s take a peek inside the latest bracket and highlight some news, notes, interesting stats and even a little bubble talk.
No. 1 Seeds … The January 17/18 bracket was put together before the Pitt-Syracuse game on Monday. Even with Pitt winning, Syracuse remains a No. 1 seed candidate. The game was at Pitt and the Orange played without leading scorer Kris Joseph. Thanks to an unbalanced schedule, however, we miss a rematch at the Carrier Dome. Kansas is now No. 1 in the RPI and looked the part at Baylor – more on the Bears in bubble talk. Ohio State will be tested at Illinois this weekend. Duke has four of its next five on the road. Those next in line are … Pittsburgh, Connecticut and San Diego State. The Big East has had multiple No. 1 seeds before, no reason to think it can’t happen again. Regions … Duke no longer has a stranglehold on the East (unless Kyrie Irving returns healthy). The West would be an ideal spot for San Diego State, but the Aztecs may need some help to reach the top line. Either way, trips to Tucson and Anaheim are looking better all the time.
BYU Placement … Why is BYU not in the West? As San Diego State currently ranks higher on the S-Curve, SDSU has the No. 2 seed in the West Region and bracketing principles prohit BYU from being in the same region because the Mountain West only has three teams in the bracket. This means the Cougars must move to the Southeast – the only other Region that plays Thursday-Saturday the second weekend.
Number notes … Through games Monday (Jan. 17), no team had four wins vs. the RPI Top 25 (CollegeRPI.com). Eight (8) teams had three: Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Connecticut, West Virginia, Notre Dame, St. John’s, Minnesota, Tennessee. Notice a trend? Six of the eight are from the Big East. Raise your hand if you had Minnesota and Tennessee…. Teams currently in the Field (not counting automatic qualifiers) without a Top 50 RPI win … Arizona (0-2), Wichita State (0-3). That could spell trouble.
Conference records … We’re still early enough in conference rotations that heavy road/home schedules can skew standings. This begins to change as we near the mid-point of conference play. And with unbalanced schedules, not all conference records are equal. One team’s 10-8 might be as good as another team’s 9-9. Keep this in mind as you evaluate teams like Marquette, Cincinnati, and even St. John’s. Which of these teams wins more games against teams at the top of league.
Bubble Banter … returns in February with our final countdown toward March. Right now, we’d have some suprise teams in bubble trouble: Baylor, Memphis, Washington State, Florida State, Butler, Virginia Tech, and Xavier among others. Although Cincinnati wasn’t in our pre-season bracket projection, the Bearcats would be a bubble team – even at 16-2. The Bearcats have yet to beat a team that projects into the Field. Same for Baylor, only worse – the Bears’ best wins are Lipscomb (No. 121) and Arizona State (No. 128). Not a single Top 100 RPI win. No team has ever been selected as an at-large with such a profile – even without a non-conference SOS that ranks No. 243.
Rebounds always welcome. Follow along on Twitter at BracketguyDave.