Florida grabs a No. 1 seed in the East Region in our latest bracket projection. The other number one seeds are Kansas, Michigan, and Arizona. It’s shaping up to be quite a race for the top line. Indiana, Syracuse, and Duke are close behind. It would take some help, but it’s not impossible for Gonzaga or even Butler to be considered a top-line team if those two keep piling up wins. Several other teams are in the mix, too. An outright winner of the Big Ten will almost certainly garner consideration.
As for the bubble, wait a day, it’s bound to change. Consider Kentucky. The Wildcats numbers are pretty blah. By holding off LSU, UK stays in the field as one of our last five “in” today. With visits to Ole Miss and Texas AM up next, it’s a huge week for Big Blue Nation. Villanova and La Salle both join the field thanks to good weeks. Villanova beat Syracuse and Louisville back-to-back. La Salle beat Butler and VCU. While slotted only one spot different on the s-curve, Villanova drops to the 12-line to avoid conference conflicts.
Following the Super Bowl, the countdown to Selection Sunday will take center stage. Here’s to a great week of hoops.
If Arizona continues its strong play during the next two months, it’ll be hard for the Selection Committee to keep the Wildcats off the top line out West. That’s where the Wildcats reside in our latest bracket. At No. 4 on the s-curve, Arizona trails Duke, Kansas, and Michigan in the chase for the overall No. 1 seed. Fresh off a win at Louisville on Saturday and Cincinnati at home Monday, Syracuse is an eyelash behind at No. 5. Others on the two-line: Louisville, Indiana, and Florida. When the Gators are good, they are really good.
The bubble remains a mystery. And an ever-changing target. Consider that six of the ten teams just outside the bracket on Saturday morning (s-curve spots 69-78) lost. Then we have a team like Virginia. The up-and-down Cavaliers notched a win over Florida State (editor’s note: this was updated – the earlier post had UVA winning at Florida State; game was at Virginia. My apologies for not catching it sooner), but it’s unrealistic for a team with an RPI in the mid 120s to garner serious at-large consideration. Part of that is a No. 332 non-conference strength of schedule (stats from ESPN’s InsideRPI), and part of it is five losses to teams ranked 100 or lower in the RPI – including a loss to Old Dominion (No. 319). So we have to still go a bit on potential at this point. Thus, Kentucky and Maryland are among the First Four participants.
Big Ten power paid off for Iowa this week. The Hawkeyes represent the eighth Big Ten team in the current Field of 68 after beating Wisconsin and Northwestern. By the time March rolls around, we’ll more likely end up with six or seven Big Ten teams in the dance. Much of that will depend on whether an additional SEC or ACC team steps up to grab an at-large spot. The Mountain West remains strong with six teams in the bracket. But as MWC teams jockey for position, it might limit the number of top five seeds. We’ll have to see how it plays out.
Note: A few teams – including the First Four winners – had to be adjusted a seed line to account for conference conflicts and bracketing principles. This is a common occurrence during the actual bracketing process. For example, Iowa State drops to the 12-line because of related issues with the First Four and finding a spot for Iowa which needed to avoid another Big Ten opponent until a Regional final. While the committee attempts to avoid regular-season rematches in the first two rounds, exceptions can be made; in this case Iowa and Wichita State played but it’s the way the bracket came together.
Enjoy another great week of hoops.
Healthy and hungry, the Louisville Cardinals are pushing toward the top position on the s-curve. Duke retains that position for another week. The Blue Devils’ overall body of work remains impressive, and Ryan Kelly’s foot injury is a bigger concern than a close loss to NC State in Raleigh. If Kelly doesn’t return healthy, the NCAA Selection Committee will have to evaluate the Blue Devils without him. We don’t yet know how that resume might compare, or how quickly Kelly might return.
All four No. 1 seeds remain the same as last week: Duke (East), Louisville (Midwest), Michigan (South), and Kansas (West). The bracket and s-curve are for games played through Sunday (Jan. 13). Teams chasing the top line as two-seeds include Indiana, Arizona, Minnesota, and Syracuse.
This week’s bubble includes Kentucky. One could easily make the case that UK’s resume isn’t tournament-worthy. It’s hard to argue for a team that’s 1-5 vs. RPI Top 150 opponents, and whose best win is fellow bubble-dweller Maryland. But since it’s mid-January and UK is very talented, although young, the Wildcats remain as one of the last team’s in the bracket. They open as a First Four participant against Indiana State. The Sycamores’ wins over Miami-FL and Ole Miss – two teams in the current field – are just enough to keep ISU on the right side of the ledger. Joining UK and ISU as First Four participants – Texas AM and Arizona State.
We still have a long journey toward Selection Sunday. The next two weeks will give us a clearer picture of the overall landscape. With unbalanced schedules, it’s hard to evaluate conference records at this point. Later, it’s important to compare schedules within the conference. It’s not just the number of conference wins, but who those wins are against that matters. Similar records aren’t necessarily the same anymore.
Enjoy another great week of hoops.
Through the first two months of the college basketball season, no team has accomplished more than Duke. Thus, the Blue Devils hold the top spot on the s-curve and the No. 1 overall seed in our first bracket projection of 2013. For what it’s worth, Duke is No. 1 in the RPI, has played the nation’s third best schedule, is 10-0 vs. the RPI Top 50, and has wins over Louisville, Kentucky, Minnesota, VCU, Temple, and Ohio State. That’s about as good as it gets. The other No. 1 seeds are Louisville, Michigan, and Kansas.
As expected, the lower half of the current bracket is quite fluid. Even some national headliners have suspect resumes to this point: Kentucky, Pittsburgh, and North Carolina come to mind. Of those three, Kentucky seems most likely to push for a significantly higher seed come tournament time. We also have teams whose non-conference schedules could prove costly in March: Virginia (No. 329), Maryland (No. 323), Georgia Tech (No. 302), Charlotte (No. 300), Wyoming (No. 281), Iowa (No. 276), Pittsburgh (No. 255), and St. Mary’s (246) are just a few. How these teams – and others – handle conference play will define their seasons because their non-conference numbers won’t help much. (SOS numbers are from ESPN’s Insider RPI).
Quick note: The current bracket is for games played through Sunday, January 6. It does not include games played Monday (Jan. 7). Notre Dame’s win at Cincinnati will be included in the next bracket and s-curve update.
Here are some related links as part of first 2013 bracket:
The race to Selection Sunday is underway. It should be a fun ride. Early brackets are much like the weather. If you don’t like it, just wait. It’s sure to change.
This year we’ll be including the full s-curve with our bracket updates. As time permits – and the tournament nears – I’ll try to update the list more frequently. Off site, the s-curve is updated daily. Below are two tables used to display the current s-curve – a tool used by the Selection Committee to seed teams into the bracket.
A couple of things to note:
1) Teams listed in ALL CAPS are projected as automatic qualifiers. We’re so early in the conference season this really doesn’t mean anything yet, but it provides an idea of how automatic qualifiers are place on the curve.
2) With the First Four set-up, there can be six teams on a given seed line. In this edition, one of those is the 12-seed line. That’s while you’ll notice two empty “boxes” after spots 49-50. Teams ranked 45-50 would be potential 12 seeds (if bracket placement works accordingly). Through games on December 31, the First Four participants would be Indiana State, Saint Louis, Marquette, and Georgia Tech. The same holds true for spots 63-38. In the First Four scenario, Norfolk State, Cal-Northridge, LIU-Brooklyn, and Prairie View would be matched with the winners sliding into a 16-seed line. Read more…