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Bracket Bits: Potential mid-major bubble teams

February 28, 2015 Leave a comment

dave1Given this year’s rather unimpressive Bubble, there’s been ample opportunities for so-called “mid-majors” to cash in.  But as the calendar turns to March, Northern Iowa (Missouri Valley) is the only one to really take advantage: the Panthers will be Dancing.  Old Dominion was in a similar position in mid-January until some unsightly Conference USA losses clouded their horizon.  The Monarchs can still make it, but not without a strong finish, and maybe a little help.

Bubble Banter

Which brings us to the next question: Are there any other potential mid-major teams who could make a late push toward at-large consideration?  Here are the leading candidates (records are D1 only) …

Wofford (21-6) | (Southern) – The Terriers might be the leading candidate thanks to a Top 20 non-conference schedule that includes a victory at NC State.  Wofford’s other Top 100 wins include Iona and Sam Houston State.  The biggest hang-up, and it sticks out like a 300-pound gorilla, is a loss at The Citadel, which stands at No. 310 on the RPI rankings as of this posting.  It would also be a bit unusual for a six-loss team in Wofford’s situation to gain momentum on the At-Large Board.  Assuming the Terriers would lose only to Chattanooga in the SoCon tourney finale, there’s an outside chance, but it’s just that. Read more…

Bracketology: Kentucky reigns as March arrives

February 27, 2015 Leave a comment

dave1As the calendar turns to March, Kentucky has entrenched itself as the No. 1 overall seed.  Unless the Wildcats lose multiple times between now and Selection Sunday – which is highly unlikely – they will stand atop the bracket when the official Field of 68 is unveiled on March 15.   UK’s proverbial “march” will begin in Louisville and head through Cleveland in the Midwest Region.

Current Bracket Projection

Current Seed List

As for the remaining No. 1 seeds, Virginia has a firm grasp on the East.  After that, there’s still a bit of a race.  If Gonzaga loses, Villanova is next in line to ascend to the top line.  We also can’t exclude Wisconsin, Arizona, or even Kansas – although the Jayhawks will need help from the others in front of them.  While winning both Big 12 regular season and tournament titles (if it happens) would be mighty impressive, the Jayhawks’ loss total might be too great to push KU ahead of the other three if those teams continue to win.

The bubble/cutline remains a hodge-podge of rotating resumes.  The week ahead – leading into conference tournaments – figures to be huge.  And it might be Friday or Saturday of Championship Week before the final Field comes into focus.

February 23 Bracket: Gonzaga fighting for No. 1 seed

February 23, 2015 Leave a comment

dave1The bubble continues to ebb and flow with a collection of pedestrian resumes maneuvering toward Championship Week.  So instead of discussing a revolving door, let’s address perhaps the most-debated question regarding current bracket projections: Should Gonzaga be a No. 1 seed?

Current Bracket Projection

Current Seed List

Let’s start here: the Selection Committee would prefer to have a “West-based” team atop the West Region.  Gonzaga – and Arizona, obviously – both fit that description and both teams have resumes that would put them in the discussion.  Which brings us to the finer points of the ‘Zags resume.  The numbers are pretty strong … Gonzaga is 8-1 against both RPI/BPI top 100 teams.  Here’s how the Bulldogs rank on various power ratings: RPI (8), BPI (4) and KenPom (5).   Gonzaga has non-conference wins over these current NCAA-projected teams: SMU, St. John’s, and Georgia.  The ‘Zags only loss was by three points at Arizona.

Those on the other side of the equation will argue that Gonzaga has played only two Top 100 teams (BYU and Saint Mary’s) since beginning West Coast Conference play, and that the league hasn’t challenged them enough to be a No. 1 seed.  They will argue that Gonzaga’s non-conference schedule wasn’t as strong as past years.  Both of those arguments are – at least to a certain point on the latter – true.  Of course, schedules are often made in advance, and Memphis and UCLA (as examples) haven’t been as good as expected.

Whichever side of the argument you fall on, it’s a healthy debate that will continue in Indianapolis prior to Selection Sunday.  But if Gonzaga wins out, and finishes with just one loss, odds would place the Bulldogs as favorites to be a No. 1 seed in the West.  We’ll see how it plays out.  If Gonzaga loses, the door will certainly be open for the four teams currently residing on the two-line: Villanova, Wisconsin, Kansas, and Arizona.

February 20 Bracket: Big 10 benefitting from weak bubble

February 20, 2015 Leave a comment

dave1This year’s Big Ten is not last year’s Big Ten.  Wisconsin is just as good, but quality throughout the league isn’t the same – even with solid contributions by newcomer Maryland.  All of which would suggest that fewer Big Ten teams would be participating in this year’s NCAA tournament.  Not necessarily so.

Current Bracket

Current Seed List

Given the current status of bubble teams – those hanging around the proverbial 68-team cutline – as many as eight Big Ten teams have realistic hopes of hearing their name called on Selection Sunday.  Case in point: there are eight teams in today’s updated bracket projection – further buoyed by Purdue’s victory last night at Indiana.  The Boilermakers had some issues in December, but they’ve been a different basketball team the past three weeks.  We’ll see if they can finish the task at hand.  We’ll also find out soon if Illinois and Iowa can stay the course.  Will all eight teams make it?  Probably not.  But the door is open. Read more…

Bracket Bits: Placing teams on the top two seed lines

February 17, 2015 Leave a comment

dave1Let’s talk about something positive, like the eight teams positioned along the top two seed lines.  For all the middling around the cutline, this group continues to shine: Kentucky, Virginia, Gonzaga, Duke, Kansas, Villanova, Wisconsin, and Arizona.  While we can’t “lock” anyone into a position yet, these eight are rapidly pushing toward a slot on the top two lines of the eventual bracket in March. So, here’s today’s question:

How are the teams placed in bracket regions?

As a guideline, geography takes precedence based on the Seed List order. Currently, Kentucky is No. 1 on the list, so the Wildcats would be given first preference. Regional sites are located in Cleveland (Midwest), Syracuse (East), Houston (South), Los Angeles (West).  Cleveland is closest to Lexington (KY) so Kentucky slots into the Midwest.  The rest of the current No. 1 seeds then fall into place: Virginia (Syracuse – East), Gonzaga (Los Angeles – West), and Duke (Houston – South).

Here’s where the debate begins. Seed List order matters on the second line, but so does geography.  Selection Committee members can balance regions (based on the first four seed lines) using spots 9-12 and 13-16.  Monday – before Kansas lost at West Virginia – the Jayhawks were No. 5 on the Seed List.  That would put them opposite the No. 4 team (Duke) in the South Region.  In this case, the so-called s-curve worked perfectly, as that would be KU’s preferred location.  Next up was Villanova.  If the true s-curve model were followed, Villanova would go West, opposite Gonzaga.  But the Committee also knows that Arizona (No. 8 on the list) will be placed on the two-line.  Thus, it offers them the opportunity to keep Villanova in its home region (East); a win for both teams and their fans.  Wisconsin would naturally choose the Midwest, so the Badgers move opposite Kentucky.  If this set-up holds, placing the top two lines into the bracket will actually be an easy exercise.  Read more…

Latest Bracket: Kentucky leads countdown to Selection Sunday

February 16, 2015 Leave a comment

dave1We’re now a month from Selection Sunday, and Madness continues around the bubble.  Weekend results did little to change this scenario, so the same rules apply: If your team is seeded 8th or lower they have work to do.  In fact, we have a few teams on the 8/9 seed line that should probably be 11/12 seeds.  That’s where we stand.  Championship Week will be must-see TV.

Bracket Update: February 16

Seed List: February 16

Unbeaten Kentucky (25-0) continues to lead the Field of 68.  At this point, it would take multiple glitches for UK to lose its reign on the Midwest Region.  Elsewhere at the top of the bracket, Virginia, Gonzaga, and Duke continue to hold No. 1 seeds. If Kansas, Villanova, Wisconsin, and Arizona also keep winning, there will be some interesting discussions among Selection Committee members regarding the top two seed lines. Keep this in mind: Although the Committee will “balance” regions for the Top 4 seed lines, geographic preference remains a priority – as long as other bracketing principles can be met.  Thus, we’re likely to see Arizona in the West and Wisconsin in the Midwest regardless of their spot on the 2-line, assuming both stay in that group.

We’ll see how much the bottom of the bracket changes by Friday.  Until then, enjoy another whacky few days of college hoops.

Bubble Banter Debut: Countdown to Selection Sunday

February 13, 2015 Leave a comment

dave1We’re a month from Selection Sunday.  It’s also Valentine’s Day weekend.  In other words, the perfect time to unleash a little extra basketball love and launch this season’s Bubble Banter.

Bubble Banter

By now you know that the lower half of the bracket is wide open.  The bubble?  Well, it’s wide open, too.  There are some highly questionable profiles near the cutline, and that may not change.  Written off for the NIT at the end of its non-conference season, UCLA is among the teams back in the at-large picture.  Same for Boise State, riding an eight-game winning streak in Mountain West play.  And what about the ACC … no league is stronger at the top, but there’s a steep decline once you exit the upper tier.

There are some big-time programs currently on the outside looking in – including aforementioned UCLA, Connecticut, Florida, Michigan, and Pittsburgh.  There are also traditionally strong leagues – such as the Atlantic 10 – that could put just two teams into the field. Read more…

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