I forgot to post these the other day and was asked about it. So here’s how I picked the Field of 64 by Region. If I’ve learned anything in recent years, I’m better at projecting brackets than predicting results. Proceed with caution.
I have Florida coming out of the South as the No. 1 seed and advancing to the Final Four.
- Round of 64 – Florida over Albany; Pittsburgh over Colorado; VCU over S.F. Austin; UCLA over Tulsa; Ohio State over Dayton; Western Michigan over Syracuse; New Mexico over Stanford; Kansas over Eastern Kentucky
- Round of 32 – Florida over Pittsburgh; UCLA over VCU; Ohio State over Western Michigan; Kansas over New Mexico
- Sweet 16 – Florida over UCLA; Kansas over Ohio State
- Elite 8 – Florida over Kansas Read more…
Florida held off Kentucky to complete an amazing regular season run. The Gators will be rewarded with the top overall seed in the 2014 NCAA tournament and the No. 1 seed in the South Region. Expect Florida to be joined on the top line by Arizona, Wichita State, and either Michigan, Virginia, or Villanova. It was a race to the finish.
Bracket Projection | Final 2014
Besides a couple of minor seeding adjustments, the rest of the Field remained in tact from the Sunday morning bracket.
Now, it’s time to put away the projections and await the spectacle that is March Madness. If Championship Week has show us anything it’s that the upcoming Road to the Final Four should be a great ride. Thanks for following along. It’s been fun!
With its victory over Kentucky – and Arizona’s loss at Oregon – the Florida Gators are in the driver’s seat for the overall No. 1 seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament. Regardless, the Gators will be the top seed in the South Region with opening round games in nearby Orlando. The remaining No. 1 seeds as we begin Championship Week: Arizona (West), Wichita State (Midwest) and Villanova (East).
At this point, the first three No. 1 seeds appear to be locked-in. Which leaves us one spot for three or four teams. At least that’s how it appears today. The contenders include Villanova (as noted above), Kansas, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Virginia is still in the hunt, but its journey became much tougher after Sunday’s loss at Maryland. Achieving a No. 1 seed with eight losses would be something new, but few teams in history have played Kansas’ schedule. If Michigan wins the Big Ten tournament, the Wolverines would have a legitimate argument. They possess a higher number of NCAA-level wins than Villanova – due to the strength of the Big Ten as compared to the Big East. Wisconsin’s non-conference performance – with victories over Florida and Virginia – would help the Badgers’ case if they find the winner’s circle in Indianapolis next Sunday.
We’ll be updating the bracket every day this week as automatic qualifiers arrive and conference tournaments continue. Teams that have clinched automatic berths are listed in ALL CAPS – with the exception of teams like BYU and UCLA.
The bubble remains a work in progress. Nebraska grabbed a spot after beating Wisconsin on Sunday. Xavier, Tennessee, and BYU join the Huskers at the First Four in Dayton. It’s a big week for those teams and several others who are just above the last four at-larges. We’ll have to see how it plays out.
It’s been a rough couple of weeks for Pac-12 teams in the Bay Area. California has lost three straight and four of five. Stanford has also dropped three straight. Both schools are coming off home losses (Utah and Colorado), and both need a course correction to avoid problems on Selection Sunday.
Stanford’s win at Connecticut is worth mentioning first, and perhaps puts the Cardinal a tiny bit ahead of Cal at this juncture. As for the rest of its resume? Stanford is 6-10 vs. Top 100 RPI teams and has a losing record (9-11) against the Top 150. When you factor in the three-game skid – which included missed opportunities against Arizona and Arizona State – there’s reason for concern. Other than the win at UConn, Stanford’s best non-conference victory is either Northwestern or Denver.
California has its home win over Arizona. Impressive as that is, the Bears are 6-11 vs. the RPI Top 100 and two of those wins are against Washington (No. 95 as of this morning – March 8). Outside the league, they beat Arkansas in Maui and also beat Denver. Having played a couple more Top 150 games, Cal is 11-11 by comparison. During its three-game slide, Cal also missed opportunities against Arizona and Arizona State.
Safe to say, both the Bears and Cardinal have work to do at the Pac-12 tournament. Read more…
It’s not a surprise to say the current NCAA Tournament bubble is soft. While we most often focus on the cutline (last teams in, first teams out), a few notable programs may not be as secure as it seems. With Selection Sunday only three weeks away, the stretch run could make a huge difference. Here are a four teams (of several) that could be on that list …
Memphis – The Tigers needed overtime at home to survive Temple on Saturday night which kept a truly bad loss off of their resume. Here’s the concerning part: a 4-6 record against Top 100 RPI teams – which actually extends to the Top 150. This could be one of those years when a team with a losing record against the top half of Division I earns an at-large bid, but it certainly leaves some doubt about the Tigers’ overall standing. Part of that is due to a weak bottom half of the American Athletic Conference. Part of it is losses against league leaders – save victory at Louisville in early January. Memphis is 1-4 against American contenders (Cincinnati, Louisville, Connecticut, SMU). Three of their remaining games are against those same squads. If the Tigers were to finish 1-7 (or 2-6) against that target, it could bring some stressful moments come league tournament time.
Kansas State – While it’s hard to envision a team with eight Top 100 wins missing the NCAA Tournament right now, it’s worth nothing that the Wildcats are 1-6 in true road games (their only win was at TCU). K-State has remaining road trips to Texas Tech and Oklahoma State, neither of which will be easy. If they were to lose both and drop a home game to either Baylor or Iowa State down the stretch, an early exit from the Big 12 tourney could create some few tense moments in Manhattan. Read more…
That said, there are some current bubble teams who may face a greater at-large hurdle than others. The reason: a non-conference strength of schedule (SOS) the sticks out like red flag. While there is never an absolute, recent trends indicate that members of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Selection Committee value a team’s non-conference schedule (and performance) – for two primary reasons. First, it indicates a team’s willingness to challenge itself in the non-conference season. Second, it provides a greater range of opportunities to compare teams with similar resumes.
We’ve seen teams with adequate conference records – or even stellar conference records in some mid-major leagues – be left out on Selection Sunday because of an unimpressive (or ugly) non-conference SOS. Which current bubble teams might be facing similar SOS trouble in March? Here’s 10 potential candidates – with their NC SOS numbers through games played on Thursday, January 23 (data from ESPN’s Insider RPI). Read more…
As of New Year’s Day, the Wisconsin Badgers hold the No. 3 spot on our s-curve and a No. 1 seed in the Midwest Region. That would route the Badgers through Milwaukee and Indianapolis – a pretty favorable set-up. Arizona (West), Syracuse (East), and Michigan State (South) grab the other No. 1 seeds. Villanova, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, and Florida are next in line. Conference races will help shape the top of the bracket in March – particularly in the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12, Big 12, and the new-look Big East.
The cutline remains quite fluid at this juncture. So don’t put too much stock in the last few in or first few out. Teams continue to ebb and flow. Resumes tend to look very similar. Conference results will be critical for teams with little or nothing to show from the season’s first two months. Those who notched a few quality wins on their resume have more room to maneuver.
Weekly bracket updates resume on Monday (January 6). This year, the entire s-curve will be included (and is today), and I’ll try to add a few more posts related to selection, seeding, and the overall landscape. If you’re just re-entering the college hoops scene, the NCAA Selection Committee has a few new rules to play with this season. You can see those for yourself at www.ncaa.com. The goal is to keep as many teams as possible on their true seed line.
Your input is always welcome. It’s what makes it fun. If you’re on Twitter, I’m @BracketguyDave. You may also comment here or email the site. I try to respond as best I can. Please offer your insights and information. Let the journey to March begin!