In an overtime, down-to-the-wire, resume comparison battle, the Duke Blue Devils edged Villanova for the final No. 1 seed in today’s bracket update. Without taking you through all the nuances, Duke’s road wins at Wisconsin and Louisville ultimately trumped Villanova’s better “losses.” It was that close.
Looking ahead, it’s a challenging week for the Blue Devils. They begin a three-game road swing on Sunday that takes them through St. John’s, Notre Dame, and Virginia. In terms of Duke’s final bracket position, the next eight days could be huge.
Elsewhere, the week’s biggest climbers are Georgetown and Indiana. The Hoyas spliced together wins over Butler and Villanova, and the Hoosiers backed up a road win at Illinois by out-gunning Maryland Thursday night in Bloomington. Both are five-seeds today. Read more…
Since losing to San Diego State, the Kansas Jayhawks have put together a five-game surge that includes victories over its biggest competitors in the Big 12 conference – Oklahoma, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Iowa State, and Baylor. Two of those (Oklahoma, Iowa State) were on the road. Add in victories over Duke and New Mexico in non-conference play, and KU has notched eight Top 50 RPI victories. That’s two more than Syracuse, four more than Arizona, and three more than Michigan State – the other members of today’s No. 1 seed club. It’s also worth noting that Kansas has played the nation’s toughest schedule and currently sits atop the RPI. That’s a pretty strong profile (despite four losses – all to Top 25 RPI Teams), and the primary reason why the Jayhawks received the No. 4 slot on this week’s seed list (s-curve). When evaluating KU’s overall body of work, it’s pretty strong.
We still have two months to go and several other teams could reach the No. 1 seed line by March. Teams like Florida and Wichita State are building strong resumes, as is San Diego State. And it’s too early to count out Iowa, Michigan, or Wisconsin from the Big Ten title chase. The final contenders will be much more clear by mid-February.
On the flip side, January hasn’t been a good month for teams like Ohio State, Baylor, and North Carolina – or Georgetown for that matter; as the Hoyas are among the First Five OUT today. Through the first third of conference play, the Buckeyes, Bears, and Tar Heels own a combined 4-12 record (in league play). Some of that is due to scheduling and some of it has been inconsistent play. Either way, it would be a good time for those squads to reverse course. By the time we reach mid-February, a seriously sub-par conference record will not be endearing to the Selection Committee.
One of the best things about college basketball is that we never know what will happen. Enjoy the hoops.
With two months until Selection Sunday, there are a few curious profiles among name-heavy teams. As an illustration, let’s look at an interesting group of eight. None are having bad seasons, but their profiles are lighter than you might think. Combined, the eight have five wins against teams that were included in the January 14 bracket update. Three of the teams have yet to beat a team currently in the Field. When it comes to Top 50 RPI wins (through games played on January 16), these eight squads have a combined six wins and none has more than one …
Louisville – The defending NCAA champions are 1-2 vs. the Top 50 and have no wins against teams in the current field. Their non-conference schedules ranks No. 174. Their best wins are bubble teams SMU and Southern Miss. Eleven of their 15 wins are against teams ranked 150 or worse in the RPI.
Gonzaga – The Bulldogs are 0-2 vs. the Top 50 and also have no wins against the current field. GU’s best wins are bubble teams Arkansas and Saint Mary’s, plus a victory at West Virginia. The Bulldogs are 5-2 vs. the Top 100. They also have a loss at Portland. Note: Had the bracket been updated Friday, Arkansas would have returned to the Field after beating Kentucky.
Missouri – The Tigers are 1-1 vs. the Top 50 and have beaten UCLA – a team in the current field. However, they have only two other Top 100 wins and only one of those – NC State – is currently on the realistic bubble. Mizzou’s non-conference SOS comes in at No. 157. Read more…
The countdown to March Madness has officially arrived. We begin the trek toward Selection Sunday with Arizona and Syracuse as the top two seeds in the Field of 68. Joining the Wildcats and Orange on the top line … two teams from the Big Ten: Wisconsin and Michigan State. Villanova and Ohio State are close behind.
If you’re new to bracket watching or are returning for the new year, a couple of quick housekeeping notes:
- The NCAA Selection Committee implemented new bracketing procedures designed to keep more teams on their true seed line (from the seed list or s-curve). If you want all the details, visit http://www.ncaa.com. Today’s (January 6) bracket is a fitting example. In the South Region, Saint Louis is the No. 8 seed – which puts the Billikens in the same half of the bracket as Massachusetts, the No. 5 seed. Both reside in the Atlantic 10 conference. In previous years, Saint Louis would have had been bumped a seed line higher or lower – or moved out of its geographic region – to avoid two teams from the same conference (unless more than eight were selected) meeting before a Regional Final. That bump would have affected more than Saint Louis, perhaps dropping another team from a seven seed to an eight. The new configuration is allowable in part because SLU and UMass are scheduled to meet only once during the A10 regular season. Without going into detail, you’ll also notice Florida and Tennessee engaged in a similar scenario. If those two happened to meet in the SEC tourney (which would be their third meeting), the set-up in this bracket would not be possible. But since we don’t know whether that will occur, it’s accurate for today.
- Teams are selected and seeded based on their overall body of work (now and moving forward). Just because Team A beat Team B doesn’t necessarily mean Team A’s overall body of work – such as quality wins, strength of schedule, etc – is superior to Team B’s. Teams lose games. If overall accomplishments weren’t considered, we would rank Belmont ahead of North Carolina and Northern Colorado ahead of Kansas State. But that would not be an accurate way to assess either team’s overall performance.
- It’s too early to be overly concerned about the bubble or cutline. Conference play us just beginning. Try not to overreact to a team being one of the last few in or first few out. We have a long way to go. Some teams currently in the bracket will miss the tournament and others will climb into the bracket come March.
- Teams earn bids, not conferences. Although it’s unlikely the Big 12 will earn seven bids on Selection Sunday, it worked out that way through games played on January 5. Next week, it could be different.
College hoops is entering its annual March to Madness. Enjoy the journey to Selection Sunday.
Kentucky will be the No. 1 overall seed. The only question – for weeks now, really – is whether the Wildcats will be in the South or Midwest. Geographically, St. Louis (Midwest) is a few miles closer, but it’s a small enough margin not to matter much. The South is UK’s more natural region. This is where North Carolina comes into play. Winning the outright ACC title and reaching the ACC tournament final means the Tar Heels should be the third No. 1 seed. UNC is an obvious fit for the South Region.
Here are the other considerations: If the committee has decided that the Michigan State – Ohio State winner today (Big Ten championship) will be a No. 1 seed, this affects the bracket. Either MSU or OSU will be No. 4 on the s-curve and be fourth in the Region pecking order – meaning a trip West. If, however, the committee has decided that Kansas/Missouri will be the fourth No. 1 seed regardless of the Big Ten outcome, then MSU or OSU will be two seeds. In this case, one of Missouri/Kansas will be West and one will be in the St. Louis location. The committee can balance the regions with the three or four seeds.
How will it shake out?
Missouri’s weak non-conference strength-of-schedule (No. 294 at collegerpi.com) will probably keep the Tigers as a two-seed. Kansas, the Big 12 regular season champ, lost to Baylor in the Big 12 semifinals. Normally, not a big deal. But both Michigan State and Ohio State have been projected as top seeds this season – and the Big Ten is a deeper league overall.
Will the starting time of the Big Ten title game be a factor? We may not know until 5:30 (or after) today whether Michigan State or Ohio State wins. From a bracketing standpoint, this isn’t a huge deal as both are from the same conference. It becomes an either-or scenario, and the winner is just plugged into the appropriate slot.
Here’s our take in order: Kentucky (Midwest), Syracuse (East), North Carolina (South), Michigan State/Ohio State (West). The two line: Kansas (West), Missouri (Midwest), Michigan State/Ohio State (South), Duke (East).
Enjoy Selection Sunday. Our final bracket projection will be posted later this afternoon. Then the debate ends and the Madness begins.
Welcome to March. Three new teams have joined the bracket: Colorado State, South Florida, and VCU. Sliding out: Northwestern, Dayton, and St. Joseph’s. It’s going to be an interesting nine days until Selection Sunday.
Fresh off a week of great games, here’s your lates update:
March 2 Bracket Projection – Bracketology
The race for No. 1 seeds continues with Goliath matchups this weekend. Michigan State hosts Ohio State, and the Spartans can wrap up an outright Big Ten championship by beating the Buckeyes. There’s also Round 2 of the Duke and North Carolina rivalry. Results from those games will have a direct impact on the No. 1 seed line as we head into Championship Week. Kentucky and Syracuse continue to lead the field, and that’s unlikely to change. Kansas now has the inside track for the Midwest Regional in St. Louis, but it’s not locked in place. The No. 4 overall seed will be shipped West. In essence, there are five teams fighting for two spots on the top line. Ohio State could re-enter the discussion if the Buckeyes beat MSU this weekend and win the Big Ten conference tournament.
After a somewhat bumpy weekend, not a lot has changed from Saturday. Kentucky (South), Syracuse (East), Michigan State (Midwest), and Kansas (West) remain No. 1 seeds. Ohio State’s home loss to Wisconsin drops the Buckeyes to No. 8 on the s-curve. That means the Buckeyes are one spot from falling to a No. 3 seed. Baylor, Marquette, and Georgetown are all in play for OSU’s spot heading into the final two weeks of the season.
Duke is next in line for a one-seed and does hold tie-breaker advantages over both MSU and KU thanks to head-to-head victories. As we noted Saturday, however, the Spartans and Jayhawks both have outright leads in the Big Ten and Big 12. Although Duke won the its initial matchup with North Carolina, the Blue Devils and Tar Heels are tied for the ACC lead.
February 27 Bracket Projection – Bracketology
Overall, we have just two changes to today’s bracket – plus some minor seeding adjustments. Colorado State and Arizona slide out. St. Joseph’s and Northwestern move in and join the First Four groupings in Dayton. In Arizona’s case, the Wildcats were simply passed on the s-curve. Barely beating UCLA at home wasn’t enough t0 help UA hold its final at-large position. Colorado State lost at San Diego State. Not a bad loss, but it drops the Rams to 2-9 on the road. St. Joseph’s (Creighton) and Northwestern (Seton Hall) also have better out-of-conference wins than CSU.
The margins separating these teams – along with several others – are very thin. Expect the give and take to continue until someone plays their way in, or more likely, out. Among those considered for the final spots, Northwestern was the only team without a sub-100 RPI loss. In fact, all but two of the Wildcats’ losses have come to Top 40 RPI teams. That alone won’t carry NW into the NCAAs, but it’s enough to give them a slight edge today. Compared side-by-side, Northwestern has six (6) Top 100 wins while Miami has three (3). That and a higher strength of schedule gives the Wildcats a small edge on the Hurricanes.
You’ll notice that both First Four winners are slotted into 11-seed locations. As one at-large First Four game will be played Tuesday and one Wednesday, the Selection Committee will try to locate one to a Thursday-Saturday site and one to a Friday-Sunday site. That is replicated here. The only way that could be accomplished within the current bracket was to send them to Louisville and Columbus (plus both are close for travel from Dayton). Washington and Southern Mississippi fall to the 12-seed line by virtue of the procedural bump.
March is three days away. Enjoy the hoops.