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Inside the Bracket: Eight teams with lighter-than-you-think profiles

January 17, 2014 Leave a comment

dave1With 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…

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Categories: Current Updates

Arizona, Syracuse headline countdown to March

January 6, 2014 Leave a comment

dave1The 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.

Bracket Projection

S-Curve

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.

Categories: Current Updates

Inside the Bracket: No. 1 seed scenarios …

March 11, 2012 Leave a comment

It’s Selection Sunday.  Here are the No. 1 seed scenarios:

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.

Categories: Current Updates

March 2 Bracket: Race continues for No. 1 seeds

March 2, 2012 Leave a comment

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.

Categories: Current Updates

Countdown to March: Top seeds remain the same

February 27, 2012 Leave a comment

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.

Categories: Current Updates

Saturday bracket update: No. 1 seeds up for grabs

February 25, 2012 Leave a comment

We are two weeks from Selection Sunday and only two of four No. 1 seeds appear to be locked in place: Kentucky and Syracuse.  Six teams are wrangling for those final two spots – most likely in the Midwest and West Regions.  While the South Region appears to be a more natural fit for Kentucky, it’s possible the Wildcats could be routed through St. Louis, which is a few miles closer to Lexington than Atlanta.  With Kansas and Missouri among the teams in contention for that region, however, it seems more plausible that UK will feed through the South.  Just something to keep in mind.

Duke, North Carolina, Michigan State, and Ohio State join KU and Mizzou as potential No. 1 seeds.  Both Duke and North Carolina and Michigan State and Ohio State play each other again in the regular season.  We could easily see a third matchup in the ACC and Big Ten conference tournaments.  So the race is far from over.  Conference championships (regular season and/or conference tourney) will likely prove decisive.

February 25 Bracket Projection – Bracketology

In today’s bracket, Michigan State (Midwest) and Kansas (West) grab the final No. 1 seed positions.  A quick note of explanation: Duke beat both the Spartans and Jayhawks on neutral courts in November.  Those are important victories that could ultimately work in the Blue Devils’ favor.  As of this bracket, however, Michigan State and Kansas have outright leads in their respective conferences.  That’s why MSU and KU have been slotted just ahead of Duke on the s-curve.  Safe to say, we have a lot of basketball left.   For those wondering, spots 5-8 on the s-curve are listed like this: Duke, Missouri, Ohio State, North Carolina.

Today’s update also features a unique situation in the First Four.  Dayton is among those teams – slotted against Texas in an opening round game.  There is no bracketing provision that excludes Dayton from playing on its home floor if the Flyers are indeed a First Four participant.  This was covered by the NCAA during the Mock Selection exercise in Indianapolis.  The winner of the Dayton-Texas game heads to Nashville for a matchup with Louisville.  The other at-large First Four game is Colorado State and Arizona.  That winner heads to Portland to battle Wisconsin.  As a point of reference, the Selection Committee will try to route one at-large matchup winner to a Thursday/Saturday site and one to a Friday/Sunday site unless no options are available.  One of the at-large games will be played Tuesday and one Wednesday.

Enjoy a great weekend of hoops.

Categories: Current Updates

Missouri grabs final No. 1 seed in post Super Bowl bracket …

February 6, 2012 Leave a comment

With the Super Bowl behind us, college basketball takes center stage.  The Missouri Tigers grabbed the spotlight Saturday night in Columbia by beating Kansas.  That victory, combined with an earlier win at Baylor, vaults Mizzou to No. 4 on the s-curve and into the final No. 1 seed position  in our latest bracket.  North Carolina is right behind, joining Baylor, Kansas and Duke as two-seeds. Syracuse (East), Kentucky (South), and Ohio State (Midwest) remain as top seeds.

February 6 Bracket Projection

Schedule of key games this week

The lower end of the bracket continues to be somewhat fluid.  As we’re at or past the midpoint of conference play, league standings are becoming more important. We’re also beginning to distinguish between schedule strength within the conference.  All of those factors are at play in today’s outlook.  Xavier, Mississippi, NC State, and Miami-FL are headed to Dayton as First Four participants.  Those just missing: Northwestern, Arkansas, Pittsburgh, Colorado State, and Arizona.

Of those, Pittsburgh is the most interesting case.  How much consideration will the Selection Committee give to the Panthers now that Tray Woodall is back from injury?  Pitt has won four straight and is playing more like the team we expected.  The Panthers have two winnable road games this week, in what figures to be a significant seven-day stretch.  Miami is another team trending in the right direction, having won four straight as well – most notably Sunday’s victory at Duke.   The Hurricanes are also one of the few teams under consideration without a sub-100 RPI loss.

Arkansas has quality home wins over Mississippi State, Michigan, and Vanderbilt, but the Razorbacks are 0-6 in road games.  That’s the type of statistic that will show poorly on Selection Sunday.

With the exception of Temple, the Atlantic 10 has seen some of its best at-large hopefuls hit significant road bumps.  Despite a series of good wins, Dayton has lost four straight and is below the horizon within the league.  Xavier blew a late lead at Memphis and sits squarely on the bubble.  Massachusetts – much like Dayton – lost a game to RPI-killing Rhode Island.

This week’s schedule includes a premium of important games.  Sit back and enjoy.

Categories: Current Updates