The Big XII and the Big East

As USA Today bracketologist Shelby Mast and I discussed on Bracket Rabble today (you can replay the episode), the leagues with true round robin schedules usually don’t deviate much seed and selection-wise from the league standings. That’s because an 18-game round robin is about the best comparison you can have between two teams. With that in mind, let’s look at the Big XII and Big East:

BIG XII 

Kansas 15-3

West Virginia 13-5

Oklahoma 12-6

Texas 11-7

Baylor 10-8

Iowa State 10-8

Texas Tech 9-9

Kansas finished two games ahead of the pack and played very well against a very tough non-conference schedule. They will not only be an NCAA number one seed, but they are guaranteed to be a higher overall seed than any Big XII brethren regardless of whether Oklahoma or West Virginia wins the league tournament while Kansas loses in the quarterfinals.

I actually have Oklahoma ahead of West Virginia now because of Oklahoma’s great non-conference performance (including wins over Villanova and Wisconsin) and because of Oklahoma’s sweep of West Virginia. Texas is the fourth team in the pecking order because of their fourth place standing and a plethora of quality wins. Behind them are Iowa State and Baylor. While Baylor swept the series, Iowa State had quality non-league wins (Iowa, Colorado) that Baylor simply didn’t have, so Iowa State is the fifth current selection from the league, while Baylor is sixth. Seventh is seventh-place Texas Tech. All other Big XII teams will have to win the league tourney title to get an NCAA bid.

The Big East

Villanova  16-2

Xavier 14-4

Seton Hall 12-6

Providence 10-8

Butler 10-8

Villanova finished two games ahead of the nearest competitor, so it would be a real surprise if they aren’t the highest overall seed from this league. If second-place Xavier wins the Big East tournament and Villanova falls in the quarterfinals, then there is a chance it happens because of Villanova’s struggles against one seed-level competition (see the Oklahoma and Virginia games). But expect Villanova to be the first selection and Xavier the second selection, regardless of conference tournament performances.

Behind them, expect Seton Hall to be the third pick behind their strong 12-6 league record. After that, there are two tied teams (Providence and Butler). Whoever wins the quarterfinal game between the two should be the higher tournament seed.

3/6 Bracket Projection

Saturday was absolutely crazy.  Do any bubble teams want in the tournament? Some longshots, like Georgia Tech and Florida State, are all of a sudden right in the thick of the bubble race.  And I thought Wichita State would be out if they lost to Northern Iowa, but the struggles of other bubble teams mean WSU is right in the thick of the race, too.

Midwest

1 Kansas – 16 Austin Peay / Fla Gulf Coast

8 Providence – 9 St Bonaventure

5 Texas – 12 Northern Iowa

4 Duke – 13 Akron

6 Iowa – 11 Monmouth

3 Utah – 14 Stony Brook

7 Colorado – 10 Pitt

2 Xavier – 15 Weber St

West

1 Oklahoma – 16 Wagner

8 USC – 9 Butler

5 Cal – 12 Valpo

4 Texas A&M – 13 Yale

6 Texas Tech – 11 St Mary’s

3 Maryland – 14 Hawaii

7 Wisconsin – 10 Tulsa

2 Oregon – 15 New Mexico St

East

1 UVA – 16 TX Southern / Lehigh

8 Seton Hall – 9 Syracuse

5 Iowa St – 12 San Diego St

4 Indiana – 13 Chattanooga

6 Arizona – 11 UConn / Temple

3 West VA – 14 Hofstra

7 Oregon St – 10 St Joe’s

2 UNC – 15 Winthrop

South

1 Villanova – 16 Hampton

8 Notre Dame – 9 Vanderbilt

5 Purdue – 12 Little Rock

4 Kentucky – 13 S Dakota St

6 Baylor – 11 Cincinnati / Florida

3 Miami – 14 UAB

7 Dayton – 10 S Carolina

2 Michigan St – 15 SF Austin

LAST FOUR OUT – Georgia Tech, Florida State, Michigan, Wichita State

Bid Sealing Games

Today, the following teams can clinch bids:

Dayton – VCU

Oregon State – at UCLA

Vanderbilt – at Texas A&M

USC – Oregon

UT-Martin – vs. Austin Peay

Austin Peay – vs. UT-Martin

 

The Wichita State Issue

So, I’m not usually a fan of blind resumes because the committee doesn’t look at blind resumes. They look at resumes where every team’s name is there. So they know exactly who they are dealing with. But let’s take a second to look at Wichita State’s resume:

1-5 vs. RPI top 89

4-2 vs. RPI 90-105

19-0 vs. RPI 106+ and D2

For a second, let’s pretend that resume belongs to UC Santa Barbara.  Do you think the committee gives them much at-large consideration? No? Me, neither.

WSU’s at-large hopes are resting on a forgiving committee, and history shows us the committee usually isn’t very forgiving to mid-majors. I don’t think it’s right, but a very good WSU received a seven seed last year for a lack of quality wins.

Even if you think WSU lost some games they otherwise wouldn’t have early in the year because of Fred Van Vleet’s injury, they still only have one impressive win.  And they still lost two games in MVC play when Van Vleet was healthy.

If WSU had lost to Loyola today, they would’ve missed the tournament, in my opinion.  I know most bracketologists think WSU is safe, but I don’t.  If they don’t win the Missouri Valley, they better beat Northern Iowa in the semis and lose to Evansville in the final.  Any other result will likely doom them.  And even that might not be enough.

 

 

Potential One Seeds

With the final weekend of the regular season upon us, we now have a clearer picture of who might end up on the one line.

Kansas – They’re 13-3 against the RPI top 50 and 17-3 against the top 100. Losses to Iowa State and in the Big XII quarterfinals wouldn’t prevent them from staying on the one line.  The only question here is whether they can clinch the overall one seed with wins against Iowa State and in the Big XII quarterfinal. I think the answer is “yes.” One seed odds: 100 percent

Villanova – They’ve played the 12th toughest schedule overall and the 15th toughest non-conference schedule.  They have no bad losses.  They are also 8-4 against the RPI top 50, but only a home blowout over Xavier is against a top-end team.  There’s enough on the profile to be a one for now, but losses to Virginia and Oklahoma don’t help if it comes down to head-to-head comparisons. What does help is winning the true round robin Big East outright if they are in comparison with Xavier.  They have an easier path to a conference tournament title than other one seed competitors. One seed odds: 75 percent

Virginia – The Hoos have a 6-2 record against RPI top 25 teams, including wins over one seed competitors Villanova, UNC, Miami, and West Virginia.  They are just 4-4 against RPI 51-100, but they played a tough overall and non-conference schedule.  They’ll need to make at least the ACC semis.  One seed odds: 60 percent

Michigan State – The Spartans are hot and have some huge wins (Kansas, Maryland, Louisville, Indiana), but they also have an ugly home loss to Nebraska and a fairly poor non-conference schedule.  Michigan State needs to make the Big Ten final to feel like a one seed is a strong possibility.  Their odds are stronger than their profile because of how well they are playing.  One seed odds: 40 percent

Oklahoma – They have nine wins over teams that will likely wear home uniforms during their first tournament game, which is a really impressive number.  They also own a sweep over West Virginia. But they’ve also struggled recently and will likely finish behind West Virginia in the true round robin Big XII standings.  OU needs to make the Big XII title game to have a strong one seed case.  One seed odds: 30 percent

Xavier – They are 8-2 against the RPI top 50 and 11-2 against the top 100.  But they also finished behind Villanova in the Big East’s true round robin standings and a home loss to Georgetown is also an ugly blemish.  Their odds aren’t bad, though, as a Big East tournament title may be enough to get them to the one line.  One seed odds: 30 percent

North Carolina – The Tar Heels are not in as good of shape as people think.  They are just 3-5 against the RPI top 50, even if they are 9-1 against RPI 51-100.  UNC will put themselves in the argument if they make the ACC final, but whether they actually get there depends on who they beat in the ACC tournament.  One seed odds: 20 percent

THE  LONGSHOTS:

West Virginia (15%), Oregon (15%), Miami (10%), Maryland (3%), and Utah (2%)

3/3 Bracket Projection

MIDWEST

1 Kansas

16 Tex Southern / Wagner

8 South Carolina

9 Oregon State

5 Purdue

12 San Diego St

4 Duke

13 Akron

6 Iowa

11 Wichita St

3 Utah

14 Stony Brook

7 Colorado

10 UConn

2 Michigan St

15 SF Austin

WEST

1 Oklahoma

16 Weber St

8 USC

9 Pitt

5 Cal

12 Valpo

4 Kentucky

13 UNC-Wilmington

6 Texas Tech

11 St Mary’s

3 UNC

14 Hawaii

7 Dayton

10 Michigan

2 Oregon

15 N Mexico St

EAST

1 Villanova

16 Bucknell / North Florida

8 Notre Dame

9 Vanderbilt

5 Baylor

12 Monmouth

4 Indiana

13 South Dakota St

6 Arizona

11 Cincinnati / VCU

3 West Virginia

14 Yale

7 Seton Hall

10 Syracuse

2 Miami

15 Winthrop

SOUTH

1 Virginia

16 Hampton

8 Providence

9 St Joe’s

5 Texas A&M

12 Little Rock

4 Iowa St

13 Chattanooga

6 Texas

11 Butler / Tulsa

3 Maryland

14 UAB

7 Wisconsin

10 St Bonaventure

2 Xavier

15 Belmont

First Four Out – Temple, Florida, Stanford, Gonzaga

Wednesday’s Bubble Impact

Teams who helped themselves:

Butler – Beating Seton Hall at home gives Butler a sweep of the Pirates and their third top 50 win. With two wins away from home over bubble competition (Cincinnati and Temple), Butler moves into the field for now. Beat Marquette at home this weekend and they’ll be 10-8 in the Big East. With a likely matchup against Seton Hall in the Big East quarters, Butler would likely end up on the right side of the bubble.

St. Bonaventure – Want to make the tournament? Beat a likely tournament team like the Bonnies did. Beating St. Joe’s at home was a must, and they got it done. They now own a sweep of St. Joe’s and an away win against Dayton. This is far from safe, but they are on the right side of the bubble for now.

VCU – With just two top 50 wins (St Joe’s and St Bonaventure), VCU desperately needed to beat Davidson at home. It’s not much of a boost to the resume, but it’s enough to be in for now. But with just 6 top 100 wins and two bad losses to UMass and George Mason, VCU will need a successful A-10 tournament.

Providence – The Friars’ future was up for grabs late in the game at home against Creighton. But one win later, they’re looking good for the tournament. They aren’t a lock yet but four top 50 wins, including at Villanova, makes it likely that they will make the tournament. This win was far more about protecting the work already done than improving upon it.

Kansas State – Any loss before the Big XII final will end at-large hopes. Beating TCU at home just kept this team in play.

Virginia Tech – The Hokies kept the dream going by beating Pitt at home. Tech is now 9-8 in the ACC with two top 50 wins (Pitt and Virginia). Beat Miami at home and win two in the ACC tournament, and it will start to get very interesting. Losing before the semis would certainly end at-large hopes, and it will likely take a trip to the final to have a serious chance.

Washington – Beating Washington State at home moved the Huskies to 9-9 in league play. With three wins over tournament teams in the bag and a 5-2 record against 51-100 in the RPI, there is still some real potential here if the Huskies win a few in the Pac-12 tournament.

USC – The Trojans stopped the slide with a home win over Oregon State.  A regular season-ending win over Oregon would be more than enough, and they might not need to win another game to make it.  But they aren’t a lock quite yet because of potential bid thieves and other power conference teams that can make runs. They’re sitting at about 95%, though.

Teams who hurt themselves:

Pitt – They’ll still likely make the field and there’s no shame in losing to Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, but they wasted a golden opportunity to lock up a bid. Winning at Georgia Tech might be enough, but winning two more would definitely do it. With just two top 50 wins, two bad losses, and 189th ranked non-conference schedule, there is still work to do.

St. Joe’s – Like Pitt, it wasn’t a bad road loss. But a win at St. Bonaventure likely would’ve been enough to sow up a bid. With just two top 50 wins (one of which is against Princeton), the Hawks cannot feel safe. They better beat Duquesne at home, and getting at least one in the A-10 tournament will help.

Alabama – As much as St. Bonaventure helped themselves with a win against St Joe’s, Alabama harmed themselves with a home loss to Arkansas. Alabama was my last team in the field, but they drop out for now. Hope is not lost, but it all but will be if they don’t win at Georgia and drop to 8-10 against a mediocre SEC.

UCLA – Dropping the game to Oregon puts the Bruins at 15-15. It’s now going to take at least a home win over Oregon State and a trip to the Pac-12 final.  The record is just too bad to sustain itself otherwise, despite four quality wins (Kentucky, Arizona, Colorado and Oregon State).

Creighton – Dropping to 9-8 in the Big East isn’t so bad… unless you’re outside the top 100 in the RPI and have a 297th ranked OOC schedule.  It’s not time to completely cross them off because they have the potential to reel off consecutive wins away from home over Xavier, Providence, and Villanova. But even that will likely not be enough.

Oregon State – A slumping USC was the perfect chance to get a quality road win for a bid lock. Instead, Oregon State’s road woes continue.  A win at UCLA should still be enough to get it done, but it could get interesting if they don’t. This team needs to prove they can win away from home, and their chances are limited now.

 

All POSSIBLE Bubble Teams

So, here is the COMPREHENSIVE list of all POSSIBLE bubble teams. There’s not a single team who can get an at-large that isn’t listed here. That also means most of these teams have a 25% or less chance to make the field. But I’m including EVERYONE.

Updated at 9:32 am EST on 3-2-2016

SHOULD BE IN (75% or more tourney chance)

Dayton – A non-conference strength of schedule of 4 and three wins away from home over the top 50 should be enough to get it done. One more win would clinch.

Oregon State – It might take one more win because they can’t seem to win away from home. But 6 top 50 wins over tournament teams, including Utah and Oregon, will likely be enough.

South Carolina – That poor non-conference strength of schedule will not be ignored by the committee. There is still work to do, but they’ll likely make it behind their 3-1 top 50 record. But this is far from a closed case, due partially to some bad losses.

USC – They’re 11-10 against the top 100 with 4 top 50 wins. They might not need another victory.

Providence – Huge win over Creighton to guarantee a .500 Big East record. There isn’t a ton to get excited about on the resume, but winning at Villanova is a better win than any bubble competitors will have. One more win should do it.

Vanderbilt – The Commodores started the year with promise, dragged to out of the field, and then made a late push to get back into the field. One more win may be enough, thanks to a 32nd ranked non-conference schedule and some serious work against RPI 51-100 (5-2).

TRUE BUBBLE (25-74% chance)

St Bonaventure, St Joe’s, Little Rock, St Mary’s, Pitt, Wichita State, Tulsa, VCU, Cincinnati, UConn, Syracuse, Temple, Florida, Alabama, Butler, Michigan, Stanford

LONGSHOTS (under 25% chance but realistic)

Monmouth – Those wins over UCLA, USC, and Georgetown are looking worse, but the ambitious scheduling and non-conference performance help.

George Washington – Beating UVA is a huge boon, but losing at home to VCU was a killer. They need a big A-10 tournament.

Gonzaga – Cheering on fellow bubble teams UConn and Washington isn’t the best way to get a bid. But a strong OOC schedule helps.

Georgia Tech – The Jackets are on a roll. They have three top 50 wins and ample ACC tourney opportunities.

Ohio State – Four top 50 wins out of the Big Ten? Ouch. Weak scheduling.

Washington – With eight top 100 wins and three top 50 wins, this isn’t over. But it’s close.

LSU – They haven’t looked good recently, but Ben Simmons and company have wins over Kentucky, Texas A&M and at Vandy.

HUGE Longshots (these teams still have an at-large chance because their conference tournaments give them huge chances to beef up the resume, but it would be a shock if ANY of them make it)

Florida State, Kansas State, Clemson, Houston, Georgia, Arizona State, Creighton, San Diego State, Ole Miss, and Virginia Tech

 

Tourney Locks

At this time of year, it’s popular for  various bracketologists to call teams locks to make the tournament, even when they aren’t quite locks. So, my list is smaller than most because I want to assure this team can lose out and still have a 100% chance of making the tournament. So, here are the teams that will definitely make the tournament:

ACC – Virginia, UNC, Miami, Duke, Notre Dame

Big 10 – Michigan State, Iowa, Indiana, Wisconsin, Maryland, Purdue

Big XII – Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Texas Tech, Baylor, West Virginia, Iowa St

Big East – Villanova, Xavier, Seton Hall

Pac-12 – Oregon, Arizona, Utah, Cal, Colorado

SEC – Kentucky, Texas A&M

You’ll notice I don’t have a single team “locked” from outside the power six conferences. The reason is because of the damage that losses in the other conferences can do. Losing to two teams outside the top 100 will really hurt the profile.

Specifically, let’s look at Dayton.  They seem like a lock at first  with three top 50 wins, a 21st rating in the RPI, and a terrific non-conference strength of schedule (4th).  Dig a bit deeper, though, and you’ll see a team who is playing very poorly (which really hurts the eye test), a team with two bad losses (one at home to Rhode Island and one at dreadful LaSalle), and a team who has played just 12 games against the top 100 in the RPI.

While Dayton has about a 95% chance of making the field, they better not lose to VCU at home and in their first A-10 game. The profile isn’t so air tight that they are a lock if both of those happen.

Another team I want to discuss is Wichita State.  The Shockers are one of the nation’s most efficient teams, but bracketologists are calling them a lock, and I can’t figure out why. Look, it’s not how good we think a team can be; it’s how good a team has been.  WSU may have been missing Fred Van Vleet for some early season games, but they still have just one win against the top 92 in the RPI (though it is a very good Utah team), just four top 100 wins, and two fairly bad losses (at HOME to Northern Iowa and at Illinois State). I have WSU at an 11 and they will likely need to win the Missouri Valley tournament to get in.  If not, they will get in by the skin of their teeth. If WSU is a high seed in the tournament, I will admit I’m wrong. But to me, the best case scenario for WSU is the 8-9 game. And that’s if things go really well.

The last team I want to mention is Oregon State. Many have them in the First Four, just barely making the field. Not me. I will lock them with a win over USC or UCLA.  They have no bad losses, SIX top 50 RPI wins, and they have four wins over other locked teams. They may not end up as a single digit seed, but they are almost assured of making the field.

 

 

 

 

 

3/2 Bracket Projection

MIDWEST 

1 Kansas

16 Tex Southern / Wagner

8 So Carolina

9 USC

5 Purdue

12 San Diego St

4 Duke

13 Akron

6 Iowa

11 Wichita St

3 Utah

14 Stony Brook

7 Colorado

10 UConn

2 Michigan St

15 SF Austin

WEST

1 Oklahoma

16 Weber St

8 Oregon St

9 Vanderbilt

5 Cal

12 Valpo

4 Kentucky

13 UNC-Wilmington

6 Arizona

11 St Mary’s

3 UNC

14 Hawaii

7 Notre Dame

10 Michigan

2 Oregon

15 N Mexico St

EAST

1 Villanova

16 Bucknell / North Florida

8 St Joe’s

9 Pitt

5 Baylor

12 Monmouth

4 Indiana

13 South Dakota St

6 Texas Tech

11 Alabama / Butler

3 Miami

14 Yale

7 Seton Hall

10 Syracuse

2 West Virginia

15 Winthrop

SOUTH

1 Virginia

16 Hampton

8 Dayton

9 Providence

5 Texas A&M

12 Little Rock

4 Iowa St

13 Chattanooga

6 Texas

11 St Bonaventure / Tulsa

3 Maryland

14 UAB

7 Wisconsin

10 Cincinnati

2 Xavier

15 Belmont

 

First Four Out – VCU, Temple, Florida, Stanford