One Seed Contenders

See the post below this one for my updated bracket. But first, here is an exhaustive list of every team that can reasonably get up to the one line.

THE TOP CONTENDERS

· Villanova – The AP’s #1 are 12-1 vs. the RPI top 100, with six top 50 wins (4 of which were on road or neutral courts). With the 20th rated OOC schedule, they should get a one seed if they win the Big East outright.
· Kansas – The Jayhawks are the Coaches’ top team and are 4-0 against the RPI top 50 (with 3 of those wins away from home). With ten top 100 wins and the 35th-rated OOC SOS, they should get a one seed if they win the Big XII outright.
· Baylor – The Bears have 10 top 100 wins, including five top 50 wins. Their great tenth-rated OOC schedule puts them in prime position to land a one seed with a Big XII title.
· Creighton – Greg McDermott’s squad leads the country with 8 top 50 wins, and they only have one loss. They suffered an unfortunate break, though, as Mo Watson was lost for the year. How they do without him will impact their seed.
· UCLA – The Bruins have made a great turnaround this year. They own the best win of the season (at Kentucky), and have 8 top 100 wins. However, the Bruins have just 2 top 50 wins and a poor 176-rated OOC SOS.
· Gonzaga – The nation’s only unbeaten has 7 top 100 wins, four of which are against the top 50. Their overall SOS won’t be great by Selection Sunday, so a one seed seems unlikely if they suffer more than one loss. Even one loss isn’t a one seed guarantee.
· Kentucky – The Wildcats have an outstanding OOC SOS (7th), as well as 8 top 100 wins and 4 top 50 wins. However, they already have two losses to other one seed contenders (UCLA and Louisville), and playing in the SEC does not give many opportunities for quality wins. Beating Kansas at home is a must for a one seed.

THE DARKHORSES

· West Virginia – The Mountaineers have surprised this year. They own a top notch road win (Virginia) and a dominating win over Baylor. However, WVU has just 5 top 100 wins (although four are against the top 50) and a brutally poor 253-rated OOC SOS.
· North Carolina – The Heels are a solid 5-1 against the top 50 and are 4-2 against 51-100. However, they already have three losses and the ACC grind is unforgiving.
· Florida State – The Seminoles are flying high this year behind Dwayne Bacon and exceptional athleticism. They are a great 6-1 against the top 50. However, they have just one win against RPI 51-100. I expect the Seminoles will end up on the three or four line when all is said and done, but they are undoubtedly in the one seed race right now.

THE LONGSHOTS

· Notre Dame – The Fighting Irish have been a pleasant surprise this season. They are 7-2 against the top 100 (with four wins against the top 50), have just two losses, and are unbeaten in ACC play. However, their RPI and OOC SOS are just okay. The Irish will need either the ACC regular season or tournament titles to have a chance at a one, and maybe both.
· Louisville – Rick Pitino’s 2016-17 edition has some major plusses, but also some real negatives. While the Cards have the 11th best OOC SOS, 4 top 50 wins, and 8 top 100 wins, all of their top 50 wins are at home and they already have three losses.
· Duke – The Blue Devils are barely in the discussion with just five top 100 wins and four losses. However, because of their injury issues all season, the suspension of Grayson Allen, and the absence of Coach K for medical reasons, a realistic possibility exists for the Devils to run through ACC play and take the ACC Tournament Championship. If that happens, expect the committee to give the Devils the benefit of the doubt.
· Florida – The Gators have a great RPI, the nation’s best OOC SOS, four top 50 wins, and 10 wins against the top 100. However, they already have three losses and their best win is either Arkansas or Seton Hall. If Florida takes home the outright SEC regular season title and makes the SEC title game, then they’ll likely end up on the one line. But that’s probably not happening.
· Butler – Bulldog basketball always seems to find a way, and this year is no different. Butler leads the nation with 12 top 100 wins against just one top 100 loss. However, they already have three loses, two of which are in the bad loss category. If they end up beating out Villanova and Creighton for a Big East Championship, then they have a great argument. But don’t count on it.
· Arizona – Despite some terrible personnel luck, Sean Miller has his crew in position to get a protected seed. With just two losses, a one seed is possible. But their only top 50 win is by two over Michigan State on opening night, and they also have neutral court losses to Butler and Gonzaga. If they take home the Pac-12’s regular season and tournament, though…
· Oregon – Dillon Brooks was injured to start the year, and they may catch a bit of a break from the committee for that. However, they only have two top 50 wins (both at home), and they have just one road or neutral win against the top 100. Like Arizona, there’s a path to a one seed. But near perfection will be required.

 

January 18 Bracket

See my post below for how things are shaping up in the tournament picture:

EAST

1 Villanova
16 Weber State / New Orleans

8 USC
9 Virginia Tech

5 Duke
12 Akron
4 West Virginia
13 Monmouth

6 Maryland
11 Providence / California

3 Florida
14 Richmond

7 South Carolina
10 VCU

2 Florida State
15 Texas Southern

WEST

1 Gonzaga
16 Morgan State / Long Island

8 TCU
9 Dayton

5 Cincinnati
12 New Mexico State

4 Notre Dame
13 Vermont

6 Purdue
11 NC State / Rhode Island

3 Butler
14 Chattanooga

7 Northwestern
10 Georgia

2 UCLA
15 North Dakota State

SOUTH

1 Baylor
16 UC-Irvine

8 SMU
9 Seton Hall

5 Virginia
12 Illinois State

4 Oregon
13 Valparaiso

6 Xavier
11 UNC-Wilmington

3 Louisville
14 Georgia Southern

7 Clemson
10 Illinois

2 Kentucky
15 Belmont

MIDWEST

1 Kansas
16 Bucknell

8 Michigan State
9 Pitt

5 Minnesota
12 Nevada

4 Arizona
13 FGCU

6 Wisconsin
11 Middle Tennessee

3 North Carolina
14 Winthrop

7 St Mary’s
10 Arkansas

2 Creighton
15 Princeton

Tournament Picture

These teams are locks to play in the NCAA tournament:

AAC (1) – Cincinnati

ACC (6) – Duke, Florida State, UNC, Louisville, Virginia, Notre Dame

Big XII (3) – Kansas, Baylor, West Virginia

Big East (3) – Villanova, Creighton, Butler

SEC (2) – Kentucky, Florida

Pac-12 (3) – UCLA, Oregon, Arizona

Others (1) – Gonzaga

These teams should make the tournament, but aren’t locks:

AAC (1) – SMU

These teams are on the bubble:

A-10 (4) – VCU (lacking in quality wins, and the home loss to Georgia Tech isn’t great), Dayton (the lack of quality wins could do them in), Rhode Island (no bad losses and a neutral court win over Cincinnati help), LaSalle (a long shot that needs to be almost perfect from here on out)

AAC (2) – Temple (the bad losses will likely be too much to overcome despite the FSU and West Virginia wins), Houston (there likely isn’t enough heft to make it)

ACC (7) – Virginia Tech (the lack of bad losses and good wins will likely be enough), Clemson (lots of solid wins over other bubble contenders will likely be enough), Miami (the win at Pitt will really help), Wake Forest (needs to start winning some tough games), Pitt (is going to be headed for the cut line with a mediocre resume), NC State (a strong schedule, but ACC play has been a disaster), Georgia Tech (the OOC portion of the schedule will likely prevent a bid)

Big XII (5) – Kansas State (faces a tough climb because of a very weak non-conference slate), Texas Tech (a very poor out of league schedule means they need lots of good wins), TCU (lacks marquee wins, but has avoided damaging losses), Oklahoma State (needs to start beating top 50 teams), Iowa State (has a solid profile that should only get better)

Big East (4) – Seton Hall (has some decent wins out of conference and no bad losses), Marquette (may regret playing so many RPI 200+ teams), Providence (needs good road wins to overcome a couple bad losses), Xavier (they are simply taking on too many losses, despite a tough schedule)

Big Ten (10) – Michigan (has a middling profile that should put them near the cut line), Wisconsin (will likely be safely in the field, but the resume is lacking), Indiana (cannot make the field without a strong Big Ten run because of way too many games against RPI 200+), Illinois (has a decent profile, but may be done in by the home loss to Winthrop), Northwestern (has no bad losses and likely their first tournament appearance upcoming), Nebraska (has an excellent non-conference schedule, even if it includes a terrible home loss to Gardner-Webb), Michigan State (will likely be dancing with a solid seed despite early hiccups), Minnesota (is a solid tournament bet), Purdue (is in much better shape because of that neutral Notre Dame win), Maryland (is a safe bet for a tournament slot)

Pac-12 (4) – Utah (is barely hanging on the bubble with an awful OOC slate and a neutral loss to San Francisco), Stanford (has decent numbers but a lack of good wins), USC (has an important win over SMU at home), California (has a very nice win at USC, but not much else)

SEC (6) – Vanderbilt (is only under consideration because of a great OOC schedule), Georgia (has an unremarkable, but solid, profile), South Carolina (has a handful of good wins to make them a good tournament bet), Arkansas (has a home loss to Mississippi State and a lack of great wins), Ole Miss (has a great non-league slate but no great wins), Tennessee (the Vols are within striking range, but are lacking marquee wins)

Others (3) – St. Mary’s (should be fine if they avoid bad losses), UNC-Wilmington (needs to hope for a run by St. Bonaventure and no losses before the tournament final), Middle Tennessee (has some good wins that they hope will overcome a home loss to Georgia State)

January 16 Bracket (through 1/15 games)

MIDWEST

1 Kansas
16 Morgan State / Long Island

8 Northwestern
9 Dayton

5 Xavier
12 Akron

4 Oregon
13 Monmouth

6 Minnesota
11 Michigan / VCU

3 UNC
14 Princeton

7 USC
10 Illinois

2 Creighton
15 North Dakota St

SOUTH

1 Baylor
16 UC Irvine

8 Clemson
9 Seton Hall

5 UVA
12 Nevada

4 Arizona
13 Chattanooga

6 Purdue
11 Wake / Arkansas

3 Louisville
14 Winthrop

7 SMU
10 Nebraska

2 Kentucky
15 TX Southern

EAST

1 Villanova
16 Green Bay

8 TCU
9 Pitt

5 Duke
12 Illinois St

4 Florida
13 Vermont

6 Maryland
11 Georgia

3 Butler
14 Richmond

7 South Carolina
10 Iowa St

2 Florida St
15 Boston U

WEST

1 Gonzaga
16 Weber St / New Orleans

8 Virginia Tech
9 Michigan State

5 Cincinnati
12 N Mexico St

4 West Virginia
13 FGCU

6 Wisconsin
11 MTSU

3 Notre Dame
14 Georgia Southern

7 St Mary’s
10 Miami

2 UCLA
15 Belmont

THOUGHTS:

-Florida State may have dropped a game at UNC, but they are still in competition for a one seed. They are very good on the court, but even better on paper.

-What a week for Notre Dame! The Irish went on the road and picked up wins over Miami and Virginia Tech.  These Irish are now up tho a three seed and they need to be taken seriously as an ACC title contender.

-Kansas State dropped one at home to Baylor. The Wildcats are a good team, but the resume simply isn’t there.

-Gonzaga is all the way up to the final one seed.  The Zags pulled away comfortably from Saint Mary’s to add to their wins over Arizona, Iowa State, and Florida.  While UCLA owns the nation’s best win (at Kentucky), the totality of the resume isn’t quite as strong as Gonzaga’s (especially with UCLA having a loss).

-Wake Forest is back in the field, even though I have a hard time seeing them in the field on Selection Sunday. Despite only one top 100 win (Charleston) and no top 50 wins, a great schedule can go a long ways when you avoid bad losses.

-NC State drops out of the field following a loss to Georgia Tech.  The Wolfpack are relying on a home win over Virginia Tech, which is not nearly enough at this point (despite a decent schedule and RPI rating).

 

Tournament Picture (updated 1/14)

These teams are locks to play in the NCAA tournament:

ACC (6) – Duke, Florida State, UNC, Louisville, Virginia, Notre Dame

Big XII (3) – Kansas, Baylor, West Virginia

Big East (3) – Villanova, Creighton, Butler

SEC (1) – Kentucky

Pac-12 (2) – UCLA, Oregon

Others (1) – Gonzaga

These teams should make the tournament, but aren’t locks:

AAC (1) – Cincinnati

Big East (1) – Xavier

Pac-12 (1) – Arizona

SEC (1) – Florida

These teams are on the bubble:

A-10 (3) – VCU (lacking in quality wins, and the home loss to Georgia Tech isn’t good), Dayton (the lack of quality wins could do them in), Rhode Island (no bad losses and a neutral court win over Cincinnati help)

AAC (3) – SMU (no bad losses and some decent wins), Houston (two bad losses and a lack of quality wins makes this a longshot), Temple (the bad losses will likely be too much to overcome despite the FSU and West Virginia wins)

ACC (6) – Virginia Tech (the lack of bad losses and good wins will likely be enough), Clemson (lots of solid wins over other bubble contenders will likely be enough), Miami (the win at Pitt will really help), Wake Forest (needs to start winning some tough games), Pitt (is going to be headed for the cut line with a mediocre resume), NC State (a strong schedule, but the Boston College loss hurts)

Big XII (5) – Kansas State (faces a tough climb because of a very weak non-conference slate), Texas Tech (a very poor out of league schedule means they need lots of good wins), TCU (lacks marquee wins, but has avoided damaging losses), Oklahoma State (needs to start beating top 50 teams), Iowa State (has a solid profile that should only get better)

Big East (3) – Seton Hall (has some decent wins out of conference and no bad losses), Marquette (may regret playing so many RPI 200+ teams), Providence (needs good road wins to overcome a couple bad losses)

Big Ten (10) – Michigan (has a middling profile that should put them near the cut line), Wisconsin (will likely be safely in the field, but the resume is lacking), Indiana (cannot make the field without a strong Big Ten run because of way too many games against RPI 200+), Illinois (has a decent profile, but may be done in by the home loss to Winthrop), Northwestern (has no bad losses and likely their first tournament appearance upcoming), Nebraska (has an excellent non-conference schedule, even if it includes a terrible home loss to Gardner-Webb), Michigan State (will likely be dancing with a solid seed despite early hiccups), Minnesota (is a solid tournament bet), Purdue (is in much better shape because of that neutral Notre Dame win), Maryland (is a safe bet for a tournament slot)

Pac-12 (4) – Utah (is barely hanging on the bubble with an awful OOC slate and a neutral loss to San Francisco), Stanford (has decent numbers but a lack of good wins),  USC (has an important win over SMU at home), California (has a very nice win at USC, but not much else)

SEC (5) – Vanderbilt (is only under consideration because of a great OOC schedule),  Georgia (has an unremarkable, but solid, profile), South Carolina (has a handful of good wins to make them a good tournament bet), Arkansas (has a home loss to Mississippi State and a lack of great wins), Ole Miss (has a great non-league slate but no great wins)

Others (3) – St. Mary’s (should be fine if they avoid bad losses), UNC-Wilmington (needs to hope for a run by St. Bonaventure and no losses before the tournament final), Middle Tennessee (has some good wins that they hope will overcome a home loss to Georgia State)

Jan 11 Bracket

MIDWEST

1 Kansas
16 UC Davis / Weber St

8 Dayton
9 Wisconsin

5 Minnesota
12 Wichita St

4 Florida
13 Marshall

6 Purdue
11 UNCW

3 UNC
14 GA Southern

7 USC
10 Temple

2 Gonzaga
15 Texas Southern

SOUTH

1 Baylor
16 New Orleans

8 Seton Hall
9 NC State

5 UVA
12 N Mexico St

4 Oregon
13 Winthrop

6 Cincy
11 MTSU/Iowa St

3 Louisville
14 N Dakota St

7 SMU
10 South Carolina

2 Creighton
15 ETSU

EAST

1 Villanova
16 Morgan State/Fairleigh Dickinson

8 Pitt
9 Northwestern

5 Xavier
12 Akron

4 Arizona
13 Oakland

6 Maryland
11 VCU

3 Duke
14 Bucknell

7 Virginia Tech
10 Texas Tech

2 Kentucky
15 Harvard

WEST

1 Florida State
16 Rider

8 Michigan St
9 TCU

5 Notre Dame
12 Boise State

4 West Virginia
13 FGCU

6 St Mary’s
11 Arkansas / Rhode Island

3 Butler
14 Belmont

7 Clemson
10 Illinois

2 UCLA
15 UMBC

THOUGHTS:

-Florida State picked up a huge home win over Duke. With seven RPI top 50 wins, it’s time to consider FSU a contender for a one seed and an ACC regular season title.

-Texas Tech picked up another huge one point home win. This one puts them in the field, but sends a very good Kansas State team to the wrong side of the bubble.

Sunday (Jan. 8) Bracket

MIDWEST

1 Kansas
16 UMBC

8 Dayton
9 Northwestern

5 Notre Dame
12 Oakland

4 Oregon
13 Marshall

6 Cincinnati
11 UNCW

3 Louisville
14 Belmont

7 Virginia Tech
10 Illinois

2 Creighton
15 North Dakota St

SOUTH

1 Baylor
16 New Orleans

8 Purdue
9 Arkansas

5 UVA
12 Akron

4 Arizona
13 FGCU

6 St Mary’s
11 MTSU/Michigan St

3 Xavier
14 East Tennessee St

7 Wisconsin
10 TCU

2 Kentucky
15 GA Southern

EAST

1 Villanova
16 Morgan State/Fairleigh Dickinson

8 NC State
9 Temple

5 UNC
12 Illinois St

4 Florida
13 Winthrop

6 Clemson
11 VCU

3 Butler
14 Texas Southern

7 Maryland
10 South Carolina

2 Florida State
15 Harvard

WEST

1 UCLA
16 UC Davis/Weber St

8 Pitt
9 Seton Hall

5 West Virginia
12 Boise State

4 Minnesota
13 New Mexico St

6 USC
11 Wake Forest / Rhode Island

3 Duke
14 Bucknell

7 SMU
10 Nebraska

2 Gonzaga
15 Canisius

THOUGHTS:

-Gonzaga has a strong resume and may be able to ride it to a one seed. Do I think they’re one of the four best teams? Definitely not. But they could be unbeaten entering the tournament. And even one or two losses may get them a one seed.

-The ACC has an amazing eleven bids in this projection.  I don’t think that many will make it, but ten may be likely as all of those teams feast on each other to build top 50 and top 100 wins while minimizing bad loss chances.

-Nebraska is still rolling. They have a HUGE home game against Northwestern today. I’d go as far as saying that if they win, they will likely make the field but will likely not make it if they lose.

-After two blowout losses, I expected Virginia Tech to drop further. But they are closer to a six seed than an eight, thanks to three top fifty wins (Duke, Ole Miss and Nebraska).

-The first four out: Providence, Iowa State, Miami and Texas Tech.

-Keep an eye out on the middle of the Big XII.  The conference is stronger than the RPI calculations find. Kansas State, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Iowa State, and TCU are likely fighting for two slots in the field, but all of those teams are tournament quality outfits.  Who steals a road win or two over the others will likely determine who makes the field and who doesn’t.

 

The Tournament Picture

These teams are locks to play in the NCAA tournament:

ACC (1) – Duke

Big XII (2) – Kansas, Baylor

Big East (1) – Villanova

SEC (1) – Kentucky

These teams should make the tournament, but aren’t locks:

ACC (4) – North Carolina, Virginia, Louisville, Florida State

Big XII (1) – West Virginia

Big East (3) – Xavier, Butler, Creighton

Pac-12 (3) – Oregon, Arizona, UCLA

SEC (1) – Florida

Others (1) – Gonzaga

These teams are on the bubble:

A-10 (5) – VCU, Dayton, Rhode Island, St. Joe’s, Davidson

AAC (5) – SMU, Cincinnati, UCF, Houston, Temple

ACC (7) – Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Clemson, Miami, Wake Forest, Pitt, NC State

Big XII (5) – Kansas State, Texas Tech, TCU, Oklahoma State, Iowa State

Big East (3) – Seton Hall, Marquette, Providence

Big Ten (11) – Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Purdue, Indiana, Illinois, Northwestern, Nebraska, Minnesota, Maryland, Ohio State

Pac-12 (3) – Colorado, Stanford, USC

SEC (5) – Vanderbilt, Georgia, South Carolina, Arkansas, Ole Miss

Others (6) – St. Mary’s, Wichita State, UNC-Wilmington, UT-Arlington, Middle Tennessee, Nevada

Jan. 2 Bracket

MIDWEST

1 Kansas
16 Weber St / New Orleans

8 Michigan State
9 Miami

5 Minnesota
12 Wichita St

4 Arizona
13 Akron

6 Cincinnati
11 UT-Arlington

3 Creighton
14 Oakland

7 Purdue
10 Temple

2 Florida St
15 Jacksonville St

SOUTH

1 Baylor
16 Mount St Mary’s

8 SMU
9 Northwestern

5 UNC
12 VCU

4 West Virginia
13 New Mexico St

6 St Mary’s
11 MTSU

3 Xavier
14 North Dakota St

7 Wisconsin
10 TCU

2 Louisville
15 ETSU

EAST

1 Villanova
16 NC Central

8 Arkansas
9 Nebraska

5 Florida
12 Monmouth

4 UVA
13 FGCU

6 Clemson
11 UNC-Wilm.

3 Oregon
14 Harvard

7 Notre Dame
10 Illinois

2 Kentucky
15 Radford

WEST

1 UCLA
16 UC Davis

8 Pitt
9 Oklahoma St

5 Virginia Tech
12 Dayton/Indiana

4 Butler
13 Boise St

6 USC
11 Seton Hall / Rhode Island

3 Duke
14 TX Southern

7 Maryland
10 NC State

2 Gonzaga
15 Bucknell

THOUGHTS:

-Most of you are probably surprised Indiana is all the way down in the First Four as a 12 seed. For me, putting them in the bracket at all is the surprise. Their RPI is well outside the top 100. But none of the losses are particularly bad, and the wins over Kansas and UNC still look great. I mentioned a couple weeks ago that Indiana is in worse shape than most think.  And back-to-back losses have moved them down to the bubble. And to think they were a possible one seed a couple of weeks ago.

-UNC is a tough call.  I think they’re a top ten team, but the resume isn’t quite there. They are my top five seed.  A one seed is still possible, but a lack of quality wins and three losses already (including to a meh Georgia Tech) makes that unlikely.

-Nebraska is rolling. With Big Ten play opening with road wins at Indiana and Maryland, Nebraska is not only in the field but a dark horse for a regular season Big Ten championship.

-Florida State is all the way up at a two seed. I don’t think they’re one of the nation’s 8 best teams but a win at Virginia (and other quality wins like Florida), combined with only one loss makes it a reality at this point.

The At-Large Picture

It’s officially after Christmas, which means bowl season is in high gear and conference play is about to get started for most teams.

It’s still early, but there are twenty teams across the country that we can anticipate will make the field based on a combination of how good they are and how solid their existing resume is. I’ll be shocked if more than 1 or 2 of these teams are on the bubble come Selection Sunday.

SHOULD MAKE THE FIELD:

ACC – Duke, UNC, Louisville, Virginia (4)

BIG EAST – Villanova, Butler, Xavier, Creighton (4)

BIG TEN – Purdue, Indiana, Wisconsin (3)

BIG XII – Kansas, Baylor, West Virginia (3)

PAC-12 – UCLA, Oregon (2)

SEC – Kentucky, Florida (2)

WCC – Gonzaga, St Mary’s (2)

 

To the rest of the country… get ready for a rocky four months ahead, because your team is no shoo-in, even if they’re ranked (like Florida State or Cincinnati) or highly efficient (Arizona or Clemson).