Surprisingly Bad Resumes

WORSE THAN YOU THINK:

Indiana – Everyone knows the Hoosiers have wins against Kansas and UNC. But how many know their next best win is home to Houston Baptist? There is no excuse for a blueblood to be playing so many sub-200 RPI teams. Quite frankly, it shows a complete disregard for their own NCAA seeding. Their RPI will certainly improve. But it’s currently at 99, which is absurdly bad for a team as good as this one.

West Virginia – The Mountaineers have a road win at Virginia and a neutral court shellacking of Illinois, but the rest of the non-league schedule is pretty tame, leading to an RPI of 44.

Cincinnati – The overall non-conference slate isn’t bad, but Texas Southern and Penn State are the only top 100 wins. These Bearcats are going to have a hard time making the tournament if they can’t pick up a couple top 50 wins in the AAC.

Wisconsin– Did you know the Badgers have played six sub-200 teams, have no top 50 wins, and have just one win over a top 100 team?  The Badgers aren’t looking as hot as most think.

 

 

Surprisingly Good Resumes

BETTER THAN YOU WOULD THINK:

Minnesota – The Gophers have just one loss and three RPI top 50 wins. They’re all the way up at eighth in RPI right now.

Florida State – The Seminoles have 5 wins against the top 65 in RPI vs. just one overall loss.

Wake Forest – They’ve lost all three games against the top 50, but a tough SOS and some road wins have them at 21 in RPI.

Maryland – The Terps might be the luckiest team in America, but luck doesn’t matter much when it comes to assembling a tournament profile. The Terps have wins against Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Georgetown by a combined three points!  But that’s three wins over teams that could make the field.

Christmas Bracket

It’s still super early, so the eye test factors heavily into the first bracket. But with the OOC portion of the schedule mostly complete, we have a sense of who might be settling onto the bubble and who could be a top seed.

EAST

1 VILLANOVA – 16 Long Island / UMBC

8 Clemson – 9 TCU

5 Florida – 12 UNCW

4 WVU – 13 Monmouth

6 Oregon – 11 Wichita St

3 Creighton – 14 N Mexico St

7 Maryland – 10 Cincinnati

2 Duke – 15 FGCU

SOUTH

1 Baylor – 16 Bucknell

8 Arkansas – 9 Temple

5 Minnesota – 12 Mid Tenn

4 USC – 13 Tennessee St

6 Indiana – 11 UT Arlington

3 Xavier – 14 Chattanooga

7 Oklahoma St – 10 Pitt

2 Louisville – 15 Sam Houston St

MIDWEST

1 Kansas – 16 NC Central

8 Miami – 9 Stanford

5 Purdue – 12 VCU

4 Virginia – 13 Valpo

6 Wisconsin – 11 Wake / Texas A&M

3 Butler – 14 Akron

7 Virginia Tech – 10 Seton Hall

2 Kentucky – 15 TX Southern

WEST

1 UCLA – 16 CS Fullerton / Brown

8 SMU – 9 So Carolina

5 Fla State – 12 Nevada

4 St Mary’s – 13 Fort Wayne

6 Arizona – 11 NC State / Northwestern

3 UNC – 14 Winthrop

7 Notre Dame – 10 Illinois

2 Gonzaga – 15 Eastern Washington

 

THOUGHTS:

– Minnesota and Florida State don’t seem to be great teams, but their resumes are fairly solid at this point. They’re in better tournament shape than most would think.

-On the other hand, West Virginia and Indiana are really disliked by the RPI.  You can’t just schedule a few tough out of conference games, as EVERY game matters to your strength of schedule. Both teams are very good, but both will likely be a seed lower than they were hoping for on Selection Sunday because they played too many poor teams.

-The field is very “meh.” After the top four seed lines, there is a huge drop off.  The bubble will be very weak this year.

-Cincinnati is ranked, but they are headed towards the bubble this year. They are certainly not in as good of shape as most would believe.

 

 

 

 

The One Seed Candidates

We aren’t even halfway through December, but I’m guessing that I could narrow the list of legitimate one seed candidates to less than ten. Without further adieu:

9. Baylor – Wins over Xavier, Louisville, Oregon, and Michigan State look really good on paper.  If they can win the Big XII, they’ll land a one seed. The only problem? I don’t see the Bears winning the Big XII while Kansas has Mason, Graham, and Jackson in the guard rotation.

8. Indiana – The Hoosiers already have wins against Kansas and North Carolina, so a bad loss against Fort Wayne can be forgiven.  But a bad overall non-conference schedule doesn’t help the cause.

7. Louisville – I don’t think the Cardinals will end up on the one line, but they’ll have their chances to get there in an uber-challenging ACC.

6. UCLA – The Bruins have a huge win at Kentucky already on the resume, but the PAC-12 is easily the weakest of the power conferences this season.  This young team will have to be nearly flawless to get on the top line.

5. Kentucky – The Wildcats have a home loss to UCLA and nothing much in the way of good wins, but they still have Kansas and UNC on the non-conference slate to bolster the resume.

4. UNC – The Tar Heels are struggling right now, but they are winning. When healthy, UNC can play with anyone.

3. Villanova – The nation’s top ranked team desperately needs an interior presence that I don’t see in the lineup. But the smartest guards in college basketball could be enough to win the nation’s top RPI-rated league and deliver a one seed to the defending champs.

2. Kansas – The Jayhawks have the best guard play in college basketball, but a tricky Big XII and a road game at Kentucky means the one line will be well-earned.

1. Duke – They’re so incredibly talented. It would be a major disappoint to not be on the one line.

 

 

 

Bracket Reactions

You can see my final bracket below and the reasons for including or not including some bubble teams (both written before the Selection Show).

Things the committee got right:

Syracuse – The committee agreed with me that Syracuse’s wins were too good to not include them (neither of us had them in the First Four, either).

Michigan – The committee liked them having no bad losses, yet four very good wins.  Both of us had them in the First Four on the 11 line.

Vanderbilt – You would think I wouldn’t put them here since I had them out and the committee had them in, but they were my last team out and I had them in entering the day.  Vandy finished the season on a hot streak (ignoring the bad Tennessee loss) and they had double digit wins over Kentucky and Texas A&M after playing one of the nation’s best OOC schedules.

Wichita State – We both barely had them in because they are just plain an NCAA tournament team.  The resume wasn’t as good as the team, and the committee recognized that.

Oregon State – Most bracketologists didn’t buy this team, but I always did.  They loaded up on quality wins over great teams and avoided bad losses. That’s why both the committee and me had them at the seven line.

Things the committee messed up:

The Big XII – Iowa State as a four?! Yeah they had a nice resume, but Texas finished above them in a true round robin and Baylor not only swept them and finished with the same round robin record but also beat Texas in the Big XII tournament while Iowa State lost to Oklahoma.  How did Iowa State finish above both of those teams? And how is West Virginia behind Oklahoma? They made the Big 12 title game by beating Oklahoma AFTER they had already finished a game above OU in the round robin Big XII. They just seemed to ignore the round robin element entirely.

Kentucky and Texas A&M – I had the winner of the SEC title game as a three and the loser a four.  I was shocked when the committee ignored the result of the game and gave A&M the three over Kentucky. Results on the court matter.

Tulsa – What? They had three losses to sub-100 teams, a mediocre RPI and SOS, and an eye test that doesn’t do much.  Losing as badly as they did to Memphis should’ve eliminated them.

Providence – It seems beating Butler in the Big East tournament didn’t mean much.  After the win at Villanova earlier in the year, I thought they had done enough to move up to the seven line.  UNC getting them as a nine is unfair to both teams.

 

2016 Final Bracket Projection

MIDWEST

1 Kansas
16 Southern / Fla Gulf Coast

8 St. Joseph’s
9 Wisconsin

5 Cal
12 Northern Iowa

4 Indiana
13 Yale

6 Iowa St
11 Michigan / Florida

3 Miami
14 Stony Brook

7 Iowa
10 St Bonaventure

2 Villanova
15 Green Bay

WEST

1 Michigan State
16 Fairleigh Dickinson / Holy Cross

8 Colorado
9 Butler

5 Baylor
12 Fresno State

4 Seton Hall
13 Hawaii

6 Arizona
11 Syracuse

3 Kentucky
14 Middle Tennessee

7 Texas Tech
10 Gonzaga

2 Oregon
15 Weber State

EAST

1 North Carolina
16 Hampton

8 UConn
9 USC

5 Duke
12 South Dakota State

4 Purdue
13 Iona

6 Notre Dame
11 Little Rock

3 Utah
14 Buffalo

7 Providence
10 VCU

2 West Virginia
15 UNC-Asheville

SOUTH

1 Virginia
16 Austin Peay

8 Dayton
9 Pitt

5 Maryland
12 Chattanooga

4 Texas A&M
13 UNC-Wilmington

6 Texas
11 Temple / Wichita State

3 Xavier
14 SF Austin

7 Oregon State
10 Cincinnati

2 Oklahoma
15 Cal-State Bakersfield

My Bubble Picks

I’ve been doing brackets for years and don’t ever remember a more up in the air bubble than this. But, choices must be made.  Here are my final picks for at-larges:

In:

Syracuse – It seems most have them out, but they have some GREAT wins at Duke and over Texas A&M on a neutral floor.  5 top 50 wins against this kind of bubble is very good, even though the bad losses and high RPI (70) are killers.

Michigan – I don’t like putting a team in with only four top 100 wins, but they did beat four very good teams (and two were on neutral floors over Indiana and Texas).  A huge plus? No bad losses, which every other bubble team has.

Temple – They swept UConn and Cincy during the regular season and they also have a win over SMU.  Most think they’re safe, but I have them in the First Four.  They could easily be snubbed.

Florida – They were swept by Vandy, but they had the fourth toughest non-conference schedule and that destruction of West Virginia left an impression.  By avoiding bad losses (for the most part), they’ve distinguished themselves just enough.  Like I’ve been saying this week, I think they are this year’s UCLA.

Wichita State – I entered the day planning on putting Vandy in, but my gut is telling me Wichita will get in and head to the First Four because the committee buys the Fred Van Vleet factor and the tough out of conference schedule. Here’s hoping my gut is better than my head.

Out: 

Vanderbilt – They’re my first team out because of the three bad losses and a gut that says the committee will want to recognize a great mid-major (Wichita State).  All they had to do was beat Tennessee on a neutral floor and they couldn’t do it.  They will be very close, though.  There’s a reason I had them in entering today, and it’s because my head likes all the wins against tournament teams.

St. Mary’s – It’s a decent profile, but challenge yourselves out of conference! You can do that, and they have nobody to blame but themselves.

Monmouth – Yes, they scheduled true road games against UCLA, Georgetown, and USC.  But only USC is a top 100 team.  For me, the losses are just too bad.  Their three losses aren’t to bad teams; they are to terrible teams.

South Carolina – One win at Texas A&M is all that pops out positively.  Most seem to have them in, but the bad losses and horrible out of conference schedule should spell doom.

 

 

Contingency Brackets

I have many contingency brackets floating around right now. Here are two, as examples.

Michigan State, UConn, VCU, Kentucky, and Little Rock win:

MIDWEST

1 Kansas
16 Southern / Fla Gulf Coast

8 Wisconsin
9 Butler

5 Cal
12 Northern Iowa

4 Indiana
13 Yale

6 Iowa St
11 Michigan / Florida

3 Miami
14 Stony Brook

7 Iowa
10 St Bonaventure

2 Villanova
15 Green Bay

WEST

1 Michigan State
16 Fairleigh Dickinson / Holy Cross

8 Colorado
9 VCU

5 Baylor
12 Fresno State

4 Seton Hall
13 Hawaii

6 Arizona
11 Syracuse

3 Kentucky
14 Middle Tennessee

7 Texas Tech
10 Gonzaga

2 Oregon
15 Weber State

EAST

1 North Carolina
16 Hampton

8 UConn
9 USC

5 Duke
12 South Dakota State

4 Purdue
13 Iona

6 Notre Dame
11 Little Rock

3 Utah
14 Buffalo

7 Providence
10 St. Joseph’s

2 West Virginia
15 UNC-Asheville

SOUTH

1 Virginia
16 Austin Peay

8 Dayton
9 Pitt

5 Maryland
12 Chattanooga

4 Texas A&M
13 UNC-Wilmington

6 Texas
11 Temple / Wichita State

3 Xavier
14 SF Austin

7 Oregon State
10 Cincinnati

2 Oklahoma
15 Cal-State Bakersfield

Purdue, St Joe’s, Texas A&M, Little Rock, and UConn win:

MIDWEST

1 Kansas
16 Southern / Florida Gulf Coast

8 Colorado
9 Butler

5 Cal
12 Northern Iowa

4 Kentucky
13 Yale

6 Iowa State
11 Little Rock

3 Michigan State
14 Stony Brook

7 Iowa
10 St Bonaventure

2 Xavier
15 Green Bay

WEST

1 Oregon
16 Fairleigh Dickinson / Holy Cross

8 Dayton
9 Pitt

5 Baylor
12 Fresno St

4 Seton Hall
13 Hawaii

6 Arizona
11 Michigan / Florida

3 Miami
14 Middle Tennessee

7 Oregon State
10 Gonzaga

2 Oklahoma
15 Weber St

EAST

1 North Carolina
16 Hampton

8 UConn
9 USC

5 Duke
12 S Dakota St

4 Purdue
13 Iona

6 Notre Dame
11 Temple / Wichita State

3 Utah
14 Buffalo

7 Texas Tech
10 VCU

2 Villanova
15 UNC Asheville

SOUTH

1 UVA
16 Austin Peay

8 Wisconsin
9 St Joe’s

5 Maryland
12 Chattanooga

4 Indiana
13 UNC Wilmington

6 Texas
11 Syracuse

3 Texas A&M
14 SF Austin

7 Providence
10 Cincinnati

2 West Virginia
15 Cal State Bakersfield

See how a couple changes affect matchups all the way down the bracket?  By the way…

First Four Out – Vanderbilt, St Mary’s, Monmouth, South Carolina

Selection Sunday is Here!

It is Christmas morning everyone! Can’t wait to open up those brackets and start playing!

I am making a lot of contingency brackets right now, but here are the most important predictions:

  1. Michigan State will be the one in the West and Oregon the two if Michigan State wins today. Otherwise, Oregon is the one in the West.
  2. I’m calling for a shockingly good day for power conference bubble teams. I am taking Syracuse, Michigan, and Florida. 🤔
  3. Virginia will be the third overall seed playing out of the South despite not winning the ACC tournament or regular season.
  4. Temple stays in the field despite a high RPI and a loss to Uconn.
  5. Neither St Mary’s or Monmouth make it. But the last team in the field is mid-major Wichita State who gets the benefit of the doubt despite a very underwhelming resume.  They better hope the committee really buys into that Fred Van Vleet injury because my head says, “no,” but my gut says, “yes.”

Stay tuned later for my final bracket!

Tournament Locks

These 57 teams are locks to play in the NCAA tournament:

A-10 (3) – Dayton, VCU, St Joe’s

ACC (6) – North Carolina, Miami, Duke, Virginia, Notre Dame

Big XII (7) – Kansas, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Texas, Iowa St, Baylor, Texas Tech

Big East (5) – Villanova, Xavier, Seton Hall, Providence

Big Ten (6) – Michigan State, Iowa, Indiana, Wisconsin, Maryland, Purdue

Pac-12 (7) – Oregon, Utah, Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon State, USC

SEC (2) – Kentucky, Texas A&M

Others (21) – UNC-Asheville, Yale, Northern Iowa, Florida Gulf Coast, Austin Peay, UNC-Wilmington, Iona, Chattanooga, Fairleigh Dickinson, Green Bay, South Dakota State, Gonzaga, Holy Cross, Stony Brook, Fresno St, Buffalo, Southern, Hampton, Weber St, Middle Tennessee, Hampton