12/31 Bracket

THE ONE SEEDS – Duke, Villanova, Oklahoma, Arizona State. After a weekend in which Villanova falls to Butler and Arizona State loses to rival Arizona, neither fall from the one line but Michigan State does?! Well, yeah. Villanova has been the most consistently complete team this season, and a tough loss at Butler doesn’t change that. As for Arizona State, losing at Arizona is completely excusable and those wins away from Tempe over Kansas and Xavier are more impressive than anything Michigan State has done. In fact, Michigan State only has two Group One or Two wins, UNC and… Oakland. Meanwhile, Oklahoma couldn’t be denied the one line after winning at TCU. The Sooners now have road wins over Wichita State and the Horned Frogs to go with a win over USC in California. With Trae Young looking like the Wooden winner and three strong wins, the one-loss Sooners are more proven than the Spartans and deserve the one line.

To further show why Michigan State is at the two line despite being on a long winning streak, compare the team sheets of Arizona State and Michigan State from www.warrennolan.com:

Pay attention to the wins against Group One opposition.  Arizona State has three such wins to just one for Michigan State.  And SOS is completely in ASU’s favor at 48th to 116th.  The bottom line is all of my one line teams have one loss, but MSU simply isn’t facing as tough of competition to show their record is as legitimate as the other one seed contenders.

XAVIER – The Musketeers are second in RPI, have just one loss, and have four wins against Groups One and Two in the RPI. But they are down at a three seed because they simply don’t look great. Xavier barely survived East Tennessee State, Marshall, and DePaul at home, and their Group One “big wins” are against Marquette and Northern Iowa, neither of which are in the field right now. This team simply isn’t better than Kansas, West Virginia, or Purdue, so they shouldn’t get a two seed over them.

EAST

1 VILLANOVA
16 McNEESE STATE / NC A&T

8 ST BONAVENTURE
9 NEVADA

5 MIAMI FL
12 MARYLAND / CREIGHTON

4 ARKANSAS
13 UCSB

6 AUBURN
11 USC

3 TCU
14 ALBANY

7 CINCINNATI
10 ST MARY’S

2 PURDUE
15 FURMAN

MIDWEST

1 OKLAHOMA
16 WAGNER

8 GEORGIA
9 HOUSTON

5 WICHITA STATE
12 WESTERN KENTUCKY

4 VIRGINIA
13 MISSOURI ST

6 KENTUCKY
11 FLORIDA ST

3 XAVIER
14 CENTRAL MICH

7 MISSOURI
10 UCLA

2 MICHIGAN STATE
15 MURRAY ST

WEST

1 ARIZONA STATE
16 WRIGHT STATE

8 GONZAGA
9 PROVIDENCE

5 TEXAS TECH
12 SMU / VIRGINIA TECH

4 SETON HALL
13 LIPSCOMB

6 BUTLER
11 UTAH

3 UNC
14 CHARLESTON

7 SYRACUSE
10 MINNESOTA

2 WEST VIRGINIA
15 S DAKOTA

SOUTH

1 DUKE
16 PENN / MONTANA

8 WASHINGTON
9 RHODE ISLAND

5 TENNESSEE
12 NEW MEXICO STATE

4 ARIZONA
13 IONA

6 CLEMSON
11 TEXAS

3 TEXAS A&M
14 LOUISIANA

7 ALABAMA
10 MICHIGAN

2 KANSAS
15 RADFORD

12/27 Bracket

-The AAC has a couple of strong teams (Wichita State and Cincinnati), as well as three bubble teams. In this bracket, SMU, Temple, and Houston all find themselves in First Four games, edging out Virginia Tech, Washington, and Boston College.

-The one seeds are clear, but a lot of different teams could end up on the two line.  Oklahoma and Xavier edge out West Virginia and Kansas in this bracket.  Of the four, I personally would rank them Kansas, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Xavier, but Xavier’s win at Marquette makes their resume too much for Kansas or West Virginia to overcome.

-Baylor is hanging in at a ten seed, but that’s fully based on talent.  Wins against Creighton and Wisconsin in Kansas City aren’t enough to move the Bears out of the RPI’s triple-digits.

-Results are the predominant factor in this bracket, but the eye test still matters more than it will a few weeks from now.

EAST

1 VILLANOVA
16 LIBERTY / NAVY

8 ST BONAVENTURE
9 NEVADA

5 SETON HALL
12 OKLAHOMA ST / SMU

4 MIAMI FL
13 UCSB

6 AUBURN
11 USC

3 TCU
14 OLD DOMINION

7 ST. JOHN’S
10 BAYLOR

2 TEXAS A&M
15 ALBANY

MIDWEST

1 MICHIGAN STATE
16 NC A&T / RIDER

8 ALABAMA
9 BUTLER

5 WICHITA STATE
12 NEW MEXICO ST

4 VIRGINIA
13 TOWSON

6 KENTUCKY
11 MINNESOTA

3 KANSAS
14 CENTRAL MICH

7 MISSOURI
10 MICHIGAN

2 XAVIER
15 MURRAY ST

WEST

1 ARIZONA STATE
16 WAGNER

8 LOUISVILLE
9 GONZAGA

5 ARIZONA
12 HOUSTON / TEMPLE

4 TENNESSEE
13 PORTLAND STATE

6 TEXAS TECH
11 BOISE ST

3 UNC
14 SOUTH DAKOTA

7 CINCINNATI
10 CREIGHTON

2 OKLAHOMA
15 FURMAN

SOUTH

1 DUKE
16 PENN

8 TEXAS
9 GEORGIA

5 CLEMSON
12 STEPHEN F AUSTIN

4 ARKANSAS
13 LIPSCOMB

6 SYRACUSE
11 RHODE ISLAND

3 WEST VIRGINIA
14 OAKLAND

7 IOWA STATE
10 FLORIDA STATE

2 PURDUE
15 LOUISIANA

12/21 Bracket

Wow! UNC losing at home to Wofford was a shocker. It becomes Wofford’s only win against a team in the top 235 of the RPI. In fact, Furman stays at the Southern auto bid in this bracket, even though this win almost forced Wofford to take their spot. This loss was a true home game for UNC, so this will really hurt on Selection Sunday. Despite that, UNC only moves down to a three thanks to four Group 1 victories.

Purdue and Kansas sit at two seeds despite some struggles. Purdue owns four Group One wins and Kansas owns three. Perhaps more importantly, they’re probably just plain better than Miami, the other team considered for a two (who has nothing even remotely noteworthy besides a win at Minnesota and a neutral court win against La Salle).

60% of the Big XII is ranked. Unfortunately for them, the league has played too many games against teams like Southern, Omaha, and Maryland Eastern Shore for the RPI to accurately reflect how good the league is. Expect the Big XII to land around seven bids, but that might not be doing the league justice, as there is no reason outside of schedule strength that teams like Kansas State and Baylor find themselves with a triple-digit RPI.  In reality, these are both probably top 40 teams.

Xavier’s record and ranking makes you think they should be a two or three seed. But they find themselves down at four thanks to some close calls with mediocre competition and zero wins against the RPI top 60.

My current predictions:

SOUTH

1 Duke
16 Liberty / Navy

8 Baylor
9 Temple

5 Missouri
12 Towson

4 Xavier
13 Bradley

6 Seton Hall
11 Texas

3 Kentucky
14 Central Michigan

7 Auburn
10 BYU

2 West VA
15 Iona

WEST

1 Arizona State
16 NC A&T / Jacksonville State

8 Gonzaga
9 Creighton

5 Syracuse
12 MTSU

4 Arkansas
13 N Mex St

6 Texas Tech
11 Rhode Island / Boise St

3 Purdue
14 Lipscomb

7 Cincinnati
10 Minnesota

2 Kansas
15 Louisiana

MIDWEST

1 Michigan State
16 Penn

8 Nevada
9 Florida St

5 Tennessee
12 Boston College / No. Iowa

4 TCU
13 UCSB

6 Arizona
11 Butler

3 Miami
14 Milwaukee

7 Iowa State
10 Louisville

2 Texas A&M
15 Wagner

EAST

1 Villanova
16 Idaho

8 Michigan
9 Alabama

5 Wichita State
12 Stephen F Austin

4 Virginia
13 S Dakota

6 Clemson
11 Saint Bonaventure

3 Oklahoma
14 Albany

7 St John’s
10 Houston

2 Purdue
15 Furman

Sunday Bracket

Some big bracket moves this week:

-Trae Young is the rare freshman who exceeds the hype. After winning at Wichita State, it’s time for OU to be mentioned as a Big XII title contender and for Young to be mentioned as a Wooden POY candidate.  They are up to a three.

-Syracuse got an overtime win to knock rival Georgetown from the unbeaten ranks.  For the one-loss Orange, they still find themselves back at a six seed after failing to win any Tier One games (falling in Miami to Kansas in their only Tier 1 or 2 game).

-Baylor is still down at an eight seed.  Frankly, they are lucky to be in that position. A win over Creighton is about the only thing they have going for them right now.

-Kansas doesn’t look like a two seed, but a one point victory over Nebraska on the road gives them a third Tier 1 win.  If they land both Preston and De Sousa onto the roster, they’ll be a threat to gain a one seed. If they don’t, this could be KU’s worst seed since 2000 (the last time they weren’t a top four seed).

SOUTH

1 Duke
16 Liberty / Navy

8 Baylor
9 Auburn

5 Wichita State
12 MTSU

4 Xavier
13 Lipscomb

6 St John’s
11 Texas / UCF

3 Kentucky
14 Wagner

7 Clemson
10 UNI

2 West VA
15 Iona

WEST

1 Arizona State
16 N Kentucky

8 Boise St
9 Creighton

5 Arizona
12 UCSB

4 TCU
13 SFA

6 Texas Tech
11 Alabama

3 Purdue
14 New Mexico St

7 Iowa State
10 Butler

2 UNC
15 Louisiana

MIDWEST

1 Michigan State
16 NC A&T / Albany

8 Cincinnati
9 Louisville

5 Seton Hall
12 Towson

4 Tennessee
13 Loyola-Chicago

6 Missouri
11 Rhode Island

3 Miami
14 S Dakota

7 Nevada
10 BYU

2 Kansas
15 Murray St

EAST

1 Villanova
16 Furman

8 Gonzaga
9 Minnesota

5 Arkansas
12 St Bonaventure

4 Virginia
13 Portland St

6 Syracuse
11 South Carolina / Ohio State

3 Oklahoma
14 Penn

7 Michigan
10 Florida State

2 Texas A&M
15 Akron

 

December 11 Bracket

SOUTH

1 Duke
16 NC A&T / Navy

8 Arizona
9 Rhode Island

5 Missouri
12 SF Austin

4 TCU
13 UC Santa Barbara

6 St John’s
11 Iowa State / Boston College

3 Kentucky
14 Murray State

7 Arkansas
10 Texas

2 Wichita State
15 FGCU

MIDWEST

1 Michigan State
16 Rider / Liberty

8 Central Florida
9 Alabama

5 Seton Hall
12 Loyola-Chicago

4 Kansas
13 St Bonaventure

6 UNI
11 Florida

3 Virginia
14 Idaho

7 Nevada
10 Butler

2 UNC
15 Louisiana

WEST

1 Arizona St
16 East Tenn State

8 Creighton
9 Clemson

5 Texas Tech
12 Towson

4 Purdue
13 Central Michigan

6 Florida State
11 Middle Tenn

3 Miami
14 S Dakota

7 Notre Dame
10 Oklahoma

2 Texas A&M
15 Penn

EAST

1 Villanova
16 Grand Canyon

8 Western KY
9 Utah

5 Syracuse
12 Washington / Baylor

4 Xavier
13 Milwaukee

6 Gonzaga
11 Virginia Tech

3 Tennessee
14 Wagner

7 Temple
10 Minnesota

2 West VA
15 Albany

 

Saturday Thoughts

A new bracket will be coming out soon, but for now, some thoughts:

Duke and Kansas – These two suffered truly shocking upsets this week (to Boston College and Washington, who will both sneak into the bracket). Despite the losses, both will remain on the one line if Kansas can defeat Arizona State. A Sun Devils victory on Sunday at Allen Fieldhouse, though, would move them to the one line and send Kansas tumbling down to the three line. 

TCU – The Horned Frogs picked up a couple of quality wins this week, beating Nevada and SMU. They are still undefeated and have moved themselves up to the four line.

Florida and Cincinnati – This is a matchup of AP top 20 teams, but the loser will be out of the bracket and the winner will only be in as a 12 seed. Florida could end up with an all-timer of a horrible resume week, with the potential to go from #5 in the country to a 5-4 record.

 Nevada – The Wolfpack dropped two tough games to Big XII schools this week (TCU and Texas Tech).  Despite looking like a top 25 team, their inability to grab a quality win really hurts their chances of landing a 5 seed or better.  They are a seven seed in this bracket, and that may be about the best they will do on Selection Sunday.

Baylor – The Bears are ranked towards the bottom of the top 25, but they are just inside of the bracket right now.  Although their losses are more than acceptable (to Xavier and Wichita State),  they’ve only played four teams in the top 200 of the RPI.  Fortunately for Baylor, the Big XII will provide plenty of quality win opportunities to go with their win over Creighton in Kansas City.

 

 

December 3 Bracket

Some thoughts:

-The race for the College Football Playoff has gotten most of the attention, but it was also a solid weekend for basketball.  The three results that most caught my eye are Xavier over Cincinnati, Wichita State winning at Baylor, and Arizona surviving at UNLV.  All of the winners moved up in the bracket, and it was enough to push three-loss Arizona back in (albeit as an 11).

-Virginia Tech snuck into the bracket with a win at Ole Miss in overtime after trailing by double digits at the half. Because of the committee’s emphasis on road victories, this may end up as a Tier 2 road win even if Ole Miss fails to impress this season.

-Rhode Island kept things going with a win over Providence. They are unlikely to be as high as a five seed in March, but they find themselves there now.

-Syracuse had their moments against Kansas in their game in Miami, but Kansas won 76-60.  The loss doesn’t hurt Syracuse much, but it does show their current 8 seed might be about right for the team.

-SMU is back in the bracket as a 9 after rolling USC. It drops the Trojans to a ten and moves Western Kentucky up to a 7, as their SMU and Purdue wins are looking better by the day.

SOUTH

1 Duke
16 Penn / Navy

8 Alabama
9 SMU

5 Tennessee
12 Vermont

4 West Virginia
13 Towson

6 Seton Hall
11 NC State

3 Florida
14 Murray State

7 Texas Tech
10 Missouri

2 Wichita State
15 UNC-Asheville

WEST

1 Villanova
16 Prairie View A&M / NC A&T

8 Northern Iowa
9 Florida State

5 Nevada
12 Virginia Tech / Texas

4 Arizona State
13 Portland St

6 Baylor
11 Arizona

3 UNC
14 UC Santa Barbara

7 Purdue
10 Utah

2 Notre Dame
15 Grand Canyon

MIDWEST

1 Kansas
16 East Tenn State

8 Creighton
9 Louisville

5 Minnesota
12 St John’s

4 Gonzaga
13 Northern KY

6 Cincinnati
11 Louisiana Tech

3 Virginia
14 Central Michigan

7 Western KY
10 UT Arlington

2 Texas A&M
15 SF Austin

EAST

1 Michigan State
16 Wagner

8 Syracuse
9 Providence

5 Rhode Island
12 Kansas St / UNLV

4 Xavier
13 Rider

6 TCU
11 Clemson

3 Kentucky
14 South Dakota

7 Temple
10 USC

2 Miami
15 FGCU

Friday Bracket

SOUTH

1 Duke
16 Brown / Navy

8 Temple
9 Providence

5 Xavier
12 Vermont

4 Cincinnati
13 Towson

6 Seton Hall
11 Texas

3 Florida
14 Tenn Tech

7 Syracuse
10 Missouri

2 Villanova
15 UNC-Asheville

WEST

1 Texas A&M
16 Prairie View A&M / NC A&T

8 Northern Iowa
9 Florida State

5 Nevada
12 NC State / Saint John’s

4 Arizona State
13 Portland St

6 USC
11 Oklahoma

3 UNC
14 Hawaii

7 Texas Tech
10 Utah

2 Virginia
15 Grand Canyon

MIDWEST

1 Kansas
16 East Tenn State

8 Creighton
9 Purdue

5 Baylor
12 UCLA / Clemson

4 Gonzaga
13 Milwaukee

6 Minnesota
11 Washington State

3 Wichita State
14 Akron

7 Arkansas
10 UNLV

2 Miami
15 W. Illinois

EAST

1 Michigan State
16 Wagner

8 Alabama
9 Western Kentucky

5 Tennessee
12 Colorado

4 West Virginia
13 Rider

6 Rhode Island
11 UT-Arlington

3 Notre Dame
14 SF Austin

7 TCU
10 Louisville

2 Kentucky
15 FGCU

 

Some notes:

-The ACC is going to be stacked at the top this year.  That means the committee is going to have a hard time slotting them into different regions to meet the principles and procedures. In this bracket, UNC is a three seed but the fifth selection from the ACC. Because the top four teams are all in different regions, UNC was able to be slotted into the same region as another ACC team, Virginia.

-Man, does Michigan State look like they’re hitting their stride?! They have looked absolutely dominating in victories over UNC and Notre Dame.  Those two are three seeds in this bracket, but Michigan State’s defense completely overwhelmed them.  All the talk this year is about Duke, but Michigan State and Kansas have been absolutely suffocating their opponents since both teams’ third game.

-What a huge win for Miami at Minnesota.  That will undoubtedly be a Tier 1 victory, and it shows that Miami is a legitimate threat for not just a top seed, but for a Final Four down the road.

-Rhode Island and Nevada are flying under the radar. Don’t sleep on those two, as both are well-coached, talented teams. The Rams have a neutral court win over Seton Hall and Nevada is unbeaten with a win over URI.

-Every year, we see more and more rivals being paired up in the bracket because of the committee’s emphasis on placing teams in their natural region.  This bracket would be a doozy with Cincinnati and Xavier potentially meeting in the second round, as well as Louisville and Kentucky.  And don’t be surprised if Kansas and Wichita State potentially meet in Omaha for a trip to the Final Four.

11/26 Bracket

This first bracket of the year factors in the “eye test” way more than later brackets will. Not enough games have been played for that to be only a minor factor. That said, the results do matter.  That’s why neither Purdue nor Arizona are in the bracket, after meeting in the seventh place game at the Battle for Atlantis.

EAST

1 Duke
16 Brown / Army

8 West Virginia
9 Xavier

5 Texas Tech
12 Vermont

4 Wichita State
13 Wagner

6 Miami
11 Seton Hall

3 Florida
14 Towson

7 Rhode Island
10 Syracuse

2 Texas A&M
15 NC A&T

WEST

1 Villanova
16 UNC Asheville / TN Tech

8 Utah
9 Texas

5 Temple
12 Ole Miss / St Mary’s

4 Arizona State
13 South Dakota St

6 Gonzaga
11 UCLA

3 Virginia
14 Hawaii

7 UNLV
10 UT-Arlington

2 Kentucky
15 Prairie View A&M

MIDWEST

1 Kansas
16 Montana State

8 Creighton
9 Missouri

5 Louisville
12 Washington State

4 Cincinnati
13 Toledo

6 Alabama
11 TCU

3 Minnesota
14 Grand Canyon

7 Colorado
10 Providence

2 Michigan State
15 Rider

SOUTH

1 UNC
16 Lamar

8 Arkansas
9 Wyoming

5 Florida State
12 Oklahoma / Penn State

4 USC
13 Milwaukee

6 Nevada
11 Northern Iowa

3 Baylor
14 FGCU

7 Louisiana Tech
10 Tennessee

2 Notre Dame
15 Furman

 

Some Early Thoughts

It’s time for some more early season thoughts:

-Undefeated BAYLOR finds themselves in good tournament shape already after winning the CBE Hall of Fame Classic. Both of their wins in Kansas City (over Wisconsin and Creighton) should end up as at least Tier Two wins, though both (especially Creighton) could end up as Tier One wins. More importantly, opportunities loom on the horizon. If they can win at Xavier and beat Wichita State, these Bears will start to look like a one seed contender.

-VIRGINIA TECH is in some trouble. The Hokies own a neutral court win over Washington, but that shouldn’t do much, if anything, to boost the resume. With a neutral court loss to Saint Louis already in the books, a second OOC loss could prove fatal. That’s because an already weak non-conference schedule appears even weaker with Iowa struggling. Winning at Ole Miss isn’t a must, but it will be an uphill climb without it.

-The best power conference title race will probably be in the SEC. Kentucky and Florida both look like they could make the Elite Eight or beyond, but it’s TEXAS A&M that has the league’s best resume. They’ve already secured neutral site victories over West Virginia, Oklahoma State, and Penn State.

-NORTHWESTERN famously made the tournament for the first time last year, but the odds may be against a return this season. In addition to a home loss to Creighton, they were absolutely pummeled by Texas Tech. Their victories have also not only been unhelpful to the resume, but they’ve also been unconvincing. This is a team that was slightly overseeded last year, and was never going to live up to this year’s hype.

-WICHITA STATE hasn’t exactly been cruising in Maui, but their chances at a top two seed will dramatically improve if they can pair a win over Marquette with a championship over Notre Dame, who figures to compete for a top three seed, as well.

-KANSAS finds themselves sorely lacking depth while freshman Billy Preston is held out pending an investigation into a car he was driving. Nevertheless, the Jayhawks are absolutely crushing all of their opponents outside of Kentucky. That said, while they have a Tier 1 win locked up, their non-conference schedule isn’t providing many chances for Tier 1 wins (as Washington, Arizona State, Stanford, and Nebraska don’t appear as formidable as their power conference status would indicate). At worst, they’ll need to go 1-1 against Syracuse and Texas A&M. But with the Big XII lacking another top 15 team, 2-0 would make things a whole lot easier.

-Coming into the year, it looked like UTAH had a shot at two Tier 1 wins by having Missouri and Ole Miss on the schedule. But Ole Miss isn’t guaranteed to even finish as a Tier Two win, let alone a Tier One. And Missouri is going to be playing without Michael Porter Jr. for the season. While it sounds like the undefeated Utes are in great shape, their resume is weaker than it would appear.

-WYOMING is flying under the radar. Still unbeaten, their wins over South Dakota State and Louisiana at the Cayman Islands Classic could both prove to be Tier 1/2 quality wins. In addition, they have a HUGE opportunity to bolster their profile by facing Cincinnati in the finals.

-While Wyoming is playing well, the MOUNTAIN WEST had a rough Tuesday. Fresno State lost to Evansville, Pacific beat Air Force, and Tennessee Tech defeated New Mexico. Nevada did manage to top Davidson, but this is only looking like a one or two bid league.

-The resume isn’t overwhelming, but it is solid for TEMPLE. The Owls are unbeaten and the neutral court win over Clemson could end up having more mileage than it would first appear.

-Check out the BIG XII. They only have four total losses and two of those were by Iowa State, winners of three straight and a holiday tournament. Texas Tech annihilated Northwestern, Kansas beat Kentucky in Chicago, and Baylor beat Wisconsin and Creighton. So while their schedules might not be the best, there is some serious heft in there.