Bracketology: February 7, 2018 Edition

Here is my latest updated Bracketology post, my first in two weeks. Most Big 12 teams have now played 11 games, and we have just 3.5 weeks left of conference action. It’s time to re-examine where Big 12 teams stand in the grand scheme of the Bracketology science.

A permanent reminder for this post — the NCAA has changed their “bucketing” of wins this season. It’s no longer top-25 or top-50; wins are now separated into quadrants to considering the impact of home vs. road games. You’ll still see the top-25 and top-50 designations on ESPN during games, and I’m not sure why. I’m guessing they like the ease of it, and don’t want to deal with the headache of explaining the new buckets to the viewers. I’ll explain it here then. Below is what I’ve written previously about these new changes.

One important development since my last Bracketology post is that the NCAA has revealed some of their new logic in selecting teams for this year’s tournament. No longer will we see the historical Top 25, Top 50, Top 100 wins. Now, the committee has placed more importance on road/neutral games and have created “quadrants” to properly place these games. Straight from the linked article above from the NCAA website, here is how the quadrants will be bucketed:
  Quadrant 1: Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1-75
  Quadrant 2: Home 31-75; Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135
  Quadrant 3: Home 76-160; Neutral 101-200; Away 136-240
  Quadrant 4: Home 161-plus; Neutral 201-plus; Away 241-plus

So now instead of talking about top-50 wins, you’ll hear and read about Quadrant 1 wins when you read Bracketology posts. If a site is still talking about top-50 wins in regards to a team’s NCAA Tournament chances without mentioning if that win came at home, on the road, or at a neutral site, quit reading that site. It is uninformed. There are two tools I like to use to see how a team’s wins will look at the end of the season: RPIForecast and barttorvik.com. Both sites show a current projection of where a team’s RPI is expected to be at the end of the season, but you can also tinker with results to see what it would mean for their RPI. At barttorvik.com, there is an RPI Forecast page and a TeamCast page. The latter allows you to input results into future games for a specific team to see the RPI and NCAA Tournament likelihood effects on that team — it’s a great tool. Use these tools if you’re curious about your favorite school’s Selection Sunday chances.

Once again, I’ve built an actual bracket for this edition, and I’ve seeded the teams 1-68. Also included below is group of teams I have just outside of the field currently. I’ll break down what this all means for each Big 12 team below.


Bracket:

Capture - feb7 bracketology

Seed List:

•  1 — Villanova, Virginia, Purdue, Xavier
•  2 — Duke, Kansas, Auburn, Cincinnati
•  3 — Texas Tech, Michigan State, Tennessee, Clemson
•  4 — West Virginia, Arizona, North Carolina, Oklahoma
•  5 — Rhode Island, Wichita State, Ohio State, Seton Hall
•  6 — Gonzaga, Creighton, Miami (FL), St. Mary’s
•  7 — Nevada, TCU, Butler, Florida State
•  8 — Kentucky, Florida, Texas A&M, Texas
•  9 — Michigan, Missouri, Houston, Arizona State
•  10 — Middle Tennessee, Providence, Washington, USC
•  11 — Boise State, Syracuse, Arkansas, Alabama, NC State
•  12 —
Louisville, UCLA, Loyola Chicago, New Mexico State, Buffalo
•  13 —
South Dakota State, Vermont, East Tennessee State, Louisiana Lafayette
•  14 — 
Murray State, College of Charleston, Northern Kentucky, Montana
•  15 —
Bucknell, UC Santa Barbara, Florida Gulf Coast, Stephen F. Austin
•  16 — 
Iona, Penn, UNC Asheville, Wagner, North Carolina A&T, Texas Southern

•  Last 4 Byes: USC, Boise State, Syracuse, Arkansas
•  Last 4 IN:
Alabama, NC State, Louisville, UCLA
•  First 4 OUT:
Kansas State, Baylor, Virginia Tech, St. Bonaventure
•  Next 4 OUT:
Marquette, Maryland, Mississippi State, SMU


Bids by Conference:

•  ACC: 9
•  SEC: 8
•  Big 12: 6
•  Big East: 6
•  Pac-12: 5
•  Big Ten: 4
•  American: 3
•  West Coast: 2
•  Mountain West: 2


Outlook for Big 12 Teams:

Kansas Jayhawks:

Current Projection: 2-seed
Previous Edition: 2-seed
  Despite the home loss to Oklahoma State, Kansas has not moved since my last bracket projection, as they are still on the 2-line. Kansas is 2nd in the nation currently in Quadrant 1 wins with 8 — only trailing Villanova’s 9 at this point. Their loss to Oklahoma State made them 2-1 in Quadrant 3. There’s an argument to made that losing to Oklahoma State at home is a better loss to take than losing a tough road game. Winning that tough road game gives you a “quality” road win while losing the home game is often looked past as a one-off. Kansas’ RPI is currently 8th, and they’ve played quite well on the road. They’re in great shape.

Texas Tech Red Raiders:

Current Projection: 2-seed
Previous Edition: 4-seed
  Texas Tech climbs back up two seed lines to be a 2-seed in this Bracketology edition. Since my last edition, Texas Tech has gone 4-0 with road wins over South Carolina and TCU. The blowout of TCU in Fort Worth was a terrific win for their resume.
  In my last Bracketology post, I wrote the following:

Their upcoming five game stretch is probably the easiest stretch they have the rest of the way: vs. Oklahoma State, at South Carolina, vs. Texas, at TCU, vs. Iowa State. 5-0 or 4-1 would help tremendously for their seed line.

  Texas Tech is currently 4-0 in that stretch with a home game vs. Iowa State tonight. They’ve done exactly what was needed in winning these games. Two weeks ago, their RPI was at 21. Now, it’s up to 14. They have home tilts remaining against Oklahoma and Kansas and a road game at West Virginia. I think the only way the Red Raiders could be a 1-seed is if they sweep all three of those games. I think there most likely scenario right now is a 2-seed or 3-seed.

West Virginia Mountaineers:

Current Projection: 4-seed
Previous Edition: 2-seed

  West Virginia is currently 5-5 vs. Quadrant 1 opponents. Their 5 wins is encouraging and their 10 total games against Quadrant 1 opponents speaks to the strength of their schedule thus far. Only Oklahoma, TCU, and Butler have played 11 games against Quadrant 1 opponents at this point in the season. (There are a handful of teams who have played 10 games.)
  West Virginia’s road win at Oklahoma was great for their resume. It also means that West Virginia only has one more road game against the class of the Big 12 — February 17th at Kansas. On February 26th, they host Texas Tech. Those two games will have a major impact on not only their Big 12 regular season title chances, but also their seed. I still think a 3-seed is most likely for West Virginia, but I’ve got them as a 4-seed for now.

Oklahoma Sooners:

Current Projection: 4-seed
Previous Edition: 3-seed
  Oklahoma’s resume is a nice test case for comparing the entire resume vs. conference record/recent play. The Sooners are just 6-5 in Big 12 play and are 4-6 in their last ten games. Over the course of the season, that’s not the resume of a typical 4-seed. But you can’t ignore what happened in their 12-1 start. They recorded road wins over USC, Wichita State, and TCU. They beat Oregon on a neutral floor. Those wins can’t simply be forgotten. And in their last 10 games, they’ve recorded quality home wins over Texas Tech, TCU, and Kansas. They currently have 5 Quadrant 1 wins, and their RPI is at 19. There’s still a lot of good things here despite their recent struggles.

TCU Horned Frogs:

Current Projection: 7-seed
Previous Edition: 7-seed

  TCU is currently 4-7 vs. Quadrant 1 opponents with an RPI of 32. Their best wins in Big 12 play have come at home vs. West Virginia and at Baylor. They still have to travel to both West Virginia and Texas Tech in hopes of recording big wins. Most likely, they won’t win those games, and they will finish with a Big 12 record around 9-9 or 8-10. That will be good enough to get in.
  I’m fascinated to see what happens if they finish 7-11. That would mean a 3-4 record down the stretch, which isn’t unreasonable. Their profile will still have some quality wins, but 7-11 would be the worst conference record to receive an at-large bid since the 1992 Iowa State team that went 5-9 in Big 8 play. Something to monitor.

Texas Longhorns:

Current Projection: 8-seed
Previous Edition: 9-seed
  Texas continues to survive this Big 12 gauntlet, alternating wins and losses in conference play since their conference opening loss to Kansas. They are 5-5 in Big 12 play, with home wins over TCU, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma being the best part of their resume. The non-conference road wins over VCU and Alabama, and the neutral court victory over Butler will carry their resume on Selection Sunday. Even if they struggle down the stretch, those wins will go a long way in looking nice to the committee.

Kansas State Wildcats:

Current Projection: First 4 Out
Previous Edition: 10-seed
  After being a 10-seed in my previous bracket projection, I have Kansas State as the first team out of the field this week. They followed up a 4-game winning streak with a home loss to Kansas and a road blowout to West Virginia. K-State currently is 2-6 vs. Quadrant 1 opponent, and their RPI is 70. Their non-conference is currently killing their RPI and overall resume. Their non-conference strength of schedule is 343rd nationally out of 351 teams. That’s difficult to survive if you go sub-.500 in conference play.
  Kansas State’s next three games are HUGE. They will be underdogs in all three — at Texas, home vs. Texas Tech, at Oklahoma State. They CANNOT go 0-3 in that stretch. 1-2 is the bare minimum needed, and 2-1 would be advised. If they lose all three and are sitting at 5-8 in Big 12 play with an RPI that will be even lower than their already low RPI of 70, they will be in rough, rough shape. They can’t rely on the wins over TCU and Oklahoma all season. The home tilt vs. Texas Tech is a huge opportunity.

Baylor Bears:

Current Projection: First 4 Out
Previous Edition: First 4 Out
  Baylor is still in my First 4 Out, but their fortunes look more encouraging since two weeks ago. After beating Iowa State at home and Oklahoma State on the road, Baylor has now given themselves a fighting chance. They are just 4-7 in league play, are 1-7 in Quadrant 1, and have an RPI of 72, but there is opportunity ahead.
  Unlike Kansas State, who has already played Kansas, West Virginia, and Oklahoma at home, Baylor still has home games remaining against Kansas, Texas Tech, West Virginia, and Oklahoma. What does that mean? Opportunity. The Bears have four chances to record home wins over Top 25 RPI opponents. If they can go 2-2 or even 3-1 against those teams, their resume will suddenly look loads better. I think a 4-3 close gets Baylor in the NCAA Tournament.
  Baylor closes the regular season at Kansas State on March 3. That could be a very fun and very important game for two Big 12 teams desperate to make the NCAA Tournament.

Oklahoma State Cowboys:

Current Projection: No NCAA Tournament
Previous Edition: No NCAA Tournament
  Oklahoma State gave their fans some hope after defeating Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse. They moved to 4-6 in conference play and recorded a very impressive Quadrant 1 win. They followed that game up with a double-digit defeat to Baylor at home, their 2nd straight home loss. Oklahoma State is 3-8 vs. Quadrant 1 opponents, but their RPI is just 105. With games still remaining at West Virginia, at TCU, home vs. Texas Tech, and home vs. Kansas, Oklahoma State does have opportunity for wins, but it’s more likely those games will be opportunities for losses. Mike Boynton has had a nice first season in Stillwater, but the likelihood of making the NCAA Tournament is now slim to none.

Iowa State Cyclones:

Current Projection: No NCAA Tournament
Previous Edition: No NCAA Tournament
  Much like Oklahoma State, Iowa State gave their fans the slightest bit of hope when they beat West Virginia by 16 on January 31. They needed to follow up that win with a road win at Baylor. Unfortunately for Cyclones fans, they did not. With a record of 12-10, an RPI of 104, and a Quadrant 1 record of just 3-6, the hopes of making a 7th straight NCAA Tournament are now dashed. Iowa State fans, just sit back and enjoy watching the young guys for the rest of this season. You should be back in the NCAA Tournament next season after a one year blip.

 

 

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