Bracketology: February 27, 2018 Edition

Here is my latest updated Bracketology post, my first since February 7th. With just six days left in the regular season and nine more Big 12 Tournament games, we are officially at the time of the season where Bracketology posts are popping up all over the internet and we get a creepy look-in to Joey Brackets’ lair. It’s time for me to give an update as well (hopefully it’s not as creepy as Mr. Lunardi’s).

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 that consider the impact of home vs. road games. These changes are slightly better than what was done in previous years, but it’s still incredibly flawed. The quadrant system is still based on the RPI which is the first major problem, and the random buckets can create a scenario where a win over the 75th team in RPI is far more important than a win over the 76th team in RPI. The system should not function in that way.

Ultimately, my opinion doesn’t matter, so I will write this post adhering to the new system. 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 - bracket feb 27

Seed List:

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

•  Last 4 Byes: Florida State, St. Bonaventure, NC State, Louisville
•  Last 4 IN:
Kansas State, Providence, Baylor, UCLA
•  First 4 OUT:
Texas, Boise State, Syracuse, Marquette
•  Next 4 OUT:
Nebraska, Mississippi State, Temple, Utah


Bids by Conference:

•  ACC: 9
•  SEC: 8
•  Big 12: 7
•  Big East: 6
•  Pac-12: 4
•  Big Ten: 4
•  American: 3
•  West Coast: 2
•  Atlantic 10: 2


Outlook for Big 12 Teams:

Kansas Jayhawks:

Current Projection: 1-seed
Previous Edition: 2-seed
  Since my last Bracketology post, Kansas has now won five straight games and their 14th straight Big 12 title. They lead the nation with 11 Quadrant 1 wins and have 8 wins in Quadrant 2. All together, they are 19-5 against Quadrant 1 and 2. Compare that to the resumes of their 1-seed challengers: Duke, Michigan State, and Purdue. Duke is 11-6 vs. Quadrant 1/2 opponents. Purdue is 10-5. Michigan State is 8-3. There’s really no competition. The sheer amount of Quadrant 1 and 2 games that Kansas has had to play is overwhelming, and it’s shown in both their RPI and SOS, which are 6th and 3rd respectively. Assuming Kansas beats Oklahoma State on Saturday and wins at least 1 game in Kansas City, I think a 1-seed will be virtually guaranteed.

Texas Tech Red Raiders:

Current Projection: 3-seed
Previous Edition: 2-seed
  Texas Tech has lost four straight games, which means they have moved from the 2-line to the 3-line in my projection. Texas Tech’s resume is a curious one. Neither their RPI or their SOS is great. Their RPI is 22 and their SOS is 51. Their non-conference SOS of 235 is quite poor. But they do have 6 Quadrant 1 wins (they’ve gone 6-6 against Q1), and they are 4-2 vs. Quadrant 2. There’s not a single “bad” loss on their resume. Road losses at Oklahoma State and Iowa State aren’t bad, especially under the new Quadrant format.
  Ultimately, I think they will end up a 3-seed or a 4-seed. How the committee weighs these games where Keenan Evans has been injured will be interesting — will they even factor in Evans’ injury at all? Saturday vs. TCU will be important. Win that one at home, and it not only increases their chances of being a 3-seed, but it will help in their effort in insuring their 1st/2nd Round games will be played in Dallas.

West Virginia Mountaineers:

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

  West Virginia’s profile is pretty damn similar to Texas Tech’s. West Virginia’s RPI is 26; Tech’s is 22. West Virginia’s SOS is 45; Tech’s is 51. West Virginia’s non-conference SOS is 242; Tech’s is 235. West Virginia is 5-4 on the road; Tech is 4-6. West Virginia has 7 Quadrant 1 wins; Tech has 6. In Q1 and Q2 games, West Virginia is 13-7; Tech is 10-8. Basically, I’d be incredibly surprised if these two are separated by more than 3-4 spots in the seed line come Selection Sunday, unless something drastic happens in the next 15 days. I’ve got Texas Tech 12th right now in my seed list, and West Virginia is not far behind at 15th. Expect to see something close to that next Sunday.

TCU Horned Frogs:

Current Projection: 6-seed
Previous Edition: 7-seed

  TCU has great RPI/SOS numbers, with an RPI of 19 and a SOS of 12. They have a NC SOS of 47. They are 4-7 in Quadrant 1 and 4-2 in Quadrant 2. Having an 8-9 overall record in Q1 and Q2 in perfectly respectable. They do not yet have that overwhelmingly great win that lifts a resume. Their three best wins are neutral site victories over good mid-majors in Nevada and St. Bonaventure and a home win vs. West Virginia. Saturday’s game at Texas Tech and next week’s Big 12 Tournament will provide more opportunities to record that signature win. If they grab it, maybe they could slide up to a 5-seed. Right now, a 6-seed or 7-seed seems most likely.

Oklahoma Sooners:

Current Projection: 8-seed
Previous Edition: 4-seed
  Oklahoma is one of the more fascinating profiles in recent years. I firmly believe that if they lose their last two games — at Baylor and home to Iowa State — that they will still make the NCAA Tournament with a 7-11 conference record while losing 8 of their last 9. That would make them the first team to receive an at-large bid with a 7-11 conference record. Their first 16 games of the regular season cannot be ignored.
  Now, Oklahoma probably won’t lose to Iowa State. Their most likely season-ending conference record is 8-10, with 9-9 still being a possibility. Oklahoma’s RPI is 34 and their SOS is 13. Those are great numbers, even if they have a poor conference record and ended the season on a downturn. They have 6 Quadrant 1 wins and 3 Quadrant 2 wins. Their overall record in those two Quadrants is 9-11 (6-8 and 3-3). The road victories at Wichita State and TCU look great, as does the home win vs. Kansas. There’s just a lot to like here. They will no longer be a 3-seed or 4-seed, but they’ll be in the dance, and I’m guessing there will be a 1-seed or 2-seed upset to see them in their pod.

 

Kansas State Wildcats:

Current Projection: 11-seed, Play-In Game
Previous Edition: First 4 Out
  I think Kansas State fans need to be more concerned than I’m sensing about their NCAA Tournament chances. The record looks great — 20-9 overall and 9-7 in conference — but the numbers are questionable. Their RPI is just 63 and the SOS is 77. What’s most concerning is the NC SOS, which is at 323. That’s really poor, and your non-conference slate is something the committee has held against teams in the past. Their 6-4 record on the road is nice to see for a bubble team, as is their 6-0 record vs. Quadrant 2 opponents. Ultimately, I think if they split their games this week that they will be fine. 1-1 at TCU and vs. Baylor should do the trick. (That Baylor game on Saturday is a HUGE bubble game.)
  Here’s a nice tool you can use at barttorvik.com to compare a team’s resume to similar resumes from recent years. Here is Kansas State’s.
Capture - kansas state similar

Baylor Bears:

Current Projection: 12-seed, Play-In Game
Previous Edition: First 4 Out
  Much like West Virginia’s profile is quite similar to Texas Tech’s, Baylor’s resume will be easily compared to Kansas State’s. Baylor’s RPI is 64, just one spot behind Kansas State at 63. Baylor has 4 Quadrant 1 wins to Kansas State’s 3. However, Kansas State has 6 Quadrant 2 wins to Baylor’s 2. Baylor is 6-12 overall vs. Quadrant 1/2; Kansas State is 9-8. The main difference? That non-conference SOS. Baylor’s NC SOS is 124, and their overall SOS is 22. Compare that to Kansas State’s numbers — 323 in NC SOS and 77 overall. If Baylor gets into the field and Kansas State doesn’t, that will be the main reason why.
  Here is the barttorvik.com tool for Baylor’s similar teams from seasons’ past.
Capture - baylor similar

Texas Longhorns:

Current Projection: First Team Out
Previous Edition: 8-seed
  Similar to Oklahoma, Texas’ resume will test how much a 7-11 conference record matters. If they lose to West Virginia at home on Saturday, they will have that 7-11 record. However, their resume still has encouraging points. Their RPI is 57 (better than Baylor and Kansas State), and their SOS is 16 (also better than Baylor and Kansas State). They have 5 Quadrant 1 wins and 3 more in Quadrant 2 — they are 5-10 and 3-3 in each Quadrant. Their NC SOS of 74 is respectable.
  Despite all that, it still feels like Saturday is a must-win for them. If they lose that, they will likely go into Selection Sunday with an 18-15 record (assuming one win over Iowa State at the Big 12 Tournament and a loss to whomever finishes 2nd between West Virginia and Texas Tech). Last season was the first time ever a team with 15 losses received an at-large bid — Vanderbilt got in with room to spare last season as a 9-seed. The difference? Vanderbilt’s SOS was 2nd nationally instead of 16th. Their NC SOS was also 2nd nationally instead of 74th. So if Texas is sitting there at 15 losses on Selection Sunday and people are comparing them to 2017 Vanderbilt, remember those SOS numbers. That’s why I think Saturday is a must-win for Texas (or a run is needed in the Big 12 Tourney).
  Here is Texas’ similar resume page at barttorvik.com.
Capture - texas similar

 

 

Oklahoma State Cowboys:

Current Projection: No NCAA Tournament
Previous Edition: No NCAA Tournament
  Oklahoma State tried to make things interesting for a bit after beating Kansas and West Virginia on the road and Texas Tech at home. Ultimately, their non-conference schedule was too weak, and they lost too many home games to other Big 12 middle-of-the-pack teams (TCU, Baylor, Kansas State). If the Cowboys are able to win one of their final two games (at Iowa State, vs. Kansas), they may be able to snag a NIT bid.

Iowa State Cyclones:

Current Projection: No NCAA Tournament
Previous Edition: No NCAA Tournament
•  Iowa State’s season has ended with a whimper — they haven’t been able to overcome all the injuries and games lost by key players. Look ahead to next season Cyclones fans. With some capable sit-out transfers and a strong recruiting class, the future appears much brighter.

 

 

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