Here is my latest updated Bracketology post, my first during Conference Tournament week. As always, here’s a permanent reminder of how the NCAA is doing their RPI bucketing this season:
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.
At this point, I’ve got it narrowed down to 9 teams for 4 spots. I think it’ll be between Alabama, Arizona State, Baylor, Louisville, Marquette, Middle Tennessee, Oklahoma State, St. Mary’s, and Syracuse for those First Four at-large spots. I think Alabama and St. Mary’s might be just a tiny bit ahead of those other teams. So that would leave 7 teams for 2 spots. For now, I’ve got Middle Tennessee and Baylor as the last two teams in the field. I do not feel great about that. I am going to take a closer look at each of these resumes over the next couple of days to see if I’m missing something, so Baylor fans, don’t get too confident. There could be changes coming to this bracket before Sunday.
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.
• 1 — Virginia, Villanova, Xavier, Kansas
• 2 — Duke, North Carolina, Purdue, Auburn
• 3 — Cincinnati, Michigan, Michigan State, Tennessee
• 4 — Texas Tech, West Virginia, Arizona, Gonzaga
• 5 — Clemson, Wichita State, Kentucky, Florida
• 6 — Ohio State, Houston, Miami (FL), Nevada
• 7 — TCU, Rhode Island, Seton Hall, Arkansas
• 8 — Texas A&M, Creighton, Virginia Tech, UCLA
• 9 — Butler, Kansas State, NC State, Missouri
• 10 — St. Bonaventure, USC, Providence, Florida State
• 11 — Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, St. Mary’s, Middle Tennessee, Baylor
• 12 — Loyola Chicago, South Dakota State, Louisiana Lafayette, Buffalo
• 13 — New Mexico State, Vermont, Murray State, Old Dominion
• 14 — College of Charleston, UNC Greensboro, Bucknell, Montana
• 15 — Wright State, UC Santa Barbara, Penn, Lipscomb
• 16 — Iona, Radford, LIU Brooklyn, Southeastern Louisiana, Hampton, Arkansas Pine Bluff
• Last 4 Byes: Providence, Florida State, Texas, Oklahoma
• Last 4 IN: Alabama, St. Mary’s, Middle Tennessee, Baylor
• First 4 OUT: Oklahoma State, Arizona State, Louisville, Syracuse
• Next 4 OUT: Marquette, Notre Dame, Nebraska, Utah
Bids by Conference:
• ACC: 8
• SEC: 8
• Big 12: 8
• Big East: 6
• Big Ten: 4
• Pac-12: 3
• American: 3
• West Coast: 2
• Atlantic 10: 2
• Conference USA: 2
Outlook for Big 12 Teams:
Current Projection: 1-seed
Previous Edition: 1-seed
• I think it’ll come down to Xavier, Kansas, and Duke for the final two 1-seeds. Whomever wins their conference tournaments will have the upper hand. Kansas currently has the 2nd most Quadrant 1 wins in the country with 11. If they win the Big 12 Tournament, that number will rise to 12. Kansas State likely won’t be a top-50 win. If you’re a Kansas fan, root for North Carolina and Providence tonight. Root for Providence especially. Xavier could steal the 1-seed in the Midwest away from the Jayhawks.
Texas Tech Red Raiders:
Current Projection: 4-seed
Previous Edition: 3-seed
• Texas Tech and West Virginia will be closely seeded on Sunday. Ultimately, I think Tech will be one of the last 3-seeds or one of the first 4-seed on the seed list. Obviously, beating West Virginia tonight will help their profile. With a top-20 RPI and 7 Quadrant 1 wins and 6 more in Quadrant 2, I’d be 100% shocked if they’re not a 4-seed or 3-seed. The important thing Tech fans should monitor is their competition for playing their 1st and 2nd round games in Dallas.
West Virginia Mountaineers:
Current Projection: 4-seed
Previous Edition: 4-seed
• Not much to say here that’s different than Texas Tech’s section. These two teams still have super similar profiles. West Virginia’s RPI is slightly worse, but they have one more Quadrant 2 win than the Red Raiders (they both have 7 Q1 wins). Whomever wins tonight’s Big 12 tournament semifinal might jump ahead of the other in the seed list, but they will be tight on Sunday.
TCU Horned Frogs:
Current Projection: 7-seed
Previous Edition: 6-seed
• TCU still has great RPI/SOS numbers, with an RPI of 24 and a SOS of 8. Their non-conference SOS of 41 is also very respectable. They are only 4-8 vs. Quadrant 1, which will hurt their seed a little. I think they’ll be a 6-seed or a 7-seed. For now, I have them as a 7-seed. As I re-examine profiles over the next two days, they could slide back up to a 6-seed.
Kansas State Wildcats:
Current Projection: 9-seed
Previous Edition: 11-seed, Play-In Game
• Even though Kansas State has worrisome RPI, SOS, and NCSOS numbers, I’ve slid them up to a 9-seed in today’s bracket update. Their win over TCU yesterday was another Quadrant 1 victory. They are now 4-8 vs. Q1 and 6-2 vs. Q2. That’s an overall record of 10-10 vs. Q1/Q2. Other bubble teams simply won’t have a record of that quality vs. Q1 and Q2.
• Every other team that has had a resume similar to Kansas State has safely made it into the NCAA Tournament. I think Kansas State is officially safe headed into Sunday now.
Current Projection: 11-seed
Previous Edition: First Team Out
• I have Texas as one of the last two teams to receive a bye from competing in the First Four (Oklahoma is my last team to receive a bye). Texas has 6 Quadrant 1 wins in 17 chances. That’s the only thing that worries me about their profile. How much do those 11 losses to Q1 teams matter? Does the committee care that it took Texas 17 opportunities to record those 6 Q1 victories? In the past, it hasn’t mattered — all the committee has cared about are your wins. I’m counting on that to be the case again for this Texas team. It doesn’t hurt Texas that their SOS numbers help — their SOS is 16 and their NCSOS is 77, which both compare favorably to other bubble teams.
• Here is Texas’ similar resume page at barttorvik.com.
Current Projection: 11-seed
Previous Edition: 8-seed
• Oklahoma continues to be one of the more fascinating profiles among bubble teams this season. Does the committee care about how poorly they played down the stretch or does the resume speak for itself? Oklahoma is 6-9 vs. Quadrant 1 and 3-3 vs. Quadrant 2. Other bubble teams don’t have as favorable records as the Sooners do vs. those top two quadrants. They also have a top-50 RPI and a top-25 SOS. Recording road wins at Wichita State and TCU and a neutral win vs. USC is nothing to scoff at. But all three happened over two months ago. Does the committee care about that? We’ll see.
• Here is Oklahoma’s similar resume page at barttorvik.com. Teams with their resume have typically made the NCAA Tournament, but you can see that the seed variance has been pretty high. Teams have been seeded as high as a 7-seed and as low as a 12-seed. The committee isn’t exactly sure what to do with teams like Oklahoma.
Current Projection: 11-seed, Play-In Game
Previous Edition: 12-seed, Play-In Game
• Baylor is in that group of teams that I’m not sure what to do with. I could see them making the NCAA Tournament and just as easily missing it. It honestly feels like a coin flip between them, Louisville, Syracuse, Arizona State, and Marquette. I have them as the last team in, and that’s probably some of my Big 12 bias sneaking into my thinking. I probably think they deserve it subconsciously just because I’ve watched so much more of them and the teams they’ve played than I have with the other group of bubble teams.
• Baylor’s RPI isn’t great at 64, but their SOS at 18 is better than most of their bubble competition. They are 4-12 vs. Quadrant 1 teams. Their wins over Kansas and Texas Tech will look very favorable to the committee. The 12 losses though could be a hindrance. Once again, I can’t predict how the committee will view the winning percentage in Quadrant 1 games or if they only care about how many wins you have and which wins you have. If they don’t care about winning percentage, Baylor is in good shape. If they do care, Baylor may be in trouble.
• Here is the barttorvik.com tool for Baylor’s similar teams from seasons’ past.
Oklahoma State Cowboys:
Current Projection: First Team Out
Previous Edition: No NCAA Tournament
• Oklahoma State has done everything in their power to make the NCAA Tournament. They won their final regular season game vs. Kansas to record another big win and then defeated Oklahoma in the 1st Round of the Big 12 Tournament to snag another Quadrant 1 win. The Cowboys are now 5-12 vs. Quadrant 1 — a record that is very similar to Texas’ Quadrant 1 performance. The difference? Oklahoma State’s RPI is currently 87th, which would be the worst RPI for an at-large team ever. Their NC SOS of 291 is also incredibly poor, and it’s something the committee has said they’ve looked at in years past.
• Saying all that, I really have this odd feeling about Oklahoma State. Yes they have a bad RPI and an even worse NC SOS, but they feel like THE team that everyone in the media is arguing for this week. They are this season’s late push media darling bubble team. Could that have an effect on the committee? Maybe? I’ve never been in that room. Their wins – two Kansas wins, at West Virginia, vs. Texas Tech, a neutral vs. Oklahoma, and a neutral vs. Florida State — are great. Because the system is broken, their win vs. Florida State fell from being a Q1 win to a Q2 win in the last week. That’s incredibly dumb, but that’s the RPI for you.
• I’m fascinated by this profile. Based on similar resumes from seasons’ past, Oklahoma State has no chance. I’m not so sure, though. For now, I have them as my First Team Out. I’m going to do one more total re-examination of resumes before Sunday. We’ll see if anything changes.
Iowa State Cyclones:
Current Projection: No NCAA Tournament
Previous Edition: No NCAA Tournament