Here is my second Bracketology entry for this season. The most interesting part of the bracket to me right now is the 4, 5, and 6 seed-lines. If you look at the seed list below, I’m having real difficult separating the group of teams from Wisconsin to Villanova. The NCAA Selection committee is now using the NET, which they created as the new-and-improved metric, and what is most difficult for me to predict or understand at this point in time is how closely they will adhere to their new-and-improved metric.
Let’s use two Big 12 teams as an example. Iowa State has lost 4 of 6, and if you look at various Bracketology posts across the Internet, you’ll see them falling to a 7-seed on some sites. Their NET right now is 18, which would place them as a 5-seed if you adhered strictly to seeding teams by their NET ranking. Conversely, Kansas State is in 1st place in the Big 12, has won of 8 of 10, and some sites are now projecting them as a 4-seed. Their NET right now is 28. If you go by NET ranking alone, their seed would project as 7-seed. At the time of this posting, only 3 out of 110 bracket at the Bracket Matrix are projecting Kansas State as a 7-seed. Iowa State is being projected as a 7-seed in 17 out of 110 brackets.
Could that end up happening? Could Iowa State be a 7-seed while Kansas State is a 4-seed? I guess? Sure? But, NET would say otherwise. Iowa State is at 18 while Kansas State is at 28. Q1 wins aren’t too different either. Kansas State has 7, Iowa State has 5. Iowa State has the best win of the two teams (their road victory at Texas Tech). Both teams beat Kansas at home, and both teams beat each other on the road. Kansas State is 7-5 on the road; Iowa State is 5-5. Iowa State’s SOS is 29; Kansas State’s is currently 43. Their worst loss is similar as well: Iowa State lost a neutral site game without their full roster to Arizona (NET 85), and Kansas State lost a road game without their full roster at Tulsa (NET 97). When you consider all those metrics, it’s wild to me that Kansas State could end up being 3 full seed lines ahead of Iowa State on Selection Sunday.
We’re always told the committee doesn’t care about conference record and looks at the season as a whole (i.e. they don’t care about how you are playing lately). The Kansas State/Iowa State comparison is a good test of this. If K-State really does end up 2 or 3 full seed lines ahead of Iowa State, they must care about conference record and how you close down the stretch more than they say. And if K-State ends up that far ahead of ISU in the final seed list, I will be even more confused about the committee’s adherence to the NET rankings.
I’ve always assumed the committee will closely follow the NET rankings, as I’m guessing they want their new shiny ranking system to be viewed positively. If they themselves ignore the ranking system, or at least make decisions that would be viewed as incorrect according to the NET, is the new system really that great? And if they’re not following the NET ranking system at all, why did they make the change from the RPI? I guess what I’m arguing is that I think the committee has a personal self-interest in not straying too far from the NET. They need to make their new ranking system look smart and good and better than what we’ve had.
This is what makes that group of teams from Wisconsin to Villanova in the 4-6 seed range so difficult to project right now for me. I can’t fully know what will matter most to the committee. Will it be NET ranking, Q1 wins, road wins, conference championships? That’s what makes this whole Bracketology thing difficult (and fun), but there is an added wrinkle this season in not knowing how the NET will be different than the RPI.
Okay, here is today’s bracket projection of the season. I’ve also provided a seed list of teams from 1 to 68 and included the group of teams who just barely made the field, and those just outside of it.
• 1 — Virginia, Duke, Gonzaga, Tennessee
• 2 — Kentucky, North Carolina, Michigan, Michigan State
• 3 — Purdue, LSU, Kansas, Houston
• 4 — Texas Tech, Marquette, Virginia Tech, Wisconsin
• 5 — Florida State, Kansas State, Mississippi State, Iowa State
• 6 — Buffalo, Nevada, Maryland, Villanova
• 7 — Cincinnati, Louisville, Wofford, Auburn
• 8 — Baylor, Iowa, Ole Miss, Washington
• 9 — Syracuse, UCF, Texas, Oklahoma
• 10 — Florida, Ohio State, Utah State, St. John’s
• 11 — NC State, VCU, Minnesota, TCU
• 12 — Indiana, Alabama, Belmont, Seton Hall, Lipscomb, Murray State
• 13 — New Mexico State, Yale, Hofstra, Old Dominion
• 14 — UC Irvine, Vermont, South Dakota State, Texas State
• 15 — Radford, Loyola Chicago, Northern Kentucky, Montana
• 16 — Colgate, Sam Houston State, Iona, St. Francis PA, Prairie View A&M, Norfolk State
• Last 4 Byes: St. John’s, NC State, Minnesota, TCU
• Last 4 IN: Indiana, Alabama, Belmont, Seton Hall
• First 4 OUT: Clemson, Temple, Arizona State, Creighton
• Next 4 OUT: Memphis, Furman, St. Mary’s, Georgetown
Bids by Conference:
• Big Ten: 9
• ACC: 8
• Big 12: 8
• SEC: 8
• Big East: 4
• American: 3
• Mountain West: 2
• Ohio Valley: 2
• Pac-12: 1