Here is my final projection for the NCAA Tournament field for 2019. Everyone cares about the 1-seeds and the bubble teams. My 1-seeds are Virginia, Duke, North Carolina, and Gonzaga. I know a lot have moved Duke up to overall 1-seed; I’m still sticking with Virginia.
My Last 4 IN the field are Ohio State, Belmont, Arizona State, and Indiana. My First 4 OUT are NC State, St. John’s, Texas, and Temple. I could honestly see those 4 teams completely flipping and me missing 4 teams this season. UNC-Greensboro and Alabama are the next two teams listed in my Next 4 OUT (along with Clemson and Creighton). I think those two have a small chance, but would ultimately be surprised if any teams from those 4 made it.
When it comes to the logic with my Last 4 IN, I think the committee will reward the big wins recorded by Arizona State and Indiana. I know St. John’s fans would be upset with their exclusion using that logic considering their wins over Marquette and Villanova, but their NET is so outrageously low that I just don’t see it being rewarded by the committee. Conversely, NC State has a high NET (at 31), but they really don’t have a signature win; their best win was vs. Auburn in December. Their incredibly weak schedule could be used as a message to teams. “Don’t try to game the NET and fool the committee by scheduling weak opponents in November and December and then expect to be rewarded in March.”
Regarding Belmont, I think there tends to be at least one mid-major in the First 4 in Dayton nearly every year. If we go back five years, you have St. Bonaventure (2018), Tulsa (2016), Wichita State (2016), BYU (2015), Boise State (2015), Dayton (2015). Since 2015, only 2017 did not have a mid-major playing in Dayton. I think the committee likes placing at least one mid-major there, potentially to avoid the backlash, even if that’s a subconscious thought that is simultaneously occurring in the room among the committee members. Could UNC-Greensboro get that bid over Belmont? Perhaps. I just think Belmont having a higher NET than UNC-Greensboro (47 vs. 60), and having a better record in Q1/Q2 games (5-3 vs. 4-6) means Belmont gets that Dayton mid-major slot. Maybe both of them get it? That wouldn’t be unprecedented.
Now, these are all obviously just educated guesses on my part, but that’s where my mind is at this point in time with an hour to go before the Selection Show.
Okay, here is the final bracket. As always, the seed list of teams from 1 to 68 is below, as is the group of teams who just barely made the field, and those just outside of it.