Inside the Bracket

Bracket Notes and Seed List 02.18.19

Protected Seed Summary (Teams 1-16)
I am doing my best here to be mindful of what the committee’s Bracket Reveal show taught us all last month. It gets tougher and tougher by the day, as several of those teams have lost. And some of the next set of teams (17-25) have achieved some key results. LSU had the big win at Kentucky last week, and after Kentucky’s blowout over Tennessee at the exact same venue, LSU comes away looking the most impressive after the week.

I have Tennessee edging out Gonzaga still on the seed order, mainly becuase of the head to head victory over the Zags in Phoenix. They also each have a blowout road loss on their resume now, so that is somewhat of a wash.

Texas Tech has managed to emerge into the Top 16 for now, with 12 Quadrant 1/2 wins and no losses to teams outside of the below Top 32. The Red Raiders NET rating of 10 won’t hurt them either. Each of the 5-seeds are close, very close.

Middle of the Field (Teams 17-40)
Iowa has a geographical DREAM draw here, and that was all done not purposely, but actually by following the procedures. There are slim hopes for Hawkeye fans that the route from Des Moines to KC to Minneapolis could actually come to fruition. But if and when we see further shake ups with the two seeds for example, the dream will fade quickly. In today’s bracket, Kansas City just happened to have the only bottom half of a bracket without a Big Ten during placement, which gave the Hawkeyes the green light. As a whole, teams 15-25 are really tight right now, and you can make solid arguments against my order today for a line up or down. Today’s placement is where I think the committee would theoretically place them.

Wofford has made a leap up into the “In Safely” column. The Terriers are on a tear, pun intended. Their resume is basically dead even with Washington except for the NCSOS, which gives the Huskies a very slim advantage. The next debate would be if teams with great wins coupled with ugly losses should be above UW or Wofford? I believe that the committee prefers the clean resumes over the likes of Baylor, Syracuse, and Seton Hall for now. Wofford and UW both possess great Away records as well. This situation is as fluid as it gets and if we are in a situation like this on Selction Sunday - it would be a hot debate in the committee room.

Auburn would also be controversial to be placed at 38, with a NET of 24. But I cannot move the Tigers above any of the teams above them currently until they start winning quality games on the road and/or get deeper help with losses from the teams above.

Bubble Trouble (41-48, and Knocking on the Door)
The Bubble picture actually recieved a little bit of good news for once, as some of the cutline teams actually won over the weekend. In fact: ASU, Oklahoma, and Temple all won on the road. This is the kind of clarity weve desperately needed for a while. But it is still ugly. The two stolen bids from Davidson and Bowling Green are really helping me, and I am sure the committee wouldn’t mind a few bid thieves at selection time.

Florida picked up a good win at Alabama, who also is now squarely in the bubble mix. That’s the problem, if Alabama is a bubble team, then how good of a win was that for Florida in the bigger picture? Time will tell. But I left the Gators out of the field because of a 3-5 road record and with zera wins against Quad 1A (top half of Quad 1).

Furman is incredibly tempting to select. I actually like their results more than Florida, UCF, and Clemson. However. The NCSOS ranking of #279 is just way to big of a hurdle historically to get one of the final bids. Paladins will likely need to beat Wofford this upcoming week and hope more bubble teams lose to have a realistic shot at selection. I’d like to seed Furman as a 10 seed or higher in order to feel safe. I won’t feel safe placing them in Dayton, based on history.

The Rest (49-68)
Drake is in the field today. A team I was fortunate to cover in December when they defeated Rider. Coach DeVries has been sensational all year on building a quality roster with no time, and especially for keeping this team focused after the awful injury news to star guard Nick Norton. Watchout for the Bulldogs during Arch and maybe even March Madness.

Radford took a tough loss to Charleston Southern over the weekend, drops them down into a very dangerous 15-seed position for today. Hofstra’s stunning loss at 9-win UNCW over the weekend was enough to knock them down to the 13-seed area. New Mexico State benefits from that and now is a 12-seed in San Jose.


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Seed List 02.05.19

Protected Seeds (Seeds 1-4)
The top three teams are fairly clear at this juncture after both Michigan schools went down last week. The tricky part is seeding teams four through nine. Each team has their own unique case to be the last #1 seed. Taking into account the location of all games played and subsequent competitiveness, I think Michigan is deserving by a narrow margin for the fourth #1 seed. Kansas falls to #9 overall and onto the three seed line for the first time, mainly for only having one key road win and five overall losses (list includes West Virginia). Louisville made a nice jump up last night, taking advantage of shorthanded Va. Tech on the road. I continue to be really impressed with the body of work that Wisconsin has put forward.

Middle of the Board (Seeds 5-10)
Although Iowa has four fantastic wins, none of them are on the road. They will need to prove that they can win a marquee road game or at least beat a team on the road who is in the projected field before I feel comfortable about giving them protected seed status. Nevada looks the part, but sadly has not played any Quadrant 1 games at this point. Kansas State is leading the Big 12 and playing well, but they still have to live with their losses at Tulsa, at TAMU, and home against Texas. Buffalo took a step back with a road loss at Bowling Green, but I believe the Bulls are still safe for now with their road win at Syracuse and four top two quadrant wins, without a real bad loss (Q3+). Oklahoma lost another home game last night, marking their third home loss in three weeks. Sooners are going the wrong direction, but still have the unique distinction of being the only team that has not played a Quadrant 4 game, which equals a very strong Strength of Schedule.

Still mostly a mess this week. Bowling Green did us a favor by taking one of the bids away. The comparison between Temple and the first four teams out was very close. I ultimately leaned on Temple having the best win (Houston) and going a perfect 5-0 against Quadrant 2. They are beating the teams they are supposed to (besides Penn).

Auto Bids
Auto Bid tiebreakers are broken down on the Bracketology page.

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Bracket Notes and Seed List 01.21.19

Battle for the four #1 Seeds
I am curently seeing five deserving teams for four spots. Virginia, Michigan, Tennessee, Duke, and Michigan State. They are all deserving for the top billing as of today. Given the fact that UVA only lost on the road to Duke and has beaten teams like Va Tech, At Maryland, Wisconsin, Florida State and at Clemson in impressive fashion, I believe the Cavs are deserving of the number one overall seed. Next would be Michigan due to also only having the one road loss to Wisconsin now, but still having wins at Villanova and against UNC, Indiana, and Purdue. Next is Tennessee who barely has the edge over Duke by the slightest of margins. This really came down to Duke having a home loss to Syracuse and not quite enough to overcome an otherwise flawless Volunteer resume. Michigan State actually has more Group one wins (7) than these squads and can be argued in. But I have them in 5th position for now.

Final Spots
It still isn’t pretty between the teams near the bubble, mainly due to several teams lacking opportunities like San Francisco, UCF, UNCG, etc. So for now I am doing my best to go with teams that actually have quality wins away from home to work with and a decent start to their resume. Arizona edged out Butler for the final spot this week. I am sure a lot will change by next week.

Here is the Full Seed List

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Bracket Building Overview and Seed List 01.14.19

2019 is here and this marks my eighth year doing Bracketology. I am ready to dig into the first full execise of selecting, seeding and building a bracket that is based on what we know at this point of the College Basketball season. Bracketology can be defined as the art and logistics of predicting the teams that will be selected in the annual NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament and where the games will be played. Here is a quick review on the process for anyone new to the website.

How the Teams are Selected.
32 Auto Bids, 36 At-Large Teams

Projected Auto Bid Tiebreakers:
I love to add different variables to my updates in order to keep the bracketing pricnciples sharp in my mind. In order to do that, I have a slightly different way of selecting teams that represent each Conference’s Auto Bid. Here is a snapshot
1) Conference Leader in the Loss column
2) In the event of a head to head tie for 1st: H2H winner gets the bid; if the tied teams haven’t played each other, then I revert to the preseason pick; if neither apply, then I go to the resumes and make a selection as if they are At Large teams.
3) In the event of a multiple team tie for 1st: H2H record (all teams must have faced each other); if the tied teams haven’t all played each other, then I revert to the preseason pick; if neither apply, then I go to the resumes and make a selection as if they are At Large teams.

Here’s an example for today:
MWC has two teams with zero losses, Boise State and UNLV.
Have not met Head to Head or were preseason picks to win the league
UNLV gets the projected bid for having a better resume thus far.

Auto Bids are then complete, and the 36 At Large teams are then needed next. I work off of a large board with about 60-75 At Large candidates at any given time. As the season goes on, the list gets smaller. From there I simply follow all of the NCAA Principles and Procedures to make the selections. I pride my work on trying to make arguments good and bad for each team, and strive to end up with the common sense pecking order.

Here is our First Seed List of 2019:

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ITB: February 19th, 2018

Before we get to the Seed List, I'd like to add a few comments on how some of the teams are stacking up against each other. Just a reminder - wins against Tournament Level teams are a main source of seeding. Quadrants are simply leveraged to sort the data in a clean fashion.

1. Virginia is barely leading Villanova in my eyes. You can easily argue Villanova since they have a larger quantity of quality wins and now an incredibly strong road win at Xavier at the moment. However, I look at Virginia and I see a team who also has great wins and only lost twice in the final minute of both games. Really impressive for an ACC team this late in the year and deserving of the Top overall seed.

2. The final #1 seeds went to Xavier and Kansas. From a wins perspective it was an easy choice, Xavier has 10 wins against Tournament Level (TL) teams. Plus another three against Bubble or higher Auto Bid (BAB) teams and Kansas has 11 TL wins plus two BAB wins. Duke/Purdue/Auburn dont come close and Texas Tech took another loss on Saturday to remain out of the discussion. 

3. Michigan State is still not a two seed in my book becuase they only have two TL wins and one to four BAB wins (if you count Maryland and/or Notre Dame).  I think the committee will give them some extra credit in the conversation because they beat the full strength Notre Dame team and they pounded UNC. MSU is setup well for any predictive metric tiebreakers, should they come up in discussions. Overall, I have them tenth on the seed list but with upside still available - the Big 10 tournament and other teams losing around them. Hard to envision the Spartans getting a 1 seed at this point.

4. Cincinnati lost twice last week and I thought they may drop them to the 4th seed range. But the Bearcats resume is still holding up above Arizona/Clemson and others. They are solidly a three seed and eleventh overall.

5. Wichita State made real nice upward movement, as expected. I have them 15th overall today and they have another date with Cincinnati to end the regular season still in front of them. Shockers are finally starting to play like the Final Four team I projected them to be back in preseason. Always good to get hot at the right time.

6. The middle of the Seed list, from 20-42 is a big pile of chaos and will hurt your brain if you look it at for as many hours as I do. Eventually I decided on keeping Oklahoma as the last five seed (20 overall). I think you can make a case for Florida State or Kentucky and depending on how much the Predictive metrics matter, you could argue Nevada there too. My projections are continuing to be based primarily on the Result-Based metrics (RPI, KPI, SOR) above the predictive.
Interesting nugget: Houston had an outstanding week and ended up moving all the way to the 7-seed line, shows what kind of week we just experienced with many of the teams in this range losing. 

7. Florida is a team I have seen a lot of chatter about this morning. The committee in recent years has shown that enough quality wins will outweigh your bad losses and seeding can really be enhanced regardless of a bad loss or two. Florida is the perfect candidate for said profile this season. The Gators have two wins over Protected seeds, eight wins total over TL teams, and have two BAB wins.  Results Based Metrics have them ranked 43rd, not great. So this is tough - but for today I am keeping them as the last #6 seed. 

8. What to do with Nevada? First off, I was impressed the Pack won both at Boise and at Utah State. The Utah State game had letdown written all over it and they went into Logan and took care of business. When you look at Nevada's body of work, they have the Rhode Island home win, but it's their only win against the field. You add the Neutral court loss to San Francisco and home loss to UNLV and you have a tough team to seed. The metrics like them (Results Based they are near 17th and Predictive they are 26th) and they are a darn good team when you watch them play.  I think they land somewhere in the middle. I believe the committee has more respect for the MWC than the A-10 or WCC this year, despite the majority of the programs not being tournament caliber. So for now, Nevada gets the final eight seed, but they are much more impacted by others around them than what they can achieve themselves.

9. Kansas State has landed as my final Nine seed and I feel good about that. If you've read my previous posts or listened to the HoopsHD shows, I've discussed how no teams with a NCSOS of 250+ has been selected as an At Large in the 10+ seed range since 2006 (Air Force). Thus, if K-State, VTech or NC State recieve At Large bids, I presume the committee will need to feel very strongly about each and have them very comfortably in the field. With all three of these teams playing well and building stronger resumes than the bubble, I feel real good about having them in the 8-9 range right now. 

10. Saint Mary's is a headache to seed. I think the win at Gonzaga keeps them pretty safe for making it in. But they lost at San Francisco and it's getting tough. For now, they are my top 11-seed. 

11. The bubble is very strong for now after a weekend where several bubble teams won and only Nebraska, Penn State, Louisville, and Temple lost. My first six teams teams out (UCLA, Georgia, Marquette, Washington, Louisville, and USC) all have a case to be included for selection. A bit unusual for this late in the season. Of course the bubble will continue to be scrutinized daily for the next twenty days. Segway...

20 Days til Selction Sunday! 1-68 Seed List


ITB: February 16th, 2018

For today's Inside The Bracket feature, I wanted to provide you with a full breakdown of the current "Bubble." Several teams are close to being on the bubble, or just above the bubble, or just below the bubble. Which means on any given night, these 26 teams can find themselves right near the cut line. History has taught me that teams with a poor Non Conference Strength of Schedule and a lack of Quality road wins, will be left out if they are in the Cut Line range. So that is a key factor here.

One quick note: After doing a deeper dive today, I placed Saint Mary's above Houston, which is not reflected in the bracket release from this morning.

To give everyone a glimpse on how I break this down, please see the chart below.

Quck Definitions:   Super Wins  - Wins in the Top Half of Quadrant 1 (1-15 Home, 1-25 Neutral, 1-38 Away)  Total A/N  - Toal Away/Neutral record.  The Rest  - Q4 games. Generally the wins in this column are ignored by the committee,, and losses are killers.   NCSOS  - Non Conference Strength of Schedule

Quck Definitions:
Super Wins - Wins in the Top Half of Quadrant 1 (1-15 Home, 1-25 Neutral, 1-38 Away)
Total A/N - Toal Away/Neutral record.
The Rest - Q4 games. Generally the wins in this column are ignored by the committee,, and losses are killers. 
NCSOS - Non Conference Strength of Schedule

And that leads us to Today's current seed list 1-68..

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ITB: February 5, 2018

Movement Summary

  1.  Villanova and Virginia keep switching places for me. And now it looks so close that it's hard to say. Nova has the two extra Q1 wins and they own the metrics too. So I will take the Wildcats #1 right now.
  2. Kansas, Xavier, Duke, and Auburn are battling for the final #1 Seed. I think Kansas total number of Q1 and Q2 wins (12) seperates themselves just enough to overcome the home losses. But this is a real close battle that could use more definition.
  3. Cincinnati is simply not losing. I don't love their resume, but they still have just the two losses overall and everyone around them has been losing, so for now the Bearcats are on the 3 seed line.
  4. Arizona slides down to #13 overall and a 4 seed after losing at UW. Don't worry Cats fans, AZ is still in good shape to play in San Diego then LA.
  5. Gonzaga eeks out the final #5 seed as Florida tumbled down to the 7 seed line. The Zags profile compared to Saint Mary's and Rhode Island is just a little bit stronger. Interesting battle to follow because a loss for any of the three against a lesser team can make a big difference.
  6. Miami and Butler have bypassed Arizona State's resume in my book. Thus, they are now on the 6 seed line.
  7. Texas has a lot of good wins and their resume is standing out compared to the other teams in this range. The Horns do have 8 losses, so they will want to be careful to not pick up a few more. 
  8. Wichita State's resume seems to be getting weaker by the day. They have fallen to #30 on the seed list and sitting as an Eight Seed.
  9. Missouri and Washington had big wins over the weekend over Kentucky and Arizona respectively. They are both in the field comfortably today as #10 seeds.
  10. The final two spots in the field were incredibly difficult today! I'm not kidding. I looked at 17 resumes for the final two spots and it wasn't fun. All 17 have flaws, and many have major flaws. Temple is so hard to place, but I ultimately left them out because of the brutal losses they have against GW, La Salle, Memphis and Tulane. So finally I settled on Boise State and Georgia as my final two. I could probably stare at this for another 10 hours and change my mind. I'm hoping the picture clears up soon so I can get better sleep.

Seed List 1-68

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ITB: January 29, 2018

           Biggest Jumps

  • Virginia's marquee road win over Duke propels them above Villanova for the time being. UVA's resume currently includes four Super Wins over the RPI Top 11. And their lone loss was in Morgantown, very respectable. I think it is enough to push them in front of Villanova and Purdue if the Tournament started today.
  • Auburn will not stop winning, and they have landed themselves into the #7 slot on the Seed List. Good for a number two seed and headed to Nashville/Atlanta. Which would be major for the Tigers if they can maintain this level of play.
  • Texas Tech capitalizes on another Quadrant 2 loss for North Carolina, and sneaks onto the three seed line, #12 overall. The Red Raiders picked up another Quality road win at South Carolina on Saturday.
  • Kentucky had a massive come from behind road win at West Virginia over the weekend. The Wildcats are still a little thin on Quadrant 1 wins (2), and land at #17 on the Seed List (5 seed).
  • Arkansas hung on for a narrow victory against Oklahoma State. The Razorbacks compared to some others in this range stand out for now with two Top 10 wins over Oklahoma and Tennessee.
  • Florida State avenged a loss to Miami and moved up to a number eight seed. They now have significant home wins against UNC and Miami to go along with road wins at Florida and Virginia Tech.
  • NC State made the biggest splash over the weekend with a road "Super Win" at UNC. The Wolfpack skyrocketted past teams like Providence, Washington, Nevada and others with a win of this magnitude to go along with the home wins over Duke and Clemson. The Pack are in comfortabally with a nine seed today.
  • Washington moved up a bit to a Number 10 seed over the weekend. Little of that had to do with UW's blowout win over WSU. More significant was the rise of Virginia Tech, USC, and Kansas. Helping improve the quality of wins and reducing a negative impact of the Hokies loss.
  • Virginia Tech's huge week with wins over UNC and at Notre Dame have vaulted them to barely inside the bubble for today. NonConf SOS is 295 still and if I were a Hokies fan, I'd be very concerned about that.

    Farthest Drops
  • West Virginia dropped to a 3 seed today after the weekend home loss to Kentucky. But the bigger concern is the Mountaineers RPI is all the way down to #34.
  • North Carolina went 0-2 last week including a tough loss at home to rival NC State. North Carolina's strong wins keep them in Protected seed land and #13 on the Seed List.
  • TCU had by far the furthest drop out of any of the teams today. The loss at Vanderbilt (#122) ruined a clean resume for the Horned Frogs. Additionally, Nevada/SMU/West Virginia all lost last week, which weakens the Frogs good wins a bit. After a full reevaluation, TCU land at #31 on the Seed List (8 seed).
  • Marquette had two golden opportunites last week against Xavier and Villanova and couldn't get the win in either. The losses dont kill them, but their loss total is now 8. I have them as the final 10 seed today.
  • Notre Dame has lost five straight including a home loss to the Hokies over the weekend. The injury to Bonzi Colson has been too much to overcome recently in ACC play. As a result the Irish RPI is down to #78. They are now on the outside looking in.
  • Missouri has been free falling as well, a road loss by double digits at Mississippi State wasn't a good look for the Tigers. They are now out of the field. Another big week as they travel to Alabama and host Kentucky this week.
  • Texas A&M is ice cold. Losers of seven of thier last nine games, the Aggies are clearly not playing like a tournament team. This resume can be rectified but they need to find some wins quickly.

          Most Intriguing Matchups

  • South Regional: Potential 2nd Round matchup between Auburn and Miami. Two schools who were at the center of the FBI Investigation at the beginning of the season would find themselves playing each other with a trip to the Sweet 16 on the line.
  • East Regional: Michigan State vs. Loyola-Chicago. Red hot Loyola returning to Boise (where they were spanked by Boise State) to face a Michigan State team trying to overcome turmoil.
  • Midwest Regional: Potential 2nd Round matchup between Purdue and Saint Mary's. The big men Jock Landale and Isaac Haas going at each other would be a must watch.
  • West Regional: Potential Sweet 16 matchup of Arizona vs, Kansas in Los Angeles. Arizona may actually be favored in Vegas if this game happened.

Seed List 1-68

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Inside The Bracket - January 26, 2018

Overall, not a whole lot of Major changes since Sunday. Here is the rundown:

  • Virginia moves ahead of Duke for the third #1 seed due to adding a "Super Win" over Clemson. With Clemson still sitting at #6 in the RPI, it helps out the UVA case to be ahead of Duke.
  • Xavier jumps up from a three seed to a two seed thanks to a Quadrant 2 loss by UNC to Va. Tech and West Virginia losing at TCU. 
  • Clemson has injury concerns, for the time being they have a resume still worthy of a 3 seed.
  • Tennessee jumps in to the three seed mix. This makes me feel a bit uneasy, however they do have the strongest profile and all of their losses are clean (meaning nothing out of Quadrant 1).
  • TCU moves from #24 on the seed list to #18. Really the only team in this range to make a leap.
  • Florida dropped from #12 to #19 after the Home loss (Quadrant 2) to South Carolina.
  • Arizona State fell from #19 to #25 after another home loss tonight against Utah. ASU is free falling and clinging to their 12-0 NonConference record.
  • Rhode Island takes advantage of ASU's loss and improves to a #6 seed.
  • Texas A&M is joining ASU in the Tough to seed Parade. They took another loss to LSU and dropped to #35 overall (9 seed).
  • South Carolina joins the field and is in one of the Play-in games after the big win in Gainesville earlier this week.
  • SMU drops out after a tough loss at UConn. They will need to play more consistent to get back in. They continue to struggle against the middle of the American Conference.
  • Also joining the field are newcomers South Dakota, Nicholls State, and Bethune-Cookman

Seed List 1-68

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Inside The Bracket - January 22, 2018

Inside The Bracket - January 22, 2018

  • Excited to release my first bracket of the Regular Season. It has been a fun season already. I have had the pleasure to see teams from the Pac-12, Big 10, WCC, MAC, WAC, and NEC in person. And many more games to come. My goal is to see some of these teams first hand, especially potential bubble teams, to help make more accurate bracket projections.
  • The NCAA Tournament Selection Committee has new Team Sheet criteria in place for this March. The selection committee will no longer use top 50, top 100, 200 and 201 and above as dividing categories. Instead, the new terminology is quadrants 1, 2, 3 and 4. The decision is to get away from treating every team the same if the game was on the road, neutral or at home based on their power rating. Now the road/neutral games matter more.
  • Quick review for anyone unfamiliar. The actual NCAA committee will submit list ballots to the committee chairman throughout the seeding process, which eventually takes a pool of the top eight teams left on the board to select four teams per seed line. Since I am doing this on my own, I will take my highest eight teams for each seed line and do a full comparison on all eight, and select the top four. The remaining four stay in the mix for the next seed line down. This repeats itself until I get to the last four At Large selections. At that point I evaluate all "bubble" teams, typically a pool of 12-15 teams to select the last four teams. This will vary based on how the bubble is shaping up, for example certain times I may take a large pool of teams to determine any of the last 4-8 spots.
  • For The Bracketeer's Automatic Bid projections the following tiebreakers are used: 1) Head to Head 2) KenPom Rating if Head to Head does not suffice.

Seed List 1-68


Inside the Preseason Bracket

  • Each of the FBI Investigation highly ranked teams (Arizona, USC, Miami) were dinged slightly due to the inevitable distractions that will come up during the season. Really just hedging them three because I believe all of them will lose a game or two that they have no business losing.
  • Hearing that Collin Sexton is being suspended at Alabama after the Preseason Bracket was released. If this is permanent, move Marquette into the field and Alabama out.
  • My Conference Championship projections are based on a combination of talent and location of the Tournament.  For example Charleston has a big advantage playing in Charleston for the CAA Tourney.
  • Louisville was completely removed due to my presumption they will be banned from the tournament. If Louisville winds up with postseason eligibility by January, look for them in the next update.
  • Some intriguing match-ups across the bracket. Some of my favorites: Baylor vs. TAMU in Dallas, Gonzaga vs. Arizona (possible 2nd round), Florida vs. Dunk City (FGCU), Mercer vs. UNC (Mercer beat Duke last time they qualified for the dance).

Here is the Full Seed List:

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