The At-Large Picture

It’s officially after Christmas, which means bowl season is in high gear and conference play is about to get started for most teams.

It’s still early, but there are twenty teams across the country that we can anticipate will make the field based on a combination of how good they are and how solid their existing resume is. I’ll be shocked if more than 1 or 2 of these teams are on the bubble come Selection Sunday.

SHOULD MAKE THE FIELD:

ACC – Duke, UNC, Louisville, Virginia (4)

BIG EAST – Villanova, Butler, Xavier, Creighton (4)

BIG TEN – Purdue, Indiana, Wisconsin (3)

BIG XII – Kansas, Baylor, West Virginia (3)

PAC-12 – UCLA, Oregon (2)

SEC – Kentucky, Florida (2)

WCC – Gonzaga, St Mary’s (2)

 

To the rest of the country… get ready for a rocky four months ahead, because your team is no shoo-in, even if they’re ranked (like Florida State or Cincinnati) or highly efficient (Arizona or Clemson).

 

 

 

 

 

The At-Large Picture

Surprisingly Bad Resumes

WORSE THAN YOU THINK:

Indiana – Everyone knows the Hoosiers have wins against Kansas and UNC. But how many know their next best win is home to Houston Baptist? There is no excuse for a blueblood to be playing so many sub-200 RPI teams. Quite frankly, it shows a complete disregard for their own NCAA seeding. Their RPI will certainly improve. But it’s currently at 99, which is absurdly bad for a team as good as this one.

West Virginia – The Mountaineers have a road win at Virginia and a neutral court shellacking of Illinois, but the rest of the non-league schedule is pretty tame, leading to an RPI of 44.

Cincinnati – The overall non-conference slate isn’t bad, but Texas Southern and Penn State are the only top 100 wins. These Bearcats are going to have a hard time making the tournament if they can’t pick up a couple top 50 wins in the AAC.

Wisconsin– Did you know the Badgers have played six sub-200 teams, have no top 50 wins, and have just one win over a top 100 team?  The Badgers aren’t looking as hot as most think.

 

 

Surprisingly Bad Resumes

Surprisingly Good Resumes

BETTER THAN YOU WOULD THINK:

Minnesota – The Gophers have just one loss and three RPI top 50 wins. They’re all the way up at eighth in RPI right now.

Florida State – The Seminoles have 5 wins against the top 65 in RPI vs. just one overall loss.

Wake Forest – They’ve lost all three games against the top 50, but a tough SOS and some road wins have them at 21 in RPI.

Maryland – The Terps might be the luckiest team in America, but luck doesn’t matter much when it comes to assembling a tournament profile. The Terps have wins against Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Georgetown by a combined three points!  But that’s three wins over teams that could make the field.

Surprisingly Good Resumes

Christmas Bracket

It’s still super early, so the eye test factors heavily into the first bracket. But with the OOC portion of the schedule mostly complete, we have a sense of who might be settling onto the bubble and who could be a top seed.

EAST

1 VILLANOVA – 16 Long Island / UMBC

8 Clemson – 9 TCU

5 Florida – 12 UNCW

4 WVU – 13 Monmouth

6 Oregon – 11 Wichita St

3 Creighton – 14 N Mexico St

7 Maryland – 10 Cincinnati

2 Duke – 15 FGCU

SOUTH

1 Baylor – 16 Bucknell

8 Arkansas – 9 Temple

5 Minnesota – 12 Mid Tenn

4 USC – 13 Tennessee St

6 Indiana – 11 UT Arlington

3 Xavier – 14 Chattanooga

7 Oklahoma St – 10 Pitt

2 Louisville – 15 Sam Houston St

MIDWEST

1 Kansas – 16 NC Central

8 Miami – 9 Stanford

5 Purdue – 12 VCU

4 Virginia – 13 Valpo

6 Wisconsin – 11 Wake / Texas A&M

3 Butler – 14 Akron

7 Virginia Tech – 10 Seton Hall

2 Kentucky – 15 TX Southern

WEST

1 UCLA – 16 CS Fullerton / Brown

8 SMU – 9 So Carolina

5 Fla State – 12 Nevada

4 St Mary’s – 13 Fort Wayne

6 Arizona – 11 NC State / Northwestern

3 UNC – 14 Winthrop

7 Notre Dame – 10 Illinois

2 Gonzaga – 15 Eastern Washington

 

THOUGHTS:

– Minnesota and Florida State don’t seem to be great teams, but their resumes are fairly solid at this point. They’re in better tournament shape than most would think.

-On the other hand, West Virginia and Indiana are really disliked by the RPI.  You can’t just schedule a few tough out of conference games, as EVERY game matters to your strength of schedule. Both teams are very good, but both will likely be a seed lower than they were hoping for on Selection Sunday because they played too many poor teams.

-The field is very “meh.” After the top four seed lines, there is a huge drop off.  The bubble will be very weak this year.

-Cincinnati is ranked, but they are headed towards the bubble this year. They are certainly not in as good of shape as most would believe.

 

 

 

 

Christmas Bracket

The One Seed Candidates

We aren’t even halfway through December, but I’m guessing that I could narrow the list of legitimate one seed candidates to less than ten. Without further adieu:

9. Baylor – Wins over Xavier, Louisville, Oregon, and Michigan State look really good on paper.  If they can win the Big XII, they’ll land a one seed. The only problem? I don’t see the Bears winning the Big XII while Kansas has Mason, Graham, and Jackson in the guard rotation.

8. Indiana – The Hoosiers already have wins against Kansas and North Carolina, so a bad loss against Fort Wayne can be forgiven.  But a bad overall non-conference schedule doesn’t help the cause.

7. Louisville – I don’t think the Cardinals will end up on the one line, but they’ll have their chances to get there in an uber-challenging ACC.

6. UCLA – The Bruins have a huge win at Kentucky already on the resume, but the PAC-12 is easily the weakest of the power conferences this season.  This young team will have to be nearly flawless to get on the top line.

5. Kentucky – The Wildcats have a home loss to UCLA and nothing much in the way of good wins, but they still have Kansas and UNC on the non-conference slate to bolster the resume.

4. UNC – The Tar Heels are struggling right now, but they are winning. When healthy, UNC can play with anyone.

3. Villanova – The nation’s top ranked team desperately needs an interior presence that I don’t see in the lineup. But the smartest guards in college basketball could be enough to win the nation’s top RPI-rated league and deliver a one seed to the defending champs.

2. Kansas – The Jayhawks have the best guard play in college basketball, but a tricky Big XII and a road game at Kentucky means the one line will be well-earned.

1. Duke – They’re so incredibly talented. It would be a major disappoint to not be on the one line.

 

 

 

The One Seed Candidates