Bracket Reaction

What the committee got right:

SMU a six – Both the committee I recognized that 30-4 doesn’t mean much with only two top 50 wins.  Like the committee, I slotted them at a six despite public pressure.

Wichita State a double-digit seed – There were calls for them to be as high as a five.  But losing to Michigan State and Oklahoma State doesn’t merit anything better than a double-digit seed.

Kansas State, USC, and Wake Forest in – The committee and I had the same 68 teams.  All three of the teams mentioned here were in the First Four in my bracket and the committee’s. What separates them from the teams that didn’t make it is they won games against top seeds (Baylor, West Virginia, UCLA, and Louisville) AND they took care of business against bad teams. That cannot be said for Syracuse, Iowa, and Illinois State.

What the committee got wrong:

Northwestern an eight – What exactly did Northwestern do to deserve an eight? They didn’t once beat a great team the whole year, and teams who were seeded worse did (Virginia Tech, Vanderbilt, etc.).

-Iowa State in the Midwest – The committee didn’t have to put Iowa State in the same region as one seed Kansas. Instead, they set them up for a Sweet Sixteen matchup.  While that isn’t against the rules per se, it was an unnecessary move that the committee shouldn’t have made.  This is a national tournament.  We want to see different teams playing, and not just conference matchups.

Wisconsin an eight – You’re telling me Wisconsin and Northwestern were both eights? How could someone watch the Big Ten (or the game between the two yesterday) and think those teams should get the same seed?  I had Wisconsin at a seven, but a strong seven.  Dropping to an eight is unfair to them, Virginia Tech, and Villanova.

All in all, though, there is not much to complain about this year.  The committee did well.

And for those wondering, I selected 68 of 68 teams correctly, and only Northwestern was off by more than one line.  Thanks all of you for following.

Also, if you’re wondering, Duke, Arizona, Kansas, and North Carolina are my Final Four picks.

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Bracket Reaction

My Final 2017 Bracket

This is my final bracket. Thanks for following the site this season.  Now enjoy the show and my bracket:

 

EAST

1 VILLANOVA
16 MOUNT SAINT MARY’S / NEW ORLEANS
     In Buffalo, NY
8 VIRGINIA TECH
9 VCU

5 VIRGINIA
12 UNC-WILMINGTON
     In Buffalo, NY
4 IOWA STATE
13 BUCKNELL

6 CREIGHTON
11 RHODE ISLAND
     In Orlando, FL
3 FLORIDA STATE
14 IONA

7 ARKANSAS
10 NORTHWESTERN
     In Sacramento, CA
2 OREGON
15 NORTH DAKOTA

WEST

1 NORTH CAROLINA
16 NC CENTRAL / UC DAVIS
     In Greenville, SC
8 DAYTON
9 SETON HALL

5 MINNESOTA
12 NEVADA
     In Sacramento, CA
4 UCLA
13 NEW MEXICO STATE

6 SMU
11 WAKE FOREST / OKLAHOMA STATE
     In Orlando, FL
3 FLORIDA
14 FLORIDA GULF COAST

7 MARYLAND
10 XAVIER
     In Salt Lake City, UT
2 GONZAGA
15 TEXAS SOUTHERN

MIDWEST

1 KANSAS
16 SOUTH DAKOTA STATE
     In Tulsa, OK
8 SOUTH CAROLINA
9 MIAMI

5 PURDUE
12 PRINCETON
     In Milwaukee, WI
4 NOTRE DAME
13 VERMONT

6 MICHIGAN
11 KANSAS STATE / USC
     In Indianapolis, IN
3 LOUISVILLE
14 EAST TENNESSEE STATE

7 SAINT MARY’S
10 MICHIGAN STATE
     In Salt Lake City, UT
2 ARIZONA
15 TROY

SOUTH

1 DUKE
16 JACKSONVILLE STATE
     In Greenville, SC
8 VANDERBILT
9 MARQUETTE

5 WEST VIRGINIA
12 MIDDLE TENNESSEE
     In Milwaukee, WI
4 BUTLER
13 WINTHROP

6 CINCINNATI
11 WICHITA STATE
     In Tulsa, OK
3 BAYLOR
14 NORTHERN KENTUCKY

7 WISCONSIN
10 PROVIDENCE
     In Indianapolis, IN
2 KENTUCKY
15 KENT STATE

 

And a special shoutout to Bracket Matrix (www.bracketmatrix.com) for keeping tabs on everyone this season.

My Final 2017 Bracket

Some bracket tidbits

Today is Selection Sunday! We made it!

Well, 68 teams did. Who they are will be revealed later this evening, and my final bracket will be revealed shortly. Here, though, are my big predictions:

WICHITA STATE AN 11 SEED – The vast majority of bracketologists have Wichita State as a single-digit seed, with some even predicting they’ll get a five seed. While I won’t be surprised if they make the 8/9 game, I am going against the grain and predicting Wichita State will get a double-digit seed. I have the Shockers pegged at an 11. While they’re clearly a great team with just four losses, they also have only three top 100 wins (against Colorado State and Illinois State twice). With losses to Oklahoma State in Wichita (in a blowout) and Michigan State on a neutral court, how can a team with ZERO wins against the NCAA field deserve a single-digit seed? Don’t get me wrong, the Shockers are a nightmare draw for whoever gets them. But their resume says double-digit seed, and that’s why they’re at an 11 for me.

GONZAGA A TWO – The Zags were a number one seed when the committee revealed their “bracket preview” a month ago. And very few bracketologists moved them off the one line after they lost at home to BYU. But I am once again going against the grain, and dropping the Zags to a two. Of course, Gonzaga boasts neutral court wins against Florida, Arizona, and Iowa State. But they also have much worse schedule numbers than any other one seed contender, and their home loss to BYU is the worst loss of any one seed contender.

SMU A SIX AT BEST – Again, I’m sure my lower seeding will surprise many. There is no doubt the Mustangs are rolling, but I am hesitant to put SMU as high as some of my bracket brethren. While they have only four losses and are on absolute tear, they also have only one win against a really strong team (once over Cincinnati, who also finds themselves down in the five/six range). Additionally, SMU has the same issue Wichita State has – they didn’t get it done out of conference. USC beat the Mustangs, and SMU got smashed by Michigan on a neutral floor. Are they a six or seven seed I’d want to draw? No, but they really are getting a fair deal at a six or seven.

VANDY IS IN EASILY – Many think Vanderbilt should be out because no team has ever made the tournament with fifteen losses. But the Commodores played the second-toughest schedule in the country and the nation’s toughest out of conference schedule. They also have a massive sweep of Florida, home wins over Iowa State and South Carolina, and a road win at Arkansas. Yes, they have an UGLY loss at Missouri (by 20!), but that sounds like a tournament team to me. I have them at an eight!

SYRACUSE IS OUT – Right after the buzzer sounded on Syracuse’s loss to Miami in the ACC Tournament, ESPN color commentator LaPhonso Ellis indicated he had no doubt the Orange were going to make the NCAAs. Well, I have more than a doubt. I don’t think they actually will make the tournament. They beat Duke, Virginia, Florida State, Wake Forest, and Miami. No doubt, that’s impressive. But ALL of those wins were at home. They have exactly TWO wins outside of the Carrier Dome this season. That’s not just bad; that’s awful. In addition, they have a mid-80s RPI, a poor out of conference strength of schedule, and bad losses to Boston College, Saint John’s (by 33 at home!), and UConn. No, I won’t be shocked if the Orange make it, but I do not expect their name to be called by Greg Gumbel.

RHODE ISLAND AND KANSAS STATE ARE BOTH IN – Both the Rams and Wildcats have some serious resume flaws, but I don’t think the committee has to take one or the other. I think both get in over Syracuse and Illinois. As you know, I’ve been high on Illinois’s chances. If the Illini make it, I’ll be kicking myself for not including them. But firing their coach makes that too nervy of a selection for me.

Some bracket tidbits

One Seed Picture

The NCAA revealed yesterday that the PAC-12 and ACC Championships impacted the one seed race.

Based on that, I am adjusting my one seed Picture.  I still believe Villanova, Kansas, and UNC deserve one seeds.  That said, who was still alive based on those two title games impacting the bracket? I’m guessing Oregon and Duke were still in play, while Gonzaga would get a one if both Oregon and Duke lost (based on head-to-head over Arizona).

So, my one seeds will be:

Villanova in the East, Kansas in the Midwest, Duke in the South, and North Carolina in the West.

Gonzaga is the two in the West, Arizona the two in the Midwest, Kentucky the two in the South, and Oregon the two in the East.

I will reveal more of my picks as the day progresses, as I work through everything.

One Seed Picture

My Field is Set

I have chosen Kansas State and Rhode Island as my last two at-large teams.

Illinois drops out following a series of Saturday events:

-Northwestern gets destroyed by Wisconsin, making that sweep less impressive.

-Rhode Island doesn’t just beat a good Davidson team, but crushes them.  In front of an anxious audience, they looked the part of a tournament team.

-Most importantly, ILLINOIS FIRED JOHN GROCE!  🔥 Even if the committee wanted to put Illinois in, how do you when they just fired their coach?

So, my field of 68 is set, with USC, Kansas State, Wake Forest, and Rhode Island just making it.

My Field is Set

ONE SEED CONTENDERS

See the two posts below this one for a look at the Tournament Picture and the Friday bracket. But let’s talk one seeds.

The one seed competition is almost over. I am confident three of the one seeds are pretty much taken at this point: Villanova, Kansas, and North Carolina (even though I wouldn’t go as far as saying UNC is a lock).

That leaves just one spot on the top line between these teams:

OREGON – The Ducks are lacking victories over top competition (only Arizona and UCLA at home could be considered great wins). They do, however, have a lot of good wins (16 top 100 wins currently), a Dillon Brooks injury excuse, and just four losses. Odds are they will end up on the top line if they beat Cal and the Arizona/UCLA winner.

GONZAGA – The Bulldogs are knocking on the door for a one seed, and most bracketologists have them there. Unlike them, I do not. While the wins over Florida, Arizona, and Iowa State are great, it’s unlikely the committee gives the same deference to their wins over Saint Mary’s. And losing at home to BYU is a bad loss, regardless of what the RPI says. I can see a path to the one line, but I don’t expect the Zags to be there. It’s more likely that another power conference tournament champion bumps them from the one line.

ARIZONA – IF Arizona beats Oregon tonight, the Wildcats would enter the NCAAs with two wins over UCLA and one over Oregon. But Arizona would still only have six top 50 wins and an earlier ugly blowout at Oregon. They would have one other major obstacle; the committee would have to choose Arizona over one-loss Gonzaga, who beat them on a neutral court.

KENTUCKY – It doesn’t seem that many are talking about Kentucky for the one line, so I will. Coach Cal’s team has a strong nine top 50 wins and a chance to add three good wins to the resume. Because the SEC final is Sunday, the committee may not have time to consider the result of that one. That could potentially help or hurt them. The home loss to UCLA could be problematic if both teams are in position to get the last one seed. On the other hand, if UNC loses to Duke and the Cats win the SEC Tournament, Kentucky’s win over UNC in December could push UNC to the one out West. Kentucky could then get their favored South regional placement.

My prediction: Kentucky will get the one if they win the SEC final.  If they lose, Oregon will get it if they win the PAC-12.  If both lose, Gonzaga gets the one seed by virtue of their win over Arizona.

 

ONE SEED CONTENDERS

Tournament Picture

See the post below this for Friday’s new bracket. But the tournament picture is getting quite clear.  Precious few spots remain up for grabs, and today’s results will have a huge impact on who makes it (Vandy’s win over Florida and Northwestern’s win over Maryland have already taken two spots from contention).

There are 32 automatic bids to the tournament, and nine conferences that already have at least two locks. So 31 of the 36 at-large bids are already spoken for by:

A-10 (1) – Dayton

AAC (2) – Cincinnati, SMU

ACC (8) – Florida State, UNC, Louisville, Virginia, Notre Dame, Duke, Miami, Virginia Tech

Big XII (5) – Kansas, Baylor, West Virginia, Iowa State, Oklahoma State

Big East (7) – Villanova, Butler, Creighton, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall, Xavier

Big Ten (7) – Northwestern, Wisconsin, Maryland, Purdue, Minnesota, Michigan State, Michigan

SEC (5) – Kentucky, Florida, South Carolina, Arkansas, Vanderbilt

Pac-12 (3) – UCLA, Oregon, Arizona

WCC (2) – Gonzaga, St. Mary’s

There are also three teams that should be in the tournament, but aren’t locks. If they all make it, the bubble would be down to just two spots left. The following teams can likely lose out and make the field, but it’s not guaranteed:

VCU – Dayton and MTSU are the only wins toner excited about, and those aren’t very exciting.  So while VCU is almost sure to go dancing, I can’t lock them yet after beating George Mason.  They should be fine, though.

Wake Forest – Danny Manning is no stranger to success in March, and his Demon Deacons should be dancing after avoiding a bad loss to Boston College in the first round of the ACC tournament. With wins over Louisville and Miami at home, and Virginia Tech on the road, expect Danny Manning’s team to dance even after they fell to Virginia Tech on Wednesday. No matter what happens elsewhere, this resume is not strong enough to support a lock. But I expect Manning’s team to dance.

USC – The Trojans have a very blah profile.  That is to say, they’ll probably make it after posting wins over UCLA and SMU.  But I hope their fans are looking forward to vacationing in Dayton.

The next tier are those truly on the cut line (only two of these teams will likely make it as an at-large):

Kansas State – The Baylor win moved them to my last spot in.  I’m not sure they will be able to hold that position after the West Virginia loss.  They are a cut line team, for sure.  There will be lots of discussion about this team in the committee room.

Illinois – The Illini would’ve been dancing with a win over Michigan.  Instead, the Wolverines beat them down without even putting on real uniforms.  Illinois is barely holding onto a spot in my bracket.  This is a team nobody is talking about as being a bubble contender (seriously, on Bracket Matrix right now only Shelby Mast and Warren Nolan have them in besides me). But not only are they a bubble contender, I think they’re likely in.

Syracuse – The Orange have six top 50 wins, a winning ACC record, and most of the country is calling for them to be in.  I am not one of them, however.  I said earlier this week I thought the Miami game would be do-or-die for them, and they lost.  I stand by it.  I expect the Orange to just miss.

Middle Tennessee – The Blue Raiders beat UTEP in the CUSA semis.  That win might be enough to get them in.  At this point, I think MTSU will need the auto bid.

Illinois State – I don’t see it happening for the RedBirds.  Too many bubble teams have made progress this week while ISU has had to sit at home and watch.  They’ll be right in the thick of the discussions, but the lack of quality wins will likely get them in the end.

Rhode Island – The Rams must make the A-10 title game to have a shot at making the field.  Because the A-10 title game is on Sunday, the committee will know whether they decided to include Rhode Island before that title game even tips.  Rhode Island’s at-large hopes were severely hampered by the loss Dayton took to Davidson, which gives the Rams one less chance to get a top 50 win.

The last tier is teams needing a shocking committee decision to include them:

Nevada – It’s possible because of all the top 100 wins, but it’s quite unlikely after getting swept by Fresno State.

Georgia – Do I expect Georgia to get in?  Not at all.  But I can’t completely discount the notion.  Georgia did beat Vanderbilt, and they have eight top 100 wins with one the nation’s best overall and non-conference strength of schedules.  So, don’t expect to see Georgia in the tournament. But if you’re looking for a drop the jaw selection, it could be Georgia.

Cal – They shouldn’t get in, but maybe the committee likes the PAC?

 

Tournament Picture