11/26 Bracket

This first bracket of the year factors in the “eye test” way more than later brackets will. Not enough games have been played for that to be only a minor factor. That said, the results do matter.  That’s why neither Purdue nor Arizona are in the bracket, after meeting in the seventh place game at the Battle for Atlantis.

EAST

1 Duke
16 Brown / Army

8 West Virginia
9 Xavier

5 Texas Tech
12 Vermont

4 Wichita State
13 Wagner

6 Miami
11 Seton Hall

3 Florida
14 Towson

7 Rhode Island
10 Syracuse

2 Texas A&M
15 NC A&T

WEST

1 Villanova
16 UNC Asheville / TN Tech

8 Utah
9 Texas

5 Temple
12 Ole Miss / St Mary’s

4 Arizona State
13 South Dakota St

6 Gonzaga
11 UCLA

3 Virginia
14 Hawaii

7 UNLV
10 UT-Arlington

2 Kentucky
15 Prairie View A&M

MIDWEST

1 Kansas
16 Montana State

8 Creighton
9 Missouri

5 Louisville
12 Washington State

4 Cincinnati
13 Toledo

6 Alabama
11 TCU

3 Minnesota
14 Grand Canyon

7 Colorado
10 Providence

2 Michigan State
15 Rider

SOUTH

1 UNC
16 Lamar

8 Arkansas
9 Wyoming

5 Florida State
12 Oklahoma / Penn State

4 USC
13 Milwaukee

6 Nevada
11 Northern Iowa

3 Baylor
14 FGCU

7 Louisiana Tech
10 Tennessee

2 Notre Dame
15 Furman

 

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11/26 Bracket

Some Early Thoughts

It’s time for some more early season thoughts:

-Undefeated BAYLOR finds themselves in good tournament shape already after winning the CBE Hall of Fame Classic. Both of their wins in Kansas City (over Wisconsin and Creighton) should end up as at least Tier Two wins, though both (especially Creighton) could end up as Tier One wins. More importantly, opportunities loom on the horizon. If they can win at Xavier and beat Wichita State, these Bears will start to look like a one seed contender.

-VIRGINIA TECH is in some trouble. The Hokies own a neutral court win over Washington, but that shouldn’t do much, if anything, to boost the resume. With a neutral court loss to Saint Louis already in the books, a second OOC loss could prove fatal. That’s because an already weak non-conference schedule appears even weaker with Iowa struggling. Winning at Ole Miss isn’t a must, but it will be an uphill climb without it.

-The best power conference title race will probably be in the SEC. Kentucky and Florida both look like they could make the Elite Eight or beyond, but it’s TEXAS A&M that has the league’s best resume. They’ve already secured neutral site victories over West Virginia, Oklahoma State, and Penn State.

-NORTHWESTERN famously made the tournament for the first time last year, but the odds may be against a return this season. In addition to a home loss to Creighton, they were absolutely pummeled by Texas Tech. Their victories have also not only been unhelpful to the resume, but they’ve also been unconvincing. This is a team that was slightly overseeded last year, and was never going to live up to this year’s hype.

-WICHITA STATE hasn’t exactly been cruising in Maui, but their chances at a top two seed will dramatically improve if they can pair a win over Marquette with a championship over Notre Dame, who figures to compete for a top three seed, as well.

-KANSAS finds themselves sorely lacking depth while freshman Billy Preston is held out pending an investigation into a car he was driving. Nevertheless, the Jayhawks are absolutely crushing all of their opponents outside of Kentucky. That said, while they have a Tier 1 win locked up, their non-conference schedule isn’t providing many chances for Tier 1 wins (as Washington, Arizona State, Stanford, and Nebraska don’t appear as formidable as their power conference status would indicate). At worst, they’ll need to go 1-1 against Syracuse and Texas A&M. But with the Big XII lacking another top 15 team, 2-0 would make things a whole lot easier.

-Coming into the year, it looked like UTAH had a shot at two Tier 1 wins by having Missouri and Ole Miss on the schedule. But Ole Miss isn’t guaranteed to even finish as a Tier Two win, let alone a Tier One. And Missouri is going to be playing without Michael Porter Jr. for the season. While it sounds like the undefeated Utes are in great shape, their resume is weaker than it would appear.

-WYOMING is flying under the radar. Still unbeaten, their wins over South Dakota State and Louisiana at the Cayman Islands Classic could both prove to be Tier 1/2 quality wins. In addition, they have a HUGE opportunity to bolster their profile by facing Cincinnati in the finals.

-While Wyoming is playing well, the MOUNTAIN WEST had a rough Tuesday. Fresno State lost to Evansville, Pacific beat Air Force, and Tennessee Tech defeated New Mexico. Nevada did manage to top Davidson, but this is only looking like a one or two bid league.

-The resume isn’t overwhelming, but it is solid for TEMPLE. The Owls are unbeaten and the neutral court win over Clemson could end up having more mileage than it would first appear.

-Check out the BIG XII. They only have four total losses and two of those were by Iowa State, winners of three straight and a holiday tournament. Texas Tech annihilated Northwestern, Kansas beat Kentucky in Chicago, and Baylor beat Wisconsin and Creighton. So while their schedules might not be the best, there is some serious heft in there.

Some Early Thoughts

Early Bracket Impacts

The season has just started, but the bracket is already being impacted by games that have taken place.

WINNERS –

Duke and Kansas – These two challenged themselves by signing up for the Champions Classic. Though Duke looked better than Kansas, both teams got a guaranteed quality win (over Michigan State and Kentucky, respectively). Kansas may be the bigger benefactor, though, as this gives them inside position for the one seed in Omaha (especially since Michigan State took a loss).

Texas A&M – The Aggies surprised the country not necessarily by beating West Virginia, but by doing so convincingly. WVU likely won’t be in the running for a one or two seed this year, but this should still be a Tier 1 resume win, as it occurred on a neutral court against a likely RPI top 50 opponent.

Maryland – The Terps scored an important home win over Butler. Of note, the committee changed the team sheets to make wins at home “Tier 1” wins only if that opponent is in the RPI top 30, rather than the traditional top 50. This will be a boost to Maryland’s resume regardless, but it may even be a Tier 1 win.

Minnesota – Providence should have a strong year and the Gophers beat them on a neutral court. I expect this will hold up as a Tier 1 win and will be a big boon to their chances of landing a protected seed.

Creighton – The Bluejays appear more likely than not to make the NCAAs after winning at Northwestern. Starting this year, all road wins over top 75 teams are considered Tier 1 wins. Expect this one to be in that category.

LOSERS –

West Virginia – Losing to Texas A&M is a big deal because WVU does not have a good non-conference schedule. Virginia and Kentucky are the only two potential quality wins OOC. Sometimes the first game of the season is more important to a team’s seed than most realize. This is one of those cases, as this likely will cost WVU a seed line.

Wake Forest – With home losses to Georgia Southern and Liberty, Wake’s NCAA chances are already on life support. The Deacs will have to be shockingly good from here on out to go dancing.

Pitt – Kevin Stallings is looking like a disaster of a hire. Pitt has lost to Navy and Montana. Like Wake Forest, they seemed destined for a double-digit ACC standings finish (and probably dead last).

The American Athletic Conference – Wichita State moved to a much better league, but their new conference mates aren’t doing them any SOS favors. USF, Tulsa, and ECU all have horrible losses, and Memphis was no match for Alabama.

Michigan State – The Big Ten is looking very strong early, so there will be plenty of opportunities to grab the Midwest’s #1 seed. However, Kansas already has a big win over Kentucky and an advantage in the loss column and the Phil Knight Invitational may only provide one chance for a top 50 neutral court win, as there is no guarantee Oregon and/or UConn will be top 50. I still believe the Spartans will get a one seed, but winning their Phil Knight Invitational bracket would do wonders for their resume.

Early Bracket Impacts

Preseason Picks

The 2017-18 college basketball season starts Friday, so I’ll post some picks here to see how wrong I am by March and April.

Champions Classic Predictions –

Duke 81 Michigan State 74

Kansas 88 Kentucky 76

Major Conference Champs (regular season) –

Duke in the ACC

Kentucky in the SEC

Dayton in the A-10

Villanova in the Big East

Kansas in the Big XII (which would become an NCAA record 14th straight title)

Arizona in the PAC-12

Wichita State in the AAC

Michigan State in the Big Ten

The one seeds –

Duke in the East

Kansas in the Midwest

Michigan State in the South

Arizona in the West

The Final Four –

Duke wins it all.  Wichita State, Michigan State, and Missouri join them there.

 

Preseason Picks

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.

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