Bracketology: NCAA tournament projection as of March 10, 2018

  • 03/10/2018 7:12 am in

After another busy day on the hardwood, a number of key bracket-related storylines emerged heading into Saturday, where 14 automatic bids will be handed out.

– On the one line, Kansas leap-frogged Xavier for the one seed in the Midwest by virtue of KU’s win over Kansas State and Xavier’s overtime loss to Providence. Duke is out of the running for a top seed, but North Carolina could potentially sneak onto the one line with a win in the ACC Championship against Virginia.

– Providence and Alabama followed up key wins on Thursday by knocking off Xavier and Auburn, respectively. Those victories cemented a spot in the field for both clubs.

– Nevada got boat-raced by San Diego State in the Mountain West Tournament, which means there will be one less at-large bid available. The Wolf Pack were in either way, but now SDSU or New Mexico will also be dancing.

– USC smashed Oregon to advance to the Pac-12 tournament title game against Arizona. The Trojans still don’t have a win over an at-large lock, but they can remove all doubt by earning the auto-bid.

Over the next day, I will continue to review where teams are currently seeded. Championship Week is awesome from a basketball standpoint, but it doesn’t allow as much time to step back and take a fresh look at how teams stack up.

Here’s a quick reminder of how the selection committee is classifying wins this season.

· Quadrant 1: Home vs. teams ranked 1-30 / Neutral vs. teams ranked 1-50 / Road vs. teams ranked 1-75
· Quadrant 2: Home vs. teams ranked 31-75 / Neutral vs. teams ranked 51-100 / Road vs. teams ranked 76-135
· Quadrant 3: Home vs. teams ranked 76-160 / Neutral vs. teams ranked 101-200 / Road vs. teams ranked 136-240
· Quadrant 4: Home vs. teams ranked 161-351 / Neutral vs. teams ranked 201-351 / Road vs. teams ranked 241-351

The Bracket

The projections below are based on all games played through March 9, 2018. Following the bracket, I included a few thoughts on the last four in and other seven teams I still have in contention.

Charlotte – March 16/18 Pittsburgh – March 15/17
1) Virginia 1) Villanova
16) LIU Brooklyn / AR-Pine Bluff 16) SE Louisiana / Hampton
8)  St. Bonaventure
8) Virginia Tech
9) Creighton 9) Kansas St.
San Diego – March 16/18 Boise – March 15/17
5) Ohio St.
5) Kentucky
12) Western Kentucky 12) Buffalo
4) Texas Tech 4) West Virginia
13) Vermont 13) South Dakota St.
Nashville – March 16/18 Wichita – March 15/17
6) Houston 6) Florida
11) Texas / UCLA 11) Arizona St. / Saint Mary’s
3) Tennessee 3) Michigan
14) Bucknell 14) Montana
Detroit – March 16/18 Charlotte – March 16/18
7) Rhode Island 7) TCU
10) Oklahoma 10) Butler
2) Cincinnati 2) North Carolina
15) Lipscomb
15) UC Irvine
Nashville  – March 16/18 Wichita – March 15/17
1) Xavier 1) Kansas
16) Penn 16) Radford
8) Nevada 8) Missouri
9) Florida St. 9) Providence
San Diego – March 16/18 Boise – March 15/17
5) Gonzaga 5) Clemson
12) New Mexico St. 12) Murray St.
4) Arizona 4) Wichita St.
13) Louisiana 13) San Diego St.
Dallas – March 15/17 Dallas – March 15/17
6) Arkansas 6) Miami (FL)
11) USC
11) Loyola (IL)
3) Michigan St. 3) Auburn
14) UNC-Greensboro 14) Charleston
Pittsburgh – March 15/17 Detroit – March 16/18
7) Seton Hall 7) Texas A&M
10) Alabama 10) NC State
2) Duke 2) Purdue
15) Iona 15) Wright St.

Last Four In:

Texas – I’m ultimately not very worried about the Longhorns, who have six quadrant 1 wins and no bad losses.

UCLA – The Bruins had the chance to lock up a bid by beating Arizona in the Pac-12 semis, and they did manage to take the Wildcats to overtime. Unfortunately UCLA was held scoreless in the extra period, which leaves some doubt about their case. A 3-7 road mark doesn’t look great, but it’s worth noting that all three of their quadrant 1 wins came away from home (at Arizona, at USC, Kentucky on a neutral floor). They have a solid RPI and a good non-conference strength of schedule, but you also can’t ignore a handful of losses to teams outside of the at-large picture.

Arizona State – It’s been a precipitous fall for the Sun Devils, who were ranked in the top five in the nation after beating Xavier and Kansas. The good news is they have home wins over USC and UCLA, a road victory at Utah, and a neutral court win over Kansas State in addition to those two marquee victories. The bad news is they are just 4-6 in quadrant 2 games and have at least five losses to teams with no shot at an at-large.

Saint Mary’s – While predictive metrics like KenPom and BPI really like Saint Mary’s, there isn’t much meat on the actual resume following a WCC tournament loss to BYU. The Gaels have a huge road win at Gonzaga, a home victory over New Mexico State, and a regular season sweep of BYU, but 24 of their 28 victories came against quadrants 3 and 4. They accomplished very little in the non-conference while picking up losses to Georgia and Washington State, and a Saint Mary’s team with a relatively similar profile was left out just a couple years ago. A 10-1 mark in true road games helps the cause, but I wouldn’t be the least bit shocked to see them miss the cut.

Other Teams Considered:

Middle Tennessee – The Blue Raiders rallied to force overtime against Southern Miss in the C-USA quarterfinals, but they fell behind early in OT and could never recover, suffering their first sub-100 defeat of the season in the process. So now they will have to sweat it out despite a gaudy 16-2 record in the league, a Top 10 non-conference strength of schedule, and an impressive 12-1 mark in true road games. The issue, however, is that MTSU has no wins over at-large caliber teams, although they did lose by single digits to Auburn, Miami, and USC in non-conference play.

Oklahoma State – The Cowboys were unable to beat Kansas for a third time on Thursday, but their at-large case is still an intriguing one. They boast five quadrant 1 wins with no losses to teams outside of the Top 65 of the RPI. The main issues are a RPI in the mid-80s and a non-conference strength of schedule hovering in the 280s. And while head-to-head matchups aren’t everything, Oklahoma State was swept by fellow bubbler Baylor.

Louisville – After falling to Virginia once again, the Cardinals are in a difficult spot. The good news is that they don’t have a bad loss, but they also have zero wins against the RPI top 50. The predictive metrics love Louisville, and four of their five best wins have come in road or neutral games.

Baylor – The Bears own four quadrant 1 wins and have just one loss to a team not in the at-large picture. A 2-9 mark in true road games doesn’t help, but they did win beat Creighton on a neutral court back in November. The predictive metrics like the Bears as well, but losing to West Virginia on Thursday night may have been the final nail in the coffin.

Marquette – After a 24-point loss to Villanova, the Golden Eagles are on the outside looking in. They have a 5-5 mark in true road games and a winning record in total road and neutral games to go with four quadrant 1 wins, but none of those have come against a team in the RPI top 25. Four more victories in quadrant 2 help their case, but a loss at DePaul is a clear blemish on their profile.

Notre Dame – The Irish hung with Duke for a while but eventually lost by 18 points. As I mentioned earlier in the week, Notre Dame suffered two of its worst losses while at full strength, and they now have just two wins over at-large caliber teams with everyone healthy. Still, the injury-related aspect of their profile makes the Irish a more compelling case than their resume would suggest.

Syracuse – The Orange made a second half run at North Carolina but eventually lost by nearly 20 points in the ACC tournament. Last Saturday’s home win over Clemson was a huge one for their at-large case, while road wins at Miami and Louisville also fall in quadrant 1. Bad losses at Georgia Tech and Wake Forest are the biggest issues, and it’s worth noting that 13 of Syracuse’s 20 wins fall in quadrants 3 and 4.

Conference Breakdown:

ACC (8): Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Miami (FL), North Carolina, North Carolina State, Virginia, Virginia Tech

SEC (8): Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas A&M

Big 12 (7): Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech, West Virginia

Big East (6): Butler, Creighton, Providence, Seton Hall, Villanova, Xavier

Big Ten (4): Michigan*, Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue

Pac-12 (4): Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA, USC

American (3): Cincinnati, Houston, Wichita State

Atlantic 10 (2): Rhode Island, St. Bonaventure

Mountain West (2): Nevada, San Diego State

West Coast (2): Gonzaga*, Saint Mary’s

America East: Vermont

Atlantic Sun: Lipscomb*

Big Sky: Montana

Big South: Radford*

Big West: UC Irvine

Colonial: Charleston*

Conference USA: Western Kentucky

Horizon: Wright State*

Ivy: Penn

MAAC: Iona*

MAC: Buffalo

MEAC: Hampton

Missouri Valley: Loyola (IL)*

Northeast: LIU Brooklyn*

Ohio Valley: Murray State*

Patriot: Bucknell*

Southern: UNC Greensboro*

Southland: SE Louisiana

SWAC: AR-Pine Bluff

Summit: South Dakota State*

Sun Belt: Louisiana

WAC: New Mexico State

* – Automatic Bid

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