Bracketology: NCAA tournament projection as of January 9, 2018

  • 01/09/2018 8:17 am in

Following an upset-laden week of action on the hardwood, I contemplated pushing back the first set of in-season projections, but there’s no reason to believe the unpredictability will end anytime soon.

Before looking at the one seeds, I wanted to give a quick reminder about how the NCAA selection committee is now classifying wins. The RPI is still being used to segment them, but where the game was played now takes on additional importance.

A quick look at the four tiers:

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

One Seeds

At this point, the list of teams in the one seed mix is a lengthy one, but Villanova and West Virginia were the easiest choices. Both have just one loss with Villanova falling at Butler and West Virginia losing to Texas A&M in Germany to open the season. Villanova has a pair of Tier 1 wins, and West Virginia has three, including Saturday’s victory over Oklahoma.

After that, things get interesting. I gave Virginia the nod for one of the other spots. The Cavaliers are now ranked second in the RPI after beating North Carolina over the weekend. Their lone loss came on the road against aforementioned West Virginia, but they’ve picked up a handful of solid road and neutral court wins already.

I gave the last one seed to Duke despite losses at Boston College and NC State, both of which fall into Tier 2. The Blue Devils still own three Tier 1 wins and lead the nation in Tier 1 and 2 victories with eight, not to mention a non-conference strength of schedule ranked among the nation’s best. If Duke can’t get its defensive issues figured out, they won’t be on the one line for long.

Purdue was the fifth team on my seed list. The Boilers are one of just three teams with four Tier 1 wins (Kansas and Cincinnati are the others). Their two losses came in the Battle 4 Atlantis, but the loss to Tennessee doesn’t seem nearly as bad as it did at the time. Purdue also boasts four strong road/neutral wins over Arizona, Butler, Marquette, and Maryland, which are the kinds of victories that stand out to the committee.

If you wanted to argue for Xavier or Oklahoma on the one line, that’s completely reasonable. Given what we’ve seen so far, this seed line will be fluid to say the least.

The Bracket

The projections below are based on all games played through January 8, 2018. Following the bracket, I included a few thoughts on the last four in and last four out.

Pittsburgh – March 15/17 Pittsburgh – March 15/17
1) Villanova 1) West Virginia
16) Morgan St. / Texas Southern 16) Iona
8) Rhode Island
8) Ohio St.
9) Michigan 9) Notre Dame
Boise – March 15/17 Wichita – March 15/17
5) Auburn
5) Tennessee
12) Missouri St. 12) Buffalo
4) North Carolina 4) Clemson
13) South Dakota St. 13) Vermont
Detroit – March 16/18 Dallas – March 15/17
6) Miami (FL) 6) Gonzaga
11) SMU 11) Providence / St. Bonaventure
3) Michigan St. 3) Wichita St.
14) William & Mary 14) Northern Kentucky
Dallas – March 15/17 Nashville – March 16/18
7) Butler 7) Arkansas
10) Georgia 10) UCLA
2) Oklahoma 2) Xavier
15) Montana
15) Stephen F. Austin
Charlotte – March 16/18 Charlotte – March 16/18
1) Duke 1) Virginia
16) Bucknell 16) Penn / St. Francis (PA)
8) Nevada 8) Texas A&M
9) Missouri 9) Texas
Boise – March 15/17 San Diego – March 16/18
5) Cincinnati 5) Arizona
12) Middle Tennessee 12) New Mexico St.
4) Kansas 4) TCU
13) UL-Lafayette 13) Lipscomb
Nashville – March 16/18 Wichita – March 15/17
6) Florida St. 6) Kentucky
11) Maryland / Baylor
11) Marquette
3) Seton Hall 3) Texas Tech
14) ETSU 14) Murray St.
San Diego – March 16/18 Detroit – March 16/18
7) Creighton 7) Florida
10) Washington 10) Syracuse
2) Arizona St. 2) Purdue
15) UC-Davis 15) Radford

Last Four In:

Providence – Injuries have impacted the Friars’ season, but they picked up a huge win on Saturday by knocking off Xavier. Three Tier 1 wins have them in the field…for now.

St. Bonaventure – Recent road losses to Dayton and St. Joe’s have the Bonnies on the brink, but a 3-1 mark in Tier 1 games (including wins over fellow bubblers Maryland and Syracuse) are enough to earn a spot in the First Four.

Maryland – All four of Maryland’s losses fall into Tier 1, but outside of a win over Butler, they haven’t knocked off any potential tournament teams. Without Justin Jackson, it’s difficult to see them hanging onto a spot in the field.

Baylor – The Bears boast a neutral court win over Creighton and just knocked off Texas on Saturday, but a non-con strength of schedule in the 290s isn’t doing them any favors.

First Four Out:

Minnesota – A win at Providence coupled with a neutral court victory over Alabama certainly help for bubble purposes, but there isn’t much meat on the Gophers’ resume.

Alabama – The Tide started the season well but haven’t won consecutive games in over a month. Wins over Rhode Island and Texas A&M at home are solid, but there’s work to do on the road.

Houston – If not for an early loss to Drexel, the Cougars would be in the field. As it stands, they have a decent resume with a blowout win at home over Arkansas and a neutral court win over Providence. Perhaps there’s some recency bias here after watching them get smoked by Wichita State last week.

Louisville – With zero Tier 1 or Tier 2 wins, I just can’t justify including the Cardinals right now. They don’t have a bad loss, and the ACC will provide opportunities to improve their profile as the season moves forward.

Conference Breakdown:

ACC (8): Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Miami (FL), North Carolina, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Virginia

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

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

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

Big Ten (5): Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue

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

American (3): Cincinnati, SMU, Wichita State

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

America East: Vermont

Atlantic Sun: Lipscomb

Big Sky: Montana

Big South: Radford

Big West: UC-Davis

Colonial: William & Mary

Conference USA: Middle Tennessee

Horizon: Northern Kentucky

Ivy: Penn

MAAC: Iona

MAC: Buffalo

MEAC: Morgan State

Missouri Valley: Missouri State

Mountain West: Nevada

Northeast: St. Francis (PA)

Ohio Valley: Murray St.

Patriot: Bucknell

Southern: East Tennessee State

Southland: Stephen F. Austin

SWAC: Texas Southern

Summit: South Dakota State

Sun Belt: UL-Lafayette

WAC: New Mexico State

West Coast: Gonzaga

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