Bracketology: NCAA tournament projection as of January 16, 2018

  • 01/16/2018 8:48 am in

Maybe it’s recency bias, but this season feels like one of the most unpredictable in recent memory, which makes for an interesting weekly exercise in projecting the field. Throw in a big comeback from Kansas on Big Monday, and suddenly I’m reworking the seed list at 11:00 PM. The net result wound up being a pair of newcomers on the top line and five new at-large teams since last week.

Before diving into the one seeds, here’s another reminder of how the NCAA is segmenting wins this season:

· 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

Five teams were in the mix for one seeds this week. Villanova was a no-brainer for one of the spots. Purdue leads the nation in Tier 1 victories with seven, and they have no non-Tier 1 losses with Tennessee and Western Kentucky both continuing to play well. Oklahoma was the next choice thanks to a 5-2 mark in Tier 1 games following wins over Texas Tech and TCU last week.

That left Duke and Virginia for the last spot. The Blue Devils have more Tier 1 victories than Virginia, but the Cavaliers have a pair of wins over Top 20 teams while Duke has zero. Virginia’s lone loss came on the road against West Virginia, which makes it significantly “better” than Duke’s losses at Boston College and NC State. For now, UVA gets the nod, but their grip on a one seed isn’t as firm as you might think.

The Bracket

The projections below are based on all games played through January 15, 2018. Following the bracket, I included a few thoughts on the last four in and last four out.

Pittsburgh – March 15/17 Detroit – March 16/18
1) Villanova 1) Purdue
16) NC Central / Jackson St. 16) Florida Gulf Coast / R. Morris
8) Texas
8) Arkansas
9) Florida St. 9) Providence
Boise – March 15/17 Boise – March 15/17
5) Michigan St.
5) Kentucky
12) South Dakota St. 12) Buffalo
4) Clemson 4) Seton Hall
13) E. Tennessee St. 13) Vermont
Charlotte – March 16/18 Wichita – March 15/17
6) Creighton 6) TCU
11) LSU 11) Houston / Syracuse
3) Auburn 3) North Carolina
14) Stephen F. Austin 14) Murray St.
Detroit – March 16/18 Dallas – March 15/17
7) Rhode Island 7) Florida
10) Missouri 10) Notre Dame
2) West Virginia 2) Texas Tech
15) Iona
15) Cal St. Fullerton
Pittsburgh – March 15/17 Dallas – March 15/17
1) Virginia 1) Oklahoma
16) Penn 16) Radford
8) Marquette 8) Miami (FL)
9) Texas A&M 9) Butler
San Diego – March 16/18 San Diego – March 16/18
5) Cincinnati 5) Tennessee
12) Middle Tennessee 12) New Mexico St.
4) Arizona St. 4) Arizona
13) UL-Lafayette 13) Wright St.
Nashville – March 16/18 Nashville – March 16/18
6) Ohio St. 6) Gonzaga
11) UCLA
11) USC / St. Bonaventure
3) Xavier 3) Wichita St.
14) William & Mary 14) Montana
Wichita – March 15/17 Charlotte – March 16/18
7) Nevada 7) Michigan
10) Louisville 10) Alabama
2) Kansas 2) Duke
15) Drake 15) Bucknell

Last Four In:

Houston – The Cougars enter the field after a pair of double-digit victories last week. The loss to Drexel is an ugly blemish, but wins over Arkansas and Providence in the non-conference help to cover it up.

USC – If not for a Stanford buzzer beater, the Trojans would be riding a five-game winning streak as they head to Oregon this weekend. As it stands, a pair of Tier 1 wins to go with last week’s home victories against Colorado and Utah are enough to earn a spot in the field.

Syracuse – Road losses to Virginia and Florida State extended Cuse’s losing streak to four games and pushed them further toward the bubble. With limited quality wins on their resume, a number of close losses may come back to haunt them in the end.

St. Bonaventure – The fact that the Bonnies’ four best wins have all come in road and neutral games is the main thing keeping them in the field following a blowout loss at Rhode Island last week. It’s looking more and more like the A-10 is a one-bid league.

First Four Out:

Georgia – Losses at Missouri and home to South Carolina dropped the Bulldogs out of the field this week, but they still have five Tier 1 and 2 wins on their profile.

Washington – A win over Kansas is sure to age well, but outside of that, the Huskies have no victories over clear-cut at-large teams. More than half of their wins fall into Tier 4.

Saint Mary’s – Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but relatively poor non-conference scheduling may hurt the Gaels’ at-large hopes. At this point, they have no Tier 1 wins and no victories over at-large caliber teams.

Boise State – The Broncos are 14-3 with a Top 30 RPI, but like Saint Mary’s, they have no Tier 1 victories. For now, they need to keep stacking wins in the Mountain West.

Conference Breakdown:

ACC (9): Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Louisville, Miami (FL), North Carolina, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Virginia

SEC (9): Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Kentucky, LSU, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas A&M

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

Big 12 (6): Kansas, Oklahoma, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech, West Virginia

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

America East: Vermont

Atlantic Sun: Florida Gulf Coast

Big Sky: Montana

Big South: Radford

Big West: Cal St. Fullerton

Colonial: William & Mary

Conference USA: Middle Tennessee

Horizon: Wright State

Ivy: Penn

MAAC: Iona

MAC: Buffalo

MEAC: NC Central

Missouri Valley: Drake

Mountain West: Nevada

Northeast: Robert Morris

Ohio Valley: Murray St.

Patriot: Bucknell

Southern: East Tennessee State

Southland: Stephen F. Austin

SWAC: Jackson State

Summit: South Dakota State

Sun Belt: UL-Lafayette

WAC: New Mexico State

West Coast: Gonzaga

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