Bracketology: NCAA tournament projection as of February 20, 2018

  • 02/20/2018 8:04 am in

A slew of losses took a flamethrower to the top 16 seeds revealed by the selection committee just over a week ago. That may sound like hyperbole, but consider that of the top eight seed lines in my projections from last week, 23 of the 32 teams lost at least once. In total, that group of teams dropped 31 games.

Meanwhile, nearly every team around the cut line managed to win over the weekend, making the exercise of projecting the field particularly difficult this week. At this point, there is very little separation among teams across multiple seed lines in the middle of the bracket as well as among the final eight teams I reviewed for the last three at-large spots in the field.

That should make for an interesting last few weeks of the season, and some long nights for those of us trying to predict how the committee will sort it all out.

Here’s your weekly reminder of how the NCAA selection committee is now classifying games:

· 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 February 19, 2018. Following the bracket, I included a few thoughts on the last four in and first five out.

SOUTH (ATLANTA)   EAST (BOSTON)
Charlotte – March 16/18 Pittsburgh – March 15/17
1) Virginia 1) Villanova
16) Nicholls St. / Southern 16) FGCU / Savannah St.
8) Oklahoma
8) Florida St.
9) Providence 9) TCU
Boise – March 15/17 San Diego – March 16/18
5) Kentucky
5) Ohio St.
12) Loyola (IL) 12) Middle Tennessee
4) Wichita St. 4) West Virginia
13) Vermont 13) East Tennessee St.
Dallas – March 15/17 Wichita – March 15/17
6) Texas A& 6) Arizona St.
11) Saint Mary’s 11) St. Bonaventure / LSU
3) Texas Tech 3) Cincinnati
14) Belmont 14) Rider
Detroit – March 16/18 Charlotte – March 16/18
7) Arkansas 7) Creighton
10) Virginia Tech 10) Texas
2) Purdue 2) Duke
15) Bucknell
15) Wagner
WEST (LOS ANGELES)   MIDWEST (OMAHA)
Wichita – March 15/17 Nashville – March 16/18
1) Kansas 1) Xavier
16) Harvard 16) Winthrop
8) Nevada 8) Florida
9) Seton Hall 9) Miami (FL)
San Diego – March 16/18 Boise – March 15/17
5) Gonzaga 5) Rhode Island
12) New Mexico St. 12) Buffalo
4) Arizona 4) Tennessee
13) Louisiana 13) South Dakota St.
Dallas – March 15/17 Detroit – March 16/18
6) Alabama 6) Missouri
11) Kansas St.
11) Baylor / Washington
3) Clemson 3) Michigan St.
14) UC Santa Barbara 14) Charleston
Nashville – March 16/18 Pittsburgh – March 15/17
7) Michigan 7) Houston
10) NC State 10) Butler
2) Auburn 2) North Carolina
15) Montana 15) Wright St.

Last Four In:

Baylor – The Bears have now won five straight, including wins over Kansas and Texas Tech at home and Texas on the road, to play their way into the field. They have a total of four quadrant 1 victories and no losses outside of the top two quadrants. Baylor also fares well in the predictive metrics like KenPom, BPI, and Sagarin, and the remaining schedule offers additional chances at quality wins with home games remaining against West Virginia and Oklahoma to go with road trips to TCU and Kansas State.

St. Bonaventure – After taking care of business in a must-win game against Rhode Island, the Bonnies have won eight straight. They are 3-2 in quadrant 1 games and 7-4 against the top two quadrants to go with seven true road victories, which the committee will look upon favorably. That being said, a pair of quadrant 3 losses and a general lack of wins over at-large caliber teams leaves St. Bonaventure with little room for error with four games remaining in A-10 play.

Washington – The weekend was a mixed bag for the Huskies, who dropped their third straight game in a home loss to Utah before bouncing back to beat Colorado. For now, wins over Kansas in Kansas City and both Arizona schools at home are keeping Washington in the field. The early bracket reveal certainly drove home the importance of quality wins in the eyes of the committee, so hopefully this selection (and especially the next one) isn’t an overreaction in that regard. The Huskies would be wise to win out with road games against Stanford and Cal followed by home dates with the Oregon schools, as the predictive metrics certainly aren’t doing them any favors.

LSU – As was the case last week, this is definitely a selection influenced by the February 12th reveal. The Tigers now have 11 losses, but they also have seven quadrant 1 wins, including road victories at Texas A&M and Arkansas. Those seven victories are huge, but it’s worth noting that LSU is 1-5 in quadrant 2 games and also has a loss to Stephen F. Austin. At some point, the sheer volume of losses will be too much to overcome, which means LSU probably needs to go at least 3-1 in remaining games against Vanderbilt at home, on the road against Georgia and South Carolina, and home versus Mississippi State.

First Five Out:

UCLA – It was a close call for the last few spots, and if you want to put the Bruins in the field, I won’t complain. Wins at Arizona and on a neutral floor against Kentucky are their only ones against teams firmly in the field, although a trio of home wins over Washington, USC, and Utah are also helpful. Still, they are just 2-5 in true road games and are hovering around 50th in most predictive and results-based metrics. UCLA closes the season with three road games (Utah, Colorado, and USC), giving them a golden opportunity to improve upon one of the main weaknesses on their profile.

Syracuse – The Orange rebounded from a home loss to NC State by winning at Miami on Saturday and currently sit just inside the RPI Top 40. They have three quadrant 1 victories, although the aforementioned Miami win and a home victory over Virginia Tech are the only ones over at-large teams in my projected field. Winning at Louisville helps for bubble purposes, but my concern is that there just aren’t any top-end victories on the profile. That could change this week if they are able to knock off UNC at home or Duke on the road.

Louisville – It’s now been a month since the Cardinals knocked off a team in the upper half of the ACC, and that lack of quality wins has started to catch up with them. The good news is they don’t have a loss to anyone outside of the RPI Top 50, but with just two wins over at-large caliber teams, that only means so much. The Cardinals finish with three of their last four games on the road, starting with trips to Duke and Virginia Tech this week.

Marquette – After losing five of their last six games, the Golden Eagles picked up a huge road win at Creighton on Saturday night. Much like Louisville, they don’t really have a bad loss, but they’ve also swept Seton Hall and won at Providence. A win in Maui over LSU helps for bubble purposes, but like the Tigers, the overall volume of losses is hard to totally ignore. The next three games feature a home date with St. John’s and road trips to DePaul and Georgetown, and with star guard Markus Howard’s status uncertain, they need to find a way to avoid a slip-up.

Georgia – The Bulldogs had been pushed to the brink of the bubble at 4-8 in the SEC and trailing by double digits at Florida, but they managed to pull off a late comeback before winning in overtime and followed it up by knocking off Tennessee on Saturday. Georgia now has five quadrant 1 victories and is 9-8 across the top two quadrants. So what’s the issue? A trip of quadrant 3 losses as well as a road loss at Vanderbilt are the main blemishes, although their predictive metrics aren’t particularly compelling either. This week features a trip to South Carolina and a home date against LSU.

Conference Breakdown:

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

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

Big 12 (8): Baylor, 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 (3): Arizona, Arizona State, Washington

American (3): Cincinnati, Houston, Wichita State

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

West Coast (2): Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s

America East: Vermont

Atlantic Sun: Florida Gulf Coast

Big Sky: Montana

Big South: Winthrop

Big West: UC Santa Barbara

Colonial: Charleston

Conference USA: Middle Tennessee

Horizon: Wright State

Ivy: Harvard

MAAC: Rider

MAC: Buffalo

MEAC: Savannah State

Missouri Valley: Loyola (IL)

Mountain West: Nevada

Northeast: Wagner

Ohio Valley: Belmont

Patriot: Bucknell

Southern: East Tennessee State

Southland: Nicholls State

SWAC: Southern

Summit: South Dakota State

Sun Belt: Louisiana

WAC: New Mexico State

Filed to:

  • Logical Lurker

    Are the lower tiers of the ACC/Big12/SEC really THAT MUCH better than the Big10? We’re a 4 team league this year … I know it’s a down year, but is our 5th place team that much worse than the 8th place teams in those other leagues?

  • Hoosier_Elvis

    The biggest thing that sticks out to me…other than the BIG 10 only having 4 teams, is the SEC. 9 teams in! Really! I can’t believe our 5, 6, 7 teams aren’t better than some of those guys. I guess I haven’t followed the SEC very closely this year.

  • E Foy McNaughton

    I totally understand that early season losses to ISU, IPFW, and later losses to Wisconsin and Illinois (albeit on the road), look bad. I also get that I’m an IU fan and have rose colored glasses. But I honestly feel IU would have a 50/50 shot on a neutral court against: Kentucky, LSU, Missouri, North Carolina State, Virginia Tech, Kansas State, Oklahoma, TCU, West Virginia, Butler, Creighton, Providence, Seton Hall.

    Sure hope we win out and make a run in the B1G tournament.

  • Apoc

    They are not. Minny beat Alabama @ Alabama. Illinois beat Mizzou @ Mizzou. This seeding is embarrassing. Alabama has been hanging their hat on an OU win that is looking less impressive by the day. Mizzou did absolutely nothing in their non-conference. Don’t even know why Georgia & LSU are even mentioned at all at 15-11.

    Big 12 will flop like they normally do.

    IMHO, the ACC is much more deserving. There should be 1-2 more B1G and Pac-12 teams in there, and if not them, there has to be other deserving mid-majors out there that should get a shot as well.

  • VOXAC30

    We had a chance to prove it during the ACC Big Fail Challenge and the Big 10 as a whole laid an egg. I agree our league down but by that much?

    I wonder how the attendance will be at the Big 10 Tournament and if the exposure versus ticket sales will be worth it. Who can afford to go to NYC for the games…. I know not me.

  • jayrig5

    Iknow it’s not the most important factor, but there have been years the Big Ten won things like that (cough) and the conference champ was handed a #5 seed in the NCAA tournament.

  • VOXAC30

    If I had to guess I would say Trae Young because I cannot think of another reason.

    PTS AST
    28.3 9.2

  • VOXAC30

    If you are a BIG10 fan then maybe Purdue, Michigan State, OSU, and Michigan should all lose in the tourney so teams like Indiana and Penn State can get quality wins in the BIG10 and make it to the dance.

    I’m sorry I say this in jest because of what one of the announcers said during a tournament discussion. They said if your a Big10 fan then may you should want the top teams to win out for better seeding. Hard for me to let that one go.

  • sarge

    As Kenpom would suggest, no they aren’t. I don’t think Indiana is worthy of a bid unless we win the conference tournament, but Penn State, Maryland and Nebraska deserve some consideration and aren’t getting the love. Penn State is 25th, and some good wins with nobody talking about them.

  • sd chuck

    Quadrant thing is not good. Can’t believe Mich.St is a 3 seed? Nebraska deserves to be in, period! Most of this probably originates from ESPN, they want to put more money back into the acc and sec. BIG, didn’t need their help starting a network, thus give them less of the pie! Nothing wrong with the system the way it was working! Been a pretty good tournament for a long time! This will not effect us this year, but this system will be a problem in years to come.

  • sarge

    I believe that too, unfortunately our early season results have doomed us. The more alarming thing is that Penn State, Nebraska and Maryland aren’t getting mentioned. I know we lost the Big/ACC challenge, but the ACC and Big East always seem to have someone in the championship game and we have annual challenges with both leagues. Where is the bias that the SEC and Big 12 are so good coming from? I don’t see it and can’t understand how they are seeded. I don’t think it is all about results, as the preseason narratives about the leagues have carried through to the end of the season.

  • sarge

    They just want to see them fail at the highest level I guess? Doesn’t seem like a way to build a competitive tournament if they will be in brackets with teams that have continually showed them the loss column.

  • IdahoHoosier

    And they’ve lost 5 or 6 in a row. Trending down hard yet still getting this much love and attention? Awful.

  • Same story with Ben Simmons last year, but LSU missed the dance. It will be a travesty if OU actually gets the invite.

  • 6 straight losses after last night. Formula is simple. Double young. Rest of team can’t play.

  • E Foy McNaughton

    If OU was in the B1G, they’d be right around 7-7 – in my humble opinion. So I don’t get the Big 12 love this year.

  • Ole Man

    An unseeded tournament with games set up for TV ratings, not fairness. Yeah, that proves a lot.
    Sorry, but that early season tournament just doesn’t hold water in the debate any longer, at least for me.

  • Ole Man

    Andy, rather than criticize, an honest question:
    Oklahoma, losers of 9 of their last 12, 16-11, 6-9 in the Big 12 and not only do you have them safely in the tournament, but you have them seeded as an 8.
    They are horrible. Simply watch them play.
    Whatever is being used to decide teams belong in such and such a quadrant is obviously very flawed this year.
    Honestly, Baylor, Missouri, FL, Texas, TCU, [email protected], Providence, Miami, do not deserve to dance this year.
    Absolutely the worse numbers I have ever witnessed and I’ve been around a long, long, long time.
    It’s not personal.
    But at this point, as a fan, I really think I, and possibly some others from comments below, deserve some explanation as to why really bad teams are safely in the tournament.

  • VOXAC30

    Oh I agree that ACC BiG 10 challenge that was early in the season and it does not show how a team progresses. That is why I think there should be a sprinkling of non-league game late in the BIG 10 season. IMHO there shouldn’t be a non-league season and an league season. I would like to see them all mixed up.

  • Logical Lurker

    That’s what I thought. Wasn’t trying to make the case that we deserve in at all … win out + win one or two in NYC and maybe.

    Middle of the BIG is always a meat grinder and I think we’re punished for it as a whole. Throw in a couple of bad losses for those teams and a couple of the pre-season high-hopes teams under-performing and I guess you have a recipe for this type of mess.

    We did lay a pretty big egg in the ACC challenge though …

  • Pianoroark

    Looking forward to when the committee finally starts using a composite metric. The inclusion of some of these teams at the expense of certain other teams, not to mention some of the seeding trends across these predictions, defies common sense (which is not a dig at AB; he’s predicting what the committee will do, and history tells us he’s going to be just about spot on).

  • mharv2631

    I think it may be because teams like Oklahoma Texas and Missouri have these big named 5 star recruits, and evvvvvveryone want to see them play right?
    Michigan State as a 3 is a joke.

  • William Strong

    Yea. Then maybe they’ll make the NIT.

  • mharv2631

    Trae Young period.

  • mharv2631

    Maybe the Big 10 should bow out of the challenge if that’s how it’s going to be. Like Kentucky after IU beat them.

  • Donnie Vick

    After tonight, Nebraska will not deserve any consideration 🙂

  • Andy Bottoms

    A couple things to keep in mind based on how the committee does their job:
    1) Recent games are no more important than early season games. They previously used a last 10 or 12 games but moved away from that a while back.
    2) Similarly, the committee doesn’t look at conference record.
    3) When the committee revealed the top 16 seeds just over a week ago, Oklahoma was a 4 based on their number of quadrant 1 wins. Those are still there, but with that said, a drop to an 8 seed is pretty big for a week.

    We can argue whether the committee sticks to the rules they say they have, but as I try to project their work, I do my best to take that at face value.

  • Tommy Morrsion

    As a fan you root for your team first then the B1G second. It was hard to swallow as a fan of a team outside the field with a chance to hear what Andy Katz and Robbie Hummel were throwing out there.

  • How is Oklahoma in (8 seed) with a 6-9 conference record? Makes no sense

  • dwdkc

    The problem with the tiers is that they are using the execrable RPI (I think) to say what the ranking is. If they used a composite of the more realistic ones, excluding the RPI, then Nebraska and Penn State would be much more competitive with the bubble teams. The RPI thinks the Big 10 is the Horizon league. Also, not all games within a tier are created equal. The committee is presumably looking deeper, but starting with the tiers puts the Big 10 in a huge hole thanks to RPI.

  • I see a lot of feedback loops in this system. Overrated conferences will artificially amplify teams within them, leading to outsize expectations and too many teams pulled from those conferences. Nine schools from the SEC is a total joke and I would expect a lot of SEC and Big XII teams to get mown down quickly.

  • Tcuomo

    Because they play in the almighty Big 12 and Trae Young is on their team. And now you look up and Kansas is a #1 despite losing by 16 @ Baylor and needing the refs to bail them out against a WVU team that is flaming out. If the committee should give any team credit in the Big 12 it should be Texas Tech.

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    Tommy, I agree with you on that. It made my skin crawl when Katz said that. It seems as though all these experts want to make everything sound easy for the best teams that are “in” and now the audacity that the committee doesn’t look at Conference record is being broadcasted. The committee needs to do their job and not listen to anyone else.

  • Ole Man

    Thought they were going away from the RPI, but aren’t quad assignments based upon RPI?
    Also, if the media proclaims the conference is “awesome” as with the Big 12, then don’t wins and losses become self-fulfilling prophecies?
    I.E. Oklahoma has all these great quad wins because they play in a supposedly terrific conference.

  • Andy Bottoms

    quadrants are all RPI-based, only real difference is basically trying to give additional value to road wins. But yeah, not really abandoning the RPI at all.

  • Ole Man

    Thanks. That info goes a long way to explaining the mess they’re trying to pass off on us this year! LOL!
    Yours is probably closer to acceptable than anyone else’s. ESPN’s has become a joke.
    I’ve seen teams lose and actually move up a line.

  • PreKnight

    I live in Tempe, AZ and I don’t see what gives ASU such a high seed. They are right now 7th in the PAC 12 with some really bad losses. The only good win is at Kansas early in the season.

    And, as others have said, no way Oklahoma should even make the dance. Their record (16-11) is only slightly better than IU (16-13) and they are near the bottom of the Big 12 standings.