Bracketology: NCAA tournament projection as of March 6, 2018

  • 03/06/2018 8:53 am in

Championship week is upon us, and seven automatic bids have already been handed out. With a number of teams clustered around seed lines 7-9 and then again around the cut line, the major conference tournaments should help sort things out…at least I hope so. Starting today, I’ll be doing daily projections for the remainder of the week.

At the top of the bracket, Virginia is locked in on the one line regardless of what happens in the ACC tournament, while Villanova and Xavier have also created some separation. With Purdue losing in the Big Ten tournament final, I would argue that Duke and Kansas are the only other teams with a reasonable chance at a one seed.

The Jayhawks have some odd losses on their profile, but the sheer volume of quality wins is enough to keep them on the one line for now, while a deep ACC tournament run from the Blue Devils could propel them into a top seed. Auburn and North Carolina are both two seeds in this set of projections, but I’m just not convinced they can leapfrog that many teams.

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 March 5, 2018. Following the bracket, I included a few thoughts on the last four in and first five out.

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

Last Four In:

Alabama – The Tide seem determined to test the theory that the committee doesn’t give extra weight to the most recent games, as they have now lost five straight. On the positive side, they have three Top 20 RPI wins and five quadrant 1 victories, but the 14 in the loss column is concerning to say the least. Alabama is also just 2-8 in true road games, which means their SEC tournament opener against Texas A&M is essentially a must-win.

Saint Mary’s – It’s going to be a stressful few days for the Gaels after falling to BYU in the WCC semifinals. While predictive metrics like KenPom and BPI really like Saint Mary’s, there isn’t much meat on the actual resume. 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 they are definitely a team I will be analyzing more closely over the remainder of the week.

Baylor – The Bears boast 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 a pair of neutral court games over Creighton and Wisconsin back in November. The predictive metrics like the Bears as well, but they need to find a way to knock off West Virginia in the Big 12 quarterfinals.

Marquette – It was a close call for the final at-large spot, but I gave the nod to Marquette, thanks in large part to a 5-5 mark in true road games and a winning record in total road and neutral games. The Golden Eagles also have four quadrant 1 wins, although 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. Marquette certainly can’t afford to lose the rubber match with the Blue Demons in the Big East tournament.

First Five Out:

Syracuse – The Orange were the team in this group that I considered most strongly, and I wouldn’t argue with those who have them in their projected fields. 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, but it’s worth noting that 13 of Syracuse’s 19 wins fall in quadrants 3 and 4. A win over Wake on Tuesday will give the Orange a shot at North Carolina in the second round of the ACC tournament.

Oklahoma State – I’m not sure how possible it is for the Big 12 to get nine teams in the Big Dance, but the Cowboys have a sneaky good profile with five quadrant 1 wins (including a sweep of Kansas) and no losses to teams outside of the Top 65 of the RPI. The main issues are a RPI of nearly 90 and a non-conference strength of schedule hovering in the 280s. Still, with a win over Oklahoma and a good showing in the Big 12 tournament, Oklahoma State can certainly make things interesting as we head toward Selection Sunday.

USC – Despite finishing second in the Pac-12, I can’t ignore the fact that USC has yet to beat a team that’s an at-large lock with wins over Middle Tennessee State and New Mexico State their two best. Throw in the Bennie Boatright injury, and it just feels too easy and maybe too logical to leave USC out. Their two worst losses aren’t quite as bad as they look, as the SMU defeat came with the Mustangs at full strength and the home loss to Princeton coming in a game that multiple rotation players missed. Still, the lack of quality wins seems likely to hold them back.

Louisville – Last week was absolutely brutal for the Cardinals, as a blown late lead, which cost them a chance to pick up a marquee win over Virginia, was followed up by a loss at NC State. They don’t have a bad loss, but they also have zero wins against the RPI Top 40 and just three total victories against at-large caliber teams. Louisville opens ACC tournament play on Wednesday with a game against Florida State. A win there would give the Cardinals another shot at Virginia in the quarterfinals.

Washington – The Huskies split home games against the Oregon schools last weekend and now sit just inside the Top 100 in KenPom. Wins at Kansas and USC as well as home victories against Arizona and Arizona State form a great quartet, but outside of that, there just isn’t much there. In fact, 15 of their 20 wins fall in quadrants 3 and 4. If they can string together a few victories in the Pac-12 Tournament, their case becomes a bit more compelling.

Conference Breakdown:

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

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

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

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

American (3): Cincinnati, Houston, Wichita State

Pac-12 (3): Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA

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

West Coast (2): Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s

America East: Vermont

Atlantic Sun: Lipscomb*

Big Sky: Montana

Big South: Radford*

Big West: UC Davis

Colonial: Charleston

Conference USA: Middle Tennessee

Horizon: Wright State

Ivy: Penn

MAAC: Iona*

MAC: Buffalo

MEAC: Hampton

Missouri Valley: Loyola (IL)*

Mountain West: Nevada

Northeast: Wagner

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

Filed to:

  • vicbert caladipo

    Nice to see UM at #3. MSU should be a 2. Still too much love for the SEC. I’d have OK st in and Baylor and OK out. UK should be a 10 seed. I hope this quadrant BS dies after this year. It is a joke that no extra consideration is given to how you are playing NOW(the past 10 games). RPI is outdated. Look at some of the top teams in RPI. RPI is a joke. More parody than I can remember. Only UVA seems to be the real deal. I hate to say it but somebody from the ACC is probably winning it all. I used to give MSU a chance cuz of the many top 50 recruits and Izzo, but they seem to be a dumb team. If you went on talent and coaching MSU or Duke should win. If puke wins the acc tourney I’d have to say they are front runner. Don’t trust the big east schools and Kansas is over rated. Maybe Gonzaga after all these years?

  • IdahoHoosier

    I saw Lunardi talking last night about Notre Dame deserving considering based on what they “could have done” if Bonzie Colson hadn’t gotten hurt. Now we are giving credit for how things could have gone?? I certainly hope that isn’t a factor. Agree with you RPI is outdated, there has to be a better way.

  • Koko

    Looks like there are going to be some really good teams in the NIT.
    It will interesting to see how the four quarters thing goes….(10 minute quarters).
    The NIT might be just as exciting as the NCAA this year.

  • vicbert caladipo

    It’s a shame for ND to have lost him but in no way shape or form should ND be remotely considered. That’s the way the cookie crumbles. I’m not even sure they are good enough with Colson. Might not be the ultimate way but I’d rather see the brackets closely reflect the AP and USA polls….at least they give consideration to what is happening now. To me it’s a joke UK had a 4 seed….get blown out by FLA dropping them to a 6 seed yet they aren’t in either poll. But guessing the polls are too “old school” for todays computer led world

  • inadvertentelbows_stillhurt


  • vicbert caladipo

    Only if we get invited : ).

  • Koko

    Still have my fingers crossed on that.

  • vicbert caladipo

    I’ve had a thought and request your opinions . This is the best I can come up with to help the NCAA make this bracketology fair. Many conferences play each other early. ACC vs BIG10, BIG12 vs SEC, etc. By the second half of the year many teams get better….many conferences get better. Deciding which conference is better in Nov and Dec is a bad idea. What I would propose is this………every major conference willing and the BIG10 should definitely schedule the entire season accordingly. Play your first 8 games or so the usual way you start your season, mixing in the majority cupcakes and then 1-2 signature games along with the conference challenges already in place. This should take you to mid December where you’d then start your conference schedule. 8 games is plenty enough to prepare your team for your conference. Then play HALF of your conference schedule. Then schedule 2 games back to back against a power conference with scheduling based on perceived best vs best and worst vs worst. For instance PU plays Kansas and UK and IU plays OK state and Arkansas, MSU plays WVA and Tenn, Or PU vs Xavier and USC. Or IU plays providence and Stanford. Then you get a week off and start up with the second half of your conference schedule.

    I’m sure there will be debate but imo this gives teams like PSU and NEB a chance for 2 more good wins and a better indication on how a team is playing after 3/5 of the season is gone. This would also help in getting teams tourney ready by playing more top conferences as you would see in the tourney. This also gives us a clearer picture on which conference is better instead of basing it on what happened in the fall. The week off gives plenty of time to prepare for the second half of conference. This also is good for teams(which is most) that are tired of beating up on each other. And for us the fans the gives us a chance later in the season to see how we stack up against top competition. Also the rematch factor could come into play in the tourney. For instance if IU and OK st. play an OT thriller…maybe the committee puts them in the same bracket for a rematch of a stellar game.

    I’m just tired of the BIG10 getting hosed cuz of games against the BEST conference that happened in Nov/early Dec. Would like to get the SEC in a BIG10 challenge and see who fares better. Or we can keep it just the way it is and rely on outdated and useless RPI

  • Ole Man

    I give up.
    When teams such as Alabama, Oklahoma, and Baylor make the dance with 13 and 14 losses, the metrics are a mess!
    Don’t care how many so-called “good wins” you have. Losses have to count for something.
    Play in the last month has to count for something.
    PSU and Neb not making the tourney simply strengthens my argument.
    There is no way 8 teams from the Big 12 and 8 from the SEC belong in the tournament.

  • vicbert caladipo


  • Ole Man


  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    Very well put. It is 7:28 CST on March 6, Joe Lunardi just stated on ESPN that Oklahoma is in irregardless. He just stated that during the NEC tournament. On top of that the ESPN game announcer mentioned to JL that it is important for him to guide the Selection Committee on what they should do. This is crap. All of it.