Bracketology: NCAA tournament projection as of March 9, 2018

  • 03/09/2018 7:56 am in

Thursday proved to be an interesting day on the bubble. Providence and Kansas State picked up key wins in overtime, while Alabama won at the buzzer to keep their at-large hopes alive. USC and UCLA also took care of business in the Pac-12 tournament.

However, teams like Marquette, Oklahoma State, Louisville, Notre Dame, and Baylor all lost by at least 13 points, which puts them in a perilous position heading into the weekend. Throw in an overtime loss by C-USA favorite Middle Tennessee, and things are starting to get more crowded around the cut line.

Over the next couple days, 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 8, 2018. Following the bracket, I included a few thoughts on the last four in and first six out.

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

Last Four In:

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 they are definitely a team I will be analyzing more closely over the remainder of the week.

USC – Despite finishing second in the Pac-12, it’s worth noting 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. That said, 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. The Trojans took care of business against Oregon State in the Pac-12 Quarterfinals, setting up a matchup with Oregon in the semifinals.

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. For now, I am leaving them in the field, but their grip feels tenuous at best.

First Six Out:

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 a pair of neutral court games over Creighton and Wisconsin 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 14 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

Conference USA (2): Middle Tennessee, Old Dominion

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*

Horizon: Wright State*

Ivy: Penn

MAAC: Iona*

MAC: Buffalo

MEAC: Hampton

Missouri Valley: Loyola (IL)*

Mountain West: Nevada

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

Filed to:

  • Michael Pusatera

    Love your Brackets Andy, but I think you have Mid Tenn in there twice?

  • Updated. Thanks for the catch!

  • SuperNerdLandon

    I just need to rant really quick.

    What is the rationale for all these brackets with OK still in? I just don’t understand. I am going to be sick if they get in. Anyone who knows anything about basketball knows that you need to look at the team in Jan/Feb/March to really gauge how good they are. Trey Young is good, sure. But he isn’t even Lonzo! Ugh, my stomach. Not to mention he needs a haircut and a shave. What else? Sorry moderators. You can delete if you need to.

    Oh, if ND or Bama get the axe in place of OK or ASU, I am boycotting basketball for an entire day… the day after Selection Sunday.

  • HoosierEconomist

    I concur. Only argument the committee has for putting Young in is $$$. Ok St should be in their place.

  • IdahoHoosier

    If a team has say 4 “Quadrant 1” wins, does the committee take into consideration how many attempts at Quadrant 1 wins they had? If they are 4/16 is that better or worse than a team who was 3/5? My feeling is they don’t seem to care about attempts, just wins, which puts smaller schools at an even bigger disadvantage than usual. A mid-major school say gets only a handful of cracks at Quadrant 1 wins but if they win a couple of them that should mean something right?

    I need to see side by side data on teams and their individual “Quadrant” stats to better understand why some teams are in and others out. Anyone know where to see such data?

  • vicbert caladipo

    It’s all based on just wins and you are right and what I’ve been saying all along. That’s why Nebraska won’t be dancing and several deserving mid majors

  • jpopejoy

    out of curiosity – how is MSU a #3 and Purdue a #2? MSU beat Purdue head to head, they won the b10 OUTRIGHT, and have a better record. Also, Purdue is 5-4 in their last 9…with none of those 5 wins being against a tournament team (Illinois, Rutgers, Minnesota, and Penn St x2). Talk about limping to the finish line ala Crean teams.

  • IdahoHoosier

    That is a real shame. Time to expand the tournament? Regular season conference champs get an automatic bid, conference tourney champs get an auto bid, then we fix the system for at-large bids to give more weight to wins later in the season. More teams in the tourney, more money for schools, more teams get a chance to win big. I’m ready!

  • Colt

    Please….enough with the “injury” excuse for Notre Dame.

  • Ole Man

    Rutgers could beat Oklahoma.
    They do not deserve a bid.
    Big Ten got shafted this year.

  • Ole Man

    Time to get rid of the RPI which is what quadrant placement is based upon.
    Additionally, time to stop rating teams and conferences prior to the season.
    Do what they do in football now and wait until the conference season begins.

  • vicbert caladipo

    Because PU has more quadrant 1 and 2 wins…the only measure these clowns use in determining the field. Alabama just won letting out more air in the already flat NEB and PS bubble. You can lose 15 games in a row as long as in Nov and Dec you beat 3-4 quadrant 1 and 2 teams

  • vicbert caladipo

    RPI is the biggest joke in basketball. Take a look at the top 30 teams and where they are ranked. it’s mindboggling how one of Americas greatest events is decided by outdated inaccurate systems of measurement. How is it possible to get enough quadrant wins when 4/5s of your conference are rated too low by the bogus RPI…and we are supposed to be in a power conference. Even the 4 teams they will select will be under seeded. Michigan state lost 4 games…2 to the hottest team in college basketball, one to the biggest surprise this year aND one to the most talented team in the nation. I’m afraid it will take years for the big10 to get the respect it deserves. The big10 has elite coaches…elite talent serve the NBA a lot of players. Too bad only we know that

  • vicbert caladipo

    I say RIP to the RPI

  • jpopejoy

    Ya – I knew that answer…it’s weak. Hopefully all the bracketology people are wrong and the committee at least gets this right. There is no reasonable excuse for purdue as a 2 if MSU is a 3

  • IdahoHoosier

    I am probably way behind the times here, but I just found the “team sheets” from ncaa dot org. They are pretty enlightening to look through and see team’s records against Q1, Q2, etc. Very difficult to assess a team like SDSU who only had a total of 7 games in Q1 and Q2, and won only 2 of them (2/7). Butler went 8/19. Louisville 5/18 and are considered possibly still in, but Boise St. is out and went 6/11. Nebraska has 1 Q1 win. LSU is out but has 6 Q1 wins, Notre Dame is maybe in and has 2 Q1 wins…

    Should they be assessed on percentage? Quantity of top tier wins? Of course the obvious factor not included in the team sheets is TIME. A recent win should obviously be worth more than Nov and Dec wins.

  • cidsports

    No, not this year in the Big Ten.

  • Banned on the Run

    Nice to see Stan Robinson and Devin Davis leading their respective ranked, tournament-bound teams in rebounds en route to conference quarterfinal victories.

  • Ole Man

    Yes, they did, my man. PSU and Neb both deserve an at-large bid.
    Instead, 13,14, and 15 loss teams will be in their place(s).
    Teams with that many losses deserve to be in the NIT and not the NCAA.
    Enough with the Big Ten was down this year. It wasn’t 4 bids down.
    It was playing its best ball by the end of the year.
    PR for other conferences and the RPI did in the Big Ten this year.