Bracketology: Final NCAA tournament projection as of March 12, 2018

  • 03/11/2018 5:28 pm in

The final automatic bids have been handed out, although the only one that really impacted the bracket was Davidson winning that Atlantic-10. Not only did that earn them a spot in the field, it also bumped an at-large contender, forcing me to do a little unexpected work on Sunday afternoon.

For me, it came down to three teams for the final spot – Arizona State, Saint Mary’s, and Louisville. I wouldn’t be shocked to see any of the three make it, and I’m not convinced any of them have a legitimate gripe about being left out.

In addition to reviewing the final few teams in the field, I made some minor adjustments. One of the toughest groups of teams to evaluate was the quintet of Butler, NC State, Kansas State, Alabama, and Florida State, all of whom finished between 33 and 37 on the seed list.

Thanks again to Alex for giving me the opportunity to post this on Inside the Hall and to all of you who followed along during the season. Now I’m ready to get some sleep and just sit back and enjoy what I hope is a fantastic NCAA tournament.

Here’s a final 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 12, 2018. Following the bracket, I included a few thoughts on the last four in and other two teams I believe have the best shot to get in.

Charlotte – March 16/18 Pittsburgh – March 15/17
1) Virginia 1) Villanova
16) LIU Brooklyn / NC Central 16) Radford / Texas Southern
8)  Providence
8) Nevada
9) Kansas St. 9) Alabama
Dallas – March 15/17 San Diego – March 16/18
5) Ohio St.
5) Clemson
12) Buffalo 12) South Dakota St.
4) Auburn 4) Texas Tech
13) Marshall 13) Charleston
Nashville – March 16/18 Wichita – March 15/17
6) Florida 6) Houston
11) UCLA / Texas 11) New Mexico St.
3) Michigan St. 3) Michigan
14) Bucknell 14) Stephen F. Austin
Detroit – March 16/18 Charlotte – March 16/18
7) TCU 7) Texas A&M
10) Florida St. 10) Creighton
2) Cincinnati 2) North Carolina
15) Penn
15) Lipscomb
Nashville  – March 16/18 Wichita – March 15/17
1) Xavier 1) Kansas
16) Cal St. Fullerton 16) UMBC
8) Missouri 8) Virginia Tech
9) NC State 9) Butler
Boise – March 15/17 Boise – March 15/17
5) Gonzaga 5) Kentucky
12) Davidson 12) San Diego St.
4) West Virginia 4) Wichita St.
13) Murray St. 13) UNC Greensboro
San Diego – March 16/18 Dallas – March 15/17
6) Arkansas 6) Miami (FL)
11) Loyola (IL)
11) USC / Saint Mary’s
3) Arizona 3) Tennessee
14) Montana 14) Wright St.
Pittsburgh – March 15/17 Detroit – March 16/18
7) Seton Hall 7) Rhode Island
10) St. Bonaventure 10) Oklahoma
2) Duke 2) Purdue
15) Georgia St. 15) Iona

Last Four In:

UCLA – The Bruins were bumped into the First Four by virtue of Davidson’s win over Rhode Island, but I like their profile more than fellow Pac-12 bubbler USC.

Texas – I’m ultimately not very worried about the Longhorns, who have six quadrant 1 wins and no bad losses.

USC – The Trojans played well in the Pac-12 Final against Arizona, but DeAndre Ayton was simply too much to handle. Even after that loss, USC’s RPI sits in the mid-30s, which suggests they are relatively safe, but the fact remains they have yet to beat a team in the at-large picture.

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 I wouldn’t be the least bit shocked to see them miss the cut.

Other Teams Considered:

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. Their more I looked at their profile, the more it reminded me of Indiana’s profile last season, where the Hoosiers picked up marquee wins over Kansas and North Carolina in the non-conference, picked up a handful of home wins over bubble teams in league play, and ultimately gave the committee too many reasons to leave them out.

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. The Cardinals sit in the Top 40 of the RPI as well, and few (if any) major conference teams in that range have been left out of the field in the past.

Oklahoma State – I would have no issue whatsoever with the Cowboys getting in the field, but their RPI would be about 15 spots worse than the highest to ever receive an at-large bid. I understand the impact just a few games can have on that number, but since my challenge here is to predict the field, I’m not banking on something unprecedented.

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 (3): Arizona*, UCLA, USC

American (3): Cincinnati*, Houston, Wichita State

Atlantic 10 (3): Davidson*, Rhode Island, St. Bonaventure

Mountain West (2): Nevada, San Diego State*

West Coast (2): Gonzaga*, Saint Mary’s

America East: UMBC*

Atlantic Sun: Lipscomb*

Big Sky: Montana*

Big South: Radford*

Big West: Cal St. Fullerton*

Colonial: Charleston*

Conference USA: Marshall*

Horizon: Wright State*

Ivy: Penn*

MAAC: Iona*

MAC: Buffalo*

MEAC: NC Central*

Missouri Valley: Loyola (IL)*

Northeast: LIU Brooklyn*

Ohio Valley: Murray State*

Patriot: Bucknell*

Southern: UNC Greensboro*

Southland: Stephen F. Austin*

SWAC: Texas Southern*

Summit: South Dakota State*

Sun Belt: Georgia State*

WAC: New Mexico State*

* – Automatic Bid

(Photo credit: Abbie Parr/Getty Images North America)

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