Bracketology: NCAA tournament projection as of January 16, 2019
With ranked teams losing 15 games to unranked opponents since the last set of projections just eight days ago, there was a substantial amount of movement this week. Maryland was one of the biggest movers, as the Terps racked up a double-digit road win at Minnesota and knocked off both Indiana and Wisconsin at home. Elsewhere in the Big Ten, Ohio State picked up a surprising loss at Rutgers and lost by double-digits at Iowa to drop multiple seed lines.
There are plenty of other examples, but it goes to show just how fluid these projections are at this stage of the season. Resumes are still taking shape, and with conference play providing ample opportunities for quality wins, tournament profiles can change quickly.
At this point, I’ve selected the representatives from the single bid leagues based on who I think will win the league even though they may not be atop the conference standings right now.
Before looking at the one seeds, I wanted to give a quick reminder about how the NCAA selection committee classifies wins based on the new NET Rating.
A breakdown of the four tiers:
· 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
Despite Duke’s home loss to Syracuse, the one seeds remain unchanged, although the Blue Devils did drop to the fourth on the seed list, which led to them being placed in the West region. With strong computer numbers and five quad one wins through Monday’s games, Duke’s profile is still terrific, and the committee will take into account that the Syracuse loss came with two of the team’s top four scorers missing all or most of the game.
Kansas continues to squeak out close wins and is the top team on the two line as of now. Michigan State is also surging thanks to a 10-game winning streak, and Gonzaga isn’t far behind after picking up a key road win at San Francisco over the weekend.
The projections below are based on all games played through January 15, 2019. Following the bracket, I included a few thoughts on the last four in and first five out.
|SOUTH (LOUISVILLE)||WEST (ANAHEIM)|
|Columbus – March 22/24||Columbia – March 22/24|
|1) Michigan||1) Duke|
|16) Norfolk St. / Wagner||16) Texas Southern|
||8) Mississippi St.|
|9) Syracuse||9) TCU|
|San Jose – March 22/24||Hartford – March 21/23|
|5) Florida St.
|12) Saint Louis||12) Wofford
|4) Houston||4) Maryland|
|13) UC Irvine||13) Georgia St.|
|Jacksonville – March 21/23||San Jose – March 22/24|
|6) Iowa||6) Wisconsin|
|11) Arizona / VCU||11) Arizona St. / Kansas St.|
|3) North Carolina||3) Nevada|
|14) Vermont||14) Radford|
|Tulsa – March 22/24||Salt Lake City – March 21/23|
|7) LSU||7) Indiana|
|10) St. John’s||10) Temple|
|2) Texas Tech||2) Gonzaga|
|15) Grand Canyon
|EAST (WASHINGTON, DC)||MIDWEST (KANSAS CITY)|
|Columbia – March 22/24||Jacksonville – March 21/23|
|1) Virginia||1) Tennessee|
|16) Lehigh||16) Abilene Christian / Rider|
|8) Iowa St.||8) Ohio St.|
|9) Minnesota||9) Seton Hall|
|Salt Lake City – March 21/23||Hartford – March 21/23|
|5) Villanova||5) Nebraska|
|12) Murray St.||12) Lipscomb|
|4) Kentucky||4) Virginia Tech|
|13) North Texas||13) Hofstra|
|Des Moines – March 21/23||Des Moines – March 21/23|
|6) Louisville||6) Auburn|
|3) Oklahoma||3) Marquette|
|14) Yale||14) Loyola Chicago|
|Columbus – March 22/24||Tulsa – March 22/24|
|7) NC State||7) Purdue|
|10) Central Florida||10) Cincinnati|
|2) Michigan St.||2) Kansas|
|15) Northern Kentucky||15) South Dakota St.|
Last Four In:
Kansas State – The Wildcats evened their Big 12 record at 2-2 thanks to a narrow home win over West Virginia and a comeback victory at Iowa State. That win in Ames accounts for this team’s only true road win as well as its only win over an at-large caliber squad. A tough three-game stretch starts Wednesday with a road trip to Oklahoma followed by home dates with TCU and Texas Tech.
Arizona – Road wins at Stanford and Cal have the Wildcats tied atop the Pac-12, but that doesn’t mean much given the state of the conference this year. Much like Kansas State, Arizona’s lone victory over a tournament-level team came against Iowa State, although the Cyclones were not at full strength when they met in Maui. The Oregon schools visit Tucson this week, and the Wildcats can’t afford a slip-up on their home floor.
Arizona State – The Sun Devils seem intent on executing the same plan they used last year by getting the season off to a hot start before picking up a number of questionable losses. ASU ranked 82nd in the NET after Monday’s games despite owning four quad 1 wins, including victories over Kansas and Mississippi State. However, their last four losses have all come to teams not currently in the at-large conversation with the Princeton and Utah defeats coming at home.
VCU – I’m ultimately not convinced the A-10 can get two bids, but the Rams ranked second in non-conference strength of schedule through Monday’s games, which should at least get the committee’s attention. VCU has a pair of quad 1 wins, beating Temple on a neutral floor and winning at Texas, but a home loss to Charleston doesn’t help matters. The Rams have just three games remaining against Top 100 KenPom teams, one of which comes this week when Dayton comes to town.
First Five Out:
Alabama – The Crimson Tide were the toughest omission this week thanks to five wins in quadrants 1 and 2 through Monday’s games, including home victories over Kentucky and Arizona. However, a trio of quadrant 3 losses cannot be ignored and have Alabama firmly on the cut line with road trips to Missouri and Tennessee on tap this week.
Butler – A pair of one-point road losses pushed the Bulldogs outside of the projected field this week. A home win over Ole Miss is aging well, but a winless road record and a 3-6 combined mark in quad 1 and 2 games through Monday are working against them. Butler heads to DePaul this week before returning home to Hinkle, where they’ll play four of the next five games.
Florida – The Gators fell to 1-3 in the SEC following a close loss at Mississippi State on Tuesday night. Through Monday’s games, they had no quad 1 wins, and victories at Arkansas and home against Butler are really the only ones of note. Florida desperately needs to take care of business in the next two games, which are at Georgia and home against Texas A&M, because the five-game stretch following those is brutal.
Pittsburgh – I mentioned Ole Miss as one of the season’s biggest surprises last week, and the Panthers belong in that conversation as well. Within the last two weeks, they’ve knocked off Louisville and Florida State while also playing NC State tough on the road. Pitt has yet to win a true road game and dropped a home date with Niagara earlier in the season, which means they’ll need to acquit themselves well with three of the next four games on the road if they want to remain in the discussion.
Creighton – If not for last week’s heart-breaking overtime loss to Marquette last week, things might be different for the Bluejays. Even so, Creighton doesn’t have a bad loss, but they also don’t have any quad 1 wins, with victories over Clemson on a neutral court and Providence on the road the only ones of note. They are also just 1-3 in true road games with trips to St. John’s and Georgetown next up on the slate.
Big Ten (10): Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin
ACC (8): Duke, Florida State, Louisville, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech
Big 12 (7): Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech
SEC (6): Auburn, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Tennessee
Big East (4): Marquette, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Villanova
American (4): Central Florida, Cincinnati, Houston, Temple
Pac-12 (3): Arizona, Arizona State, Washington
Atlantic 10 (2): Saint Louis, VCU
America East: Vermont
Atlantic Sun: Lipscomb
Big Sky: Montana
Big South: Radford
Big West: UC Irvine
Conference USA: North Texas
Horizon: Northern Kentucky
MEAC: Norfolk State
Missouri Valley: Loyola Chicago
Mountain West: Nevada
Ohio Valley: Murray State
Southern: UNC Greensboro
Southland: Abilene Christian
SWAC: Texas Southern
Summit: South Dakota State
Sun Belt: Georgia State
WAC: Grand Canyon
West Coast: Gonzaga
Follow Andy on Twitter (@andybottoms) for more thoughts on college hoops and to receive an update whenever new brackets are posted.
Filed to: 2018-2019 bracketology