Bracketology: NCAA tournament projection as of February 22, 2022

  • 02/22/2022 9:35 am in

While there weren’t any surprise teams included in the NCAA Selection Committee’s reveal of the Top 16 teams on Saturday, there were a few interesting takeaways.

• Placing Gonzaga as the top overall seed certainly suggests that the committee is giving credence to the predictive metrics, as the Bulldogs are the top team in KenPom, Sagarin, and BPI.

• I was surprised to see Baylor as the fifth overall seed, but the committee really seemed to stress the quantity of Q1/Q2 wins while also mentioning some of the Bears’ player availability issues of late.

• Duke was slotted as the last two seed, and the committee chair called out the Blue Devils’ wins over Kentucky and Gonzaga, which seemed to overshadow losses at Florida State and home against Virginia.

• Despite a high number of quality wins, Providence was a four seed as many suspected. While the Friars’ resume metrics are solid, the predictive metrics are substantially worse. As with Gonzaga, this suggests some level of reliance on the predictive metrics when assigning seeds.

• That being said, Houston was left off of the top four seed lines even though the Cougars boast outstanding predictive metrics. However, they have limited quality wins and have lost multiple contributors to season-ending injuries.

Before looking at the one seeds, I wanted to give a quick reminder about how the NCAA selection committee classifies wins based on the NET rating.

A breakdown of the four tiers:

· Quad 1: Home vs. teams ranked 1-30 / Neutral vs. teams ranked 1-50 / Road vs. teams ranked 1-75
· Quad 2: Home vs. teams ranked 31-75 / Neutral vs. teams ranked 51-100 / Road vs. teams ranked 76-135
· Quad 3: Home vs. teams ranked 76-160 / Neutral vs. teams ranked 101-200 / Road vs. teams ranked 136-240
· Quad 4: Home vs. teams ranked 161-351 / Neutral vs. teams ranked 201-351 / Road vs. teams ranked 241-351

One Seeds

The one seeds remain unchanged from the committee’s reveal, although the order did shift a bit following Auburn’s loss at Florida. It was mentioned that Arizona and Auburn were very close, while there was a bit of a gap between those two and Kansas. As a result, Auburn’s loss pushed the Tigers down to the third overall seed, just in front of the Jayhawks.

The Bracket

The projections below are based on all games played through February 21, 2022. Following the bracket, I included a few thoughts on the last four in and first five out.

Portland – March 17/19 San Diego – March 18/20
1) Gonzaga 1) Arizona
16) Cleveland St. / New Orleans 16) Alcorn St. / Norfolk St.
8) Boise St.
8) Colorado St.
9) TCU 9) Wake Forest
Portland – March 17/19 Pittsburgh – March 18/20
5) Alabama
5) Connecticut
12) North Texas 12) South Dakota St.
4) UCLA 4) Tennessee
13) New Mexico St. 13) Chattanooga
Milwaukee – March 18/20 Milwaukee – March 18/20
6) USC 6) LSU
11) SMU 11) San Diego St.
3) Wisconsin 3) Illinois
14) Towson 14) Northern Iowa
Greenville – March 18/20 Fort Worth – March 17/19
7) Michigan St. 7) Xavier
10) Creighton 10) San Francisco
2) Duke 2) Baylor
15) Jacksonville St.
15) Texas St.
Fort Worth – March 17/19 Greenville – March 18/20
1) Kansas 1) Auburn
16) Long Beach St. 16) Longwood
8) Seton Hall 8) Iowa St.
9) Iowa 9) Wyoming
Buffalo – March 17/19 Buffalo – March 17/19
5) Arkansas 5) Texas
12) Loyola Chicago / Michigan 12) Iona
4) Houston 4) Providence
13) Vermont 13) Toledo
Pittsburgh – March 18/20 San Diego – March 18/20
6) Ohio St. 6) Marquette
11) Notre Dame
11) North Carolina / Rutgers
3) Villanova 3) Texas Tech
14) Wagner 14) Princeton
Indianapolis – March 17/19 Indianapolis – March 17/19
7) Murray St. 7) Saint Mary’s
10) Davidson 10) Miami (FL)
2) Kentucky 2) Purdue
15) Colgate 15) Montana St.

Last Four In:

Rutgers – The Scarlet Knights picked up another Q1 win against Illinois before falling at Purdue on Sunday. They now have six Quad 1 victories, but they are hovering around 80th in the NET. A three-game November losing streak (at DePaul, vs. Lafayette, at UMass) accounts for three of Rutgers’ four worst losses with the Lafayette game falling in Quad 4. Still, Rutgers has a slew of solid home wins to go with a road win in Madison. Despite those great victories, Rutgers doesn’t boast great marks in the resume or quality metrics. It’s another big week with a Wednesday trip to face a now short-handed Michigan squad followed by a home date with Wisconsin.

North Carolina – The Heels boast solid metrics in both the results-based and predictive categories compared to other bubble teams, while Saturday’s win at Virginia Tech gave UNC its lone Quad 1 win. They are now 1-7 in Q1 with all but one of those losses coming by at least nine points, not to mention a terrible Q4 home loss to Pitt. The Heels do own a solid 6-3 mark in true road games, with the sweep of the Hokies and a home win over Michigan their best overall victories. The margin for error is negligible for a team who I’m still not sure is deserving of a bid, which means they need to take care of business at NC State on Saturday.

Loyola Chicago – A home loss to Drake gave Northern Iowa the projected auto-bid from the Valley and tosses the Ramblers back in the at-large pool. They are just 4-5 in the top two quadrants with a neutral court victory over San Francisco their only win over a projected at-large team. The results-based metrics aren’t particularly strong, which puts Loyola in must-win mode to close out the regular season.

Michigan – The metrics suggest the Wolverines are tournament-caliber, but their grip on a spot is precarious thanks to a 14-11 overall record. Historically, very few teams have made it while just three games over .500. Even though Michigan State did it last year, I tend to view that as an aberration given the odd circumstances of last season. Michigan does have six wins in the top two quadrants, and their upcoming schedule offers chances to play their way into the field, although they will be doing it without Juwan Howard following his suspension.

First Five Out:

Indiana – The Hoosiers seemed to be on the verge of a Q1 road win at Ohio State on Monday, but they couldn’t close out the game and find themselves right on the cutline following five straight losses. Indiana is now 5-10 in Q1/Q2 games with wins over Purdue, Ohio State, and Notre Dame. There isn’t much else besides that, and a 2-7 road mark coupled with a sub-300 non-conference strength of schedule is typically a damning combination even though IU doesn’t have a loss in Q3 or Q4. The Hoosiers cannot afford to lose upcoming games at home against Maryland and at Minnesota.

Memphis – The Tigers had won six straight before being blown out at SMU on Sunday. Memphis’ overall profile is odd to say the least with three Quad 1 wins as well as four “bad” road losses by a total of nine points, two of which fall in Q3. Injuries and COVID-related absences have played a major factor as well, as four of their losses came with DeAndre Williams sidelined. Memphis has solid quality metrics and needs to take care of business in home games against Temple and Wichita State this week.

VCU – The committee’s comments on taking injuries into account would seem to be good news for VCU, given that the Rams went just 4-4 in games without Ace Baldwin earlier this season. VCU’s resume metrics are strong, thanks in part to a 8-1 mark in true road games. However, just one of the Rams’ six Q1/Q2 victories have come against an at-large caliber team (at Davidson). They need to avoid bad losses this week, which would set up a huge final week of the regular season when they host St. Bonaventure and travel to Saint Louis.

Florida – It was an odd week for the Gators, who fell at Texas A&M but bounced back to pick up a huge win over Auburn. Even so, they are just 2-7 in Q1 and have only two wins over at-large candidates. Florida also has Q2 losses to Maryland and Ole Miss to go with a bad home loss to Texas Southern. Another huge opportunity awaits when Arkansas comes to Gainesville on Tuesday.

BYU – The Cougars lost at Saint Mary’s on Saturday and have now lost five of their last seven games. They do have seven victories in the top two quadrants, including a few key wins against other bubble teams. That being said, BYU also has four losses against teams not in the at-large picture, including a Q4 loss to Pacific. Thanks in part to a poor BPI, the quality metrics aren’t particularly compelling, although to be fair the resume metrics don’t compare well to other bubble teams either. The Cougars do have nine road/neutral wins though, so for now, BYU needs to beat LMU and Pepperdine to close out the regular season.

Conference Breakdown:

Big Ten (8): Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue, Rutgers, Wisconsin

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

Big 12 (6): Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Texas, Texas Tech, TCU

SEC (6): Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Kentucky, LSU, Tennessee

ACC (5): Duke, Miami (FL), North Carolina, Notre Dame, Wake Forest

Mountain West (4): Boise State, Colorado State, San Diego State, Wyoming

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

West Coast (3): Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s, San Francisco

American (2): Houston, SMU

Missouri Valley (2): Loyola Chicago, Northern Iowa

America East: Vermont

Atlantic 10: Davidson

Atlantic Sun: Jacksonville State

Big Sky: Montana State

Big South: Longwood

Big West: Long Beach State

Colonial: Towson

Conference USA: North Texas

Horizon: Cleveland State

Ivy: Princeton

MAAC: Iona

MAC: Toledo

MEAC: Norfolk State

Northeast: Wagner

Ohio Valley: Murray State

Patriot: Colgate

Southern: Chattanooga

Southland: New Orleans

SWAC: Alcorn State

Summit: South Dakota State

Sun Belt: Texas State

WAC: New Mexico State

Follow Andy on Twitter (@andybottoms) for more thoughts on college hoops and to receive an update whenever new brackets are posted.

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