Bracketology: NCAA tournament projection as of March 13, 2022

  • 03/13/2022 11:58 am in

There are just five automatic bids left to be handed out on Sunday, but you can be sure that every bubble team will be rooting on Davidson to take down Richmond in the A-10 since the Spiders are the lone bid thief remaining at this point. When looking at the bubble, it feels like there are only a few spots up for grabs at this point, with a relatively large number of teams competing for them. There are a few specific areas I want to review one more time, which I intend to do before posting my final predictions later today.

Among the areas of intrigue is on the two line, as there are six teams who could stake a claim for one of those spots. Two of them, Tennessee and Purdue, will play in their conference championship games today, but history would suggest there won’t be much movement as a result of those games. Duke is an interesting case following the Blue Devils’ loss to Virginia Tech, and while early-season neutral court wins over Kentucky and Gonzaga certainly hold weight with the committee, you cannot ignore some of the other losses Duke has taken since then.

There are a few clusters of teams I intend to look at one last time today, so there may be minor changes once the final projections post.

Before looking at the one seeds, here’s 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

Gonzaga has been locked in for the top overall seed, and thanks to a second half comeback, Arizona will remain second on the seed list. Kansas followed up its Big 12 regular season title with a tournament crown and is slotted third overall.

That essentially leaves Baylor and Kentucky for the final one seed. The Bears are 26-6 overall with 10 Q1 wins and a 18-6 mark in the top two quadrants with only one loss in Q2. Baylor was a combined 11-4 in road/neutral games and finished ahead of UK in both results-based metrics. Kentucky is 26-7 overall with no losses outside of Q1. The Wildcats have nine Q1 victories and are 14-7 in the top two quadrants, but they finished just 8-7 away from home. Kentucky tends to rate slightly ahead of Baylor in the predictive metrics except for Sagarin. I gave the nod to Baylor thanks to winning a share of the regular season title in the Big 12 as well as their advantage away from home and the overall number of quality wins.

The Bracket

The projections below are based on all games played through March 12, 2022. Following the bracket, I included a few thoughts on the last four in and first four out.

Portland – March 17/19 San Diego – March 18/20
1) Gonzaga 1) Arizona
16) Bryant / Texas A&M-CC 16) Texas So. / Wright St.
8) San Diego St.
8) TCU
9) Memphis 9) Marquette
Buffalo – March 17/19 Buffalo – March 17/19
5) Iowa
5) Houston
12) UAB 12) Michigan / Oklahoma
4) Arkansas 4) Providence
13) Princeton 13) New Mexico St.
San Diego – March 18/20 Pittsburgh – March 18/20
6) Alabama 6) Texas
11) Indiana 11) Wyoming
3) Texas Tech 3) Duke
14) Montana St. 14) Colgate
Indianapolis – March 17/19 Greenville – March 18/20
7) Boise St. 7) USC
10) Virginia Tech 10) Loyola Chicago
2) Purdue 2) Auburn
15) Georgia St.
15) Jacksonville St.
Fort Worth – March 17/19 Fort Worth – March 17/19
1) Baylor 1) Kansas
16) Norfolk St. 16) Cal St. Fullerton
8) Seton Hall 8) Murray St.
9) North Carolina 9) Creighton
Milwaukee – March 18/20 Portland – March 17/19
5) Saint Mary’s 5) Connecticut
12) SMU / Texas A&M 12) South Dakota St.
4) Illinois 4) UCLA
13) Vermont 13) Chattanooga
Greenville – March 18/20 Milwaukee – March 18/20
6) Colorado St. 6) LSU
11) Davidson
11) Miami FL
3) Tennessee 3) Wisconsin
14) Longwood 14) Akron
Pittsburgh – March 18/20 Indianapolis – March 17/19
7) Michigan St. 7) Ohio St.
10) San Francisco 10) Iowa St.
2) Villanova 2) Kentucky
15) Saint Peter’s 15) Delaware

Last Four In:

Michigan – Wednesday’s loss to Indiana dropped the Wolverines to just three games over .500, and the list of teams who have earned at large bids with such a record isn’t long once you look past last season. The metrics suggest the Wolverines are tournament-caliber, but their grip on a spot is precarious thanks to that 17-14 overall record. Michigan does have eight wins in the top two quadrants and just one “bad” loss. I think if the Wolverines are selected, they will wind up in Dayton.

Texas A&M – The Aggies have come back to life following a 1-9 stretch in the middle of the season, culminating in wins over Auburn and Arkansas, which have the Aggies in the SEC championship game. They are now 4-9 in Q1 with a solid 9-9 mark in the top two quadrants, while a pair of Q3 home losses are among the blemishes on A&M’s profile. The Aggies have vastly improved their team sheet metrics this week, and at this point it feels like they are in even with a loss to Tennessee.

SMU – The Mustangs were unable to beat Memphis for a third time on Saturday, leaving them firmly on the bubble heading into Selection Sunday. Even so, they own a solid 6-6 mark in the top two quadrants, but SMU has one loss in Q3 and another in Q4, both of which came on back-to-back days in November. For now, SMU’s resume metrics give them a slight edge over the next few teams.

Oklahoma – After falling behind against Texas Tech on Friday, the Sooners nearly completed the comeback, and a win there likely would have landed them in the field. As it stands, they are now just 18-15 with 12 of those 15 defeats falling in Q1, while a Q3 loss to Butler is the worst loss on OU’s profile. The Sooners boast three Q1A victories thanks to a home win over Texas Tech and neutral court wins over Baylor and Arkansas, and they have 10 total Q1/Q2 victories with strong quality metrics. Among the issues for OU is the fact that the Sooners are 12-15 in Q1-3.

First Four Out:

Rutgers – The Scarlet Knights have one of the oddest profiles I can recall and is one that will be scrutinized closely after Friday’s loss to Iowa. They have six Quad 1 victories, but they are hovering just outside the top 75 of the NET, which would be the lowest ever for an at-large team. 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 road wins in Madison and Bloomington. Despite those great victories, Rutgers doesn’t boast great marks in the resume or quality metrics. Similar to Michigan, if the committee puts Rutgers in, I don’t see any way they won’t be in Dayton.

Notre Dame – Following in the footsteps of Wake Forest, the Irish dropped their ACC tournament opener, in this case to Virginia Tech. Despite finishing 15-5 in the ACC, the Irish aren’t totally safe. They are just 4-9 in the top two quadrants with only three wins against the at-large field (vs. Kentucky, at Miami, vs. North Carolina). A Q3 loss at Boston College doesn’t help matters, but a 7-5 mark in true road games certainly does. Ultimately the overall lack of quality wins in a down ACC is the biggest issue, which may leave ND on the outside looking in.

Xavier – The committee no longer formally places additional weight on the final 10-12 games of the season, and the Musketeers are hoping they are true to their word after going 2-8 down the stretch, culminating in a late collapse and OT loss to Butler. That said, Xavier does still have five Q1 victories and is 9-11 in the top two quadrants with a pair of Q3 losses. Eight of their 13 total losses fall in quad 1 and 11 of them are against teams in the top 70 of the NET, and they have five wins over at-large teams in the field plus a win over Virginia Tech. None of their metrics stand out in one way or the other.

Wake Forest – While Wake’s predictive metrics are solid, a closer look at its profile reveals a relative lack of quality wins. The Deacons’ only Q1 victory came at Virginia Tech, and the only other wins against at-large teams in the field both came at home against North Carolina and Notre Dame. Throw in a really poor non-conference strength of schedule, and Wake Forest’s case feels tenuous. They do have a .500 record away from home at 5-5 on the road and 2-2 in neutral court contests, but they also have a pair of quad 3 losses. Steve Forbes has done a tremendous job in his brief tenure in Winston-Salem, but there are plenty of reasons to believe they will end up on the outside looking in come Sunday.

Conference Breakdown:

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

Big East (6): Connecticut, Creighton, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall, Villanova

Big 12 (7): Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Texas Tech, TCU

SEC (6): Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Kentucky, LSU, Tennessee, Texas A&M

ACC (4): Duke, Miami (FL), North Carolina, Virginia Tech

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

American (3): Houston, Memphis, SMU

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

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

America East: Vermont

Atlantic 10: Davidson

Atlantic Sun: Jacksonville State

Big Sky: Montana State

Big South: Longwood

Big West: Cal St. Fullerton

Colonial: Delaware

Conference USA: UAB

Horizon: Wright State

Ivy: Princeton

MAAC: Saint Peter’s

MAC: Akron

MEAC: Norfolk State

Missouri Valley: Loyola Chicago

Northeast: Bryant

Ohio Valley: Murray State

Patriot: Colgate

Southern: Chattanooga

Southland: Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

SWAC: Texas Southern

Summit: South Dakota State

Sun Belt: Georgia State

WAC: New Mexico State

BOLD = Earned automatic bid

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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