Bracketology: NCAA tournament projection as of January 17, 2023

  • 01/17/2023 9:20 am in

It’s hard to believe it’s mid-January, and we are already less than eight weeks away from Selection Sunday. While I didn’t have time to do a full writeup, here are a couple quick notes on the first in-season bracket projections of the season:

• At this point, the one seeds are clear cut with Purdue, Kansas, Alabama, and Houston rising to the top of the seed list. UCLA checks in as the top two seed and could play its way onto the one line if they keep rolling in the Pac-12.

• There are 11 Big Ten teams in this week’s projections, but I don’t see any chance the league ends up with that many teams in the field when the dust settles. The ACC and Big 12 are next on the list with seven teams each, while the Big East and SEC each have five schools in the field, with the latter also represented by a pair of teams in the first six out.

Here’s a quick refresher about how the NCAA selection committee classifies wins based on the NET rating:

· 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

The Bracket

The projections below are based on all games played through January 16, 2023. Following the bracket, I included some quick notes on the last four in and first six out.

Columbus – March 17/19 Des Moines – March 16/18
1) Purdue 1) Kansas
16) F. Dickinson / Morgan St. 16) SE Louisiana / UMBC
8) North Carolina
8) Clemson
9) Missouri 9) Maryland
Orlando – March 16/18 Greensboro – March 17/19
5) Miami (FL)
5) Rutgers
12) Oral Roberts 12) Dayton
4) Iowa St. 4) Virginia
13) Liberty 13) Marshall
Columbus – March 17/19 Albany – March 17/19
6) Saint Mary’s 6) Auburn
11) Penn St. / Pittsburgh 11) Oklahoma
3) Xavier 3) Connecticut
14) Youngstown St. 14) Colgate
Greensboro – March 17/19 Sacramento – March 16/18
7) Michigan St. 7) NC State
10) Florida Atlantic 10) Boise St.
2) Tennessee 2) Gonzaga
15) SIU-Edwardsville
15) E. Washington
Birmingham – March 16/18 Birmingham – March 16/18
1) Houston 1) Alabama
16) UNC Asheville 16) Southern
8) Wisconsin 8) Iowa
9) New Mexico 9) Arizona St.
Albany – March 17/19 Orlando – March 16/18
5) Baylor 5) Illinois
12) Charleston 12) Kent St.
4) Marquette 4) TCU
13) UC Santa Barbara 13) S. Illinois
Des Moines – March 16/18 Denver – March 17/19
6) Duke 6) Providence
11) Creighton / Northwestern
11) Memphis
3) Kansas St. 3) Arizona
14) Princeton 14) Seattle
Sacramento – March 16/18 Denver – March 17/19
7) San Diego St. 7) Arkansas
10) Indiana 10) Ohio St.
2) UCLA 2) Texas
15) Samford 15) Siena

Last Four In:

Northwestern – Road wins at Michigan State and Indiana are helping to offset a poor non-conference strength of schedule, which has left eight of Northwestern’s 12 wins in Q4. The Wildcats also beat Illinois at home and have just one loss outside of Q1.

Creighton – The Bluejays are tough to evaluate given some gaudy computer numbers and the fact that three of their losses came without Ryan Kalkbrenner. Five of their losses fall in Q1A, and while the predictive metrics all rank in the Top 20, Creighton needs to start stacking wins now that they are back at full strength.

Pittsburgh – A quartet of wins over Virginia, NC State, North Carolina, and Northwestern and no losses outside of the top two quadrants have the Panthers firmly in the at-large conversation. The predictive metrics aren’t particularly compelling, but the resume metrics are just good enough to have them inside the cut line.

Penn State – As mentioned above, I don’t see a path to the Big Ten ending up with 11 teams in, but for now, the Nittany Lions get the nod. They have a road win at Illinois and home victories over Indiana and Iowa to go along with no losses outside of the top two quadrants.

First Six Out:

Kentucky – Saturday’s huge road win at Tennessee propelled the Wildcats back into the at-large mix, but it’s their lone victory over a team in the field. A Q4 loss to South Carolina is a nasty blemish on UK’s profile.

West Virginia – The committee doesn’t consider conference record, so the 0-5 mark in Big 12 play isn’t the issue in and of itself. However, the Mountaineers are now just 2-7 in Q1 with no other losses, but the only victory over a team in the at-large mix came at a Pitt. West Virginia is only 3-7 in non-Q4 contests.

Nevada – The Wolf Pack is tied in the loss column atop the Mountain West, but they also rank in the Top 30 of the NET and have strong result-based metrics. Home wins over Boise State and Utah State are Nevada’s best, as they sit at 5-4 in the top two quadrants.

USC – While the Trojans have played better of late, there still isn’t a ton of meat on their at-large profile. USC boasts home victories over Auburn, Colorado, and Utah, but a Q3 loss to Florida Gulf Coast and metrics all hovering around 50th have them on the outside looking in.

Wake Forest – Q1 wins over Duke at home and on the road against Wisconsin are solid building blocks, but Wake sits at 75th in the NET with some uninspiring quality metrics. Seven of the Demon Deacons’ 13 victories currently sit in Q4.

Mississippi State – Things started off well for the Bulldogs, but their at-large hopes have taken a hit in recent weeks. November neutral court wins over Marquette and Utah have aged well, but Mississippi State is just 2-5 in the top two quadrants and have a sub-250 non-conference strength of schedule.

Conference Breakdown:

Big Ten (11): Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan State, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Rutgers, Wisconsin

ACC (7): Clemson, Duke, Miami (FL), North Carolina, North Carolina State, Pittsburgh, Virginia

Big 12 (7): Baylor, Iowa St., Kansas, Kansas St., Oklahoma, TCU, Texas

Big East (5): Connecticut, Creighton, Marquette, Providence, Xavier

SEC (5): Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Missouri, Tennessee

Mountain West (3): Boise State, New Mexico, San Diego State

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

American (2): Houston, Memphis

West Coast (2): Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s

Atlantic 10: Dayton

America East: UMBC

Atlantic Sun: Liberty

Big Sky: Eastern Washington

Big South: UNC Asheville

Big West: UC Santa Barbara

Colonial: Charleston

Conference USA: Florida Atlantic

Horizon: Youngstown State

Ivy: Princeton

MAAC: Siena

MAC: Kent State

MEAC: Morgan State

Missouri Valley: Southern Illinois

Northeast: Fairleigh Dickinson

Ohio Valley: SIU-Edwardsville

Patriot: Colgate

Southern: Samford

Southland: SE Louisiana

SWAC: Southern

Summit: Oral Roberts

Sun Belt: Marshall

WAC: Seattle

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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