Bracketology: NCAA tournament projection as of January 31, 2023

  • 01/31/2023 8:55 am in

With less than six weeks left until Selection Sunday, there is still plenty of intrigue on the one line, with six teams firmly in the mix for a top seed and a few others lurking. At this point, Purdue is the only team with a firm grasp on a one seed. Here’s a quick look at the other contenders:

• Alabama – Despite a blowout loss at Oklahoma over the weekend, the Crimson Tide still boast a strong case for a top seed. They rank in the top five of all team sheet metrics, own six Q1 victories, have a 6-1 mark in true road games, and currently sit at 11-3 in Q1/Q2 games.

• Arizona – The Wildcats boast a gaudy seven Q1 victories, including five in Q1A. Arizona is 8-2 in road/neutral contests and is 10-3 against the top two quadrants, all of which contribute to high rankings in the resume metrics while their quality metrics lag slightly behind. All three losses have come against non-tournament teams, which hurts their case a bit.

• Houston – The case for the Cougars starts with top two rankings in all of the quality metrics along with a perfect 8-0 mark in road/neutral games, including wins at Virginia and on a neutral court against Saint Mary’s. A Q3 home loss to Temple hurts, but Houston is still 9-1 in Q1/Q2 games.

• Kansas – While the Jayhawks have the most losses of any of these teams, they also lead the nation in Q1 victories (8) and are 12-4 in the top two quadrants, including four Q1A wins. A number of KU’s best wins have come away from home, which has propelled them to high rankings in all of the results-based metrics.

• Tennessee – Much like Houston, Tennessee boasts an impressive NET and quality metrics, but the Vols are also just 7-3 in the top two quadrants. A neutral court victory over Kansas pairs nicely with Saturday’s home win over Texas, but an early loss to Colorado isn’t aging particularly well.

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 30, 2023. Following the bracket, I included some quick notes on the last four in and first four out.

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

Last Four In:

West Virginia – The committee doesn’t consider conference record, so the 2-6 mark in Big 12 play isn’t an issue in and of itself. Following Saturday’s win over Auburn, the Mountaineers are now 3-8 in Q1 games with no other losses and a trio of Q2 wins. They rank in the Top 25 of the NET and have solid quality metrics.

Kentucky – A huge road win at Tennessee is keeping Kentucky in the field at this point, but the Wildcats are just 1-6 in Q1 with a Q4 home loss to South Carolina. A victory over Texas A&M helps a bit for bubble purposes, as do strong predictive metrics, but at 4-6 in Q1/Q2, Kentucky’s grip on an at-large bid is far from strong.

Oklahoma – Saturday’s blowout win over Alabama gave the Sooners’ resume a huge boost. They have also knocked off West Virginia at home and own neutral court wins over Florida and Seton Hall. The predictive metrics tend to be strong to go with six Q1/Q2 wins. That said, Oklahoma is just 8-9 in non-Q4 games and has just one true road win despite a 5-5 mark in road/neutral contests.

Wisconsin – The Badgers have fallen to 74th in the NET and have predictive metrics that are poor relative to other bubble teams. They are 2-6 in Q1, but the two wins both came on the road at Marquette and Iowa. Wisconsin also has four Q2 wins, including home wins over Maryland and Penn State to go with a neutral court win against USC. Tyler Wahl’s injury will be considered by the committee, but it also isn’t a free pass for the games Wisconsin lost with him sidelined. The Badgers are just 7-8 in non-Q4 games heading into February.

First Four Out:

Nevada – The Wolf Pack’s four best wins have all come at home, although they do have a 4-5 road mark. Nevada is 6-6 in the top two quadrants with a pair of Q1 wins. They also have no bad losses and strong results-based metrics, although their predictive metrics average out in the low 60s.

Penn State – It’s tough to see the Big Ten getting more than nine teams in the field, but the Nittany Lions are firmly in the mix. Their results-based and predictive metrics are all solid but unspectacular, but they have no bad losses and four Q1/Q2 victories, including wins at Illinois and home against Indiana and Iowa. That Illinois win is PSU’s lone true road victory though, which is something they’ll need to rectify to get on the right side of the bubble.

Texas A&M – The Aggies have played extremely well since SEC play began, but a poor non-conference strength of schedule and a lack of quality wins in non-conference play are working against A&M. They are 4-4 in the top two quadrants with a road win at Auburn, a home win over Missouri, and a sweep of Florida. Eight of the Aggies’ 15 victories fall in Q4, and they are also saddled with one loss in Q3 and another in Q4.

Arizona State – A neutral court win over Creighton falls in Q1A, and it is currently ASU’s lone victory over a team in the at-large mix. The Sun Devils do have four true road wins, including victories at a Oregon and Colorado, but they also have a Q4 loss to Texas Southern.  The predictive metrics are all in the mid-60s with a non-conference strength of schedule in the low 200s.

Conference Breakdown:

Big Ten (9): Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan State, Northwestern, Purdue, Rutgers, Wisconsin

Big 12 (8): Baylor, Iowa St., Kansas, Kansas St., Oklahoma, TCU, Texas, West Virginia

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

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

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

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

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

American (2): Houston, Memphis

West Coast (2): Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s

Atlantic 10: Saint Louis

America East: Vermont

Atlantic Sun: Liberty

Big Sky: Eastern Washington

Big South: UNC Asheville

Big West: UC Santa Barbara

Colonial: Charleston

Conference USA: Florida Atlantic

Horizon: Milwaukee

Ivy: Princeton

MAAC: Siena

MAC: Kent State

MEAC: Maryland Eastern Shore

Missouri Valley: Southern Illinois

Northeast: Fairleigh Dickinson

Ohio Valley: TN-Martin

Patriot: Colgate

Southern: Furman

Southland: SE Louisiana

SWAC: Southern

Summit: Oral Roberts

Sun Belt: Louisiana

WAC: Utah Valley

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