Sunday, March 17, 2019

Final 2019 Bracketology

Here it is...

Last Four Byes: Florida, Oklahoma, TCU, Washington
Last Four In: Arizona State, Ohio State, Temple, Belmont
First Four Out: St. John's, NC State, Alabama, Xavier
Next Four Out: Texas, UNC-Greensboro, Indiana, Clemson
At the end of the bubble, it's really between Belmont vs. St. John's for me. Could go either way. I know people love UNC-Greensboro, but the record is too inflated with no good wins to speak of. Had three cracks against Wofford and went 0-3. That's the killer.

Here's to 68/68!

Bracketology (March 17, 2019 -- AM)

And the penultimate 2019 bracket is here!

Last Four Byes: Florida, Oklahoma, TCU, Washington
Last Four In: Arizona State, Ohio State, Temple, Belmont
First Four Out: St. John's, NC State, Alabama, Xavier
Next Four Out: Texas, UNC-Greensboro, Indiana, Clemson

Sometimes, it's easy to let your emotions as a fan, a bracketologists, or just a natural human being get in the way of predicting what the committee will do.

Case in point: Last week, the talk was about Duke and Kentucky for the final No. 1 seed. Virginia was a "lock" for the No. 1 overall seed regardless of the ACC Tournament. Well, Duke gets Zion Williamson back and wins three games in three days over Syracuse, North Carolina, and Florida State. Duke as the No. 1 overall seed? That seems to look more and more likely.

With Duke as the No. 1 overall seed, Virginia is the No. 2 overall seed. For me, North Carolina is the easy No. 3 overall seed and, for the moment, Gonzaga is the No. 4 overall seed. Gonzaga has some bigger wins (the one over Duke stands out), but the overall SOS is not great thanks to the lowly WCC. Throw in Gonzaga's loss to a St. Mary's team in the WCC final that wouldn't have made the tournament otherwise and you have an interesting argument to be made.

If Tennessee wins the SEC Tournament, the Vols would be 30-4 in a top-heavy SEC with two wins over likely No. 2 seed Kentucky.

If Michigan State wins the Big Ten Tournament, the Spartans would be 28-6 with a sweep over likely No. 2 seed Michigan. MSU would have the most Q1 wins in the country and have won a share of the Big Ten regular season title and the Big Ten Tournament.

The debate between Gonzaga, Michigan State and Tennessee would be interesting. Based on resume, I'd sort them Michigan State-Gonzaga-Tennessee, but I have no idea what the committee would do. For example, it would be simple to put MSU or Tennessee as the No. 1 seed in the West Region because making Gonzaga the No. 2 seed in the West Regions is the easy fix.

Of course, I'm assuming the ACC has three No. 1 seeds locked up. It should, but it might not get them. There is also the scenario where MSU and Tennessee winning gives one the No. 1 seed in the Midwest and the other the No. 1 seed in the West.

Gonzaga's placement is really what sets the dominoes in motion. If the Zags are the No. 1 seed out West, it's likely the last No. 2 seed (Kentucky?) goes out West. If Gonzaga is a No. 2 seed, it'll be sent out West.

A few scenarios:
Gonzaga (1 West)
EAST: Duke (1) vs. Michigan (2)
SOUTH: Virginia (1) vs. Tennessee (2)
MIDWEST: UNC (1) vs. Michigan State (2)
WEST: Gonzaga (1) vs. Kentucky (2)

Gonzaga (2 West)
EAST: Duke (1) vs. Kentucky (2)
SOUTH: Virginia (1) vs. Tennessee (2)
MIDWEST: UNC (1) vs. Michigan (2)
WEST: Michigan State (1) vs. Gonzaga (2)

Gonzaga (2 West)
EAST: Duke (1) vs. Kentucky (2)
SOUTH: Virginia (1) vs. Michigan (2)
MIDWEST: UNC (1) vs. Michigan State (2)
WEST: Tennessee (1) vs. Gonzaga (2)

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Bracketology (March 16, 2019)

Operation ACC Three No. 1 Seeds is almost complete.

Duke's thrilling 74-73 win over North Carolina in Friday's ACC Tournament semifinals jumps the Blue Devils back up to the No. 1 line. Then, coupled with a Virginia's loss, there are arguments to be made that Duke could be the No. 1 seed on Selection Sunday. Duke's not there... yet. A win over Florida State in Saturday's ACC final would be huge and, with a fully-healthy Zion, would give the committee plenty to dissect in regards to the seed list.

Currently, I still have Virginia as the No. 1 overall seed, followed by UNC, Duke and Gonzaga. Kentucky and Michigan State still might have a claim for that fourth No. 1 spot, but it'll be interesting to see what happens with UNC. The Tar Heels were a unanimous No. 1 seed before a crazy one-point loss. Does that drop them to a No. 2? It shouldn't, but we're not in the room.

LAST FOUR BYES: TCU, Minnesota, Washington, Arizona State
LAST FOUR IN: Ohio State, Temple, St. John's, Belmont
FIRST FOUR OUT: Oregon, NC State, Alabama, Xavier
NEXT FOUR OUT: Texas, UNC-Greensboro, Indiana, Clemson

There will be a bid stealer in the A-10 after VCU's loss in the quarterfinals to Rhode Island. Davidson (the No. 2 seed in the tournament), currently holds that spot. The MAC and the Pac-12 also have bid stealer possibilities. 

Oregon's resume is one that will get a big look over the next few days. The Ducks are playing incredibly well down the stretch and have decent wins. Will it be enough? Oregon is one of those teams that could really catch fire from the 11/12 line and make the Sweet 16... or could enjoy a stay in the NIT. Honestly, I'm 50/50 whether Washington actually makes the tournament. As an 11 seed, I think that's pretty clear. The Huskies could be anywhere from a No. 8 seed to the NIT. 

Friday, March 15, 2019

Bracketology (March 15, 2019)

With so much chaos, this will be short and sweet.

Duke looks like Duke again, thinks to Zion Williamson's return, and Duke gets back up to the No. 1 line. I'll go with a 45% chance the ACC gets three No. 1 seeds at this juncture.

Ohio State and Arizona State move into the field, not so much because of their respective victories today, but the losses by Indiana and Texas. Well, technically OSU moved in because it beat Indiana, but you get the point. Texas, tough SOS and all, isn't getting into the field at 16-16. If that happened, you might just see mid-major anarchy!

Last Four Byes: Washington, Minnesota, Temple, St. John's
Last Four In: Belmont, NC State, Ohio State, Arizona State
First Four Out; Alabama, Xavier, Texas, Indiana
Next Four Out: UNC-Greensboro, Clemson, Toledo, Creighton

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Bracketology (March 13, 2019)

Here's our updated bracket through Tuesday night's games (Welcome, St. Mary's, Northern Kentucky, North Dakota State, Fairleigh Dickinson, and Northeastern).

Last Four Byes: Minnesota, Temple, TCU, Belmont
Last Four In: St. John's, NC State, Indiana, Texas
First Four Out: Arizona State, Clemson, Ohio State, Alabama
Next Four Out: Xavier, Toledo, Creighton, UNC-Greensboro

No. 1 seeds: Resume-based, Duke is still a No. 1 seed. That said, Duke has been Zion-less for the past few weeks and the Blue Devils have gone 3-3. While he'll return for the ACC Tournament, anything less than beating UNC seals a No. 2 seed. Even a loss to Virginia in the ACC Tournament final, depending on how the SEC and Big Ten Tournaments pan out, could keep Duke on the No. 2 line.

As far as Gonzaga goes, 30-3 is 30-3. The world can focus on four Q1 wins, but would five Q1 wins (a win over St. Mary's in the WCC final) really have made that much difference? Gonzaga was either the second or third No. 1 seed before the WCC title game. A loss doesn't automatically send the Zags tumbling down seed lists.

The bubble: St. Mary's absolutely stole a bid (sorry, Arizona State). Per usual, all teams have a chance to play themselves into the field and out of the field from here on out.

A change made a few days ago, when re-scrubbing, was flipping Indiana and Ohio State in the Big Ten. Just because the Buckeyes started hotter and were higher for much of the year doesn't automatically mean the Buckeyes should be ahead of the Hoosiers today (even with a slightly-better Big Ten finish). Indiana has more Q1 wins and has played a tougher schedule. Heck, OSU went 0-6 against the Big Ten's top four teams; Indiana swept MSU. This isn't even factoring in the health of each team coming down the stretch.

There are still some bid stealers out there, no doubt. If VCU doesn't win the A-10, the bubble will shrink (thank goodness!). The Big Ten, Big East, and Pac-12 Tournaments have some intrigue if a few bubblicious teams (say, Penn State, Oregon, Oregon State, Xavier, Creighton, Georgetown) make a deep run and/or win their conference tournaments. 

No. 3 Tennessee: This is unpopular (few bracketologists have pegged Tennessee as anything less than a No. 2 seed), but resume speaking, Tennessee's is big on quantity of wins but short on quality. There are two wins - Gonzaga and Kentucky - that are carrying the Vols. Tennessee is a great team - just like a few recent MSU teams - but the record doesn't hold nearly the weight as the two other teams I have above them for the final two No. 2 seeds (Michigan & LSU). It's somewhat close and could change depending on conference tournament results, but the discussions thinking Tennessee is close to a No. 1 seed seem laughable.