Sunday, March 13, 2016

FINAL 2016 BRACKET

No. 1 seeds: Kansas, North Carolina, Michigan State, Virginia

LAST FOUR IN: Monmouth, St. Bonaventure, Vanderbilt, Michigan

FIRST FOUR OUT: San Diego State, Syracuse, South Carolina, Valparaiso

LAST FOUR IN: Monmouth, St. Bonaventure, Vanderbilt, Michigan; FIRST FOUR OUT: San Diego State, Syracuse, South Carolina, Valparaiso

Quick Analysis: My goal is to project the bracket, which means I have to take into consideration vibes from the committee and past selection processes. This is the only reason I have North Carolina as a No. 1 seed. UNC, to me, has a good resume, but not better than Villanova's or Oregon's.

I like Virginia, because of the overall body of work, getting the final No. 1 seed over teams like Oregon (Pac-12 regular season and tournament champions) and Villanova.

For the bubble teams, a team like Monmouth did everything possible for a MAAC school (except winning the automatic bid, of course). If Monmouth isn't rewarded then this sends a message that the Big Boys can lose a dozen-plus games and still take those final bids because they are able to get a few more big-time wins because of more opportunities. 

Syracuse and South Carolina, in particular, didn't do much in the nonconference and the regular season was pretty blasé.

Here at Deuce2Sports we're shooting for our first ever perfect bracket. Could this be the year? We can only hope.

Penultimate Bracketology - March 13, 2016 (AM)

The selection committee uses the phrase "entire body of work" year after year. This season, maybe more than others, it will have to put its money where its mouth is if it wants to safe face.

Kansas is the clear choice for the No. 1 overall seed. It gets murky after that, but a team like Virginia has the second best resume in the country. Michigan State, Villanova and Oregon, in that order, have what I would coin the third, fourth and fifth best resumes, respectively.

That means North Carolina's best hope should be for the No. 2 seed in the South region. We'll see if the committee caves to the "this team won both its regular season and conference tournament championship" bit as the be-all, end-all to the debate. If that's the case, then Oregon should join UNC on the No. 1 line and so should the winner of the SEC Tournament (Kentucky/Texas A&M). It's stupid logic, really, if the entire body of work really matters.

Okay, I'm off the soap box. Here's the bracket updated through all of Saturday night's (early Sunday morning's) games:

LAST FOUR IN: Monmouth, Temple, Vanderbilt, Michigan; FIRST FOUR OUT: San Diego St., South Carolina, Syracuse, Valparaiso
My S-Curve order for protected seeds: Kansas, Virginia, Michigan State, Villanova, Oregon, Oklahoma, North Carolina, West Virginia, Xavier, Utah, Kentucky, Miami, Duke, Indiana, Maryland, Purdue.

No results tomorrow will change that order, meaning those should be your Top 16 seeds in an order pretty close to that. 

UConn has moved safely into the bracket while South Carolina has moved out. Our only other changes were reassessing and moving Wichita State out of the dreaded First Four game and putting Monmouth back into that game. 

Sunday's Bid-stealer game: Memphis vs. UConn. I think the Huskies should be safe with a loss, but it wouldn't hurt to win. A Memphis win, however, is a definite bid stealer and me thinks Michigan gets the boot. In reality, any of the last four in teams (you could throw St. Bonaventure and Wichita State into that mix as well) could be bumped out.

It should be a wild Selection Sunday regardless, just as we always hope.


Saturday, March 12, 2016

Bracketology - March 12, 2016

So long, St. Bonaventure.

Welcome, Michigan.

At this time of year, it's all the little things that make the difference when living life on the bubble. The Bonnies, already in a First Four game, lost a quarterfinal game they couldn't afford to lose. Michigan was able to beat Big Ten regular season champion Indiana to advance to the tournament semifinals. These differences, when also taking into account a similar body of work from November to early March, tend to make or break teams.

Now, is Michigan "in" for sure? Absolutely not. Michigan still only has four Top 100 wins. And yes, while those four wins are all in the Top 30, that means there isn't a lot of meat in the middle of Michigan's schedule and nearly a dozen losses.

Other movers from Friday: I'm more and more convinced Monmouth is safely in the field at this point. I moved Monmouth out of the First Four and onto the No. 10 line because other teams are fading fast. Vanderbilt lost to Tennessee while South Carolina fell in the SEC quarterfinals. Those teams needed to add to their respective resumes, not add blemishes.

The biggest win came from Seton Hall. The Pirates' victory over Xavier bumped them up to the No. 6 line, while a team like Wisconsin - which really got hot but still has plenty of blemishes on its resume - fell to a No. 7.

West Virginia moved onto the No. 2 line, replacing Xavier (No. 3). The Mountaineers just get the job done. It's mighty impressive and has been since early in the season.

Here's the updated bracket thru Friday night's games:

LAST FOUR IN: Wichita State, UConn, Michigan, Vanderbilt; FIRST FOUR OUT: St. Bonaventure, Syracuse, Valpo, St. Mary's (CA)
What to watch for (Saturday edition): The Pac-12 final between Oregon and Utah should be great. I believe Utah is a dangerous team and the committee could potentially swap both Utah and Oregon in their brackets, giving Utah a No. 2 and Oregon a No. 3...

If Michigan beats Purdue, the Wolverines should be safely in the field. A loss could be withstood, but other things could happen and, most importantly, while it's a quality loss it would still be a resume loss.

Virginia still has a much better resume than North Carolina, but there's a chance an ACC Tournament title for the Tar Heels could give UNC the No. 1 and bump Virginia to a No. 2.... It's not right, but it could happen.

Michigan State has to beat Maryland (and likely win the Big Ten Tournament) to keep the No. 1 seed in the West. That's been said for the past week. Until the Spartans lose they are a No. 1 seed.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Bracketology - March 11, 2016

So much for No. 1 seeds in conference tournaments. UAB became the 12th (!) top seed in a conference tournament to be bounced. Only Chattanooga, so far, has won its conference tournament as the No. 1 seed.

Some small changes to the bracket due to the re-evaluation of resumes, but nothing major in terms of "in or out."

Iowa continues its downward spiral. I now have the Hawkeyes on the No. 7 line as the top seven seed. It might be a tad low, but other teams are bound to evaluate themselves in the next few days and Iowa has left a sour taste in the committee's mouth. Notre Dame bumped up to the No. 6 line with its win against Duke, in a sense swapping places with Iowa.

California continues to soar. I have the Golden Bears as the final No. 4 seed, moving Purdue to the No. 5 line. California has eight Top-50 wins and has played 15 games against that group. That's a brutal schedule in which the Bears have fared extremely well.

My "First Four In" hasn't changed. I still like St. Bonaventure, Wichita State, Monmouth, and UConn in those spots. Things could change, however, depending on various results.

Here's the bracket through Thursday, March 10th's evening games:

LAST FOUR IN: St. Bonaventure, Wichita State, Monmouth, UConn; FIRST FOUR OUT: Syracuse, Michigan, Florida, Valpo; NEXT FOUR OUT: Tulsa, St. Mary's (CA), Ohio State, George Washington

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Bracketology - March 10, 2016

Thank you, Holy Cross, for fulfilling one of my favorite parts of March Madness: A sub-.500 team making a magical run to steal an automatic bid and reach the First Four.

Holy Cross, which entered the Patriot League Tournament at 10-19 overall and hadn't won a league road game all season, reeled off four straight road wins (the Patriot League Tournament is played at the higher seed's gym) to grab a bracket spot at 14-19. Amazing, amazing story.

That was last night's only official bid but there were some other notable games that impacted the bracket. Pittsburgh/Syracuse wasn't exactly a play-out game, but both teams needed a victory to feel safe. Pittsburgh won, 72-71, and completed a three-game sweep of Syracuse this season. Pitt should feel safe even with a loss to North Carolina today. Syracuse, on the other hand, is 19-13 and 9-10 in the ACC (including tournament loss). That's not NCAA material. Forget Jim Boeheim's nine-game suspension which saw the Orange go 4-5, that would still put Syracuse at 15-8 with one notable win (at Duke) and a typical soft nonconference schedule. This resume screams NIT and that's where I have the Orange right now as the first team out.

Oregon State and USC got needed wins last night to stay on the right side of the bubble. From this point on, there might be a few movers and shakers around that cutline, but this is more about seeding than anything else. The Big Boy Tournaments really get going today.

Nothing else to say about Monmouth, Wichita State, Valpo, or St. Mary's.... lots of sweat building up in those places.

Here's the updated bracket...

LAST FOUR IN: Wichita State, St. Bonaventure, UConn, Monmouth; FIRST FOUR OUT: Syracuse, St. Mary's (CA), Michigan, Valpo

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Bracketology - March 9, 2016

More chaos, please.

Well, there really wasn't that much chaos on Tuesday as three of the four bids handed out - Green Bay (Horizon), Fairleigh Dickinson (Northeast) and South Dakota State (Summit) were not bid stealers.

Gonzaga's win over St. Mary's in the WCC title game could stir the pot. Many felt St. Mary's was safe either way and that Gonzaga needed to win to reach the NCAA Tournament for the 18th straight season. Well, we'll see what happens with the Gaels now. St. Mary's best wins were against Gonzaga (twice in the regular season) and the Gaels didn't leave California in the nonconference. It's not the best-looking 27-5 we've seen, so there will be some sweating in Moraga for a few days.

If we assume Gonzaga is a bid stealer, that means out last team in as of this morning (Monmouth) is out. If Gonzaga just replaces St. Mary's, then Monmouth is safe. Resumes are still fluid right now, and a Monmouth/Valpo/Wichita State debate will rage on. Heck, if a team like Michigan can knock off Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals that could boost the Wolverines back into the field. The same can be said about Syracuse if the Orange beat Pittsburgh and North Carolina in the ACC Tourney.

Oh, madness... Here's our updated bracket:

LAST FOUR BYES: St. Bonaventure, UConn, Wichita State, Monmouth; FIRST FOUR OUT: Syracuse, Valparaiso, Michigan, St. Mary's (CA).

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Bracketology - March 8, 2016

The biggest day of pre-Selection Sunday chaos happened Monday night.

Two of those "mid-majors to watch out for in the tournament" - Monmouth and Valparaiso - lost in their respective conference tournaments. Monmouth fell to Iona in the MAAC finals while Valpo was upended by Wright State in the Horizon semifinals.

All in all, it allows us to debate: Should a team like Monmouth (27-7, wins over Notre Dame, USC, Georgetown, UCLA) be rewarded and invited to the dance over a team with a .500 conference record and twice as many losses (see Syracuse at 19-12 overall, 9-9 in the ACC)?

Here's our updated bracket, which is sure to change tonight and into tomorrow morning...

LAST FOUR IN: UConn, Wichita State, St. Bonaventure, Monmouth; FIRST FOUR OUT: Valparaiso, Michigan, Gonzaga, Syracuse

Monday, March 7, 2016

Bracketology - March 7, 2016

We've had five tickets punched to the NCAA Tournament thus far in 2016. Outside of Yale, which earned the Ivy league's automatic bid by winning the regular season title, we've already had chaos in terms of teams going dancing.

Four conference tournaments have given us three No. 4 seeds and one No. 8 seed as conference tournament champions. If this is any indication, we might really be in for a madness-filled March.

Here's the updated bracket through Sunday, March 6 games:

FIRST FOUR OUT: Michigan, Gonzaga, Tulsa, Florida
The biggest mover and shaker in today's bracket was Wichita State. The Shockers are an interesting case as the team has been playing so much better as of late, but it still has early-season losses that hurt the resume. As it stands, the resume is an extremely borderline NCAA Tournament team. The play suggests a team in the 8/9 game. 

Some re-evaluating overnight and this morning had me slide Wichita State out of the above-mentioned 8/9 game and into a "First Four" contest. The more I analyze the situation, the more I see Wichita State absolutely locked into a Dayton game... if the Shockers make the Big Dance.

Clemson is the other team to keep an eye on. This is the case of a team that will end up with 14 losses but will have three wins (albeit at home) against Duke, Louisville, and Miami. It won't matter that those came consecutively, after a road win against likely tournament team Syracuse, but it shows Clemson has the talent to beat good teams. If it's Clemson vs. Michigan, for example, will the committee take the team with three really, really good wins or the team that lost fewer times overall? It all depends on the body of the committee, I guess.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Bracketology - March 5, 2016

The Deuce2Sports bracket is back! While we haven't posted an official bracket this season, we've been monitoring teams all year round and are confident this is the year 68-for-68 happens.

We're still one day away from the end of the regular season, but bracket madness is in full swing. Like most years, there's plenty of potential movement at the top of the bracket and a revolving door at the bottom. A reminder to all those "First Four" teams: You are not safe (see Wichita State's Missouri Valley Conference semifinal loss as the latest example of a stolen bid).

Here's our bracket through Saturday, March 5 games:

FIRST FOUR OUT: Michigan, Tulsa, Florida, Gonzaga
It's pretty clear, regardless of conference tournament results, that Kansas and Villanova will garner No. 1 seeds. Virginia should be a No. 1 seed barring a crazy bad loss (ACC Tournament quarterfinals to Virginia Tech?). That leaves, by my count, six teams battling for the last No. 1 spot.

I have Michigan State on the top line now for a few reasons. First, the Spartans are playing their best ball now and the rough stretch during the season came when potential National Player of the Year Denzel Valentine was injured and when he just came back into the lineup. Also, three of MSU's losses are by a single point.

The biggest competitor is probably North Carolina, although I would argue the Tar Heels have No. 1 seed talent but a No. 2 seed resume. Oklahoma, Miami and Xavier are also teams that, if other teams fall and they win their respective conference tournaments, could grab the West's No. 1 seed.

That sixth team? Try Maryland. The Terrapins would have to win the Big Ten Tournament, which would include wins against Purdue, Michigan State and Indiana/Wisconsin in the title game. Those three neutral-site wins might be enough momentum, assuming Maryland can win at Big Ten champ Indiana on Sunday, to take Maryland to the top line. It's definitely a long shot, but every committee values tournament championships differently.

My personal ranking of the battle for that final No. 1 seed: Michigan State, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Xavier, Miami, Maryland.

It's going to be a wild championship week.