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. 

Monday, March 11, 2019

Bracketology (March 11, 2019)

Welcome to the field, Gardner-Webb, Bradley, and Liberty.

That's four auto-bids down, 28 to go.

No changes near the top yesterday. This week will be, for the most part, about how the bottom of the bracket shapes up (let's go, bid stealers!)

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

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Bracketology (March 10, 2019)

Well, well, well... that was a fun Saturday of hoops!

Murray State cashed its ticket to the Big Dance and now more of the world can see Ja Morant. UNC swept the season series against Duke while Michigan State did the same to Michigan.

Those results and a handful of others shifted things in the bracket. We still like Belmont as an at-large team, although it's always tough to tell what a committee values (see previous posts). Nevertheless, things will get interesting in the next week.

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

The controversy with this bracket is pretty simple: Duke is still a No. 1 seed?

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Bracketology (March 9, 2019)

Here's our bracket prior to the first automatic bid (Belmont or Murray State) being awarded tonight.

Oh, there's also Michigan-Michigan State and Duke-UNC. So, yeah, there will likely be some shifting and shaking come Sunday morning.

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

Monday, March 4, 2019

Bracketology (March 4, 2019)

Here's the updated bracket. Will three ACC teams stay on the top line? Probably not, but remember this is NOT unprecedented (see Big East, 2009).

While Tennessee has the gaudy record, it is a fairly empty 26-3. Remember, it was only a last year when Michigan State won the Big Ten, going 29-4 overall and 16-2 in conference. The Spartans were a No. 3 seed! While I don't believe the Vols have a shot at falling that far, it seems, based on past precedent, Tennessee is much closer to a No. 2 than a No. 1 (especially with the current field). Tennessee's big wins are Gonzaga, Kentucky and Louisville -- all at home. As always, each committee has its own makeup and the importance of big wins vs. Q1 games vs. bad losses varies from year to year.

Last Four Byes: Syracuse, NC StateSt. John's, TCU
Last Four In: Alabama, Minnesota, Clemson, Arizona State
First Four Out: Temple, Seton Hall, UNC-Greensboro, Xavier
Next Four Out: Indiana, Creighton, Georgetown, St. Mary's

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Bracketology (Feb. 28, 2019)

Another week, another bracket. No major changes from Monday's release other than Kansas jumping back up to the No. 3 line at the expense of LSU (No. 4) and Kansas State, after reevaluating the entire resume, grabbing a No. 4 seed and bumping Nevada to a No. 5.

As good as Nevada is, the Wolfpack have played exactly zero Q1 games. The gaudy record would be taken more seriously had the team played a Gonzaga-esque schedule. Instead, with no Q1 games, the resume won't stand up to what the committee will eventually settle on for the Top 16 seeds. Nevada is a good team that could make the second weekend or even the Final Four, but they'll have to do so with a higher seed than expected.

One other note: Houston is 27-1 and is No. 4 in NET rankings. Most people have seemingly put the ceiling for the Cougars at a No. 3 seed. While the top eight teams are strong, there is no reason to think Houston running the table (heck, even sustaining another highly-impressive loss) would keep them from a No. 2. Right now, I have Houston as the No. 8 overall team, slightly ahead of No. 9 Michigan. It's really a coin flip, and the Wolverines have plenty of chances to enhance an already-solid profile. When the dust settles, I'd argue it's a three-team race for the final two No. 2 seeds between Houston, Michigan, and Tennessee.
Last Four Byes: NC State, Temple, Murray State, UCF
Last Four In: Seton Hall, Alabama, Minnesota, Utah State
First Four Out: Lipscomb, UNC-Greensboro, Georgetown, Furman

Monday, February 25, 2019

Bracketology (Feb. 25, 2019)

While the Bomb Cyclone hit the midwest on Sunday, Cassius Winston and shorthanded Michigan State hit Michigan in the mouth at Crisler Center. In one of the grittiest efforts I've seen in a while, the then-No. 10 Spartans beat the then-No. 7 Wolverines 77-70.

It was a game that neither team played its best, but MSU had a season-low six turnovers while Winston's game-high eight assists were more than the entire Michigan team (six).

It was an odd game in many respects. Michigan was outrebounding MSU most of the game (MSU won the battle in the end 33-31) and the Wolverines shot 85% (17-20) from the free throw line, well above their 68% season average. Both teams were a combined 0-for-19 in the second half from 3-point range until Jordan Poole hit a pair of "Are-you-kidding-me" triples to give Spartan fans heart palpations in the final 60 seconds.

In all, MSU's 77 points were the second most that Michigan had surrendered all season (78 to South Carolina in December); the Spartans' 1.20 PPP was the most put up against the Wolverines' defense this year. (MSU scored 77 points in 62 possessions while South Carolina's 78 points came in 71 possessions).

The victory seems to solidify the Spartans on the No. 2 line. If things go right for the Spartans (read: MSU wins out, likely meaning an unshared Big Ten Championship and the Big Ten Tournament Championship), MSU would have a mighty case for a No. 1 seed. Otherwise, a spot on the No. 2 line seems like a pretty sure lock barring some nutty loss to Indiana on Saturday.

Michigan, on the other hand, is an intriguing case. The Wolverines have been perched on the No. 2 line for a while, but other teams continue to win the Michigan continues to chalk up a loss here and there. Also worth noting, the some of the wins that looked so good earlier in the season (at Villanova being the most pertinent) have lost plenty of luster.

Could Michigan be on the No. 3 line, 30 years after another No. 3 seeded Michigan team won the title? Well, that's where we have the Wolverines this week as Houston sneaks up to the No. 2 line.

Last Four Byes: Temple, Murray State, NC State, Arizona State
Last Four In: Seton Hall, Alabama, Lipscomb, UCF
First Four Out: Clemson, Utah State, Furman, Georgetown
Next Four Out: Nebraska, Toledo, Creighton, Xavier

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Bracketology (Feb. 21, 2019)

"His shoe just exploded!"

Yes, rather than discussing the actual Duke/UNC game, most people (and rightfully so) were focused on a potentially NCAA career-ending knee injury for Zion Williamson. UNC soundly defeated Duke, 88-72, with much of the advantage coming from Duke being shell-shocked from Zion's injury just 34 seconds into the contest.

How this affects Duke long term is unknown, but it's a big blow. More than anything, Zion's athleticism on the defensive end and his rim presence was especially missed against the Tar Heels. If Duke can't solve its defensive woes minus Zion, the Blue Devils will see a significant drop in results. That said, it's not like Coach K has a bunch of 2-star recruits, folks. He's bringing ol' 4- and 5-star recruits off the bench that had dozens of NCAA offers. While none of them are Zion, it's not like the cupboard is bare.

Duke remains the No. 1 team in the field -- the resume is just that good -- while the Tar Heels stay on the No. 2 line (but jump Michigan State on the S-curve). In fact, the top four lines remained the same with minor shuffling. There was minor movement in the 5-6-7 lines while, per usual, the 10-12 lines tend to be a revolving door.

Last Four Byes: Temple, Murray State, Lipscomb, Arizona State
Last Four In: Seton Hall, Alabama, NC State, Furman
First Four Out: Utah State, UCF, Nebraska, Butler
Next Four Out: Clemson, Toledo, Nebraska, Georgetown

Monday, February 18, 2019

Bracketology - Feb. 18, 2019

Another week means more chaos in the bracket. With one month remaining until Selection Sunday, here is where things stand.

Last Four Byes: Seton Hall, Murray State, Temple, Alabama
Last Four In: Arizona State, NC State, Furman, UCF
First Four Out: Utah State, Florida, UNC-Greensboro, Butler
Next Four Out: Clemson, Indiana, Nebraska, Toledo

Monday, February 11, 2019

Bracketology - Feb. 11, 2019

Per usual, our first posted bracket projections come after the NCAA unveils their "Top 16" teams list in early February. Judging from that ordered list, we've shuffled through the teams to fill out the rest of the bracket.

A few notes: There are plenty of teams at the bottom (at large seeds 10-12) that will play themselves in or out of the bracket from this moment forward (ahem, Indiana and Oklahoma). It's strange that those two teams are a combined 7-16 in their respective conference and have a grasp on an at-large spot, especially Oklahoma on the No. 10 line!

If you look at this bracket (and others) and see a top-heavy bracket, you're not alone; The top 18ish teams are head and shoulders ahead of the rest of the pack, and there is a decently-sized gap between Nos. 1-5 and Nos. 6-16 in my opinion. This could very well be the second year in NCAA Tournament history to see four No. 1 seeds in the Final Four -- and that shouldn't surprise anyone.