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.