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?


Honestly, it feels like, between Duke and North Carolina, whoever goes farther in the ACC Tournament (read: whoever wins the semifinal matchup in Round 3) will get a No. 1 seed. For today, UNC has the edge over their Tabacco Road brothers.

For the final No. 1 seed, we're looking at Duke, Kentucky, Michigan State and Michigan. While MSU and Michigan have great cases, the Wolverines going 0-2 against the Spartans puts them at No. 7 on the seed list. MSU has a great resume (11 Q1 wins is tied with UK for most in the country), but the Spartans also have blemishes to Illinois and Indiana (2x!).

This is a Duke vs Kentucky battle. The tweet above posts both resumes. They're incredibly similar. The one difference is the number of Q1 wins (11 vs. 8). That said, when things are this close, shouldn't head to head matter? It should, especially when, despite it coming four months ago, a 34-point drubbing is an exclamation point victory that should resonate all season. Duke beat UK 118-84. That game happened. And when both teams are deserving of a No. 1 seed and most of the numbers are identical, head to head should matter. That's why, despite its recent struggles, Duke holds off Kentucky for that last No. 1 seed.

Yes, that means the ACC still has three No. 1 seeds. Virginia is all but locked into the No. 1 overall seed (again), and Gonzaga seems to have a grip on the second No. 1 seed (barring an unexpected slip-up in the WCC Tournament). It's likely UNC or Duke will grab one of the final No. 1 seeds while Kentucky or potentially Michigan State could snag the other. If the season ended today, Duke has the ever-so-slight nod over Kentucky.

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