The countdown to March Madness has officially arrived. We begin the trek toward Selection Sunday with Arizona and Syracuse as the top two seeds in the opening bracket of 2014. Joining the Wildcats and Orange on the top line … two teams from the Big Ten: Wisconsin and Michigan State. Villanova and Ohio State are close behind.
If you’re new to bracket watching or are returning for the new year, a couple of quick housekeeping notes:
- The NCAA Selection Committee implemented new bracketing procedures designed to keep more teams on their true seed line (from the seed list or s-curve). If you want all the details, visit http://www.ncaa.com. Today’s bracket is a fitting example. In the South Region, Saint Louis is the No. 8 seed – which puts the Billikens in the same half of the bracket as Massachusetts, the No. 5 seed. Both reside in the Atlantic 10 conference. In previous years, Saint Louis would have had been bumped a seed line higher or lower – or moved out of its geographic region – to avoid two teams from the same conference (unless more than eight were selected) meeting before a Regional Final. That bump would have affected more than Saint Louis, perhaps dropping another team from a seven seed to an eight. The new configuration is allowable in part because SLU and UMass are scheduled to meet only once during the A10 regular season. Without going into detail, you’ll also notice Florida and Tennessee engaged in a similar scenario. If those two happened to meet in the SEC tourney (which would be their third meeting), the set-up in this bracket would not be possible. But since we don’t know whether that will occur, it’s accurate for today.
- Teams are selected and seeded based on their overall body of work (now and moving forward). Just because Team A beat Teams B doesn’t necessarily mean Team A’s overall body of work – such as quality wins, strength of schedule – is superior to Team B’s. Teams lose games. If overall accomplishments weren’t considered, we would rank Belmont ahead of North Carolina and Northern Colorado ahead of Kansas State. But that would not be an accurate way to assess either team’s overall performance.
- It’s too early to be overly concerned about the bubble or cutline. Conference play us just beginning. Try not to overreact to a team being one of the last few in or first few out. We have a long way to go. Some teams currently in the bracket will miss the tournament and others will climb into the bracket come March.
- Teams earn bids, not conferences. Although it’s unlikely the Big 12 will earn seven bids on Selection Sunday, it worked out that way through games played on January 5. Next week, it could be different.
College hoops is entering its annual March to Madness. Enjoy the journey to Selection Sunday.
UPDATED: January 6, 2014
Teams in CAPS represent the projected AUTOMATIC bid based on current standings. Exceptions are made for teams that use an abbreviation (UCLA, BYU, etc). While conference play has begun, not all teams have yet played conference games. You may see a few “projected” champions that have not played a game, or that team remains favored to win the automatic bid at this point. We will adjust as the standings progress.
Several new bracketing principles were introduced after last year’s tournament. You can read them for yourself at http://www.ncaa.com. For example: teams from the same conference may now meet before a Regional final, even if fewer than eight teams are selected. The goal is to keep as many teams as possible on their actual seed line.
FIRST FOUR PAIRINGS – Dayton (First Round)
- Virginia vs. Texas | Midwest Region
- Oklahoma vs. California | South Region
- E. TENNESSEE ST vs. UNC-ASHEVILLE | Midwest Region
- NO COLORADO vs. SOUTHERN | West Region
|WEST – Anaheim||EAST – New York|
|1) ARIZONA||1) SYRACUSE|
|16) NO COLORADO / SOUTHERN||16) ALBANY|
|8) Florida State||8) Illinois|
|9) GONZAGA||9) Xavier|
|5) LOUISVILLE||5) Memphis|
|12) UAB||12) TOLEDO|
|4) Kansas||4) Kentucky|
|13) UC-SANTA BARBARA||13) MANHATTAN|
|6) Michigan||6) Missouri|
|11) Notre Dame||11) HARVARD|
|3) WICHITA STATE||3) Oregon|
|14) BELMONT||14) NEW MEXICO ST|
|7) New Mexico||7) Pittsburgh|
|10) Connecticut||10) Kansas State|
|2) BAYLOR||2) Ohio State|
|15) DREXEL||15) BOSTON UNIVERSITY|
|SOUTH – Memphis||MIDWEST – Indianapolis|
|1) MICHIGAN STATE||1) WISCONSIN|
|16) DAVIDSON||16) E. TENN ST / NC-ASHEVILLE|
|8) Saint Louis||8) UCLA|
|9) Georgetown||9) Dayton|
|5) MASSACHUSETTS||5) SAN DIEGO ST|
|12) Oklahoma / California||12) Virginia / Texas|
|4) Duke||4) Colorado|
|13) GREEN BAY||13) NORTH DAKOTA ST|
|St. Louis||St. Louis|
|6) Iowa||6) North Carolina|
|11) Tennessee||11) Minnesota|
|3) Oklahoma State||3) Iowa State|
|14) S.F. AUSTIN||14) WESTERN KENTUCKY|
|7) Creighton||7) Cincinnati|
|10) VCU||10) Arkansas|
|2) FLORIDA||2) VILLANOVA|
|15) NC-CENTRAL||15) BRYANT|
NOTES on the BRACKET: Arizona is the overall No. 1 seed followed by Syracuse, Wisconsin, and Michigan State.
Last Five teams in (at large): Tennessee, Virginia, California, Oklahoma, Texas
First Five teams out (at large): George Washington, LSU, Stanford, Boise State, Butler
Next five teams out (at large): SMU, Arizona State, Purdue, BYU, Saint Mary’s
Breakdown by Conference …
Big Ten (7): Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota
Big 12 (7): Kansas, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Texas
ACC (7): Duke, Syracuse, North Carolina, Florida State, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Virginia
Pac 12 (5): Arizona, Oregon, Colorado, UCLA, California
SEC (5): Kentucky, Florida, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee
Atlantic 10 (4): Massachusetts, VCU, Saint Louis, Dayton
American (4): Louisville, Memphis, Connecticut, Cincinnati
Big East (4): Creighton, Georgetown, Villanova, Xavier
Mountain West (2): New Mexico, San Diego State
Missouri Valley (1): Wichita State
West Coast (1): Gonzaga
Conference Automatic Qualifiers … UAB (C-USA), Belmont (Ohio Valley), Western Kentucky (Sun Belt), Boston University (Patriot), North Dakota State (Summit), Green Bay (Horizon), Davidson (Southern), New Mexico State (WAC), Manhattan (MAAC), Stephen F. Austin (Southland), Toledo (MAC), East Tennessee State (A-Sun), Harvard (IVY), UC-Santa Barbara (Big West), Drexel (Colonial), Albany (American East), Northern Colorado (Big Sky), NC-Central (MEAC), UNC-Asheville (Big South), Bryant (NEC), Southern (SWAC)