Bracketology: Bumpy ride to Selection Sunday

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It looks like a bumpy ride to Selection Sunday.  In a just over a week’s time, we’ve been reminded that conference games take on a different flavor.  Since Christmas, two No. 1 seeds – Villanova and UCLA – have lost league road games to quality opponents (Butler and Oregon).  Neither is a reason to panic, nor switch directions.  One could look at the SEC and believe Kentucky has a chance to run the table; same for Gonzaga in the WCC.  Other than that?  Teams are going to lose.  It happens.  It’s an important reminder that the Seed List – used by the Selection Committee to create the bracket – isn’t a poll, where a single loss (or win), is often judged above the whole.  Rather, the Seed List is a evaluation of a team’s entire body of work at a given point in time, relative to teams around it.

Were today Selection Sunday, the Committee would have some particularly tough choices. How would they handle a team like Indiana?  The Hoosiers have two stellar wins – Kansas and North Carolina.  The rest of their current resume is suspect.  Largely due to a poor slate of non-conference home games, IU’s RPI is hovering around 130; a team with that type of number has never received an at-large bid.  What we believe – or at least suspect – is that Indiana will win enough Big Ten games to improve that number.  By contrast, IU is 29th in today’s KenPom rankings and 42nd in the ELO Chess metric.  The Hoosiers are 38th on our Seed List.  We’ll see how the next few weeks play out.

It’s early January, so things remain very fluid.  Conference play generally provides separation for seeding and selection.  Given what we’ve seen in the first week, however, a bumpy ride.  It should be fun.

UPDATED: January 5, 2017

Regarding bracketing principles, 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)

  • Rhode Island vs. Miami-FL | East Region
  • TCU vs. Illinois South Region
  • UC-IRVINE vs. SE-LOUISIANA | Midwest Region
  • NC-CENTRAL vs. MOUNT ST. MARY’S | East Region

BRACKET PROJECTION …

EAST New York          MIDWEST – Kansas City                  
Buffalo Tulsa
1) VILLANOVA 1) KANSAS
16) NC-CENTRAL/MT ST MARY’S 16) UC-IRVINE/SE LOUISIANA
8) Northwestern 8) Pittsburgh
9) SMU 9) Michigan
Orlando Sacramento
5) Florida 5) Wisconsin
12) NC-WILMINGTON 12) UT-ARLINGTON
4) Virginia 4) Oregon
13) AKRON 13) NEW MEXICO ST
Buffalo Salt Lake City
6) Purdue 6) Minnesota
11) Rhode Island/Miami-FL 11) WICHITA STATE
3) West Virginia 3) Creighton
14) VERMONT 14) PENN
Greenville Orlando
7) Maryland 7) USC
10) South Carolina 10) Indiana
2) Duke 2) FLORIDA STATE
15) JACKSONVILLE ST 15) UNC-ASHEVILLE
WEST – San Jose SOUTH – Memphis
Sacramento Tulsa
1) UCLA 1) Baylor
16) TEXAS-SOUTHERN 16) BUCKNELL
8) Seton Hall 8) Michigan State
9) Dayton 9) Arkansas
Milwaukee Milwaukee
5) Notre Dame 5) Arizona
12) MID TENNESSEE ST 12) VALPARAISO
4) Butler 4) Xavier
13) BOISE STATE 13) FLA GULF COAST
Greenville Indianapolis
6) CINCINNATI 6) Saint Mary’s
11) VCU 11) Illinois/TCU
3) North Carolina 3) Louisville
14) SAMFORD 14) CANISIUS
Salt Lake City Indianapolis
7) Clemson 7) Virginia Tech
10) Oklahoma State 10) Iowa State
2) GONZAGA 2) KENTUCKY
15) NORTH DAKOTA ST 15) E. WASHINGTON

NOTES on the BRACKET: Villanova is the No. 1 overall seed, followed by Kansas, Baylor, and UCLA

Last Four Byes (at large): Oklahoma State, Indiana, Iowa State, South Carolina

Last Four IN (at large): TCU, Illinois, Rhode Island, Miami-FL

First Four OUT (at large): NC State, Marquette, Ohio State, Kansas State

Next four teams OUT (at large): Providence, Nebraska, Texas Tech, Houston

Breakdown by Conference …

ACC (10): FLORIDA STATE, Duke, North Carolina, Louisville, Virginia, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Clemson, Pittsburgh, Miami-FL

Big 10 (9): WISCONSIN, Minnesota, Purdue, Maryland, Northwestern, Michigan State, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois

Big 12 (6): KANSAS, Baylor, West Virginia, Oklahoma State, Iowa State, TCU

Big East (5): VILLANOVA, Creighton, Xavier, Butler, Seton Hall

SEC (4): KENTUCKY, Florida, South Carolina, Arkansas

Pac 12 (4): UCLA, Arizona, Oregon, USC

Atlantic 10 (3): VCU, Dayton, Rhode Island

American (2): CINCINNATI, SMU

West Coast (2): GONZAGA, Saint Mary’s

Missouri Valley (1): WICHITA STATE

Mountain West (1): BOISE STATE

ONE BID LEAGUES: Canisius (MAAC), Middle Tennessee State (C-USA), UT-Arlington (SBELT), Penn (IVY), Eastern Washington (BSKY), Valparaiso (HORIZON), SE Louisiana (SLND), Samford (STHN), UC-Irvine (BWEST), Akron (MAC), Florida Gulf Coast (ASUN), Jacksonville State (OVC), UNC-Wilmington (CAA), UNC-Asheville (BSO), NC-Central (MEAC), North Dakota State (SUM), New Mexico State (WAC), Vermont (AEAST), Bucknell (PAT), Mount St. Mary’s (NEC), Texas-Southern (SWAC)