Bracketology: Don’t sleep on Duke

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After a home loss to NC State in late January, it was fair to wonder if this year’s talented group of Duke Blue Devils were ever going to reach the pinnacles set before them in November.  Most preseason bracket projections established Duke as the No. 1 overall seed, a prohibitive favorite to win another National Championship.  Then the injuries mounted, on the court and on the bench. Following the NC State defeat, Duke had lost three of four games and looked more like a middle-of-the-pack ACC group than a title contender.

Now, turn the page. Since that loss to the Wolfpack, the Blue Devils have reeled off six straight ACC wins, including three on the road – at Wake Forest, at Notre Dame, and last night at Virginia.  In less than a month, Duke has risen to 9-4 in the ACC, back among league contenders.  They’ve also taken a climb on today’s Seed List – claiming a No. 3 seed in the bracket, opening in Greenville.  If you fell asleep on the Blue Devils, it might be time to wake up.  It looks like Duke is back in play for a top-three seed on Selection Sunday.

Bubble Picture …

In the absence of distinct separating factors along the cutline, it was time to reconvene some advanced metrics.  Those models continue to favor the likes of Clemson, Wichita State, and Kansas State – despite the Wildcats’ recent streak of Big 12 losses.  For now, take your pick among the final 8 teams (Last IN, First OUT).  You can make cases for and against each of them.  Championship Week could well turn into a series of play-in games unless two or three teams from the group (or elsewhere) separate themselves in the next couple of weeks.

UPDATED: February 16, 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)

  • Wichita State vs. TCU | West Region
  • Kansas State vs. Clemson | Midwest Region
  • WEBER STATE vs. UC-DAVIS | Midwest Region
  • MT. ST. MARY’S vs. NC CENTRAL | East Region

BRACKET PROJECTION …

EAST New York MIDWEST Kansas City             
Buffalo Tulsa
1) VILLANOVA 1) KANSAS
16) NC-CENTRAL / M.S. MARY’S 16) WEBER ST / UC-DAVIS
8) Dayton 8) USC
9) Michigan State 9) Virginia Tech
Milwaukee Milwaukee
5) CINCINNATI 5) Purdue
12) AKRON 12) ILLINOIS STATE
4) Virginia 4) Butler
13) MONMOUTH 13) UT-ARLINGTON
Indianapolis Salt Lake City
6) Maryland 6) Creighton
11) Miami-FL 11) Kansas State / Clemson
3) Kentucky 3) ARIZONA
14) FLA GULF COAST 14) PRINCETON
Indianapolis Orlando
7) Xavier 7) South Carolina
10) Arkansas 10) Michigan
2) Louisville 2) Florida State
15) NO DAKOTA ST 15) FURMAN
WEST – San Jose South – Memphis
Salt Lake City Tulsa
1) GONZAGA 1) Baylor
16) TX-SOUTHERN 16) NEW ORLEANS
8) Oklahoma State 8) Minnesota
9) California 9) VCU
Buffalo Sacramento
5) WISCONSIN 5) Notre Dame
12) NC-WILMINGTON 12) VALPARAISO
4) West Virginia 4) UCLA
13) VERMONT 13) NEVADA
Greenville Orlando
6) Saint Mary’s 6) SMU
11) Wichita State / TCU 11) MID TENNESSEE ST
3) Duke 3) FLORIDA
14) NC-ASHEVILLE 14) BELMONT
Sacramento Greenville
7) Iowa State 7) Northwestern
10) Syracuse 10) Seton Hall
2) Oregon 2) NORTH CAROLINA
15) CSU-BAKERSFIELD 15) BUCKNELL

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

Last Four Byes (at large): Syracuse, Miami-FL, Arkansas, Seton Hall

Last Four IN (at large): TCU, Wichita State, Clemson, Kansas State

First Four OUT (at large): Georgia Tech, Providence, Georgetown, Marquette

Next four teams OUT (at large): Texas Tech, Wake Forest, Indiana, Georgia

Breakdown by Conference …

ACC (10): NORTH CAROLINA, Louisville, Florida State, Duke, Virginia, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, Miami-FL, Clemson

Big 10 (7): WISCONSIN, Purdue, Maryland, Northwestern, Minnesota, Michigan State, Michigan

Big 12 (7): KANSAS, Baylor, West Virginia, Iowa State, Oklahoma State, TCU, Kansas State

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

Pac 12 (5): OREGON, Arizona, UCLA, USC, California

SEC (4): FLORIDA, Kentucky, South Carolina, Arkansas

Atlantic 10 (2): VCU, Dayton

American (2): CINCINNATI, SMU

West Coast (2): GONZAGA, Saint Mary’s

Missouri Valley (1): ILLINOIS STATE, Wichita State

Mountain West (1): BOISE STATE

ONE BID LEAGUES: Monmouth (MAAC), Middle Tennessee State (C-USA), UT-Arlington (SBELT), Princeton (IVY), Weber State (BSKY), Valparaiso (HORIZON), New Orleans (SLND), Furman (STHN), UC-Davis (BWEST), Akron (MAC), Florida Gulf Coast (ASUN), Belmont (OVC), UNC-Wilmington (CAA), Winthrop (BSO), NC-Central (MEAC), North Dakota State (SUM), CSU-Bakersfield (WAC), Vermont (AEAST), Bucknell (PAT), Mt. St. Mary’s (NEC), Texas-Southern (SWAC)