Monday, February 12, 2018

12 FEB Bracket Update

So there is nothing more pointless than the Bracket Preview.  I don't know, maybe it is extremely exciting if a) you do not follow much college basketball, b) you enjoy pointless arguments, c) you suffer from premature ejac... instant gratification.  Sure there were hardly any surprises (outside of them realizing only 15 teams had separated themselves from the pack, so they picked the 16th randomly) but it did give us at home the sense that there is a method behind the madness, and that analytical metrics will matter, as opposed to S-curving the RPI again.

I'm not factoring in the Q1/Q2/Q3/Q4 Wins and losses until March, since those rankings and values are subject to change greatly over the next few weeks, and there is no source to quickly nab a spreadsheet with the most up to date data.

Not many changes from the last couple brackets up top. UVA remains #1 overall, and Purdue hangs on to their seed.  Despite the perception, Duke is still much closer to the top line than most are willing to give them credit for... it's mostly just failing to live up to the expectations after acquiring Bagley.  Spreading the 4 ACC teams across the 4 regions works pretty well, though UNC has currently lost their cushy Charlotte gig.  The committee will likely ship UVA elsewhere to sell the tickets, but they belong in ACC country.

I have Gonzaga and URI claiming 4 seeds for now, but I believe once I adjust the formula to conform to the NCAA model, their power numbers will slip to the 5/6 range.  I swapped MSU and Auburn for this bracket, as the Spartans numbers jumped Sunday due to those B10 games playing to form.

At the bottom of the bracket, there has been some seismic activity.  Since most of these teams are either a) Not great, b) reliant upon home wins, or c) stuck in a mid-major without many opportunities for quality opponents, they bounce around each other a lot.  Here is the raw list:

The colors are fun, right? First, blue teams are currently under NCAA investigation (or ruled ineligible)... just a reminder and a possible discriminator for the last few teams.  For instance, USC was the 68th team last year... if they fall that close to the band saw again, they are getting cut.  Right now, I have them 67th.

Green are auto-bids, and it does show how close Middle Tennessee and New Mexico State are from stealing a bid if they lose.

Orange are the teams I feel are safe barring a bad loss or tailspin.  These are all somewhat flawed teams. Louisville is streaky. Texas is anything but streaky. Syracuse can't win on the road (unless they catch a streaky Louisville). Virginia Tech lacks non-conference superiority over other NCAA-caliber teams. Michigan is the safest of the bunch, but really ought not to finish behind Nebraska, Penn State, and another B10 Team.

Brown are the last teams in.  Baylor has great efficiency numbers, but has a terrible RPI and was buried at the bottom of the Big12 till blowing out Kansas.  They still need to do work, though.  Providence just lost to DePaul, which had them out, but the lack of teams stepping up against decent opponents allowed them to sneak back in, but they are very close to being irrelevant.  UCLA got the big wins they needed this week, though that schedule looks to be the ultimate booby trap.  Should be easy home games against UO/OSU, but two games at altitude and closing out with a rivalry game at USC could right back off the bubble.  USC themselves are in the same predicament. The Bonnies are in virtue of their head-to-head non-home wins against Syracuse, Vermont, Buffalo, and Maryland, which shows they can compete and beat bubble teams.  They are riding high, but need to beat URI and/or Davidson down the stretch and not choke away the easy A-10 games.

Red Teams are First 5 out. Why 5? Because I'm not one of Lunardi's sheep.  Maryland was done in by injuries and continues to fade.  They will not have a chance to play their way in until the B10 tourney, and semi-finals minimum at that point.  Notre Dame could be a factor if they get healthy, and have a huge chance tonight at UNC.  Boise State and Marquette both just lost "cannot lose" games and need quality wins... Boise gets Nevada Wednesday, but Marquette has gotta be thinking win-out at this point.  Kansas State just has crappy numbers right now, but will get their shot.  Funny that 3 of last year's play-in teams (USC, Providence, Kansas State) find themselves in the same spot this year.

Purple teams are the next 5 out and need a bolt of lightning to have a chance.  Temple is a bizarre case of how much weight will be put on November wins.  They are a "strength of schedule" darling, but really need the sweep of Wichita State and another big win to get in the bubble discussion.  Nebraska has the best shot of doing this because they are likely going to win out and finish 3rd or 4th in the Big 10; in doing so, they will eliminate Maryland and Penn State from the bubble, and despite crappy numbers and no big wins, they are not Illinois State.  Penn State has some great opportunities, getting slumping Purdue and a possible OSU sweep to their resume, but they have to be hoping Rider wins out and scratches off that "bad loss". Ben Howland has MSU playing grating, frustrating basketball that has resulted in some nice wins, but they have ONE road win, and likely are not adding to that.  Utah also sucks on the road, but if they sweep the northwest road trip, they finish with home games against UCLA, USC, and Colorado... a possible 7-game win streak.  6-1 (gotta beat Washington, though) gets them to the bubble.

And the white teams?  These guys just don't have the profile right now.  NC State was way too conservative out-of-conference, and mixed in a couple good wins (Arizona, PSU) with puzzling losses (NIA, UNCG).  Western Kentucky just ran out of good juju.  The UTSA loss clearly puts them on a lower rung than MTSU, then the other losses (Ohio, Belmont, Missouri St) scream NIT, which sucks, because this team beat Purdue and SMU at their peaks and nearly dropped NOVA as well.  SMU is decimated, St. John's is 2-11 in the Big East, but scores 132 on the total efficiency model. 133-134 is the low end of the bubble, which means that the Johnnies are better than their record and could make some noise.  LSU swept Arkansas and Texas A&M (while A&M was short-handed, but won't matter, especially since they are short-handed again) and finishes with a manageable schedule.  Oregon lost to UConn... this year, which is pretty weak.  They finish with opportunities, but their non-conference jewel is Fresno State, which is just no.

Washington doesn't even make the cut right now.


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