Sunday, February 19, 2017

19-FEB Bracket Projection: Michigan State, California, Who Ya Got

The bracket projections have been updated with this weekend’s results.  The only at-large movement was that I moved in Marquette after their homecourt drubbing of Xavier, replacing Michigan State who was blown out at Purdue.  The win gave Marquette 4 wins over TRMD Top 50 teams (Xavier, Villanova, Creighton and Seton Hall).  Only 25 teams have more than 4 top 50 wins. 

Ironically, Michigan State is one of those teams, with 5 top 50 wins (Wichita State, Minnesota twice, Northwestern and Michigan).  The last spot in the field basically came down to the Spartans and California, with Cal by mere percentage points grading out better than Michigan State.  I’m not crazy about the Bears nearly non-existent top 50 win profile (a one point win at USC), but MSU has just one blemish too many with the data at hand (less favorable point differential, home loss to Northeastern vs Cal’s worst loss being at a top 100 Stanford).  Still, Cal could really use some signature wins for the Selection Sunday resume.  They have Oregon at home Wednesday night  which is probably their last opportunity to add such a score prior to the PAC 12 tournament.  If they can’t convert, I can see them being jumped by a team like Michigan State who does go on to convert on their remaining opportunities.

I also swapped out two auto bid teams.  In the Southland, I now have New Orleans as the highest rated team, replacing Sam Houston State.  It’s been 20 years since the Privateers were last in the tournament (1996).  In the Big Sky, Weber State has been replaced by the Fighting Hawks of North Dakota.  North Dakota has never made the tournament since joining Division I in 2008.  Just as a general reminder, also projected in the field for the first time ever is the Northwestern Wildcats as an at large, and Fort Wayne Mastodons as the Summit auto bid. 

Three more teams joined the graveyard this weekend.  The Northeast Conference Tournament decided their 8 tournament teams, and Central Connecticut is not included.  Eastern Illinois, despite most likely finishing the regular season with a winning overall record, has been eliminated from making the Ohio Valley conference tournament.  Finally, today’s summit league result meant that Oral Roberts will be the lone conference team not included in the bracket.  That’s 14 total teams out of the running, leaving 337 still dreaming.

Conference Tournament Fortnight is on the horizon.  This is our last week before the Atlantic Sun raises the curtain on the greatest two-week sprint in sports next Monday night.

Friday, February 17, 2017

16-FEB Bracket Projection: St Francis NY will go 0 for 79

Lost in the games this week was a 6pm tip on CBS Sports Network between Long Island and St. Francis.  The game was a 37 point blowout, which was great for LIU who is trying to keep pace with The Mount, but it was also significant as it officially eliminated the Terriers from qualifying for the Northeast Conference Tournament.  That will close the door on the their opportunity to make the NCAA tournament, and preserve their standing on the list of futile five.

It all but looks like Northwestern has what it takes to remove themselves from this list come selection Sunday, which leaves all the focus for the remaining three: William & Mary, The Citadel, and Army.

Also being eliminated from qualifying for their conference tournament this week was the second OVC team, Eastern Kentucky.  The Colonels last qualified in 2014.  We still need to whittle down two more OVC teams before knowing the field of eight in that draw.  That's 11 eliminations thus far, leaving 340 teams still alive.

Just 10 days away from the beginning of conference tournaments.

Monday, February 13, 2017

12-FEB Bracket Projection: Grading the Top 16

The preview of the Top 16 seeds resulted in a mixed bag for me.  I had 7 of the 16 seeded on the correct seed line, and 4 more seed adjacent.  My big misses were 2 Big XII teams, Kansas and WVU (who play tonight, so that should help calibrate expectations), and Oregon.  Kansas showed up as the #1 (I had them as a #3), WVU as a #4 (#2), and Oregon as a #2 (#4). 

I had left out #3 Florida and #4 Butler, who were both #5 seeds in my bracket.  Instead I opted to go with Cincy #2 and Purdue #3. 

In my latest bracket projections updated for the weekend games, Michigan State and Providence move in after wins, while the ACC loses two teams after losses (Syracuse and Miami).  Houston, still only in 6 brackets on, picks up a road win at Tulsa and I’ve bumped them up from an #11 to a #9.  They’re off until Saturday where they have a huge game for them hosting SMU.  Indiana and Kansas State each drop two spots, down to an #11 and #10 respectively.  

Friday, February 10, 2017

9-FEB Bracket Projection: Michigan State Disrespect?

North Carolina falls from the 1 seed and Baylor slides up in my midweek update.  California and Miami Florida carve their way in, while Rhode Island and Michigan State find their way out.  Rhode Island is more a victim of circumstance.  An eight point win at UMass shouldn't be punished, but they have a big game hosting Dayton tonight that could knock them back in.

Michigan State however is suffering from the 29 point loss at Michigan Tuesday.  Should the Spartans not hear their name called on Selection Sunday, it would end the third longest active tournament appearance streak of 19 games.  Kenpom has them 3-4 the rest of the regular season, so it's not hyperbole that their should be big concern in East Lansing.  Aside from making noise in the Big Ten Tournament, they are looking at needing to knock off Wisconsin at home and/or picking up a win at Purdue or at Maryland.

Nevada and Boise State swap once again, this time with the Wolfpack claiming the autobid.

The most improved seeds were Michigan jumping up 2 spots from 11 to 9 after the home win mentioned above.  Also UCLA jumps from a 5 to a 3 seed after the comeback at Pauley last night to beat Oregon.

Monday, February 6, 2017

5-FEB Bracket Projection: 1 Seed Reshuffle

Quite a bit of shakeup after a busy college basketball weekend.

In the one seed line, Baylor and Kentucky have dropped down to a #2, and were replaced by Louisville and North Carolina.  It would be UNC's 17th 1 Seed, the most of any school.

Further down the bracket, we saw Syracuse, Seton Hall and Rhode Island move in.  All three teams would be #11 seeds, and playing in the First Four.  Arkansas, Illinois State and Utah drop out.  The Mountain West auto-bid toggled back to Boise State from Nevada.  Finally, while the most notable school in the state saw their home winning streak snapped, two other Kansas schools shot up.  Wichita State throttled Illinois State and moved from a 9 seed to a 6, while Kansas State upset Baylor on the road and moved from an 11 seed to an 8 seed. 

Also a Futility update.  SIU Edwardsville was eliminated from making the OVC tournament this weekend.  The Cougars joined D1 in 2008 and have to wait at least another year to experience the Tournament.  342 of the 351 teams remain alive.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

1-FEB Bracket Projection: Missouri Valley At Large?

As we turn the page to February, the drama in college basketball ratchets up another level.  We have just a little over three weeks until the first conference tournaments begin, and this represents the last chances for schools cement their seeding, or in some cases make their conference tournaments at all.  I plan to post update brackets twice a week for the next few weeks, with the additional update coming mid-week.  That said, there are little change in this bracket rendition.  No teams dropped out/moved in.  The biggest jump was Arkansas moving from an 11 to an 8 after routing Alabama at home last night.  I also have Butler, Marquette, and Kansas State all sliding down a seed line after losing home games this week.

Let’s talk a bit about a two-bid Missouri Valley campaign.  In this bracket, I have Wichita earning the auto (9), and Illinois State securing an at large (11/First Four game). shows 38 of 89 brackets with 2 MVC teams, and it will be interesting to see how that develops after WSU/ISU part II this weekend. 

Below is a snapshot of current bubble teams.

For both to get in, my guess is the most practical result would be ISU sweeping the regular season and dropping the MVC championship to WSU.  The combined current record (1-5) against Top 50 is a problem, though.  Even when adjusting that metric for a road game at a top ~110 program, Illinois State is 1-3 and Wichita State is 1-4.  Murray State (145 TRMD, 185 Kenpom, 220 RPI) isn’t doing the Redbirds any favors, either.  A season opening road game loss that didn’t look terrible back in November is now something that could be held against them on Selection Sunday.  Given another few weeks of power conference opportunities for the other bubble teams, the MVC also-ran will have a tough sales job ahead. 

Ultimately, what I think will happen is that we’ll see Wichita State hold serve this weekend.  The #3 ranking in Boost (scoring differential) speaks a little about the WSU potential, but they have lost just one conference home game since 2014 (a 3 point loss to Northern Iowa last year).  Wichita State seems poised to make their run.  For the Shockers, a win would obviously strengthen their grip on the auto bid, and drop Illinois State out of the bracket and into dangerous territory.  The 2 Bid MVC will be a February memory, and likely won’t survive the month.

Monday, January 30, 2017

29-JAN Bracket Projection: Our Big XII Overlords

Despite a tumultuous week for ranked teams, the TRMDi #1 seeds remain unchanged.  Kentucky drops from my #1 overall to the last 1 seed, while Gonzaga takes over the top spot.  It would be Gonzaga’s second #1 seed, and while we’re at it Baylor’s first ever #1 seed.  Kansas fans have a gripe, I have them as my first #3, while some media pundits were clamoring for them to be #1 in the AP this week.  I hear the arguments and nod my head to many of them, but if the Kentucky and West Virginia games were in reverse order I think we’re having an entire different conversation.  Either way, we’re 2/3rds of the way through the season and just about halfway through the meaningful portion of the regular season schedule…much of this will get worked out soon.  

In addition to the Kansas/Baylor debate, the Big XII is a co-leader with 8 teams for the second week in a row.  They also hold the largest jumps up and down in the newest projections.  The biggest improvement in terms of seeding this week was Oklahoma State.  The Cowboys were an #11 seed last week, and after convincing wins against TCU and Arkansas (who both just happen to be 2 of the TRMDi First Four), they find themselves sitting next to a #7 seed.  The Horned Frogs rode that negative momentum and saddled up their Oklahoma State loss by dropping a road game at Auburn, knocking them down from an #8 to a First Four game for an #11 seed.  They did not suffer the humiliation of a 55 point home loss, so at least Jamie Dixon had that to fall back on.

New to the bracket are Michigan (1-1 last week), VCU (1-0) and USC (1-0).  VCU and Michigan join as 10 seeds, USC as a 9.  Those three take the place of Seton Hall (0-1), Rhode Island (1-1) and Clemson (1-0).  Also swapping out were my Mountain West autobids (Nevada in, Boise State out) and Big South (UNC Asheville in, Winthrop out).

There are some tournament streaks to keep an eye on as we approach the end of January and move into the stretch run.  Michigan State currently has the 3rd longest active streak of tournament appearances with 19 (behind Kansas at 27 and Duke at 21).  Their margin is thin, but I have them in as an #11 seed.  VCU is tied for the 6th longest at 6.  As mentioned above I have the Rams as a #10 seed.  If Wichita State is as fortunate as I think they will be, they would earn a #9 as of today, which would continue their current streak of 5 tournaments.  Oklahoma is in a tie with the 11th longest active streak of 4, which is the largest I project to end as of today.

On the other side looking at the 351 current Division I men’s basketball teams, 48 have never made it to the Dance.  Five most definitely will not make it as 4 are still completing their D1 transitioning towards eligibility (Grand Canyon, Incarnate Word, UMass-Lowell, and Abilene Christian).  Savannah State is an APR ban causality this year.  I do project two teams to move off of this list though.  Northwestern is doing all it possibly can to rectify this, which is great news for them as it’s not just that they are one of the last 48 teams.  The Wildcats are also one of the 5 original NCAA teams who have been around since 1939, yet never made the tournament (Army [kinda, but still counts], William & Mary, The Citadel and St Francis NY are the others).  I have Northwestern as a #7 currently.  Also joining in on the excitement for the first time, but with experiencing much less futility are the Fort Wayne Mastodons who I project to win the Summit League and earn a #14 seed.  The formerly named IPFW joined D1 in 2001-02 season.

Finally, 343 teams are still alive for the Championship.  In addition to the 5 teams mentioned above, Alcorn State is also serving a ban this year related to APR, and Northern Colorado and Hawaii will sit out due to sanctions.