Monday, December 25, 2017

25-DEC Bracket Projections: The Day After Tomorrow

Nobody celebrates Boxing Day like College Basketball.  Tomorrow is a day off for all of Division I, the last such day until the end of the regular season.  The return to action is a slow crescendo, with just 16 games between D1 teams on Wednesday, but among them are 9 conference games including the openers for the Big East, American Athletic and Mountain West.

Teams With A Zero
Roll Along you BG Warriors.  Separated by Dan Dakich and Louis Orr on the Falcons coaching lineage you’ll find Jim Larranaga and Chris Jans.  In a tournament hosted by the Big Island’s Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, it was the Aggies of New Mexico State under the tutelage of Jans who rolled out the Hurricanes their first loss of the season 63-54.

On the other side of the ledger, Howard falls off the winless list.  The Bison were down 10 with under seven minutes to go before coming back to knock off UNC Wilmington 80-75.  Most of those coming from a single source, as freshman RJ Cole amassed 42 points on an efficient 22 field goal attempts, along with four assists.

Undefeated teams (3): Villanova, Arizona State, and TCU.

Winless (against Division I) teams (17): Chicago State, Delaware State, Alabama State, Alabama A&M, Mississippi Valley State, Florida A&M, Alcorn State, Coppin State, Arkansas Pine Bluff, Longwood, Youngstown State, Norfolk State, McNeese State, Texas Southern, Cal State Northridge, New Orleans, and Texas A&M Corpus Christi.

Quadrant 1 Wins
Purdue joins Villanova as the only teams with 4 Quadrant 1 wins.  Quite a bit of shakeup in the next tier, however.  North Carolina, Kansas and Alabama all drop out of the grouping of 3 wins.  Duke and Texas moved up into that void along with the Georgia Bulldogs shooting up out of nowhere.  Georgia knocked off Temple at home (13 RPI).  They also have a couple wins flirting with the edge of the cutoff; a neutral side win over #49 RPI Saint Mary’s, and a road win over #63 Marquette.

(4)- Villanova, Purdue
(3)- Arizona State, Temple, Duke, Texas, and Georgia

Notable Games (predictions in italics, 3-2 last week, 14-6 overall)
This weekend's top five as I see them:
#5 Friday, West Virginia at Oklahoma St.- West Virginia 74, Oklahoma St. 73
#4 Saturday, Oklahoma at TCU- TCU 85, Oklahoma 82
#3 Saturday, North Carolina St. at Clemson- Clemson 76, North Carolina St. 73
#2 Friday, Baylor at Texas Tech- Texas Tech 74, Baylor 68
#1 Saturday, Florida St. at Duke- Duke 81, Florida St. 77 


Friday, December 22, 2017

21-DEC Bracket Projections: Happy Holidays

Teams With A Zero
Congratulations to Sacramento State and Loyola Maryland for notching their first Division I win of the year this week.  We were guaranteed to have at least one come off the board, as Sacramento State played winless Cal State Northridge.  However, respect to G.G. Smith and the Greyhounds who were down with 5 minutes and change to go, and gutted out a 66-62 win over Drexel.

Undefeated teams (4): Villanova, Miami, Arizona State, and TCU.

Winless (against Division I) teams (18): Chicago State, Delaware State, Alabama State, Alabama A&M, Mississippi Valley State, Florida A&M, Alcorn State, Coppin State, Arkansas Pine Bluff, Longwood, Howard, Youngstown State, Norfolk State, McNeese State, Texas Southern, Cal State Northridge, New Orleans, and Texas A&M Corpus Christi.

Quadrant 1 Wins
Currently Villanova is the only team with 4 Quadrant 1 wins.  North Carolina dropped down a level as Michigan fell out of the RPI top 30 last night.  Purdue joins the crew with 3, as West Virginia and Missouri drop down a level. 

(4)- Villanova
(3)- North Carolina, Arizona State, Temple, Kansas, Alabama, Purdue
(2)- Duke, TCU, Auburn, SMU, Arizona, Minnesota, Iowa State, Texas, Tennessee, Seton Hall, West Virginia, and Missouri.

Missouri Valley
The MVC becomes the third conference to begin conference play with two games this weekend.  I give the slight edge to Missouri State to earn the #1 seed, but it looks like several teams could be in contention.  I'll go Bradley as the 2 seed, Loyola Chicago as the 3, and Southern Illinois as the 4.  It's at first glance a surprise to leave out Northern Iowa who has some great wins, but, again, it appears the league's top teams are fairly comparable.

Notable Games (predictions in italics, 5-0 last week, 11-4 overall)
This weekend's top five as I see them:
#5 Friday, Northwestern at Oklahoma- Oklahoma 81, Northwestern 75
#4 Saturday, Missouri vs Illinois- Missouri 76, Illinois 73
#3 Friday, St. Bonaventure at Syracuse- Syracuse 71, St. Bonaventure 69
#2 Saturday, North Carolina vs Ohio State- North Carolina 76, Ohio State 75
#1 Saturday, Grand Canyon at Louisville- Louisville 70, Grand Canyon 67


Sunday, December 17, 2017

17-DEC Bracket Projections: December Midpoint

We have one more week of sporadic scheduling between the tips of the bell curve teams.  Then we'll let the curtain fall on the non conference season and really start to figure out some of these conference races.  A quick recap of what we've seen thus far:

Undefeated teams (4): Villanova, Miami, Arizona State, and TCU.

Winless (against Division I) teams (20): Chicago State, Delaware State, Alabama State, Alabama A&M, Mississippi Valley State, Florida A&M, Alcorn State, Coppin State, Arkansas Pine Bluff, Longwood, Howard, Youngstown State, Norfolk State, McNeese State, Texas Southern, Cal State Northridge, Sacramento State, New Orleans, Loyola Maryland, and Texas A&M Corpus Christi. 

Quadrant 1 Wins:
(4)- North Carolina, Villanova
(3)- Arizona State, West Virginia, Missouri, Temple, Kansas, Alabama
(2)- Purdue, Arizona, Minnesota, Iowa State, Texas, Tennessee, Seton Hall, Gonzaga, Florida, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma.

Notable Games (predictions in italics, 3-2 last week, 6-4 overall)
This week's top five as I see them:
#5 Monday, UT Arlington at Creighton- Creighton 82, UT Arlington 74
#4 Tuesday, Northern Kentucky at Texas A&M- Texas A&M 78, Northern Kentucky 70
#3 Tuesday, South Carolina at Clemson- Clemson 74, South Carolina 68
#2 Thursday, Gonzaga at San Diego State- San Diego State 76, Gonzaga 75
#1 Monday, Boise State at SMU- SMU 70, Boise State 66



Sunday, December 10, 2017

10-DEC Bracket Projection: The Cupcake Invasion

We have reached the portion of the schedule where the teams who loaded up on buy games are infiltrating my projections.  Georgetown cracks the rankings, Virginia Tech continues to score high marks, and Rutgers is creeping up.  None of which have the resume to support it.  Could they be legit?  Possibly, but there's no way to tell.  Typically this would get sorted out in conference play, however all three have top 60 kenpom teams coming up this week.  Virginia Tech and Rutgers will have a top 20 opponent to really give us a definitive benchmark.  I sure hope so, because I'm unimpressed by the 4-0 MEAC Hoyas.

Bracket Matrix Update
A little more alignment was seen with the majority with the latest batch of updates.  I had 14 seeds in alignment with the group on my 12/7 bracket.  That number was up from 11 in the previous update.  My bracket had 16 seeds in common with T-Rank, which was an improvement from 14 previously with Graham Doeren.  Again, get here soon conference play.  I could use some assimilation.

Notable Games (predictions in italics, 3-2 last week)
This week's top five as I see them:
#5 Tuesday, Louisiana Lafayette at Louisiana Tech-  Louisiana Tech 79, Louisiana Lafayette 75
#4 Tuesday, Jacksonville State at Oregon State- Oregon State 73, Jacksonville State 71
#3 Tuesday, Michigan at Texas- Texas 70, Michigan 66
#2 Tuesday, Mississippi State at Cincinnati- Cincinnati 75, Mississippi State 66

#1 Wednesday, Grand Canyon at Boise State- Boise State 68, Grand Canyon 64

Finals week crimping the midweek schedule.






Thursday, December 7, 2017

07-DEC Bracket Projection- The Birth of Quadrants

Earlier this week, the NCAA confirmed some minor tweaks to the team sheets used by the Selection Committee.  No longer are the Top 50 RPI wins a primary criteria, replaced instead with a more complicated measure.  What is now called Quadrant 1 wins will see inclusion of home games vs Top 30 RPI teams, neutral site games vs Top 50 RPI teams, and road games vs Top 75 RPI teams.

While incorporating venue is a positive development, it still doesn't fix a couple of critical flaws in my opinion.  First, it continues to use the RPI as the mechanism to define which teams qualify for the various quadrants.  Secondly, it continues to assign arbitrary endpoints, valuing a top 30 win at home, but not a top 31 win, for example.

For those wanted to see major renovation, this wouldn't have been your first choice.  However, I think it does move the needle in a more positive direction, even if it minimally.

Old vs New
At first glance, it appears the SEC is a big loser with the updates.  Alabama is 4-2 against the current RPI Top 50.  Unfortunately for the Tide, this includes home wins vs Lipscomb (40), UT Arlington (39), and Louisiana Tech (36).  All three slide over to Quadrant 2, leaving Alabama 1-2 in Quadrant 1.

The only other teams I found experiencing a reduction of multiple wins were two other SEC teams.  Kentucky registered at 2-1 vs Top 50 wins, but in this format loses their home wins over Utah Valley (44) and Vermont (43).  Missouri also sees their 4-2 mark drop to 2-2, as their wins over Iowa State (borderline at 31) and Wagner (48) are washed away.

On the flip side, no one saw a jump of more than one win.  Villanova and West Virginia have both bagged three wins, regardless of old/new.

ACC Conference Play
Just one game on the schedule, but our second conference tips off the conference season this weekend.  Duke goes into Chestnut Hill to take on 6-3 Boston College.  The ACC looks like to be a battle of Duke, Virginia, Miami, and North Carolina battling for the four byes into the quarterfinals.  However, I'll throw a curve and give Virginia Tech a sleeper mention here and knocking the reigning national champions down to a #5 seed.

Notable Games (predictions in italics)
As the season begins to round into shape I'll use this space to highlight some key games coming up.  This weekend's top five as I see them:
#5 Friday, Arizona State vs St John's (at the Staples Center)-  Arizona State 75-74
#4 Saturday, Minnesota at Arkansas- Arkansas 80, Minnesota 79
#3 Sunday, Arizona State at Kansas- Kansas 81, Arizona State 74
#2 Friday, Nevada vs TCU (at the Staples Center)- TCU 77, Nevada 76
#1 Saturday, Wichita State at Oklahoma State- Oklahoma State 74, Wichita State 73


Sunday, December 3, 2017

03-DEC Bracket Projection: This. Is. December.

November was fun, even if it did see a hiatus (at best, hopefully not the death) of the tip off marathon.  December won't nearly have the same impact, given the holidays and finals dialing back the schedule a bit, but all we're looking for here is just enough intrigue to get us to January.  Let's get conference play in full swing and then the season really takes off.

Unbeatens
As of this evening, we had 13 undefeated teams, and 25 looking for their first Division I win.  The ACC leads the way, with four undefeated teams (Duke, Miami, Virginia and Florida State).  The SEC (Texas A&M, and Mississippi State), Big East (Villanova and Georgetown) and Big 12 (Kansas and TCU) all have two.  The PAC 12 just has Arizona State left and the Big Ten doesn't have a representative.  Nevada from the Mountain West and Valpaiso from the Missouri Valley round out the list.

Bracket Matrix
The site was updated this weekend, and good grief I'm scattered.  First off, I'll talk to what little stability there was.  My posted bracket remained at 11 seeds in alignment with the majority.  I'm still including preseason tweaks (current weighting is just a hair over 30%), and the non-conference results for those who scheduled non-challenging games are going to inflate some schools for me, but I'm optimistic I will regress back to the mean here with some more runway.

The most similar bracket was with Graham Doeren, with 14 similarly seeded teams.  This number is down from 22 on the last Bracket Matrix update, that I shared with a couple of brackets.  On the opposite side, I only had 5 similar with Bleacher Report's Kerry Miller.  Previously, my low number was 8.  Again, I'm heavy with outliers.