Sunday, January 28, 2018

28-JAN Bracket Projections: SEC Wins Challenge, Loses Two Teams In Field

Bracket Updates
The SEC trashed my predictions this weekend.  Admittedly I went 8-2, but I lost a couple of swing games so my 6-4 Big XII post reciprocated into a 6-4 SEC win.  I swear it’s not out of spite, but even despite the win over the nation’s premier conference, I have two teams falling out of my bracket.  

The Missouri Tigers lost to Ben Howland’s Mississippi State squad by twelve on the road, and the loss is the third in a row for Mizzu, as well as now four losses in the last five games. 

Also taking a tumble out for me is Texas A&M.  This has less to do with the loss at Kansas as that’s beyond understandable, but TAMU now has only two wins in their last nine games (one of those is the aforementioned Missouri, the other was Ole Miss and both came in College Station).  If a team is able to put together a solid run in the SEC they will easily work their way back into things, but the flip side is the improved conference has robbed a few token wins off the schedule.

Those departed slots have been bequeathed to the Big East and the Pac Twelve conferences.  Butler joins the field, and as I mentioned in a comment on my last post, beating St. John’s shouldn’t earn anyone a tournament spot (although I certainly appreciate their cooperation in keeping my Rush The Court survivor streak going).  That said a 25 point conference win is a good data point, and they now are a game over .500 in the Big East.  They have a nice surprise win at home against Villanova, and the neutral overtime win against Ohio State.  But I’m still watching closely.  Their Quadrant I resume is those two wins and seven other losses.  They have plenty of landmines which I think could prove difficult, with Wednesday night at Marquette being the first and then a huge home stand with five out of six at home that they’ll need to perform well.

UCLA gets the other nod, and are my fourth PAC 12 team.  Washington is a team popping up in a few other brackets, but UCLA is the better team to me, and also has the 19 point win over the Huskies at Pauley.  This invite is also a tenuous one, as their remaining schedule has maybe one slam dunk on it (Oregon State at home) with the other seven being coin flips at best.

Teams With A Zero
Let’s hear it for Mississippi Valley State.  Losers of their last 21 games stretching back to last season’s SWAC tournament.  In addition they were coming off a somewhat disheartening loss given it came on their best shooting night of the year, at 58.6 eFG%.  But they parlayed that into their new season high, 60.2% against Jackson State, while also getting to the line at the highest FTR (63.6) all year.  Which was good, because their turnover% was the second worst of the year for them.  Add it all up, it was good enough to keep them relevant against a JSU team playing with Paris Collins for the fourth consecutive game.  When MVSU finished the last five minutes on a 14-5 run, it resulted in a 72-67 Delta Devil victory. 

I picked the wrong horse to back last post.  Delaware State came out of the gates hot for a bit, but not enough firepower to keep up with a Horace Broadnax offense dropping a 106-86 decision and falling to 0-21 against Division I competition.  They will enjoy a week off, before traveling to North Carolina Central next weekend

Chicago State was in that situation last week, parlayed that rest into a lead…for about two media time outs.  UT Rio Grande Valley kept the cougars at arm’s length and took this WAC battle 87-81.  They now hit the road for two straight, beginning with a trip to Bakersfield.  The forecast looks bleak, and I’ll predict Cal State Bakersfield 77-66.

Winless (against Division I) teams (3): Chicago State and Delaware State.

Quadrant 1 Wins (Home vs Top 30 RPI, Neutral vs Top 50 RPI, Road vs Top 75 RPI)
Of the Bracket Matrix teams I’d consider bubble teams (teams in the field but not on 10% or more of brackets, plus the first four out), below are the quadrant 1 wins.  The below ten teams would be vying for six spots.  Bracket Matrix seed shown in parenthesis:
(11) Houston 3-1, .750
(F4O) Washington 3-3
(10) Kansas State 2-3, (11) SMU 2-3, .400
(11) Missouri 3-6, (F4O) Notre Dame 2-4, (F4O) Virginia Tech 2-4, (F4O) Western Kentucky 1-2, .333
(11) Syracuse 1-3, .250
(11) Boise State 0-3 .000

Not pictured is a charging North Carolina State who is 4-4 against Quadrant 1. 

NCAA Q1 Win Leaders
(6)- Purdue, Kansas, Oklahoma, Virginia
(5)- Clemson, Florida, Auburn, Florida State, Villanova
(4)- West Virginia, Cincinnati, Texas, Duke, Seton Hall, Gonzaga, North Carolina State, North Carolina, Xavier
(3)- 16 teams

Notable Games (predictions in italics, 3-2 last week, 1-0 from St. Mary pending last week, 44-21 overall)
This week's top five as I see them:
#5 Wednesday, Maryland at Purdue- Purdue 77, Maryland 68
#4 Tuesday, North Carolina at Clemson- Clemson 75, North Carolina 72
#3 Monday, Kansas at Kansas State- Kansas State 75, Kansas 73
#2 Wednesday, Houston at Cincinnati- Cincinnati 73, Houston 66
#1 Thursday, Creighton at Villanova- Villanova 82, Creighton 76

Thursday, January 25, 2018

25-JAN Bracket Projections: Champions For Life/It Just Means More Challenge

Bracket Updates
It’s my third SWAC change in as many updates.  It’s been between three teams for me all year, most recently with Texas Southern replacing Jackson State.  On Monday though, Texas Southern dropped a game to Arkansas Pine Bluff, while Prairie View A&M ran away from a winless Mississippi Valley State propelling the Panthers to reclaim this automatic bid.  Prairie View has been in the majority of my projected brackets, but are just 3-4 in conference.  It might not be a long stay as Arkansas Pine Bluff now sits at 7-0, alone in first, after going 0-14 in the non-conference.  SWAC with me and get that money.

Meanwhile in the Big South Liberty has been my automatic bid team in each bracket dating all the way back to the end of November when UNC Ashevillle was the pick.  That changes here as the Flames though are riding a five game losing streak and are now 3-6 in conference.  Pat Kelsey and his Winthrop Eagles are inversely on a five game win streak and trail Radford by just one game, and are tied with UNC Asheville and Campbell at 6-3.  It’s the Eagles first time in my bracket this year.

Teams With A Zero
I mentioned MVSU above.  The Delta Devils got 30 points and six threes from Jordan Evans, while scoring 1.13 points per possession, but it was not nearly enough.  Prairie View had three players go 20+ in the scoring column and as a team scored 1.37 PPP.  MVSU falls to 0-20.  Next up they host Jackson State on Saturday (prediction: 68-67 JSU in a close one).

Delaware State never had a chance, dropping a game at Morgan State 61-47.  They also fall to 0-20, and return to Dover for a game against Savannah State.  The Tigers are riding high, 5-1 in conference and just received the governor’s APR reprieve allowing them a shot to dance after initially being ruled ineligible.  Maybe that’s too much success for a team ranked 310 in Kenpom, give me Delaware State 80-78 Saturday.

Chicago State (0-20) has had the entire week to scout for UT Rio Grande Valley Saturday.  I’ll still take the very alphastrong UTRGV 80-72

Winless (against Division I) teams (3): Chicago State, Delaware State, and Mississippi Valley State.

SEC/Big Twelve Challenge
Is this the most exciting challenge to date?  The Big Twelve is strong again, but the SEC surge has been one of the most enjoyable surprises for me this year.  The SEC has never won, but they did tie last year in the fourth installment of this event.

Amazingly to me not a single game cracked my Top 5 Weekend games below, which means we all win as this weekend will be a loaded slate.  I’ll call 6-4 Big XII.  My predictions below:

Arkansas over Oklahoma State 79-75
Alabama over Oklahoma 79-78
Florida over Baylor 74-72
Tennessee over Iowa State 73-72

Texas Tech over South Carolina 70-68
Texas over Mississippi 73-69
West Virginia over Kentucky 77-70
Kansas State over Georgia 72-66
Kansas over Texas A&M 77-71
TCU over Vanderbilt 77-74

Quadrant 1 Wins (Home vs Top 30 RPI, Neutral vs Top 50 RPI, Road vs Top 75 RPI)
Of the Bracket Matrix teams I’d consider bubble teams (teams in the field but not on 10% or more of brackets, plus the first four out), below are the quadrant 1 wins.  The below ten teams would be vying for six spots.  Bracket Matrix seed shown in parenthesis:

(11) Houston 3-1 .750
(F4O) Washington 3-3, (11) USC 2-2 .500
(11) SMU 2-4, (10) Notre Dame 2-4, (11) Kansas State 2-4, (F4O) Georgia 2-4, (F4O) Western Kentucky 1-2 .333
(11) Syracuse 1-3, .250
(F4O) Boise State 0-3 .000

Houston ascended into the field from the First Four Out, along with Kansas State.  They replaced Georgia and Western Kentucky.  For the most part, at least in this view, that makes some sense.  Although, perhaps Boeheim’s disciple and his Huskies should get some additional consideration for the spot currently going to the Orange.

NCAA Q1 Win Leaders
(6)- Purdue, Kansas, Oklahoma

(5)- North Carolina, Clemson, Villanova, Florida

(4)- Xavier, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Texas, Duke, Seton Hall, Gonzaga, Auburn

(3)- 18 teams

Notable Games (predictions in italics, 4-0 last week, BYU/St. Mary pending, 40-19 overall)
This weekend's top five as I see them:
#5 Saturday, San Diego State at UNLV- UNLV 78, San Diego State 75
#4 Sunday, Michigan State at Maryland- Michigan State 74, Maryland 71
#3 Saturday, Miami at Florida State- Florida State 75, Miami 71
#2 Saturday, Virginia Tech at Notre Dame- Notre Dame 75, Virginia Tech 73
#1 Saturday, Virginia at Duke- Duke 73, Virginia 69

Sunday, January 21, 2018

21-JAN Bracket Projections: Softly Spoken Lies- I'm Coming Down The Mountain (West)

Bracket Updates
Last weekend I updated my SWAC auto to Jackson State.  That turned out to be not my finest moment, as the Tigers got obliterated by Grambling State this weekend losing 72-45.  They now fall out, and Texas Southern replaces them.

My Mountain West campaign also conceded ground, with San Diego State and UNLV falling on the other side of the cut line.  Boise State remains (barely) in the field, but my bracket now looks like a more recent NCAA Tournament bracket as opposed to one of those several years ago that were heavy on the conference.  Oregon (tough update for my former PST teams) and Penn State also fall out.

USC, winners of four in a row and six of seven, finally resurfaces on a seed line for me.  Texas A&M and Western Kentucky also move in.

Teams With A Zero
An uneventful weekend for the tripLLLets.  Mississippi Valley State had a second half lead before succumbing to Texas Southern 91-77.  Donte Clark had 41 points on 26 shots for Mike Davis’s club.  They now head west to Prairie View A&M for a game Monday (prediction: 75-67 PV A&M).  Delaware State hosted Bethune Cookman, and like the Delta Devils also held a second half lead, but ultimately fell 85-78 to the Wildcats.  The Hornets head to Baltimore Monday for a tilt against Morgan State (prediction: MSU 76-68).  Finally Chicago State hosted Cal State Bakersfield, and lost 89-78.  The Cougars most winnable regular season game appears to be their regular season finale at this point, where they will be an underdog.  They do however get a few days off, and won’t play again until hosting UT Rio Grande Valley this Saturday.

Winless (against Division I) teams (3): Chicago State, Delaware State, and Mississippi Valley State.

Quadrant 1 Wins (Home vs Top 30 RPI, Neutral vs Top 50 RPI, Road vs Top 75 RPI)
Of the Bracket Matrix teams I’d consider bubble teams (teams in the field but not on 10% or more of brackets, plus the first four out), below are the quadrant 1 wins.  The below eleven teams would be vying for seven spots.  Bracket Matrix seed shown in parenthesis:

(F4O) Houston 2-1 .667

(F4O) Georgia 3-3, (10) Alabama 2-2, (11) USC 2-2 .500

(11) SMU 2-3, (11) Providence 2-3 .400

(11) Syracuse 1-3, (11) UCLA 1-3 .250

(F4O) Maryland 1-6, (F4O) Baylor 1-6 .143

(11) Boise State 0-3 .000

Boise State might really regret not being able to cash in at Nevada this weekend. 

Kansas may not have the most wins, but they hold the best record of the teams below at 6-1.  Big East Rivals Xavier and Villanova are 4-1.  Purdue is 7-2, and Clemson is 5-2 rounding out the top 5.

NCAA Q1 Win Leaders
(7)- Purdue
(6)- Kansas
(5)- North Carolina, Oklahoma, Clemson
(4)- Villanova, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Florida, Texas, Xavier, Duke
(3)- 14 teams

Notable Games (predictions in italics, 4-1 last week, 36-19 overall)
This week's top five as I see them:
#5 Tuesday, Kansas at Oklahoma- Oklahoma 82, Kansas 81
#4 Thursday, Michigan at Purdue- Purdue 75, Michigan 66
#3 Thursday, BYU at Saint Mary’s- Saint Mary’s 73, BYU 69
#2 Monday, North Carolina at Virginia Tech- Virginia Tech 80, North Carolina 76
#1 Tuesday, Clemson at Virginia- Virginia 69, Clemson 63

Thursday, January 18, 2018

18-JAN Bracket Projections: Adopting The Metric Systems

The NCAA continues to tinker with the tools used by the selection committee.  In early December they announced new groupings called quadrants centered around increasing relatability among games at different venues, which I discussed here.  Today, ESPN reported the team sheets used in the room will also list five additional statistical measures alongside the RPI. 

Those metrics included are
ESPN’s Strength of Record (SOR) 

In addition, a composite of the above rankings will also be listed, which is mentioned as a potential replacement to the most relied upon singular ranking RPI.  At this point, the omission of referencing the quadrants leads me to believe that those will still be RPI based for this upcoming selection process, but one would think this is an area that would be impacted in future iterations.  

Any movement away from the RPI affiliation into advanced metrics is seen as a win by me, and I’m interested to see how this pilot develops.  

Bracket Updates
Army dropped a road Patriot League game this week, which bumped them from the auto in my bracket, and ushers in the Bucknell Bison.  The Missouri Valley currently has a three way tie, and Loyola of Chicago has replaced Missouri State as my conference representative.  Finally, in the American East and as promised in the last blog, Vermont has transposed Albany.

Army falling out leaves Grand Canyon and South Dakota as the only first timers in my projected field.  It’s been a while since I had another Patriot team in the field, and this would be especially heartbreaking for Army as they are one of the remaining four who have never made the tournament despite being around for the entirety of its existence (although, let’s remember that Army had an invite, but Bobby Knight said “naaaah”).

Northwestern successfully extricated themselves from this notorious group last year, and going back to back with graduations would be exciting to see.  The other three programs are William & Mary, The Citadel, and St Francis NY.

Old Dominion has replaced UAB as my Conference USA automatic bid.

Teams With A Zero
It’s been a heartbreaking week for the teams left on this list.  Mississippi Valley State hosted Southern on Monday, and lost in overtime 78-70.  The Delta Devils held a five point lead with less than four to play, but could not hold off the Jaguars and fell to 0-18. 

Meanwhile a little southeast of Itta Bena, Mississippi, Delaware State paid a visit to Tallahassee for a MEAC tilt against Florida A&M.  One overtime period would not be sufficient as fifty minutes was needed for this struggle.  Which was unfortunate as DSU also had a left five point lead, up 76-71 with three minutes left in the first overtime period.  Unable to close it out, the Hornets dropped this was 94-89, and lost their second overtime game of the season while falling to 0-18 against Division I competition.

Chicago State lost by 28 at home to Dan Majerle and the eighth wonder of the world.  0-19.

Winless (against Division I) teams (3): Chicago State, Delaware State, and Mississippi Valley State.

Quadrant 1 Wins (Home vs Top 30 RPI, Neutral vs Top 50 RPI, Road vs Top 75 RPI)
The NCAA leaders can be found below, but I thought I’d give some visibility to the potential bubble teams.  Below are the Q1 records by winning percentage for the Bracket Matrix teams in the field but left off 10% or more brackets, and the first four out.  That would be 14 schools fighting for 10 spots.  
Bracket Matrix seed shown in the parentheticals.  Note, there are still seven games left to go for Thursday, so RPI figures will vary slightly as a result.

(11) Houston 2-1 .667
(F4O) Georgia 3-2 .600
(10) Missouri 3-3, (10) Alabama 2-2, (11) Providence 2-2, (F4O) Western Kentucky 1-1, (F4O) Washington 2-2, (9) Saint Mary’s 1-1 .500
(9) Texas A&M 3-4 .429
(11) USC 2-3 .400
(11) Syracuse 1-3 .250 
(11) UCLA 1-4 .200
(11) Boise State 0-1, (F4O) Maryland 0-6 .000

NCAA Q1 Win Leaders
(7)- Purdue
(6)- North Carolina, Kansas
(5)- Villanova, Oklahoma, Clemson
(4)- West Virginia, Arizona, Cincinnati, Seton Hall, Florida, Texas, Duke, Gonzaga, Temple
(3)- 11 teams

Notable Games (predictions in italics, 2-3 last week, 32-18 overall)
This week's top five as I see them:
#5 Saturday, Boise State at Nevada- Nevada 75, Boise State 71
#4 Saturday, TCU at Kansas State- Kansas State 78, TCU 75
#3 Saturday, Notre Dame at Clemson- Clemson 72, Notre Dame 69
#2 Saturday, Wichita State at Houston- Houston 76, Wichita State 75
#1 Saturday, Florida State at Virginia Tech- Virginia Tech 79, Florida State 76

Sunday, January 14, 2018

14-JAN Bracket Projections: Market Corrections

A somewhat subdued Friday and Sunday led to a monstrous Saturday schedule full of preeminent games, as evidenced by being the only day of the weekend to include games in my last post’s projected top games.  It also served to sort things out a bit, and bring me a couple steps closer to the Bracket Matrix consensus.  Seton Hall, despite an early scare from Georgetown, and Tennessee both moved into my field.  LSU and North Carolina State have dropped out.  Florida, also moved in, but at the expense of another SEC team Texas A&M that was previously in the Bracket Matrix field.

My other variances are I’m heavy on the Mountain West with Boise State, San Diego State and UNLV joining Nevada who I project with the auto bid.  I also have Penn State, Kansas State, Virginia Tech and Oregon, all of which are on the outside looking in over at Bracket Matrix. 

Auto Bid Update
Perhaps over optimistically so, but I'm still projecting three first timers in the NCAA Tournament with unwavering stability for most of the season.  Grand Canyon (WAC), Army (Patriot), and South Dakota (Summit) represent those three, ending the widely varying futility streaks held by those programs.  South Dakota and Grand Canyon are relative infants in Division I, while Army, well, they've been here from the onset.

I have made some changes however.  Buffalo moves in from MAC, replacing Central Michigan.  Albany replaced Vermont, but those schools are so similarly rated in my numbers that this will certainly vacillate several more times.  Finally Jackson State is now my SWAC delegate, replacing Prairie View A&M

Teams With A Zero
Alcorn State got right, at least for a day on Saturday.  In the SWAC pseudo regulation playoff against Mississippi Valley State, the Braves built up a fourteen point first half lead, and ran it all the way up to 22 late in the second half.  The final result regressed a bit, but ended with a 77-63 win, the inaugural victory for the Alcorn State team against Division I competition.  They do improve to 5-13 overall, with the maximum allowed four non-Division I games already in the bag. 

Mississippi Valley State has some tough draws in the near future.  I still have them picking up a win (in fact, two), but it isn’t until an early February four game home stand when the host Alabama State and Alabama A&M on the backend.

In my last post I ran through some chances later in the year for Delaware State to move off of this list.  The forecast is bleaker for Chicago State.  The Cougars project out to be winless, with only two games forecasted to be less than a five point loss.  If they don’t buck the trend at home against Cal State Bakersfield next Saturday, or in the regular season finale on March 3, then Chicago State would likely end the year with just a win over Silver Lake, and a directionally challenged East West. 

Winless (against Division I) teams (3): Chicago State, Delaware State, and Mississippi Valley State.

Quadrant 1 Wins
Purdue held pat and is still on top with six Quadrant 1 wins, going 6-2 in such opportunities.  Kansas (5-2) remains in second place, but is no longer in sole possession.  Auburn (5-0), Villanova (5-1) and Oklahoma (5-2) have moved into a tie with the Jayhawks.  Bruce Pearl and his Auburn Tigers are not only undefeated, they are the only team who can make that claim who has played a minimum of two Quadrant 1 games.  Only Missouri State at 1-0 can also claim to be undefeated with a minimum of one qualifying game.

Sitting a game back of that group are two ACC teams.  Clemson has just one blemish, the one point road loss at North Carolina State, and is 4-1.  North Carolina (4-3) also has four wins, but in seven opportunities.

Fourteen teams own three Q1 wins.  Of the teams that are not consensus Bracket Matrix tournament teams are Texas A&M (3-4), Texas (3-2), St. Bonaventure (3-3), LSU (3-3), North Carolina State (3-4), and Colorado (3-2). 

(6)- Purdue

(5)- Kansas, Villanova, Oklahoma, Auburn

(4)- North Carolina, Clemson

(3)- 14 teams

Notable Games (predictions in italics, 2-3 last week, 0-1 to catch up on Oregon/ASU, 30-15 overall)
This week's top five as I see them:
#5 Tuesday, Clemson at North Carolina- North Carolina 75, Clemson 73
#4 Wednesday, SMU at Wichita State- Wichita State 74, SMU 69
#3 Monday, Duke at Miami- Duke 75, Miami 74
#2 Thursday, Saint Mary’s at Gonzaga- Gonzaga 78, Saint Mary’s 72
#1 Monday, Kansas at West Virginia- West Virginia 78, Kansas 74

Friday, January 12, 2018

11-JAN Bracket Projections: UNLV/TCU/Louisville/SD St Are The Only Tens I See

Tennessee is not projected in my model, which has earned me a few comments.  Most notably, why do I have them on the outside?  To that point, here’s the crux of what I use to measure teams.  I’m incorporating scoring differential with a bonus-malus factor when comparing actual results to projected results in completed games to date.  Home court or neutral court is taken into account, and there is a cap on the margin as well.  As a final tweak I look at top level wins (formerly top 50 wins, now Quadrant 1 wins) for seeding purposes impact. 

The Volunteers measured out in such a way that they were literally on the brink of making the jump in my bracket at the start of SEC play, but got knocked back down a handful of spots after the 0-2 start.  As of this post, I have them 4 teams back from the field.  Just winning more than they lose from this point forward will calibrate things well enough to bring them into the fold for me.  The other schools that frontloaded with fraudulent non-conference schedules will fall back after some tougher conference tests, and the SEC will allow ample opportunities for teams to pick up quality wins. 

My eyes tell me they’re a tournament team, and at the very least I expect to see them in by the end of the year.  While I like how things have started to take shape overall, I’m not without a few teams with a puzzling ranking that surprise me.  All that said, I have seen some things I’d be concerned with regarding Tennessee.  The potential for them to hit a wall in a tougher than usual SEC I think is legitimate. 

Teams With A Zero
Congratulations to the Coppin State Eagles.  As mentioned last week they had a winnable game on the horizon with Florida A&M coming into Baltimore.  It took fifty minutes, but Juan Dixon and his team came out on the right side of a 79-78 double overtime win to lift their record to 1-17. 

The win for CSU leaves Delaware State as the last MEAC school on the list.  They could stick around for a while.  Looking at their schedule, their best chance to get that elusive win might be in mid-February when they host FAMU and Coppin State in back to back games.

We’ll also just have one SWAC team left after this weekend.  Mississippi Valley State hosts Alcorn State Saturday.  I’ll take MVSU 72-69.

Winless (against Division I) teams (4): Chicago State, Delaware State, Mississippi Valley State, and Alcorn State.

Quadrant 1 Wins
Purdue is back on top and now holds six Quadrant 1 wins and own a 6-2 record against such competition.  Kansas, previously tied with Purdue, is alone with the second most wins at five.  Their record is 5-2.  Villanova is in third place owning four wins.  The Wildcats are 4-1 in Quadrant I opportunities.

Of the notable teams with the larger share of missed chances, Butler leads that metric at 2-6.  Arkansas, Tennessee, and Temple check in at 2-4.  Looking at the entire landscape of college basketball, Texas Southern is 0-8 from their non-conference slate, and New Mexico and North Florida are both 0-7.

(6)- Purdue

(5)- Kansas

(4)- Villanova 

(3)- 19 teams

Notable Games (predictions in italics, 3-1 last week (Oregon/ASU Pending), 28-11 overall)
This weekend's top five as I see them:
#5 Saturday, Creighton at Xavier- Creighton 80, Xavier 79
#4 Saturday, North Carolina at Notre Dame- Notre Dame 76, North Carolina 72
#3 Saturday, Michigan at Michigan St.- Michigan St. 75, Michigan 67
#2 Saturday, Miami at Clemson- Clemson 70, Miami 67
#1 Saturday, West Virginia at Texas Tech- Texas Tech 74, West Virginia 70

Sunday, January 7, 2018

7-JAN Bracket Projections: Duke/Michigan St Fall, WVU/Nova Move Up

My one seeds have shuffled after an active weekend.  Duke and Michigan State dropped roadies to teams living around the cut line on my projections, and now fall out of my one seed line.  This allows Villanova and West Virginia, previously two seeds for me, to move up a spot.  Purdue and Texas Tech remain on my one seed line to round out my four top spots.

Teams With A Zero
We’re now down to five.  Congratulations to the Longwood Lancers who earned their first Big South win, as well as their first Division I win.  Gardner Webb came in to Farmville 2-0 in Big South play, but left with a 79-73 loss on their resume. 

Of the five remaining, Coppin State has a legitimate chance to squeak out a win tomorrow. They host the FAMU Rattlers who were on this list until knocking off Howard this past Monday.  It would give Juan Dixon his first win at this level, and fourth career win if you include his 2016 D2 women’s record.

In SWAC play, Alcorn State also has a reasonable chance to move off the list as they host Grambling State tomorrow.  That’s right, the same GSU team that went into Georgia Tech and won 64-63.  If that’s too much of a stretch for you to consider, then I have another option.  Alcorn State and Mississippi Valley State will square off this coming Saturday, so something will have to give for one of these two.

Winless (against Division I) teams (5): Chicago State, Delaware State, Mississippi Valley State, Alcorn State, and Coppin State.

Quadrant 1 Wins
Purdue now has company after dropping back from five wins to four.  The Kansas Jayhawks, fresh off their victory over TCU now also have four Quadrant I wins to co-lead the field.  Purdue has the slightly better Q1 winning percentage (4-1) than Kansas (4-2).

There are currently 12 schools with three Q1 wins, with Duke and Miami both 3-0 in such chances.  Duke’s losses are Q2 losses, while the Hurricanes have a Q2 and a Q3 loss.

Sitting at two Q1 wins are another 28 teams.  Of those schools, six also have four losses by the same criteria.  Arkansas, Butler, Tennessee, Temple, Belmont and Indiana are all 2-4.

(4)- Purdue and Kansas

(3)- West Virginia, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Auburn, Arizona, Cincinnati, Seton Hall, Texas A&M, Duke, Florida, Providence and Miami Florida

Notable Games (predictions in italics, 5-0 last week, 25-10 overall)
This week's top five as I see them:
#5 Thursday, Oregon at Arizona St.- Arizona St. 81, Oregon 76
#4 Tuesday, Baylor at West Virginia- West Virginia 77, Baylor 70
#3 Tuesday, Texas Tech at Oklahoma- Texas Tech 79, Oklahoma 78
#2 Wednesday, Xavier at Villanova- Villanova 82, Xavier 76
#1 Tuesday, Purdue at Michigan- Purdue 72, Michigan 70

Thursday, January 4, 2018

4-JAN Bracket Projections: Boiler Up

Teams With A Zero
Seven teams picked up their first Division I win early in the 2018 calendar year.  Four of them are SWAC teams.  Texas Southern started 0-13, all on the road, but have now returned home and started SWAC play 2-0 with comfortable wins over Southern and Alcorn State.  Meanwhile Alabama State trailed Grambling State by 7 at the half Wednesday, but closed strong to notch an eight point road win.  The Tigers were rather hospitable, as two days earlier they provided little resistance to Alabama A&M and allowed the Bulldogs to coast to their inaugural win.  Finally in the SWAC Arkansas Pine Bluff scoffs at Texas Southern’s scheduling, as they won’t have their season home opener until next weekend.  However, like TSU, the Golden Lions broke through for their first W, winning at Mississippi Valley State.

Elsewhere, Texas A&M Corpus Christi defeated Northwestern State in the Southland 67-65.  Florida A&M beat Howard 84-76.  In a Northeast Ohio Horizon battle Youngstown State held off Cleveland State 80-77.  That leaves us with 6 teams still searching, comprised of two SWAC and MEAC schools, a WAC representative, and a Big South team.

Winless (against Division I) teams (6): Chicago State, Delaware State, Mississippi Valley State, Florida A&M, Alcorn State, Coppin State, and Longwood.

Quadrant 1 Wins
Purdue has cushioned their lead, now possessing 5 Q1 wins which is a full two games better than everyone else.  We lost Arizona and Temple from the 3 win teams, but added three SEC schools, Cincinnati and Texas. 

(5)- Purdue

(3)- Arizona State, Kansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Auburn, Missouri, Alabama, Cincinnati and Texas

There are 23 schools with 2 Quadrant 1 wins, including our first teams outside of the big seven conferences.  The Atlantic 10 has Saint Bonaventure, Gonzaga represents the WCC, and Belmont from the OVC also has two.

Notable Games (predictions in italics, 2-3 last week, 20-10 overall)
This weekend's top five as I see them:
#5 Saturday, Kansas St. at Texas Tech- Texas Tech 74, Kansas St. 66
#4 Saturday, Arkansas at Auburn- Auburn 82, Arkansas 79
#3 Sunday, Florida St. at Miami FL- Miami FL 72, Florida St. 71
#2 Saturday, Oklahoma at West Virginia- West Virginia 84, Oklahoma 79
#1 Sunday, SMU at Cincinnati- Cincinnati 71, SMU 66

Monday, January 1, 2018

31-DEC Bracket Projections: Happy New Year

2017 is no more, as all those games have been played.  It's officially January which represents the final full month before conference tournaments begin.  Before teams beat up on each other for 18-20 games, a quick look at what's happened this last week.

Teams With A Zero
Undefeated teams (0): Zero.  They are all gone.  Villanova went down at Hinkle.  TCU lost a heartbreaker to Flash Trae.  Arizona State lost on the road to Arizona.  Georgetown even lost a game in regulation. 

As for the teams chasing their first Division I win, it was a good week.  Norfolk State was down nine with a little over seven minutes to go at Stony Brook, but rallied to pull out a 74-68 win.  McNeese left nothing to chance, winning twice.  First over Incarnate Word, second over Northwestern State.  That was a bit of a Southland theme, as New Orleans duplicated the feat.  The Privateers racked up wins over Abilene Christian and Houston Baptist.  Finally, Cal State Northridge gave up the first six points of the game to Morgan State before kicking into gear to earn their first win 79-69 in the Matadome.   

Winless (against Division I) teams (13): 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, Texas Southern, and Texas A&M Corpus Christi.

Quadrant 1 Wins
We’ve lost Villanova, as their their opponent RPI rankings have fallen out of range leaving them with just two at the moment.  Purdue is our lone team with four Q1 wins.

In the three win crowd, we again see a lot of shifting.  Duke, Texas and Georgia have dropped out.  Kansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Arizona have joined.  21 teams currently have two Quadrant 1 wins.

(4)- Purdue
(3)- Arizona State, Temple, Kansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Arizona

Notable Games (predictions in italics, 4-1 last week, 18-7 overall)
This week's top five as I see them:
#5 Tuesday, Penn St. at Maryland- Maryland 72, Penn St. 69
#4 Monday, West Virginia at Kansas St.- Kansas St. 73, West Virginia 72
#3 Thursday, Maryland at Michigan St.- Michigan St. 77, Maryland 68
#2 Wednesday, Virginia at Virginia Tech- Virginia Tech 72, Virginia 69
#1 Tuesday Texas Tech at Kansas- Kansas 74, Texas Tech 72