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


  1. How do you continue to have Grand Canyon as a 12 seed? Even if they do happen to beat NMSU for the WAC title, they are a 15 seed at best.

  2. I concede they could be a 15, but just as easily could be a 12. If they get the auto, it will likely include one win over NMSU, perhaps two if they win in Las Cruces, which are quadrant one wins. For the record, I have them finishing conference play as 12-2 (losing at Las Cruces) but winning on a neutral.

    They are currently 94 in kenpom. Last year, all the 12 seeds were rated better, but in 2016 Chattanooga was 107 in Kenpom after winning their tournament and got a 12 seed.

    It's probably a moot scenario, as I had them winning at home against NMSU, and the Aggies smacked them down. I could just be under the influence of the #LopesRising cult.

    1. Okay, after they got smacked around by Utah Valley, I think it's time to remove Grand Canyon and add NMSU. You and I both know that they aren't going to win in Las Cruces. NMSU has lost 1 WAC home game in the last 4 years.

    2. They may not win in Las Cruces, but it will be what happens in Vegas. Going against NMSU is going against the house. It's not he likely option, but not all #1 seeds are going to squeak through. I can't promise I won't "see the light" later in February, but for now they're one of my candidates to beat out a regular season champs.

      BTW, you got a great coach in Jans. I'm sure BGSU wishes they could have kept him.

  3. Surely it is time to move Butler into your field. Wins over Villanova & Ohio State, no sub-50 losses. I find it difficult to believe they would not be even one of the first eight out in your bracket.

  4. Beating St. John's should never be the reason...but that was a thoroughly convincing win. It was enough of a boost to change a few future L's to W's in my projections that they are in the next bracket (posting tonight).

    I'm still not as high as everyone else, which is likely a me problem, but I'm interested to see how they handle the rest of their schedule.

    The Villanova win is solid, albeit aided by ridiculous three point shooting. But it did happen.

    The Ohio State win is another great resume win. I'm not as high on Ohio State as others, and it could have easily went the other way, but it didn't. Credit is due.

    However, no sub 50 losses is another way to say, 0-7 against the rest of their Quadrant I competition.

    Again, they are in, but it's not comfortably in. Maybe I'll learn in due time, but I'm wary of them.