I’ve been a Virginia Tech outlier all season long as alluded to in a comment in my last post, so I thought I’d give a few sentences to address it here. They are a ten seed on bracket matrix with a range excluding me from eight to twelve in those that placed the Hokies. In my bracket they are a six, but have fluctuated up to a five in recent posts. My brackets are published with results to date as well as what I project in the remaining games leading up to Selection Sunday. I have Virginia Tech scooping up two more wins in their next games against Clemson and Louisville, then it has a couple coin flip games with Duke at home and Miami on the road. With today’s Duke win over Clemson what was previously a Virginia Tech win has flipped to a marginal Blue Devil win, but it’s still razor thin. In the ACC tournament, I have them bowing out in the semifinals. The race between Clemson, Louisville, North Carolina State and Virginia Tech for the fourth best team is tight, and as of now I see this as favorable for the Hokies.
It looks reasonable to me. Will it play out like that? I guess we’ll see, but when you’re out of line with bracket matrix it usually portends bad things for the prognosticator. I should have a pretty good indication soon as I would wager that the Duke game is going to be the fulcrum with the most leverage in this entire chain, but it’s hard to look past that Clemson game. A loss there would be devastating and a clear delineation between fourth and fifth in the ACC, but with Clemson owning that right.
Syracuse knocked off Miami on the road Saturday, and the Orange have now won three of four and move to 7-7 in the ACC. They are also a respectable 3-5 in Quadrant 1 competition as of today. A couple of trap games loom after the North Carolina and Duke games, but they move into the field for now in my bracket.
Georgia has also made the leap into the brackets. The Bulldogs picked up a road win at Florida to complete the Gator sweep, and then followed that up over the weekend by knocking off Tennessee at home. Georgia is currently 6-8 in the SEC, and it’s imperative they get to at least 8-10, but that’s where I have them finishing the season.
Moving out are UCLA and Louisville. The Bruins continue to pile up wins, but none that really move the needle. They’re 2-4 against Quadrant 1 competition, and in a numbers game I have them on the outside looking in and one of my first teams out alongside Texas and Baylor.
Louisville has been losing to tournament teams and beating up on non-tournament teams for over a month now. That could change soon as their final four games are all against teams currently in the bracket matrix field. Three are on the road, with games at Duke, Virginia Tech and North Carolina State, and they will host Virginia. The Cardinals are 2-7 against Quadrant 1, and could desperately use a late resume win.
No updates on the automatic bids from my last bracket.
Four more schools were knocked out over the weekend, one of which was on our list of 43 Futility schools. Tim O’Shea announced his retirement on Monday effective at the end of the season, and this week the Bryant Bulldogs confirmed that the effective date would be the regular season finale on February 24th as they are no longer able to qualify for the postseason conference tournament. The Bulldogs moved to Division I in 2008, but have failed to qualify in each of their ten seasons. Forty schools on our list remain eligible.
Houston Baptist will see their season end on senior night, as they will not qualify for the Southland Conference Tournament. They join Northwestern State and Incarnate Word as three of the five affiliated members who will not participate. The Huskies took an NAIA hiatus for several years before rejoining Division I, but will see their last NCAA Tournament appearance move to 34 years ago. That is 24th longest Drought in Division I.
Morehead State will also not qualify for the Ohio Valley Conference tournament and has been eliminated. Mississippi Valley State can still tie for the final spot in the SWAC Tournament, but assuming no new tiebreak procedures for the SWAC (and that the ineligible schools are still participating in the post-season) they will not be able to beat any of the team or teams they are tied with. Thus, the Delta Devils are also eliminated. Also, a big thank you to the Big Sky for expanding their post-season tournaments as they always had the most convoluted late-season tiebreak scenarios for me to work through. Of the 351 Division I schools, 342 are still alive.
Teams With A Zero
The first of two coin flips went against Delaware State (0-25), as they fell at home to the Florida A&M Rattlers 66-63. Delaware State possessed a seven point second half lead, and was up 61-57 with a little over a minute left per kenpom’s win probability graph (87.5% likelihood of a DSU win). The Rattlers however would score twice, survive a late turnover, and hit four free throws to ice the three point roadkill. It’s a tough loss for a team still looking for their first Division I win, but as mentioned all hope is not lost as Coppin State comes in for a game Monday night.
After starting out 0-17, Juan Dixon’s team has managed a 5-6 mark since and has nearly worked their way up to the middle of the MEAC. Kenpom has the Eagles at one point better in Delaware State 64-63, but I’ll go the opposite with a 69-68 Hornet win.
Chicago State (0-26) will return to action Thursday night in Las Cruces, against a New Mexico State team on a surprising two game losing streak. I can’t imagine this is anything other than a “get right” game for the Aggies. This has all the makings of a tough road trip for the Cougars.
Winless (against Division I) teams (2): 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) St. Bonaventure 3-2, .600
(F4O) Washington 4-3, .571
(11) Texas 5-8, .385
(F4O) Syracuse 3-5, .375
(11) Baylor 4-8, (10) Kansas State 3-6, (11) UCLA 2-4, .333
(F4O) USC 2-5, .286
(11) Louisville 2-7, .222
(F4O) Nebraska 1-6 .143
NCAA Q1 Win Leaders
(9)- Kansas, North Carolina
(8)- Virginia, Villanova, Auburn
(7)- Xavier, Texas A&M, LSU
(6)- Oklahoma, Alabama, Purdue, Florida, Houston
(5)- Providence, Florida State, West Virginia, Texas, Cincinnati, Missouri, North Carolina State, Arkansas, Georgia
(4)- Washington, Tennessee, Texas Tech, Virginia Tech, Marquette, Arizona, South Carolina, Baylor
Notable Games (predictions in italics, 3-2 last week, 60-35 overall)
This week's top five as I see them:
#5 Tuesday, Creighton at Butler- Butler 78, Creighton 76
#4 Wednesday, Fresno State at UNLV- UNLV 77, Fresno State 74
#3 Wednesday, Louisville at Duke- Duke 80, Louisville 73
#2 Wednesday, Michigan at Penn State- Penn State 71, Michigan 67
#1 Wednesday, Clemson at Virginia Tech- Virginia Tech 75, Clemson 72