Sunday, February 11, 2018

11-FEB Bracket Projections: What Did The Top 16 Reveal...Reveal?

Of the teams revealed in the Top 16, Kansas has the most Quadrant 1 wins of the group and leads the NCAA with nine victories in thirteen chances.  Villanova, at 8-1, has the best record in terms of percentage, with Virginia just a tick behind at a 7-1 mark.  There are eighteen programs that have five or more Quadrant 1 wins.  However, only half of the Top 16 seeds announced today are in that category.  Thirteen though do have at least four wins, with only Michigan State (3), Arizona (3), and Ohio State (2) failing to make it in that group.  Also mildly interesting  was that 14 of the 16 have a .500 record or better in such opportunities.  Tennessee at 4-6 and Ohio State at 2-4 were left out.

Bracket Update
Two updates for the automatic bids in my bracket.  In the Colonial, Towson has been my projected CAA Tournament winner in brackets dating all the way back to January 4th.  However, after Towson’s home loss this weekend to Northeastern to level their conference record to 7-7, they have finally fell behind in my model to College of Charleston.  The Cougars are riding an eight game winning streak and lead the CAA with a 11-3 mark.  They were also the team replaced by Towson in my projections back in January.

In the MEAC tournament it’s been predominately North Carolina Central leading the bracket, but North Carolina A&T has been in my field here and there including my previous post.  We now move completely out of the Tar Heel State and into Virginia as Hampton returns to my bracket for the first time since December 21st.  Savannah State currently leads the conference at 9-1, while Hampton is fourth at 7-4. 

I also have two updates in the at large field.  In retrospect I was too hasty on Thursday with Washington.  They have four of their final six games at home, and a path to 12-6 in the PAC 12 is reasonable.  The Oregon loss is a killer, and the double OT loss this weekend to Oregon State isn’t all that much better, but I’m banking on the Huskies in a few of the remaining coin flip games in this bracket edition.  When you combine that with five Quadrant 1 wins, and an overall 5-3 record in that category, I think that’s enough.

Sticking to the purple bubble teams, Kansas State is also in this bracket projection.  They got waxed by Texas Tech, but at this point the Red Raiders are favored to take the Big XII title making the loss more explainable.  Kansas State is 6-6, and if they can get to 9-9 in the respected Big XII Conference, well that looks formidable enough to me.  Certainly not ironclad, as that non-conference is troublesome, but perhaps enough to coast in on the strength of their conference.  

Moving out are SMU, who I still really like at full strength, and USC.  The Trojans have lost three in a row, own a loss to Washington, and are 2-5 in Q1 games.  It’s a fine line sort of call in my opinion, but at this point I have them just barely out.  In SMU’s case, it really is as simple as Shake Milton is out, and they haven’t been able to win without him.  They have lost three in a row, as well as four of five, and are now sitting at 5-7 in the American.  They've also lost opportunities for signature wins against Houston and Cincinnati, and allowed Tulsa to stay in front of them in the AAC standings.  They are 2-4 in Q1 games, but do have nice non-conference wins against Arizona, USC, and Boise State. 

The thirteen team Southland Conference only sends eight teams to their conference tournament, and two teams have now been eliminated from their conference postseason, and thus the NCAA postseason.  One of those, the Incarnate Word Cardinals, are on the list of teams to have never made an NCAA tournament.  They join Grambling State, a team facing an Academic Progress Rate post-season ban, as the only two who are officially guaranteed to begin next season in the same position.  Northwestern State, who has made three NCAA appearances with the most recent being in 2013, was also eliminated from the 2018 Southland Conference Tournament leaving us with 348 teams still alive.

Teams With A Zero
Chicago State was our only school in action this weekend.  I missed the correct score, but had the margin pegged as Seattle held off the Cougars 91-81.  The ten point margin is a bit misleading as it was a 24 point game at the half that Chicago State was fortunate to cut into the lead as much as they did.  I asked the question, ‘Would Chicago State have a lead?’.  The answer was ‘No, they would not’.  Last month, January 27th, with 4:46 left to go in the first half, a Deionte Simmons dunk gave Chicago State a one point lead which would last 44 seconds until UT Rio Grande Valley would scratch back out in front.  It’s now been 184 minutes and 2 seconds of game time since the Cougars have held a lead in a basketball game.  On Thursday night, we’ll find out if the streak will hit 200 minutes when they travel to UMKC for the first matchup against the Kangaroos this season.  I’ll predict UMKC 79-69 (and Chicago State to take a 2-0 lead!).

Delaware State was off this weekend, and travel to Norfolk State tomorrow night.  I’ll take the Spartans 75-67.

Winless (against Division I) teams (2): Chicago State, and Delaware State.

Notable Games (predictions in italics, 2-3 last week, 54-31 overall)
This week's top five as I see them:
#5 Thursday, Ohio State at Penn State- Penn State 72, Ohio State 70
#4 Wednesday, Clemson at Florida State- Florida State 75, Clemson 72
#3 Thursday, Arizona at Arizona State- Arizona State 79, Arizona 76
#2 Wednesday, Virginia Tech at Duke- Duke 82, Virginia Tech 76
#1 Thursday, Cincinnati at Houston- Cincinnati 69, Houston 68

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