Sunday, December 16, 2018

16-DEC Bracket Projections: Oklahoma rises, Murray State drops.

Teams with a Zero
Michigan, Kansas, Nevada, and Houston faced major resistance but were able to make enough plays to maintain their undefeated status and preserve all nine unbeaten teams into mid-December.  Furman, Michigan, and Nevada will take a few days, but six of the nine will have games this week.  Kansas and St. John’s might have the easiest path, as they will have South Dakota and St. Francis NY at home, respectively.  Virginia will be on the road to take on South Carolina, and will be a road favorite.  Houston will have their hands full with Utah State at home, but project to be a small favorite.  Buffalo heads into Syracuse, almost a year to the day where they lost at the Orange last season.  The final game will be an absolute banger, when Texas Tech battles Duke at Madison Square Garden.  It’s a near virtual certainty we are going to pare down the undefeated teams this week.    

Kennesaw State came close in the previous write-up, but this weekend against Tennessee Tech they maintained control nearly the entire game en route to a 73-68 victory.  Fourteen winless teams remain.  La Salle and Coppin State are both off until Friday, but the other twelve will have a game this week.  Alcorn State (UAB), North Alabama (Jacksonville State), Delaware State (Delaware), Mount St. Mary’s (American), Maryland Eastern Shore (Winthrop), Alabama A&M (South Alabama), and South Carolina State (Miami OH) will likely be double digit road underdogs.  Alabama State (Sam Houston State) and UNC Asheville (Stetson) are also on the road, but expected to be a much closer game, and thus some potential to mark a win finally.  The final three programs all have games at home, but none look to be a favorite.  Monmouth will host Yale, Southern will host Division I rookie Cal Baptist, and New Hampshire will welcome Marist.

Notable Games
This week's top five as I see them (4-1 last week, 37-18 overall):
#5 Buffalo at Syracuse, Tue – Buffalo 72, Syracuse 71
#4 UCLA at Cincinnati, Wed – Cincinnati 73, UCLA 68
#3 Utah State at Houston, Thu – Houston 72, Utah State 71
#2 Auburn at North Carolina State, Wed –North Carolina State 77, Auburn 71
#1 Texas Tech vs Duke, Thu – Duke 72, Texas Tech 71

My updated bracket can be found below.  Currently, the weighting is 91% this season’s results and 9% last year/pre-season.  This bracket (as well as my previous brackets) are a projection of where I think the teams will be as of Selection Sunday based off their play year-to-date.  In other words, it includes their future schedule, for better or for worse. 

Four automatic bids are being swapped out in this update. 
NEC- St. Francis NY (Sacred Heart).
Big West- UC Irvine (UC Santa Barbara)
Big Sky- Montana (Northern Colorado)
Patriot- Colgate (Bucknell)

As for the at large teams, swapping out five after this weekend’s games.  Texas, Mississippi, Connecticut, St. John’s, and Toledo are in.  Arizona, Syracuse, Purdue, Villanova, and BYU are out. 

This bracket has three bids going to first timers, with Grambling State, St. Francis NY, and Abilene Christian taking a spot.  The Terriers have been around since the first NCAA tournament and are one of the four schools who are zero for eighty years (Army, The Citadel, and William & Mary).  Wichita State (7), Villanova (6), Arizona (6), Xavier (5), Providence (5), West Virginia (4), Purdue (4), Seton Hall (3), Miami FL (3) and Iona (3) would see multiple year streaks of tournament appearances snapped if this bracket would hold.  Aside from St. Francis NY, the programs of Grambling State, Furman, Howard, Rider, Colgate, and Texas State would be ending droughts of at least 20 years with an automatic bid.  Toledo and San Francisco by securing an at large bid, would be snap a drought of 38 and 20 years, respectively.   

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