Sunday, January 13, 2019

13-JAN Bracket Projections: Louisville rises, North Carolina drops.


Teams with a Zero
Speaking of zero, there was no drama had with either of the two remaining undefeated programs as both cruised to twenty point wins over the weekend.  Virginia went into Clemson, never trailed, and notched a 63-43 road win to move to 15-0.  Clemson was held to 0.70 points per possession after posting an effective field goal percentage of 28.7%, both the lowest for the Tigers all year and the best defensive effort by the Cavaliers to date.  Things ratchet up a bit for Virginia this week, with a home game against Virginia Tech before heading to Cameron Indoor on Saturday. 

Michigan was at home, but enjoyed an equal amount of success with an 80-60 win over Northwestern.  Michigan won’t play again until the weekend, but it’s a doozy.  They will be in Madison for a game against Wisconsin.

Congratulations to the South Carolina State Bulldogs who also never trailed, but allowed an eighteen point lead to trim to 64-61 at one point late second half, before prevailing with a final score of 72-68.  They escaped a monstrous 28 point, 19 rebound effort from Stanley Davis for Morgan State, both career highs, as was his six turnovers.  It was the first Division I win of the season for the Bulldogs, which leaves four such teams remaining.  Maryland Eastern Shore will host North Carolina A&T on Monday night.  UNC Asheville will welcome Chris Clemons and the Campbell Camels on Wednesday night.  Both winless teams will be underdogs, but likely in the single digits.  The other two winless teams, both from the SWAC, will be on the road.  Alcorn State is at Grambling State, and Southern is at Jackson State, with both games being on Monday night.


Notable Games
This week's top five as I see them (2-3 last week, 61-29 overall):
#5 Nebraska at Indiana, Mon – Indiana 72, Nebraska 71
#4 Wisconsin at Maryland, Mon – Maryland 72, Wisconsin 68
#3 Iowa State at Texas Tech, Wed – Texas Tech 70, Iowa State 65
#2 Michigan State at Nebraska, Thu – Nebraska 75, Michigan State 73
#1 Virginia Tech at Virginia, Tue – Virginia 67, Virginia Tech 64


Bracket
My updated bracket can be found below.  This bracket (as well as my previous brackets) are a projection of where I think the teams will be as of Selection Sunday.  In other words, it includes their future schedule, for better or for worse. 

Five automatic bids are being swapped out in this update. 
Pac Twelve- Arizona (Colorado)
Big West- UC Irvine (UC Santa Barbara)
CUSA- Old Dominion (North Texas)
Big South- Winthrop (Radford)
NEC- Sacred Heart (LIU Brooklyn)

No updates to the at large teams from the last update.
My latest bracket has two bids going to a first timer, with Abilene Christian and Sacred Heart each earning a spot.  Wichita State (7), Xavier (5), Providence (5), West Virginia (4), Butler (4), Seton Hall (3), Miami FL (3) and Iona (3) would see multiple year streaks of tournament appearances snapped if this bracket would hold.  Rider, and Texas State would be ending droughts of at least 20 years with an automatic bid.  San Francisco I have securing an at large bid, and the Dons would be earning a bid for the first time since 1998.



Thursday, January 10, 2019

10-JAN Bracket Projections: LSU, Murray State rise.


Teams with a Zero
Another unbeaten goes down as Houston loses on a charge in Philadelphia, and Temple knocks off the Cougars 73-69.  The Cougs basically played from behind throughout, and with mere tenths of a second left momentarily looked to have earned an and-one opportunity that would have given them the lead.  That was ultimately clarified to an offensive foul in what looked to be an acceptable call on replay, but nonetheless a tough way to get your first loss. 

That leaves us with only Virginia and Michigan left as unbeaten teams.  The Cavaliers boatraced Boston College on Wednesday night 83-56 to move to 14-0, and knock off half of the last acronym who gave them their last loss.  The Hoos will be at Clemson on Saturday and probably around a two possession favorite.  Michigan picked up another double digit win on Thursday night at Illinois.  The Wolverines have now won 30 of their last 31 games, with the lone loss behind the national championship game.  Michigan will get Northwestern at home Sunday.

Congratulations to the North Alabama Lions for their first division I win as a member of D1.  The Lions had Florida Gulf Coast at home on Tuesday, and turned in their best defensive effort of the year.  Freshman Cantavio Dutreil picked a fine time for his first double double, in fact it was the first time hitting double figures in either points or rebounds, and added four blocks and a steal to round out the stat sheet in the 61-56 win. 

Not to be overshadowed there was also joy to be had in Durham, New Hampshire as the Wildcats beat UMass Lowell on Wednesday.  New Hampshire hit a season high 56% of their two point attempts, and clamped down for their best defensive effort as well, allowing a 43% effective field goal percentage.  Still, it nearly wasn’t enough as UMass Lowell led 64-60 with a minute a change left until New Hampshire finished on an 8-0 run to earn the 68-64 win.

As for the five remaining winless teams, only Maryland Eastern Shore will be home as they host North Carolina Central.  South Carolina State travels to Morgan State, Southern is at Grambling State, UNC Asheville will go to Hampton, and Alcorn State is at Jackson State.  All five games are on Saturday.


Notable Games
This weekend's top five as I see them (3-2 last week, 59-26 overall):
#5 Louisville at North Carolina, Sat – North Carolina 81, Louisville 74
#4 Nevada at Fresno State, Sat – Fresno State 74, Nevada 72
#3 Mississippi at Mississippi State, Sat – Mississippi State 75, Mississippi 72
#2 Gonzaga at San Francisco, Sat – Gonzaga 76, San Francisco 75
#1 Indiana at Maryland, Fri – Maryland 73, Indiana 70


Bracket
My updated bracket can be found below.  The pre-season weighting is now eliminated, and 100% weighted with this season’s results.  This bracket (as well as my previous brackets) are a projection of where I think the teams will be as of Selection Sunday.  In other words, it includes their future schedule, for better or for worse. 

Two automatic bids are being swapped out in this update. 
Ivy- Yale (Brown)
Pac Twelve- Colorado (Oregon)

As for the at large teams, just one change this update.  Toledo is out, and Iowa is in. 
My latest bracket has one bid going to a first timer, with Abilene Christian hanging on to the Southland spot.  Wichita State (7), Arizona (6), Xavier (5), Providence (5), West Virginia (4), Butler (4), Seton Hall (3), Miami FL (3) and Iona (3) would see multiple year streaks of tournament appearances snapped if this bracket would hold.  Rider, and Texas State would be ending droughts of at least 20 years with an automatic bid.  San Francisco I have securing an at large bid, would be earning a bid for the first time since 1998.



Sunday, January 6, 2019

6-JAN Bracket Projections: North Carolina rises, Pittsburgh, Florida drops.


Teams with a Zero
Nevada’s unbeaten streak is over as they get palindromed at New Mexico 85-58.  The Lobos exercise some demons from the historic Wolf Pack come back from two seasons ago, allowing a 2-0 Nevada lead to be the day’s only real bright side for Nevada.  Nevada will likely be just fine in conference play, but I’m interested to see how they do at Fresno State next weekend.  The Mountain West probably has less strength in the middle this year, but I do think the two or three teams at the top are playing good basketball. 

Virginia ran away from Florida State, although mop up time allowed the Seminoles to close with a more respectable score.  Michigan got a double digit win against Indiana, as did Houston against Memphis, both on Sunday.  All three will be challenged on the road this week.  Houston will be at Temple, Michigan is at Illinois, and Virginia is at Boston College.

Two previously winless teams earned their first victory on Saturday.  Coppin State knocked off Savannah State in a game which neither team managed better than 0.92 points per possession.  Dejuan Clayton had an efficient day with a season high 23 points on just eleven shots.  Alabama State had less drama, and thumped Grambling State at home by a score of 74-53.  It was the defense that earned the Hornets the victory allowing a season low in effective field goal and two point shooting percentage against Division I competition. 

South Carolina State was close to breaking through, but lost to North Carolina A&T in overtime.  They will have to stew on that for a few extra days as they do not play again until this weekend.  The other six teams are in action.  While none will be favorites, five of the six will be playing at home giving them a little better chance to breakthrough.  Southern will have Texas Southern, Maryland Eastern Shore hosts Howard, and Alcorn State battles Prairie View A&M with all games on Monday.  North Alabama will get Florida Gulf Coast on Tuesday, and New Hampshire will have UMass Lowell on Wednesday.  UNC Asheville is the lone team facing a road test with a game at Longwood on Thursday. 


Notable Games
This week's top five as I see them (3-2 last week, 56-24 overall):
#5 Fresno State at Utah State, Wed – Utah State 73, Fresno State 70
#4 TCU at Kansas, Wed – Kansas 74, TCU 73
#3 Purdue at Michigan State, Tue – Michigan State 79, Purdue 72
#2 Auburn at Mississippi, Wed – Mississippi 74, Auburn 73
#1 North Carolina at North Carolina State, Tue – North Carolina State 82, North Carolina 76


Bracket
My updated bracket can be found below.  This bracket (as well as my previous brackets) are a projection of where I think the teams will be as of Selection Sunday.  In other words, it includes their future schedule, for better or for worse. 

Six automatic bids are being swapped out in this update after many conferences began play this weekend. 
Ivy- Brown (Yale)
Patriot- Lehigh (American)
Northeast- LIU Brooklyn (Wagner)
SWAC- Texas Southern (Grambling State)
American East- Vermont (Stony Brook)
Big South- Radford (Gardner Webb)

As for the at large teams, swapping out just one team after this weekend’s games.  Villanova is back in, Vanderbilt is out.    

My latest bracket has one bid going to first timers, with Abilene Christian clinging to the Southland bid.  Wichita State (7), Arizona (6), Xavier (5), Providence (5), West Virginia (4), Butler (4), Seton Hall (3), Miami FL (3) and Iona (3) would see multiple year streaks of tournament appearances snapped if this bracket would hold.  Brown, Rider, and Texas State would be ending droughts of at least 20 years with an automatic bid.  Toledo and San Francisco I have securing an at large bid, would be snapping a drought of 38 and 20 years, respectively.  



Thursday, January 3, 2019

3-JAN Bracket Projections: Gonzaga, St. John’s rise, Wisconsin drops.


Teams with a Zero
Virginia, Michigan, Nevada, and Houston all easily dispatched opponents this week to remain perfect.  Michigan’s win over Penn State by thirteen was the closest of all the games.  Each of the four will be in action this weekend.  Nevada will be the only one on the road, with a game at the Pit against New Mexico.  Michigan (Indiana), Virginia (Florida State) and Houston (Memphis) all have conference games at home.  I would posit that Michigan is most at risk, but all four should be favored in their matchups. 

We are down to nine winless teams after King Rice took his Monmouth Hawks into Penn and came out with a 76-74 OT win on Monday.  That was the last MAAC team searching for its first division one win of the 2018-19 season, which leaves the MEAC (3), SWAC (3), Atlantic Sun (1), American East (1), and Big South (1) the final conferences housing such teams.  We’ll see the list continue to dwindle, especially in the MEAC and SWAC when schools meet up with other teams in the same predicament. 

All nine teams are in action this weekend, several of which have winnable games.  Coppin State will host Savannah State, South Carolina State will welcome in North Carolina A&T, Southern is home against Prairie View A&M, and Alabama State has Grambling State in Montgomery.  All are fairly close to coin flip games.  New Hampshire is at Binghamton, and while maybe not as even as the games above, this is still a reasonable opportunity for the Wildcats.  Alcorn State gets Texas Southern at home, and kenpom has this as a double digit game, but I think it’s worth keeping an eye on.  Maryland Eastern Shore is at Morgan State, North Alabama is at North Florida, and UNC Asheville will host Winthrop in some of the anticipated lopsided matchups. 


Notable Games
This week's top five as I see them (4-1 last week, 53-22 overall):
#5 Florida State at Virginia, Sat – Virginia 73, Florida State 64
#4 North Carolina at Pittsburgh, Sat – Pittsburgh 77, North Carolina 75
#3 Kansas at Iowa State, Sat – Iowa State 77, Kansas 71
#2 Indiana at Michigan, Sun – Michigan 70, Indiana 66
#1 Michigan State at Ohio State, Sat – Ohio State 74, Michigan State 73


Bracket
My updated bracket can be found below.  The pre-season weighting is now eliminated, and 100% weighting is with this season’s results.  This bracket (as well as my previous brackets) are a projection of where I think the teams will be as of Selection Sunday.  In other words, it includes their future schedule, for better or for worse. 

Four automatic bids are being swapped out in this update. 
Ivy- Yale (Brown)
Pac Twelve- Oregon (Colorado)
Patriot- American (Lehigh)
Northeast- Wagner (LIU Brooklyn)

As for the at large teams, swapping out two after this week’s games.  Vanderbilt and Texas are in, Northwestern and Iowa are out. 

My latest bracket has three bids going to first timers, with Grambling State, Gardner Webb and Abilene Christian taking a spot.  Wichita State (7), Villanova (6), Arizona (6), Xavier (5), Providence (5), West Virginia (4), Butler (4), Seton Hall (3), Miami FL (3) and Iona (3) would see multiple year streaks of tournament appearances snapped if this bracket would hold.  Grambling State, Rider, and Texas State would be ending droughts of at least 20 years with an automatic bid.  Toledo and San Francisco I have securing an at large bid, would be snapping a drought of 38 and 20 years, respectively.