NCAA Tournament Bracket Projection – FINAL – 5:39PM EST
We have come to Selection Sunday, the Final Exam so to speak for the work put in by hundred or so Bracketologists over the course of the season. Below you will find my final bracket, as well as a little analysis of the #1 seeds and bubble picture. I’ll start with the full bracket for easy reference (S-curve adjusted to eliminate restricted matchups to the extent possible, without moving seed lines), and then follow with discussion below.
|2||Ohio St.||Georgetown||Miami FL||Duke|
|3||New Mexico||Florida||Michigan St.||Michigan|
|5||St. Louis||Pittsburgh||Oklahoma St.||Arizona|
|6||Nevada Las Vegas||North Carolina||UCLA||Notre Dame|
|7||Creighton||Virginia Commonwealth||Memphis||North Carolina St.|
|9||Iowa St.||San Diego St.||Minnesota||Illinois|
|12||Akron||Kentucky/Temple||Belmont||Boise St/Mid Tennessee|
|13||Bucknell||Valparaiso||Davidson||New Mexico St.|
|14||Harvard||Montana||Iona||South Dakota St.|
|15||Northwestern St.||Pacific||Florida Gulf Coast||Albany|
|16||Southern||James Madison||Long Island||Western Kentucky|
|Next Four||Second Four Out|
|La Salle||Southern Mississippi|
For the top line, my top 3 overall seeds are Louisville, Indiana, and Gonzaga. The fourth gets interesting and comes down to Duke, Kansas, and Miami, with Georgetown and Ohio State just on the outside of this discussion.
Duke has the best profile in terms of wins over top teams and sports the #1 RPI, but it did not win either the ACC regular season or tournament titles. They also may receive consideration for four of their five losses occurring when they lacked the services of Ryan Kelly. However, Miami has the same excuse for its loss to Florida Gulf Coast University, and it’s one of those subjective factors that is almost impossible to judge how the Committee will treat each scenario in a given year.
Kansas and Miami each completed that double feat, sport RPIs in the top 5, and each has their share of wins over top 50 opponents as well. Each also suffered at least one horrible loss, something Duke has avoided. A couple too many in Miami’s case.
In the end it came down to Duke and Kansas in a dead heat per my model (11.19 rating apiece), so I had to make a gut decision. Kansas gets the nod with similar wins (Ohio St and Temple are shared) and the conference champion double dip.
In a way, Mississippi winning the SEC title game and shrinking the bubble made the decision making process easier. It took them out of the at-large pool, making the bubble one spot smaller with one less legitimate option. It leaves 14 teams fighting for 6 spots, with the top 3 spots most likely grabbed by Oklahoma, St Mary’s, and Temple.
Baylor and below are likely on the wrong side, leaving the hard decision point at the final three bids among 7 teams: Middle Tennessee, Boise St, Kentucky, UVA, La Salle, Iowa, and Tennessee.
Middle Tennessee and Boise St narrowly get the first two spots, leaving the final decision among teams that had bad losses down the stretch, Kentucky and Virginia. Virginia may have had one too many bad losses and thus misses out, giving the Wildcats a new life in Dayton.
Here’s the full top 100:
|15||Kansas St.||34.30||65||Louisiana Tech||131.66|
|23||North Carolina||57.37||73||Air Force||140.86|
|24||Nevada Las Vegas||58.13||74||Brigham Young||143.91|
|26||Virginia Commonwealth||60.23||76||Stephen F. Austin||145.45|
|28||North Carolina St.||64.81||78||New Mexico St.||146.70|
|30||Colorado St.||65.30||80||St. John’s||153.55|
|34||San Diego St.||75.36||84||South Dakota St.||160.40|
|35||Iowa St.||75.93||85||Indiana St.||161.12|
|42||Mississippi||83.98||92||Texas El Paso||166.98|
|44||Oklahoma||85.74||94||North Dakota St.||169.18|
|46||Middle Tennessee||94.21||96||Santa Clara||171.80|
|47||Boise St.||95.19||97||Boston College||172.07|