It’s time to publish my final bracket guess for this cycle. I’d like to thank Davidson for taking at least one of the bubble teams out of consideration. Here’s what we’ve got.
Last Four In: Texas, USC, Oklahoma, St. Mary’s
I went through a lot of soul-searching and evaluation of the teams involved in this process, and as you’ve probably noticed, it’s been hard to settle on a consistent bottom part of the at-large field. That is largely due to the extreme differences between the resumes, and a general uncertainty about whether the selection committee will favor top wins, or favor breadth and depth of metrics, or somehow try to split the baby (which they have been known to do in the past). I don’t think Texas and Oklahoma should really be this low, but I have a hard time seeing the committee moving them ahead of the teams right in front of them on the S-Curve. USC is another one that’s hard to figure — their power numbers say “we should be higher”, but they have zero wins vs at-large teams in the field and should be sweating a lot more than most people should think. I’m very dissatisfied with St. Mary’s as my last team in, but I find it impossible to believe that the committee is going to leave out a 28-win team with a middling SOS who won at Gonzaga. I feel like any of the first four teams left out are better than St Mary’s, but I doubt it will matter.
First Four Out: Louisville, Oklahoma State, Syracuse, Marquette
At the end of the day, I ended up backing Oklahoma State out of the field. Their best wins are impressive, and they don’t really have bad losses, but they have so many losses. And their non-conference SOS is not something that the committee traditionally likes to reward. And their RPI would be the lowest ever for an entrant into the field as an at-large. I think they probably get in without San Diego State and Davidson stealing bids. Louisville also came close, but they ultimately didn’t have enough wins of note. Syracuse and Marquette were very close as well, and Syracuse’s SOS almost saved them in my eyes, but again, not enough wins.
- I am wagering that the committee will pump up the seeding for Arizona (who really should be a 4) and Providence (who’s probably in the 9-10 range) purely due to their conference tournament performances.
- I think the AAC title game is happening too late to affect either Cincinnati or Houston’s seeding. I also don’t think that Tennessee would’ve moved up to the two line even if they’d beaten Kentucky.
- Biggest teams I’m uncertain of in terms of their seed: Alabama (how much do they get rewarded?), Florida State, Kansas State, Missouri (does the DWI affect them?), Davidson, North Carolina State, USC.
- For the final one seed, I think the committee will opt for Xavier’s relatively pristine record over giving it to a 10-loss UNC team. And there’s no reasonable argument for giving it to Duke over UNC at this point.
S-Curve (1-68 rank):
|11||West Virginia||Big Twelve|
|14||Michigan State||Big Ten|
|15||Texas Tech||Big Twelve|
|20||Ohio State||Big Ten|
|28||Seton Hall||Big East|
|31||Rhode Island||Atlantic Ten|
|32||North Carolina State||ACC|
|36||Kansas State||Big Twelve|
|40||St. Bonaventure||Atlantic Ten|
|44||St. Mary’s||West Coast|
|46||New Mexico State||WAC|
|47||South Dakota State||Summit League|
|48||San Diego State||Mountain West|
|51||Murray State||Ohio Valley|
|59||Stephen F. Austin||Southland|
|62||Georgia State||Sun Belt|
|63||CS Fullerton||Big West|
|68||North Carolina Central||MEAC|