Final Bracket 03.12.170

This is our official, Bracket Matrix submitted bracket projection, going in to the selection show.

Here is the bracket. Below that is the full seed list.

Last Four In: VCU, Wake Forest, Providence, Southern Cal

First Four Out: Illinois State, Illinois, Syracuse, Iowa

Seed List 1-68:

1 Villanova
2 Kansas
3 Duke
4 Gonzaga
5 North Carolina
6 Arizona
7 Kentucky
8 Oregon
9 Baylor
11 Louisville
12 Butler
13 Florida State
14 Notre Dame
15 West Virginia
16 Florida
17 Purdue
18 Minnesota
19 Virginia
20 Iowa State
21 SMU
22 Cincinnati
23 Wisconsin
24 Michigan
25 Maryland
26 Creighton
27 Wichita State
28 Miami
29 St Mary’s
30 Marquette
31 Northwestern
32 Oklahoma State
33 Arkansas
34 South Carolina
35 Virginia Tech
36 Michigan State
37 Dayton
38 Xavier
39 Seton Hall
40 Vanderbilt
41 Rhode Island
42 Kansas State
43 VCU
44 Wake Forest
45 Providence
46 Southern Cal
47 Middle Tennessee
48 Nevada
49 UNC Wilmington
50 Princeton
51 East Tennessee State
52 Bucknell
53 Vermont
54 Winthrop
55 New Mexico State
56 Iona
57 Florida Gulf Coast
58 Northern Kentucky
59 Kent State
60 North Dakota
61 Texas Southern
62 South Dakota State
63 Troy
64 Jacksonville State
65 New Orleans
66 UC Davis
67 North Carolina Central
68 Mount St Mary’s
1s: Villanova, Kansas, Duke, Gonzaga
2s: UNC, Arizona, Kentucky, Oregon
3s: Baylor, UCLA, Louisville, Butler
4s: Florida State, Notre Dame, West Virginia, Florida
5s: Purdue, Minnesota, Virginia, Iowa State
6s: SMU, Cincinnati, Wisconsin, Michigan
7s: Maryland, Creighton, Wichita State, Miami
8s: St. Mary’s, Marquette, Northwestern, Oklahoma State
9s: Arkansas, South Carolina, Virginia Tech, Michigan State
10s: Dayton, Xavier, Seton Hall, Vanderbilt
11s: Rhode Island, Kansas State, Middle Tennessee State, VCU, Providence
12s: Wake Forest, USC, Nevada, UNC-Wilmington, Princeton
13s: Vermont, Winthrop, East Tennessee State, Bucknell
14s: Iona, New Mexico State, Florida Gulf Coast, Northern Kentucky
15s: South Dakota State, Texas Southern, Kent State, North Dakota
16s: Troy, Jacksonville State, New Orleans, UC Davis, NC Central, Mount St. Marys
  • The first two one seeds are easy. The next four teams are hard. I went back and forth for a couple of hours on an order, and I’m still not totally sold on it. I think the committee will reward Duke’s top 50 wins and better away wins, and i think they’ll reward Gonzaga for only losing one game. That ends up making UNC the first 2 seed and Arizona the second 2 seed. I think if I was bracketing based upon my own interpretations (as opposed to trying to project the committee), I’d probably have the line ordered Villanova, Kansas, Duke, UNC, Arizona, Gonzaga.
  • The last four teams in changed a little bit, as I looked at numbers more closely. I think today’s win moved Rhode Island up slightly, and dropped VCU down slightly, as the first team in the last four in. I also became less enamored with Wake Forest’s profile the more I looked at it, so they got bumped down.
  • Of the teams not in my field that I’m the most concerned about, it’s Syracuse and Illinois State, for totally different reasons. If the committee opts for top 50 wins, Syracuse is getting in and someone’s getting bounced…maybe USC. Although that would leave the Pac 12 with only three teams, which also seems unlikely.

Bracketology 03.12.17 – Penultimate Bracket0

Here’s our second-to-last bracket. Our next one will be the final bracket of the season, and will be posted just prior to the selection show.

Yes, I have Duke as a 1 seed. No, I’m not proud of it. But they have a better resume than UNC overall.

Gonzaga probably shouldn’t be a 1 seed. I think both Arizona and UNC are better than them, but the committee is going to almost certainly reward them for a 1-loss season. So there we are.

Last Four In: Providence, Kansas State, Rhode Island, Southern Cal

First Four Out: Illinois State, Illinois, Iowa, Syracuse


Bracketology 03.11.170

Here’s the updated bracket through last night’s games. After this one we’ve only got two more brackets to do. This is always the most bittersweet of times.

Last Four In: Providence, Kansas State, Rhode Island, USC

First Four Out: Syracuse, Illinois State, Illinois, Georgia

Notes: Lots of little moves, a few big ones, and some potentially interesting matchups starting to materialize.

  • The 1 seed line is suddenly muddled. Did UNC’s loss put their 1 seed in jeopardy? Could Arizona vault Gonzaga if they beat Oregon tonight (or, could Oregon do the same?). Could Duke actually make the 1 seed line?
  • Regarding Arizona/Oregon, I think it’s possible they could grab that 1 seed in the West. Gonzaga’s profile just doesn’t have a huge amount of depth — of their six top 50 wins, three are against a St. Mary’s team that gamed the RPI this year.
  • As far as Duke is concerned, don’t sleep on the idea that the committee will give them a pass on whatever losses they suffered during K’s absence. I still don’t think they’ll make it up to the 1 line, but I’ve got them as my last 2 now, largely due to the above scenario.
  • At this point I think Providence and Kansas State are securely in. Rhode Island is certainly not a sure thing, and I really don’t like USC at all. I’ve read some metrics that make me think USC is going to get in, but their presence in the field has me hoping for a bid-stealer to come in and take an at-large spot away.

Bracketology 03.10.170

Here’s the updated brackets heading in to Friday’s games:

Last Four In: Providence, Kansas State, Rhode Island, Illinois State

First Four Out: USC, Illinois, Syracuse, Iowa

Notes: There’s a lot of movement in the bottom 1/3 of the at-large pool, mostly because the lines between these teams are razor-thin. Iowa and Illinois both had chances to move up (or in) to the field, but bad losses in the Big Ten Tournament hurt both of their causes.

Will the committee reward large win totals with a lack of impressive top-end victories, or will they reward big wins and bad metrics? That’s the big question right now. I’m wavering back and forth between those two realities, but right now I’m guessing they’ll reward the larger win totals. Bad as the RPI is, it’s what the committee uses, and the RPI is favoring a team like Illinois State over a team like USC.

There were some questions asked on Twitter:

Interesting question. From a competition standpoint, the answer is a no-brainer YES. But even if you went straight s-curve, there are other balancing issues you have to take into account, like keeping conference members apart from each other in the bracket. If you were to also do away with those restrictions, then I’d say go ahead and switch to straight s-curving. The regional orientation is a vestige of an era when plane travel wasn’t as easy as it is today, and while the current system does benefit some higher seeded teams by not sending them across the country, it disadvantages teams that are maybe one or two arbitrarily decided places below them.

SMU, St. Mary’s, Wichita State…lots of teams fit into this category of having a small number of top 50 wins but a gaudy overall record. SMU is in better shape than the other two teams I mentioned, with eight top-100 wins and 9 road/neutral wins. The committee has rewarded teams for regular season conference titles before, and I think that will happen here as well. Right now I have them in the 6/7 seed range, but wouldn’t be shocked if they ended up on the 5 line. I can’t see them rising any higher than that, though.


Bracketology 03.09.170

Good morning bracketology! Let’s take a look at the updated bracket heading in to Thursday’s games:

Last Four In: Vanderbilt, Kansas State, Iowa, Rhode Island

First Four Out: Syracuse, Illinois State, USC, Illinois


  • I’ve gone back and forth on my last teams in a few times. At this point I’m rolling with Iowa and Rhode Island over Illinois State and Syracuse. I do not see the appeal of Illinois State’s resume — the lack of quality wins is too much for me to justify moving them ahead of Iowa, and Rhode Island has a more complete resume than the Redbirds.
  • Syracuse is really kinda screwed at this point. Even if they are in the field, it can’t be by much, and now the teams below them (USC, Illinois, maybe Iowa, Rhode Island) have a chance to overtake, while the Orange have to just sit there and wait.
  • Wake Forest’s loss didn’t really hurt them.
  • How will the committee treat the resumes of Cincinnati, SMU, and Dayton? Light on top wins, but lots of overall wins.
  • Today and tonight should give us some clarity on several teams, finally. This is always the biggest pivot point of Championship Week, when tournament teams play other tournament teams and resumes start getting padded with additional wins.

Bracketology 03.07.160

At the very end of the day on Tuesday 3/7, here’s an updated bracket. We had to do a lot of butchering of the bracket due to the insane cluster of ACC teams on the 3/4 lines. In fact, we ended up violating a bracketing principle by having Louisville and UVA in the same region. But we managed to move teams around and avoid most of the other pitfalls.


Last Four In: Vanderbilt, Kansas State, Rhode Island, Illinois State

Last Four Out: Iowa, Syracuse, USC, California

Bracketology 03.06.170

Our newest bracketology is up and running, as we head into the first day of nothing but conference tournaments.

We welcome Butler to the 2-line, Minnesota to the 5-line, and Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, and Iowa to the field.

Here’s the full bracket:

And here’s some notes:

Last Four In: Vanderbilt, Iowa, Wake Forest, Kansas State

First Four Out: Rhode Island, Syracuse, Houston, Utah


1 Kansas
2 Villanova
3 North Carolina
4 Gonzaga
5 Baylor
6 Louisville
7 Kentucky
8 Butler
9 Florida
10 Duke
12 Oregon
13 Arizona
14 Purdue
15 Florida State
16 West Virginia
17 Minnesota
18 Virginia
19 Dayton
20 SMU
21 Notre Dame
22 Iowa State
23 Maryland
24 Creighton
25 Cincinnati
26 St. Mary’s
27 Oklahoma State
28 Wisconsin
29 South Carolina
30 Miami
31 Arkansas
32 Michigan State
33 Michigan
34 Marquette
35 Wichita State
36 Northwestern
37 Virginia Tech
38 Providence
39 Xavier
40 VCU
41 Seton Hall
42 USC
43 Vanderbilt
44 Iowa
45 Wake Forest
46 Kansas State
47 Middle Tennessee
48 Nevada
49 Princeton
50 UNC Wilmington
51 Vermont
52 UT Arlington
53 Bucknell
54 Akron
55 Winthrop
56 Florida Gulf Coast
57 Bakersfield
58 Iona
59 UNC Greensboro
60 UC Irvine
61 South Dakota
62 Northern Kentucky
63 Jacksonville State
64 North Carolina Central
65 New Orleans
66 North Dakota
67 Texas Southern
68 Mount St. Mary’s

Where Do Coaches Come From?2

One of the stranger arguments of the “Don’t fire/replace Tom Crean” camp centers on the question of who IU could get that would be better.

“Great coaches aren’t going to line up to replace Crean at IU!” goes the argument. “And Crean is a top-level coach, so we won’t be doing any better.”

Calling Crean a top-level coach is questionable, but even if we put that aside, the entire argument is being misstated. Somehow, certain IU fans and pundits have gotten it in their heads that the program would need to hire a current top 10 (or better) coach, or else it wouldn’t be worth making a change.

But if we look at most of the top coaches of the last 15 years, we see that most of those coaches weren’t “top coaches” before they took their current jobs. In fact, several of them hadn’t been head coaches at all.

Here’s a listing of top coaches during that time period, and their prior coaching experience before taking over their most prominent jobs:

Coach Program Before Current job
Sean Miller Arizona Xavier 2004-09
Scott Drew Baylor Valparaiso HC 2002-03
Brad Stevens Butler Butler assistant
Mike Krzyzewski Duke Army HC 1975-80
Billy Donovan Florida Marshall HC 1994-96
Mark Few Gonzaga Gonzaga assistant
Bill Self Kansas Oral Roberts 1993-97; Tulsa 1997-00; Illinois 2000-03
John Calipari Kentucky UMass 1988-96; NJ Nets 1996-99; Memphis 2000-09
Rick Pitino Louisville NYK 1987-89; Kentucky 1989-97; Boston 1998-01
Tom Izzo Michigan State MSU assistant
Mike Brey Notre Dame Delaware HC 1995-00
Jim Boeheim Syracuse Syracuse Assistant
Jim Calhoun UConn Northeastern HC 1972-86
Roy Williams UNC UNC Assistant, Kansas 1988-03
Jay Wright Villanova Hofstra HC 1994-01
Tony Bennett Virginia Washington State HC 2006-09
Bo Ryan Wisconsin UW-Milwaukee HC 1999-01


Some important things to note:

  • Three coaches in this group who won titles or made title games (Boeheim, Izzo, Stevens) went straight from being an assistant coach to being a head coach. Four if you count Roy Williams, which you absolutely should.
  • Last year’s national title winner, Jay Wright, came to Villanova after posting a 59% winning percentage and two NCAA tournament trips in seven years at Hofstra.
  • Bo Ryan’s experience consisted of 15 successful years at a D-3 school, followed by two years at UW-Milwaukee where he didn’t finish higher than 4th in the Horizon League.
  • Three coaches with a combined 10 national titles (Krzyzewski, Calhoun, Donovan) only had prior coaching experience at the mid-major or lower level before taking on their primary jobs.
  • Out of this list of top coaches, you could only reasonably argue that two of them were poached from programs of similar stature. Roy Williams moved from Kansas to UNC, but only due to his deep ties to UNC as a former assistant, and only after having spurned the Tar Heels three years earlier. Bill Self found immediate success at Illinois before moving to Kansas to replace Williams, and you have to stretch the concept of “similar stature” pretty damn far to include Illinois and Kansas in the same sentence.
  • At the time of his hiring by Kentucky, John Calipari was viewed with a tremendous amount of suspicion by most of the major programs in college basketball. Kentucky itself spurned Calipari to hire Billy Gillispie two years earlier, and other top programs were giving him a wide berth.
  • Sean Miller’s high-water mark at Xavier was an Elite 8 as a 3 seed, and his Xavier teams were only seeded in the top half of the bracket twice.

It is certainly understandable that IU fans would prefer the security of an already battle-tested coach taking over the program should Crean leave. But it is not a necessary aspect of any such change, and furthermore it ignores an important pattern in college basketball. “Great” coaches don’t generally take over great programs. They make them, and forge their own identities in the process.

The key is making the right hire, by picking the coach with the best mix of ability and potential that they can grow into the job. Indiana basketball provides a wonderful canvas for the right coach to paint his masterpiece. If a change is to be made, it would be a mistake to assume that Indiana must hire a coach that’s already painted a masterpiece.

Bracketology 03.02.170

It feels good to be on the right side of March 1.

Here’s our first bracket of the month, through the games of March 2.

Last Four In: Seton Hall, Illinois, Kansas State, Rhode Island

First Four Out: Houston, Illinois State, Wake Forest, Vanderbilt


1 Kansas
2 Villanova
3 North Carolina
4 Gonzaga
5 Baylor
7 Kentucky
8 Louisville
9 Arizona
10 Butler
11 Florida
12 Duke
13 Oregon
14 Purdue
15 Florida State
16 West Virginia
17 Notre Dame
18 Virginia
19 Dayton
20 SMU
21 Creighton
22 Minnesota
23 Iowa State
24 Maryland
25 Cincinnati
26 St. Mary’s
27 Oklahoma State
28 Wisconsin
29 South Carolina
30 Miami
31 Arkansas
32 USC
33 Michigan
34 Michigan State
35 Marquette
36 Virginia Tech
37 Northwestern
38 Providence
39 Xavier
40 Syracuse
41 VCU
42 Wichita State
43 Seton Hall
44 Illinois
45 Kansas State
46 Rhode Island
47 Nevada
48 Middle Tennessee
49 UNC Wilmington
50 UT Arlington
51 East Tennessee State
52 Valparaiso
53 Princeton
54 Monmouth
55 Vermont
56 Belmont
57 Akron
58 UNC Asheville
59 Bucknell
60 Florida Gulf Coast
61 Cal State Bakersfield
62 South Dakota
63 North Carolina Central
64 North Dakota
65 Texas Southern
66 UC Irvine
67 New Orleans
68 Mount St. Mary’s