Well, here goes nothing. The final 2019 bracket projection and seed list are found below.
Shuffling all over the map — at the top and at the bottom. Some bid-stealing shoves an ACC team off the table, and I do a re-evaluation of the bottom third of the bracket.
Not as many shifts as we thought! This is the update heading into the games of March 15th.
New bracket and seed list. Not a lot has changed since the last update, but tomorrow is the first true day of reckoning.
No time for love, Dr. Jones. Here’s the bracket update:
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|
After a fun day of basketball on Friday, we’re locked and loaded for the last 30 or so hours of action. We’ve had a couple of changes since yesterday, so let’s get right to it.
Last Four In: St. Mary’s, UCLA, Baylor, USC
Alabama moves out of the Last Four In and safely into the field with their neutral court demolition of Auburn, and that ends up pushing St. Mary’s down into the Last Four In. At this point, I think St. Mary’s (and St. Bonaventure, for that matter) are safe in the field — we’re just nitpicking resumes for the final couple of spots. For the last three spots, you’ll notice that USC moved back in as the last team in the field. Much as I’m not excited about USC’s resume, I think the argument is there for them to get in ahead of Marquette. Better power numbers, more Tier 1 and Tier 2 wins, comparable strength of schedule, and USC has advanced to the Pac 12 Title Game, while Marquette lost early. I also think that Arizona State has likely fallen out of the Last Four In.
First Four Out: Marquette, Arizona State, Louisville, Syracuse
All of these teams have the same thing in common – they can no longer help themselves.
Next Four Out: Notre Dame, Oregon, Penn State, Mississippi State
No changes here.
- It’s incredibly close between UNC, Duke, and Xavier for the 4-5-6 spots in the S-curve. UNC is a tough sell to me personally as a 1 seed because of their nine losses, but they have an objectively better resume than Xavier, and they’ve beaten Duke two out of three times. So I’ve got them fourth, Xavier fifth, and Duke sixth, which ends up working well for bracketing purposes
- What to do with Michigan State? Do we seed them on their power numbers (among the best in the country) or on their Tier 1 wins (far fewer than the teams around them)? I’ve still got them (barely) as a 3 seed, but wouldn’t be shocked to see them as a 4.
- Auburn probably should fall to a 4 seed.
- I’m not sure how secure Nevada really is at this point. Their resume is a mixed bag at best. Only one win against an at-large caliber team, but their power numbers are strong. They look a lot like St. Mary’s and St. Bonaventure right now, with the notable exception that they won the MWC regular season title while the other two did not.
We’re back after a two-day hiatus. Lots of little changes, and I keep zeroing in on various aspects of the S-Curve and finding conflicts to resolve. As a result, there have been some shifts in a couple of areas, which I’ll detail below the bracket.
Last Four In: UCLA, Baylor, Arizona State, Alabama
UCLA’s resume is buoyed by a couple of key early-season victories, plus acceptable power numbers. If they beat Arizona they’ll be safely in the field. Baylor blew a chance to demonstrate any sort of desire to enter the tournament with their loss yesterday, but I still think their overall profile gets them in. Arizona State is hanging on by a thread, and can’t help itself anymore. Alabama is tricky — they have a lot of really good wins, and while their resume is very heavy on home victories, they also now have a neutral court win vs A&M and a road win vs Florida, and both of those wins are superior to what Marquette or Louisville have. They also have 14 losses already, and it’s tough to see a 15-loss team getting into the field. Winning today vs Auburn would solve a lot of the remaining questions about their place.
First Four Out: Marquette, Louisville, USC, Syracuse
Unfortunately for the Eagles and Cards, they are on the outside looking in. Lots of people have USC in, but the more I look at their resume, the more I don’t like it. If Middle Tennessee doesn’t get an at-large bid (and they won’t), then USC will have zero wins against teams who got into the field on their own merits (New Mexico State doesn’t count). So for USC, I think it’s either win the Pac 12 or miss the tournament — a neutral court win vs Oregon isn’t going to get you anywhere. Syracuse is close, but can’t help themselves anymore.
Next Four Out: Notre Dame, Oregon, Penn State, Mississippi State
Notre Dame came relatively close, but despite good power numbers and road/neutral record, they just haven’t shown enough on balance this season. Oregon doesn’t really have a path to the tournament as an at-large; their best bet is to win the Pac 12. Penn State isn’t going anywhere. Mississippi State has a razor-thin margin for getting in, but it’s going to require getting to the SEC title game and then losing to someone good.
Here’s some bracket things to note:
- I really like Duke’s chances at a 1 seed. If they beat UNC I think they’ll definitely get the fourth 1 seed ahead of Xavier. I don’t see North Carolina getting a 1 seed, though. Even with a bevy of quadrant 1 wins, UNC still has nine losses on the year.
- Michigan finally moved one slot ahead of Michigan State on my S-curve, which is why the Wolverines are in Detroit and MSU is in Wichita. I keep looking for the the big wins on MSU’s resume and I can’t find them.
- Auburn could still move ahead of Purdue if they can win the SEC Tournament and beat Tennessee along the way.
- Cincinnati is probably stuck on the 2 line.
- Xavier can move back on the 1 line if they beat Villanova on a neutral floor — that would probably be enough to get them back ahead of Duke.
- I’m most curious where the committee decides to put Nevada and Rhode Island at this point. Their resumes are RPI-bloated but don’t really hold up very well beyond that.
Here’s a tip, kids — never bracket when tired and/or sick. I made a mistake and didn’t get all my team sheets refreshed last night, so as a result I left Marquette out of the equation entirely. They are back in now, so please, people of Milwaukee, accept my apologies.
Now that the sheets are refreshed, there hasn’t been that much shifting since yesterday. Here are the notable changes:
- I’ve still got Duke on the 1 line (in opposition to most of the rest of the bracketing world at this point), but I believe their recent play, combined with their predictive rankings and quality of wins, will land them there on Sunday, barring an unforeseen upset in the ACC tournament, or someone right below them getting hot. I did move Xavier back to the 1 line, so now Kansas is the 5th overall team on the S-curve.
- Wichita State and Gonzaga both felt underrated to me, so they’re up a bit, at the expense of Texas Tech.
- St. Mary’s ended up both hurting and helping themselves yesterday. The loss to BYU bumped BYU up to a Tier 1 win for St. Mary’s, although that may go away quickly given how badly Gonzaga obliterated the Cougars in the WCC title game. Meanwhile, St. Mary’s overall resume looks pretty bad. Lots of wins against nobody of note, and I’m not sure their power rankings are going to save them. Right now they’re still in, but if some bubble teams get hot, I could see them sliding into the play-in games…or out of the field entirely.
Last Four In: Oklahoma State, Marquette, USC, UCLA
I heard Lunardi say that Oklahoma State needed to beat Kansas again to even have a shot. I don’t understand why. They have seven wins against at-large caliber teams in the field, and their losses are all tier 1 or tier 2. Plus they have a season sweep of a team that’s a borderline 1 seed. Their power metrics are slightly lower than some of their bubble competitors, but what other bubble team features that kind of resume? None. As for the rest — Marquette deserves their current place here, but needs to avoid a bad loss in the Big East tournament. Like, don’t lose to DePaul on Wednesday. That would be a bad idea.
First Four Out: Louisville, Syracuse, Providence, Alabama
Syracuse won a game they couldn’t afford to lose, so…good for them. That’s not going to be enough, since Wake Forest is a tier 3 win. Louisville will probably move past both USC and UCLA if they can beat Florida State on a neutral floor. Providence and Alabama have ample opportunities to play themselves in.
Next Four Out: LSU, Boise State, Utah, Penn State
Instead of talking about who’s on this list, let’s talk about who isn’t: Notre Dame. For some reason, the Irish have become the cause celebre of Joe Lunardi this week as a potential at-large. While I would never say anything is impossible with the NCAA selection committee, it’d be pretty surprising if they somehow vaulted the Irish past a bunch of teams that have actually played decently during conference play and placed them in the tournament. Even a win vs Virginia Tech tomorrow probably won’t be enough to get the Irish into the last 4 in.
The bracket is back after a bit of a hiatus due to the Big Ten Tournament. Lots of changes since we last did this one. This includes all games that finished as of 11:15 PM on Monday 3/5. All we’re waiting on is St. Mary’s, and a loss there would probably only drop them a seed line, so we’ll just run with this.
Last Four In: Oklahoma State, USC, UCLA, Louisville
I’m expecting this group to be incredibly fluid throughout the next five days, because there are hardly any margins separating these teams (or, for that matter, the teams above them and below them). Oklahoma State is impossible to ignore, given their Kansas sweep and overall profile. USC and UCLA have just the right combo of power ratings and not-terrible wins to boost them above some of their competition. Louisville really needs to not lose against Florida State, and then also hope that the teams below them on the bubble don’t win more impressive games than that.
Last Four Out: Syracuse, Alabama, LSU, Providence
Syracuse needs to win games as well, and they may end up with a slightly easier path to getting into the field than Louisville. Alabama needs to show a pulse, first and foremost. Then win a game of import away from Tuscaloosa. LSU needs to go on a run. Providence is an odd team to figure – they might be safely in, they might be this far out. I am very unimpressed with their overall profile. Three losses in Tier 4, including one just a couple weeks ago at home, plus a composite power ranking that just doesn’t look favorable versus the teams they are competing against.
Next Four Out: Boise State, Utah, Penn State, Mississippi State
Penn State did themselves some favors in the Big Ten tournament, but not enough favors. Now they sit for a week while teams get to impress the committee. Boise State better hope that they just win the Mountain West.