Thursday, March 16, 2017

Official Results from Bracket Matrix

The Bracket Matrix ( is a site that individuals who project brackets can submit their projections to for ranking vs. other entrants.  A scoring rubric is applied to each entry, and then they are ranked from first to last.  My entry can be found under the heading 'PROP'.

Official Final Score:  346
Average Score:  335.9
Final Rank:  38th (Tie) out of 174
Top Score:  367

Scores of  'Bracketologists' from national publications and networks:

  • Stewart Mandel - Fox Sports - Score 346 (38th)
  • Michael Beller - Sport Illustrated - Score 339 (72nd)
  • Patrick Stevens - Washington Post - Score 338 (83rd)
  • Jerry Palm - CBS Sports - Score 330 (131st)
  • Ian Powers - NY Daily News - Score 330 (131st)
  • Joe Lunardi - ESPN Bracketology - Score 329 (134th)

Monday, March 13, 2017

Day After Analysis - How Did I Do?

A few thoughts before posting a breakdown of my bracket, and how it compares to the actual teams selected and seeded by the NCAA

  • One of my best years ... but ... I also think this is one of the most cut and dried years for selecting teams and seeding that I can recall. 
  • I have a few beefs with the committee, but for the most part, this was a hard bracket to screw up.  My biggest complaint is the seeding of the Big Ten Teams ... it makes no sense.  I'll probably have a post on that later, but suffice it to say there seemed to be no rhyme or reason to how Big Tens team were placed into the field ... Minnesota was a 5 Seed, despite a 4th place finish in the Big Ten and getting knocked out of the Tournament in their first game.  Wisconsin is an 8 Seed, despite a better record, 2nd place regular season finish, 2nd place tournament finish and beating Minnesota twice including on their court.  Makes no sense.
  • The Decision to include K-State over Syracuse doesn't make a ton of sense to me ... Syracuse and K-State each had the same number of wins vs Top 25, but Syracuse had more wins vs. top 50, top 100 and top 150.  Syracuse was 10-8 in the toughest conference in the country, while K-State finished below .500 in conference play.  Finally, Syracuse was playing better down the stretch ... having won 7 of their last 12.  K-State on the other hand, had was 5-7 over their last 12 games.  Both teams were flawed, but Syracuse appeared to do more to warrant inclusion that K-State.  Particularly curious when you consider Syracuse's INCLUSION last year.
Now ... without further ado, is the final break down and scoring of this year's projections.

To see how my work stacked up against other 'Bracketologists' be sure and check out 'The Bracket Project - Ranking the Bracketologists' starting later today or tomorrow at

Now ... time to start filling out the brackets!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Final Seed Projections:

Final Seeding Projections:
Team Seed
Villanova 1
Kansas 1
Gonzaga 1
North Carolina 1
Duke 2
Kentucky 2
Arizona 2
Oregon 2
Florida State 3
Baylor 3
Louisville 3
Notre Dame 4
Butler 4
West Virginia 4
Florida 4
Virginia 5
Iowa State 5
Purdue 5
Cincinnati 6
Creighton 6
Saint Mary's 6
Wisconsin 6
Minnesota 7
Maryland 7
Michigan 7
Virginia Tech 7
South Carolina 8
Dayton 8
Arkansas 8
Miami 9
Vanderbilt 9
Seton Hall 9
Northwestern 9
Providence 10
Marquette 10
Michigan State 10
Wichita State 10
Oklahoma State 11
Xavier 11
Rhode Island 11
USC 11
Middle Tennessee 11
Wake Forest 12
Syracuse 12
Nevada 12
UNC Wilmington 12
Vermont 12
New Mexico State 13
Winthrop 13
Princeton 13
Bucknell 13
Florida Gulf Coast 14
East Tennessee State 14
Iona 14
Kent State 14
Northern Kentucky 15
Troy 15
Texas Southern 15
North Dakota 15
Jacksonville State 16
South Dakota State 16
UC Davis 16
North Carolina Central 16
Mount St. Mary's 16
New Orleans 16

Sunday AM Update (FULL)

Here are the current projections based on games played through 3/11.  Final Projection will be posted by 5:00 CST.

Analysis heading into final Conference Tournament Championship games today:

  • #1 Seeds are set and will not change (Villanova, Kansas, Gonzaga, North Carolina) regardless of the outcome of any games today.
  • The top 16 Seeds are set, and will not change, regardless of outcome of games today.  Winner of American Championship MAY be only exception with the winner sliding onto the 4 line ... hard to figure who gets bumped though if they do.
  • No bid thieves remain, with the possible exception of Rhode Island, depending on if you have them as a team that is in or out.  I have them as in as an At-Large team,  I do not believe they will fall out of the field with a loss.  I win locks them in and may bump K-State, Syracuse or Illinois State if they are not already in as an At-Large on the committee board.
  • I think 4 Teams are being considered for last 2 spots by the committee.  I believe them to be Syracuse, Rhode Island, Kansas State and Illinois State.  If Committee wants to throw some bones to the mid-majors to make up for last year, Rhode Island (If they lose to VCU today) and Illinois State will be in the field and Syracuse and K-State will be out.  My sense is they will split the difference, put URI and Syracuse in, and K-State and Illinois State will be first teams out.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Correction to Saturday Update

Just caught a huge error in my Saturday AM Projections.

I missed on including Providence in the field.  They should have been included as a 10 Seed, 37th on the S-Curve (Just ahead of Marquette).

As a result, Kansas State is dropped from the field and becomes 1st Team out.

Also, USC moves from Last 4 Bye to Last 4 in.

Marquette becomes a part of the First 4 Byes grouping.

This will be corrected and displayed as part of my Sunday AM Update.

Bubble Analysis: Bid Thieves and their potential victims.

As we head into Championship Weekend, several conference tournaments offer up the possibility of producing a bid thief ... a winner of a conference tournament who get's an auto-bid, who otherwise would never have qualified as an at-large team.  For conferences in which there is likely to be only one team in the field (The Southland Conference, as an example) the victim of the team grabbing the Southland auto bid is the team that won the regular season conference title, and was favored to win the conference tournament.  These thieves are not impacting teams on the bubble.

However, when a conference has at least one team that is likely to get an at-large bid if they fail to win the conference tournament (Such as the American Conference where both SMU and Cincinnati will be at-large teams if they don't win the tournament) the team that wins the auto-bid reduce the number of bids available for teams on the bubble ... somebody get's squeezed out.

Entering Play on Saturday, here are the Conference Tournaments where Bid Thieves still lurk:

  • The Atlantic 10 - Davidson and Richmond have advanced to the Conference tournament Semi-Finals, and could actually face each other.  VCU and Dayton are locks, and Rhode Island currently is one of the last 4 In.   Rhode Island has a chance to fend off at least one of these potential thieves.  They Play Davidson in one of the Semi-Final games today.  VCU plays Richmond in the other.
  • The American Conference - UConn and Central Florida remain alive in this tournament.  As noted above, SMU and Cincinnati are locks to make the field without the conference auto-bid.  Should either UConn or Central Florida win the American title tomorrow, they will steal a bid from a bubble team currently considered in the field
  • Southeastern Conference - This is a fascinating tournament.  Kentucky, Florida, Arkansas and South Carolina are locks to make the field.   Alabama is on the outside looking in as a bubble team and but could sneak into the field as the last team in, should they beat Kentucky today but lose the Championship Game.  Vanderbilt is an equally fascinating situation.  Some believe they need to win the tournament to get in ... others (including myself) feel as though they are safely in the field and no longer on the bubble after beating Florida for the 3rd time yesterday in the SEC Quarterfinals.  Kentucky and Alabama are tipping off now.  Vanderbilt and Arkansas will follow.  The winners play tomorrow.  Should Alabama and Vanderbilt both win today and play for the title tomorrow, some see that match-up as the equivalent of an NCAA Play-In Game.
  • Conference USA - Middle Tennessee (MTSU), who has dominated Conference USA all season will play Marshall Tonight for the Conference USA Title.  MTSU probably finds itself deeply immersed into Bubble machinations should they lose, and will be one of the more interesting cases to follow tomorrow when seeds are released.  They need to win tonight to keep Marshall from potentially stealing their bid or another bubble team's tonight.
  • Mountain West - Nevada plays Colorado State for the Mouuntain West title tonight.  This is an identical situation to MTSU.  Nevada would be a team teetering on the bubble if they lose, and their resume' is worse than MTSU's.
In all, there are potentially 5 Bid Thieves lurking in the conference tournament's yet to crown their champion and award the auto-bid.  Based on my projections here are the Teams most likely, in order, to lose at-large bids:
  1. Kansas State
  2. Wake Forest
  3. Rhode Island (If they fail to win Conference Tourney) - Their game with Davidson today is critical, and a win might be enough to move then into safer ground on the bubble.  Lose and they are likely out.
  4. Syracuse
  5. Nevada (If they fail to win Conference Tourney)
Other teams rooting against the bid thieves:
  • Illinois State - I have them out ... about 40% of the 100+ bracket projections found at currently have them in as one of the final four in the field.

Saturday AM Update (Full)

Through Games of Friday, March 11th:

Friday, March 10, 2017

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

UW Milwaukee Could Make Dubious History Tonight

Anyone who has been keeping an eye on the early Conference Tournaments may have noticed that the Horizon League Tournament has been littered with upsets from day one.  In the 8 games played so far, 5 have been won by underdogs of 3 seed positions or more.  The top 3 Seeds (Oakland, Valparaiso, and UW Green Bay) were all eliminated by the end of the Quarterfinal Round.  Tonight's championship will pit Northern Kentucky (#4 Seed) against UW Milwaukee (#10 Seed).

What's happening with Milwaukee is stunning.  They are being led by a first year coach, who has only 2 players who ever wore a UW Milwaukee Jersey prior to the first game this season.  Several transfers who left after the controversial firing of Rob Jeter last spring are significant contributors on Teams that will be dancing this March, including Akeem Springs at Minnesota and Austin Arians at Wake Forest, indicating just how much talent was taken off a team that sits on the precipice of making the NCAA Tournament.  UWM (as the school is known in these parts) entered the Horizon League Tournament with a 7-23 record against Division 1 opponents and having lost 9 straight games by an average of 13+ points per game.   And since then they have won 3 straight.  A win tonight would be their first 4 game winning streak of the season.

Should Milwaukee win tonight, and clinch an automatic bid for the NCAA Tournament, they make history as the worst team to be included in the field since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985.  Should they win, they will enter the tournament with a record vs. Division 1 competition of 11-23.  Here is how historically bad that would be.
  • Since 1985, 20 teams have qualified with losing records, but none have ever lost more than 20 games.  Milwaukee will have lost 23!
  • Only two teams have lost 20 ... Liberty in 2013 (15-20) and Coppin State (16-20) in 2008. 
  • Three teams have managed to qualify with only 11 Division 1 victories, but all with fewer losses.  They all had matching 11-18 records (Fairfield in 1997, Central Florida in 1996 and Florida International in 1995).  Milwaukee will match the record for fewest wins, which will be coupled with holding record for most losses.
  • Those same three teams currently possess the record for worst winning percentages (.379) of any teams ever to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.  If Milwaukee were to win tonight they will shatter that record, and qualify with a winning percentage of just .324.  

I confess ... I'm all in on rooting for UWM tonight to make this dubious history.  Some of it is my love for chaos in this tournament.  Chaos makes the NCAA Tournament more fun.  But it goes beyond that.  Living in a suburb of Milwaukee, there is a certain amount of homer-ism that drives it as well.  But I don't follow Milwaukee ... hadn't seen one of their games all year until last night ... and frankly would rather have seen Green Bay be the Wisconsin representative from the Horizon league.  Mostly it's because it has been a very tumultuous year for UW-Milwaukee Basketball, beginning with the controversial firing of head coach Rob Jeter a year ago which followed a 20 win season that included a win over Wisconsin.  The firing by AD Amanda Braun brought accusations of racism by a sitting state Senator, Lena Taylor, who represents the UWM District, harsh criticism from players, donors, alumni and local leaders.   After all that, and then a very challenging regular season led by a first year head coach (LaVell Jordan), and a roster that includes 4 Freshmen and 2 Sophomores among its top 9 minute loggers, its hard not to be happy for the opportunity those kids now have to make history, no matter how dubious it may be.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Bubble Analysis: What can we learn from previous Sub .500 in Conference At-Large Qualifiers

As Regular Season schedules begin to wind down, I decided to take a look back over the last 10 years to find the teams that qualified as an At-Large team who did not finish at .500 or better in conference play and see if I could identify trends that help me winnow the bubble teams further.

Here are the teams, by year, that have qualified as an At-Large team for the tourney with a sub .500 Conference Record the previous 10 Seasons:

2016 - None
2015 - Texas (8-10 in Big12) and Oklahoma State (8-10 in Big 12)
2014 - Oklahoma State (8-10 in Big 12)
2013 - Minnesota (8-10 in Big 10)
2012 - UConn (8-10 in Big East)
2011 - None
2010 - Georgia Tech (8-10 in ACC)
2009 - Maryland (7-9 in ACC)
2008 - Arizona (8-10 in Pac10)
2007 - None

Some Observations:

  • More sub .500 Conference teams have made the field since the expansion to 68 Teams (5) in 2012 than in the previous 5 seasons (3).
  • Each of the teams on this list belong to one of the power conferences
  • No at-large qualifier was more than 2 games below .500 in regular season conference play
  • Deep tournament runs did not seem to be a requirement for sub .500 selections.  Only 3 Teams won more than 1 Conference Tournament game (Georgia Tech 3, Maryland 2, UConn 2) and two teams exited without a win in Conference Tournament Play (Oklahoma State in 2015 and Minnesota).  Only  one team reached a Conference Tournament Championship (Georgia Tech) and only one reached a Semi-Final (Maryland).
  • Since the field expanded to 68 teams, none of the sub .500 qualifiers have played in the 'Play-In' games in Dayton, indicating that they were safely in the field by Selection Sunday
  • None have been seeded higher than 9 and none seeded worse than 11
Implications for current bubble teams:

  • Indiana (6-11), Pittsburgh (4-13), Clemson (4-12) can no longer finish within 2 games of .500 in Conference play and are likely no longer under consideration by the Selection Committee
  • Wake Forest (7-9), Illinois (7-9), Tennessee (7-9) need at least 1 more win in conference play to guarantee at least finishing within 2 games of .500 in conference play. 
    • Wake Forest Remaining Games:  Louisville (3/1) and at Virginia Tech (3/4)
    • Illinois Remaining Games: Michigan State (3/1) and at Rutgers (3/4)
    • Tennessee Remaining Games:  At LSU (3/1) and Alabama (3/4)
  • Kansas State (6-10) and TCU (6-10) must win 2 remaining games to get within 2 of .500.  Kansas State travels to TCU tonight.  Conference tournament games not withstanding, this is almost certainly a do or die game for both teams.  KSU's final game is at home against Texas Tech on 3/4.  TCU's final conference game is at Oklahoma on 3/4.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Tuesday Morning (2/28) Changes

A quick review of the conference tournament fields, for the those conferences where the regular season schedule has concluded and field has been set, reveals a couple of teams as #1 Seeds in their respective conference tournament, and therefore, changes who I identify as the current conference champion possessing the automatic bid.

In the Southern Conference, UNC Greensboro is identified as the #1 Seed, replacing East Tennessee State as the Southern Auto-bid holder.  UNC Greensboro enters the field as a #15 Seed, and pushes Florida Gulf Coast up a seed line to #14.

The bigger change comes from the Missouri Valley Conference, where Illinois State is listed as the #1 Seed, moving it into the field after previously residing on the bubble as one of the First 4 Out.  Wichita State, who had been identified as the Auto-Bid Holder now moves onto the at-large bubble, and is identified as one of the last 4 in.  This changes squeezed Rhode Island out of the field and into the first team out.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Let's talk about Wake Forest ...

Why Wake Forest?  Well, one of the posters at 'Old Gold and Black Boards'  linked my blog in a Bracketology discussion (, and cut and pasted my post on what we might have learned from last year that we can apply to this year's bubble teams.  It prompted some discussion, and thought I might address some of the points made here and just post a link to it in their message board when I get permission, for those interested in what I have to say on the subject of Wake Forest, as they stand, today.

A few things worth noting before I dive in ... I have absolutely no rooting interest, one way or the other, as it relates to Wake Forest being selected or left out.  I'm not a big fan of the ACC, and in fact, typically root against most of the ACC 'Big Dogs' ... North Carolina (Can't stand Roy Williams), Louisville (Can't stand Rick Pitino), and Duke (They beat my Wisconsin Badgers for the National Title and I still haven't gotten over it).  I like Virginia, but only because I'm a huge Tony Bennett fan.  The opinions I offer on Wake are rooted in numbers and analysis and not due to any love or disdain for the program.  In fact, I don't know that I can think of a program I am more ambivalent about.

Also worth noting, is that I acknowledge that my theories may be complete bullshit.  I try to root them in some facts, and the experience of doing this as a hobby for a decade now ... but beyond that, I'm just a dude who likes to spend a month or two a year crunching numbers and seeing if I can do better than Joe Lunardi (I did last year, btw) at picking the fielding, and projecting the seeding of the teams selected.

So ... on to Wake Forest.  First, the discussion on that board made me go back and look more closely at Wake Forest, and where I had them on my 'Bubble Board'.  After closer inspection, I moved them up a few spots, and they are now in my list of 'Next Four Out' ... pushing Ole Miss out of that grouping.

Next, the biggest question that seems to be raised in relation to my blog post is where Wake stands if they beat Louisville.  In my opinion, if Wake beats Louisville, the entire landscape for Wake changes.  Most importantly, they get the critical 'O-Fer' vs. top 25 off their back.   Next, they get a Top 10 Win!  The only other bubble teams with a Top 10 Win are Marquette, Vanderbilt, Georgia Tech, Kansas State, Tennessee and Indiana have.  I have Marquette, Vanderbilt, G-Tech in the field, and Tennessee as first team out and K-State as 3rd Team out.  With 0 Losses outside the top 100, my guess is they catapult right to the cusp of getting in.  Follow that with a win over Va-Tech and at least 1 Tourney win, and they will be a hot topic on Selection Sunday.  Lose, and they're left needing a deep tourney run, with at least 2 wins over top 50 teams, and 1 of them top 25, along with a win in the regular season finale vs. Va-Tech to get in.

I did notice someone on the board indicate that they think Wake's resume' is unique, and there isn't a similar one from last year to compare to.  I respectfully disagree.  I actually think the Florida Gators of 15/16 have a very similar resume' to what Wake has now.

                                '16 Florida                                    '17 Wake
RPI                                 46                                                38
NC-SOS  Rank                5  (10-5 Record)                       21 (9-3 Record)
Vs. Top 25                      1-7                                               0-8
Vs.  Top 50                     2-8                                              1-9 (2-10 with L to LU and W over VT)
Vs.  Top 100                   7-13                                             8-12
Vs. Top 150                    12-14                                          10-12
 vs 100+                          12-1                                               8-0

While no comparison is perfect, that is pretty close, and could be even closer depending on how the regular season and conference tourney bare out for Wake Forest.  Florida was likely not under discussion for a big after losing in the 2nd round of the SEC Tourney last year.   This further illustrates the importance of beating Louisville and at least one more Top 50 Team before the ACC Tourney ends to get in.

The problem Wake Forest has is they haven't beaten anyone.  Yes, they have played a difficult schedule, and have no bad losses.  At some point though, and I think last year's at-large selections largely bare this out, it doesn't matter how tough your schedule is if you don't win some games against the top 50 and get at least 1 against a top 25.  Are there exceptions ... yes, Dayton and USC last year had 0 Top 25 wins.   It is possible Wake could be one this year, especially if they can get at least 2 Top 50 wins before their conference tourney run ends.  But the likelihood is that short of that or a win over Louisville, they aren't even getting discussed by the Committee on Selection Weekend, let alone getting in.

Finally, I saw a couple notes complaining about who I have identified as bubble teams.  Specifically, someone was particularly hacked off that TCU and Pitt are on that list.  I don't disagree.  I personally feel as though neither team is worthy of even being discussed at this point.  But it's not my call ... and there are enough people out there who believe they are, that they need to be included in a list of teams under consideration.  I learned a hard lesson last year when Tulsa was selected for the at Large field and I stopped tracking them after they got blown out in the first round of the Conf USA Tournament by an RPI 136 Team.  My 'Scope' is much broader this year as a result.

Bracket Projections - Friday February 24th

Includes all games played through Thursday, 2/23:

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Bubble Analysis: Did last year teach us anything?

Success in projecting brackets begins with being able to correctly identify who is, and who is not, 'On the bubble', and then, by selection Sunday correctly identifying which of those bubble teams the committee will select for the field of 68, and which one's it will leave out.  The selection committee, because it has changes year over year, both in membership and leadership, tends to have its own unique criteria for winnowing the bubble and arriving at the final field, and therein lies the challenge ... are they going to apply similar thinking to this year's field, or will this committee break with past tendencies and start new ones?

There is obviously no way of knowing this for certain, but its still critical to look back at the previous season's selection and attempt to identify clues as to what the committee may do this season.  So let's take a look back and see what, if anything we can learn about last year's selection, and which bubble teams got in, which were left out.  I think it is fair to say that last year was one of the most difficult fields to project in some time based on the number of people who missed on multiple teams either getting in or not making it.  

The NCAA does provide some insight into their thinking by providing a true seed list after seeding and pairings have been revealed.  This seed list ranks all 68 teams from 1 to 68, and through this we can identify the 8 at-large teams that made up the last 8 teams selected, and how the committee ranked them. 

Here is the list of the final 8 teams to make the field last season, as ranked by the selection committee:
  1.  Pittsburgh
  2.  Temple
  3.  Syracuse
  4.  VCU
  5.  Vanderbilt
  6.  Michigan
  7.  Wichita State
  8.  Tulsa
While we don't know for certain what other teams were under consideration that in the end did NOT make the field, as the NCAA does not provide that, the following teams were widely regarded as teams most likely to be selected to make the field by the largest number of 'prognosticators', in no particular order
  1.  St. Boneventure
  2.  San Deigo State
  3.  St. Mary's
  4.  Monmouth
  5.  Valparaiso
In trying to identify the characteristics that the teams that were selected had in common, I found some pretty interesting characteristics that seemed to have absolutely no bearing on selecting the bubble teams that many have believed have been important in the past. 

RPI  was meaningless:
  • The average RPI rank of the 8 teams above that got in was 56.5.  
  • The rank of those 5 that didn't was 43.6.  
St. Boneventure was the 30th ranked team by RPI and DIDN'T get in ... Tulsa was the 70th ranked RPI team and did. 

Road/Nuetral Record was meaningless -  Every year we hear pundits talk about the importance of winning away from the home gym as an indicator of tournament worthiness.  The logic ... you don't play any NCAA tournament games on your home floor, so you have to show the committee you can play well on the road.  But when it came to bubble teams, R/N record appeared to mean nothing last year
  • Winning Pct in R/N Games for 8 teams above who got in - only 48.1%
  • Winning Pct in R/N Games for 5 Teams above who missed - a very good 68.3%
Vanderbilt was awful away from it's place - going 5-11 (31.3%)
Monmouth was great on the road - going 17-6 (73.9%).  They played 67% of their games away from home, won 74% of them, and three times as many as Vanderbilt and still were left out.  Clearly, road record meant nothing to the committee when it came to selecting the final at large teams.

Winning Percentage vs RPI Top 100 or 150 was meaningless
  • Winning Percentage of select bubble teams was just 42.6% and 47.5% respectively
  • Winning Percentage of our 5 Teams not selected were 53% and 63% respectively.
This was among the most surprising finding.  Emphasis in the past seemed to have placed a premium on those teams who were successful more often than not against teams in the RPI top 150 and top 100.  Vanderbilt was a dismal 9-13 vs the RPI top 150, while Monmouth was 10-4.   Michigan was an awful 4-12 vs the top 100 ... St.Mary's a solid 6-3. 

So, those things didn't matter ... what did?

Getting wins against RPI Top 25 and Top 50 Opponents
    • Of the 8 bubble teams selected by the committee all of them had at least 1 win vs. the RPI top 25, and all but one (Wichita State) had at least 2 wins vs. the RPI top 50.
    • Of the 5 teams that didn't make the field, 3 did not have a win vs. the RPI top 25 and all but 1 had 2 wins or less vs the RPI top 50.
    • The winning percentage of the selected teams vs the RPI Top 50 was 31.6% while of those left out, the percentage was 45%.   Raw wins, trumped winning percentage. 
    • A team was better off being 2-7 vs top 50 (Pitt, VCU) than being 2-2 (St, Mary's, Monmouth) so long as they had a least 1 win against the Top 25.
Getting wins against the rest of the selected field
    • Each of the teams that made the field won at least 4 games against the other 67 teams in the field (except Wichita State who had 3)
    • Each of the teams that missed the field failed to win more than 4 (Except St. Boneventure who had 5).
Minimizing bad losses (Against teams outside RPI top 150)
    • 7 of the 8 teams selected had 1 or fewer losses outside the RPI 150
    • 4 of the 5 teams left out of the field had 1 or more losses outside the RPI 150 and 3 had losses to teams outside the top 200.

So can anything be gleaned from this?  Honestly we won't know until selection Sunday if these criteria weighed as heavily in selection this year as they seemed to last year.  But if it does, here are some of the teams currently on the bubble that would stand to benefit ... and others who may be in some trouble if they don't get some big wins.

By the way, I have not calculated the 'vs the teams under consideration' data, and won't until near the end of Conference tournaments.  Its a long and arduous task that becomes obsolete the moment a team plays itself out of bubble consideration, or a new team emerges as a conference tournament champion that changes the field.  That analysis will have to wait. 

So back to seeing what last year's criteria (minus vs. Field) tells us the bubble looks like today:  

First, lets define who our bubble teams are.  Based on the cumulative seed average found on projected brackets at, here are the 24 teams widely regarded to be bubble teams as of Monday morning fighting it out for the last 8 at large spots, in no particular order:

Oklahoma State
Seton Hall
Georgia Tech
Kansas State
Illinois State
Rhode Island
Ole Miss
Boise State
Wake Forest
Texas Tech
Colorado State

  • 6 Teams with at least 2 wins vs. RPI Top 25:  Marquette, Georgia Tech, Pitt, Syracuse, Providence, Indiana
  • 5 Teams with at least 4 wins vs RPI top 50:  Marquette, Syracuse, Georgia Tech, Vanderbilt, Clemson
  • 10 Teams without a loss outside RPI top 150:  Marquette, Georgia Tech, Seton Hall, Kansas State, Tennessee, TCU, Georgia, Ole Miss, Cal, Wake Forest
Only Marquette and Georgia Tech appear on all three lists ... Applying last year's criteria, they would appear to be well positioned today to be selected.

Perhaps it would be easier to find the teams missing all the criteria of last years selected bubble teams so we can rule them out:
  • Teams without a win vs Top 25:  TCU, Georgia, Ole Miss, California, Wake Forest, Clemson, Oklahoma State, Alabama, Houston, Illinois State, Colorado State
  • Teams with 1 win or less vs Top 50:  Houston, Colorado State, California, Wake Forest, Illinois State, Rhode Island, Boise State
  • Teams with 1 loss or more outside RPI Top 200, or 2 losses outside RPI top 150:  Colorado State, Providence, Pitt, Vanderbilt, Syracuse, Texas Tech.
When looking at last year's at large field (not just bubble) only two teams made the field without a win against the Top 25 ... USC and Dayton.  

USC had 4 Top 50 wins though, were above .500 against top 150 and did not lose a game outside the RPI top 150.  Of this year's crop of bubble teams without a top 25 win, the only team possessing the same 'profile' as USC last year is California.  

Dayton's resume was a bit different ... they only had 3 top 50 wins, had a loss outside the RPI top 200 but were stellar against RPI top 150 (13-6) and top 100 (9-5).  They also seemed to get rewarded for playing a difficult non conference schedule (9th NC-SOS) and having success (11-3).  Oklahoma State is about the closest profile among bubble teams matching Dayton's from last year.  Oklahoma State has 0 top 25 Wins, but a winning record against the RPI Top 150 (.529) and a 10-2 NC Record against the 31st toughest NC schedule.

Wichita State was the only team a year ago with less than 2 wins against the top 50.  So what was unique about the rest of their resume that seemed to overcome the shortcoming of having so few Top 50 wins.  Well, of the bubble teams, they were the only one with a win against an RPI Top 10 (A home win vs. Utah).  They also did not have a loss outside the RPI top 150 and only 1 loss outside the top 100.  No team in this year's bubble field has a profile that matches ... Rhode Island has just one Top 50 Win, but it is against a top 25, though not top 10 ... and have 0 losses outside the RPI top 100. Tennessee has 2 Top 50 wins, and 1 against a top 10, but they have a loss outside the top 100 (Though not top 150).  Rhode Island appears to be the closest match

Finally, 5 At Large teams made the field with losses outside the top 200 ...  and 2 were bubble teams (Temple and Syracuse).  The others were Maryland, Dayton and Wisconsin.  We have explored Dayton's unique profile, and found our closest match, so lets focus on what Maryland and Wisconsin seemed to have in common.  Both won at least 62.5% of games against Top 150, 53% against top 100 and had at least 5 wins vs. the top 50.   None of our bubble teams this year share those criteria.

So ... of our 24 teams, it appears we can find 4 (Marquette, Georgia Tech, California, Oklahoma State) as teams with all or most of profiles of bubble or at large teams that qualified a year ago, suggesting that if last year's criteria were applied, they all may have done enough to get in already. 

The best thing the remaining teams can do, short of winning thier respective Conference Tournament and automatic bid,  is to do the obvious - get wins against the best opponents left on their schedule and avoid losses to teams over 100+ RPI.  If you don't have any RPI top 25 games left, and haven't gotten a win against one yet, chances are you are going to get left out.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Welcome to my NCAA Tournament Projection Site - 2017 Edition

Welcome to my NCAA Tournament Projection Site.  For close to a decade now I have tried my hand at projecting the NCAA Tournament Field, and correctly identifying the seeding of each team selected.  If you want to know more about how this came to be an annual tradition for me, please read the following:

Thanks to having to under-go Open Heart Surgery to replace a faulty Heart Valve earlier this month, I find myself with lots of free time to watch college basketball, and start the process of projecting the field a little sooner than normal, as a I convalesce.  Because the surgery was a proactive procedure, I had some say in when to have it done.  I specifically chose early February knowing that my recovery period would fall during my favorite time of the year in sports.  I will now be home all day during those glorious 10 days of conference championship tournaments, and of course, for the entire course of the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, which I contend is the greatest sporting event ever devised.  So far, my plan is coming off better than expected.  I feel better than I expected to at this point following surgery, and as a result, I'm getting a jump start on projecting the field.  It's going to be nice for the first time being able to take on this project without having to balance it with work, etc.  I doubt it will make my analysis any better, but is sure is going to make recovery a heck of a lot more bearable.

Monday, February 20, 2017

First Bracket Prophecy of 2017

First bracket prediction for 2017 (Through games completed on 2/19) ...