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.