Sunday, January 29, 2017

Review of 1/29/2017 Projection

Biggest Movers from Prior Projection

Maryland (+6 spots) – Maryland picked up their best win of the season at Minnesota over the weekend, and their win over Oklahoma State earlier in the season is starting to look better and better as the Cowboys work their way into the field. The computers aren’t too high on the Terps, but 19-2 against the 66th ranked schedule in the nation garners a 5 seed in my book.

Cincinnati (+5 spots) – In a week where a lot of teams lost at least one game, Cincinnati went out and won both of their games, including a win in the Crosstown Shootout over rival Xavier. The Bearcats are 19-2 on the season with losses to #49 Rhode Island on a neutral court and #6 Butler on the road. They already had wins over #28 SMU and at #44 Iowa State.

Marquette (+5 spots) – Marquette finds themselves on this list again. Even though they lost to Providence, they beat #2 Villanova in shocking fashion, coming back from a 17 point deficit. That was, in my opinion, the craziest outcome in a week filled with head scratching results. Marquette also benefited from a couple teams that were previously ahead of them losing a couple games this week.

Bubble Watch

Last Four Teams In

Miami FL – Last week I mentioned that Miami is fortunate that they play in the ACC because they have multiple chances at picking up quality wins like the game against North Carolina on Saturday. The Hurricanes did just that and picked up their best win of the season to date. They get Florida State at home (who has lost 2 straight games) and the volatile and bubbly Wolfpack of NC State this week.

Kansas State – The Wildcats went from being off my radar, to being in the field with two wins over Oklahoma State and West Virginia, to being one of the last four teams in after dropping games to Iowa State and Tennessee this week. While neither loss is bad (both teams are top 50 in RPI, both losses came on the road), Kansas State only has two top 100 RPI wins (the two mentioned earlier).They get fellow bubble team TCU at home before traveling to #1 Baylor this coming weekend. Big week ahead for K-State

Oklahoma State – The Pokes started conference play 0-6, but have since won at Texas Tech, vs. TCU and vs. Arkansas. Couple that with non-conference wins at Wichita State and on a neutral court over Georgetown (which looks a lot better this week) and Oklahoma State has found themselves on the right side of the bubble. 7 of their 8 losses are against RPI top 50 opponents. They have a tricky schedule this week with games at rival Oklahoma and at West Virginia.

VCU – VCU picked up their biggest win of the season against Dayton on Friday night, giving them their second top 50 RPI win of the season. The Rams have five total losses, including one terrible loss to Fordham, but challenged themselves out of conference (60th ranked non-conference strength of schedule). That final point is key, and I think it’ll be enough to keep them ahead of the first team I have left out of the field.

First Four Teams Out

Texas Tech – The Red Raiders almost pulled off the huge upset at Baylor this past week, but fell short by 4 points. Their resumes has just three top 100 RPI wins over West Virginia, Kansas State, and TCU coupled with six losses. But what is keeping them out of the field is that non-conference strength of schedule ranked 326th….there are only 351 D-1 teams. South Carolina had a similar non-con SOS last season and was left out because of it. I fear Texas Tech may have the same fate.

Georgia – I continue to view Georgia more highly than others primarily because three of their five top 100 RPI wins came on the road, and they have a 36th ranked non-conference SOS. Their next three games will determine whether or not they make the field of 68. They play at Kentucky, at South Carolina, and home against a Florida team that they should have beat a couple weeks ago but let the game get away from them late.

NC State – NC State did something very, very few teams do, and that is win a game a Cameron Indoor. The win over Duke was enough for me to take notice, but after being blow out at Louisville on Sunday (which is seemingly happening to everyone these days) I am not quite ready to give them an at-large bid. Home games against Syracuse and fellow bubble team Miami this week are must wins for the Wolfpack to be considered come next round of projections.

Wake Forest – Wake Forest has nine losses this season, but sic of them have come against top 25 foes and eight against top 50 opponents. They blew a golden opportunity against Duke, a game that they win 9 times out of 10 if you play the final 2 minutes over again. While I believe that teams like this should not be considered for an at large bid because they have already had their shot at picking up quality wins and failed to do so, the committee last year gave Vanderbilt a bid (with a similar resume) over Monmouth. I don’t agree with this thinking, but the point of this exercise is to mimic the committee’s decision.

Games of Interest This Week
In this section, I will list one game I am most interested in each weekday, and will select a few weekend games. These games won’t necessarily be the best matchup in terms of top 25 rankings on those days, but rather games that could have a material impact on a team’s seed or inclusion into the field come Selection Sunday.

Duke @ Notre Dame (Monday) – Both teams are currently projected as a 5 seed in my bracket. Notre Dame has lost 3 of their last 4 as they hit the meat of their ACC schedule. Duke, meanwhile, picked up a come-from-behind win at Wake Forest on Saturday after losing at home to NC State earlier in the week. Could that be the turning point that finally gels all this talent on the Duke roster together?

Creighton @ Butler (Tuesday) – I’m most intrigued to see how Creighton plays in what will be their fourth game without Mo Watson. Since the injury, they have lost to Marquette and Georgetown before picking up a win against DePaul over the weekend. I was hesitant to knock the Blue Jays down the second the injury was announced, as I wanted to see them play to assess the team without Watson. This week I did indeed drop them from a 2 seed to a 4 seed, in part due to the loss at Georgetown; however, Georgetown followed up that win against Creighton with a huge upset win at…Butler. Butler doesn’t drop many games at home, so I expect Creighton to lose, but I want to see how they play and whether they can keep it close in a tough road environment against a tough team.

Georgia Tech @ Clemson (Wednesday) – Another bubbly ACC game on this list. Georgia Tech picked up two of their best wins of the season against Florida State and Notre Dame last week to propel them into the field, while Clemson won at Pitt. I’m most interested to see if Georgia Tech can bring the same intensity they play with at home, or if they will have a letdown game following the two wins last week. The loser here could find themselves on the outside looking in come next week’s projection.

Gonzaga @ BYU (Thursday) – Gonzaga is last remaining undefeated team in the nation, and should find themselves as the number one team come Monday afternoon when the new AP poll is released. This is one of the two remaining games that they have a realistic shot of losing (the other being at St. Mary’s), so that’s why this game gets some recognition. Now, for a rant. Personally, I expect Gonzaga to be undefeated heading into the NCAA tournament. I also expect people to complain about their inevitable 1 seed and shrug it off and say “Gonzaga underachieves in the NCAA tournament every year so who cares.” I will refer you to Mark Titus’ article from a couple weeks ago showing Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament history dating back to 1999. Essentially, the only years they “underachieved” were in 2008 to Steph Curry’s Davidson squad and in 2013 to an eventual Final Four team in Wichita State. That’s it. People think Gonzaga gets a high seed every season and chokes in March, when in actuality over the past decade they have been a 1 seed (lost in second round to 9 seed Wichita State, a Final Four team), 2 seed (made Elite Eight, lost to national champion and 1 seed Duke), 4 seed (lost in Sweet 16 to national champion and 1 seed North Carolina) and the other years they were a 7 seed or worse. In other words, they play to the seed they are given. This Gonzaga team is damn good, and I hope they make a deep run in March this year to silence the critics of a program that is one of the most successful in the nation.

Georgia @ South Carolina (Saturday) – Georgia has a big week ahead of them, with road games at Kentucky and at South Carolina. Given Kentucky is coming off 2 straight losses, I don’t expect the Bulldogs to walk out of Rupp Arena with a victory. That means this game is one of the final chances Georgia has to lock in on a signature win to boast on Selection Sunday.

Arizona @ Oregon (Saturday) – Before Oregon stubbed their toe at Colorado this past Saturday, this game was set up as a chance for either school to get in the driver’s seat of the Pac 12 title. Now, Oregon needs this win to keep pace with Arizona since this is the only time these two teams play each other. Both teams are safely in the field, so the intrigue in this game, outside of the Pac 12 title race, is Arizona’s chances at picking up a 1 seed on Selection Sunday.

Xavier @ Creighton (Saturday) – Similar to Creighton’s game against Butler that I highlighted earlier, I really just want to see how Creighton plays without Mo Watson. Xavier is on somewhat of a skid, but is still projected as a 7 seed in my bracket. Both teams have a chance to pick up a good win here.

Oklahoma State @ West Virginia (Saturday) – West Virginia is a tough resume to figure out. On one hand they have beaten Baylor, Kansas, and Virginia, but on the other hand they have lost to Temple, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, and Kansas State. West Virginia already won at Oklahoma State soundly to open conference play, but the Pokes have won three straight against tournament quality competition after starting 0-6 in conference play. Oklahoma State is one of the last four teams in my bracket, but a win here in Morgantown would make them feel safer on Selection Sunday.

Indiana @ Wisconsin (Sunday) – Wisconsin may be in the driver’s seat to win the Big Ten thanks to Purdue refusing to play defense against Nebraska on Sunday, but they have been far from impressive thus far in conference play, highlighted by their game against Rutgers on Saturday in which they scored 45 points in regulation but still won in OT because Rutgers went 2-6 from the free throw line in the final minutes of regulation and inexplicably left the most clutch three point shooter in the nation (sans Kris Jenkins) wide freaking open on one of the last possessions of regulation. The blueprint on Wisconsin is simple: stop Koenig from getting open looks from three and play off Happ on the perimeter as he doesn’t have a great jump shot, but has great footwork and finishing ability at the rim. Consider this: if you take the lowest win probability (per KenPom) in their recent games against Michigan, Minnesota, and Rutgers, it would suggest they had a 0.6% chance of winning all three of those games…and yet they did. Indiana meanwhile has been decimated by injuries, losing senior Colin Hartman before the season started, their best defender OG Anunoby a couple weeks ago, and now their best offensive player James Blackmon is out indefinitely. I’m not sure how the committee will handle IU’s case, as they have wins over Kansas and North Carolina, but this team is by no means the same team that won those games. A win in Madison would certainly help the Hoosier’s case for an at large bid.

1/29/2017 Bracketology

Teams are ranked in order by seed. Auto bids are in bold and are determined via KenPom projections, with tiebreaker being awarded to the team ranked higher in KenPom’s rankings.

1 seeds: Villanova, Baylor, Gonzaga, Kansas

2 seeds: Virginia, Louisville, Kentucky, Arizona

3 seeds: Florida State, North Carolina, Butler, West Virginia

4 seeds: Creighton, Cincinnati, Oregon, UCLA

5 seeds: Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Duke, Maryland

6 seeds: Florida, St. Mary’s, South Carolina, Northwestern

7 seeds: Purdue, Xavier, USC, Minnesota

8 seeds: Virginia Tech, Marquette, SMU, Dayton

9 seeds: Arkansas, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Indiana

10 seeds: Iowa State, Seton Hall, TCU, Michigan State

11 seeds: Michigan, Miami FL, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, VCU, Illinois State

12 seeds: Middle Tennessee, UNC-Wilmington, Nevada, UT Arlington

13 seeds: Vermont, Akron, New Mexico State, East Tennessee State

14 seeds: Valparaiso, Monmouth, Belmont, Princeton

15 seeds: Bucknell, Florida Gulf Coast, UNC Asheville, North Dakota State

16 seeds: UC Irvine, Texas Southern, Weber State, NC Central, New Orleans, Mount St. Mary’s

Last 4 In: Miami FL, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, VCU

First 4 Out: Texas Tech, Georgia, NC State, Wake Forest

New to the Bracket: Georgia Tech, Oklahoma State, VCU, UT Arlington, East Tennessee State, UNC Asheville

Removed from the Bracket: Pitt, Georgia, Texas Tech, Chattanooga, Winthrop, Georgia State


Sunday, January 22, 2017

Review of 1/22/17 Projection

Biggest Movers from Prior Projection

Marquette (+10 spots) – Last week, Marquette was my last team in the field. After picking up their best win of the season on the road against Creighton, I now have the Golden Eagles up to a 9 seed. As always, a team’s movement isn’t solely due to the results in the games they played; it is also relative to how teams around them in the rankings performed. Almost all teams directly above Marquette picked up losses this week.

Arizona (+7 spots) – Arizona got Alonzo Trier back just in time for the big showdown against UCLA in Los Angeles, and the Wildcats essentially laid out the blueprint on how to beat UCLA. Arizona also picked up a road win against another tournament team (USC) during the week. Those are huge wins and they put Arizona in the driver’s seat to win the Pac-12 title. With only losses to Butler and Gonzaga (both coming on neutral floors), and the return of Trier to the lineup, the ceiling is very high for the Wildcats.

Bubble Watch

Last Four Teams In

Pittsburgh – The Panthers are in free fall, losing 5 of their first 6 conference games, the most recent two being to fellow bubble teams Miami and NC State. While Pittsburgh has the awful home loss to Duquesne and a road loss to Syracuse, they own wins @ Maryland, vs. Virginia, and neutral court over Marquette. That’s the best group of wins for any of the “Last Four In” and “First Four Out” teams, and it’s enough to leave them in the field, for now.

Georgia – My oh my, the Bulldogs gave away a game on the road for the second straight weekend, this time blowing a 9 point lead with under 2 minutes to play and then to top it off they get hosed by the clock operator. If you haven’t seen the ending, I recommend checking it out as there needs to be a better solution to answering the problem of a clock freezing at the end of a game, but I digress. The hoop dawgs have 3 road wins over top 100 teams, which should be huge. Key word is should be. Last year the selection committee made a mistake (in my and many other’s opinions) by leaving Monmouth out of the field in favor of Tulsa and Vanderbilt. Road wins are so tough to come by and they should be valued more. I’m hoping that the committee takes that into consideration when evaluating Georgia’s resume on Selection Sunday.

Miami FL – Miami lost games at Wake Forest and Duke this week; not bad losses, but what was keeping them above some of the other bubble teams previously was their 4 losses compared to 6. Now that they have 6 losses, including one at a mediocre Syracuse team, couple with just 3 wins against the top 100, they find themselves square on the bubble. The good news for them is by playing in the ACC, they have multiple opportunities remaining to pick up quality wins, including a home game against North Carolina this coming Saturday.

Texas Tech – Texas Tech is consistently inconsistent. They have alternated wins and losses in consecutive games dating back to December 21st. They only have 5 losses, they also only have 3 wins against the top 100, and all have come at home. They also own a win on the road over #103 Richmond, which I’ll credit as a top 100 win, but the lack of quality wins coupled with a non-conference strength of schedule ranking 338 will have Red Raiders sweating it out on Selection Sunday.

First Four Teams Out

Wake Forest – Wake Forest’s record may not look great on the surface (12-7), but once you dig deeper, you see that all 7 losses come against top 50 teams, the worst of them being against Clemson. They do not have any top 50 wins, but they own wins over @ #61 Charleston, @ #72 NC State, vs. #76 Miami, and vs. #97 Bucknell, who is expected to win their conference. The wins over Miami and NC State came this past week, which propelled them from not even being on my radar to being the first team out in my projection. They play in the ACC, which means that will have opportunities to pick up top 50 wins over the next 7 weeks.

Rhode Island – The Rams only played once this week against a team raked in the 200s and won, so no major movement here. They own a nice neutral court win over Cincinnati and that’s about it. They have two big games this week @ Richmond and vs. St. Bonaventure, both presenting opportunities for borderline top 100 wins.

VCU – VCU played themselves out of the tournament this week with a loss @ #194 Fordham. They bounced back with a home win over a good La Salle team on Sunday, but they picked up the one thing separating them from the other bubble teams: a bad loss. VCU owns just 3 top 100 wins and all came at home. They have a showdown with conference favorite Dayton on Friday, which could push them back into the field.

California – The bubble is tough to evaluate this time of the year, hence the reason I have Cal, a team with just one top 100 win, this close to being in the field. That win, however, did come on the road against USC and their worst loss is on a neutral court to # 88 San Diego State. The Golden Bears have three straight home games coming up, and can’t afford to lose any of them if they want to be considered for selection.

Games of Interest This Week
In this section, I will list one game I am most interested in each weekday, and will select a few weekend games. These games won’t necessarily be the best matchup in terms of top 25 rankings on those days, but rather games that could have a material impact on a team’s seed or inclusion into the field come Selection Sunday.

TCU @ Oklahoma State (Monday) – Slim pickings on Monday’s slate, so we’ll go to the Big 12. TCU is the surprise of the season in college basketball; projected to finish last in the Big 12, but now sitting at 14-5 with no bad losses. The computers love Oklahoma State for whatever reason despite an 11-8 record, so a win on the road would be good for TCU’s resume and get them further away from the bubble.  

Louisville @ Pittsburgh (Tuesday) – Pittsburgh desperately needs a win, not just to get off their 4 game losing streak and avoid dropping out of the bracket, but also to help offset the early home loss to a bad Duquesne team. Louisville meanwhile is coming off a tough loss at Florida State, and could use a quality road win to go along with their great home wins over Kentucky, Duke, and Purdue and neutral court wins over Indiana and VCU.

Texas Tech @ Baylor (Wednesday) – Texas Tech is my last team in the field, but a win over a projected number one seed on the road will give them a leg up over other bubble teams come Selection Sunday. The Red Raiders currently have just 3 wins over the top 100, and all of them came at home. They have been very unpredictable over the past two weeks, as they’ve followed up wins over Kansas State and TCU with losses to Oklahoma State and @ Oklahoma. I still wonder if that 338th ranked non-conference strength of schedule will keep them out on Selection Sunday…

Xavier @ Cincinnati (Thursday) – This may be the most intense rivalry in college basketball. Now before Kentucky and Louisville fans start screaming at that statement, consider that Xavier and Cincinnati campuses are about 2.5 miles apart from each other, the fan bases truly hate each other, and even the players hate the other. Check out this article from Mark Titus in 2015 for more detail on the rivalry. In terms of the 2017 season, this game means a lot for both team’s seeding in the NCAA tournament. Both teams should be safe in terms of making the field, but both teams are hovering on that 5/6 seed line. While some may argue a 6 seed is better than a 5 seed because you avoid playing the 1 seed until the Elite 8, give me the easier path to the second weekend and I’ll take my chances from there.

Clemson @ Pittsburgh (Saturday) – Expect a lot of ACC games to be featured in this weekly feature. Probably too early to start calling games a “play-in” game, but both teams are in free fall and are in desperate need of a win for their tournament hopes.

Maryland @ Minnesota (Saturday) – Maryland has an intriguing resume. They are 16-2 overall with home court losses to Pittsburgh and Nebraska. Their best win is a one point neutral court win over Kansas State. While receiving the favorable conference schedule is good for improving the odds of winning the conference title, it weakens the opportunity to pick up quality wins. Look at Indiana last season, which won the Big Ten but received a 5 seed in the NCAA tournament. This is one of the few opportunities Maryland has to pick up a quality road win.

Duke @ Wake Forest (Saturday) – While Duke is safely in the tournament, the same cannot be said for Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons have a record of 12-7 with all 7 losses coming to teams ranked in the top 50. They don’t really have a signature win yet (best is @ #61 Charleston), but this could be the biggest home game in years for the program. It’s a natural rivalry, and their fans know how much a win over Duke would mean for the team’s NCAA tournament chances.

Kansas @ Kentucky (Saturday) – This is gonna be a fun one. Both teams are currently projected as one seeds and are legit Final Four contenders. While a road win against a top 10 team would be huge for Kansas, Kentucky needs this game more given the weakness of the SEC compared to the strength of the Big 12. Kansas can lose this game and still pick up quality wins in their conference to earn a one seed on Selection Sunday. If Kentucky loses, they will be 2-3 in their marquee non-conference games (already have wins against North Carolina and Michigan State, losses to UCLA and Louisville).

Michigan @ Michigan State (Sunday) – Michigan State has a big week ahead with home games against Purdue and rival Michigan. The first game is an opportunity to pick up a quality win. A win in this game helps the Spartans avoid a loss to a fellow bubble team. Michigan, meanwhile, could use a quality road win to help their bubble status, as they are currently one of the last five teams in my projected field.

1/22/17 Bracketology

Teams are ranked in order by seed. Auto bids are in bold and are determined via KenPom projections, with tiebreaker being awarded to the team ranked higher in KenPom’s rankings.

1 seeds: Villanova, Baylor, Kentucky. Kansas

2 seeds: Florida State, Gonzaga, Creighton, Virginia

3 seeds: UCLA, Louisville, Butler, Arizona

4 seeds: North Carolina, Oregon, Notre Dame, West Virginia

5 seeds: Duke, Florida, Cincinnati, Wisconsin

6 seeds: Purdue, Minnesota, Xavier, St. Mary’s

7 seeds: South Carolina, Maryland, Northwestern, Virginia Tech

8 seeds: SMU, Dayton, USC, Indiana

9 seeds: TCU, Clemson, Marquette, Arkansas

10 seeds: Seton Hall, Kansas State, Iowa State, Michigan State

11 seeds: Michigan, Pitt, Georgia, Miami FL, Texas Tech, Illinois State

12 seeds: Middle Tennessee, UNC-Wilmington, Nevada, Akron

13 seeds: Chattanooga, Valparaiso, Vermont, New Mexico State

14 seeds: Monmouth, Princeton, Belmont, Bucknell

15 seeds: Florida Gulf Coast, Winthrop, North Dakota State, Georgia State

16 seeds: UC Irvine, Texas Southern, Weber State, NC Central, New Orleans, Mount St. Mary’s

Last 4 In: Pitt, Georgia, Miami FL, Texas Tech

First 4 Out: Wake Forest, Rhode Island, VCU, California

New to the Bracket: Kansas State, Georgia, Texas Tech, Illinois State, Valparaiso, Bucknell, Winthrop, North Dakota State, New Orleans

Removed from the Bracket: Illinois, VCU, California, Wichita State, Oakland, Lehigh, UNC-Asheville, IPFW, Sam Houston State

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Review of 1/15/17 Projection

This piece will vary week to week depending on what I want to talk about. This week, I will highlight the number one seed's profiles, the team most likely to earn a one seed that is currently not projected as a one seed, Bubble Watch, and a preview of the intriguing match-ups this week.

#1 Seeds

Baylor: Baylor has earned the number one overall seed thanks to great non-conference wins over Louisville, Xavier, Oregon, Michigan State, and VCU. They also picked up wins against likely conference champions Florida Gulf Coast and Texas Southern. The only loss came this past week at West Virginia.

Villanova: The defending national champs just miss out on being the number one overall seed. Their only blemish is a loss at Hinkle Fieldhouse to a very good Butler team. Villanova has true road wins against Creighton and Purdue, in addition to a neutral court win over Notre Dame.

Kansas: Kansas opened the season with a loss to Indiana in Hawaii, but have won every game since. This includes wins over Duke, Georgia and TCU. Not exactly the greatest group of wins, but when you only have one loss you’re going to get a great seed.

Kentucky: Kentucky has dropped two games thus far to UCLA at home and at rival Louisville. Kentucky really can’t afford to lose many more games and retain a one seed given the conference they play in. Wins over North Carolina (in what could be the best game of the season, in terms of entertain value) and Michigan State highlight the resume.

Team Not Currently a 1 Seed Most Likely to End Up As a 1 Seed

Gonzaga: The Zags are undefeated on the season, and just beat rival St. Mary’s rather easily on their home floor. The only real test left for Gonzaga is a road trip to St. Mary’s. They picked up three great wins in the non-conference, all coming on a neutral floor: Florida, Iowa State, and Arizona. Their best case scenario is for St. Mary’s to win every game expect for the game against Gonzaga, and then face St. Mary’s again in the conference tournament.

Bubble Watch

Last Four Teams In

VCU – The Rams’ resume doesn’t look great on the surface, as they don’t have any top 100 RPI wins away from home. But upon digger deeper, they have 3 wins over teams that are expected to win their conference (Middle Tennessee, UNC-Asheville, and Princeton) and two of their four losses are on neutral courts to Baylor and Illinois. A home court loss to Georgia Tech back in December and losing at Davidson this past weekend are why they are on the bubble.

California – Cal is just 2-4 against the top 100 in the RPI, but those two wins came away from home against teams likely to make the tournament. In addition, 3 of those 4 losses are to teams ranked in the top 19. Their worst loss is on a neutral court to San Diego State, who is just outside the top 100. As long as Cal doesn’t lose to Oregon State or Arizona State, they should make the field.

Michigan – Michigan has a bad loss at Iowa on their resume, but when it comes to selecting teams for the field, I believe the committee cares more about who you’ve beaten than who you’ve lost to. Michigan owns wins on a neutral court over both SMU and Marquette, and has home wins over Nebraska and Penn State. They’ve yet to win a true road game, however, and that will need to change if they want to be in the field on Selection Sunday.

Marquette – The Golden Eagles have wins at Georgia and at home against Seton Hall. They also do not have a bad loss, as all 5 losses are against teams projected in the field. Marquette has a chance to play themselves into or out of the field over their next three games, as they play @ Butler, @ Creighton, and host Villanova. Those are the three best teams in the conference and are all in the top 10 of the RPI.

First Four Teams Out

Georgia –Georgia currently has a top 25 non-con SOS, but unfortunately their best non-conference win was against UNC-Asheville. While UNC-Asheville is projected to win their conference, they are a fringe top 100 team. Georgia also owns two road wins in conference play against top 100 teams, but missed out on a golden opportunity at Florida this past weekend. The Bulldogs lost in OT at the O-Dome after leading for much of the game.

Texas Tech –Texas Tech is being left out of my list due to their non-conference SOS, which ranks in the 300s. Recall that the primary reason South Carolina was left out of the tournament last year was due to their horrid non-conference SOS. The Red Raiders missed out on an opportunity to improve their SOS when they lost to Auburn in the Cancun Challenge back in November, giving them a game in the next round against Utah State instead of Purdue. Texas Tech also lost to Oklahoma this weekend, and I imagine that will place them outside of more people’s bracket projection.

Rhode Island – The Rams have a neutral court victory over American Conference favorite Cincinnati and…that’s it. They have lost conference games to Dayton and La Salle recently, and lost their other key non-conference games to Valpo, Houston, and Providence. Their next chance for a quality win doesn’t come until 2/10 while they have a rematch against Dayton.

Penn State – Maybe some Big ten bias here, but Penn State over the past two weekends has picked up wins over Michigan State and Minnesota. Their next three games are huge, as they host Indiana and then hit the road against the conference’s two best teams: Purdue and Wisconsin. They have a really bad loss at home to Albany, but teams have overcome bad home non-conference losses in the past through a stellar conference season.

Games of Interest This Week

This will a weekly inclusion to this post. In this section, I will list the one game I am most interested in each weekday, and will select a few weekend games. These games won’t necessarily be the best match-up in terms of top 25 rankings on those days, but rather I'm looking for games that could have a material impact on a team’s seed or inclusion into the field come Selection Sunday.

Marquette @ Butler (Monday) – Marquette has a couple chances this week to bolster their resume and potentially play themselves off the bubble. The first of those two games will be at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Butler has always had a great home court advantage, so coming away with a win at Hinkle would be huge come Selection Sunday. 

Michigan @ Wisconsin (Tuesday) – The Wolverines are currently my second to last team in the field, but a win in Madison would certainly put them into the field. Wisconsin needs to defend home court if they want to win the Big Ten regular season.

Florida @ South Carolina (Wednesday) – South Carolina learned their lesson from last year and scheduled a very good non-conference slate. They played against middle of the road major conference teams (Clemson, Michigan, Syracuse, and Seton Hall) and small conference teams expected to win their conference (Vermont, Monmouth). However, their best win to date is at Georgia, who I have as first team out of the field. A home win against Florida would be huge given the lack of opportunities for quality wins in the SEC.

Arizona @ USC (Thursday) – Arizona and USC could both use some quality wins to solidify their profiles. Arizona does not have a bad loss, but its best win is on a neutral court against bubbly Michigan State. USC meanwhile only has one win over a team projected to make the tournament, SMU.

Illinois @ Michigan (Saturday) – Michigan just got the doors blown off them in Urbana-Champaign a week ago. Both teams are the very definition of a bubble team. If Illinois were to sweep Michigan, that would be nice to have on the resume come Selection Sunday.  

Marquette @ Creighton (Saturday) – The second chance for Marquette to pick up a quality win comes Saturday at Creighton. The Blue Jays have one of the best, if not the best, offenses in college basketball.

Michigan State @ Indiana (Saturday) – The past couple of weekends have not been kind to Sparty. First, a loss on a neutral court to conference foe and now bubble team Penn State on 1/7, and then they allowed Ohio State to pick up their first conference win on 1/15 in Columbus. The Hoosiers have two of the best nonconference wins of any team (against Kansas and North Carolina), but their nonconference SOS is horrid, as their only other top 100 RPI win is against Illinois. Both teams needs this one.

Wisconsin @ Minnesota (Saturday) – Is Minnesota for real, or did they just get hot for a couple weeks? The Gophers dropped games at Michigan State and at Penn State this past week after a hot start to conference play, but now have a full week to prepare for their biggest home game of the season against conference favorite Wisconsin. Expect The Barn to be rocking.

Virginia Tech @ Clemson (Sunday) – Life in the ACC is rough. Clemson has lost 4 straight, and will likely be on a five game skid coming into this game as they have a trip to Louisville mid-week. Virginia Tech, meanwhile, is 2-3 in the ACC with one of those wins coming against Grayson Allen-less Duke on New Years Eve. While I don’t think the committee should factor that into either team’s resume since the absence was his own fault, you just know they will. While both teams have chances to pick up quality wins due to the strength of the ACC, a win over a fellow bubble team never hurts.

1/15/17 Bracketology

Teams are ranked in order by seed. Auto bids are in bold and are determined via KenPom projections, with tiebreaker being awarded to the team ranked higher in KenPom’s rankings.

1 seeds: Baylor, Villanova, Kansas, Kentucky

2 seeds: Gonzaga, Florida State, Creighton, UCLA

3 seeds: Butler, Virginia, Louisville, West Virginia

4 seeds: Oregon, Notre Dame, North Carolina, Florida

5 seeds: Duke, Xavier, Arizona, Cincinnati

6 seeds: Minnesota, St. Mary’s, Purdue, Wisconsin

7 seeds: Maryland, Virginia Tech, USC, Clemson

8 seeds: South Carolina, SMU, TCU, Northwestern

9 seeds: Dayton, Seton Hall, Michigan State, Indiana

10 seeds: Arkansas, Pitt, Iowa State, Illinois

11 seeds: Miami, VCU, California, Michigan, Marquette, Middle Tennessee

12 seeds: Wichita State, UNC-Wilmington, Chattanooga, Nevada

13 seeds: Princeton, Vermont, Oakland, Lehigh

14 seeds: Monmouth, Akron, New Mexico State, Florida Gulf Coast

15 seeds: Belmont, UNC-Asheville, IPFW, Georgia Southern

16 seeds: Weber State, NC Central, Texas Southern, UC Irvine, Sam Houston State, Mount St. Mary’s

Last 4 In: VCU, California, Michigan, Marquette
First 4 Out: Georgia, Texas Tech, Rhode Island, Penn State

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Hello! Welcome to “Boiling the Bracket”, the home of the most accurate bracketology available. Beginning in the 2013-2014 season, I decided to start performing my own bracketology. I’ve been a college basketball junkie for as long as I can remember (growing up in the state of Indiana will do that to you) and am a very analytical person, so it seemed like it would fit naturally and be a lot of fun. In my three years of doing bracketology, I have performed very well relative to others like myself that love to do this. Below is an overview of those three years.

2013-2014: 67 out of 68 teams correctly selected in the field, 40 teams seeded exactly, 25 teams missed by 1 seed line = 346 points; t-6th in the Bracket Matrix

2014-2015: 66 out of 68 teams correctly selected in the field, 42 teams seeded exactly, 22 teams missed by 1 seed line = 346 points; 2nd in the Bracket Matrix

2015-2016: 66 out of 68 teams correctly selected in the field, 42 teams seeded exactly, 21 teams missed by 1 seed line = 345 points; 4th in the Bracket Matrix

I will post an updated bracketology every week, typically on Sunday nights once the majority games are complete. Once conference tournaments start in March, there will be more frequent updates. I will also provide a supplemental post each week that will typically consist of:
  • Reasoning for any major moves from one week to the next
  • Reasoning for teams I am ranking materially different from the bracket matrix
  • Bubble Watch
Thank you for following, and here’s to another successful season of predicting the bracket!

Boiler Up! Hammer Down!

2016 Bracketology - Final Projection

Last Four In
^ Exact Seed
% Missed by 1 seed line
Team Not In Field

Teams are ranked in order by seed

1 seeds: Kansas^, Oregon^, Villanova%, Michigan State%

2 seeds: North Carolina%, Virginia%, West Virginia%, Oklahoma^

3 seeds: Utah^, Xavier%, Miami^, Purdue

4 seeds: Texas A&M%, Kentucky^, Duke^, California^

5 seeds: Indiana^, Iowa State%, Maryland^, Baylor^

6 seeds: Arizona^, Seton Hall^, Texas^, Saint Joseph’s

7 seeds: Dayton^, Notre Dame%, Iowa^, Colorado%

8 seeds: Texas Tech^, Wisconsin%, Oregon State%, USC^

9 seeds: Providence^, Butler^, UConn^, Cincinnati^

10 seeds: Pitt^, Gonzaga%, VCU^, St. Bonaventure

11 seeds: Syracuse%, Michigan^, Wichita State^, Temple%, Monmouth, UALR%

12 seeds: Yale^, UNC-Wilmington%, SD State^, Chattanooga^

13 seeds: Northern Iowa, Fresno State%, Stony Brook^, Hawaii^

14 seeds: Iona%, Stephen F. Austin^, Buffalo^, Middle Tennessee State%

15 seeds: Weber State^, Green Bay%, UNC-Asheville^, CSU Bakersfield^

16 seeds: Florida Gulf Coast^, Hampton^, Austin Peay^, F. Dickinson^, Southern^, Holy Cross^

First 3 Out: St. Mary’s, South Carolina, Vanderbilt

Teams Correctly Selected in the Field: 66 of 68 (3 points per team)

Teams Seeded Correctly: 42 (3 points per team)

Teams Missed by One Seed Line: 21 (1 point per team)

Total Points: 345

Bracket Matrix Rank: 4th (out of 145) - note, I was not included in the matrix as this blog didn't exist at the time

2015 Bracketology - Final Projection

Last Four In
^ Exact Seed
% Missed by 1 seed line
Team Not In Field

Teams are ranked in order by seed

1 seeds: Kentucky^, Villanova^, Duke^, Wisconsin^

2 seeds: Virginia^, Arizona^, Gonzaga^, Kansas^

3 seeds: Notre Dame^, Iowa State^, Maryland%, Oklahoma^

4 seeds: North Carolina^, Baylor%, Northern Iowa%, Louisville^

5 seeds: West Virginia^, Arkansas^, SMU%, Utah^

6 seeds: Wichita State%, Providence^, Georgetown, Butler^

7 seeds: Michigan State^, San Diego State%, Xavier%, VCU^

8 seeds: Iowa%, Oregon^, St. John’s%, Cincinnati^

9 seeds: Dayton, Davidson%, Oklahoma State^, NC State%

10 seeds: Purdue%, Ohio State^, LSU%, Texas%

11 seeds: Colorado State, Temple, Indiana%, Georgia%, Ole Miss^, BYU^

12 seeds: Stephen F Austin^, Buffalo^, Wofford^, Wyoming^

13 seeds: Valparaiso^, Harvard^, Georgia State%, Eastern Washington^

14 seeds: Northeastern^, UC Irvine%, ND State%, New Mexico State%

15 seeds: Belmont^, Albany%, UAB%, Texas Southern^

16 seeds: Coastal Carolina^, Lafayette^, North Florida^, Manhattan^, Robert Morris^, Hampton^

First Team Out: Boise State

Teams Correctly Selected in the Field: 66 of 68 (3 points per team)

Teams Seeded Correctly: 42 (3 points per team)

Teams Missed by One Seed Line: 22 (1 point per team)

Total Points: 346

Bracket Matrix Rank: 2nd (out of 137) - note, I was not included in the matrix as this blog didn't exist at the time

2014 Bracketology - Final Projection

Last Four In
^ Exact Seed
% Missed by 1 seed line
Team Not In Field

Teams are ranked in order by seed

1 seeds: Florida^, Wichita State^, Arizona^, Michigan%

2 seeds: Villanova^, Virginia%, Kansas^, Wisconsin^

3 seeds: Duke^, Iowa State^, Louisville%, Michigan State%

4 seeds: Creighton%, Syracuse%, San Diego State^, Cincinnati%

5 seeds: UCLA%, Oklahoma^, VCU^, North Carolina%

6 seeds: Ohio State^, Baylor^, UConn%, Texas%

7 seeds: Kentucky%, UMass%, St. Louis, New Mexico^

8 seeds: Oregon%, Gonzaga^, George Washington%, Memphis^

9 seeds: Pitt^, Colorado%, Oklahoma State^, Stanford%

10 seeds: Kansas State%, Arizona State^, St. Joseph’s^, Iowa%

11 seeds: BYU%, Nebraska^, Dayton^, Xavier%, Tennessee^, SMU

12 seeds: Providence%, Harvard^, ND State^, Stephen F Austin^

13 seeds: Manhattan^, Tulsa^, Delaware^, Western Michigan%

14 seeds: New Mexico State%, Mercer^, LA Lafayette^, Eastern Kentucky%

15 seeds: NC Central%, WI-Milwaukee^, American^, Wofford^

16 seeds: Weber State^, Coastal Carolina^, Albany^, Cal Poly^, Mount St. Mary’s^, Texas Southern^

Teams Correctly Selected in the Field: 67 of 68 (3 points per team)

Teams Seeded Correctly: 40 (3 points per team)

Teams Missed by One Seed Line: 25 (1 point per team)

Total Points: 346

Bracket Matrix Rank: t-6th (out of 122) - note, I was not included in the matrix as this blog didn't exist at the time