Sunday, March 4, 2018

3/4/18 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: Virginia, Villanova, Xavier, Kansas

2 seeds: Duke, Purdue, Auburn, North Carolina

3 seeds: Cincinnati, Tennessee, Wichita State, Clemson

4 seeds: Texas Tech, Michigan State, West Virginia, Arizona

5 seeds: Michigan, Florida, Gonzaga, Ohio State

6 seeds: Texas A&M, Kentucky, TCU, Miami FL

7 seeds: Arkansas, Seton Hall, Houston, Oklahoma

8 seeds: Nevada, Creighton, Rhode Island, Virginia Tech

9 seeds: Missouri, Butler, NC State, Arizona State

10 seeds: Florida State, Texas, Saint Bonaventure, Providence

11 seeds: Alabama, Kansas State, USC, Marquette, UCLA, Syracuse

12 seeds: Middle Tennessee, Loyola Chicago, New Mexico State, UL Lafayette

13 seeds: Vermont, South Dakota State, Buffalo, Murray State

14 seeds: College of Charleston, UNC Greensboro, Montana, Bucknell

15 seeds: UC Davis, Wright State, Harvard, Lipscomb

16 seeds: Wagner, Iona, Radford, Nicholls State, Hampton, Arkansas Pine Bluff

Last 4 In: USC, Marquette, UCLA, Syracuse
First 4 Out: Baylor, Louisville, Washington, St. Mary’s


  1. How do you have Clemson and Wichita St head of MSU? Why is Michigan so low?

  2. Not sure why the reply section has a black background.

    Thank you for the comment, Jonathan. I'll start with Michigan State. The short version is their profile resembles that of a mid-major team – very poor strength of schedule, lack of quality wins, and lack of games played in the top two quadrants (see San Diego State 2014 and Northern Iowa 2015 as potential comparison teams that received a 4 seed and 5 seed, respectively). It’s a tough profile to gauge, honestly.

    Now for the in-depth notes of my thoughts. In the committee’s top 16 release on 2/11/18 they had Michigan State as the 11th overall team and Clemson as the 9th. Since then, Michigan State has lost a Q1 game, won a Q2 game, won three Q3 games, and won a Q4 game. To be fair, in that time Clemson has lost four Q1 games, won a Q2 game and a Q4 game while Wichita State has gone split games against Cincinnati, won three Q2 games, and won a Q4 game.

    Clemson is close to MSU and I have been debating those two profiles quite a bit all day, but I think Wichita State is clearly ahead of both. Wichita State is 14-5 against Q1 and Q2 opponents, with 8 of those wins coming on the road. When I look at Michigan State’s resume, I see a team that went 2-4 against the only NCAA tournament-caliber teams on the schedule and played just 12 games against teams in Q1 and Q2, compared to 18 games for Clemson and 19 games for Wichita State. The lack of any bad loss for Michigan State does stand out in a season filled with upsets, but the committee has historically valued quality wins and strong scheduling over lack of bad losses. Looking back over the past 5 seasons (since I’ve started doing this) and using the 2 top 50 wins and 7 top 100 wins Michigan State has as our comparison point, no team with just 2 top 50 wins has received better than a 6 seed (only once, SMU in 2017) and the fewest amount of top 100 wins for a team seeded 3 or better was 2013 Gonzaga with 9 such wins (they went 31-2, had 6 top 50 wins, and a better SOS than this MSU team). The best comparison team I can find is 2014 San Diego State. They finished 15th in the RPI, went 3-3 against the top 50 and 6-3 against the top 100 with a SOS ranked 91st. Those data points are all very, very similar to this MSU profile.

    As far as Michigan, I think a lot of bracketologists are falling into recency bias with Michigan’s Big Ten tournament run. I do plan on bumping them up to the last 4 seed with my update later tonight, but I currently cannot see them as a 3 seed. Their non-conference SOS is 279th and they played 11 games against Q4 opponents – that is the most such games of any Power 6 conference team under consideration for selection into the NCAA tournament. The committee has punished teams for scheduling poor non-conference schedules in the past (see Wisconsin last season). Michigan also has a Q3 loss which pegs them down a notch compared to Texas Tech and Clemson. The committee had North Carolina 12th overall and Kansas 6th in the top 16 release despite both having an abundance of Q1 wins, and I believe it was due to the Q3 loss each team had at the time. Ohio State was the only other team that made the top 16 release with a Q3 loss at the time.

    Thanks again for the comment! Apologies for the length, but I love analyzing all these data points.