Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Bracket Projection: 1/31

Once again I'm a bit late on this, and today I'm just publishing the bracket and nothing else. This projection is as of yesterday (1/30), so doesn't include the games that occurred last night. An additional post will be coming tomorrow with all the resume analysis you're used to seeing on these posts. For now just enjoy where the bracket currently stands, with our Wolverines back in by the skin of their teeth:

1 Villanova Baylor Kansas Gonzaga
2 Arizona North Carolina Kentucky Louisville
3 Virginia Butler Florida State Oregon
4 West Virginia UCLA Creighton Florida
5 Cincinnati Wisconsin Duke Notre Dame
6 Maryland Purdue Saint Mary's Xavier
7 South Carolina SMU Northwestern Minnesota
8 Indiana Virginia Tech USC Dayton
9 Iowa St. Arkansas Clemson TCU
10 Marquette Michigan St. Kansas St. VCU
11 Illinois St. Middle Tennessee Wake Forest Miami FL
11 Seton Hall Michigan
12 Akron Wichita St. Nevada UNC Wilmington
13 UT Arlington New Mexico St. Vermont Monmouth
14 Florida Gulf Coast Bucknell Belmont Valparaiso
15 East Tennessee St. Princeton UNC Asheville North Dakota St.
16 Mount St. Mary's Weber St. Texas Southern UC Irvine
16 North Carolina Central New Orleans

Monday, January 23, 2017

Bracket Projection: 1/23

The bracket continues to take shape. This week saw the fewest giant discrepancies between my bracket and most of the experts' brackets. Let's take a look at where things stand:

1 Villanova Kentucky Baylor Kansas
2 Florida St. North Carolina Gonzaga Louisville
3 Arizona Butler Creighton UCLA
4 West Virginia Oregon Virginia Florida
5 Duke Cincinnati Wisconsin Notre Dame
6 Minnesota Saint Mary's Purdue Xavier
7 South Carolina SMU Maryland USC
8 Clemson TCU Virginia Tech Northwestern
9 Iowa St. Michigan St. Arkansas Dayton
10 Indiana VCU Pittsburgh Seton Hall
11 Marquette Wake Forest Illinois St. Kansas St.
11 Miami FL Georgia
12 Akron Nevada Middle Tennessee UNC Wilmington
13 Chattanooga Monmouth New Mexico St. Vermont
14 Florida Gulf Coast Winthrop Bucknell Valparaiso
15 Belmont Princeton North Dakota St. Georgia Southern
16 Mount St. Mary's Weber St. UC Irvine Texas Southern
16 North Carolina Central New Orleans

Biggest Movers: Arizona Takes the biggest jump after an exciting road win over UCLA, putting themselves in the driver's seat in the Pac 12. They are up to a 3 seed. Virginia Tech swings back up to an 8 after an unexplained drop last week. On the bubble, Illinois falls out after losing three straight, Texas Tech drops out after losing to Oklahoma State, and Wichita State just barely inched out despite not losing any notable games. Replacing them is Marquette, who just knocked off Creighton, Kansas State, who upset West Virginia, and Georgia, who is up to 4-3 in the SEC. For what it's worth, the line between Georgia and Wichita State was razor-thin.

1 Seeds: They are the same for the fourth week in a row, and these four seem slightly more separated from the pack this week as none of them lost a game. Villanova and Kentucky are extremely close as far as picking the number 1 overall seed, but we're sticking with Villanova for now. This section has also become the "Gonzaga undefeated watch" section, so you should know that probability is up to 44.2%.

Big Ten: We're finally seeing some sense here. Wisconsin, still the favorite to win the conference, is now the highest seeded team in the conference as a 5, which makes sense. Purdue and Minnesota are down to 6's. Maryland, Northwestern, Michigan State, and Indiana stay where they were last week as we march down the seed lines. Illinois, as mentioned earlier, has dropped back out.

Michigan: We covered this a bit last week, but Michigan lost a tough road game to Wisconsin, one they were very much expected to lose. They followed that up with an encouraging win over Illinois, a team that blew out the Wolverines just two weeks ago. That win was enough to knock the Illini out, but not enough to bump the Wolverines back in. This week's chart is just barely better than last week's:

It's still centered around 8-10, which is not good, but at least that 7-11 bar isn't as high as it was last week. In order to really swing things towards .500 or better, Michigan will have to win some games that Kenpom considers a tossup or an expected loss. Luckily, they have two opportunities to do just that this week with games against Indiana (54% win probability) and at Michigan State (38%). Two wins would be fantastic, and would totally change the course of the season. 1-1 is much more likely, and is still a solid step in the right direction. Two losses, on the other hand, would probably be too big of a hole to climb out of. Let's hope the newfound desire to play defense we saw against Wisconsin and Illinois can continue in the Wolverines' two big matchups this week.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Bracket Projection: 1/18

Disclaimer: I ran the simulation yesterday (1/17), but haven't gotten a chance to publish it until today. So all the data used is behind a day. Looking at yesterday's results, it's hard to tell if any of the games would have changed the projection all that much, but I'm guessing it would look pretty much the same. Anyways, here's what my computer spit out this week:

1 Villanova Kansas Baylor Kentucky
2 North Carolina Creighton Louisville Gonzaga
3 Florida Florida St. Butler UCLA
4 West Virginia Virginia Oregon Duke
5 Arizona Minnesota Xavier Purdue
6 Notre Dame Wisconsin Saint Mary's Cincinnati
7 South Carolina Maryland USC Clemson
8 Northwestern Dayton SMU TCU
9 Iowa St. Michigan St. Arkansas Pittsburgh
10 Indiana Virginia Tech Seton Hall VCU
11 Illinois St. Wichita St. Wake Forest Texas Tech
11 Illinois Miami FL
12 Monmouth Nevada UNC Wilmington Middle Tennessee
13 Vermont Akron Valparaiso Chattanooga
14 Lehigh Princeton Florida Gulf Coast New Mexico St.
15 UNC Asheville Belmont Georgia Southern Texas Southern
16 North Carolina Central Weber St. UC Irvine Fort Wayne
16 Mount St. Mary's Sam Houston St.

Biggest Movers: Duke drops down to a 4 seed after losing two games in a row to Florida State and Louisville, two teams that as a result are now ahead of them in the bracket. Virginia Tech is all the way down to a 10 after a loss to Notre Dame, which seems a bit harsh. TCU is trending upwards to an 8 seed after wins over Texas and Iowa State. Dropping out from last week's bracket are Rhode Island, who was upset by La Salle, North Carolina State, who dropped games to lowly Boston College and Georgia Tech, and Oklahoma State, who is now having a disastrous season having lost their first five conference games. Replacing the teams that dropped out are Illinois and Illinois State, the latter of which hopes to win their conference and assure a bid, and Texas Tech, who makes their first appearance here despite being 2-3 in conference.

1 seeds: Once again the same, although Gonzaga is extremely close behind the leaders. After pointing out that Baylor only had a 0.06% chance of going undefeated, the Bears promptly dropped their first game of the season to a very good West Virginia team. Gonzaga, on the other hand, beat Saint Mary's, the only other good team in their conference. The Bulldogs' chances of going undefeated are now up to 33.1%.

Big Ten: The seeds still seem a bit off to me. Wisconsin is now the heavy favorite to win the conference, so it would be very odd to see Purdue and Minnesota seeded above them come Selection Sunday. The Badgers are still 38th in RPI, though, which is the reason they're still hanging out as a 6 seed. Northwestern is now 4-2 in the conference, creeping up to an 8 seed. It's really starting to look like this is the year the Wildcats finally break through. Michigan State and Indiana flip spots, as the Spartans are also up to 4-2, while the Hoosiers are still struggling at 2-3. Illinois blew out Michigan, and as a result, the Illini sneak back in, while the Wolverines remain on the outside.

Michigan: I, like many other fans, was thoroughly disappointed in Michigan's performance in Champaign last week. They bounced back at home against Nebraska, but that wasn't enough to put them back in the tournament picture. At this point they'll need a couple of "big wins" like they had last year against Maryland, Purdue, and Indiana. Since starting this article, the Wolverines lost a chance at one of those big wins, as they fell just short in Madison. They return home this weekend for a quick rematch with Illinois, a game they absolutely need if they want to stay alive. Here's what the chart tells us about expectations:

It is still very ugly, and only incrementally better than the graph I tweeted after the Illinois game (and much worse than the graph from last week). 8-10 is now up to 23.6%, and 7-11 is more likely than 9-9. If you are like me and think Michigan really should go above .500 in conference, there is only a 15.6% chance of that happening. Ugh. We'll check in next week after the next Illinois game, and if that one is a loss, it might be just about time to close the door on this season. Let's hope that is not the case.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Bracket Projection: 1/9

I'm sorry, but it had to be done. You will not find our beloved Michigan Wolverines in this bracket projection. We'll discuss why they're out, and what they can do to get back in, later in this post. For now, here's the full bracket:

1 Villanova Kentucky Kansas Baylor
2 UCLA Duke Gonzaga Louisville
3 North Carolina Butler Virginia Creighton
4 Florida St. Oregon Xavier Florida
5 Minnesota Purdue Arizona West Virginia
6 Wisconsin Notre Dame Saint Mary's Cincinnati
7 Clemson USC Virginia Tech Maryland
8 South Carolina SMU Arkansas Dayton
9 Pittsburgh Iowa St. Northwestern Indiana
10 Seton Hall VCU Michigan St. Miami FL
11 Wake Forest UNC Wilmington TCU North Carolina St.
11 Rhode Island Oklahoma St.
12 Monmouth Wichita St. UT Arlington Middle Tennessee
13 Boise St. Oakland Chattanooga Bucknell
14 Belmont New Mexico St. Florida Gulf Coast Vermont
15 UNC Asheville Texas Southern Princeton Ohio
16 North Dakota St. New Orleans North Carolina Central UC Irvine
16 Mount St. Mary's Weber St.

Biggest Movers: Dayton is the big riser after wins over St. Bonaventure and Rhode Island. They are the favorite to win the Atlantic 10. Minnesota is all the way up to a 5 after three straight wins against Purdue, Northwestern, and Ohio State. USC lost at home to Cal and drops to a 7. Indiana continues to struggle at 1-2 in the Big Ten; they're down to a 9. Miami drops to a 10 after losing to Syracuse, and Oklahoma State is hanging on for dear life after starting 0-3 in conference play. Meanwhile, Michigan State and North Carolina State make their first appearances as their respective RPI rankings start to climb. Oddly enough, Pittsburgh climbs up to a 9 and Wake Forest comes back in the field despite poor starts to conference play. Dropping out are Texas A&M, Illinois, and of course Michigan, who are all off to rough starts in their respective conferences.

1 seeds: They are exactly the same as last week. Villanova actually lost on the road to Butler, but Butler is a great team and the Wildcats were still able to hold on to my #1 overall seed. That leaves Baylor and Gonzaga as the lone undefeateds. According to Kenpom, Gonzaga has a 14.1% chance of running the table, while Baylor's chances are only 0.06%.

Big Ten: I've already discussed quite a few Big Ten teams already, but we'll cover the rest here as it pertains to the NCAA Tournament. Most notably, Purdue's win over Wisconsin moves the Boilermakers up to a 4 seed. Maryland's win over Michigan bumped them up to a 7 seed and knocked Michigan out. Minnesota, Indiana, Michigan State, and Illinois are all discussed in the previous section, and Northwestern stays right where they were last week.

Michigan: Alright, time to figure this out. Dropping out of the tournament is bad, but it's not a full-on red alert. There are a lot of games left to be played, but in order to get back in, they must exceed expectations as they currently stand. The cumulative win probability graph is as bad as it has been all season:
Yikes. 9-9 is now the median at 21%, and 8-10 is more likely than 10-8. Remember what I just said about exceeding expectations? That's because these are the current expectations. The Wolverines have a huge week coming up with a road game against fellow "First Four Out" team Illinois, followed by a home game against conference wild card Nebraska. I really think they need to win both to stay alive. Kenpom claims they have a 38.2% chance of winning both. There have certainly been flashes of greatness from this Michigan team, but they have yet to piece it all together for 40 minutes since the 2k Classic. Now would be an excellent time for the proverbial light to go on.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Bracket Projection: 1/2

The first week of conference play is in the books, and it came with the usual assortment of exciting upsets. Due to the conservative nature of this prediction system and my belief that good teams are still good even when they lose a game on the road in conference, the field doesn't change too much. Let's take a look at what my computer spit out this week:

1 Villanova Kentucky Kansas Baylor
2 Virginia Gonzaga Duke Louisville
3 UCLA North Carolina Creighton Xavier
4 West Virginia Butler Arizona Florida
5 Florida St. Oregon Saint Mary's USC
6 Notre Dame Cincinnati Wisconsin Purdue
7 Minnesota Clemson Indiana Arkansas
8 Miami FL Virginia Tech South Carolina Maryland
9 Iowa St. Oklahoma St. Northwestern SMU
10 Seton Hall VCU TCU Michigan
11 Illinois Wichita St. Pittsburgh UT Arlington
11 Rhode Island Texas A&M
12 Monmouth Middle Tennessee UNC Wilmington Dayton
13 Valparaiso Chattanooga Akron Boise St.
14 Winthrop Vermont New Mexico St. Tennessee St.
15 Florida Gulf Coast Texas Southern Lehigh Princeton
16 North Dakota St. North Carolina Central Texas A&M Corpus Chris UC Irvine
16 Mount St. Mary's Weber St.

Biggest Movers: South Carolina dropped from a 6 to an 8 after a 16 point loss to Memphis. Wake Forest dropped out after losing their first two ACC games, making way for Rhode Island, one of my first teams out last week, to sneak into the field. Everyone else is right where they were last week or within one seed line in either direction.

1 seeds: Two of my original 1 seed predictions have moved back into the 1 line: Kentucky and Kansas. Louisville lost to Virginia in conference play, which dropped them two a 2 seed, and Gonzaga's RPI dropped after playing a few low-ranked teams, leaving room for the others to take their place. I still expect Baylor to drop off at some point, but they keep on winning, as does the #1 overall Villanova.

Big Ten: Minnesota beat Purdue, which initially moved the Boilermakers down one seed line and the Golden Gophers up one, but I had to swap Minnesota with Notre Dame to preserve not having teams from the same conference play in the second round, something the selection committee often does. Indiana lost at home to Nebraska, but stays as a 7 seed because they were probably under-seeded to begin with. Northwestern moves up a seed due to the general logjam that exists in the middle of the field. You'll see teams in that region move up or down slightly seemingly at random throughout the season. Maryland and Michigan stay where they were despite each losing a game, and Ohio State and Michigan State stay just outside, although it is very close.

Michigan: As mentioned earlier, the Wolverines dropped their first Big Ten matchup at Carver Hawkeye, a place they haven't won at since 2011. This, of course, isn't the end of the world, especially since 11/14 teams in the Big Ten already have at least one loss. They're 87th in RPI, so they still have to get that number up over the next few weeks. I said last week that I'd like to see them go 4-1 over their first 5 games, so that now would require them winning 4 straight against Penn State, Maryland, Illinois, and Nebraska. Kenpom says they have a 27% chance of completing that winning streak. Speaking of percent chances...

The graph took a hit, which is expected when you lose a toss-up game like Michigan did, but 10-8 is still the median, and it has now grown over 20% likelihood. I'll be excited to see it grow positive as Michigan starts to win a few games. When we come back, they'll have played home games against Penn State and Maryland, and they have a 63% chance of going 2-0 this week. Let's hope they do, and hope the computer program rewards them and they start to creep up the seed lines.