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.

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