Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Bracket Projection: 1/31 - Updated

I'm back. Yesterday I just threw up the bracket with no explanations or anything, so today we're revisiting that same bracket and doing the usual talk about it that you're used to seeing. Let's re-post that bracket for the sake of convenience:

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

Biggest Movers: I cannot figure out the Indiana Hoosiers. They lost both of their games this week, and are somehow up to an 8 seed. Something tells me the chance that I correctly predict their seed come selection Sunday is very small. Meanwhile Pittsburgh and Georgia drop out: I can't believe I even had the Panthers in this long. They have lost seven in a row and project to finish 4-14 in the ACC after a 12-3 start that included wins over Marquette, Maryland, and Virginia. Georgia meanwhile is 4-5 in the SEC and just on the outside of the bubble. The Missouri Valley goes back to having an at-large team, as Wichita State makes it back in, and finally our Wolverines take a hold of that final spot in the field after their big win over Indiana. More on them later.

1 seeds: We have a change here for the first time since December. Kentucky lost two games in a row and drops down to a 2 seed, making room for Gonzaga to jump back up to a 1. The Zags remain undefeated, with a 47.1% chance of finishing the job. Meanwhile, Villanova and Kansas both lost tough road games this week: Villanova to Marquette, and Kansas to West Virginia. Despite that, they hang on to their spots on the 1 line without too many teams immediately at their heels.

Big Ten: More clarity once again here. Minnesota and Maryland flip spots, as the two teams seem to be on opposite trajectories right now. Northwestern is ranked in the AP poll now, and as their record improves, they move up to a 7 seed. It's looking more and more likely this could finally be the year in Evanston. Indiana makes no sense and we already talked about them. Michigan State drops a bit, probably because their Minnesota wins are starting to look less impressive. And of course Michigan appears in one of the play-in games. Speaking of which...

Michigan: The Wolverines still have their work cut out for them. I said last week they had to at least go 1-1 against Indiana and Michigan State, which they did. That causes the win probability graph to look like this:
That's better than last week, but still not great. There's 26.7% chance they go 9-9, a 44.4% chance they finish below .500, and a 28.9% they finish above .500. I'm still operating on the assumption that 10-8 will probably get them in, and 9-9 would require some magic in the conference tournament.

This week they have a midweek bye and play Ohio State on Saturday. The Buckeyes have been struggling, so this should hopefully be a game Michigan can lock down before focusing on the rematch with the Spartans three days later. We'll be back here on Monday to check on the outlook during that stretch of the schedule.

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