Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Bracket Projection: 1/9

A new #1 overall emerges. Yep, the Cavaliers have shot up the rankings after their quick 3-0 start in the ACC that included a big win over former 1 seed North Carolina. You won't see anything too crazy in this bracket, but take a minute to admire that 1-8-9 pairing in the West regional:

1 Virginia Duke Villanova Xavier
2 Michigan St. Oklahoma Kansas North Carolina
3 West Virginia Purdue Arizona St. Texas Tech
4 Arizona Seton Hall Clemson Wichita St.
5 Kentucky TCU Arkansas Texas A&M
6 Cincinnati Miami FL Auburn Tennessee
7 Nevada Florida St. Creighton Gonzaga
8 Missouri Butler Notre Dame Rhode Island
9 Ohio St. Michigan Florida Texas
10 Louisville SMU Saint Mary's Alabama
11 Syracuse UCLA Maryland Boise St.
11 St. Bonaventure Minnesota
12 Missouri St. New Mexico St. Western Kentucky Buffalo
13 South Dakota St. Lipscomb Vermont Louisiana Lafayette
14 Murray St. UC Santa Barbara Towson East Tennessee St.
15 Iona Northern Kentucky Radford Stephen F. Austin
16 Texas Southern Montana Penn Bucknell
16 Hampton Robert Morris

Beilein vs. LaVall with the winner facing Duke? Sign me up. Remember last year when I correctly had the Michigan-Oklahoma State matchup way back in like February and made a big deal about how cool that would be? Yeah let's hope the wish list continues.

Michigan State gets stomped and somehow moves up a seed. Yeah, RPI is stupid. Oh well. They shouldn't have even been that low last week, so this is better I guess.

How many tournament teams will the Big Ten get? Somehow there are six Big Ten teams in this week's bracket thanks to the emergence of the Buckeyes. However, my gut tells me Maryland without Justin Jackson and Minnesota without Reggie Lynch will not end up in the tournament. As it stands, they're both hanging on by a thread. I'm thinking four Big Ten teams is more likely, barring any unforeseen craziness. Michigan is still a 9 seed but they're just barely in the territory I would consider "safely in" rather than a bubble team. But the margin for error is slim with so much dead weight in the conference. Let's check the graph:

11-7 should do the trick, it's just a matter of whether they can get a big win or two to move up the seed lines. Tonight's game against Purdue scares me as a 41% chance of victory. There would be no shame in losing to a top 5 Purdue team, but it would make the graph look a bit dicier. Assuming the trip to East Lansing this weekend isn't going to go particularly well, it seems going 0-2 this week would only put more pressure on the sea of 70ish% games remaining against the middle tiers of the Big Ten. The path to March Madness is laid out for them; they just have to take advantage.

And one final note on the Big XII. It's awesome, friends. The ACC will have the most tournament teams like they always do, but if you don't think the Big XII is the best conference, you're doing yourself a disservice. As you may know, I've hitched myself to the Oklahoma bandwagon, as they personify the traits laid out in my guide to finding a second favorite team impeccably. Kansas is Kansas and will probably win the conference like they always do, but somehow the current projected conference winner is Texas Tech of all teams. And of course West Virginia is quite formidable as well, and nine of the ten teams are in the Kenpom top 60. Do yourself a favor and watch some conference games (when they're not frustratingly buried on ESPNU); you won't regret it.

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