Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Bracket Projection: 2/28

Good news for Michigan fans! Rhode Island's insane 30 point home loss to #122 Saint Joseph's causes them to fall two whole seed lines, which makes room for Michigan on the 5 line. Obviously beware the infamous 5-12 matchups, but I think most fans would rather play Loyola Chicago than Kansas State. Anyways, here's the rest of the bracket:

1 Virginia Villanova Xavier Kansas
2 Michigan State Purdue North Carolina Duke
3 Auburn Cincinnati Texas Tech Tennessee
4 West Virginia Clemson Arizona Wichita St.
5 Kentucky Ohio St. Gonzaga Michigan
6 Houston Arkansas Nevada TCU
7 Seton Hall Rhode Island Texas A&M Creighton
8 Florida Oklahoma Miami FL Butler
9 Saint Mary's Virginia Tech Arizona St. Florida St.
10 North Carolina St. Missouri USC Alabama
11 St. Bonaventure Providence Middle Tennessee Louisville
11 Texas Kansas St.
12 New Mexico St. Baylor Louisiana Lafayette Loyola Chicago
13 Buffalo Vermont Murray St. South Dakota
14 Montana Bucknell College of Charleston UNC Greensboro
15 Northern Kentucky UC Santa Barbara Canisius Penn
16 UNC Asheville Wagner Florida Gulf Coast Nicholls St.
16 Hampton Grambling St.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Bracket Projection: 2/27

We're getting down to it! We've entered conference tournament season, where I chain myself to my spreadsheets and furiously create new brackets as different teams punch their tickets and seeding makes its final few shuffles. Here's the bracket as it currently stands:

1 Virginia Villanova Xavier Kansas
2 Michigan State Purdue North Carolina Duke
3 Auburn Cincinnati Tennessee Wichita St.
4 Arizona Clemson Texas Tech Ohio St.
5 West Virginia Rhode Island Kentucky Gonzaga
6 Houston Michigan Nevada TCU
7 Seton Hall Texas A&M Creighton Arkansas
8 Florida Florida St. Oklahoma Butler
9 Arizona St. Saint Mary's Miami FL USC
10 Missouri Virginia Tech Alabama Louisville
11 North Carolina St. Kansas St. Texas Middle Tennessee
11 Providence St. Bonaventure
12 Buffalo Baylor Louisiana Lafayette Loyola Chicago
13 New Mexico St. Vermont Murray St. South Dakota
14 Bucknell Montana UNC Greensboro Northeastern
15 Canisius Northern Kentucky UC Santa Barbara Wagner
16 UNC Asheville Penn Florida Gulf Coast Nicholls St.
16 Hampton Grambling St.

Kansas has been lurking on the 2 line just about all season, but finally claims their place with the top seeds as they appear to be closing out the regular season in strong fashion. What's interesting this year is that it looks like each of the top 8 has a decent shot at landing a 1 seed. The only one that looks set in stone is Virginia. The Big East powerhouses are on a collision course, as are the two Big Ten teams just behind them. And the ACC Tournament will be ripe with opportunities for teams to rack up resume-boosting wins, something Duke is actually lacking right now despite their shiny advanced stats. 

As for games I missed yesterday that aren't affecting this bracket: Virginia Tech beat Duke (speaking of lacking big wins) and that's about it. This year I'm trying to front load some of the work it takes to have the bracket up to date throughout the coming chaos so that I don't end up missing the final deadline for Bracket Matrix scoring like I did last year. So get ready for these posts to become a bit more frequent, and get ready for the Madness!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Bracket Projection: 2/21

I'm going to crank this one out so that it gets posted before the Michigan-Penn State game starting soon. If you haven't noticed, I've been slacking a bit on this site. I haven't even published my Northwestern post from two weeks ago, which is almost done. I also went to Wisconsin, but I don't think a post will be coming on that one because I already wrote about Madison back in the fall. The short version: The Kohl Center is exactly like Crisler but bigger, much like Madison is exactly like Ann Arbor but bigger. It was great and Michigan won and I finally got my road win. The end. Here is a bracket:

1 Virginia Villanova Duke Xavier
2 Purdue Cincinnati Kansas North Carolina
3 Auburn Clemson Michigan St. Texas Tech
4 Arizona Ohio St. Tennessee Wichita St.
5 Nevada Rhode Island West Virginia Kentucky
6 Oklahoma Michigan Gonzaga Texas A&M
7 Houston TCU Creighton Arizona St.
8 Seton Hall Alabama Missouri Arkansas
9 Saint Mary's Florida St. Butler Miami FL
10 Florida Providence Virginia Tech Baylor
11 Middle Tennessee Syracuse Texas St. Bonaventure
11 Kansas St. UCLA
12 New Mexico St. North Carolina St. Louisiana Lafayette Loyola Chicago
13 Buffalo Vermont East Tennessee St. South Dakota St.
14 Bucknell College of Charleston Rider Murray St.
15 Montana UC Santa Barbara Northern Kentucky Wagner
16 Florida Gulf Coast Penn Nicholls St. Winthrop
16 Savannah St. Grambling St.

By now, you're probably well familiar with the new "quadrant" style used in the selection process, which I'm probably going to dive into explaining how they affect my picks in a post sometime soon. Long story short, I haven't been using it as much as some other bracketologists, except in the case of eyeballing resumes for teams in the 5-9 seed range. Outside of that, the formula I started using last year seems to be working fine.

Big Ten check-in. The Big Ten seed lines are starting to solidify, but there's still a lot of room for movement. Purdue looks like a very solid 2, and Michigan State has a 2/3 type of resume who will hope to move up one by winning a few conference tournament games. Ohio State is up to a 4 and should stay that way unless they start to collapse.

Michigan has probably the most room to move of any Big Ten team, with two coin-flip games left on the schedule and a likely third one in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament. If they lose the next two, win their first tournament game, and then lose to Nebraska, they're probably back down to the 8/9 range. On the other hand, if they go on a 2017-esque miracle run and win out, they could potentially move all the way up to a 3 seed. 6 is a nice middle ground there, which is the outcome if they split their next two games, win two Big Ten Tournament games, and then lose to Michigan State, which looks to be the most likely scenario at this point.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Bracket Projection: 2/5

As promised, this week I'm just going to throw a bracket at you without any explanation. Another post of some sort will be coming at you later this week.

1 Virginia Villanova Purdue Xavier
2 Kansas Clemson Auburn Duke
3 Cincinnati Tennessee North Carolina Michigan St.
4 Kentucky Arizona Oklahoma Texas Tech
5 Rhode Island West Virginia Ohio St. Seton Hall
6 Creighton Miami FL Saint Mary's Nevada
7 Butler Wichita St. TCU Gonzaga
8 Florida Michigan Texas A&M Louisville
9 Texas Florida St. Arizona St. Alabama
10 Washington Arkansas Providence Missouri
11 Virginia Tech Middle Tennessee Houston North Carolina St.
11 Boise St. USC
12 Kansas St. Vermont Buffalo New Mexico St.
13 Louisiana Lafayette Loyola Chicago East Tennessee St. South Dakota St.
14 College of Charleston Rider Montana Belmont
15 Bucknell UC Santa Barbara Northern Kentucky Wagner
16 UNC Asheville Penn Stephen F. Austin Florida Gulf Coast
16 Arkansas Pine Bluff North Carolina A&T

Friday, February 2, 2018

Spidey's Blog: Are You Purdue Pete?

I'm a firm believer that a college basketball arena's only real defining feature should be the people in it. Well, that's not exactly true; let me elaborate. I do love when an arena has a weird quirk--like the raised floor at Minnesota, for example--so having other defining features is definitely a good thing. But a lot of college arenas give me the impression of being a sterile, bland, state-of-the-art, almost NBA arena, and no matter how good the team playing there is, it feels hard to really get the energy going (looking at you, Ohio State).

By that standard, Mackey Arena should be considered one of the best in the country. From the outside you'd look at it and say, "this is definitely a basketball arena." The concourses will neither wow you nor gross you out. The interior is perfectly round, steeply sloped, and way too dark. The ceiling consists of a gigantic steel spiderweb-looking thing (which appeals quite a bit to someone like me) that someone probably put up decades ago, thinking, "well, at least it will keep the roof in place."

Home of Purdue Blog

But despite it's uninspiring appearance, Mackey was rocking last Thursday. I'm grading on a curve because any arena featuring a top 5 team playing arguably their biggest home game of the season is going to be insane, but it did not disappoint. We were so high up, our view was nearly blocked by some Big Ten championship banners, but we were still shoulder to shoulder on the hard metal benches. The student section fills both areas behind the basket all the way to the spiderweb ceiling, and they are loud, energetic, and quite organized. Overall, it's pretty much exactly what you're looking for in a college basketball experience, although nothing jumped out to me as quirky or unexplainable like the list of things I experienced at Camp Randall.

Except one.

As you may know, Purdue's sidelines are patrolled by the notorious hell-demon known as Purdue Pete. If you don't remember him, allow me to jog your memory:

Getty Images

He swings a hammer, dances around, and stares you down with the cold, unblinking gaze of a serial killer. But at Thursday's game, I had another thought about this monster that I now can't get out of my head. It started with a simple question: "doesn't he usually wear a black helmet?" (he was wearing gold at this game). The Purdue grad I came with wasn't sure, so I started doing some Google image searches (a horrible idea, but I had to find out). He does switch helmet colors, and he even switches uniforms depending on what sport he's at and what color the team is wearing. For this game, he was sporting a gray Purdue basketball uniform to go with his shiny gold helmet.

So it turns out Purdue Pete has multiple outfits; so what? My next discovery was even more concerning:

Boilermaker Traditions

These are definitely not the same being. Clearly different creatures have been designated as Pete over the years, and we are only experiencing the most recent incarnation. But then it gets worse:

Purdue University

THERE ARE CLONES?? Identical triplets? Some sort of ancient pattern of regeneration? Who are you, Purdue Pete? You're defined not by any physical or outfit characteristics. The only commonality is that you wear a hard hat and Purdue gear. But I sat one section over from the Paint Crew, and I saw a lot of people that fit that description! Are they all Purdue Pete? What if he only wears Purdue gear to Purdue games (like many do), and he's just a guy with a hammer? Are you, dear reader, a guy who owns a hammer? For all we know, you could be Purdue Pete. There's clearly opportunities for a seemingly infinite number of Petes. Am I Purdue Pete? I certainly don't think so, but at this point I think it's fair to say we can't be 100% certain. We don't even know for sure what he does for a day job. Does he make trains? Work on a railroad? Operate a train? The world may never know.

Now I'm wondering if he exists outside the world of Purdue athletics. If that's the case, we'd be living in constant fear of a Pete attack, not knowing where he truly dwells. What if he isn't strictly a Purdue fan? Lots of people have multiple allegiances, and he could be no different. Maybe he went to undergrad at Purdue and then got some sort of advanced degree somewhere else, like say, Nebraska?

Nebraska University

Oh no.