Tuesday, February 28, 2017

February 28 Bracket Update

First off, thanks to @jackviking for pointing out my clerical error involving Minnesota and providing a compelling, evidence-based argument. And that's what it was... clearly the Gophers ought to be in the 5/6 range with that resume. I did a revision tonight incorporating last night's results but without skipping what might be the second best Big 10 team in the process.

Teams I like:
I'm bullish on Providence. When you look at their numbers they have six top 50 wins and an RPI and SOS well within the at-large range. They've won four straight against tournament-level teams. Also think things are looking up at the moment for Vanderbilt... that Iowa State win looks better and better, they have a signature win over Florida, and they're third in SOS. Just don't stare at that unsightly loss to Missouri (!). They probably ought to steal one from the Gators or Wildcats this week to stay in the field, or else win a couple in the SECT. (update: make that "steal one from the Gators"... a shame they missed their chance. Pretty resilient of Kentucky to come back, but Vandy played them tight twice.)

Teams I just don't know what to do with:
Virginia Tech. With the understandable loss to Louisville you have a team that's won five of six which includes two solid wins against tournament teams. I still feel like they're an 8/9 team.

USC. Yeah, no shame in losing to Oregon, Arizona and UCLA all in a row. But that was a weak non-con schedule that they ran the table against, with only SMU the only compelling win. And that's still a four game losing streak (when you factor in the loss to ASU) in late February. I could say similar things about Cal, who just happened to be lucky enough to face Oregon State recently but otherwise have been slumping.

Wisconsin: What to make of the Badgers' losing four of five, but beating arguably the best team in that stretch?? They don't really have "bad" losses, but nor have they defeated any truly "marquee" teams. Hard to put a 23 win Big 10 team on the 7-line... the 7's didn't deserve a promotion (yet... maybe St. Mary's oughta be a 6 and were yesterday, but I think the Committee will impose the usual "mid-major" penalty, which is why I'll have them seeded a line lower than where I'd like. Plus they were a casualty when I made the Gopher Correction).

The Lannisters (and the 17th Seed) Send Their Regards To:
Pittsburgh, Indiana, Clemson. Not seeing a path for any of them short of a conference tourney title. I just wanted to say "The Lannisters send their regards."

I like looking at the pod matchups and seeing which are most compelling. I have a soft spot for teams outside the power conferences, so wherever Dayton, VCU, Wichita State, UT Arlington or MTSU end up, I'd like to be there. I think MTSU could take Creighton in the Bluejays' current state. I'd hate to put Northwestern up against the hot Cyclones in their first-ever tournament game. And I think UT-Arlington vs Virginia would be one of those interesting 5-12 matchups. I'd love the Buffalo games, some upset potential there.

'Cuse update:
Full disclosure: I'm a Syracuse fan, so this is the price you pay for reading this blog. Despite the blowout loss to the Cardinals, I think they're still in, and above a play-in game, for now. But I really think they need to beat GT this weekend and win a game in the ACCT to feel truly safe (and maybe move up into a 10 spot). It won't be easy - GT already beat them, and UVA, while slumping, is a good team in what might be an 8/9 game (with UNC on deck after that...). Those gaudy wins over Duke, Virginia and Florida State still look better than what most bubblers have to offer, but a 17-15 team probably shouldn't dance just on principle.  And let's face it... they're gonna be a 14-loss team minimum going into the NCAAs unless Melo and McNamara have some eligibility left. Which they don't.

That got longer than I intended.
Comments and constructive criticism accepted at @Chris17thseed.

Monday, February 27, 2017


Going to make a correction tonight or tomorrow, I missed Minnesota when assembling the bracket last night. They won't be an 8, that's for sure. Makes me glad a committee does the selections and not just one guy! Glad someone pointed it out, too! 

Sunday, February 26, 2017

February 27 Bracket Update

Going through the bracket this week, it seemed like more teams were moving down than up and so some teams moved up through default. Duke, Creighton, Wisconsin, Maryland, Northwestern, Xavier and USC all lost two games this week and so I moved them down a bit accordingly. Miami had a pair of really good wins. SMU is a team I moved up more because everyone near them moved down than because of wins over Houston and UConn, but 5 feels too high to me.

You can make an argument for several teams to be in or out at the cut line. I moved Syracuse into a non-PiG 11 after they split two tough games. TCU, Tennessee, K-State and Georgetown played their way out of my bracket (or in the Hoyas' case, off my bubble). Rhode Island, Vanderbilt, and Georgia are other teams on the fringes of consideration.

It may be a bit much but I put Providence into the field. Their RPI/SOS are both good (better than Syracuse's and GT's for instance) and they have six top 50 wins. I'm willing to listen to who you'd replace them with. I can't get into a Clemson team that is close but no cigar every game and 3-9 in their last 12, or a K State team that is slumping at the wrong time. Georgia Tech, Syracuse and Providence have the most top 25 wins of anyone on the bubble and I have to think all three have enough (as of today) to overcome their sub-par RPI/SOS numbers.

The madness starts this week. Good luck to the teams playing conference tournaments this week. I invite constructive comments and questions on Twitter at @chris17thSeed.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017


Ok, if I'm going to put up bracket projections, I ought to at least enable people to comment. So if you have a comment or a question, please send me a tweet at @chris17thseed.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

February 20 Update

So here's the latest update. My problem this week was with the last 4-6 teams. There didn't seem to be a good way to slot them. That's why I ended up with a potential Tennessee-Florida game in the second round. It wouldn't be unprecedented, but hopefully it can be avoided on Selection Sunday.

Was it harsh to drop Baylor to the 2 line after two losses? I don't think so. But it's close.

Duke and Virginia essentially swapped seed lines. Duke gets the better of it in the first weekend, but gets sent to San Jose... so maybe the Cavs won't complain.

Cal and TCU played their way down to the play-in games, while Georgia Tech played its way up into one and Tennessee held serve. And my Orange played their way out, with three straight losses: one to a league bottom feeder, one to a top 2 seed (in OT), and one to a fellow bubbler on the road. I still think if they win 2 of their last 3 (vs Duke, at Louisville, vs Ga Tech) they ought to be safe, though they better win one in the ACC tourney to be sure.

Here it is:

Monday, February 13, 2017

February 13 Bracket Update

First full bracket after the Selection Committee's reveal. I admit, I adjusted my S-curve to reflect their rankings as of Saturday morning, then adjusted it as I saw fit after the weekend's games, so it's not 100% how they had it. I swapped Florida State and Louisville after the Seminoles' loss at Notre Dame, pushed Virginia down a step after their double OT loss to the Hokies, and pushed Butler from the first 4-seed to the last 4-seed.

Yes, I notice how inconsistently I've treated some teams. This is where I put in my reminder that this is my first season doing this, so I'm working out a lot of bugs and trying to find the best system. So if you're wondering why Miami went from a 9 to a 12 to a 9, or why Michigan is below Michigan State after whipping the Spartans last week, well, that's me trying to learn.

So here goes:

I want to thank the Bracket Matrix for including these projections on their website, www.bracketmatrix.com. That's also been a great learning tool.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Mock Selections thoughts

Just my reactions to the mock selection show:

1. No surprise as to WHO the top seeds were, but a bit of a surprise that Gonzaga wasn't the #2 or #3 overall. I'd probably put them ahead of Baylor but not Kansas.

2. The team I missed was Butler, who I had last week as a 6. That's a big whiff on my part. Butler was their first 4-seed. I think I fell for Wisconsin's record, both overall and in the Big 10. 

3. With Carolina being the top 2-seed even after losing to Duke, I wonder if they were closer to Gonzaga (on the top line) in the committee's estimation before that loss. I wonder what the committee will do if both Gonzaga and UNC run the table - if Carolina wins the ACC regular season AND tournament, will they replace an undefeated Gonzaga team on the top line?

4. I am not surprised that they had WV lower than I did. I fell for Wisconsin's record, and for West Virginia's wins over Virginia, Baylor and Kansas. 

Hopefully I'll have a new bracket out Sunday or Monday night.

Friday, February 10, 2017

February selection show projections

Below are my projected top 4 seeds in each region, with city assignments, in advance of the committee's show on Saturday.

New York City:
1. Villanova, Big East (Buffalo)
2. North Carolina, ACC (Greenville)
3. West Virginia, Big 12 (Buffalo)
4. Wisconsin, Big 10 (Milwaukee)

San Jose:
1. Gonzaga, WCC (Salt Lake City)
2. Oregon, Pac 12 (Sacramento)
3. Virginia, ACC (Greenville)
4. Duke, ACC (Milwaukee)

Kansas City:
1. Kansas, Big 12 (Tulsa)
2. Arizona, Pac 12 (Salt Lake City)
3. Florida State, ACC (Orlando)
4. Florida, SEC (Orlando)

1. Baylor, Big 12 (Tulsa)
2. Louisville, ACC (Indianapolis)
3. Kentucky, SEC (Indianapolis)
4. UCLA, Pac 12 (Sacramento)

I bumped Duke up into the top 16, at Cincinnati's expense. I just felt like, despite not losing since early December, the Bearcats didn't have a win on the magnitude of beating UNC and didn't play as tough a schedule. Since 5 ACC teams are in the top 16, I had to put Duke somewhere, so they're out west with a potential Elite 8 matchup with Virginia. I didn't consider anyone else for the 4-seeds.

I was going to swap Baylor and UNC had the Tar Heels won at Cameron Indoor on Thursday night.

I'm keeping the Mountaineers on the 3-line for now. Beating Kansas and Baylor... not many teams can claim two wins of that quality, plus they beat Virginia, so two 1's and a 3 on my chart. I could listen to moving UCLA or Wisconsin up. UCLA has much better big wins than the Badgers, though, so I think the Bruins are closer to that 3-slot than Wisconsin.

I'm not sure if the committee would care that the NYC regional final would be a rematch of last year's title game, or that the two Florida powerhouses could meet in the Kansas City elite 8, or that Kentucky-Louisville could be a Sweet 16 game. Maybe it doesn't matter to them. Looking forward to seeing how this compares to the Committee.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Due to a certain disappointing football game, I'm a little late this week with the update. It was painful to watch.

Just a brief word about my methodology. I re-seed the bracket each week without much regard to where they were seeded or ranked last week - it's like a blank slate. To me, the bracketing principles force me to do it that way. Things don't happen in a vacuum. A team might do nothing wrong in a given week to drop a seed line, yet may get dropped because other teams did big enough things to surpass them. Same's true for teams moving up the list... maybe they had no big wins, but teams just ahead of them fell behind them. It's like a spiderweb. So please judge me on how THIS week's bracket looks, not how it looks compared to what I did last week. Better yet, don't judge.

I am looking forward to this weekend's Selection Show, and to learning what factors were most important to them. I'm hoping it will help me build a better bracket.

This week's team on the rise is Oklahoma State, up three seed lines from a play-in game to a solid 8. When you've won 5 straight including a big win at Morgantown, you move up the ranks.

I think Butler's fall from a 3 to a 6 is more dramatic because I had them maybe a little too high as a 3 before. Not many teams can say they beat Arizona AND Villanova, and the wins against Northwestern and Cincy look better all the time. Still, I bet this team tops out at about a 5 unless they somehow sweep Villanova and go really deep into the BET.

Miami's fall to a play-in game is hard to explain too. That big W against UNC isn't really offset by any ugly losses, though their non-con schedule was pretty weak. Their last three losses were to Florida State, Duke and rising Wake Forest, so those aren't "bad" by any stretch. But they're also not on any kind of a roll. With games against the Seminoles, Cavs and Cardinals yet to come, they'd better win against the Techs and Clemson if they want to feel safer on Selection Sunday.

Still no Syracuse, but I see them as a bubble team worthy of consideration. The BC, UConn and St. John's losses are really dragging them down. I'm less worried about what they do with Louisville (just playing the Cardinals twice helps their SOS) and more concerned with how they handle the road games against Pitt, Clemson and Georgia Tech, the latter two of which are fellow bubble teams. I'll push Clemson out if Syracuse wins tomorrow, but I won't necessarily put the Orange in their place. Yet.

Here's the weekly bracket. Check out other amateur (and professional) bracket projections at www.bracketmatrix.com.