Saturday, December 29, 2018

First Bracket of 2018-19

I'm excited to post my first bracket of the 2018-19 season at last! I like to wait until the non-conference season is mostly in the books, so we have a true body of work to look at. And the first bracket of the season is typically a pretty rough product, as I work out all the rust from not making them in several months.

I wanted to say a few words about this year's big mid-major story, Buffalo. While I believe that Buffalo deserves a single digit seed as of today, I do think that their conference schedule will weigh them down. The impression that their non-conference record, which includes wins over West Virginia and Syracuse (and a beat-down at Marquette), will make on the committee will entirely depend on the fortunes of the Mountaineers and Orange. Neither is a tournament team right now, and while those might've been symbolic wins in terms of road wins at serious D-I programs, if those two teams are bubble or NIT teams, those wins won't carry as much weight. If either (or both) bounce back strong in the conference season, that rising tide will raise UB's boat as well. So to keep their single digit seed, I think they need one or the other (and preferably both) to find their footing. And fast. And as bubble teams, 'Cuse and WV both should hope UB continues to win, because if UB turns into a blue pumpkin those losses could further damage them on Selection Sunday. Their chances of improving their standing from here aren't good, short of running the table.

I also think the committee, consciously or unconsciously, really sticks it to teams outside the power conferences. Once you get past the ACC, Big 10, Big 12, SEC, Pac 12 and Big East, teams have to be truly exceptional to have a hope of getting an at-large bid, let alone a single-digit seed. The A-10 looks like it might be a one-bid league this year, and that's a conference that's usually a 2-3 bid league and whose champion often gets a solid seed. I won't be surprised if the American only gets 2-3 bids instead of the 4 that I have here today.

See you next week!