Thursday, February 7, 2019

Bracket Reveal Projection, Feb 8

So this Saturday the Selection Committee will be revealing their top 16 teams, meaning the top four seeds in each region. I'm doing my bracket early this week so I can see how I do against theirs.

I had my son Dan help me out. Dan's 18 and has been helping me do brackets since I started in the 2016-17 season. So when I say "we", I mean our committee of two.

Our first debate was over the fourth #1 seed. Gonzaga won out, but we gave some serious consideration to Kentucky and Michigan. I won't be surprised if Michigan and Gonzaga swap positions before all's said and done (Gonzaga can't afford a loss if it wants to be on the top line). And Kentucky is knocking on the door if either of them stumble even a little bit.

The toughest call, though, was our last #2 seed. Michigan State, Kansas and Purdue were considered. Purdue is the hottest team of the three, having won 7 straight. Kansas had the best SOS by far, and Sparty had the best overall BPI/KenPom/Sagarin numbers by far. Ultimately, we followed the profiles and downplayed recent performance, and left the Spartans as a 2 for now, followed by Kansas and Purdue. I had the Jayhawks as a 3 last week, and they'd done nothing to justify moving them up. Both of those teams lost key players, though, and I feel as though Purdue has a good chance at that last 2.

Our last debate was the last two teams in the field of 16. We looked at Virginia Tech, Iowa State and Wisconsin. The Badgers had the best win (Michigan) but also the worst loss (W Kentucky). Tech had the best profile but has the fewest Q-1 wins and games. And Iowa State splits the difference. Ultimately we went with the Hokies and Cyclones, but Wisconsin will have its chances.

Two tough decisions we made were to move Houston down to a 4 (we've had them as a 3) and to leave Nevada out of the top 16. Nevada has no Q-1 games and a worse loss than anyone in the top 4 seed lines. They may be good, and they may knock people off in March, but we agreed that their profile didn't hold up. I'll be interested to see, if the Committee puts them in the top 16, how they justify it. I'll learn a lot from their explanation.

We also dropped Houston, who also just didn't have the volume of games against Q-1 teams. A one-loss season is great, and they have some tougher games ahead against Cincy, but I'm not sure they can hold on to a top 4 seed if they don't run the table.

This is also why I dropped Buffalo further, to the 8/9 game. If they continue to win, maybe they can eke out a 7-seed, but they're one regular season loss from needing to make the MAC final in order to be in the at-large picture.

That's all for now. Looking forward to learning something Saturday.

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