After some issues with web page development, I've completed the first bracket of the season. The first one is always the most difficult because of all of the groundwork I need to complete. Of course, having to completely re-create last year's bracket page didn't help matters.
Like last year, I've included a seed list, so you can easily see who falls on which line. This season, however, I've added a bracket trends page. This page will track how teams in the bracket rise and fall as we approach Selection Sunday, along with who has each conference's auto bid from week to week.
Auto Bid Selection
On that topic, here are my rules for determining each conference's auto bid as we start the season.
1. Most obviously, the team with the best winning percentage in conference games will ideally have the auto bid. More teams will fall into this category as the season progresses.
2. If no conference games have been played or two teams are tied at the top of a conference, the team with the best winning percentage in ALL games gets the bid. Right now, we have quite a few teams who fit in this group.
3. If the teams at the top of the conference are tied under both criteria 1 and 2, the team with the highest RPI gets the auto bid. This is basically the only use I have for the RPI. At the moment, I'm getting my RPI data from RealTime RPI. When the NCAA releases official numbers, I'll switch to that source.
When Championship Week arrives, auto bids will go to the teams who actually win them via their conference tournament, or in the case of the Ivy League, the regular season title.
Since we're early in the season, we have a few teams holding auto bids who may not keep them for the rest of the season. These teams are Louisiana State (SEC), Louisiana Tech (WAC - thanks to The Refraction for reminding me to call them out), Milwaukee (Horizon), and San Diego State (Mountain West).
Bracket Release Schedule
This year, I plan to be more consistent with my scheduling. I will release a bracket each Sunday up until Championship Week. I'll ramp things up during Championship Week (more details to come). The time of the release may vary depending on if I'm traveling to a game on Saturday. For example, since I'll be at Rutgers next Saturday, my bracket should come out later on Sunday.
If you're on Twitter (and if you aren't, why not?!), follow me. That way, you'll get the message and link I send out for each bracket update. Plus, you'll get my random comments and musing as the week progresses.
Besides tweeting during games, I plan on writing a little bit on the blog every day from here to the end of the season. The content of these posts may vary. I may talk about what games I plan on watching on TV. I may talk about what I did with the week's bracket and things that will impact next week's version. I may talk about something other than basketball. (Yes, I do think about things other than hoops. I know, you're shocked.) I may give you music recommendations. When the season ends, I'll talk about offseason stuff, particularly the coaching carousel and scheduling.
This Week's Bracket
Now that you know what I'll be writing about, it's time to talk about this week's bracket. I find these early season brackets particularly challenging from both the selection and seeding perspectives because even though we've seen lots of interesting non-conference games, teams are still finding themselves.
This is particularly true on the top four lines this week. UNC, Duke, and Pitt (especially after running away from Georgetown yesterday) were easy picks for the top line. I gave the fourth one seed to Oklahoma, even though they lost to Arkansas earlier in the week, over two seeds Georgetown, UConn, Texas, and Syracuse. To me, the Sooners have a slightly better profile than the teams on the two line. The Big East has a shot at two one seeds; however, I really think those two teams are going to have to separate themselves from the other 14 teams in the league. That's going to be very difficult with the overall strength of the league.
Arizona State, Michigan State, Wake Forest, and Xavier are the three-seeds this week. Of this group, I think the Spartans and Demon Deacons have the best chance to rise. The Big Ten looks a lot stronger this season, thanks to the re-emergence of Michigan and Illinois. Wake has a team that can really challenge UNC and Duke in the ACC. Conversely, the Pac-10 seems a bit down and so does the A-10, which hurts the Sun Devils and Musketeers.
Clemson, Tennessee, and Memphis are the three teams on the four-line who are probably going to get the most love out of my fellow bracketologists. The fourth, West Virginia, gets the nod over teams like Michigan, Notre Dame, Butler, and Wisconsin because of a slightly better profile and a lot of big wins over decent teams (Miami U and Ohio State, for example).
At the other end of the bracket, Illinois and Minnesota are a bit safer at the moment than their other two brethren in the "Last Four In" group, Missouri and Utah. The Tigers and Utes get the nod over Arkansas and Villanova, in particular, for having marginally better profiles at the moment. (Please, who has Nova really beaten at this point, especially since they finally left Philly this week!) The Hogs win over the Sooners is impressive, but the rest of the profile, featuring a loss at Missouri State and a lot of weak RPI wins isn't enough to get them in yet. Long term, Nova's chances are good provided they start winning on the road in the Big East. Arkansas needs to win a lot in the SEC, especially since that league looks to be down this year.
In conclusion, here's this week's rundown.
Breakdown by Conference
Big East - 8
Big Ten - 7
ACC - 6
Big 12 - 6
Mountain West -4
Pacific-10 - 4
Southeastern - 3
Atlantic-10 - 2
Horizon - 2
West Coast - 2
Last Four In
Last Four Out
Next Four Out
E-mail me at dobber at bracketdobber dot net.