Here's the conclusion of my season preview posts, my final preseason bracket. Now that it's finished and we're ready for actual games to start, I'm glad that we're at this point. I'd also like to thank you all for reading over the past month or so. Writing even a short preview for just about every D-I team (sorry, Great West and Independents [sigh]) was a massive challenge that I wish I had more time for, as four to five hours for each league doesn't do the national scene justice. But I'm glad that so many of you have checked in over the past few weeks.
Keep one thing in mind with this post. This projection--along with the bracket I released back in the summer--is my first attempt at doing preseason prognostication. I intend on using this bracket solely to mock myself when we get to the real thing in March. Really? I had Northwestern AND Oregon State both in? What was I thinking?I And Georgia Tech as a 5?I Seriously?
My comments after the jump.
Here's how I put this projection together.
- The 31 automatic qualifiers are the teams I picked to win their conferences in each individual preview.
- I placed these 31 teams and the 34 at-larges into a single S-curve. Teams from a single conference were placed in the projected order of finish listed in the preview. For example, Washington is the top rated Pac-10 team, California is second, UCLA is third, and so on.
- Generally, this order holds throughout the bracket; however, I did shift several teams up or down a seed line, as permitted by the Committee's policies and procedures, to balance the bracket.
- The remainder of the bracketing process is the same as what I'd do during the regular season, only I had to do it with no actual data. It's all just a guess, and I want you all to treat it as such.
Some observations on the bracket.
- Kansas, Michigan State, and Villanova were the easiest teams to stick on the top line. Kentucky and all four teams on line two (Duke, North Carolina, Purdue, and Texas) can all make a case for the final one seed at this early date.
- There will be a real battle for the last couple of protected seeds on the four line.
- As you'll see in my breakdown below, the power conferences are all relatively balanced heading into the season. Even the Pac-10, who looks to be heading for a down season, is well represented here.
- Led by Butler, it could be a good year from a seeding perspective for non-major auto bid winners. If these projections hold (ha ha), that means some of them could become multi-bid leagues if the favorites slip up during the conference tournament.
- There's a fair amount of turnover from last season, with 24 new teams appearing this season. Thirteen of those teams are new automatic qualifiers (including Kentucky).
Finally, here's the breakdown by conference (with teams listed in their preseason conference ranking.
Big East: 7 (Villanova, West Virginia, Connecticut, Syracuse, Louisville, Georgetown, Cincinnati)
Big Ten: 7 (Michigan State, Purdue, Ohio State, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Northwestern)
ACC: 6 (North Carolina, Duke, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Florida State, Clemson)
Big 12: 6 (Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas State, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State)
SEC: 6 (Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Mississippi, Florida)
Pac-10: 5 (Washington, California, UCLA, Oregon State, Arizona)
MWC: 3 (BYU, San Diego State, UNLV)
A-10: 2 (Dayton, Xavier)
Eight multi-bid leagues account for 42 of the 65 teams, meaning there are 23 one-bid leagues in this bracket.
My next update will come on Wednesday, December 2, after the Thanksgiving holiday tournaments and upon my return from California.