Hello, college basketball fans!
Tomorrow is the 5th annual NCAA March Madness Bracket Preview. Lots of people do brackets before the final NCAA Selection Committee bracket but the real NCAA Selection Committee does one in mid February every year since 2017. The article discusses the comparison between the mid February seeds and their actual seeds to give fans a reason to tune in.
Here are the #1 seeds in the bracket preview and the #1 seeds in the eventual tournament in the same year.
Preview: Villanova, Kansas, Baylor, Gonzaga
Actual: Villanova, Kansas, North Carolina (Was #5 overall), Gonzaga (Baylor was a #3 seed, #12 overall)
Preview: Virginia, Villanova, Xavier, Purdue
Actual: Virginia, Villanova, Kansas (Was #6 overall), Xavier (Purdue was a #2 seed, #7 overall)
Preview: Duke, Tennessee, Virginia, Gonzaga
Actual: Duke, Virginia, North Carolina (Was #7 overall), Gonzaga (Tennessee was a #2 seed, #5 overall)
The worst drop for a team in the bracket preview was the 2018 Oklahoma team that was a #4 seed (#16 overall) that fell all the way to a #10 seed (#40 overall).
In 2017, only one team outside of the NCAA"s original top 16 made the final top 16. That increased to three teams in 2018 and five in 2019. No team that finished outside of the NCAA's original top 16 has ever been a #1 or #2 seed. Three teams have been a #3 seed although two of them (2018 Michigan and 2019 Texas Tech) made the national championship game.
So before I present this Schmolik 64 update, I will present my top 16 in 1-16 order. You will also see why even with the entire NCAA Tournament in Indianapolis my bracket was not fully S-Curved (1-8-9-16, 2-7-10-15, etc).
1. Baylor Bears
4. Ohio State Buckeyes
The biggest question I'll be interested in seeing is whether Baylor or Gonzaga will be #1 overall. Right now Gonzaga has one additional Quad 1 win. Obviously both teams are undefeated. Gonzaga's Quad 1 wins are Virginia neutral, Iowa neutral, West Virginia neutral, Kansas neutral, BYU home and away, and at St. Mary's. Baylor's Quad 1 wins are Illinois neutral, at Texas Tech, at Texas, home vs. Kansas, home vs. Oklahoma, and at Oklahoma State. I am rewarding Baylor for their stronger conference, the Big 12, and their road conference wins at Texas Tech and Texas and the Illinois win is really impressive. Gonzaga's Iowa and Kansas wins don't look as impressive although West Virginia has risen which helps Gonzaga's case. If Baylor finishes undefeated, I can't believe they won't be the #1 overall seed. Gonzaga can beat Kansas and West Virginia on neutral floors but it's totally different beating them both as well as Texas Tech, Texas, and Oklahoma all on the road. Then again, that is asking a lot from Baylor.
5. Villanova Wildcats
Here is the first bracketing issue. The NCAA guidelines specifically say "Each of the top four teams selected from a conference shall be placed in different regions if they are seeded on the first four lines." That means even though Illinois should be placed in the same bracket as #3 they cannot because that is Michigan. They can't switch with Villanova because #4 is Ohio State. So Illinois gets moved over to the same bracket as Gonzaga. Essentially Alabama and Illinois switched places in terms of the S-curve.
I was trying to decide between Alabama, Virginia, and Houston for #2 seeds. In the end, Houston has just two Quad 1 wins (and only two played), plus a bad Quad 3 loss. Virginia has no Quad 3 losses. Alabama has a Quad 3 loss but has 5 Quad 1 wins plus their Quad 3 loss was to #77 Western Kentucky while Houston's was to #144 East Carolina.
9. Houston Cougars
11. Texas Longhorns
12. Iowa Hawkeyes
West Virginia was the big riser of the week with a big win at Texas Tech, giving them a season sweep of them. All of Texas Tech's losses this season are to Quad 1 teams which is to me a great quality. Texas also can say the same thing.
Iowa was the fourth team from the Big Ten so they had to be placed in the only bracket without a Big Ten team so that was the bracket with Gonzaga and Virginia.
14. Texas Tech Red Raiders
16. Oklahoma Sooners
Texas Tech was the fourth Big 12 team so they had to be placed in the only bracket without a Big 12 team. Now Wisconsin and Oklahoma were the fifth teams from each conference so I had to put them in the same regional as other teams in the same conference. I tried to keep teams from playing before the regional final, in other words, on opposite sides of a given regional. I had to avoid putting Wisconsin in with Michigan or Ohio State so I put them with Iowa. I wound up putting Oklahoma with West Virginia instead of Texas since putting #10 and #16 together made the overall bracket stronger than putting #11 and #16 together. I then juggled the #3's and #4's to get
1. Baylor, 8. Virginia, 12. Iowa, 15. Wisconsin = 36
2. Gonzaga, 6. Illinois, 10. West Virginia, 16. Oklahoma = 34
3. Michigan, 7. Alabama, 9. Houston, 14. Texas Tech = 33
4. Ohio State, 5. Villanova, 11. Texas, 13. Tennessee = 33
Based on the seeds, Baylor got the easiest bracket since the lower numbers represent better teams. I don't think it's a bad thing to reward the #1 overall seed, especially an undefeated one. In 2019, the weakest bracket by the NCAA's overall seeds was the West Regional with overall seeds 4, 8, 10, and 14 (36 total).
I remember in past years the NCAA Selection Committee chair announcing the top 16 seeds in order and they are placed into the bracket. Then Jerry Palm of CBS Sports.com creates a bracket with the NCAA's top 16 seeds.
Here's the rest of my bracket:
|11||San Diego State||14-4|
|15||South Dakota State||10-4|
|16||North Carolina A&T||6-9|
|16||Prairie View A&M||7-4|
Bids By Conference:
Big 10: 9 (Mich, OSU, Ill, Iowa, Wisc, Rut, Pur, Minn, Ind)
Big 12: 7 (Bay, WV, Tex, Okl, TTech, Kan, OkSt)
SEC: 7 (Ala, Tenn, Mo, Fla, LSU, Ala, Miss)
ACC: 6 (Va, VaT, FSU, Clem, Lville, UNC)
Big E: 4 (Vill, Creig, Xav, SH)
Pac 12: 4 (USC, Colo, UCLA, Stan)
MWC: 4 (BSU, SDSU, USU, CSU)
WCC: 2 (Gonz, BYU)
MVC: 2 (Loy, Drake)
A-10: 2 (St. B, VCU)
Highest NET left out: Penn State (#31, sub .500 record), St. Louis (#40), Maryland (#43, sub .500 record), Syracuse (#50). NET Data courtesy of WarrenNolan.com.
Other than the sub .500 teams and Arizona (in case it wasn't obvious I am not including Arizona in the "highest NET left out" category all season because they are not eligible for the NCAA Tournament), St. Louis and Syracuse have no Quad 1 wins and two Quad 2 wins. The only top 50 NET team that is eligible for the NCAA Tournament that has no Quad 1 wins and fewer than three Quad 2 wins is Colgate and the Patriot League needs an automatic bid representative.
It's a great week for the Mountain West Conference. Utah State now leads the conference so they are the official automatic bid this week. They haven't gotten an at large bid the last few brackets and have had the lowest NET ranking of the four NCAA Tournament candidates. Colorado State has wins over all three of the other contenders (Boise State, San Diego State, and Utah State including wins at San Diego State and Utah State). They only have one Quad 2 loss (a home loss to Boise State) and no Quad 3 or Quad 4 losses. They got screwed by Boise State losing twice and dropping below #30 in the NET or they'd have all Quad 1 losses.
Drake suffered their first loss of the season. Now Loyola Chicago is the automatic qualifier from the MVC because they are tied in the loss column and have the higher NET ranking. Drake's loss was to Valparaiso, 5-13 in the season and 245th in the NET. Drake barely won the first game vs. Valpo on Saturday. You would think Saturday would be Drake's wakeup call but not only did Drake lose they lost by 17 points. Drake also has the 302nd overall SOS and 308th overall non conference SOS. By contrast, Loyola's SOS numbers are 225 overall and 172 non conference. Loyola actually has two non conference losses but they aren't bad losses (Wisconsin at Wisconsin and Richmond on a neutral court). Drake and Loyola play each other twice this weekend and judging by the NET and SOS numbers Loyola would have a better case for an at large bid so Drake could use a sweep (especially considering they host both games).
The biggest surprise in my bracket I'm guessing is Mississippi (I don't know why they want to be referred to as "Ole Miss"). They have recent wins over Tennessee and Missouri (blew them out on Wednesday).
Some remarks about automatic qualifier selections:
Colgate still has played just eight games this year! Maybe that's why their NET ranking is still way high.
I placed UC Irvine ahead of UC Santa Barbara due to the head to head sweep although UC Riverside also has two losses. I probably should have put UC Santa Barbara in the field because UC Riverside is essentially tied with UC Santa Barbara and UC Irvine. UC Santa Barbara's NET is #52. Luckily UC Irvine and UC Riverside play twice this weekend so the Big West standings should be clearer next bracket update (I'm not sure if I will do one next Monday or not).
In the Colonial Athletic Association, there is a tie in the loss column between Northeastern and James Madison and they split the season series so I used NET ranking for the tiebreaker. The latest is Northeastern 131, James Madison 132!
Do we have to have a team from the MEAC this season?
Happy Valentines' Day!
Compare my bracket to other brackets across the internet at BracketMatrix.com.