Discussing the Bracket Matrix (3/5/21)

Hello, college basketball fans!

Today I again discuss the latest Bracket Matrix. The data in this FanPost are from the Matrix update from March 5, 2021 with brackets dated between March 3rd and 5th. This is my second Bracket Matrix discussion of the season, my first was back in February.

116 total brackets were complied this time.

The #1 seeds in the Bracket Matrix are pretty close to unanimous. The still undefeated Gonzaga Bulldogs and two loss Michigan Wolverines are unanimous #1 seeds on all 116 brackets. The Baylor Bears are a #1 seed on 115 of 116 brackets (someone has them a #2 seed?). Finally, the Illinois Fighting Illini are the 4th #1 seed with an average seed of 1.06. There is still a weekend and the conference tournaments to go but if the season ended today this is probably the most cut and dry the #1 seeds has ever been in my memory after Illinois went into Ann Arbor and just destroyed them, even without one of their two best players, Ayo Dosunmu, playing.

The #2 seeds in the Matrix are the Alabama Crimson Tide (1.97), Ohio State Buckeyes (2.09), Iowa Hawkeyes (2.09), and West Virginia Mountaineers (2.44). I had all four #2 seeds in my latest Schmolik 64 update yesterday.

The #3 seeds are the Houston Cougars (2.72), Villanova Wildcats (3.04), Arkansas Razorbacks (3.20), and Kansas Jayhawks (3.34). I had the Florida State Seminoles (highest #4 seed in the Matrix at 3.53) as a #3 seed instead of Arkansas. I actually like Florida State more that Houston and Villanova right now as leaders of the ACC but I'm guessing most bracketologists don't respect the ACC (or at least Florida State) that much. Using Warren Nolan's NET Nitty Gritty data (accurate to games up to March 4th), Florida State has three Quad 1 wins but that's the same as Villanova and one more than Houston. Florida State and Houston each have one bad Quad 3 loss. Florida State's was at home but was non conference in December while Houston's was in conference on the road in February. FSU's NET ranking is the lowest between Houston (5), Villanova (10), and Florida State (13). The ACC is the strongest of the conferences with the most teams in the Schmolik 64 field and most teams in the Bracket Matrix field with the AAC by far the weakest. Even though Kansas is listed as the lowest rated #3 seed, their profile isn't the same as Villanova, Florida State, or Houston. They have six Quad 1 wins and no losses outside Quad 1 plus their win over Baylor is by far the best of any team in contention for a #3 seed. On the other hand, their NET is the lowest (15) among the teams in contention for a #3 seed. Villanova will be a team to watch as they lost star Collin Gillespie for the season. How they perform in the Big East Tournament will certainly affect their seeding, the Selection Committee will certainly be watching.

Completing the top quarter of the bracket, the #4 seeds are Florida State, the Texas Longhorns (4.17), Purdue Boilermakers (4.34), and Oklahoma State Cowboys (4.50). I had Arkansas, Texas, Purdue, and the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Oklahoma State is certainly one of the fastest rising teams in the Big 12 lately. I thought when I made them a #5 seed I was seeding them too high but it turns out it was too low. Oklahoma State's NET is #30 but they have seven (7) Quad 1 wins. Only one team, my alma mater Illinois, has more Quad 1 wins (8) than Oklahoma State (there are several others with 7). Oklahoma State also swept Texas Tech so seeding them ahead of Tech does make sense. Texas Tech is ranked #12 in the NET and even though they only have four Quad 1 wins they have no losses outside of Quad 1 while Oklahoma State has a Quad 3 loss (home to TCU although that was back in December).

In teams I had more than one seed off,

I had Clemson a #5 when the Matrix had them a #7. All of Clemson's losses are Quad 1.

I had Oregon a #10 when the Matrix had them a #8. Oregon has two Quad 3 losses, both at home.

I had Rutgers a #8 when the Matrix had them a #10. Maybe I should have switched them. Rutgers was embarrassed by Nebraska this past week but that is still just a Quad 2 loss, losing at home to Oregon State and Washington State is worse (I'd probably agree with that).

I had Georgia Tech a #9 when the Matrix had them a #11. Georgia Tech has just two Quad 1 wins and has two Quad 3 losses but they were in December and in non conference play and has six Quad 2 wins.

Finally there are two at large candidates I had that the Bracket Matrix did not. I had Seton Hall and St. Louis in. Seton Hall was not in my First Four. St. Louis was. The two teams were the two teams that got the most votes of any teams that didn't make the Bracket Matrix, Seton Hall got 38 and St. Louis got 32, the next highest team got just 12. I think Seton Hall is higher in the Big East pecking order than Xavier since they beat Xavier at Xavier in their only meeting. Their NET rankings are similar (Xavier #53, Seton Hall #57). Xavier's overall record is 13-6 while Seton Hall's is 13-11. Seton Hall has three Quad 1 wins while Xavier has just one. Xavier has a win over Oklahoma but that is now a Quad 2 win. Xavier also beat Creighton (their Quad 1 win). Seton Hall does have a Quad 3 loss (Providence at home) while Xavier does not have any losses outside of Quads 1 and 2. Xavier was chosen on 105 brackets. It seems like many people think Xavier is a better team than Seton Hall.

The teams the Bracket Matrix has that I didn't have in my bracket are Drake and Boise State. Among at large teams, Michigan State (78 brackets) was the team chosen by the fewest brackets among teams in the Matrix. Boise State (86) and Drake (99) were the next fewest. Then again, the gap between Michigan State (78) and Seton Hall (38) is pretty wide. Why not Boise State? You think Quad 3 losses are bad? Boise State this past week got a Quad FOUR loss! They lost at home to Fresno State, ranked #188 in the NET. And to do it in March when the college basketball world is watching?? Boise State is the highest ranked team (#45) with a Quad 4 loss, the next two highest ranked teams (#61 Winthrop and #62 Toledo) are essentially automatic qualifiers for Bracket Matrix purposes now. If you're a bubble team, you can't blow games like that. Drake has two Quad 3 losses and only Quad 1 win. Only two at large teams in the Schmolik 64 field have one Quad 1 win, Louisville and Xavier and neither has two Quad 3 losses. Drake also has an issue that they lost two of their top players due to injuries. The Selection Committee could use that against them. I'm not really in favor of St. Louis at this point (or Michigan State as I'm really uncomfortable putting in a team with a NET of #74). Right now, many of the teams at the bottom have reasons why they don't belong in the field and I'm just trying to find 68 teams to get in. In the next eight days, it's the job of 68 teams (or 37 at large teams) to prove they belong in the field). Will they or will I have to say Boise State lost a Quad 4 game but I still need a team so I have to put them in?