Featured Post

Welcome Back + Bracketology

Friday, March 15, 2024

Welcome Back + Bracketology

Hello! It has been a while since I've last posted. I've still been making projections for the NCAA Tournament field, though I have not been posting about such, unfortunately. I want this page to serve as a place where people can see my bracketology and invite discourse on the subject. Do not feel afraid to comment on my projections, especially if you disagree! Also, feel free to view the sheet here if you would prefer.

Some additional notes/things to remember:
  1. I'm just one guy. Getting a composite projection will be a more accurate representation of the perceived tournament landscape. Highly recommend checking out the Bracket Matrix.
  2. Until an automatic bid is clinched, I will always hand out the bid to the best remaining seed in a conference, even if I don't necessarily think they're the favorite to win their conference tournament.
  3. Evaluating teams is a constant process, which means that my opinion on a team's tournament standing can change after a seemingly insignificant result or no result at all.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

No Rhyme or Reason

And then there were four. Despite all of the madness which consumed much of this tournament (looking at you St. Peter's), the Final Four presents us a far more reasonable group of teams, consisting of an 8-seed, two 2-seeds, and a single 1-seed. These programs, UNC, Duke, Villanova, and Kansas respectively, are among the most storied in all of college basketball, and any finals matchup will have a great storyline behind it save for maybe North Carolina vs Kansas. On that note, I'd like to discuss how we got here in the context of my bracket.

The extent to which my predictions were inaccurate was rather incredible. My logic for picking Gonzaga to come out of the West (and eventually the entire tournament) was rooted in the fact that they weren't the blatantly obvious favorite that tends to lose, and they're simply overdue for a championship considering how much success Mark Few's programs have had over the past several years. I should have had Kansas winning it all just because they had the easiest path to the Final Four of any top seed, but even if I didn't have Gonzaga coming out of this region, I would have gone for Texas Tech. I simply wasn't high on Duke. Despite boasting two of the best wins for any college basketball program (vs Gonzaga and Kentucky), the Blue Devils have a handful of not-so-great losses, and I thought they may pick up another one here. The story of Coach K's final season seemed to be disappointment: lost final home game to Carolina, lost ACC final to Virginia Tech, so I thought Duke may be in for another disappointing result in the Big Dance. With all of this being said, I felt that the theme may instead be that Duke loses everything finals related, making me think that they'd make it all the way to the championship as soon as they got out of the first weekend.

Moving over to the South, it'll be the first of two instances where you see an unjustified amount of faith in the SEC. I had Tennessee coming out of this region, and even though I felt like they may have been overdue for a letdown performance with all the momentum they had coming into the tournament, I was thinking the fact that they were underseeded would ignite another fire in them en route to a deep tournament run. I was once again incredibly wrong here: even if I had Tennessee losing early, it would have been to Colorado State. I also almost had Illinois coming out of this region, who lost to Houston in a game that wasn't particularly close. The Cougars confuse me: I wasn't high on them because they never seemed to win games against tournament caliber teams (losses to Bama, Wisconsin, Memphis x2, SMU), and yet had to be a tournament team until their 3rd match vs Memphis in the AAC Tournament final. Needless to say, the metrics appeared to be correct, and teams with disproportionately strong predictive and results-based metrics (like Michigan) tended to overperform in this tournament.

Yeah, I'm sorry. No chance in hell was I ever going to conceive such a monstrosity of a region. This was almost over before it started, and it proved yet another case where I put too much faith in the SEC. It's also rather amusing how I didn't give too much love to the ACC, but I had Virginia Tech pulling off the upset over Texas and they were the only ACC team that failed to win a game in the tournament. North Carolina feels similar to Houston: consistently bad in games against good teams, yet somehow pulls off a string of wins against legitimately great competition. Even though Baylor's early exit didn't harm me much, the fact that Kentucky lost to the Peacocks ended my hopes early. At least Doug Edert is now a household name, I guess.

Lastly, we have the one region where I actually performed reasonably well, and probably better than most other participants. It's funny how I penciled in this to be my upset region and those upsets actually happened, yet the relative normalness that I had in the other three regions failed to pan out. I knew Iowa was overdue for a bad performance, but I was somewhat surprised that Providence not only kept up their ability to close out games, but took down Richmond in dominating fashion. South Dakota State seemed primed to make a run as a 13-seed, but they did not shoot the three-ball like they normally do on their way to a nine point defeat. As for Miami and Iowa State, I liked how Miami had a legitimately good Quad 1 record, indicating that they would perform against better teams, and that Iowa State was arguably the most underseeded team in the entire tournament and also playing worse than their actual ability. Not being super high on Auburn and Wisconsin helped as well, but I'm still amused that the 11-10 matchup was the only Sweet 16 game I had in my bracket, same for the 1-10 matchup with respect to the Elite 8.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Taking My Mind Off My Failing Bracket

This has to be one of the worst moments as an avid college basketball enjoyer: seeing people who have no clue about anything college basketball with better brackets than you. With more than half of all teams having been eliminated, including my two SEC Final Four picks (Kentucky and Tennessee), I'm going to take a look back on the bracket before all of the chaos started.

Selection Committee Mindset Change?

The teams on the top four seed lines aren't surprising at all; in fact, their top 16 teams are exact same as mine and many bracketologists. The order, however, is a bit surprising when comparing it to the top 16 reveal about a month ago. Take a look at Tennessee, for example. I was somewhat surprised that they were a 3-seed considering their lack of solid wins away from home, but the metrics definitely made their profile look better. Fast forward to Selection Sunday, and the Vols pick up some really high quality wins, including over Kentucky in the SEC tournament, and it was really surprising to see them remain on the 3-line over teams like Duke and Villanova, though Duke on the 2-line makes sense when we consider their pair of neutral court wins over Gonzaga and Kentucky are arguably the best pair of wins that any team in the country possesses.

Moving over to the Big Ten, there was a consensus top three teams in Purdue, Wisconsin, and Illinois. Of those three, the Badgers had the best looking team sheet, but did not fare well in the NET/predictive metrics, likely contributing to why they were placed behind Illinois at the Selection Sunday Preview. It wasn't surprising that Wisconsin jumped the Illini over the past month, but the fact that they were also ranked over Purdue despite suffering a home loss to Nebraska and going one and done in the Big Ten tourney. It makes you think that the committee really started looking more at the resumes and less at the numbers.

Continues Further Down the Bracket

If we look at the bubble, one of the most polarizing teams was the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. The committee ended up putting them in Dayton, which I did not expect to happen, though I would have also put Rutgers in the tournament were I the committee. I thought that Rutgers' performance in the metrics (especially KenPom and BPI) would be too cumbersome for the committee to place them in the bracket, but their inclusion as a team outside the top 75 of the NET sets a precedent for teams with terrible metrics but many quality wins to warrant serious consideration for a spot in the Big Dance.

With the Scarlet Knights making the tournament, Dayton being the first team out honestly didn't surprise me much at all. I had the Flyers among my first four out, and felt that there was a reasonable chance they squeaked into the tournament when Rutgers heard their name called, considering the resume similarities between the two; both teams have a handful of bad losses but have an extremely solid Quad 1 record for the bubble (Dayton 3-2, Rutgers 6-6). The metrics don't particularly like either team, but seem to view Dayton slightly more favorably.

Do Conference Tournaments Matter?

Almost all results indicate that the conference tournaments barely affected seeding. Let's start with the SEC again. Most of us, myself included, thought that Tennessee would make its way up to the 2-line with how they rolled through the conference tournament, but they remained a 3-seed. The Texas A&M Aggies came roaring back into the bubble scene with a Quad 1/2 record and a trio of quality wins away from home (Auburn, Arkansas, Alabama) that should've gotten them on the right side of the bubble, but they were still the fourth team out at the end of the day.

Moving over to the ACC, Virginia Tech appeared to be right on the cut-line heading into the championship game against Duke. We thought that one of the most burning questions would be whether the Hokies needed to beat the Blue Devils to reach the Big Dance, but the answer turned out to be a pretty resounding yes. Of all the at-large teams, VA Tech only ranked above Notre Dame in the overall 1-68 seedings, so it's reasonable to assume that the Hokies at least remain behind Notre Dame and Dayton without the marquee victory over Duke.

While not as impactful, there are a couple other examples of conference tournament results having little impact on the final bracket: namely TCU still being a 9-seed despite picking up another good win over Texas, and Indiana being in the first four, behind Michigan and Rutgers even though the latter two went one and done when they were right on the cut-line, and consensus was that Indiana was barely out before they ripped off a pair of victories against Michigan and Illinois in the Big Ten tourney.

Sunday, March 13, 2022


 I know this is not perfect, but this is my final edition

FinalBold = Automatic Qualifier
3DukePurdueTexas TechWisconsin
5UConnSaint Mary'sIowaLSU
7Colorado StateMurray StateMichigan StateBoise State
8TCUSeton HallSan Diego StateCreighton
9MemphisOhio StateIowa StateNorth Carolina
10MarquetteMiamiVirginia TechDavidson
11San FranciscoIndianaLoyola ChicagoTexas A&M/SMU
12Wyoming/MichiganUABSouth Dakota StateChattanooga
13New Mexico StateRichmondVermontAkron
14Montana StateYaleLongwoodDelaware
15Saint Peter'sCSU FullertonColgateJacksonville State
16Norfolk StateBryantGeorgia St/Wright St.TX Southern/TX A&M-CC

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Day Before Selection Sunday

With 15 teams punching a ticket to the NCAA Tournament today, I have finally updated my bracketology projections through Friday's games. And as always, you can check out the full sheet here.

3TennesseeTexas TechPurdueWisconsin
5UConnSaint Mary'sAlabamaLSU
6TexasHoustonUSCColorado State
7Murray StateMichigan StateTCUIowa
8Seton HallBoise StateSan Diego StateCreighton
9MemphisOhio StateIowa StateNorth Carolina
10MarquetteMiamiDavidsonSan Francisco
11IndianaSMULoyola ChicagoWyoming
12Michigan/DaytonXavier/Virginia TechUABSouth Dakota State
13ChattanoogaNew Mexico StateVermontKent State
14PrincetonMontana StateLongwoodDelaware
15Long Beach StateSaint Peter'sColgateJacksonville State
16Norfolk StateBryantGeorgia St/Wright St.SE Louisiana/Alcorn St.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Bellarmine Clinches NCAA Tournament Berth For Jacksonville State

In just their second year as a Division 1 school, the Bellarmine Knights defeated the Jacksonville Dolphins 77-72 to clinch their first ASUN championship. However, most of us would agree that the greatest benefactor was actually the Jacksonville State Gamecocks. As Bellarmine has yet to complete their four-year transition to D1, the NCAA Tournament bid goes to the regular-season championship, Jacksonville St. Let's talk about the multitude of issues of deciding who gets to dance in such a manner:

First, why is there even a period of ineligibility for the NCAA Tournament? If a team reclassifies up to D1 and is good enough to win their conference tournament in their first year (or years 2-4), they deserve to dance, simply put.

If, for whatever reason, the ineligibility period must remain, there are a couple of potential solution. The easy way out would be to prevent a team like Bellarmine from competing in their conference tournament, but that's not fair to those players. I would agree that they should be allowed to run through the ASUN tourney and compete in the NIT if not the NCAA Tournament.

While potentially logistically difficult, I think it would be fair to replay the tournament as if every game that involved Bellarmine was treated as an automatic victory for their opponent. Obviously this wouldn't be possible for tournaments that end just before Selection Sunday, but the ASUN ended days before the bracket reveal and conferences can make accommodations if they know that they'll have a situation like Bellarmine.

It would be one thing if the team that got the auto-bid was Jacksonville because they at least made it to the finals to play Bellarmine, but the fact that it's the team the Dolphins beat in semis, Jacksonville State, just makes the whole situation far more upsetting. I would be interested in seeing Florida Gulf Coast play Liberty, and then the winner of that game would play Jacksonville in order to see who grabs the automatic bid, but life unfortunately isn't fair and this is one of the most blatant examples.

Sunday, March 6, 2022

Bubble Teams Breathe a Sigh of Relief

The madness has already begun! With a 71-67 victory over the Morehead State Eagles in the OVC championship, the Murray State Racers are the first team to officially punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament. It will be interesting to see where the committee seeds them, but I'm guessing that they end up as either a 6 or 7-seed. I would not want to be a 2 or 3-seed having to play this resilient squad led by KJ Williams that really has a knack for closing out games. They would've made the big dance regardless of the outcome against the Eagles, so bubble teams all across America can be thankful that Murray St. wasn't taking one of their sought-out at-large bids. Speaking of the bubble, two teams right at the cut-line have offered a more clear picture of where they stand based on their performance in the conference tournament.


There's no denying that head coach Mark Pope felt that his Cougars desperately needed another Quad 1 victory to make a case to the committee that they are worthy of a tournament bid. BYU got that chance last night against San Francisco and lost by 12. They'll remain in consideration for an at-large berth, but it seems that they just barely didn't do enough to warrant selection. None of the metrics, results-based or predictive, view them particularly favorably, though a 4-6 Quad 1 record is respectable and wins over San Diego State, Saint Mary's, and at San Francisco look good. It remains such a close call for the Cougars, but I anticipate them being a top seed in the NIT. Maybe coming away with a win at Santa Clara or avoiding the bad loss at Pacific would've been enough to keep them in the field, or there's a chance that I'm entirely wrong and the WCC puts 4 teams in the tournament for the first time ever.

Mean Jean Machine

Despite slumping their way to a 4-seed in Arch Madness, the Loyola Chicago Ramblers have looked every bit the best team in the Missouri Valley so far in St. Louis. They've blown out Bradley and top-seeded Northern Iowa, both of which took a game off Loyola on their respective home courts. The Ramblers now face Drake in the MVC championship, and the Bulldogs are the only team to have beaten Loyola twice. It looks like Loyola will claim the auto-bid based on how they're playing right now, but should Drake come away with another victory, the Ramblers will certainly be sweating it out on Selection Sunday. Unlike BYU, however, I believe that Loyola will squeeze into the tournament in the event of a defeat today, provided that they play the Bulldogs close. Despite mediocre results-based metrics (still better than BYU), Loyola performs extremely well in the predictives, and I have a hard time believing that the committee will deny a team with (presumably) a top 30 NET and KenPom ranking. Their neutral court victory over San Francisco also looks a bit better now, and it may play to the Ramblers' advantage that three losses to Drake appears as a matchup-based fluke. Perhaps a trip to Dayton is in the cards for Sister Jean's squad, though they would be much better off securing the automatic bid and not even making it a question.