Monday, January 25, 2010

Bracketology 101's Field of 65 - Jan. 25

This was by far the hardest week of the season for us to come up with 65 bracket-worthy teams. Six teams are gone from last week's bracket, and four of their replacements were not even on our Last Eight Out list a week ago. That's a ridiculous amount of movement for one week, which speaks to just how soft the bubble is right now.

Two big conferences were able to pick up additional bids this week. UConn re-entered the field as a 7 seed after their upset of Texas and Oklahoma State jumped in on the 10 line after their win at Kansas State, giving the Big East and Big XII seven bids each. The ACC, Big Ten, and Pac-10 all lost bids this week. After a one-week cameo, Virginia is out after its loss to Wake Forest, making the ACC a six-bid league. Washington and Arizona State are out from the Pac-10, and Cal enters the field as the Pac-10's lone team. Minnesota's loss to Michigan State (their fourth loss in five games) and Illinois' losses to Purdue and Northwestern knocked the Gophers and Illini out of the bracket - and in turn helped Northwestern get in (do we get a PTI shout-out, Wilbon?). We admit we are still pretty scared by the Wildcats' upcoming schedule, but right now they have the fifth-best resume in a conference that is almost certainly going to get five or more bids down the road. That's enough to earn them a spot on the Last Four In list.

Our toughest decisions this week came when figuring out what to do with a handful of mid-majors teams. Despite the fact that each of them lost games, we kept William & Mary and Wichita State in the field. In Wichita's case, we are banking on them finishing a strong second in the Valley, possibly sweeping Northern Iowa, and winning their BracketBuster game. William & Mary stayed in as the second Colonial bid, despite losing at VCU and at home to Old Dominion, because we still like the Tribe's OOC wins (at Wake, at Maryland, Richmond) and we think that there's a chance they could lose just two more games the rest of the way. ODU is in the bracket as the Colonial automatic this week, although we think there's a pretty good chance that the Monarchs are at-large worthy when all is said and done.

Our final at-large switch was in the A-10, where Charlotte replaces Richmond as the league's fourth bid. (Sorry, URI fans, your Rams are the first team out again this week.) As good as Richmond's OOC resume is, we can't ignore their double-digit loss to the 49ers on Wednesday or the brutal conference schedule they have left. We also like Charlotte's chances to beat Temple at home this week and to maybe not lose again until their showdown at Dayton on Feb. 20. We don't think there's any chance the A-10 gets five bids, so we didn't consider keeping Richmond (or adding URI) as a fifth A-10 team.

Bracket Breakdown
Last Four In

Northwestern, Charlotte, William & Mary, Wichita State

Last Four Out
Rhode Island, Minnesota, Richmond, Maryland

Next Four Out
St. Mary's, Seton Hall, Virginia Tech, Virginia


Conference Breakdown
Big XII (7), Big East (7), ACC (6), SEC (6), Big Ten (5), A-10 (4), MWC (3), Colonial (2), C-USA (2), MVC (2)

America East - Stony Brook

ACC - Duke, Wake Forest, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Florida State, North Carolina

Atlantic Sun - Campbell

A-10 - Temple, Xavier, Dayton, Charlotte

Big East - Syracuse, Villanova, Georgetown, West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Connecticut, Cincinnati

Big Sky - Northern Colorado

Big South - Coastal Carolina

Big Ten - Michigan State, Purdue, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Northwestern

Big XII - Kansas, Texas, Kansas State, Baylor, Texas A&M, Missouri, Oklahoma State

Big West - Pacific

Colonial - Old Dominion, William & Mary

Conference USA - Tulsa, UAB

Horizon - Butler

Ivy - Cornell

MAAC - Siena

MAC - Kent State

MEAC - Morgan State

MVC - Northern Iowa, Wichita State

MWC - BYU, New Mexico, UNLV

Northeast - Robert Morris

Ohio Valley - Murray State

Pac-10 - California

Patriot - Lehigh

SEC - Kentucky, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Mississippi, Florida, Mississippi State

Southern - Charleston

Southland - Sam Houston State

Summit - Oakland

Sun Belt - Middle Tennessee State

SWAC - Texas Southern

WAC - Louisiana Tech

WCC - Gonzaga


The Seeds
The 1s

Kentucky, Kansas, Syracuse, Villanova

The 2s
Texas, Michigan State, Duke, Georgetown

The 3s
Purdue, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Kansas State

The 4s
Tennessee, Gonzaga, Temple, Wake Forest

The 5s
Pittsburgh, BYU, Butler, Ohio State

The 6s
Vanderbilt, New Mexico, Clemson, Georgia Tech

The 7s
Connecticut, UAB, Mississippi, Baylor

The 8s
Florida, Texas A&M, Missouri, Florida State

The 9s
UNLV, Mississippi State, Northern Iowa, Xavier

The 10s
California, Oklahoma State, North Carolina, Old Dominion

The 11s
Cincinnati, Dayton, Northwestern, Charlotte

The 12s
Cornell, William & Mary, Tulsa, Siena

The 13s
Wichita State, Louisiana Tech, Charleston, Oakland

The 14s
Kent State, Murray State, Northern Colorado, Coastal Carolina

The 15s
Pacific, Sam Houston State, Morgan State, Stony Brook

The 16s
Campbell, Robert Morris, Middle Tennessee State, Lehigh (Play-In Game), Texas Southern (Play-In Game)

The Bracket
(Bracket courtesy Matt Reeves)

Questions? Comments? E-mail Bracketology 101 at


JGibson said...

My guess is that the Pac-10 will end up with two bids by the end. Whoever their regular season champion is will probably have a good enough RPI, plus I can't see the committee leaving out a regular season champ of the Pac-10, and somebody different may take the tournament. For example of regular season champ bonuses, don't forget Air Force making with an RPI in the 70s as the MWC champ in the early '00s.

Bracketology 101 said...

If Cal can run away with the regular season we agree that they will be rewarded with an at large bid should they need it. At this point it is too difficult to identify a team out of the rest of the pack that will step up and win the conference tourney.

ScarShoulders said...

If the name son the front of the jerseys were reversed would MD be in over UNC? Is this a defending national champion bonus? UNC is going to be lucky to win 6 ACC games...

Bracketology 101 said...

The Terps are creeping up the bubble, but they still aren't as worthy of a bid as Carolina. UNC has two solid OOC wins (Michigan State and Ohio State) that Maryland wishes it had. Yes, the Heels are struggling now, but November and December still count, and they've shown that they are capable of knocking off good teams. Maryland hasn't done that to the level of Carolina.

For the record, we like the way Maryland is playing right now and wouldn't be surprised if they are in a bracket soon. A 2-0 week this week will get them in for sure next Monday.

ScarShoulders said...

When building the bracket do you look at injuries with regad to past results? I ask because MD is killing it ever since Dino Gregory has been worked back into the lineup. As a Terp fan I'm not sweating it because I see them grabbing 9, 10, 11 ACC wins so they will punch a ticket for sure(currently #11, up from #50+ without Gregory, in Ken Poms rankings)... Just wondering.

Diane M said...

You were a week late removing Minnesota from the bracket. They had no business being in last week's bracket.

Anonymous said...

How many conference wins is Seton Hall gonna need to get an at large? They played a really weak ooc. How long of leash does Dayton have? They havent been very impressive of late.

Anonymous said...

Why I appreciate the work you do, especially in comparison to Lunardi. Let's take 2 teams. You have B one seed line ahead of A. Lunardi has the opposite. Both are high ranked teams.

Both teams have identical records, almost exactly the same RPI, and SOS (in fact, it depends on where you get your data as to who has the higher RPI). Both are in the same power conference. Both have identical road records.

Team A:
Conference Record: 4-2
vs. RPI top 25: 0-2
vs. RPI 25-50: 3-0
vs. RPI 50-100: 5-1
Best Win: RPI #31
Best Win(Road/Neutral): RPI #37 (N)
Worst Loss: RPI #67 (R)

Team B:
Conference Record: 6-2
vs. RPI top 25: 4-1
vs. RPI 25-50: 0-1
vs. RPO 51-100: 4-1
Best Win: RPI # 11
Best Win (Road/Neutral): RPI # 17 (R)
Worst Loss: RPI # 80 (R)

Anonymous said...

Adding onto my last comment about Teams A & B, since I'm sure you've figured out who A & B are, is team B definitely on the 1 line if they can get wins over RPIs nos. 1 & 3 this week?

49ers fan said...

what do you folks make of san diego state? would they have made your field if they had won vs byu on saturday?

Anonymous said...

Kentucky will be sent to Milwaukee as that is the closest pod to them....They get preference over Purdue and MSU.

matt r said...

On Kentucky-Milwaukee,

I have been pondering this all year. This is the worst combo of first/second route sits and a #1 seed that I can remember in a while. I was sending Kentucky to Milwaukee earlier but now I look at it this way... it is a 7-hour drive to Milwaukee vs 11-hour to Jacksonville/NO. For most Kentucky folks they will be on a plane either way. In fact all six of the non-west sites are between 7-hours and 11-hours away. Is it worth saving Kentucky 4 hours and then shipping a Big Ten team (Purdue in this bracket) somewhere much further than a natural site.

From the bracketing principles:

"The committee will attempt to assign teams to the most geographically compatible first-/second-round site, descending in order on the seed list."

Is Milwaukee a geographically compatible site for Kentucky? My vote is they are all equally incompatible, especially if it puts Purdue in their backyard.

matt r said...

BTW, this sort of thinking also goes into Texas in New Orleans. Most people have Texas in OKC but it is a wash for me (6-hour drive vs 9-hour drive) and if I can put Texas in NO and let Kansas St go to OKC, I think it is the preferred option.

Anonymous said...

Matt R, The committe would put the 4/5 pod in San Jose or Spokane and put Wisconsin in either Milwaukee or New Orleans. The committe has shown that the 4/5 pods get shipped the farthest. Kentucky will not be put in Big 10 Milwaukee. They will likely be in New Orleans and the 2nd choice is Jacksonville. Texas will be in Oklahoma City as long as they are a top 3 seed.

Jeff said...

Thank you for being seemingly the only site that doesn't completely overrate BYU. They have no signature win, and a bunch of 'okay' wins over down teams. Go Owls.

matt r said...

It is good to see we have an anonymous commenter that is confident in the committee's actions. I tend to think of them as a bit more unpredictable. These are a collection of ADs and conference commissioners that likely don't fret over this stuff as much as people like us.

I explained my Texas/OKC thoughts, but on Wisconsin, it is the same thought process. How is Wisconsin "geographically compatible" with New Orleans, when you can put a Tennessee in New Orleans? The goal isn't to ship 4/5 pods far away, the goal is to do the best you can.

Look at last year's bracket...

Missouri is a 3-seed going to Boise and Wake Forest is a 4-seed going to Miami. Using your logic Wake Forest should have been sent to Boise as some sort of punishment.

Anonymous said...

i feel Georgetown is ranked too high and i guess Uconn based on their performace is accurate being a 7.

But based on simply which team is better, i would take uconn any day of the week and on the neutral floor the vegas books would too.

i know you guys can only rate based on performance rather than potentional but if 7 seed UCONN played 2 seed G-Town, Uconn would be favored which is crazy but true

let me know your thoughts...

Bracketology 101 said...

Wow...busy day in the comments section. Here are some quick responses:

The selection committee considers injuries to star players when selecting and seeding teams, so we do as well. The most notable case this year has been Ohio State, who lost three games when Evan Turner was injured. Those losses don't get ignored, but they aren't looked at nearly as negatively as losses with Turner in the lineup. Dino Gregory's return has definitely helped Maryland, but we are not sure how much the committee will factor in his absence when looking at the Terps. Gregory's averaging just 4 points and 4 rebounds per game this season, which aren't exactly "star player" numbers. They tend to focus on players with more statistical impact. We wouldn't be too worried about Maryland, though. They look like they are on the right track.

Minnesota was a minute and a half away from making us look good, but they just couldn't close the door against Michigan State. It happens. We don't think we've seen the last of the Gophers in the bracket, though.

Ten Big East wins should be enough for Seton Hall to get a bid, but it won't be easy. Seven of the Pirates' final 11 games are on the road, including their next three (at South Florida, at 'Nova, at Pitt).

Team B (Georgetown) is seeded one line higher than Team A (West Virginia) because they have slightly better wins overall. WVU's win over Ohio State is very nice, but their other two marquee wins (Mississippi and Texas A&M) are 7 and 8 seeds, respectively. Georgetown has three wins over top 5 seeds (Temple, Butler, and a very nice win at Pitt) and a win over a rising 7 seed (UConn).

If Georgetown goes 2-0 this week, they will be a 1 seed in our next bracket.

San Diego State probably would have made our Last Four Out list this week had they beaten BYU, but that's about it. The Aztecs have no OOC resume to speak of and they have only one other halfway decent win (vs. New Mexico) on their resume. Even with a win over BYU, they would have the fourth best resume in the Mountain West, and it's probably going to take a perfect storm of events for the MWC to get four bids.

We like BYU, but don't they deserve anything higher than a 5 seed right now (even with just 1 loss). Their OOC resume is good but not great, and we're not sure if the MWC is strong enough to warrant them getting much higher than a 5 even if they lose just a couple of conference games. Lunardi has the Cougars a 3 seed this week, which is ridiculous. There's no way they would be a 3 if the season ended today.

We're not all that sure that Georgetown would be favored over UConn on a neutral court. The Hoyas already beat the Huskies once and have a much better resume in and out of conference this season. The Huskies played great against Texas on Saturday, but we have to see them beat a couple of other ranked teams (away from Gampel Pavilion) before we are ready to favor them over a 2 seed.

Anonymous said...

Is there any chance the MVC is a 3 bid league with Creighton playing good ball now? Or will Northern Iowa or Wichita State be left out if one of them fails to win the tourney? Which one has a better shot at an at large spot in your minds? thank you for this great site. I love college hoops!

zags fan ricky said...

if Gonzaga were to run the table the rest of the way, what is the highest seed they could get?

Tom said...

Why does Miss State even have a chance at a bracket shot. They lost early to Rider, Richmond, and later to Western Kentucky. The only quality team they have played is Mississippi, and with a recent loss to Alabama. Thats a joke of a resume.

Bracketology 101 said...

We wouldn't exactly say that Creighton is playing good ball right now (they've lost two straight conference road games and are 5-4 in the league), but your question about the MVC is a good one. It would take an absolute perfect storm for the Valley to get three bids. The likeliest scenario is that if a team other than UNI or Wichita wins the conference tourney, the Panthers or the Shockers would get bumped.

If Gonzaga wins out, they'll be a 2 seed.

Mississippi State was worthy of an at-large this week, but the Bulldogs' spot in the field is far from safe going forward. If they don't go 2-0 this week (they play at Arkansas and vs. LSU), they might be on the wrong side of the bubble come Monday.

Jane Huber said...

I think teams that play tough non conference schedules should be rewarded. Is there anything the NCAA can do to prevent teams like Notre Dame to build up a good record against cupcakes?

Anonymous said...

If FSU goes 1-1, with a loss to duke, this week, will they fall out of the bracket?

Anonymous said...

"The Aztecs have no OOC resume to speak of and they have only one other halfway decent win (vs. New Mexico) on their resume."

OK. So SDSU beats New Mexico in The Pit and that's only considered to be a "halfway decent win"? Seriously? It doesn't matter how bad New Mexico is any given year, anyone who follows the MWC knows that wins in New Mexico are tough to come by.

As for BYU, have you even seen them play? They managed to beat UTEP in El Paso (the same UTEP who ended Memphis' CUSA win streak, BTW) and they did it without Jimmer Fredette, one of the best shooters and most underrated players in the country. Fredette was only about 85% (recovering from strep and mono) against SDSU and still lit them up for 33 points on the road. BTW, he only put up 49 on the road against Arizona, the most any player has ever scored in their house.

Yes, there is no OOC "marquee win" this year, but consider their blowout win over Nebraska on a neutral court. It was a worse beating than the Cornhuskers received at the hands of Kansas in Lawrence.

Quick question: What do KU, BYU, and Villanova all have in common? They're 8-1 against RPI top 100. Only Syracuse (12-1) and Kentucky (5-0) have better records. See this for more details.

Time will tell if you're right or not, but it looks to me like BYU is for real this year.

Bracketology 101 said...

The only thing the NCAA can do, Jane, is not select teams with cushy OOC schedules on Selection Sunday. They can't mandate how tough a team's schedule is. In ND's case, a weak OOC schedule is really hurting them. If they had just one good OOC win, they would in the bracket or really close to in right now.

If FSU just wins at BC this week, they'll be in the bracket next week.

Bracketology 101 said...

SDSU beat New Mexico at home, not in The Pit.

For the record, we have seen BYU play and we like them a lot. There's nothing insulting about the 5 seed they have right now. The only reason it isn't higher, despite a gaudy record, is because the Cougars' OOC resume doesn't stack up to the resumes of the teams ahead of them. BYU's record vs. the Top 100 is impressive, but when you whittle it down, they only have two wins over the Top 50. Kansas has six Top 50 wins and Villanova has four. Kentucky only has two, but no one would argue the Cougars should be ranked ahead of the undefeated Wildcats right now.

Anonymous said...

::BLUSH:: Stupid dyslexia. Upon further review, SDSU beat New Mexico in San Diego. My bad. Oh, and you have a point about the top 50 wins. I still think BYU is at least a 4.

Anyway, you said, "Kentucky only has two, but no one would argue the Cougars should be ranked ahead of the undefeated Wildcats right now."

Now that UK has lost, how does that change your answer?

Bracketology 101 said...

In a word, no. Kentucky's still better than BYU.

Anonymous said...

You guys only want the Mountain West to get 3 teams in. But if New Mexico, UNLV, and BYU lose in the conference tourney, I think the MWC will indeed get a 4th team. It is amusing that you guys prefer the Big 10 over the MWC even though MWC middler Utah beat both Illiois and Michigan. You guys have had Illinois in consideration for a bracket slot. Why do you favor the Big 10?

Paymon said...

While I don't agree with any of your last four, I know you guys do a lot of research.

Two-part question:
(1) What is the justification for Charlotte's inclusion (their best win was at Louisville, and 4 of their 5 losses are by double digits)?

(2) What is the justification for four A-10 bids?

I think a win against Temple (which I don't think will happen) puts them in the discussion and in the Last Eight Out.

Bracketology 101 said...

We don't "favor" any conference - we just try to predict what the committee is going to do on Selection Sunday. Historically speaking, the Mountain West has never received four bids and we don't think they will this year either. This year, it's more likely that the Big Ten gets five bids than the Mountain West gets four.

It's easy to look at outliers (like Utah) and use their results to "prove" that one conference is better than the other. Be careful when doing that, though. Is the Colonial better than the ACC this year because William & Mary won at Wake Forest and at Maryland? We think not.

Anonymous said...

So if neither UNLV, BYU, or New Mexico wins the tourney, which one would you leave out?

Bracketology 101 said...

If neither of those 3 win the conference tourney there is a chance that 4 teams make it. We will stick with the heavy odds and predict that one of the 3 does win.