Monday, January 24, 2011

Bracketology 101's Field of 68 - Jan. 24

Of all the storylines from this college basketball season, the biggest has to be the parity that has spread like crazy throughout the sport. Not only are there no truly dominant teams this season (sorry, Buckeye fans), road wins have become an endangered species, and two-win weeks have become cause for celebration. This parity has been great for fans across the country - anyone can beat anyone on any given night - and it's certainly made for some wild and unpredictable results. It's also made predicting the field, especially around the bubble, harder than ever before.

How hard? On Saturday and Sunday alone, 12 teams that we had on the 8-13 lines last week all lost games. For six of those teams, it was their second loss of the week. Four of those teams lost to inferior conference opponents at home. These results left us with a long list of teams that deserved to be removed from our Field of 68 - and, unfortunately, a way-too-short list of teams that were worthy of replacing them. In any other year, teams like Gonzaga, ODU, Butler, and Wichita State would be on the outside looking in right now. But with three extra bids to give out and parity abound in almost every conference, those teams are still hanging on to their spots in the bracket.

When the dust settled, we ended up taking five teams out of last week's bracket (UCF, Kansas State, Miami, Colorado, and Southern Miss), and replacing them with UCLA, Richmond, Memphis, VCU, and Oklahoma State. The big winners in the shake-up were the Pac-10 (which is now a four-bid league for the first time all season), the A-10 (now a three-bid league), and the Colonial (now a two-bid league with VCU in as the auto bid and ODU clinging to an at-large). The biggest losers were the Big XII and C-USA, both of which are suffering from the same issue - their bubble teams can't seem to get out of their own way. In the Big XII, Kansas State has lost four of five, Oklahoma State has lost three of four, Colorado suddenly can't beat the league's bottom feeders, and Baylor has no big wins and terrible computer numbers. We decided to give the fifth, and for the moment final, Big XII bid to Oklahoma State over Baylor, despite the Cowboys' loss to the Bears on Saturday, because of their easier upcoming schedule and their significantly better RPI (37 vs. 88). Baylor's upcoming schedule was too difficult (three of their next four are on the road) to give the Big XII a sixth bid. Memphis, meanwhile, has emerged as the team to beat in what has quickly become a cluttered C-USA. The conference is probably better than a one-bid league, but its problem is that UCF and Marshall (the only teams other than Memphis with quality OOC wins) are buried in the conference standings. Until that changes, or until a UAB or a UTEP pulls away from the pack, Memphis will be in the bracket as the lone C-USA representative.

Elsewhere in the bracket, there were significant changes along the 1-3 lines as well. Pittsburgh jumped up to the 1 line thanks to their win over Syracuse, Texas moved up to a 2 after their wins against Texas A&M and Kansas, and Villanova went up to a 2 after winning at the Carrier Dome. A two-loss week knocked the Orange down to the top of the 3 line. Other notable upgrades included Florida State (from a 9 to a 6) and Xavier (from a 12 to an 8). The most notable downgrades were St. John's (from a 7 to a 10) and Gonzaga (from an 8 to a 12). We had to make one change to avoid seeding conflicts this week - Michigan State and Tennessee swapped spots on the 7 and 8 lines.

Bracket Breakdown
Last Four In

Old Dominion, Oklahoma State, Washington State, Wichita State

First Four Out
Baylor, Dayton, Kansas State, Cleveland State

Next Four Out
Colorado, Colorado State, Miami (FL), UAB

"First Four" Games
Old Dominion vs. Oklahoma State, Washington State vs. Wichita State, Austin Peay vs. Northern Colorado, Jackson State vs. Texas-San Antonio


Conference Breakdown
Big East (11), Big Ten (6), ACC (5), Big XII (5), SEC (5), Pac-10 (4), MWC (3), A-10 (3), Colonial (2), MVC (2), WCC (2)

America East - Maine

ACC - Duke, Florida State, North Carolina, Boston College, Virginia Tech

Atlantic Sun - Belmont

A-10 - Temple, Xavier, Richmond

Big East - Pittsburgh, Connecticut, Villanova, Syracuse, Notre Dame, Georgetown, West Virginia, Louisville, Cincinnati, St. John's, Marquette

Big Sky - Northern Colorado

Big South - Coastal Carolina

Big Ten - Ohio State, Wisconsin, Purdue, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan State

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

Big West - Long Beach State

Colonial - VCU, Old Dominion

Conference USA - Memphis

Horizon - Butler

Ivy - Princeton

MAAC - Fairfield

MAC - Ball State

MEAC - Hampton

MVC - Missouri State, Wichita State

MWC - San Diego State, BYU, UNLV

Northeast - Long Island

Ohio Valley - Austin Peay

Pac-10 - Washington, UCLA, Arizona, Washington State

Patriot - Bucknell

SEC - Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Florida, Tennessee, Georgia

Southern - Charleston

Southland - Texas-San Antonio

Summit - Oakland

Sun Belt - Florida Atlantic

SWAC - Jackson State

WAC - Utah State

WCC - St. Mary's, Gonzaga


The Seeds
The 1s

Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Duke, Kansas

The 2s
Connecticut, San Diego State, Texas, Villanova

The 3s
Syracuse, BYU, Kentucky, Texas A&M

The 4s
Missouri, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Purdue

The 5s
Illinois, Georgetown, Washington, Vanderbilt

The 6s
Minnesota, West Virginia, Florida, Florida State

The 7s
Louisville, Temple, UNLV, Michigan State

The 8s
Tennessee, Xavier, North Carolina, Cincinnati

The 9s
St. Mary's, UCLA, Georgia, Boston College

The 10s
Arizona, St. John's, Virginia Tech, Utah State

The 11s
Missouri State, Marquette, Memphis, Richmond

The 12s
Gonzaga, VCU, Old Dominion vs. Oklahoma State (FF), Washington State vs. Wichita State (FF)

The 13s
Butler, Belmont, Princeton, Charleston

The 14s
Oakland, Ball State, Coastal Carolina, Fairfield

The 15s
Long Beach State, Bucknell, Maine, Florida Atlantic

The 16s
Long Island, Hampton, Austin Peay vs. Northern Colorado (FF), Jackson State vs. Texas-San Antonio (FF)

The Bracket
(Bracket courtesy Matt Reeves)

Questions? Comments?E-mail Bracketology 101 at or send us a tweet at


Anonymous said...

If Butler didnt have your auto bid would they be in first four out? Assuming that since you have Clevland State in first four out.

Bracketology 101 said...

Yes. Probably the first team out.

Anonymous said...

You know it's a bad year when the six seeds have losses to auburn, virginia, jacksonville, and central florida.

Anonymous said...

And marshall.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for trying to figure things out, but there is so much B-Ball to be played. I think that if Purdue can shoot well, they have a chance Tuesday in Columbus as they beat them there last year (but with Hummel) When do you think the Bucks will lose?

AG said...

Since the bubble is so pathetic is there a chance that a team currently buried in their conference standings can catch fire and grab a bid?

Bracketology 101 said...

Definitely. Kansas State immediately comes to mind as a team that is currently buried in the conference standings but is talented enough to earn a bid.

Anonymous said...

I just want to thank you people for the time you put into this site. As a florida state fan, it's nice to have someone who knows what they are talking about to answer my questions.

Evan said...

If Penn St. takes care of Iowa and then beats Wisconsin this week, does that move them back into the tournament?

give me the brandy said...

I'm surprised you still have Dayton this close to a bid. I think the other team to watch in the A-10 is Duquesne. They've already beaten Temple, and they get Dayton at home later this week. There's a pretty reasonable chance they win the league (Pomeroy and rpiforecast both project them going 14-2 in the league), how close are they to a bid?

Anonymous said...

As another FSU fan, I'd like to mirror what the previous poster said. I've been coming to this site for 4 years or so now, and I've always found it to be the best: not only for predicting the field, but also for breaking down all the results. Thanks for your hard work!

Bracketology 101 said...

We have a feeling Ohio State's first loss is coming at Minnesota next weekend.

Penn State would probably sneak in with a 2-0 week, but we'd still be worried about their long-term future in the bracket. They already have eight losses (four in conference) and they have five very tough road games left on their schedule. They also have home dates left with Minnesota and Ohio State.

We're just not sold on Duquesne right now, and we would bet lots of money they don't finish 14-2 in conference. The Dukes didn't do anything OOC, their RPI is 90, and although they did beat Temple, their other four A-10 wins are all against teams with sub-.500 records. If they beat Dayton this week, we might have to re-evaluate our position. Until then, we think the more experienced Flyers have a better chance at a bid going forward.

To the FSU fans - thanks for the kind words. Keep the questions coming. We love the back-and-forth we have every year with 'Noles fans. It wouldn't be a college basketball season without it.

Curtwill1975 said...

What does Villanova have to do to get a 1 seed?

Anonymous said...

How low of seed can Belmont get if they win out?

Bracketology 101 said...

Villanova has the third best Big East resume right now. A top-two resume in the Big East would put them in the mix for a 1 seed.

Belmont will probably max out as a 12 seed if they win out.

Anonymous said...

So i'm assuming by you saying that they would max out at a 12 seed that Belmont would be out if they lose in conference tourney even with an undefeated record in conference regular season?

Is costal carolina in same situation?

Anonymous said...

"I've been coming to this site for 4 years or so now, and I've always found it to be the best: not only for predicting the field, but also for breaking down all the results. Thanks for your hard work!"

Couldn't have said it better guys are pretty damn good at what you do.

That being said, with the Horizon being "down" this season...I don't know why everyone is still on Butler to take the Horizon as I feel it could be anyone's title in this conference. I would have to say that the bid will come down to whoever wins the Horizon tourney at the end of the season will be going to the big dance.

Weird things are happening again this year in college hoops, as parity seems to be on the rise. Illinois Chicago beating a top 15 team way back in December and is now playing 0 - 8 in their conference? Really?

This weekend alone, Butler and Valpo losing at home against inferior conference foes?


Anonymous said...

Adding to Costal Carolina and Belmont, how does Utah State compare to those 2?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, i'm pretty sure belmont and coastal carolina aren't getting at large bids.

Bracketology 101 said...

No matter how weak the bracket gets, Belmont and Coastal Carolina aren't getting at-large bids. Belmont's 12 seed max is based on them winning the Atlantic Sun tourney. Coastal Carolina's best case scenario would probably be a 12 as well.

Utah State could probably get as high as a 10 seed, which is where we have the Aggies at this week. They are in a better position than Belmont and Coastal Carolina because the WAC is slightly higher ranked than the Atlantic Sun and Big South. Utah State also has an RPI edge over the other two teams - Utah State's at 43, Coastal is 68, and Belmont is 70.

Anonymous said...

Can we get a questions for the competition about seth davis's leaving leonard hamilton off his top 10 coach of the year list?

Bracketology 101 said...

No disrespect to Mike Anderson, but he's done a better job than Leonard Hamilton has this season? As Davis points out himself, Missouri was a Top 15 team to start the year, and that's exactly where they are right now. Shouldn't a Coach of the Year candidate exceed expectations at least a little bit?

Anonymous said...

what do you think the odds are that penn state will get an at large bid and what exactly do you think they'll have to do. 49th in RPI and the 5th best SOS in the country is looking pretty good to me.

thanks and i love the site

Bracketology 101 said...

Those computer numbers are nice, but you conveniently left out Penn State's lack of an OOC resume and the fact that they have eight losses already. If the Nittany Lions are going to get an at-large, they'll have to finish at least 10-8 in conference.

Anonymous said...

Amazed that you think my gophs are gonna beat OSU especially now that Nolen is out.

I'm assuming the boats have sailed for both Michigan and Northwesterns chances at an at-large bid?

Bracketology 101 said...

If Ohio State does get by Minnesota, they won't be as lucky in their next game - against Wisconsin at the Kohl Center.

Michigan and Northwestern couldn't find the bubble with a GPS right now.

Anonymous said...

Just a couple quick questions. If BYU can take down SDSU in Provo tomorrow and beat New Mexico in the Pit Saturday where will they land in next week's bracket? What is their ceiling come March? In regard to Utah State it is likely they will finish Wac play undefeated but what if they lose in the Bracketbuster and then again in the conference tourney are they safely in? They would most likely still be without a single top 100 win.

Bracketology 101 said...

BYU will be a 2 seed next week if they beat SDSU and New Mexico. That's probaly their ceiling come March, but if they didn't lose a game the rest of the way, they'd have an outside chance at a 1 seed.

Even if they went undefeated in conference, Utah State would be in a lot of trouble if they lost their BracketBuster game and then lost in the WAC tourney. They'd be one of the most debated bubble teams, but their lack of Top 100 wins would be tough to overlook.

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