Bottoms Line Bracketology: NCAA Tournament Bracket Predictions on January 9th

As promised last week, I have agreed (perhaps stupidly) to put out weekly bracket projections, and my first effort this year quickly reminded me why I haven’t done this in a couple seasons.  Or maybe it’s the fact that the bubble this season looks poised to give last year’s historically weak bubble a run for its money.

The reality is that these projections are very fluid at this point of the season, but if nothing else it can prompt some good discussion.  Below the bracket I will give my last four in and last four out, as well as the rationale I used to make those decisions.


PITTSBURGH – March 15 & 17   LOUISVILLE – March 15 & 17
1 Syracuse   1 Kentucky
16 Campbell/Stony Brook   16 Bucknell/Miss. Valley St.
8 Illinois   8 Wisconsin
9 Dayton   9 Temple
ALBUQUERQUE – March 15 & 17   NASHVILLE – March 16 & 18
5 Creighton   5 Gonzaga
12 North Carolina St.   12 Iona
4 Kansas St.   4 Louisville
13 Ohio   13 Denver/Virginia Tech
OMAHA – March 16 & 18   COLUMBUS – March 16 & 18
6 West Virginia   6 Murray St.
11 Xavier   11 Southern Mississippi
3 Missouri   3 Georgetown
14 Davidson   14 Belmont
LOUISVILLE – March 15 & 17   COLUMBUS – March 16 & 18
7 Mississippi St.   7 Alabama
10 California   10 Harvard
2 Indiana   2 Michigan St.
15 Wagner   15 George Mason
PITTSBURGH – March 15 & 17   GREENSBORO – March 16 & 18
1 Ohio St.   1 North Carolina
16 Lamar   16 Norfolk St.
8 Saint Mary’s   8 San Diego St.
9 New Mexico   9 Wichita St.
PORTLAND – March 15 & 17   NASHVILLE – March 16 & 18
5 Virginia   5 Connecticut
12 Marshall   12 Long Beach St.
4 Seton Hall   4 Michigan
13 Iowa St./Missouri St.   13 Middle Tennessee St.
OMAHA – March 16 & 18   PORTLAND – March 15 & 17
6 Vanderbilt   6 Florida
11 Stanford   11 BYU
3 Kansas   3 UNLV
14 Nevada   14 Cleveland St.
GREENSBORO – March 16 & 18   ALBUQUERQUE – March 15 & 17
7 Marquette   7 Purdue
10 Memphis   10 Saint Louis
2 Duke   2 Baylor
15 Oral Roberts   15 Weber St.












































Last Four In:

Virginia Tech

Everyone’s favorite bubble team is on track to be there once again.  They have no Top 50 wins and are 2-2 against the RPI Top 100.  At this point their saving grace is a relatively high strength of schedule and no bad losses, but their prior defeats to Minnesota (without Trevor Mbakwe) and Wake Forest may doom them in the end.

Iowa State

For the fifth Big 12 team, I was down to the Cyclones and Texas.  I gave ISU the nod based on last week’s head-to-head victory over the Longhorns.  They have now won seven straight games but are just 1-2 against the Top 100 with a loss to Drake also mixed in.  Did I mention the bubble was weak?

Missouri State

Again it came down to two teams with the Bears and Northern Iowa, because the Missouri Valley isn’t getting four bids.  MSU has road wins at Creighton, Indiana State, and Nevada, and they also took West Virginia to overtime.  Both MVC teams in question lost to Illinois State so that didn’t help distinguish them from one another.  They also have three wins each against the Top 100, so this one was pretty much a coin flip.


This may seem crazy, and in all likelihood the Sun Belt won’t be getting two bids.  But at some point you have to reward teams for actually beating people, and Denver has beaten both Southern Mississippi and Saint Mary’s, both of whom are in the field.  There aren’t many bubble teams that can say that, but the loss to Arkansas-Little Rock definitely will hurt them.  Their other losses are respectable on the road against Cal and in OT versus Iona.

First Four Out:

Northern Iowa

I mentioned the Panthers above, and if they had started MVC play better than 2-2 with losses to Illinois State and Evansville, perhaps they would have received the bid instead of Missouri State.  To their credit, they are 3-2 against the RPI Top 100 and have five wins against teams between 101 and 150.  Again, the MVC beats up on one another too much for the league to get more than three bids.


I also mentioned Texas above, and while they have a home win against Temple, there isn’t much other meat on their profile.  They are 1-3 against the Top 50 and just 3-4 against the Top 150 with seven of their wins coming over sub-200 teams.  Losses to fellow bubble teams N.C. State and Iowa State don’t help either.

Saint Joseph’s

The Hawks have a solid win over Creighton, but they are just 1-4 against the Top 100.  Losses to Seton Hall, Iona (in double-OT), and Harvard won’t kill them, but ones to American and Charlotte might.  Luckily, the A-10 gives them a number of chances to enhance their resume.


The Pac-12 is awful, and I simply can’t bring myself to give that league three bids.  Arizona’s best win is at New Mexico State, and their only questionable loss is at UCLA last week.  This team will improve and may work their way into the picture, but they simply haven’t beaten anyone so far.

Here is how the bids broke out by conference:

Big East (7): Connecticut, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Seton Hall, Syracuse, West Virginia

Big Ten (7): Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin

ACC (5): Duke, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Virginia, Virginia Tech

Big 12 (5): Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri

SEC (5): Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt

Atlantic 10 (4): Dayton, Saint Louis, Temple, Xavier

Conference USA (3): Marshall, Memphis, Southern Mississippi

Missouri Valley (3): Creighton, Missouri State, Wichita State

Mountain West (3): New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV

West Coast (3): BYU, Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s

Pac-12 (2): California, Stanford

Sun Belt (2): Denver, Middle Tennessee State

America East: Stony Brook

Atlantic Sun: Belmont

Big Sky: Weber State

Big South: Campbell

Big West: Long Beach State

Colonial: George Mason

Horizon: Cleveland State

Ivy: Harvard

MAAC: Iona

MAC: Ohio

MEAC: Norfolk State

Northeast: Wagner

Ohio Valley: Murray State

Patriot: Bucknell

Southern: Davidson

Southland: Lamar

SWAC: Mississippi Valley State

Summit: Oral Roberts

WAC: Nevada


Follow me on Twitter (@andybottoms) for more thoughts on college hoops, and check out the latest edition of the Bottoms Line podcast.

About Andy Bottoms

While Andy was born and raised in Indiana, he would like to point out that he grew up shooting hoops in his driveway and not against the side of a barn like you see in all the March Madness promos or in the middle of a field like Jimmy Chitwood. Andy ranks among the top bracketologists according to the Bracket Matrix and has provided his projections to Fox Sports for the past three seasons. When not compiling excuses for missing work during the NCAA Tournament, Andy enjoys spending time with his wife and two daughters. He is a proud IU graduate and co-hosts The Assembly Call postgame show following every IU game. Twitter: @AndyBottoms


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