NCAA Tournament Bracket Projections: Final

The projections below are FINAL after all of Sunday’s games.

I spent a ridiculous amount of time today going back over teams, seeds, and profiles, and all that thinking and over-thinking has led to a handful of changes. Most notably, I am putting Green Bay in the field in place of SMU. The Mustangs played an incredibly weak non-conference schedule (ranked 296th to be exact), and while they have four great wins in the AAC, they also have three sub-100 losses and no other wins against the Top 100. In fact, SMU has just five wins against the Top 130 teams in the RPI.

As for the Phoenix, I keep coming back to the fact that the committee has rewarded a mid-major team that was upended in its conference tournament – Iona two years ago and Middle Tennessee last season. In my estimation, Green Bay’s win over Virginia and the fact that it played Wisconsin down to the wire give them the best chance to steal a bid this year. Louisiana Tech was the other team I considered given their win at Oklahoma.

Even though Michigan lost the Big Ten Championship, I left the Wolverines on the one line instead of moving Virginia or Villanova up. While the Cavaliers won the ACC regular season and tournament titles, Michigan has more Top 25 and Top 50 victories and significantly more Top 50 road wins. As for ‘Nova, the Wildcats have a November win over Kansas, but they have zero wins over other teams I have as an eight seed or better. They have had a great season and avoided a bad loss until the Big East Tournament, but their body of work doesn’t stack up to Michigan’s.

SOUTH (MEMPHIS) WEST (ANAHEIM)
Orlando San Diego
1) Florida (31-2) 1) Arizona (29-4)
16) Coastal Carolina (21-12)/Texas So. (18-14) 16) Albany (18-14)
8) George Washington (24-8) 8) Gonzaga (28-6)
9) Oklahoma St. (21-12)
9) Saint Joseph’s (24-9)
Spokane Spokane
5) UCLA (26-8)
5) Connecticut (26-8)
12) North Dakota St. (25-6) 12) Stephen F. Austin (31-2)
4) Creighton (26-7) 4) San Diego St. (29-5)
13) Manhattan (25-7) 13) Delaware (25-9)
Buffalo Raleigh
6) Baylor (24-11)
6) VCU (26-8)
11) Providence (23-11)
11) Nebraska (19-12)/Tennessee (21-12)
3) Michigan St. (27-8)
3) Duke (25-8)
14) Eastern Kentucky (24-9) 14) Mercer (26-8)
St. Louis Buffalo
7) Massachusetts (24-8)
7) Texas (23-10)
10) Stanford (21-12)
10) Arizona St. (21-11)
2) Kansas (24-9) 2) Villanova (28-4)
15) NC Central (28-5) 15) American (20-12)
EAST (NEW YORK) MIDWEST (INDIANAPOLIS)
Milwaukee St. Louis
1) Michigan (25-8) 1) Wichita St. (34-0)
16) Weber St. (19-11) 16) Cal Poly (13-19)/Mount St. Mary’s (16-16)
8) Memphis (23-9) 8) Oregon (23-9)
9) Colorado (23-11) 9) Kansas St. (20-12)
Orlando San Diego
5) North Carolina (23-9) 5) Ohio St. (25-9)
12) BYU (23-11)/Green Bay (24-6) 12) Harvard (26-4)
4) Cincinnati (27-6) 4) Syracuse (27-5)
13) Western Michigan (24-9) 13) Tulsa (21-12)
San Antonio San Antonio
6) New Mexico (27-6) 6) Oklahoma (23-9)
11) Dayton (23-10)
11) Xavier (21-12)
3) Iowa St. (26-7) 3) Louisville (29-5)
14) LA-Lafayette (23-11) 14) New Mexico St. (26-9)
Raleigh Milwaukee
7) Kentucky (24-10) 7) Saint Louis (26-6)
10) Iowa (20-12) 10) Pittsburgh (25-9)
2) Virginia (28-6) 2) Wisconsin (26-7)
15) Milwaukee (21-13) 15) Wofford (20-12)

—————————————————————————————————————

Last Four In

Nebraska (19-12)

Tennessee (21-12)

BYU (23-11)

Green Bay (24-6)

Other Teams Considered

SMU (23-9)

Louisiana Tech (27-7)

California (19-13)

Minnesota (20-13)

Arkansas (21-11)

North Carolina State (21-13)

Florida St. (19-13)

Southern Miss (27-6)

*******

Here is how the bids broke down by conference.  Teams denoted with a * have clinched their conference’s automatic bid.

Big 12 (7): Baylor, Iowa State*, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas

Atlantic 10 (6): Dayton, George Washington, Massachusetts, Saint Joseph’s*, Saint Louis, VCU

Big Ten (6): Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State*, Nebraska, Ohio State, Wisconsin

Pac-12 (6): Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Oregon, Stanford, UCLA*

ACC (5): Duke, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Virginia*

American (4): Cincinnati, Connecticut, Louisville*, Memphis

Big East (4): Creighton, Providence*, Villanova, Xavier

SEC (3): Florida*, Kentucky, Tennessee

Horizon (2): Green Bay, Milwaukee*

Mountain West (2): New Mexico*, San Diego State

West Coast (2): BYU, Gonzaga*

America East: Albany*

Atlantic Sun: Mercer*

Big Sky: Weber State*

Big South: Coastal Carolina*

Big West: Cal Poly*

Colonial: Delaware*

Conference USA: Tulsa*

Ivy: Harvard*

MAAC: Manhattan*

MAC: Western Michigan*

MEAC: North Carolina Central*

Missouri Valley: Wichita State*

Northeast: Mount St. Mary’s*

Ohio Valley: Eastern Kentucky*

Patriot: American*

Southern: Wofford*

Southland: Stephen F. Austin*

Summit: North Dakota State*

Sun Belt: LA-Lafayette*

SWAC: Texas Southern*

WAC: New Mexico State*

**********

Follow me on Twitter (@andybottoms) for more thoughts on college hoops.



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

Comments

  1. Zach Looter says:

    What do you think has to happen for Wisconsin to get a 1 seed?

    • Andy Bottoms says:

      First, they would need Villanova and Kansas not to win their conference tournaments, especially Villanova. As far as what Wisconsin itself would need to do, I think they at least need to get to the finals, which would mean wins over Minnesota (probably) and Michigan St. or Iowa. It’s hard to make an argument that they could lose in the finals and still get a one seed since the best team on the other side of the bracket (Michigan) would probably get a one seed if they beat Wisconsin in the final. And while a loss to Nebraska or OSU wouldn’t be a bad RPI loss, it probably wouldn’t be the kind of loss that the committee would just gloss over either.

      So in short, root against Nova and KU and win the Big Ten Tournament is probably the most likely route to a one seed.

  2. AJ Kaufman says:

    Duke as a 3. Finally someone who gets it, though with their paltry four road wins and barely any high-level victories overall, I’d give them a 4.

    UWGB should get in. Conference tourneys shouldn’t discount a great season.

    I don’t think UNL is still in last four in. 8-1 at home in nation’s best conference.

    If WVU beats Texas Thursday night — a game I plan to attend — they should get consideration. Eighty percent of Big 12? Yes.

    • Green Bay is not getting in. Period.

      • Andy Bottoms says:

        I am planning to write this up as the intro later, but I compared GB to MTSU last season, and while the UVA win is better than MTSU’s win over Ole Miss, a number of other things about their profile are not. Would love to see them get in but not seeing it at this point.

    • Andy Bottoms says:

      Nebraska’s biggest issue is that they did nothing in the non-conference, which magnifies the impact of a few sub-100 losses. Miles has done a great job there though, and there a team I would love to see get in.

      West Virginia has some nice wins but are still just 10-13 against the RPI Top 200. Poor non-con performance as well.

      • Winning 11 out of 14 to finish off B1G season not good enough – capped off by beating equally white-hot Wisconsin? We’re not getting into the dumb ESPN BPI rankings, or dropping a few in December while still a work in progress…

        • Andy Bottoms says:

          I’m not disputing that Nebraska is a good basketball team and deserves a bid, but the committee looks at the whole body of work and at least says the last 10 games are no more important than the first 10. Nebraska’s best non-con wins are over Georgia, Miami (FL), and Florida Gulf Coast, and they are just 4-10 away from home, including losses to UAB, Purdue, and Penn St. I’d love to see them get in, but it’s just not a done deal yet in my eyes.

  3. What do you think NC State needs to do to make tourny?

    • Andy Bottoms says:

      I feel like they need to win the ACC Tournament. They don’t have any Top 40 wins, have three sub-100 losses, and are just 13-12 against the RPI Top 200. If they beat Syracuse and Duke, then they would start to generate some buzz, but I’m just not convinced that would be enough as much as I’d enjoy watching TJ Warren in the tournament.

      • Also, shouldnt UNC be a 4 and Michigan State be a 5 based on the fact that UNC is ranked much higher and they beat them in East Lansing (?). And why is Duke so high? I really dont think they should be 3, I think 4 or 5. They have 4 road wins (GT, BC, PITT, MIAMI) and 5 road losses (Cuse, UNC, ND, Clemson, Wake). They only have 2 notable wins against Michigan and UNC (both at home). At least you put them lower than ESPN’s 2 seed prediction

        • Andy Bottoms says:

          UNC and MSU was very close. For UNC, you have the 3 (or 4 if you include Belmont) questionable losses, while MSU hasn’t lost to anyone outside of the Top 70. The Spartans also have more Top 50 wins, but for them, the biggest challenge is how to factor in all the injuries and who was really playing during their losses. I gave them the slight edge but wouldn’t argue with anyone who puts UNC there instead.

          As for Duke, I toyed with the idea of putting them on the four line, but I gave them the nod due to a higher strength of schedule than Cincinnati or SDSU and the fact that they have four Top 25 wins (Michigan, Cuse, UNC, UVA) compared to just one for UC and SDSU. Again, I have no issue with people putting them on the four line, but my guess is the committee gives them the benefit of the doubt.

  4. Peter J. Von Cloedt says:

    Regardless of their record, there is absolutely NO WAY Wichita State is a #1 seed. They have played no one of importance, and they have played no contenders. How can they POSSIBLY be a #1 seed?

    • Andy Bottoms says:

      I guess the simple answer is that there’s no way an undefeated team isn’t getting a one seed, and while it technically shouldn’t matter, I think the fact that they made the Final Four last year and had Louisville on the ropes is a factor as well. They did beat Saint Louis, BYU, and Tennessee in the non-conference, and I think they did a decent job of trying to schedule tough in the non-conference knowing that the MVC would be down this year. Unfortunately for them Tennessee and Alabama haven’t been as good as many expected.

      For what it’s worth, they have high Pomeroy numbers, and there are plenty of good teams who have taken the kinds of bad losses that Wichita St. has avoided. I’m not going to tell you that you could drop Wichita St. in another league and they’d win it, but I am confident in saying they would be competitive. The truth is that we don’t know how they’d fare in another league, and we don’t know how other teams would have fared against WSU’s schedule. What we do know is that they won 34 games, and I do think they’re a strong team. It’s certainly made for some good debate late in the year.

    • Peter Mullaney says:

      You know how hard it is to go undefeated? You don’t think everyone in the conference wasn’t doing their best to beat them? I’m guessing Florida was the only other men’s team to go undefeated in their conference. What basketball factory school is going to sign up to play them next year? Duke? NC? Kansas? You bet they deserve a #1

      • Andy Bottoms says:

        The third team to go undefeated in league play was Stephen F. Austin in the Southland, but your point is well taken. Like I said in my initial reply, we’ll never know if another team could go 34-0 against Wichita State’s schedule. What we do know is that they were able to, and they deserve a lot of credit for it.

    • Anybodybut'cuse says:

      Everyone knows the only reason the Shockers are in the big dance is because they somehow pulled off an upset win of the Mo Valley post season tournament.

  5. Peter Mullaney says:

    Iona does deserve to be in, as a second team from the MAAC. They are definitely among the 64 best teams in the country. Go Jaspers! kick ass for the MAAC!

    • Andy Bottoms says:

      The best two teams in the MAAC definitely played for the title tonight, and I think either one would have been able to give some four seed a scare.

  6. Andy, Thanks for the helpful pre-tourney analysis and insight for what many consider the best sporting event of the year.
    Here’s a tip for you: watch your backside, it’s now likely that Kelvin Sampson might want to punch you in the face.

    • Andy Bottoms says:

      Ha, thanks for the kind words and for the tip. I actually forgot I had written that a few years back. May need to change it as my residual anger has lessened….a little.

  7. Zach Looter says:

    Any chance Duke gets a 1 seed? Or a 2 seed maybe? I don’t get how
    Theyre ranked 7th but getting seeded low by many.

    • Andy Bottoms says:

      I think they definitely have a chance for a 2 seed, but they would need to win the ACC Tournament and get some help to get on the one line.

      One thing to point out is that the polls really don’t have any bearing on where the committee seeds teams.

      When you look at their profile, there are two things holding them back relatively speaking. One is that they are just 7-7 away from home and just 4-5 in true road games. The other is that they have two losses to teams outside of the RPI Top 100. Those definitely don’t cancel out the fact they have five Top 30 wins (four of which were at home), but most other teams in the top few lines have better road records and fewer “bad” losses.

  8. Sean Tallman says:

    WVU should definetly be considered for the tourney, yea they may not have the most impressive record, but definetly quality wins in the big12 especiallly if the committee doesnt go by seeds or records they have to figure that WVU has the potential to make a run as much as any team in the country, and being the next team cut out of the big12 for the tournament com’ on man

    • Andy Bottoms says:

      West Virginia does have five really solid wins, but there are a couple big issues for them as well. The first is that they are 10-13 against the RPI Top 200. I have not even tried to check historically to see if there is any precedent for that, but that’s three games under .500 against more than half of the D-1 teams. The other issue is their non-conference performance where they went 8-5 with losses to Va Tech (#237) and Purdue (#138). Their best non-con wins were against William & Mary (#119), Old Dominion (#171), and Duquesne (#179). Road woes are a smaller factor, as outside of the win at Baylor, the Mountaineers haven’t beaten anyone in the Top 100 away from home and have just four total wins outside the state of WV.

      Could a deep Big 12 run get them into the conversation? Sure, but they have too many blemishes for me as of today.

  9. Nice work. A couple thoughts:

    I’m stunned that practically every bracketologist not only has SMU in, but on average comfortably in around a 9 seed. I realize they have 4 top 50 wins, but with an overall RPI in the mid-40s, an awful non-conference schedule and weak overall strength of schedule, they are a classic case of a bubble team asking to be punished by the committee for soft scheduling. I think they’re a bubble team that needs to do some damage in the conference tournament or else get left out completely.

    Also, I think a lot of bracketologists haven’t adjusted enough for recent events. Iowa/Nebraska is a clear case — in the same conference, no less. A few weeks ago, Iowa had a much better profile. Now, it is very close, or Nebraska has a slightly better one, yet most have Iowa safely in, and Nebraska as a bubble team. Iowa’s slide and Nebraska’s surge are being underappreciated.

    • Andy Bottoms says:

      Good points on SMU. To me, once you get around the 8-9 range this year, you could pretty much throw the teams in a hat. Everyone has at least a few decent wins and at least one seemingly inexplicable loss. I wouldn’t argue moving them down a line, but I think they do have enough high level performances that the infamous “eye test” comes into play.

      As for the Nebraska/Iowa argument, this really puts the committee’s stance that the last 10 games matter as much as the first 10 games to the test. When comparing the two, Iowa does have a Top 50 non-conference win over Xavier, and they don’t have any sub-100 losses where Nebraska has three. On the flip side, Iowa has basically beaten two good teams in the last two months (three if you count Minnesota), and over that same time period Nebraska has four if you count the Gophers. A lot of that has to do with the way Nebraska’s Big Ten schedule was front loaded.

      All that being said, I 1,000% percent agree that Nebraska is playing better basketball right now, but unfortunately that doesn’t mean as much as it probably should so long as the committee focuses on the entire body of work.

      • SMU loses to Houston. Another bad loss, 50+ RPI, 300+ NC SOS. We’ll see, but my belief is that they’ll be snubbed on Selection Sunday.

        • Andy Bottoms says:

          Losing to Houston will definitely leave them sweating it out, but I think they’ve done enough to get in at this stage. Could very well be a First Four team though.

  10. Mostly agree with your bracket, nice job. What teams do you see exiting earlier than they should, going farther than they should, going on a cinderella run, and winning the national champion championship.

    I see Duke, Wisconsin, and Cincy exiting early. Cincy cant score, Duke has done nothing away from Cameron and relies on the 3 too much, and i dont know what to think of Wisconsin.

    I see UNC, Louisville, VCU, and OK State going farther than they should. Louisville’s and VCU’s havoc defense is hard to beat, OK State is way better than a 9 seed even though their resume doesnt show it, and UNC can beat anybody but also lose to anybody.

    My cinderella run candidates are Georgia State, Boston U, and Louisiana Tech.
    My national champion favorites are Florida, Michigan, UVA, Louisville, and UNC

    Just want to know what you think and want to share what i think

    • Andy Bottoms says:

      Based on recent history, I think Wisconsin could exit early, and I think defensive issues could get Duke or Creighton knocked off if they run into a solid offensive team. On the 4 line, Cincinnati and SDSU have the opposite issue in that they are great on D but can slump offensively.

      As for your second question, I like your Louisville and UNC picks. Oregon is intriguing too, as I thought they would be better overall, slumped in the middle, but are playing well of late. SMU is intriguing too.

      Cinderellas: I like North Dakota St. (assuming they win tonight), La Tech is tough, Manhattan has some solid players, and NC Central is a 15 that would be a tough draw if you’re looking further down the list.

      For the last one, Florida has been outstanding when at full strength so it’s tough to pick against them. Back injuries to Grant for Cuse and Embiid for KU could derail those teams, but I like them if healthy. Louisville is playing great, and Iowa St. could go on a run if they get hot from 3. And for all the people knocking Wichita St., I really do think they are a solid team that could get back to the Final Four for a second year.

  11. Zach Looter says:

    So with Nova just losing, do you move Wisconsin to a 1 seed? What happens if WI and Kansas have the same results in their respective tournaments? Who gets the 1?

    • Andy Bottoms says:

      Right now, I’d put Wisconsin there and think that is Michigan or Wisconsin win the Big Ten Tournament, either could easily get the one seed. Kansas is tricky since they won’t have Embiid and his status is up in the air. If they win it without him and Wisconsin wins, it could be a coin flip.

      • Doesn’t Kansas with 8 losses automatically bump them off the 1 line?

        • Andy Bottoms says:

          It would be unprecedented, but at the same time their schedule strength is unprecedented as well. If they run the table without Embiid in the B12 Tournament, I think they have a legit shot at a one seed depending on what happens in the Big Ten.

  12. Andy,

    Can you please tell me why Iowa is considered In, but Minny is on the outside looking in? Their resumes look pretty similar to the naked eye. Thanks

    • Andy Bottoms says:

      For me, it most closely ties back to their records away from home and bad losses. Iowa is 7-7 in road/neutral games with wins over Xavier (neutral) and at Ohio St. and Illinois. Minnesota is 3-9 away from home, with all 3 wins worse than the 3 I listed for Iowa based on RPI. Iowa has also avoided sub-100 losses, while the Gophers have two.

  13. Great work Andy. So let’s say wisconsin and michigan both lose today. Would you put villanova ahead of both of them for the 1 seed? Doesn’t wi have more quality wins, higher rpi, etc?

    • Andy Bottoms says:

      Sorry I didn’t get a chance to respond earlier, but I gave Michigan the nod in the most recent update. I plan to look at things Sunday to figure out what would happen if Michigan loses to MSU.

  14. JSpencer says:

    You have St. Louis listed twice in your latest bracket. Otherwise, looks pretty good.

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