2017 Bubble Analysis

The bubble is big and soft this year. Lots of teams remain in contention, many of which have left quite a bit to be desired in their play thus far. Let’s take a look at the multi-bid conferences to sort out this mess before championship week hits full stride.

ACC: 6 Locks (North Carolina, Louisville, Florida St, Duke, Virginia, Notre Dame); 4 on the bubble (Miami FL, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Syracuse); Projection: 9 teams in (one of Wake Forest/Syracuse may be left out, unless both make deep runs in the ACC tournament)

American: 2 Locks (Cincinnati, SMU); 1 on the bubble (Houston); Projection: 2 teams in

A10: 2 Locks (Dayton, VCU); 1 on the bubble (Rhode Island); Projection: 2 teams in

Big East: 3 Locks (Villanova, Butler, Creighton); 4 on the bubble (Marquette, Seton Hall, Xavier, Providence); Projection: 7 teams in. Xavier can’t lose to DePaul in the Big East opening round. Seton Hall and Marquette square off and as long as it’s not a blowout both are safe, and Providence just needs to keep it competitive with Creighton to be safe.

Big Ten: 4 Locks (Purdue, Minnesota, Maryland, Wisconsin); 5 on the bubble (Northwestern, Michigan, Michigan St, Illinois, Iowa); Projection: 8 teams in. The loser of Michigan/Illinois on Thursday might need some outside help to get a bid (see: Conference USA below); they’ll be cutting it awfully close.

Big XII: 5 Locks (Kansas, Baylor, West Virginia, Iowa St, Oklahoma St); 1 on the bubble (Kansas St); Projection: 5 teams in. Kansas St went 8-10 in conference play; they’ll need at least two wins in the Big XII tournament to earn an at-large bid. They open with Baylor, then would play West Virginia.

Conference USA: 0 Locks; 1 on the bubble (Middle Tennessee); Projection: 1 team in. Middle Tennessee needs to earn their auto-bid to truly feel safe. They should be good for an at-large at 27 wins (and counting) and their 15 over 2 upset win last year, but the CUSA doesn’t have a strong reputation like the Missouri Valley or West Coast so this is one to keep an eye on.

Missouri Valley: 1 Lock (Wichita St); 1 on the bubble (Illinois St); Projection: 2 teams in. Illinois St won 27 games this year. Even with a weak schedule, that should be good enough out of a mid-major conference with a stellar reputation.

PAC12: 4 Locks (Oregon, UCLA, Arizona, USC); 1 on the bubble (California); Projection: 4 teams in. The top-heavy PAC12 will demand more wins than Cal came up with this year to secure an at-large bid.

SEC: 4 Locks (Kentucky, Florida, Arkansas, South Carolina); 3 on the bubble (Vanderbilt, Georgia, Ole Miss); Projection: 4 teams in. Unless Vanderbilt earns the auto-bid, they will have 15 losses on the year, and no team has earned an at-large with more than 14.

West Coast: 2 Locks (Gonzaga, St Mary’s) 1 on the bubble (BYU); Projection: 2 teams in. If BYU can pull an upset Monday night over St Mary’s they’ll have a shot at an at-large, and if they can grab another win Tuesday they’ll have earned the auto-bid.

Total: 33 out of 47 (11 auto plus 36 at-large) are secured with 13 more projected in for a total of 46/47 spots. The ACC and Big Ten tournaments could produce a lot of chaos this week, with each conference having multiple teams on the wrong side of the bubble that could play their way in. Middle Tennessee and Vanderbilt will also be interesting to follow.

 

Bracket Assessment: 10 Days left

We are starting to gain some clarity on which teams will be in the field. Some conference tournaments have begun and auto-bids will begin to be claimed this weekend.

Tournament Locks

These teams are in the tournament, regardless of what happens the rest of the way

1 Villanova Big East
2 Kansas Big 12
3 Gonzaga West Coast
4 Kentucky Southeastern
5 Oregon Pacific-12
6 Butler Big East
7 UCLA Pacific-12
8 Florida Southeastern
9 Arizona Pacific-12
10 Louisville Atlantic Coast
11 North Carolina Atlantic Coast
12 Baylor Big 12
13 Purdue Big Ten
14 SMU American
15 Duke Atlantic Coast
16 Cincinnati American
17 Florida St Atlantic Coast
18 St Mary’s CA West Coast
19 Creighton Big East
20 Minnesota Big Ten
21 West Virginia Big 12
22 Virginia Atlantic Coast
23 Wisconsin Big Ten
24 Wichita St Missouri Valley
25 Maryland Big Ten
26 Notre Dame Atlantic Coast
27 Iowa St Big 12
28 Oklahoma St Big 12
29 South Carolina Southeastern
30 Dayton Atlantic 10
31 Arkansas Southeastern
32 MTSU Conference USA
33 VA Commonwealth Atlantic 10

1 Win Away

These teams are super close to punching their ticket, one more win should do it. Bid stealing may become a concern without getting another win

34 Illinois St Missouri Valley
35 Virginia Tech Atlantic Coast
36 Miami FL Atlantic Coast
37 Xavier Big East
38 Michigan Big Ten
39 Michigan St Big Ten
40 Nevada Mountain West
41 USC Pacific-12
42 Northwestern Big Ten

Remaining Contenders

These teams can still get an at-large bid, but they’ll need a few more wins and hope for minimal bid stealing in conference tournaments. The teams further down this list need to make the deepest conference tournament runs to secure a bid, and those not in a power conference very likely need to earn an auto bid to truly feel safe.

43 Seton Hall Big East
44 Providence Big East
45 Houston American
46 Marquette Big East
47 California Pacific-12
48 Illinois Big Ten
49 Valparaiso Horizon
50 Vanderbilt Southeastern
51 Rhode Island Atlantic 10
52 Georgia Southeastern
53 Kansas St Big 12
54 Mississippi Southeastern
55 UNC Wilmington Colonial
56 Ohio St Big Ten
57 BYU West Coast
58 Colorado St Mountain West
59 Wake Forest Atlantic Coast
60 UCF American
61 Akron Mid-American
62 Boise St Mountain West
63 Syracuse Atlantic Coast

 

Bracket Assessment: 20 Days left

The bracket is starting to settle into form this late in the season, with minimal day-to-day fluctuation. We can start to draw conclusions on which teams are already in, which are still in contention, and how many bid-stealing conferences are out there. The field is comprised of 32 automatic bids (from conference tournament champions) and 36 at-large bids.

Tournament Locks

The following 25 teams have already done enough to warrant an at-large bid. Even if each of them were to not win again in the regular season, they would still be selected into the field:

1 Villanova Big East
2 Gonzaga West Coast
3 Kansas Big 12
4 Baylor Big 12
5 Oregon Pacific-12
6 Arizona Pacific-12
7 Kentucky Southeastern
8 Louisville Atlantic Coast
9 Florida Southeastern
10 Duke Atlantic Coast
11 Butler Big East
12 North Carolina Atlantic Coast
13 Florida St Atlantic Coast
14 Purdue Big Ten
15 Cincinnati American
16 UCLA Pacific-12
17 Maryland Big Ten
18 Creighton Big East
19 SMU American
20 Wisconsin Big Ten
21 St Mary’s CA West Coast
22 West Virginia Big 12
23 Notre Dame Atlantic Coast
24 Minnesota Big Ten
25 Wichita St Missouri Valley

1 or 2 wins Away

This next group of 8 will be in the field, barring a monumental collapse down the stretch:

26 Virginia Atlantic Coast
27 MTSU Conference USA
28 VA Commonwealth Atlantic 10
29 Xavier Big East
30 South Carolina Southeastern
31 USC Pacific-12
32 Dayton Atlantic 10
33 Northwestern Big Ten

Remaining contenders

This next group is fighting for the few remaining at-large bids and hoping that the teams in the two groups above them grab all 11 auto-bids in their respective conference tournaments. Some of these teams may be able to sneak in with as few as two more wins, but would be well-served to rack up as many as possible down the stretch to avoid reliance on winning the conference tournament:

34 Illinois St Missouri Valley
35 Oklahoma St Big 12
36 Arkansas Southeastern
37 Iowa St Big 12
38 Nevada Mountain West
39 Virginia Tech Atlantic Coast
40 Valparaiso Horizon
41 Michigan Big Ten
42 California Pacific-12
43 Miami FL Atlantic Coast
44 Michigan St Big Ten
45 Akron Mid-American
46 Marquette Big East
47 Kansas St Big 12
48 Houston American
49 Seton Hall Big East
50 UNC Wilmington Colonial
51 Georgetown Big East
52 Tennessee Southeastern
53 Providence Big East
54 Rhode Island Atlantic 10
55 Boise St Mountain West
56 New Mexico St WAC
57 Vanderbilt Southeastern
58 Pittsburgh Atlantic Coast
59 TCU Big 12
60 Clemson Atlantic Coast
61 Illinois Big Ten
62 Georgia Southeastern

Any team not listed as one of the 62 above will need to win their conference tournament in order to make the field.

Bid-Stealers

Some conferences have teams that would qualify for an at-large if they were to miss out on an auto-bid. This includes the following:

1 Big East
2 West Coast
3 Big 12
4 Pacific-12
5 Southeastern
6 Atlantic Coast
7 Big Ten
8 American
9 Missouri Valley
10 Conference USA
11 Atlantic 10

The top 36 teams above should feel pretty safe even if they don’t win their conference tournament, but outside the top 36 and bid-stealing starts to play a factor. The most important conference tournaments to pay attention to are:

West Coast: Gonzaga or St. Mary’s needs to win this auto-bid to avoid a certain stolen bid.

Conference USA: Middle Tennessee must earn the auto-bid; nobody else in the conference is remotely close to an at-large and the Blue Raiders have all but locked up their at-large.

American: It would be helpful for all if SMU or Cincinnati earns this auto-bid. Houston wouldn’t be bad necessarily, but anyone else would be a disaster for bubble teams.

Missouri Valley: Wichita St is definitely in and Illinois St is very likely in; you want one of these two to get the auto-bid if your team is on the bubble.

Atlantic 10: VCU and Dayton are near-locks for an at-large, so it’d be easiest if one of them earns the A10 auto-bid. Rhode Island is close, so it wouldn’t be that bad if they earned it, but nobody else is in contention for an at-large.

The 6 major conference tournaments are important to keep an eye on, but with so many at-large contenders it is much less likely that a bid is stolen from those.

 

Top 16 seeds preview

On Saturday the NCAA released their top 16 college basketball teams. The list as it compares to Saturday’s BoW bracket:

NCAA Seed Team BoW Seed
1 Villanova 1
1 Kansas 1
1 Baylor 1
1 Gonzaga 1
2 North Carolina 3
2 Florida St 2
2 Louisville 3
2 Oregon 3
3 Arizona 2
3 Virginia 5
3 Florida 5
3 Kentucky 4
4 Butler 2
4 West Virginia 6
4 UCLA 4
4 Duke 5
Seed BoW Top 16
1 Villanova
1 Gonzaga
1 Kansas
1 Baylor
2 Arizona
2 Florida St
2 Butler
2 Wisconsin
3 Oregon
3 Cincinnati
3 North Carolina
3 Louisville
4 Kentucky
4 Purdue
4 Creighton
4 UCLA

No discrepancies are larger than two seed lines, and 12 teams reside in both top 16 lists. The same 4 teams are one seeds in each bracket. The most glaring omission is that the Big Ten is currently shut out of the top 16 by the NCAA. It’s also noteworthy that Gonzaga is the 4th 1 seed, suggesting the NCAA is looking for a reason to drop them from the top line. They likely need to remain undefeated to hold onto a 1 seed.

Bracket Matrix update

Yesterday, the NCAA announced that the selection committee would be revealing a preview of the top 16 seeds on February 11th, a month before Selection Sunday. I’ll write a follow-up at that time comparing their top 16 with my own. This preview will be helpful to those of us participating in the Bracket Matrix as it provides a little insight into what the committee views most favorably in their selection process. However, it is not all that helpful to fans since everyone will pretty much already know who are the top 16 teams, give or take a few. These teams are extremely likely to be in the field of 68 a month later as well, so it provides very little insight as to who is on the bubble.

I am hosting my most recent Bracket projections on a static page this year instead of as unique blog posts so they are easier to find. I am aiming to make updates twice weekly until March, at which point I will aim for daily updates. All of my projections are entirely formula-based; I am not interjecting my own opinion or making any adjustments to what the formula projects to be the current field. There will be one exception to this: my final entry for the Bracket Matrix will require some adjustments to account for shortest travel distance for top 16 seeds as well as prevention of intra-conference match-ups on the first weekend. My formula does not currently include this criteria; I hope to automate this for next season but won’t have the time to do so for this year’s tournament.

FINAL Bracket 2016

This is my final submission for the 2016 Bracket Matrix.

The only spot I feel might be a stretch is having George Washington in over USC. Comparing these side by side it looks like GW’s top three wins are better than USC’s top three: Virginia, at VCU, and Seton Hall for GW compared to Arizona, Colorado, and at UCLA for USC. Comparing losses gives USC the edge in quality, but they also have two more than GW and each played 33 games. Strength of schedule goes to USC, which ranks 40th in my data compared to GW at 85th. For common opponents, both played Lafayette in the non-conference; USC won by 36 whereas GW won by 9. Lafayette went 6-24 on the year, so it’s tough to use them as any sort of barometer. At any rate, I’m glad that my bracket has at least this one component to differentiate it from the rest of the matrix. It’ll help separate mine from the field one way or the other.

Seed Team Conference
1 Kansas Big 12
1 Villanova Big East
1 North Carolina Atlantic Coast
1 Michigan St Big Ten
2 Oregon Pacific-12
2 Virginia Atlantic Coast
2 Xavier Big East
2 Miami FL Atlantic Coast
3 Oklahoma Big 12
3 West Virginia Big 12
3 Utah Pacific-12
3 Kentucky Southeastern
4 Purdue Big Ten
4 Texas A&M Southeastern
4 Seton Hall Big East
4 Indiana Big Ten
5 Arizona Pacific-12
5 Duke Atlantic Coast
5 Maryland Big Ten
5 Iowa Big Ten
6 California Pacific-12
6 St Joseph’s PA Atlantic 10
6 Texas Big 12
6 Dayton Atlantic 10
7 Iowa St Big 12
7 Wisconsin Big Ten
7 Notre Dame Atlantic Coast
7 Baylor Big 12
8 Providence Big East
8 Connecticut American
8 South Carolina Southeastern
8 Butler Big East
9 Wichita St Missouri Valley
9 Colorado Pacific-12
9 VA Commonwealth Atlantic 10
9 Pittsburgh Atlantic Coast
10 Michigan Big Ten
10 San Diego St Mountain West
10 Oregon St Pacific-12
10 Gonzaga West Coast
11 St Bonaventure Atlantic 10
11 Texas Tech Big 12
11 Cincinnati American
11 Vanderbilt Southeastern
11 G Washington Atlantic 10
12 Northern Iowa Missouri Valley
12 Fresno St Mountain West
12 S Dakota St Summit
12 Ark Little Rock Sun Belt
12 Hawaii Big West
13 Chattanooga Southern
13 UNC Wilmington Colonial
13 Buffalo Mid-American
13 WI Green Bay Horizon
14 MTSU Conference USA
14 Yale Ivy
14 SF Austin Southland
14 Stony Brook America East
15 CS Bakersfield WAC
15 Weber St Big Sky
15 Iona MAAC
15 UNC Asheville Big South
16 Hampton MEAC
16 FL Gulf Coast Atlantic Sun
16 Southern Univ SWAC
16 Austin Peay Ohio Valley
16 F Dickinson Northeast
16 Holy Cross Patriot
Last Four In
Texas Tech Big 12
Cincinnati American
Vanderbilt Southeastern
G Washington Atlantic 10
First Four Out
Georgia Tech Atlantic Coast
Georgia Southeastern
Florida Southeastern
St Mary’s CA West Coast
Next Four Out
Ohio St Big Ten
Syracuse Atlantic Coast
USC Pacific-12
Florida St Atlantic Coast

 

College Basketball Bracket 3/13/16

Bracket for games through 3/12/16; bracket seeding for use in the Bracket Matrix.

This version will be almost exactly what my final bracket will show. The only changes I can foresee are if Michigan St has a convincing win today then they might take Oregon’s place on the top line, and if Memphis wins they would replace Cincinnati. Arkansas-Little Rock would not earn an at-large if they lose today.

Outliers

I’m not going to have USC in the field. I implore everyone to look at their resume and point to anything that says they should replace any of the last four at-large teams. I will not have St Mary’s in the field; though less of an outlier in the matrix I feel this one could go either way. The two teams replacing USC and St Mary’s are Vanderbilt and George Washington.

Seed Team Conference
1 Kansas Big 12
1 Villanova Big East
1 North Carolina Atlantic Coast
1 Oregon Pacific-12
2 Virginia Atlantic Coast
2 Michigan St Big Ten
2 Xavier Big East
2 Miami FL Atlantic Coast
3 Oklahoma Big 12
3 Utah Pacific-12
3 West Virginia Big 12
3 Kentucky Southeastern
4 Purdue Big Ten
4 Texas A&M Southeastern
4 Seton Hall Big East
4 Indiana Big Ten
5 Arizona Pacific-12
5 Duke Atlantic Coast
5 Maryland Big Ten
5 California Pacific-12
6 Iowa Big Ten
6 Dayton Atlantic 10
6 Texas Big 12
6 St Joseph’s PA Atlantic 10
7 Iowa St Big 12
7 Wisconsin Big Ten
7 Notre Dame Atlantic Coast
7 Providence Big East
8 Baylor Big 12
8 South Carolina Southeastern
8 VA Commonwealth Atlantic 10
8 Butler Big East
9 Connecticut American
9 Wichita St Missouri Valley
9 Colorado Pacific-12
9 Pittsburgh Atlantic Coast
10 Michigan Big Ten
10 San Diego St Mountain West
10 Oregon St Pacific-12
10 St Bonaventure Atlantic 10
11 Gonzaga West Coast
11 G Washington Atlantic 10
11 Vanderbilt Southeastern
11 Texas Tech Big 12
11 Cincinnati American
12 Northern Iowa Missouri Valley
12 Fresno St Mountain West
12 S Dakota St Summit
12 Chattanooga Southern
12 Hawaii Big West
13 Ark Little Rock Sun Belt
13 UNC Wilmington Colonial
13 Buffalo Mid-American
13 WI Green Bay Horizon
14 MTSU Conference USA
14 Yale Ivy
14 SF Austin Southland
14 Stony Brook America East
15 CS Bakersfield WAC
15 Weber St Big Sky
15 Iona MAAC
15 UNC Asheville Big South
16 Hampton MEAC
16 FL Gulf Coast Atlantic Sun
16 Southern Univ SWAC
16 Austin Peay Ohio Valley
16 F Dickinson Northeast
16 Holy Cross Patriot
Last Four In
G Washington Atlantic 10
Vanderbilt Southeastern
Texas Tech Big 12
Cincinnati American
First Four Out
Georgia Tech Atlantic Coast
Georgia Southeastern
USC Pacific-12
Florida Southeastern
Next Four Out
St Mary’s CA West Coast
Ohio St Big Ten
Syracuse Atlantic Coast
Florida St Atlantic Coast