Welcome back to my second edition of College Basketball Bracketology, where I project the NCAA Tournament field and matchups as we head into the weeks up to Selection Sunday. We witnessed another fun-filled week in college basketball, as some big upsets occurred and we saw some ranked teams battle. In this edition, per usual, I’ve projected seeding and matchups for all tournament teams, and I plan on continuing to release one of these every Sunday or Monday for the rest of the college hoops season heading up to Selection Sunday.
College basketball fans and experts abroad have started to gain a decent understanding of the contenders and pretenders in each college basketball conference, and I’m as big of a college hoops fan as you’ll find. Some teams are distancing themselves from the bubble, but some teams continue to remain clustered around it.
My process is pretty simple actually. Firstly, I’ve compiled a list of college basketball teams who realistically still have a chance at making the NCAA Tournament. Secondly, I’ve used the brand new NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) Rankings as a seeding criteria for all teams, which will also be heavily used by the actual selection committee. Lastly, I’ve looked at every team’s current record and used the NCAA’s Quadrant Wins System to analyze the quality of their respective wins and losses.
After I have made a judgment on all teams, I begin to seed the 68 chosen teams from 1 to 68. Ranking them this way allows me to separate them into seed lines (#1 to #16). Finally, I place the teams into regions based on their respective seeds, conferences, and game location (for higher seeds). I tried my best to keep conference opponents from playing until at least the Sweet 16, but there may have been situations where this wasn’t realistically possible.
All in all, the process I went through definitely isn’t easy, but it’s fun to look at the possibilities already. I’ve tried my best to simulate what the actual selection committee would be doing if the tournament had to be seeded today. So after another crazy week in the college hoops world, let’s check into my second-ever Bracketology projection!
East Region (Washington, D.C.):
#1 Virginia vs. #16 Prairie-View/Robert Morris
#8 Minnesota vs. #9 Oklahoma
#4 Villanova vs. #13 Murray State
#5 Wisconsin vs. #12 New Mexico State
#3 Marquette vs. #14 Bowling Green
#6 Florida State vs. #11 Indiana
Des Moines, Iowa
#2 Michigan vs. #15 UC-Irvine
#7 Buffalo vs. #10 Arizona State
West Region (Anaheim, CA):
Salt Lake City, Utah
#1 Gonzaga vs. #16 Princeton
#8 Syracuse vs. #9 Ole Miss
#4 Purdue vs. #13 New Mexico State
#5 LSU vs. #12 Lipscomb
Salt Lake City, Utah
#3 Kansas vs. #14 Montana
#6 Maryland vs. #11 VCU/Temple
Columbia, South Carolina
#2 North Carolina vs. #15 Lehigh
#7 Washington vs. #10 Wofford
South Region (Louisville, KY):
Columbia, South Carolina
#1 Duke vs. #16 Rider/Norfolk State
#8 Auburn vs. #9 TCU
San Jose, California
#4 Nevada vs. #13 Vermont
#5 Texas Tech vs. #12 Davidson
#3 Michigan State vs. #14 Northern Kentucky
#6 Mississippi State vs. #11 UCF
#2 Kentucky vs. #15 Georgia State
#7 Cincinnati vs. #10 St. John’s
Midwest Region (Kansas City, MO):
#1 Tennessee vs. #16 Sam Houston State
#8 Baylor vs. #9 NC State
San Jose, California
#4 Louisville vs. #13 Old Dominion
#5 Iowa vs. #12 Hofstra
#3 Houston vs. #14 Radford
#6 Iowa State vs. #11 Alabama/San Francisco
Des Moines, Iowa
#2 Virginia Tech vs. #15 Loyola-Chicago
#7 Kansas State vs. #10 Ohio State
The tournament bubble continues to simmer down as each day of conference basketball passes, but it’s still a very log-jammed one like it has been in recent years. Here’s a breakdown of the last few teams that made it and the last few that are just outside the cut line right now:
Last Team In: San Francisco Dons (17-5, 5-3 WCC)
San Francisco is still hunting hard for an at-large berth as Gonzaga continues to dominate the WCC. The Dons lost by six on the road against a decent Saint Mary’s team on Saturday, and they need to end their two game losing streak fast. They may just be watching as their at-large chances go up in smoke, barring a miracle where they win at Gonzaga on Thursday night. Pray for the Dons, because they’re on their last legs.
Second To Last Team In: Temple Owls (16-6, 6-3 AAC)
The bubble was intensely shaken up this week, so Temple stayed on the good end of things. Losing by seven on the road at Houston wasn’t terrible, but the Owls have a horrible schedule the rest of the way. A loss to any teams that they should beat will kill their at-large hopes, forcing them to go on a run in the AAC Tournament. Blowing the 14 point second half lead to Cincinnati two weeks ago really hurt the Owls resume and it will continue to do so.
Third To Last Team In: VCU Rams (15-6, 6-2 A10)
A big home win against a decent George Mason team certainly will help VCU, but it’s what happened to other teams on the bubble that allowed the Rams to jump onto the right side of things this week. If they want to stay on the right side, they’ll likely have to win out or win most of their remaining games. Losing to Davidson shook off a huge resume opportunity for them, but they still have a Quadrant 1 win from defeating Texas on the road in December. They may very well just have to win the Atlantic 10 to get a bid to the big dance.
Fourth To Last Team In: Alabama Crimson Tide (13-8, 4-4 SEC)
The Crimson Tide looked to be safely in the field on Tuesday after a huge home victory over Mississippi State. But on Saturday, they were rocked by Auburn in a 21 point road loss. They still have a good chance to get an at-large bid, especially with great opportunities at resume-building wins such as Arkansas and Mississippi State on the road, as well as Auburn and LSU at home. They definitely do need to continue winning games that they are supposed to, however, because they can’t afford too many more losses.
First Team Out: Seton Hall Pirates (13-9, 4-6 Big East)
Seton Hall suffered a tough two point loss on the road to Butler on Saturday, but they’re still firmly alive in the race on the bubble. With St. John’s on the road in late February and home games against Marquette and Villanova to close out the season, the Pirates definitely will get their fair share of chances to boost themselves off the bubble. Wins over St. John’s at home, Kentucky on a neutral floor, and Maryland on the road have helped them to this point, but they cannot continue to slide in the Big East in the next month.
Second Team Out: Arkansas Razorbacks (13-8, 4-4 SEC)
After being out of the picture for a few weeks, Daniel Gafford’s Razorbacks are back in the mix on the bubble with a huge road victory over LSU in overtime. They added that to their resume along with a early season win over Indiana, but they might end up being hurt by extremely bad home losses to Georgia Tech and Western Kentucky. The Razorbacks are certainly talented enough to make the tournament, but it’s up to them to fight for their chance to shine.
Third Team Out: Nebraska Cornhuskers (13-9, 3-8 Big Ten)
Nebraska’s 3-8 record in the Big Ten isn’t as bad as it looks, considering how tough the conference is this season, but it still should and could be better. They have some good wins and some bad losses, but they’re skidding as of late, and honestly shouldn’t even be on the bubble come next week. They are fighting to keep their hopes alive this week, and a loss or two could kill them indefinitely. The opportunities are there, as the Huskers have Maryland at home on Wednesday and Purdue on the road on Saturday. Let’s see what the Huskers got!
Fourth Team Out: Florida Gators (12-9, 4-4 SEC)
I’m torn on Florida and the question of whether the Gators are a tournament team. They earned a gritty home win on Wednesday over a good Ole Miss squad, but then blew a chance to build some ground off the bubble in the home loss to Kentucky. They’ve got an extremely difficult schedule the rest of the way and I don’t know if they’re capable of winning enough games to secure an at-large bid to the big dance.
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed my second ever Bracketology Breakdown. If you want to continue to see more content like this, let me know on my Twitter @TBeckmann24. Feel free to ask questions and share thoughts to me there as well. Have a great and blessed day! Peace!