Editor’s note: For years, our very own Andy Bottoms has been projecting the NCAA Tournament bracket.
Below is Andy’s latest set of projections for 2017. Expect weekly updates over the next four weeks.
The selection committee revealed the Top 16 seeds on Saturday, and even though a number of those teams have already lost since then, the show and the accompanying commentary from committee chairman Mark Hollis provided some valuable insight.
My key takeaways:
- Gonzaga as the fourth overall seed was surprising to me, and suggests that the Zags have little margin for error going forward. It would also suggest they don’t control their own destiny if they want to climb further up the seed list. Monday’s loss by Baylor certainly helps their cause.
- While the SEC has been a punchline of sorts, the committee is high on Florida and Kentucky, with both finding themselves on the three line. Each team sits at 20-5 with four Top 50 wins, but you can count on one hand the number of combined victories over sure-fire tournament teams. Perhaps this is good news for SEC bubble teams as well.
- Butler as the 13th overall seed, and to a lesser extent Florida State on the two line, makes it seem as if quality wins will overshadow odd losses. Ultimately that’s probably how it should be, as I’d much rather see teams rewarded for beating good teams as opposed to just avoiding bad losses.
I talked about all these and more with Bracketville’s Dave Ommen on the most recent episode of the Bracketology.FM podcast, where we also took a closer look at the cloudy and wildly unimpressive bubble picture.
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Here are my projections through the games from February 13.
I’ve also listed my last four in and first five out along with my reasoning for those selections.
|EAST (NEW YORK)||MIDWEST (KANSAS CITY)|
|Buffalo – March 16/18||Tulsa – March 17/19|
|1) Villanova||1) Kansas|
|16) Mount St. Mary’s / UC Davis||16) NC Central / New Orleans|
|8) Oklahoma St.
|9) VCU||9) Miami (FL)|
|Buffalo – March 16/18||Milwaukee – March 16/18|
||5) Notre Dame|
|12) UNC-Wilmington||12) Valparaiso
|4) West Virginia||4) Purdue|
|13) Vermont||13) UT-Arlington|
|Indianapolis – March 17/19||Salt Lake City – March 16/18|
|6) SMU||6) Creighton|
|11) Georgia Tech / Seton Hall||11) Michigan|
|3) Kentucky||3) Arizona|
|14) Princeton||14) Belmont|
|Orlando – March 16/18||Indianapolis – March 17/19|
|7) Dayton||7) Northwestern|
|10) Wichita St.||10) Kansas St.|
|2) Florida St.||2) Louisville|
||15) North Dakota St.|
|SOUTH (MEMPHIS)||WEST (SAN JOSE)|
|Tulsa – March 17/19||Salt Lake City – March 16/18|
|1) Baylor||1) Gonzaga|
|16) Weber St.||16) Texas Southern|
|8) Virginia Tech||8) USC|
|9) Michigan St.||9) Iowa St.|
|Sacramento – March 17/19||Milwaukee – March 16/18|
|5) Butler||5) Cincinnati|
|12) Akron||12) Arkansas / Marquette|
|4) UCLA||4) Duke|
|13) Monmouth||13) Boise St.|
|Orlando – March 16/18||Greenville – March 17/19|
|6) Maryland||6) South Carolina|
||11) Middle Tennessee|
|3) Florida||3) Virginia|
|14) Bucknell||14) Florida Gulf Coast|
|Greenville – March 17/19||Sacramento – March 17/19|
|7) Xavier||7) Saint Mary’s|
|10) TCU||10) Syracuse|
|2) North Carolina||2) Oregon|
|15) UNC-Asheville||15) Cal St. Bakersfield|
Last Four In
I have the Jackets the nod in part because of the committee’s apparent lean toward quality wins. Georgia Tech has four wins against teams in the RPI Top 30, but they are ultimately just 5-9 against the Top 100 and 9-10 versus the Top 200.
This week provides a pair of chances to improve their profile with a trip to Miami followed by a home date with Syracuse.
The Pirates are taking up permanent residence in this section, which seems about right given last week’s overtime win over Providence and the subsequent loss at St. John’s. They have a pair of Top 50 wins but just a 5-8 mark against the Top 100.
The good news is that four of their next five games are at home, but perhaps the bad news is that those come against Creighton, Villanova, Xavier, and fellow bubbler Georgetown.
The Razorbacks have managed to rack up seven Top 100 wins while beating just one team in contention for an at-large (Tennessee), and to be fair a 14-6 mark against the Top 200 is far better than a number of other bubble teams. That said, there just isn’t much meat on their profile, while a loss to Missouri is a pretty big blemish.
Up next is a mid-week trip to South Carolina followed by a home date with Ole Miss.
Things have largely unraveled for the Golden Eagles since beating Villanova, as they’ve gone 1-4 with the lone win coming at DePaul. That, in combination with a woeful non-conference strength of schedule, has them in jeopardy. Two Top 25 wins are great, but the fact remains they are just 7-10 against the Top 200.
Marquette’s lone game this week comes on Saturday against Xavier, where a win could provide a little breathing room.
First Five Out
The Hoyas have 12 losses, which doesn’t bode well by any means, but they have no bad losses and three Top 20 wins. As a result, Georgetown sits among a number of teams with truly strange profiles. Starting with Sunday’s game at Creighton, the Hoyas play three of their next four on the road. That stretch will ultimately determine their fate.
While I realize the committee doesn’t look specifically at conference records, the Tigers are just 3-9 in the ACC, and I find it hard to believe a team that far under .500 in the league would get an at-large. They do have three Top 50 wins to go with an 8-10 mark against the Top 100, but just one of those wins came against an at-large lock – and even that came against South Carolina with Sindarius Thornwell out.
The Tigers do have four of their last six at home, and they need to stack some wins starting with this week’s games at home against Wake and then at Miami.
The Vols split home games with Ole Miss and Georgia last week, which leaves them with just a 13-11 mark against Division I opponents. They do have home wins over Kentucky and Kansas State, but their only other win against an at-large contender came against Georgia Tech in December. This week brings a trip to Kentucky followed by a home date with Mizzou.
A Top 30 RPI is great, but the reality is that Wake is 0-8 against the Top 50 with their best RPI victories coming at Charleston and at home against Miami and Georgia Tech. The Demon Deacons split games at Notre Dame and home against NC State last week, but things get tougher this week as they travel to Clemson and Duke.
It’s tough to believe that a team with wins over Kansas and North Carolina would miss the tournament, but that’s where the Hoosiers are right now. Sure, injuries have played a factor, but IU has just one win over a tournament caliber team since December 1, and a weak non-conference schedule has their RPI sitting in the 90s. The Hoosiers are just 8-11 against the Top 200, and this week’s trip to Minnesota starts a stretch where they play four of their final five games on the road.
Here is how the bids broke down by conference:
ACC (10): Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Miami (FL), North Carolina, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech
Big Ten (7): Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Purdue, Wisconsin
Big 12 (7): Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, TCU, West Virginia
Big East (6): Butler, Creighton, Marquette, Seton Hall, Villanova, Xavier
Pac-12 (5): Arizona, California, Oregon, UCLA, USC
SEC (4): Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, South Carolina
American (2): Cincinnati, SMU
Atlantic 10 (2): Dayton, VCU
West Coast (2): Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s
America East: Vermont
Atlantic Sun: Florida Gulf Coast
Big Sky: Weber State
Big South: UNC-Asheville
Big West: UC Davis
Conference USA: Middle Tennessee
MEAC: NC Central
Missouri Valley: Wichita State
Mountain West: Boise State
Northeast: Mount St. Mary’s
Ohio Valley: Belmont
Southland: New Orleans
Summit: North Dakota State
Sun Belt: UT-Arlington
SWAC: Texas Southern
WAC: Cal State Bakersfield
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