Beef’s Bracketology, Selection Sunday

Beef's Bracketology

Selection Sunday, basketball version is upon us.  The last few spots were really tough to separate the keepers and the cutters.  In the end, the mid-majors only took four of the thirty-six at-large spots.  This is something that was very difficult for me to do accept, deleting from the final pool of teams, one at a time.  Here’s a few quick hitters on the final teams in and cut.

Southern California (23-9) made it in primarily on their non-conference win over Southern Methodist.  Combined with a RPI of 42 and a winning conference record, they in – barely.  Providence (20-12) gets in having a winning record in the Big East and a 6-8 record against the RPI Top 100.  Syracuse (18-14) had the exact same numbers as Providence in the Atlantic Coast, but their RPI of 84 would be a record for the lowest an at-large team ever had to receive a bid.  Just couldn’t pull the trigger, especially when compared to Providence who had an RPI of 54 and a better record overall by two games.  Seton Hall (21-11) gives the Big East a seventh bid by virtue of a higher RPI, 45, than the two team mentioned before, also 10-8 in the Big East and no bad losses.  Illinois State (26-6) has a sparkling record and a nice RPI of 35, which is the highest to not make the field.  In the end, the undoing here was having only three games played against the Top 100, going 1-2, and all of those were against Wichita State.  A horrible non-conference loss to Murray State didn’t help matters either.  California (20-12) and Utah (18-11) both were cut because the big non-conference wins were not there and their Top 100 records were atrocious.

The top of the bracket was a no brainer for Villanova (31-3).  The defending national champions won the Big East, have the best RiSK Rating and have a better overall record than anyone not named Gonzaga.  Gonzaga (32-1) also gets a #1.  Sure they play in the West Coast, but St. Mary’s and Brigham Young also play there and they’re not slouches.  There’s a slight bit of hesitancy to make Arizona (30-4) the #1 in the West after winning the Pacific Twelve, but Gonzaga has been everyone’s target all season and only slipped once.  Kansas (28-4) and Kentucky (29-5) both figured into one of the last two top seeds.  The overall body of work probably favors Kansas, just barely, but losing in the Big XII quarters compared to Kentucky winning the Southeastern makes it very dicey.  The last top spot for sure goes to North Carolina (26-7) or Duke (27-8).  North Carolina’s body of work for the entire season, similarly to Kansas/Kentucky, is just slightly better than Duke’s.  But Duke having won the Atlantic Coast tournament and two out of three this season from North Carolina makes this a virtual dead heat.  The Atlantic Coast will get a #1, but it’s really close between the two.  It wouldn’t be a surprise to see either on that top line.  Same goes for Kansas and Kentucky, the line is razor thin.  All seven teams in this paragraph are a lock to be a #1 or #2.

  • Multi-bid Conferences

9…Atlantic Coast

7…Big East

7…Big Ten

6…Big XII

5…Southeastern

4…Pacific Twelve

3…Atlantic Ten

2…American

2…West Coast

  • Last Four In, with byes

Northwestern, Marquette, Michigan State, Northwestern

  • Last Four In, play-in

Kansas State, Providence, Seton Hall, Southern California

  • First Eight Missing The Cut

California, Illinois State, Utah, Syracuse, Alabama, Georgia, Iowa, Brigham Young

Below is a link to the final RiSK Rankings for the 68 teams who either won their conference’s automatic bid or garnered an at-large spot.  RiSK is an acronym for a very simple power ranking metric for college basketball.  It combines equal weight of the RPI(R), Sagarin Ratings(S) and KenPom Ratings(K).  It’s actually a pretty good gauge about who should be in the field and where they should be seeded.  It’s not an end-all by any stretch, but it’s a pretty useful tool to get you in the neighborhood.

RiSK Rankings & Bracketology – RiSK

And here is the final bracket projection…may The Committee be kind to me.

RiSK Rankings & Bracketology – Bracket