Here is our updated bracket following this past weekend’s games.
So one of the most common things you’ll hear every year during late February and early March is how “the bubble is so weak this year.” On ESPN and all the various college basketball sites you check out, that is always said at this time of year. Usually, it results in me giving a huge eye-roll. If you hear it every year, is the bubble really weak or is that just the nature of being on the bubble? Well, guess what? This year, the bubble really is INCREDIBLY WEAK.
I’ve done this now for 4 years, and I’ve never seen teams with such low RPIs and such awful conference records being considered for those last 4 in/First Four spots. (Sidebar: the RPI is awful. But the committee uses the RPI, so I use the RPI. Until that changes, that’s the standard operating procedure around here.) Clemson is being heavily considered by bracketologists with a conference record of 4-10. Syracuse and Georgia Tech could very well both make the field, and both have RPIs over 70. The 2nd place team from the Missouri Valley would make it in the field for me right now, whether it is Wichita State or Illinois State. Both of them only have one top-50 win, and it is against each other. This is bad, awful, hold-your-nose while you put them in the final 68 type of stuff.
Why is it so bad? It’s due to conferences not performing up to their standards. The American conference is garbage. The A-10 is having a down year. The Pac-12 is really quite bad after its top 5 teams. The SEC is a gigantic, jumbled mess after its top 3. (I considered saying top 4 here and including Arkansas in that “top” group. The fact that I considered including Arkansas in a “top” group shows how much of a mess the rest of the league is.) The Big Ten is having a down year. The Big East is the 3rd best conference in America, and it really only has one team that will be favored to make the 2nd weekend. Because those conferences are having such down years all at the same time is the reason we’re seeing the possibility of the ACC getting 12 of its 15 teams in or the Big 12 getting 8 of its 10 teams. There are not a lot of other great options out there.
Therefore, that’s why you see Georgia Tech, with its RPI in the 70s, as one of my last 4 at-large bids in this bracket. The same goes for Marquette and its RPI hovering in the 70s. This is the bubble. It is bad. Unless some of these teams start getting some big wins, we’re looking at a very shaky bubble. Get prepared. Onto the bracket.
1 – Villanova, Kansas, Gonzaga, Baylor
2 – North Carolina, Louisville, Oregon, Arizona
3 – Florida State, Kentucky, Duke, Florida
4 – UCLA, Virginia, West Virginia, Purdue
5 – Butler, Cincinnati, Creighton, Notre Dame
6 – Wisconsin, Maryland, St. Mary’s, SMU
7 – Minnesota, Northwestern, South Carolina, Xavier
8 – Oklahoma State, Iowa State, USC, VCU
9 – Dayton, Miami (FL), Virginia Tech, Arkansas
10 – Michigan State, California, Michigan, Wichita State
It’s time for the first bracketology in February for the 2017 NCAA Tournament. We are officially hitting the stretch run of the college basketball season, which means we are hitting the prime time for frequent bracketology updates.
This edition is a bit different than most due to the release of the Top 16 by the NCAA Selection Committee on Saturday. My goal with bracketology is not to create a bracket based on what I think it should be or based on my own methodology; I am trying to mimic what I think the committee will do come Selection Sunday. Because of that, the committee provided a great starting point on Saturday with their top 16. Of their top 16, Florida State, Virginia, and Butler all lost this weekend. I don’t think the losses by FSU and Virginia are too damaging to their profiles. I considered dropping Butler a couple of spots, but their resume is still very strong, and a loss to an improving Providence team is not THAT damaging. I kept them on the 4-line. Therefore, my 16 matches the committee’s 16 in today’s bracket.
Here’s today’s bracket projection. A reminder: each bracketology edition, I will post the projected bracket with match-ups, pod locations, and all the other things a bracket would have. I will also post the seed list 1-68 as well as the breakdown of bids by conference (for conferences that receive multiple bids). Here we go.
1 – Villanova, Kansas, Baylor, Gonzaga
2 – North Carolina, Florida State, Louisville, Oregon
3 – Arizona, Virginia, Florida, Kentucky
4 – Butler, West Virginia, UCLA, Duke
5 – Purdue, Cincinnati, Creighton, Wisconsin
6 – Maryland, South Carolina, St. Mary’s, Notre Dame