Notes and comments:
- So I'm trying something a little different this year, at least at first. In your typical Rock-M-Tology post, you get a bracket, etc., but you also get a comparison of my seedings/selections to those of Joe Lunardi, Jerry Palm and others. For this first week, at least, I decided not to do that. I wanted to see what I came up with completely uninfluenced by others. So beginning next week, you'll get the "underrated, overrated, etc." pieces of this post, and as we get closer to Selection Sunday, I'll shift (as always) from "what I think" to "what I think the committee thinks." The first time around, however, it's all me.
- Well ... my numbers and me. As always, I used a combination of RPI, Top 50 wins, Top 101+ losses, conference results, etc.-- the things the committee uses, in other words -- to reach my own set of rankings. And as with last year, I have begun this process with a healthy dose of Ken Pomeroy's rankings as a way to, in effect, somewhat predict how the next few weeks will go. Any sort of Bracketology post a month out is going to be weird in that it will have a few different goals -- gauging resumes to data, looking a head a bit, etc. But here's my best stab.
- Missouri's got some work to do. The Tigers are a little closer to the cut-off than I expected. Like, "First Four" close. The way I weight everything out, a single road win, even against LSU or Texas A&M, would have made Missouri relatively safe here. But as we stand, heading into the most important five-game stretch of the season (at Mississippi State, at Arkansas, Florida, at Kentucky, at South Carolina), Missouri is very, very much not safe.
- Right now, I only see three No. 1 seeds: Florida, Indiana and Duke. Miami is surging toward one at the moment, and Michigan, Louisville, Arizona, Syracuse, Michigan State, etc., are all very much within striking distance. (Honestly, I might be slighting Michigan here a bit.) But those three teams have built a little bit of separation from the rest in my numbers.
- Other teams I might be slighting a bit: Ohio State, Georgetown, N.C. State, Oregon.
- Teams I might be propping up a bit too high: Minnesota, VCU, Middle Tennessee, Stephen F. Austin, Pitt.
- With this delicate approach, I fully expect some odd results and major disagreements. Let me have it.
Last Few In
Names in italics would be among the last in without their conference's automatic bid.
St. Louis (18-5, No. 56 RPI, No. 37 KenPom)
Stephen F. Austin (16-2, No. 69, No. 51)
Oklahoma (15-7, No. 18, No. 56)
Notre Dame (19-5, No. 43, No. 50)
Iowa State (16-7, No. 37, No. 33)
Baylor (14-8, No. 54, No. 27)
UCLA (18-6, No. 38, No. 53)
Missouri (17-6, No. 33, No. 39)
North Carolina (15-7, No. 36, No. 46)
Southern Miss (16-6, No. 46, No. 52)
Akron (18-4, No. 53, No. 54)
Bucknell (19-4, No. 58, No. 61)
Virginia (17-6, No. 80, No. 19)
That loss to UCLA really stinks right about now.
First Few Out
Stanford (15-9, No. 57, No. 40)
Louisiana Tech (21-3, No. 51, No. 77)
Boise State (14-7, No. 48, No. 65)
California (14-9, No. 59, No. 64)
Indiana State (15-8, No. 46, No. 68)
Temple (16-7, No. 40, No. 76)
Villanova (14-9, No. 59, No. 64)
Wyoming (14-7, No. 62, No. 63)
North Dakota State (17-6, No. 67, No. 57)
BYU (17-8, No. 60, No. 58)
Maryland (17-7, No. 73, No. 59)
Iowa (15-9, No. 92, No. 35)
The good news for Missouri: this list of "out" teams isn't very strong, at least not in terms of major-conference, "name-brand" squads, and it includes one team Missouri has beaten (Stanford). In my rankings, there's a huge dropoff between Southern Miss and Virginia, so Missouri probably has a little bit more room to fall before being on the First Few Out list. (That said, a loss at lowly Mississippi State would just about do it.)
8 - Big East
7 - Big Ten
6 - Big 12
5 - ACC
4 - Atlantic 10, Mountain West, Pac-12, SEC
2 - Conference USA, Missouri Valley, West Coast
FIRST FOUR (in Dayton)
Missouri (17-6) vs. Virginia (17-6)
North Carolina (15-7) vs. Southern Miss (16-6)
Southern U. (13-8) vs. Robert Morris (17-8)
Long Beach State (12-9) vs. UNC-Asheville (12-10)
EAST REGIONAL (in Washington, DC)
1 Florida (19-3) vs. N.C. Central (13-7)
8 Memphis (20-3) vs. St. Mary's (20-4)
5 Butler (19-4) vs. 12 Mizzou / Virginia
4 Kansas State (18-4) vs. 13 Akron (18-4)
in Kansas City
6 Wisconsin (17-7) vs. 11 Notre Dame (19-5)
3 Gonzaga (22-2) vs. 14 Stony Brook (16-6)
in San Jose
7 Middle Tennessee (22-4) vs. 10 Oregon (19-5)
2 Syracuse (20-3) vs. 15 Northeastern (16-8)
WEST REGIONAL (in Los Angeles)
1 Indiana (21-3) vs. 16 Harvard (12-7)
8 N.C. State (17-7) vs. 9 Ole Miss (18-5)
in Auburn Hills, MI
5 Cincinnati (18-6) vs. 12 Baylor (14-8)
4 New Mexico (20-4) vs. 13 Bucknell (19-4)
in Salt Lake City
6 VCU (19-5) vs. 11 Iowa State (16-7)
3 Kansas (19-4) vs. 14 North Dakota State (17-6)
in Kansas City
7 Creighton (20-5) vs. 10 Illinois (16-8)
2 Louisville (19-5) vs. 15 Florida Gulf Coast (16-8)
MIDWEST REGIONAL (in Indianapolis)
1 Duke (21-2) vs. 16 Southern / Robert Morris
8 Belmont (18-5) vs. 9 Kentucky (17-6)
5 Colorado State (17-4) vs. 12 UCLA (18-6)
4 Minnesota (17-7) vs. 13 Stephen F. Austin (16-2)
in San Jose
6 Georgetown (17-4) vs. 11 Oklahoma (15-7)
3 Michigan State (19-4) vs. 14 Valparaiso (18-6)
7 Marquette (17-5) vs. 10 La Salle (16-6)
2 Arizona (20-3) vs. 15 Weber State (14-5)
in Salt Lake City
SOUTH REGIONAL (in Arlington)
1 Miami (19-3) vs. 16 LBSU / UNCA
8 Wichita State (20-5) vs. 9 Colorado (16-7)
5 San Diego State (16-5) vs. UNC / So. Miss
4 Ohio State (17-6) vs. 13 Louisiana Tech (21-3)
6 Oklahoma State (17-5) vs. 11 Saint Louis (18-5)
3 Pittsburgh (20-5) vs. 14 Davidson (16-7)
7 UNLV (17-6) vs. 10 UConn (16-6)
2 Michigan (20-3) vs. 15 Canisius (16-9)
in Auburn Hills
My At-First-Glance Final Four
Second glance: Syracuse-Indiana-Duke-Ohio State
Hmm. I trust the Big Ten a lot more than I thought I did.
Missouri's inevitable path to destiny™ (ahem)
Virginia -> Butler -> Kansas State -> Florida -> Syracuse -> Louisville -> Michigan.
Or, to put it another way, Virginia and six teams I want absolutely no part of.
(Since Missouri and Florida would meet in the Sweet 16, and since Florida is the No. 1 team in the SEC, the committee could veto this selection. So really, the Mizzou-UVa and UNC-USM play-in winners would probably switch places. But I couldn't pass up the possibility of "Missouri-Kansas State in Kansas City," now, could I?)
So yeah, the next five games are huge for Missouri. We already knew that, but this sticks everything in the right frame of reference. Win or else.