NCAA Tournament bracket projections, Selection Sunday: Rock-M-Tology

For the first time, we are projecting both the NCAA Tournament and the NIT. HOORAY.

I hate this bracket, which leads me to assume it's pretty good.

Last Few In

Arizona State (21-11)
Oklahoma State (21-12)
Kansas State (20-12)
Iowa (19-12)
Tennessee (20-12)
Dayton (23-10)
Xavier (20-12)
Nebraska (19-12)
Southern Miss (25-6)

So here's the deal: It seems for the most part as if people have SMU safely in. And the consensus is usually right. But I'm struggling to see why SMU's résumé is particularly better than Southern Miss'. Southern Miss' RPI is better (and whether we like it or not, we know the committee's line of thinking follows RPI rather closely), and the Golden Eagles' non-conference RPI is much better. SMU has more top-50 wins (and a better Pomeroy ranking, which should carry more weight than it does), but USM has fewer bad losses and a much better set of road/neutral accomplishments.

The formula I use to establish the initial rankings is tied to which factors correlate the best with the committee's previous selections from 2003-13. It got all 68 teams right last year (selection, not seeding ... seeding's a disaster to figure out), and it actually has Southern Miss relatively safe. Until I started making manual adjustments, USM was so safe that it wasn't even in the play-in game. SMU was on the outside looking in. The more I think about it, the less sure I am about SMU. So screw it, I'll buck the conventional wisdom and put Southern Miss in.

First Few Out

SMU (23-9)
Minnesota (19-13)
Florida State (19-13)
California (19-13)
Missouri (22-11)
N.C. State (21-13)
Louisiana Tech (26-7)
Arkansas (21-11)
Toledo (26-6)

Basically, there are 37 teams for 36 at-large bids. I don't see Minnesota, FSU, or anybody else on this list making it other than SMU. It would be very much out of character for the committee to select anybody other than SMU from this list.

By Conference

7 - Big 12
6 - Atlantic 10, Big Ten, Pac-12
5 - ACC
4 - American, Big East
3 - SEC
2 - Mountain West, West Coast

NCAA Bracket

FIRST FOUR (in Dayton)

Dayton (23-10) vs. Southern Miss (25-6)
Xavier (20-12) vs. Nebraska (19-12)

Mt. St. Mary's (16-16) vs. Cal Poly (11-19)
Coastal Carolina (18-12) vs. Texas Southern (18-14)

South Region
(Memphis)
East Region
(NYC)
Midwest Region
(Indianapolis)
West Region
(Anaheim)
1 Florida (31-2) 1 Villanova (28-4) 1 Wichita State (33-0) 1 Arizona (30-4)
16 Wofford (17-12) 16 Albany (18-14) 16 Coastal Caro. / TX SO 16 MSM / Cal Poly
8 Texas (23-10) 8 Memphis (22-9) 8 Baylor (22-11) 8 George Wash. (24-8)
9 Colorado (23-11) 9 Oklahoma St. (21-12) 9 Stanford (21-12) 9 Pittsburgh (25-9)
Orlando Buffalo St. Louis San Diego
5 Ohio State (25-9) 5 Cincinnati (27-6) 5 UCLA (26-8) 5 New Mexico (27-6)
12 SFA (27-2) 12 Harvard (25-4) 12 Xavier / Nebraska 12 Dayton / So. Miss
4 SDSU (27-4) 4 VCU (26-7) 4 Michigan State (25-8) 4 Creighton (26-7)
13 Manhattan (25-7) 13 Georgia State (23-7) 13 Delaware (25-9) 13 WMU (22-9)
Spokane San Diego Spokane San Antonio
6 North Carolina (23-9) 6 Kentucky (24-9) 6 UConn (26-8) 6 Gonzaga (27-6)
11 BYU (22-11) 11 Iowa (19-12) 11 N. Dakota St. (22-6) 11 Providence (23-11)
3 Louisville (29-5) 3 Syracuse (27-5) 3 Wisconsin (26-7) 3 Virginia (27-6)
14 E. Kentucky (22-9) 14 NMSU (25-9) 14 Tulsa (21-12) 14 Mercer (23-8)
Orlando San Antonio Milwaukee Raleigh
7 UMass (24-8) 7 Oregon (23-9) 7 St. Louis (25-6) 7 Oklahoma (23-9)
10 Arizona St. (21-11) 10 Tennessee (20-12) 10 Kansas State (20-12) 10 St. Joseph's (23-9)
2 Iowa State (26-7) 2 Kansas (24-9) 2 Duke (26-7) 2 Michigan (25-7)
15 UW-Milwaukee (20-13) 15 Weber State (17-11) 15 N.C. Central (26-5) 15 American (20-12)
Milwaukee St. Louis Raleigh Buffalo

Some thoughts about the seeds:

  • Nobody deserves the fourth No. 1 seed. Villanova didn't want it, Michigan wasn't worthy until about three weeks ago, Kansas lost nine games, Duke doesn't deserve it. If you really wanted to, you could make a case for any of the 2-seeds, Virginia (especially if they win today), Louisville, or even Michigan State (because of injuries).

  • Lunardi has Michigan a 1-seed. He might be right, but I can't do it. Because the NCAA still allows the Big Ten to play its tournament final so late in the day (seriously, just make them all finish on Saturday), the committee would basically have to decide that Michigan is deserving of a 1-seed no matter what happens today against Michigan State, and I just can't align myself with that. The Wolverines were mediocre in non-conference and rank only 11th in the Pomeroy rankings. Villanova is sixth. I think Villanova has been better over the entire season, though I would pick either Michigan or Louisville to beat Villanova head to head.

  • Meanwhile, the 2-seeds and 3-seeds are almost entirely interchangeable. Any of the 3s could be a 2, and honestly, my ranking of Iowa State is probably too aggressive. If Virginia wins today, I could easily see the Hoos getting (and deserving) that spot.

  • The 4s, 5s, and 6s are also almost completely interchangeable. We say something to this effect every season, I think, but wow, is parity pretty strong here.

  • If this bracket were to come to fruition, you would have a lot of people picking Oklahoma State over Villanova and Pitt over Arizona in the Round of 32, I think.

My At-First-Glance Final Four

Louisville-Kansas-Wichita State-Michigan

Second glance: Florida-Tennessee!-Michigan State-Arizona

No, Tennessee's not going to make the Final Four, but they are a terrifying 10. In fact, they would match up pretty well with Kansas, wouldn't they...

NIT Bracket

SMU Region California Region Minnesota Region FSU Region
1 SMU (23-9) 1 California (19-13) 1 Minnesota (19-13) 1 Florida State (19-13)
8 High Point (14-14) 8 Utah Valley (18-11) 8 Robert Morris (21-13) 8 FGCU (20-12)
4 Belmont (23-9) 4 Illinois (19-14) 4 Toledo (26-6) 4 Georgia (19-13)
5 Maryland (16-15) 5 St. Mary's (21-11) 5 Clemson (20-12) 5 Iona (22-10)
3 Green Bay (21-6) 3 Georgetown (17-14) 3 Utah (19-11) 3 Louisiana Tech (26-7)
6 Indiana State (21-10) 6 MTSU (22-9) 6 San Francisco (19-11) 6 Richmond (19-14)
2 Arkansas (21-11) 2 Missouri (22-11) 2 N.C. State (21-13) 2 St. John's (20-12)
7 Vermont (20-10) 7 Davidson (19-12) 7 UC Irvine (21-11) 7 Boston U. (24-10)

Missouri's inevitable path to destiny :(

Davidson-Georgetown-Illinois-SMU-N.C. State

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