Bracket Projections - Jan 16

The Colton Index is up-to-date through games on Tuesday January 15th, and here's my latest bracket projections. Again, this is not who I think will make the tourney, but who I think should make the tourney if the season ended today, based on body-of-work with extra weight for performance over the last 10 games and quality wins.

1: North Carolina, Kansas, Memphis, Washington St
2: UCLA, Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Duke
3: Mississippi, Dayton, Wisconsin, Georgetown
4: Texas, Marquette, Drake, Michigan St
5: Rhode Island, Butler, Texas A&M, Indiana
6: St. Mary's, Xavier, Vanderbilt, Clemson
7: Gonzaga, Ohio State, Baylor, Duquesne
8: Oregon, CS Northridge, Arizona, Kent St
9: Miami-Florida, Arkansas, Stanford, West Virginia
10: Oklahoma, Florida, Connecticut, Illinois St
11: Arizona St, Creighton, Notre Dame, Villanova
12: Florida St, South Alabama, Southern California, Cleveland St
13: San Diego St, Davidson, Oral Roberts, Niagara
14: UNC Asheville, Brown, Hampton, Utah St
15: Wagner, Northern Arizona, Austin Peay, Delaware
16: Lafayette, Jacksonville, McNeese St, Hartford, Texas Southern

Last 4 In: Notre Dame, Villanova, Florida St, Southern California
First 4 Out: Minnesota, Stephen F. Austin, Massachusetts, Providence
Next 4 Out: California, Boston College, Sam Houston, Syracuse

If you've followed the Colton Index in the past, you know that I believe Arizona has figured out how to beat the system through smart scheduling. They generally avoid the bottom feeders in the non-conference, leading to consistently inflated overall RPI numbers. Two years ago, they made the tourney because of their inflated numbers, not because their performance warranted it. (Part 3 of my presentations show how through smart scheduling, Arizona created a win-win situation for itself. Perform well and it's easy to justify a top seed. Underperform and you still get in.)

So far in 2007, it looks like Arizona is up to its old tricks again, with an RPI of 10 despite a record of 10-5. Since the RPI is 75% SOS, it's more who you play instead of how well you do. Better yet, it's more who you don't play instead of how well you do. Arizona's non-conference schedule has only one bottom feeder in it, UMKC (257 RPI last year). Most of the remaining opponents are right in that 'sweet spot' of 50-150 range, games where Arizona has a good chance of winning without killing their SOS. Plus, because of changes to how the NCAA defines home/road games, their game against Illinois at the United Center is now considered a road game (40% bonus), when previously it would've been considered neutral (like last year's game against Illinois in Phoenix).

Right now, I have Arizona in the tourney as an 8 seed, but that's based on a Colton Index of 33 and SOS of 15. If their RPI of 10 and SOS of 1 play any role in the Committee's decision making, you'll likely see a much higher seed.


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