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Bracket Update - March 11th

3/11/2008
Here is my latest bracket projections with games as of Monday March 10th. Again, this is not what I think the brackets will look like (trying to guess what the Selection Committee WILL do), it's simply what I think they SHOULD do if they practice what they preach: value body-of-work with slight extra weight for recent performance and quality wins.

1: North Carolina, Memphis, UCLA, Tennessee
2: Duke, Texas, Kansas, Georgetown
3: Wisconsin, Stanford, Drake, Washington St
4: Louisville, Xavier, Butler, Connecticut
5: Notre Dame, Indiana, Michigan St, Southern California
6: Marquette, Purdue, Vanderbilt, Clemson
7: Pittsburgh, Gonzaga, Oklahoma, Kent St
8: Arizona, Texas A&M, Miami (FL), Baylor
9: West Virginia, BYU, Arizona St, Oregon
10: Davidson, Illinois St, St. Mary's, Kansas St
11: Syracuse, Ohio State, Massachusetts, Mississippi St
12: Villanova, Mississippi, Arkansas, Stephen F. Austin
13: Western Kentucky, Cornell, Oral Roberts, UC Santa Barbara
14: George Mason, Siena, Belmont, San Diego
15: UMBC, Utah St, Winthrop, Portland St
16: American, Austin Peay, Morgan St, Sacred Heart, Alabama St

Last 4 In: Mississippi St, Villanova, Mississippi, Arkansas
First 4 Out: South Alabama, Florida St, Kentucky, Creighton
Next 4 Out: Dayton, UNLV, VCU, Saint Joseph's
A few observations:

- Obviously, the San Diego win over Gonzaga took an at-large bid away from the bubble teams, as Gonzaga and St. Mary's are already safely in. Not a bad deal for the West Coast conference, three bids for the 15th best conference.

- VCU and potentially South Alabama may have given 1-2 bids back to the field. I think VCU is definitely out. South Alabama still has a chance at an at-large bid. They are likely helped by inflated RPI numbers (see Bubble Teams below)

- Right now, I have Syracuse and Villanova in, but they play each other in the 8/9 game of the Big East tournament. It's likely that the loser of the game will get a parting gift of an NIT bid. It seems unlikely that the Big East will ever get more than 8 bids for this reason.

- I have Illinois St in comfortably, but that 30-point thrashing by Drake can't help their cause. The Committee is supposed to look at wins and losses as opposed to margin of victory, but it's never good to have a blowout loss as the last thing the Committee sees of you. I think it says more about the quality of Drake than anything else, although I highly doubt they get the '3' seed their resume deserves.

Bubble Teams

I put up some detailed info on the remaining bubble teams, rank ordered on how I have them sorted on my S-Curve. I used ESPN's bubble watch to guide who was considered a lock and who was still on the bubble (the only exceptions to the ESPN lock were BYU and Missippi St, who I still have as bubble teams). I realize that teams like Nebraska, Wake Forest, Washington, SIU, Texas Tech, Cal, Oklahoma St, Georgia Tech and down to Cleveland St are not even in the running for an at-large bid, but I included them for comparison as they are all currently more worthy than UAB who is still considered a bubble team (ESPN also had Houston listed and they were even further down the list). Florida St and Creighton are two other teams not listed as bubble teams by ESPN, but I feel they should at least be in the conversation. Florida State seems to be in this situation every year. On the lower end of the bubble with some quality wins but overall deflated RPI numbers, a position that you don't really want to be in.

Proj RANKSOS NC SOS
SeedTEAMW LJCIRPIJCI RPIJCIRPIQW QLNext Game
7 Kent St 25 6 28 27 127 117 95 63 32 34 3/13 Toledo/Bowling Green
8 Arizona 17 13 35 30 1 2 25 6 21 53 3/12 Oregon St
8 Texas A&M 21 9 32 47 48 56 275 219 27 39 3/13 Iowa St
8 Miami (FL) 20 9 34 29 46 31 276 134 29 44 3/13 North Carolina St
8 Baylor 20 9 30 40 39 33 231 147 31 33 3/13 Colorado
9 West Virginia 21 9 31 38 54 55 238 133 44 27 3/12 Providence
9 BYU 25 6 29 21 136 95 144 141 64 23 3/13 Colorado St/Wyoming
9 Arizona St 19 11 37 75 18 76 307 305 33 48 3/13 Southern Cal
9 Oregon 18 12 38 52 4 30 185 159 38 41 3/13 Washington St
10 Illinois St 23 9 39 34 83 69 178 114 35 46 None
10 St. Mary's 24 6 36 39 143 137 92 29 68 24 None
10 Kansas St 19 10 40 44 43 27 165 77 46 42 3/14 Texas A&M/Iowa St
11 Syracuse 19 12 46 45 33 7 184 18 30 69 3/12 Villanova
11 Ohio State 19 12 41 48 20 21 24 12 47 45 3/14 Michigan St
11 Massachusetts 21 9 44 41 90 66 133 82 36 58 3/13 Charlotte/Rhode Island
11 Mississippi St 21 9 42 37 84 51 219 128 52 43 3/14 Alabama/Florida
12 Villanova 19 11 45 56 47 57 233 169 34 65 3/12 Syracuse
12 Mississippi 21 9 47 43 100 60 268 120 40 60 3/13 Georgia
12 Arkansas 20 10 50 42 80 40 170 86 42 63 3/14 Auburn/Vanderbilt
South Alabama 24 5 43 25 209 127 124 74 82 28 None
Florida St 18 13 53 63 27 20 187 121 39 71 3/13 Wake Forest
Kentucky 18 11 51 50 49 12 136 92 50 57 3/14 Georgia/Mississippi
Creighton 20 10 49 51 76 72 190 102 62 52 None
Dayton 20 9 52 33 103 41 161 34 43 66 3/12 Saint Louis
UNLV 22 7 48 28 146 70 217 55 74 38 3/13 TCU
VCU 24 7 58 53 189 152 76 78 55 62 None
Saint Joseph's 18 11 61 55 73 58 134 108 37 89 3/12 Fordham
New Mexico 24 7 57 54 178 150 310 263 77 49 3/13 Utah
Virginia Tech 18 12 59 57 51 45 164 129 69 59 3/14 Miami/NC State
Florida 21 10 56 65 95 85 329 273 75 50 3/13 Alabama
Nebraska 18 11 60 97 66 110 281 312 70 56 3/13 Missouri
Maryland 18 13 68 69 58 15 229 69 41 97 3/13 Boston College
Wake Forest 17 12 62 87 53 84 226 268 57 72 3/13 Florida St
Washington 16 15 63 109 6 50 204 223 61 68 3/12 California
13 Western Kentucky 23 6 54 49 197 151 99 99 112 26 3/11 Middle Tenn St
Southern Illinois 17 14 66 60 41 13 14 4 51 98 None
Texas Tech 15 14 64 61 8 3 84 26 67 67 3/13 Oklahoma St
California 15 14 65 93 9 34 293 182 59 70 3/12 Washington
Oklahoma St 15 14 69 83 15 16 177 124 65 81 3/13 Texas Tech
Temple 18 12 71 58 82 43 67 27 49 106 3/13 LaSalle/Duquesne
Georgia Tech 14 16 74 73 3 8 27 48 45 111 3/13 Virginia
Wright St 21 10 70 84 128 149 191 109 58 86 None
Rhode Island 21 10 67 66 122 104 257 193 66 78 3/12 Charlotte
Cleveland St 19 11 76 71 108 97 111 45 53 107 3/11 Butler
UAB 22 9 72 46 153 93 249 153 81 64 3/13 Tulsa/E Carolina

Most of the table should be pretty self-explanatory. The QW and QL numbers stand for Quality Wins and Quality Losses. It simply a summation of the difficulty of a team's wins and losses over the entire season. I'd argue that a team that is inferior to another in both QW & QL probably doesn't have a case for having a better profile than another.

For each bubble team, I show the RPI based rankings and SOS numbers side-by-side with my corresponding Colton Index figures. Remember, most (if not all) of the differences between the two are caused by nothing more than the wacky nuances of the RPI. Of course, the RPI are the numbers that the Committee has in front of them, and even if they don't play a large role in the decision-making process the Committee has to take them at face value (that they represent what they are meant to represent). So as a bubble team you much rather have inflated RPI numbers than the opposite.

The teams most likely to gain from inflated RPI numbers are: South Alabama (25 RPI vs 43), Dayton (33 vs 52), UNLV (28 vs 48), BYU (29 vs 21), Arkansas (50 vs 42), Temple (58 vs 71) and UAB (46 vs 72). Those are large difference right in the sweet spot of teams getting serious consideration. Big SOS differences include BYU (95 RPI SOS vs 136), UMass (60 vs 99), Missippi St (51 vs 84), Ole Miss (60 vs 100), Arkansas (40 vs 80), South Alabama (127 vs 209), Syracuse (7 vs 33), Dayton (41 vs 103), Maryland (15 vs 58), Temple (43 vs 82) and UAB (93 vs 153). If you followed any of my videos or blog posts in the past, you know this is driven primarily by the number (or lack of) 'bottom-feeders', sub-250 RPI opponents, a team has on its schedule, but it may also be influenced because the home/road adjustments are not accounted for in the RPI SOS measure.

The team most likely to be hurt by deflated RPI numbers is Arizona State, with a RPI of 75 vs my measure of 37. They have a RPI SOS of 76 where I have it at 18, actually tougher than a slew of bubble teams with better RPI SOS numbers such as Syracuse, Kentucky and Maryland. It's a travesty that Arizona St's schedule looks easier than Dayton's, Missippi's and UNLV's, for example. I agree with the RPI in that their non-conference schedule is extremely weak, but that NC SOS drags down their overall numbers to the point that they are barely in the conversation as a bubble team. See what the seemingly benign decision of playing teams like Florida Gulf Coast (RPI 291, non DI last year), Coppin State (266, 246 last year), Idaho (302, 305 RPI last year), and St Francis (PA) (313, RPI 321 last year) can do to your tourney chances? I currently have the Sun Devil's as a 9 seed although I'm willing to bet they don't get in. Their QW/QL profile is similar to illinois St, Kansas St, Ohio State and is superior to teams such as UMass, Missippi St, Syracuse, Villanova, Ole Miss, Arkansas, Kentucky and Maryland.

Other teams that could be hurt by deflated RPI numbers are Texas A&M (47 RPI vs 32), Baylor (40 vs 30), Oregon (52 vs 38), Villanova (56 vs 47), Florida St (63 vs 53) and Florida (65 vs 56). Again, these are real differences right in the sweet spot of teams under consideration. Besides Arizona St, Oregon is the other bubble team with a significantly deflated RPI number (30 RPI vs 4).

I plan to update my brackets on a daily basis up until Selection Sunday. I will try to update this list of bubble teams as well.

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