Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Mid-majors and conference schedules

Let's chat about conference schedules.  Two conferences are going full bonkers in the 18-19 season with their schedules:

https://www.cbssports.com/college-basketball/news/the-sun-belt-is-the-latest-to-alter-its-scheduling-in-order-to-enhance-its-ncaa-tournament-chances/

Sun Belt:  Has a 20 game conference schedule.  The first 16 games will be standard:  10 games within your division (home-and-home), 6 games outside your division.  Usual stuff.

The final 4 games are wildly different.  Teams are placed in groups of three based on conference record:  1-3, 4-6, 7-9, 10-12.  You play home-and-home within your group.  This means the top 3 teams get 4 games against each other.

The end result?  It's quite possible one or two of the road games in these final four games are Group 1 (top 70 RPI) win chances.  And at the very least, they should be Group 2 win chances.  Plus the home games should be Group 2 win chances.

CUSA:  Has an 18 game conference schedule.  First 14 games are against the other 13 teams, plus one designated rival/travel partner.  Usual stuff.

The final 4 games are wildly different.  Teams are placed in three groups based on conference record:  1-5, 6-10, 11-14.  You play 4 games within your group (each team, either home or away).  This means the top 5 teams get 4 games against each other.

The end result?  You can copy and paste the paragraph above.  It's probable that one or both road games are Group 1 win chances, and at the very least are Group 2 win chances.  The added bonus is that a home game against a top top team (think MTSU) might squeak into Group 1 as well.



The methodology is clunky, but the goal is really, really simple.  The committee has sent a message in the past couple of years.  They care about quality wins a lot.  More than most other resume items.  The more quality wins, the better.  The more Group 1 wins, the better.  The overall record in such games isn't quite as important.  Going 4-11 in such Group 1 games seems to be getting rewarded more than going 3-3 in such games.  The raw number of wins is becoming more important than the ratio of wins to losses in such games.

This is the mid-major response to that.  These teams don't get 10-15 Group 1 win chances.  They get 3-6 on average.  Even if you go 3-1 in such games, it seems the committee would rather take the team that went, say, 5-8 in such games.  Therefore, the solution is obvious:  more Group 1 games!  These moves will give at-large contenders in each conference, on average, about 2 more Group 1 win chances.  It may be 1, or 3, in some years, of course.  But on average, I think 2 is the number.  And if a team adds 2 such wins because of this?  That 3-1 or 3-2 record becomes 5-1 or 5-2.  Even if they go 1-1 in such games, you're going from 3-2 to 4-3.  Every single win helps.

Also this will help SoS.  Avoid the RPI calorie bombs at the bottom of your league.  That's pretty big as the Sun Belt and CUSA both have some ugly RPIs at the bottom of their standings each year.

The bottom line:  Mid-majors have received the message from the selection committee.  Manufacture as many quality win chances as you can, period.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Selection committee takeaways

Let's just do a quick recap.  I usually like to wait a couple of weeks to let the dust settle, then analyze what happened.

1) The committee went full S-Curve on the top 2 lines.  They did not place teams by geography; they matched 1 vs. 8, 2 vs. 7, and so forth.  This is a pretty big admission.  They said they had trouble creating balance in the bracket if they went based on geography.  So in the future, we now know the NCAA will protect balanced brackets, even over geography, if they have to.

2) Non-conference SoS just doesn't matter anymore.  It's all about overall SoS.  Kansas St skated by with an atrocious number; Florida St and Virginia Tech's seeds weren't punished at all.  The committee is now showing the trend of forgiving a bad non-con SoS - IF your overall SoS is good.

2b) By that same token, if your conference is weak, then you WILL be punished, period.  St Mary's had a non-con SoS around 180.  Not good, but not awful either.  Played the Wooden Legacy, played a few name teams.  But since they failed to get tournament-caliber teams, they eventually got punished for it.  A bad CUSA conference was the downfall of MTSU, even though their non-con SoS was in the top 10.

2c) This brings up a bigger-picture thing.  The committee has increased the use of analytics, of additional statistics and metrics.  This has benefited the Power 6 conferences.  Make no mistake, the use of these new metrics are anti-mid major.  Mid-majors simply do not have the resources to build the same type of resume as a Power 6 school. 

Many believe it's the responsibility of the committee to account for these imbalances, and to help out the mid-major during the selection process.  The committee has gone the other way.  They are now saying that they will evaluate each school based on these metrics, without consideration to context or the ability of each school to build a good resume.  The committee is basically saying it's not their responsibility if mid-majors can't build the same type of resume that a Power 6 school can.

On one hand, it's not the worst position in the world to take.  The committee is stripping all context, all outside influences.  They are simply stating that they will evaluate schools based solely on what is on their resume.  However, it ignores that not all schools have the same chance to build the same resume.  The NCAA is basically telling the mid-majors that their plight isn't their problem.  I think that's the wrong approach.

In many sports, we're seeing the use of advanced metrics.  Baseball has changed with sabermetrics.  Basketball has changed once people realized long 2s are no longer good shots.  Metrics and analytics are changing the ways sports are played in general.  However, the NCAA is trying to apply the same methodology that other sports use for how to play the game, and applying it to a selection process.  Selection of teams for a tournament, and style of play of teams are two different things, and the same process of applying metrics cannot be applied to both in the same way.  What I'm saying is that we're getting a little too analytical in the selection process.  We have a selection committee because we know the numbers by themselves are insufficient to judge teams.  The road we're going down; we might as well create a BCS formula.

3) Seeding by the committee has improved.  This year?  I kind of have no major qualms.  My biggest miss this year was Providence by 3 seed lines, but even I admitted going into Selection Sunday that I was overseeding Provi by default, and that I wasn't enthusiastic about it.  I have no major issues with what they did.

4) I went 67 of 68.  Missed Kansas St and USC.  Had USC last in.  In retrospect, I should've excluded USC for the same reason I excluded Louisville - lack of signature wins.  But I didn't want to put in K-State's non-con SoS either.  In the end, I'm okay with 67.

5) Seeding on the 11-12-13 lines is getting tougher.  This year, it appears they highlighted signature wins first.  Hence SDSU and Loyola on the 11 line, and Buffalo and Charleston slipping to the 13 line.  I'm also surprised Marshall was so low given their wins over MTSU.  Seeding these autobids are getting tougher and tougher by the year.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

NIT projections FINAL

The 1 line:  Notre Dame, Baylor, St Mary's, USC
The 2 line:  Louisville, Middle Tennessee, Marquette, Oklahoma St
The 3 line:  Boise St, Utah, Penn St, Nebraska,
The 4 line:  Oregon, Western Kentucky, Washington, LSU
The 5 line:  Mississippi St, Northeastern, Tulsa, Temple
The 6 line:  Vermont, Louisiana, Rider, UC Davis
The 7 line:  Harvard, Northern Kentucky, Wagner, UNC Asheville
The 8 line:  SE Louisiana, FGCU, Hampton, Arkansas-Pine Bluff

Last 4 out:  Georgia, Maryland, Stanford, BYU
Next 4 out:  Toledo, Old Dominion, Colorado, Memphis
Next 4 out:  Boston College, South Carolina, Central Florida, New Mexico

1) Notre Dame vs. 8) Hampton
4) Western Kentucky vs. 5) Temple
3) Penn St vs. 6) Vermont
2) Middle Tennessee vs. 7) Wagner

1) Baylor vs. 8) SE Louisiana
4) Washington vs. 5) Mississippi St
3) Nebraska vs. 6) Louisiana
2) Louisville vs. 7) Northern Kentucky

1) St Mary's vs. 8) Arkansas-Pine Bluff
4) Oregon vs. 5) Tulsa
3) Utah vs. 6) UC Davis
2) Marquette vs. 7) Harvard

1) USC vs. 8) FGCU
4) LSU vs. 5) Northeastern
3) Boise St vs. 6) Rider
2) Oklahoma St vs. 7) UNC Asheville

S-CURVE FINAL

I don't know.  I just don't bleeping know.  Give me 67/68 right NOW.

The final kerjigger:  Louisville out.  Needed signature wins.  So does USC frankly.  To me it was 4 teams for 2 spots, Syracuse and USC in, K-State and UL out.  Others are too flawed.

USC scares me.  St Mary's scares me.  EVERYONE on that mini-list below scares me.

The 1 line:  Virginia, Villanova, Kansas, Xavier
The 2 line:  North Carolina, Duke, Purdue, Cincinnati
The 3 line:  Tennessee, Michigan St, Auburn, West Virginia
The 4 line:  Michigan, Texas Tech, Arizona, Gonzaga
The 5 line:  Kentucky, Clemson, Houston, Wichita St
The 6 line:  Ohio St, Florida, Texas A&M, Miami
The 7 line:  Arkansas, TCU, Seton Hall, Providence
The 8 line:  Rhode Island, Virginia Tech, Missouri, Nevada
The 9 line:  Butler, Creighton, Alabama, Florida St
The 10 line:  North Carolina St, Texas, Oklahoma, UCLA
The 11 line:  St Bonaventure, Arizona St, Syracuse, USC, Davidson, San Diego St
The 12 line:  New Mexico St, Loyola(Chi), Buffalo, Marshall
The 13 line:  Charleston, South Dakota St, Murray St, UNC Greensboro
The 14 line:  Montana, Bucknell, Wright St, Iona
The 15 line:  Georgia St, Penn, Lipscomb, Stephen F Austin
The 16 line:  UMBC, Radford, Cal St-Fullerton, LIU-Brooklyn, North Carolina Central, Texas Southern

Last 4 in:
St Bonaventure
Arizona St
Syracuse
USC

Last 7 out:
Louisville
Kansas St
St Mary's
Middle Tennessee
Baylor
Oklahoma St
Marquette

BRACKET FINAL

SOUTH
@Charlotte
1) Virginia vs. 16) Cal St-Fullerton/Texas Southern
8) Nevada vs. 9) Creighton
@San Diego
4) Texas Tech vs. 13) Charleston
5) Kentucky vs. 12) Marshall
@Nashville
3) Tennessee vs. 14) Bucknell
6) Ohio St vs. 11) Syracuse/Arizona St
@Pittsburgh
2) Cincinnati vs. 15) Penn
7) Seton Hall vs. 10) North Carolina St

WEST
@Detroit
1) Xavier vs. 16) UMBC
8) Virginia Tech vs. 9) Alabama
@San Diego
4) Arizona vs. 13) UNC Greensboro
5) Wichita St vs. 12) New Mexico St
@Wichita
3) Michigan St vs. 14) Montana
6) Texas A&M vs. 11) USC/St Bonaventure
@Charlotte
2) North Carolina vs. 15) Lipscomb
7) TCU vs. 10) UCLA

MIDWEST
@Wichita
1) Kansas vs. 16) Radford
8) Missouri vs. 9) Butler
@Boise
4) Gonzaga vs. 13) South Dakota St
5) Houston vs. 12) Loyola
@Dallas
3) Auburn vs. 14) Wright St
6) Miami vs. 11) San Diego St
@Detroit
2) Purdue vs. 15) Stephen F Austin
7) Providence vs. 10) Oklahoma

EAST
@Pittsburgh
1) Villanova vs. 16) LIU-Brooklyn/North Carolina Central
8) Rhode Island vs. 9) Florida St
@Boise
4) Michigan vs. 13) Murray St
5) Clemson vs. 12) Buffalo
@Dallas
3) West Virginia vs. 14) Iona
6) Florida vs. 11) Davidson
@Nashville
2) Duke vs. 15) Georgia St
7) Arkansas vs. 10) Texas

3/11 recap

SEC final:
Kentucky 77, Tennessee 72 - makes the call for UT on the 3 line a bit easier

A-10 final:
Davidson 58, Rhode Island 57 - ruh roh

AAC final:
Cincinnati 56, Houston 55

Ivy final:
Penn 68, Harvard 65 - one final bid thief for NIT, which is facing a real crunch...more in a couple hours

Southland final:
Georgia St 74, UT Arlington 61

3/11 morning bracket

Bracketing has turned into a secondary concern for me....so much depends on the exact order of teams on the S-Curve, so I try not to get too deep into it.  It's a futile effort.

I'll revise this later today based on results, naturally.

SOUTH
@Charlotte
1) Virginia vs. 16) Cal St-Fullerton/Texas Southern
8) Creighton vs. 9) Alabama
@San Diego
4) Texas Tech vs. 13) Charleston
5) Kentucky vs. 12) Marshall
@Nashville
3) Tennessee vs. 14) Bucknell
6) Ohio St vs. 11) Louisville/Arizona St
@Pittsburgh
2) Cincinnati vs. 15) Harvard
7) Seton Hall vs. 10) North Carolina St

WEST
@Detroit
1) Xavier vs. 16) UMBC
8) Virginia Tech vs. 9) Nevada
@San Diego
4) Arizona vs. 13) UNC Greensboro
5) Wichita St vs. 12) New Mexico St
@Wichita
3) Michigan St vs. 14) Montana
6) Texas A&M vs. 11) USC/Syracuse
@Charlotte
2) North Carolina vs. 15) Lipscomb
7) TCU vs. 10) UCLA

MIDWEST
@Wichita
1) Kansas vs. 16) Radford
8) Butler vs. 9) Missouri
@Boise
4) Gonzaga vs. 13) South Dakota St
5) Houston vs. 12) Loyola
@Dallas
3) Auburn vs. 14) Wright St
6) Miami vs. 11) San Diego St
@Detroit
2) Purdue vs. 15) Stephen F Austin
7) Providence vs. 10) Oklahoma

EAST
@Pittsburgh
1) Villanova vs. 16) LIU-Brooklyn/North Carolina Central
8) Rhode Island vs. 9) Florida St
@Boise
4) Michigan vs. 13) Murray St
5) Clemson vs. 12) Buffalo
@Dallas
3) West Virginia vs. 14) Iona
6) Florida vs. 11) St Bonaventure
@Nashville
2) Duke vs. 15) Georgia St
7) Arkansas vs. 10) Texas

3/11 morning S-CURVE



The 1 line:  Virginia, Villanova, Kansas, Xavier
The 2 line:  North Carolina, Duke, Purdue, Cincinnati
The 3 line:  Tennessee, Michigan St, Auburn, West Virginia
The 4 line:  Michigan, Texas Tech, Arizona, Gonzaga
The 5 line:  Clemson, Kentucky, Houston, Wichita St
The 6 line:  Ohio St, Florida, Texas A&M, Miami
The 7 line:  Arkansas, TCU, Seton Hall, Providence
The 8 line:  Rhode Island, Virginia Tech, Butler, Creighton
The 9 line:  Missouri, Nevada, Alabama, Florida St
The 10 line:  North Carolina St, Texas, Oklahoma, UCLA
The 11 line:  St Bonaventure, Louisville, USC, Arizona St, Syracuse, San Diego St
The 12 line:  New Mexico St, Loyola(Chi), Buffalo, Marshall
The 13 line:  Charleston, South Dakota St, Murray St, UNC Greensboro
The 14 line:  Montana, Bucknell, Wright St, Iona
The 15 line:  Georgia St, Harvard, Lipscomb, Stephen F Austin
The 16 line:  UMBC, Radford, Cal St-Fullerton, LIU-Brooklyn, North Carolina Central, Texas Southern

Into the lockbox:
Alabama
Florida St
North Carolina St
Texas
Oklahoma
UCLA

Bubble in:
St Bonaventure

Last 4 in:
Louisville
USC
Arizona St
Syracuse

Last 4 out:
Baylor
Kansas St
Middle Tennessee
St Mary's

Next 2 out:
Oklahoma St
Marquette

Bubble out:  Notre Dame, Penn St, Nebraska, Davidson, Oregon, Utah, Washington

Notes:
1:  Virginia, Villanova, Kansas, Xavier
I feel like these 4 teams are the correct 4, in that order.  I don't see much room to argue otherwise.
2:  North Carolina, Duke, Purdue, Cincinnati
UNC and Duke feel obvious at 5 and 6.  For the next spot, I'm flip flopping after one day.  Here's the deal.  In my notes for previous years, I've written a few different times this:  "STOP PAYING ATTENTION TO SUNDAY RESULTS".  I think Tennessee is going to get boned by this.  And their predictive metrics are well behind both Purdue and Cincy.  I think the committee SHOULD put UT on the 2 line; I'm starting to think they won't.  Purdue and Cincy fill the 2 line.
3:  Tennessee, Michigan St, Auburn, West Virginia
I think the 3 line is the perfect compromise for MSU.  Now the fun begins as the next wave of teams (Auburn, WVU/TTU, Michigan, Zona) hit the board.  I think Auburn wins this battle for a simple reason:  the non-con SoS of UM, WVU, and TTU are kind of garbage.  WVU then beats out the rest with a useful head-to-head over TTU and a signature win against UVa.
4:  Michigan, Texas Tech, Arizona, Gonzaga
I think you can argue to lower Zona some, but the committee is human and will be biased towards a conference champ.  Gonzaga's predictive metrics are very good, so we're sticking with them on the 4 line although teams with better wins lurk behind.  This is kind of a line of demarcation, as teams with noticeable resume flaws start appearing on the board.
5:  Clemson, Kentucky, Houston, Ohio St
It's finally time to admit defeat on my Houston take, and move them up to the 5 line.  I can't go further, but I can no longer justify going lower.  One team I am now struggling with is Florida.  9 G1 wins is really good, and those 9 wins are legit.  However, 5 G2-G3 losses, with some real clunkers, are in there.  In a situation where 9 G1 wins contradict with RPI 46 contradict with SoS inside the top 25 contradict with 5 bad losses....I think predictive metrics come into play in these scenarios.  Florida is average of 21...right on the 5/6 seed edge.  Let's go Wichita St here, admittedly without a lot of conviction.  11 G2 wins, which is an oblong number.
6:  Ohio St, Florida, Texas A&M, Miami
After OSU and Florida, my next wave of teams:  Miami, TCU, A&M, Arky.  TCU has the predictive metrics but lag in most other categories.  Miami is the one with the sterling road mark but also the one with a very marginal average RPI win.  However, I have 2 SEC teams on the 3 line and 1 on the 6 line already.  So if I go A&M and Arky, I'll have to move one down a seed line anyways.  A&M and Miami it is, with the caveat that this is a spot I want to revisit tomorrow.
7:  Arkansas, TCU, Seton Hall, Providence
I wanted to argue for putting Seton Hall in that category above, but they lack the signature win required to get that high up, IMO.  The last spot here is where things turn ugly.  I surely can't put Providence here with some of their losses, right?  URI beat Provi heads-up...tempting.  Butler and Creighton are both sitting there too....nah, URI.  I think.
8:  Rhode Island, Virginia Tech, Butler, Creighton
Slotting VaTech in here really makes me nervous.  That non-con SoS is 326.  Warning sirens are going off.  But they have 4 signature wins, and mostly avoided the bad losses.  I guess they gotta be in, but this could absolutely be a situation where they get ejected right out of the tournament from left field tomorrow.  Stay alert out there.  And now I just ran into ANOTHER situation where if I put my next 2 teams (Butler, Creighton) up on the 8-9 lines, I have to procedure one of them up to 7 or down to 10 because of conference conflicts (I already have Provi, Villanova, and Xavier in 3 of the 4 regionals).  So I'm going to switch URI and Providence back on the 7 line, and Butler and Creighton both go to the 8.
9:  Missouri, Nevada, Alabama, Florida St
Rough tumble for Nevada down the bracket, they seem to fit in here.  After that?  I hit a wall.  All of a sudden some of these teams are very flawed.  I'm moving Alabama all the way up to here.  Why?  SoS 3, average RPI win of 86.  There are legit flaws in the resume, just in the sheer number of losses and the road record (2 true road wins!).  But some of these other teams have major SoS issues and the committee will lean towards SoS when given the option.  I don't feel good about this seed, at all.
10:  North Carolina St, Texas, Oklahoma, UCLA
I'm going to use Oklahoma here.  I'm not thrilled by it, but the overall body of work is good enough to avoid getting too close to the cutline.  I'm also not excited to burn Texas in this spot, but again it's another resume I don't think anyone can afford to leave out of the bracket.  Both of these resumes are better than K-State's when you really analyze them; not sure how anyone can think otherwise.  Yes, I know K-State has H2H advantages on all these Big 12 bubble teams; the rest of the games count too, though.  UCLA gets the next nod for one simple reason:  they're the 2nd best Pac-12 team and the committee is human and will not want to wait longer to put a Pac-12 team on the board.
11:  St Bonaventure, Louisville, USC, Arizona St, Syracuse, San Diego St
Let's reset.  5 spots to go.  K-State, OSU, Baylor, Louisville, Marquette, Syracuse, USC, Arizona St, Bonaventure, MTSU, and St Mary's are the reasonable choices to pick from.  We're at the point where if any of these teams miss or make, I can see it happening (the teams above, UCLA and Texas and Oklahoma, I can't see missing completely).  When you get to this point, the committee punishes non-con SoS disproportionally.  Negative marks to OSU and KSU.  The committee is human; they'll see RPI.  I reluctantly put Bonaventure, UL, and USC in.  Fuck, I don't know.  I think they have to put ASU in.  So many of these other teams have SoS problems, they have 2 signature wins, timing of losses don't matter anymore.  And I'm covering my eyes at Baylor's road record and putting them in.  Wait, no.  That road record is hideous.  St Mary's and MT are so much better.  Wait, Marquette is .500 there.  Syracuse and MT have the terrific non-con SoSs.  Fuck.  I don't know.  Syracuse barely over Baylor.
12:  New Mexico St, Loyola(Chi), Buffalo, Marshall
SDSU wins the battle over NMSU to move up to the 11 line.  Buffalo benefits from the attrition elsewhere to stick on this line, and I'll take Marshall over everyone else below based on a pocketful of quality wins.
Bubble out:  Baylor, Kansas St, Middle Tenenssee, St Mary's, Oklahoma St, Marquette
Did I really just drop St Mary's that far?  Yikes.  It doesn't feel right.  I'm getting scary vibes from the committee about road games.  Since it's baked into the Groups now, we're hearing less and less about the raw number of road wins being important.  Trouble for them and Middle Tennessee.  I've had Marquette in for awhile; it's really tight at the end of this bubble.  K-State is apparently a hill I'm going to die on.  I don't feel good about any of this.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

3/10 recap

ACC final:
Virginia 71, North Carolina 63 - this should probably set the 1 line for good, with Xavier as the 4th 1.  There's a question of who goes west with X as the 2 seed, and I'm thinking the committee will send #5 overall (in my case, UNC) over there

Big East final:
Villanova 76, Providence 66 (OT) - Provi should settle around the 7 line, maybe 8

Big 12 final:
Kansas 81, West Virginia 70 - likely will not impact anyone's seed

Pac-12 final:
Arizona 75, USC 61 - I'm not sure USC is completely safe.  Then again, there's like 12 teams I feel like I can say that about, so I don't know.  This needs a good seed scrubbing

SEC semis:
Kentucky 86, Alabama 63 - are we sure Alabama is safe, guys?  I'm still not sure.  Then again, you know my feeling on this year's bubble.  It's wiiiiide
Tennessee 84, Arkansas 66 - I'm feeling pretty good about UT on the 2 line, to be honest

AAC semis:
Cincinnati 70, Memphis 60
Houston 77, Wichita St 74 - a pretty important get for Houston, which IS battling non-con SoS issues on their resume and can use these wins to mask that problem

A-10 semis:
Rhode Island 90, St Joseph's 87
Davidson 82, St Bonaventure 70 - are we sure Bonaventure is home free?  And Davidson needed this to get off the NIT bubble, if that's your thing

Mountain West final:
San Diego St 82, New Mexico 75

A-East final:
UMBC 65, Vermont 62 - sigh

Big Sky final:
Montana 82, Eastern Washington 65

Southland final:
Stephen F Austin 59, SE Louisiana 55

MAC final:
Buffalo 76, Toledo 66

WAC final:
New Mexico St 72, Grand Canyon 58

Sun Belt semis:
UT Arlington 71, Louisiana 68 - sigh
Georgia St 73, Georgia Southern 67

Ivy semis:
Harvard 74, Cornell 55
Penn 80, Yale 57

MEAC final:
North Carolina Central 71, Hampton 63 - no sigh for the 1 seed losing here because the conference standings were a mess all year in this conference

SWAC final:
Texas Southern 84, UAPB 69

Big West final:
Cal St-Fullerton 71, UC Irvine 55

3/10 S-CURVE

Pressure point 1:  The 2 line, #7 overall - made the move for Tennessee in that spot.  I do firmly believe committee bias will elevate a SEC champion to the 2 line, and UT takes Auburn's spot.  Subject to change. And I really wrestled with Purdue and Michigan St for that last spot.  What changed my mind?  I see Jerry Palm is an outlier, having Michigan St on the 2 line.  This single piece of evidence is all the motivation I need to talk myself out of that particular take.  MSU demotion it is.  Meanwhile, I really want to put Cincy on the 2 line, but I don't think I can sustain a healthy argument for them ahead of the aforementioned teams right now.

Pressure point 2:  The 3 line, #12 overall - made the move to WVU over Michigan.  Reasonable arguments can be made for either, and both have their non-con SoS problem.  Behind them, conference champs Arizona and Gonzaga don't have enough to pass either.

Pressure point 3:  The 5 line, #20 overall - toyed with a few different teams in that spot, but no one felt right.  In the end, wanted to move Kentucky there as they were my next team...and Florida swept them.  For now, I'm staying on Florida, but I don't feel good about it.

Pressure point 4:  The 7 line, #28 overall - strangely, I feel good about the teams on the 6 line and 7 line right now, up to #28 overall.  There's a bit of a roadblock here, where all the teams I could put there seem to...have flaws.  With that, I've decided to make a very aggressive move and launch Provi up 2 full seed lines.

Pressure point 5:  The 9 line, #34 overall - this is where I threw my hands up.  I don't know.  Throw 'em all into a bucket and pick them out.  There's going to be some severly flawed teams on the 9 line.  Best guess is the ACC and Big 12 gets the benefit of the doubt.  I clustered them all together from 34 through 38 in an act of defiance.

There are some very alarming SoS numbers in this group.  I'm looking at Va Tech and FSU here.

The 1 line:  Virginia, Villanova, Kansas, Xavier
The 2 line:  North Carolina, Duke, Tennessee, Purdue
The 3 line:  Michigan St, Cincinnati, Auburn, West Virginia
The 4 line:  Michigan, Texas Tech, Arizona, Gonzaga
The 5 line:  Clemson, Ohio St, Wichita St, Florida
The 6 line:  Kentucky, Miami, TCU, Arkansas
The 7 line:  Houston, Texas A&M, Seton Hall, Providence
The 8 line:  Rhode Island, Creighton, Butler, Nevada
The 9 line:  Missouri, Virginia Tech, Florida St, Texas
The 10 line:  North Carolina St, Oklahoma, USC, St Mary's
The 11 line:  St Bonaventure, UCLA, Alabama, Baylor, Louisville, New Mexico St
The 12 line:  Loyola(Chi), Western Kentucky, Buffalo, Charleston
The 13 line:  South Dakota St, Murray St, UNC Greensboro, New Mexico
The 14 line:  Louisiana, Vermont, Montana, Bucknell
The 15 line:  Iona, Wright St, Lipscomb, Harvard
The 16 line:  Radford, UC Irvine, SE Louisiana, LIU-Brooklyn, Hampton, Arkansas-Pine Bluff

Current bubble status:  18 for 12 spots

Bubble in:
Virginia Tech
Florida St
Texas
North Carolina St

Next 4 in:
Oklahoma
USC
St Mary's
St Bonaventure

Last 4 in:
UCLA
Alabama
Baylor
Louisville

Last 4 out:
Marquette
Kansas St
Middle Tennessee
Arizona St

Next 2 out:
Oklahoma St
Syracuse

off the board:  Notre Dame, Penn St, Nebraska, Oregon, Utah, Georgia, Boise St, Washington, Mississippi St

NIT lines:
2:  Notre Dame, Penn St
3:  Nebraska, Oregon, Utah, Georgia
4:  Boise St, Washington, Mississippi St, Northeastern
5:  Maryland, Stanford, BYU, Davidson
6:  San Diego St, Tulsa
--probable cutline--
Last 4 out:  Temple, Old Dominion, Toledo, Boston College
autobid:  Rider, UC Davis, UNC Asheville, Northern Kentucky, Wagner, FGCU

Friday, March 9, 2018

3/9 recap

ACC semis:
Virginia 64, Clemson 58
North Carolina 74, Duke 69 - is America ready to make a 11-7 ACC team a #1 seed?  I'm not sure, and neither am I.  Still, the conversation will have to commence

Big East semis:
Villanova 87, Butler 68 - this probably locks Villanova into #2 overall, and into a precious precious spot in the East regional
Providence 75, Xavier 72 (OT) - we're going to need to have a real talk about UNC vs. Xavier on the 1 line

Big 12 semis:
Kansas 83, Kansas St 67 - probably endgame for K-State.  I can't see an obvious path to an at-large for them
West Virginia 66, Texas Tech 63 - a very useful result for seeding purposes

SEC semis:
Tennessee 62, Mississippi St 59
Arkansas 80, Florida 72 - um, can someone tell me what to do with the 5 line and Florida's old spot?  Probably Kentucky goes there now, but I'm not too excited about that
Alabama 81, Auburn 63 - well that's really making sure you play your way off the bubble.  Just can't leave them out at this point
Kentucky 62, Georgia 49 - and here we are, UK slowly creeping back up the seed list at the end

Pac-12 semis:
Arizona 78, UCLA 67 (OT)
USC 74, Oregon 54

AAC quarters:
Cincinnati 61, SMU 51
Memphis 67, Tulsa 64 - NIT bubble implications!
Wichita St 89, Temple 81
Houston 84, UCF 56

MWC semis:
San Diego St 90, Nevada 73 - ...wait, what?
New Mexico 83, Utah St 68

A-10 quarters:
Rhode Island 76, VCU 67
St Joseph's 68, George Mason 49
St Bonaventure 83, Richmond 77
Davidson 78, St Louis 60

CUSA semis:
Marshall 85, Southern Miss 75
Western Kentucky 57, Old Dominion 49

MAC semis:
Buffalo 78, Kent St 61
Toledo 64, Eastern Michigan 63

Sun Belt quarters:
Louisiana 80, Texas St 54
UT Arlington 84, Appalachian St 68
Georgia St 73, Troy 51
Georgia Southern 63, Louisiana-Monroe 55

SWAC semis:
UAPB 71, Southern 65
Texas Southern 88, Prairie View A&M 74

Southland semis:
SE Louisiana 89, Sam Houston St 79
Stephen F Austin 78, Nicholls St 66

MEAC semis:
Hampton 96, NC A&T 86
North Carolina Central 79, Morgan St 70

Big Sky semis:
Montana 91, Northern Colorado 89 (OT)
Eastern Washington 82, Southern Utah 70

WAC semis:
Grand Canyon 75, Utah Valley 60
New Mexico St 84, Seattle 79 - please win tomorrow NMSU

Big West semis:
Cal St-Fullerton 55, UC Davis 52
UC Irvine 61, UC Santa Barbara 58

3/9 S-CURVE

I need to really, really scrub this bubble.  I'm not feeling great about almost any combination of teams you can put in Dayton.

The 1 line:  Virginia, Villanova, Xavier, Kansas
The 2 line:  North Carolina, Duke, Auburn, Michigan St
The 3 line:  Tennessee, Purdue, Cincinnati, Michigan
The 4 line:  West Virginia, Texas Tech, Gonzaga, Arizona
The 5 line:  Clemson, Ohio St, Wichita St, Florida
The 6 line:  Miami, TCU, Kentucky, Texas A&M
The 7 line:  Seton Hall, Houston, Arkansas, Butler
The 8 line:  Creighton, Nevada, Missouri, Rhode Island
The 9 line:  Florida St, Texas, Virginia Tech, Providence
The 10 line:  St Mary's, North Carolina St, Oklahoma, St Bonaventure
The 11 line:  USC, UCLA, Marquette, Baylor, Louisville, Kansas St
The 12 line:  Loyola(Chi), New Mexico St, Buffalo, Charleston
The 13 line:  Old Dominion, South Dakota St, Murray St, UNC Greensboro
The 14 line:  Louisiana, Vermont, Bucknell, Montana
The 15 line:  Wright St, UC-Davis, Iona, Lipscomb
The 16 line:  Harvard, Radford, SE Louisiana, LIU Brooklyn, Hampton, Arkansas-Pine Bluff

Next 4 in:
Oklahoma
St Bonaventure
USC
UCLA

Last 4 in:
Marquette
Baylor
Louisville
Kansas St

Last 4 out:
Alabama
Middle Tennessee
Oklahoma St
Arizona St

Next 5 out:
Syracuse
Oregon
Notre Dame
Penn St
Nebraska

3/8 recap

ACC quarters:
Virginia 75, Louisville 58
Duke 88, Notre Dame 70 - ok, can we put away Notre Dame for the year?  No one disputes they pass the eye test, but they just don't pass the resume test.  At all.  Can't do it
North Carolina 82, Miami 65 - UNC/Duke playing for #5 overall on the S-Curve, and for a chance at the 1 line
Clemson 90, Boston College 82

Big 12 quarters:
Kansas 82, Oklahoma St 68 - OSU is now a team I'm scared to make a call on.  True bubbler
Texas Tech 73, Texas 69 - Texas too for that matter.  By the way, seeding Tech with their poor non-con SoS is no easy task either
West Virginia 78, Baylor 65
Kansas St 66, TCU 64 (OT) - oh boy.  I felt very confident Kansas St had the 9th best profile in the Big 12 entering today, but this win complicates that projection...

SEC 2nd round:
Alabama 71, Texas A&M 70 - I'm still inclined to think Bama needs one more, but it's close now
Georgia 62, Missouri 60 - now, what do you do with Mizzou?
Mississippi St 80, LSU 77 - go away MSU
Arkansas 69, South Carolina 64

Big East quarters:
Villanova 94, Marquette 70
Xavier 88, St John's 60
Providence 72, Creighton 68 (OT) - I may have seeded Creighton a bit aggressively
Butler 75, Seton Hall 74

Pac-12 quarters:
Arizona 83, Colorado 67
UCLA 88, Stanford 77 - this should mean UCLA is home free
USC 61, Oregon St 48 - probably USC too
Oregon 68, Utah 66 - Oregon needs another one after this

AAC 1st round:
SMU 80, UConn 73
Memphis 79, South Florida 77
Temple 82, Tulane 77 - NIT bubble game!
UCF 66, East Carolina 52

MWC quarters:
Nevada 79, UNLV 74
San Diego St 64, Fresno St 52 - NIT bubble game!
Utah St 78, Boise St 75 - well that's one bubble team we can discard
New Mexico 85, Wyoming 75

A-10 2nd round:
VCU 77, Dayton 72
George Mason 80, UMass 75
Richmond 81, Duquesne 68
St Louis 70, George Washington 63

CUSA quarters:
Southern Miss 77, Middle Tennessee 68 (OT) - OH NO
Marshall 95, UT San Antonio 81
Old Dominion 62, Louisiana Tech 58
Western Kentucky 98, UAB 70

MAC quarters:
Buffalo 89, Central Michigan 74
Kent St 76, Ball St 73
Toledo 71, Miami(OH) 69
Eastern Michigan 67, Akron 58

WAC quarters:
Grand Canyon 77, UMKC 74
Utah Valley 81, Cal St Bakersfield 74
New Mexico St 97, Chicago St 70
Seattle 77, UTRGV 60

Big West quarters:
UC Davis 70, UC Riverside 66
Cal St Fullerton 76, Long Beach St 74
UC Irvine 68, Hawaii 67
UC Santa Barbara 75, Cal Poly 53

Big Sky quarters:
Montana 84, North Dakota 76
Northern Colorado 80, Weber St 55
Southern Utah 92, Idaho 78
Eastern Washington 78, Portland St 72

Southland 2nd round:
Sam Houston St 85, New Orleans 63
Stephen F Austin 86, Central Arkansas 64

MEAC quarters:
North Carolina Central 58, Savannah St 56
North Carolina A&T 70, Norfolk St 64

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Ivy League tournament preview

This is part 32 of a 32-part series.

Standings:
Harvard 12-2
Penn 12-2
Yale 9-5
Cornell 6-8
Princeton 5-9
Columbia 5-9
Brown 4-10
Dartmouth 3-11

Format:
Only top 4 play.  The Palestra hosts, so advantage to Penn for home courtism.

Matchups:
1) Harvard vs. 4) Cornell
2) Penn vs. 3) Yale

The stakes:
Down year for the Ivy, back to CRPI 24.  You can safely put the winner on the 15 line and forget about them, unless Yale or Cornell win.  Then you can send them to Dayton.

Yale is CIT eligible beyond the top 2.  Whoopee.

Big West conference tournament preview

This is part 31 of a 32-part series.

Standings:
UC Davis 12-4
UC Santa Barbara 11-5
UC Irvine 11-5
Cal St-Fullerton 10-6
Long Beach St 9-7
Hawaii 8-8
Cal Poly 4-12
UC Riverside 4-12
Cal St-Northridge 3-13

Format:
They kicked out the last place team.  Top 8 go to Anaheim.  March 8-10.

Matchups:
1) UC Davis vs. 8) UC Riverside
4) Cal St Fullerton vs. 5) Long Beach St
3) UC Irvine vs. 6) Hawaii
2) UC Santa Barbara vs. 7) Cal Poly

The stakes:
After a horrific year, the league finally acted like they didn't suck.  This will get them off the 16 line this year, in all likelihood.  On the other hand, I feel very strongly that there's no chance anyone gets higher than a 15 seed.  They're all more or less the same.

UCSB, UCI, CSUF, LBSU, lots 'o acronyms for lots 'o CIT eligible teams.

3/8 S-CURVE

Subject to change, all of it, but I need to get something up before today's games start.

Pretty wide bubble.  I'm starting it at Florida St right now.  Right now it's 27 teams playing for 15 spots in my book.  Not feeling great about some of those teams on the 9 line, but do feel like we have about seven or eight teams worthy of an 11 seed.

The 1 line:  Virginia, Villanova, Xavier, Kansas
The 2 line:  North Carolina, Duke, Auburn, Michigan St
The 3 line:  Tennessee, Purdue, Cincinnati, Michigan
The 4 line:  West Virginia, Texas Tech, Gonzaga, Arizona
The 5 line:  Clemson, Ohio St, Wichita St, Florida
The 6 line:  Miami, TCU, Kentucky, Texas A&M
The 7 line:  Seton Hall, Creighton, Houston, Arkansas
The 8 line:  Missouri, Butler, Nevada, Florida St
The 9 line:  Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia Tech, St Mary's
The 10 line:  Providence, North Carolina St, Oklahoma, St Bonaventure
The 11 line:  USC, UCLA, Middle Tennessee, Marquette, Baylor
The 12 line:  Louisville, Oklahoma St, Loyola(Chi), New Mexico St, Buffalo
The 13 line:  Charleston, South Dakota St, Murray St, UNC Greensboro
The 14 line:  Louisiana, Vermont, Bucknell, Montana
The 15 line:  Wright St, UC-Davis, Iona, Lipscomb
The 16 line:  Harvard, Radford, SE Louisiana, LIU Brooklyn, Hampton, Arkansas-Pine Bluff

Next 4 in:
Oklahoma
St Bonaventure
USC
UCLA

Last 4 in:
Marquette
Baylor
Louisville
Oklahoma St

Last 4 out:
Kansas St
Arizona St
Syracuse
Alabama

Next 4 out:
Notre Dame
Utah
Penn St
Nebraska

3/7 recap

ACC 2nd round:
North Carolina 78, Syracuse 59 - and thus dies Syracuse
Louisville 82, Florida St 74 - the ACC bubble just got a lot more complicated
Boston College 91, NC State 87 - um, I'm not completely convinced NC State is safe.  Look at that non-con SoS boys
Notre Dame 71, Virginia Tech 65 - ditto Va Tech, although their resume might be good enough.  We're one win away from really talking about Notre Dame

Pac-12 1st round:
Colorado 97, Arizona St 85 - oh boy
Stanford 76, Cal 58
Oregon St 69, Washington 66 (OT) - well that's convenient, we can get rid of UW
Oregon 64, Washington St 62 (OT) - man, I was hoping we could get rid of Oregon too.  Pac-12 almost did the bubble work for us

SEC 1st round:
Georgia 78, Vanderbilt 62
South Carolina 85, Ole Miss 84

Big 12 1st round:
Oklahoma St 71, Oklahoma 60 - is everyone okay with a 9-bid conference?  Just checking
Texas 68, Iowa St 64

Big East 1st round:
St John's 88, Georgetown 77
Marquette 72, DePaul 69

Patriot final:
Bucknell 83, Colgate 54

A-10 1st round:
UMass 69, LaSalle 67
George Washington 78, Fordham 72

Mountain West 1st round:
UNLV 97, Air Force 90
Utah St 76, Colorado St 65
Wyoming 74, San Jose St 61

CUSA 1st round:
Southern Miss 69, Florida International 68
UTSA 71, UTEP 58
Louisiana Tech 68, North Texas 62
UAB 83, Florida Atlantic 72

Sun Belt 1st round:
Texas St 73, Coastal Carolina 66
Appalachian St 93, UALR 64
Troy 69, South Alabama 62
Louisiana-Monroe 76, Arkansas St 54

Southland 1st round:
New Orleans 83, Texas A&M-CC 76
Central Arkansas 67, Lamar 57

MEAC quarters:
Hampton 75, Florida A&M 71
Morgan St 78, Bethune-Cookman 77

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

WAC tournament preview

This is part 30 of a 32-part preview.

Standings:
New Mexico St 12-2
Utah Valley 10-4
Grand Canyon 9-5
Seattle 8-6
UT-RGV 6-8
Cal St-Bakersfield 5-9
UMKC 5-9
Chicago St 1-13

Format:
March 8-10.  And you'll never guess the location.  Vegas.

Matchups:
1) New Mexico St vs. 8) Chicago St
4) Seattle vs. 5) UT-RGV
3) Grand Canyon vs. 6) UMKC
2) Utah Valley vs. 7) Cal St-Bakersfield

The stakes:
Our final meaningful preview, with one last bubble team on the board.  Yes, New Mexico St.  1-3 vs. Group 1, 4-0 vs. Group 2, non-con SoS 75, 8-3 road record.  All more or less okay or good.  2 Group 3 losses, though.  Win over Miami looms large right now.  Unfortunately there's a couple dumb losses, plus a key head-to-head at St Mary's.  They're viable and ultimately I can't make the case for them, but they'll be on the consideration board at the end if it comes to it.

Utah Valley actually has a RPI in the NIT range but the rest of the profile doesn't hold.  They can join GCU and Seattle as CIT-eligible.

AAC tournament preview

This is part 29 of a 32-part series.

Standings:
Cincinnati 16-2
Wichita St 14-4
Houston 14-4
Tulsa 12-6
Memphis 10-8
UCF 9-9
Temple 8-10
UConn 7-11
SMU 6-12
Tulane 5-13
East Carolina 4-14
South Florida 3-15

Format:
March 8-11.  Orlando is the neutral site host this time.

Matchups:
1) Cincinnati vs. 8/9) SMU/UConn
4) Tulsa vs. 5/12) Memphis/South Florida
3) Houston vs. 6/11) UCF/East Carolina
2) Wichita St vs. 7/10) Temple/Tulane

The stakes:
Weirdly low stakes.  3 teams definitely off the bubble in one direction, and no one else even close.  There's no bubble drama!

I was in hard on Cincy in January, seeding them aggressively.  I backed off after a  couple losses, but now with a road win at Wichita in tow?  I'm back in.  Could definitely be a 2 seed with a title here.  Problem is, though....Sunday championship game.  The committee will likely not consider any win they post on Sunday, and that win will be the difference between the 2 line and the 3 line.  The committee has a history of underseeding Sunday tournament winners.  Be prepared.

Wichita is on the 5 line, and frankly looking at it....the teams behind them aren't good enough to leapfrog them, and I can't find any way to move Wichita up to the 4 line.  Wichita as a 5 might be my single most confident seed prediction in the entire field right now.

Houston's non-con SoS is 227.  This likely means they're a half-step behind the others on the S-Curve. 

Tulsa probably should be a NIT team.  Temple is RPI 50 by the way.  What do you do with them and the NIT?  Or UCF at RPI 77?  Odds are one make it, maybe even both, or maybe neither.  Both are true bubble teams.  Memphis is behind them, even though they have the better conference record.

SEC tournament preview

This is part 28 of a 32-part series.

Standings:
Auburn 13-5
Tennessee 13-5
Florida 11-7
Arkansas 10-8
Kentucky 10-8
Missouri 10-8
Mississippi St 9-9
Texas A&M 9-9
LSU 8-10
Alabama 8-10
Georgia 7-11
South Carolina 7-11
Vanderbilt 6-12
Ole Miss 5-13

Format:
March 7-11.  St Louis is your neutral site host.

Matchups:
1) Auburn vs. 8/9) Texas A&M/Alabama
4) Kentucky vs. 5/12/13) Missouri/Georgia/Vanderbilt
3) Florida vs. 6/11/14) Arkansas/South Carolina/Ole Miss
2) Tennessee vs. 7/10) Mississippi St/LSU

The stakes:
Auburn and Tennessee are two teams with the 2 line (and a probable spot in the Nashville regional) at stake.  The conference tourney takes increased importance for them - being able to plop a title on top of their resume likely gets either to the 2 line, IMO.  Lose and you risk the 4 line.  Pretty high stakes, IMO, given all the western sites will host the 4 seeds.

The SEC in general has been much better with their non-con SoS.  Their fruit will bear major results this year again.  Arkansas, Florida, and Kentucky are in various states on the S-curve, but are all obviously safe (we'll revisit Arky if they lose a dumb game).  I'm inclined to put Texas A&M there too, as they did enough to climb out of the abyss.

The next tier is Missouri.  I have them a step behind the tier of the 4 teams above, but I also think they're safe.  Just don't lose to Georgia/Vandy.

With 7 teams solidly in, the fun starts at Alabama.  Here's a team that's probably the first one in danger.  2 road wins all year is an issue.  Their other metrics are more or less okay though, and they have high end wins (all at home except Florida, naturally).  It's a tough situation to gauge because they did lose a lot of road games to questionable teams.  Even if they had just handled 1 extra one (MSU or Vandy or Ole Miss) that makes all the difference in the world.  If they lose to A&M?  I really don't know what I'm going to do with them.  It's tough to leave a team with wins over Auburn and Tennessee out, but, for example, Oklahoma St carries similar signature wins to the table.  I'm inclined to believe beating A&M would be enough, but maybe not.  In short, I don't have a good read on what the committee will do here.  SoS is strong so maybe leaning in.

Beyond that, Georgia and Mississippi St and even South Carolina are probably too far gone.  If they make a run to the finals, the signature wins that will accompany the run might make them a factor.  But let's not deal with that.  The NIT bubble is a mess with these teams and LSU, by the way.  Good luck figuring those out.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

3/7 S-CURVE

I'm continuing to move teams here and there and around.  Expect tweaks.

I really like UNC's resume depth the more I look at it.

The 1 line:  Virginia, Villanova, Xavier, Kansas
The 2 line:  North Carolina, Duke, Auburn, Michigan St
The 3 line:  Tennessee, Purdue, Cincinnati, Michigan
The 4 line:  West Virginia, Texas Tech, Gonzaga, Arizona
The 5 line:  Clemson, Ohio St, Wichita St, Florida
The 6 line:  Miami, TCU, Kentucky, Texas A&M
The 7 line:  Seton Hall, Creighton, Houston, Arkansas
The 8 line:  Virginia Tech, Missouri, Butler, Nevada
The 9 line:  Rhode Island, North Carolina St, St Mary's, Oklahoma
The 10 line:  Florida St, Texas, Providence, USC
The 11 line:  St Bonaventure, Arizona St, UCLA, Middle Tennessee, Kansas St
The 12 line:  Marquette, Baylor, Loyola(Chi), New Mexico St, Buffalo
The 13 line:  Charleston, South Dakota St, Murray St, UNC Greensboro
The 14 line:  Louisiana, Vermont, Bucknell, Montana
The 15 line:  Wright St, UC-Davis, Iona, Lipscomb
The 16 line:  Harvard, Radford, SE Louisiana, LIU Brooklyn, Hampton, Arkansas-Pine Bluff

Next 4 in:
Providence
USC
St Bonaventure
Arizona St

Last 4 in:
UCLA
Kansas St
Marquette
Baylor

Last 4 out:
Syracuse
Louisville
Alabama
Oklahoma St

Next 4 out:
Utah
Penn St
Nebraska
Notre Dame

3/6 recap

Very light day for analysis purposes.

WCC final:
Gonzaga 74, BYU 54

Horizon final:
Wright St 74, Cleveland St 57

CAA final:
Charleston 83, Northeastern 76 - is Northeastern an NIT at-large team?

Summit final:
South Dakota St 97, South Dakota 87

NEC final:
LIU Brooklyn 71, Wagner 61

ACC 1st round:
Boston College 87, Georgia Tech 77
Notre Dame 67, Pitt 64
Syracuse 73, Wake Forest 64 - service holds from our first major bubble teams of the week

A-East semis:
Vermont 70, Stony Brook 51
UMBC 75, Hartford 60 - top 2 hold serve here

SWAC quarters:
UAPB 77, Mississippi Valley St 73
Southern 62, Jackson St 60
Texas Southern 90, Alabama St 76
Prairie View A&M 87, Alcorn St 71

Big Sky 1st round:
North Dakota 76, Montana St 74
Portland St 71, Sacramento St 67
Northern Colorado 82, Northern Arizona 59
Southern Utah 76, Idaho St 68

MEAC 1st round:
Florida A&M 88, Howard 78
NC Central 60, Coppin St 48
Morgan St 83, South Carolina St 80

Sun Belt conference tournament preview

This is part 27 of a 32-part preview.

Standings:
Louisiana 16-2
Georgia St 12-6
Georgia Southern 11-7
Texas-Arlington 10-8
Louisiana-Monroe 9-9
Troy 9-9
Appalachian St 9-9
Coastal Carolina 8-10
South Alabama 7-11
Texas St 7-11
Arkansas St 6-12
Arkansas-Little Rock 4-14

Format:
Neutral site in New Orleans from March 7-11.

Matchups:
1) Louisiana vs. 8/9) Coastal Carolina/Texas St
4) UT-Arlington vs. 5/12) Appalachian St/Little Rock
3) Georgia Southern vs. 6/11) Troy/Arkansas St
2) Georgia St vs. 7/10) Louisiana-Monroe/South Alabama

The stakes:
CRPI 21, and only one team sub-120 RPI.  Louisiana ran away with the conference but has absolutely zero substance behind their 60 RPI.  So their seed could fluctuate a bit.  Raw RPI numbers might suggest a 13.  Conference ranking suggests 14 maybe?  It's tough to know what the committee will do here.  This much is certain though:  anyone else is in direct path of the 16 line, and maybe even Dayton if it's a 5 seed or below.

The two Georgias and UTA are in line for CBI/CIT bids if they want them.

A-10 conference tournament preview

This is part 26 of a 32-part preview.

Standings:
Rhode Island 15-3
St Bonaventure 14-4
Davidson 13-5
St Joseph's 10-8
VCU 9-9
St Louis 9-9
George Mason 9-9
Richmond 9-9
Dayton 8-10
Duquesne 7-11
George Washington 7-11
LaSalle 7-11
UMass 5-13
Fordham 4-14

Format:
March 7-11.  Washington DC is the neutral site host.

Matchups:
1) Rhode Island vs. 8/9) VCU/Dayton
4) St Joseph's vs. 5/12/13) George Mason/LaSalle/UMass
3) Davidson vs. 6/11/14) St Louis/George Washington/Fordham
2) St Bonaventure vs. 7/10) Richmond/Duquesne

The stakes:
The A-10 had a spectacular tire fire of a season.  11th in CRPI is absolutely terrible for them, and they are littered with teams who absorbed a million losses in the non-con.  Only 3 teams better than 10 wins in conference just hammers home the point.  It was a catastrophe.

URI is home free; teams with a non-con SoS of 3 get in as long as the rest of the resume is reasonable.  And it is.  Seeding is another issue though.  The predictive metrics hate, hate hate them.  It'll affect seeding but not selection.

Bonaventure is the tricky one to figure out.  They have a road win at Syracuse in their pocket; it's a very important piece of resume at the moment.  Their win over Maryland evaporated into very little; they also played plenty of stout mid-majors (Northeastern, Vermont, Buffalo) to make the profile look much more stouter than it is.  However, on the other hand, the committee likes teams that load up on quality mid-majors in the non-con.  For that reason, I think Bonaventure might be safe as long as they beat the teams they should.  They split with Davidson in the regular season; I'd rather see them beat them again.

Davidson's a NIT bubble team; There's actually not a lot of meat on their resume bone but might get some NIT love based on the conference name alone.  Everyone else can go boycott the CBI and CIT as they are wont to do.

Southland conference tournament preview

This is part 25 of a 32-part series.

Standings:
SE Louisiana 15-3
Nicholls St 15-3
Stephen F Austin 14-4
Sam Houston St 12-6
Lamar 11-7
New Orleans 11-7
Central Arkansas 10-8
Abilene Christian 8-10
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 8-10
McNeese St 8-10
Incarnate Word 2-16
Houston Baptist 2-16
Northwestern St 1-17

Format:
March 7-11, Katy TX.  Southland likes to chop off the dead weight, so only the top 8 teams go.  But they go even further, staggering the brackets and giving double byes to the top 2 seeds and single byes to the 3 and 4.  Protect those good teams! 

Matchups:
1) SE Louisiana vs. 4/5/8) Sam Houston St/New Orleans/TAMU-CC
2) Nicholls St vs. 3/6/7) Stephen F Austin/Lamar/Central Arkansas

The stakes:
This is the worst conference this year outside of the two HBCUs.  So, um, how does a visit to Dayton sound?  Possible, perhaps even probable, SELA or Nicholls could avoid it with upsets elsewhere filling in the slots in Dayton, but yeah, there's not much to see here.

Stephen F Austin went 21-6 and has an RPI of 129.  That says everything you need to know about all the SoS numbers in this conference.  SHSU and Lamar are above .500 in addition to the top 3, if you're scouting potential CIT opponents.

CUSA tournament preview

This is part 24 of a 32-part series.

Standings:
Middle Tennessee 16-2
Old Dominion 15-3
Western Kentucky 14-4
Marshall 12-6
UTSA 11-7
UAB 10-8
North Texas 8-10
FIU 8-10
Southern Miss 7-11
Louisiana Tech 7-11
FAU 6-12
UTEP 6-12
Rice 4-14
Charlotte 2-16

Format:
March 7-10.  Frisco, TX is your neutral site host.  They left the bottom 2 teams at home, by the way.

Matchups:
1) Middle Tennessee vs. 8/9) FIU/Southern Miss
4) Marshall vs. 5/12) UTSA/UTEP
3) Western Kentucky vs. 6/11) UAB/FAU
2) Old Dominion vs. 7/10) North Texas/Louisiana Tech

The stakes:
Ok.  MTSU.  Let's deal with this.  2-3 vs. Group 1, 3-1 vs. Group 2.  Not bad for a CUSA team.  The actual wins:  @Murray St, @WKU, @ODU, WKU, @Vandy.  Not great.  Whiffed on 3 chances against legitimate business teams.  But winning everything except games vs. Marshall behind it does matter too.  Non-con SoS  of 7, played 2 SEC teams, played Murray and Belmont, went to Diamond Head, only 3 home games in the non-con.  The committee usually rewards that.  They were 12-1 in true road games.  The committee usually rewards that.  I'm feeling pretty good about these chances the more and more you see the nitty gritty.

WKU fell off from bubble pace; their win against Purdue will be useful for a NIT bid.  Old Dominion is an NIT bubble team; could go either way but their overall record is a mirage based on non-con SoS.

Marshall is probably out of time and space to get into the NIT; UAB and UTSA are your other probable CBI/CIT teams.

Pac-12 conference tournament preview

This is part 23 of a 32-part series.

Standings:
Arizona 14-4
USC 12-6
Utah 11-7
UCLA 11-7
Stanford 11-7
Oregon 10-8
Washington 10-8
Colorado 8-10
Arizona St 8-10
Oregon St 7-11
Washington St 4-14
Cal 2-16

Format:
March 7-10.  Yet another Vegas tourney.

Matchups:
1) Arizona vs. 8/9) Arizona St/Colorado
4) UCLA vs. 5/12) Stanford/Cal
3) Utah vs. 6/11) Oregon/Washington St
2) USC vs. 7/10) Washington/Oregon St

The stakes:
Arizona's seed could be tricky.  Conference champs do seem to get a mild boost from the committee from time to time, and the metrics are okay (non-con SoS 72, 4-3 vs. Group 1, etc etc).  Their win over A&M is kind of a resume saver at least from the perspective of getting a protected seed.  I've thought the 5 line is weak, and I've kept Arizona as a 4 as a result.  I feel like that's their range almost no matter what they do this week.

Arizona St is such a weird case.  Under .500 in this conference should almost automatically mean busto for their resume, but they have 2 wins over 1 seeds.  You just can't leave that out when most of the other metrics are at least okay.  They better beat Colorado though, just in case.  It'll at least count as a group 2 win (their 8th combined Group 1/2 win, which is in the lower end of acceptable for bubble teams).  I just can't leave those two signature wins out of the field at the moment.

USC is another weird resume.  They definitely have a quality win issue (4 group 1 wins all coming over bubble teams).  Yet most of their measurables are okay (winning road record, 4-6 vs. Group 1).  They're in a weird spot in the bracket where Washington/Utah/Oregon don't really help them at all.  I feel like with no red flags that they're in good shape, but get back to me if they lose a stupid game.

UCLA.  Similar to USC, but with two key differences.  Road record is poor, and they have a couple of legitimate business wins (@Zona, UK).  Frankly there's an argument for them over USC, and an argument for USC over them, and both are very reasonable arguments.  It might come down to committee preference.  UCLA is also in a good bracket spot where beating Stanford might be enough.  Beating Zona is a big ask, and they avoid all the dangerous bubble teams that could hurt the resume.

Utah, Washington, Oregon.  Your three longshot bubble teams.  Going into this week, I thought they were all a signature win away from legitimate conversation, and they all ended up on the wrong side of the bracket.  I don't think USC is going to be a useful enough win for any of them.  However, if USC doesn't make the finals....the team that does is going to get some bubble run.  It's at least worth considering them, whoever it is.

Stanford gets the draw the other teams so desperately needed.  If they beat UCLA AND Arizona, we might want to talk about them for a minute.  Don't think they'll get there, but it's worth putting them on the board to look at then.

All these teams are going to pile into the NIT if they don't get in.  Colorado is starting to look like a NIT bubble team on the wrong side of the bubble now.

Monday, March 5, 2018

3/5 recap

WCC semis:
Gonzaga 88, San Francisco 60
BYU 85, St Mary's 72 - oh boy we're going to be talking about my aggressive seeding of St Mary's, aren't we

MAAC finals:
Iona 83, Fairfield 71

SoCon finals:
UNC Greensboro 62, East Tennessee St 47

CAA semis:
Charleston 83, William & Mary 73
Northeastern 79, UNC Wilmington 52 - form holds in this conference

Summit semis:
South Dakota St 78, North Dakota St 57
South Dakota 76, Denver 58 - form holds here, too

Horizon semis:
Cleveland St 44, Oakland 43 - good god CSU is a terrible team to be sending to your conference finals, Horizon
Wright St 59, Milwaukee 53

MAC 1st round:
Kent St 61, Northern Illinois 59
Central Michigan 81, Bowling Green 77 (OT)
Miami(OH) 68, Ohio 55
Akron 79, Western Michigan 78

MEAC 1st round:
NC A&T 62, Delaware St 61 (OT)
Norfolk St 78, UMES 68

Mountain West conference tournament preview

This is part 22 of a 32-part series.

Standings:
Nevada 15-3
Boies St 13-5
New Mexico 12-6
Fresno St 11-7
San Diego St 11-7
Wyoming 10-8
UNLV 8-10
Utah St 8-10
Air Force 6-12
Colorado St 4-14
San Jose St 1-17

Format:
March 7-10.  Las Vegas.

Matchups:
1) Nevada vs. 8/9) UNLV/Air Force
4) Fresno St vs. 5) San Diego St
3) New Mexico vs. 6/11) Wyoming/San Jose St
2) Boise St vs. 7/10) Utah St/Colorado St

The stakes:
CRPI of 9, a rebound season for the conference.  Nevada will bear some of the fruits.  The seed has taken a ding as of late, and is still a source of debate, though.  Their metrics are in mostly good shape (7-4 vs. top 2 groups, 11 true road wins, non-con SoS 18) so I wouldn't go anywhere near a double digit seed for them.

Boise.  Some reasonable metrics (6-5 vs. top 2 groups, winning road/neutral record).  One ugly non-con SoS at 217.  One win against Loyola that's gained speed.  But no wins over at-large teams, and no access to quality wins before the final in this tournament.  It's a tough but not impossible case.  I don't think I can swing it for them.  Out.

Some interesting NIT profiles.  UNM is 3rd in conference but a clear 7th in overall profile in the league.  This may cost the entire league.  If SDSU or Wyoming were in 3rd, I think I could argue for an at-large bid for either.  I might still yet argue for SDSU, maybe.

Big East conference tournament

This is part 21 of a 32-part series.

Standings:
Xavier 15-3
Villanova 14-4
Seton Hall 10-8
Creighton 10-8
Providence 10-8
Butler 9-9
Marquette 9-9
Georgetown 5-13
St John's 4-14
DePaul 4-14

Format:
March 7-10.  MSG.

Matchups:
1) Xavier vs. 8/9) Georgetown/St John's
4) Creighton vs. 5) Providence
3) Seton Hall vs. 6) Butler
2) Villanova vs. 7/10) Marquette/DePaul

The stakes:
Villanova and Xavier are on the 1 line, and I highly suspect anything this week will change that.  They could be playing for #2 overall on the S-Curve, which could be a big deal geographically.  Loser could get shipped to Omaha.

Seton Hall and Creighton are mid-bracket teams, playing for seeding.  But like I've mentioned elsewhere, their seed might depend more on what other teams do than themselves.  I've been perhaps too aggressive with CU's seed given their non-con SoS in the 230s; I'm likely going to rectify this in future S-Curves.  The predictive metrics favor them though.

Butler and Provi are further down, but I think they're also safe.  Providence might be dicey if not for two home wins over 1 seeds.    Butler also has high end wins.  Both have lost a significant portion of their Group 1 games though.  However, given the state of the bubble I can't find major motivation to kick them out of the bracket.  At least not yet; we'll see if the bubble shrinks.

Marquette will be the bubble team of record in the conference.  Unlike their bretheren, they don't have a win over a projected top 4 seed, meaning they're a step behind the other teams even though their vital signs are more or less even with the others.  Unfortunately, they don't have much chance to add value to their resume - Villanova is a big ask to get; MU might've been better served just adding Group 1 wins via lesser opponents.  Still, a win-and-in opportunity looms.

Big 12 conference tournament

This is part 20 of a 32-part series.

Standings: 
Kansas 13-5
Texas Tech 11-7
West Virginia 11-7
Kansas St 10-8
TCU 9-9
Oklahoma 8-10
Texas 8-10
Oklahoma St 8-10
Baylor 8-10
Iowa St 4-14

Format:
Standard format, March 7-10.  Kansas City hosts again.

Matchups:
1) Kansas vs. 8/9) Oklahoma St/Oklahoma
4) Kansas St vs. 5) TCU
3) West Virginia vs. 6) Baylor
2) Texas Tech vs. 7/10) Texas/Iowa St

The stakes:
Stuff going on everywhere around here.  Let's take these in groups.

Kansas is playing to keep their spot on the 1 line.  3 wins and I think they hold.  Lose and the door is open to the SEC winner or the ACC winner.  Pretty simple.

WVU and Texas Tech and TCU are playing for seeding.  Let's skip over them; their situations are very self-evident.  Win and move up, lose and stay static.

Now we have teams in various states of bubble.  K-State has a legitimate SoS problem.  326 non-con!  326!!!!!!!!!!!!!  History is rife with teams who got left out with this kind of SoS.  This ALWAYS happens!  Red flags everywhere!  What metrics are in their favor?  3-7 vs. Group 1, 6-5 road record....both are okay, both usually make it more often than not, but are in range of getting left out.  Their best wins are TCU at home, swept Texas....they just 2x to Kansas, WVU, and TTU.  THIS TEAM HAS WORK TO DO!!!!!!  If there's one single takeaway from all these previews, it's that this team has every friggin warning sign of a team that gets shunned, and everyone is leaning safety for them.  This is a public service announcement.  Don't fall in the trap!  They must beat TCU, and they may need Kansas as a scalp too.

Compare K-State with the 4 teams at 8-10 in conference play.  First, Oklahoma.  6 Group 1 wins is going to make it, even if they lose to OSU.  That road record of 2-9 is alarming, but you don't play true road games in the NCAA tournament (I always like to say that to counter people who say teams don't play home games in the tournament just to be a jerk).  Texas is closer to the bubble, but might be home free.  5 Group 1 wins, they probably just barely won enough of their 15 chances (literally, 15 Group 1 games) to get in.  It's a case of opportunity trumping worthiness, but I think they're fine - if they beat ISU.  They can't get hurt by losing to Tech.

Baylor is dicey.  Bad road record just like OU, 4 wins in 14 Group 1 chances is almost in line with Texas.  Basically, their resume is about 90% as good as the two teams I mentioned above.  This is a true bubble situation, and I would recommend getting WVU to be sure they're in.  Otherwise they're a lock to be listed on Sunday morning as one of the last 2 teams in or out.

OSU is probably out, but 5 Group 1 wins and a sweep of Kansas means we will pay attention if they beat Kansas a third time.  Their non-con SoS is in 280 territory though, so beating Kansas is the minimum required at the moment.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

3/5 S-CURVE

Scrub-a-dub-dub.

- You tell me what to do with the 2 and 3 lines.  Please.  I don't know.  For now we'll go with ACC bias first, but man that situation is going to be fluid all week.  Don't like how it looks?  I'll change it soon enough, don't worry.

The 1 line:  Virginia, Villanova, Xavier, Kansas
The 2 line:  Duke, North Carolina, Auburn, Michigan St
The 3 line:  Tennessee, Purdue, Cincinnati, Michigan
The 4 line:  West Virginia, Texas Tech, Arizona, Gonzaga
The 5 line:  Ohio St, Clemson, Wichita St, Florida
The 6 line:  Miami, TCU, Kentucky, Texas A&M
The 7 line:  Seton Hall, Creighton, Houston, Arkansas
The 8 line:  St Mary's, Nevada, Virginia Tech, Missouri
The 9 line:  Butler, Rhode Island, North Carolina St, Oklahoma
The 10 line:  Florida St, Texas, Providence, USC
The 11 line:  St Bonaventure, Arizona St, UCLA, Middle Tennessee, Kansas St
The 12 line:  Marquette, Baylor, Loyola(Chi), New Mexico St, Buffalo
The 13 line:  Charleston, South Dakota St, Murray St, UNC Greensboro
The 14 line:  Louisiana, Vermont, Bucknell, Montana
The 15 line:  Wright St, Wagner, UC-Davis, Iona
The 16 line:  Lipscomb, Harvard, Radford, SE Louisiana, Hampton, Arkansas-Pine Bluff

Next 4 in:
Providence
USC
St Bonaventure
Arizona St

Last 4 in:
UCLA
Kansas St
Marquette
Baylor

Last 4 out:
Syracuse
Louisville
Alabama
Utah

Next 4 out:
Penn St
Nebraska
Oklahoma St
Washington

Break it down!
Big 12 8
ACC 8
Big East 7
SEC 7
Pac-12 4
B1G 4
AAC 3
WCC 2
A-10 2


NIT lines:
3:  Oregon, Boise St, Notre Dame, Western Kentucky
4:  Mississippi St, Georgia, Stanford, Temple
5:  Northeastern, BYU, Old Dominion, Davidson
--probable cutline--
current autobids:  Rider, UNC Asheville, Northern Kentucky, FGCU
last 4 out:  Maryland, Tulsa, LSU, Central Florida

3/4 recap

Cincinnati 62, @Wichita St 61 - at the death of the regular season, Cincy with a Group 0 win as I like to call it.  Throw them in the discussion for the 3 line
@Houston 81, UConn 71 - by the way, shoutout to the AAC.  Every other conference finished their regular season by yesterday, but the AAC are rebels
@Tulsa 76, Temple 58 - one final death blow to Temple; and a NIT bubble game for Tulsa.  Memphis and UCF also won, but are probably out of time to make a NIT run

B1G final:
Michigan 75, Purdue 66 - yeesh.  Now what do we do with Michigan's seed.  3 line?  But that's where I was going to put both Purdue and MSU, and now I run out of space for other teams.  At least one of these B1G teams is going to the 4 line, and you could make arguments for any of the 3 to wind up there.  This is going to be worthy of a lot of analysis over the next week, and I guarantee I'll change my mind a few times

MVC final:
Loyola(Chi) 65, Illinois St 49 - this does take away one looming bubble hot topic for the next week.  This is a great example of a team that might get bumped to an 11 or even a 10 seed during the seeding process, even though they wouldn't have been an at-large team

A-Sun final:
Lipscomb 108, FGCU 96

Big South final:
Radford 55, Liberty 52

SoCon semis:
UNC Greensboro 56, Wofford 55
East Tennessee St 63, Furman 52 - form has held in this tourney

MAAC semis:
Fairfield 74, Quinnipiac 64
Iona 65, St Peter's 62

Patriot semis:
Colgate 62, Holy Cross 55
Bucknell 90, Boston U 59

CAA quarters:
Charleston 66, Drexel 59
William & Mary 80, Towson 66
Northeastern 74, Delaware 50
UNC Wilmington 93, Hofstra 88 - your one upset here

Horizon quarters:
Milwaukee 80, UIC 75
Oakland 62, IUPUI 55

Summit quarters:
North Dakota St 86, Fort Wayne 82
Denver 90, Oral Roberts 88 (2OT)

ACC tournament preview

This is part 19 of a 32-part series.

Standings:
Virginia 17-1
Duke 13-5
Miami 11-7
Clemson 11-7
North Carolina 11-7
North Carolina St 11-7
Virginia Tech 10-8
Florida St 9-9
Louisville 9-9
Notre Dame 8-10
Syracuse 8-10
Boston College 7-11
Georgia Tech 6-12
Wake Forest 4-14
Pittsburgh 0-18

Format:
March 6-March 10.  Brooklyn neutral site.

Matchups:
1) Virginia vs. 8/9) Florida St/Louisville
4) Clemson vs. 5/12/13) NC State/Boston College/Georgia Tech
3) Miami vs. 6/11/14) North Carolina/Syracuse/Wake Forest
2) Duke vs. 7/10/15) Virginia Tech/Notre Dame/Pitt

The stakes:
Virginia's gonna be #1 overall.  Let's move on.

Duke and UNC are contenders for the 2 line.  I'm not sure the 1 line is attainable from their position.  Here's the tricky thing with them.  They share the same territory as other teams like Auburn, Tennessee, Kansas, Texas Tech...all these teams playing this week also.  I think it'll depend more likely on what these teams do than what UNC/Duke do.  I just feel like these are fully formed resumes while there's some questions I still have about the other teams that need to be answered.

I'm not really sure what to do with Clemson.  They're in the middle of this mess I like to talk about around the 4-5 lines...They've got most of the metrics you need for a high seed, just absorbing one or two too many losses on the road.  A real chance here to help the seed with Virginia in the semis looming.  Could be worth multiple seed lines for them.

Miami is playing for seeding in the middle of the bracket, way too many teams clustered around them to say that any particular win would result in any seed gain.  Same with NC State and Va Tech, but they're a bit behind Miami.

With 7 teams in the lockbox above, let's deal with the bubble.  I think the winner of FSU/Louisville will be safe....and maybe the loser too.  The good news is the winner has a house money game with Virginia that won't hurt them if they lose.  FSU is in better shape; Louisville might be the one team that dies if they lose this game.

Syracuse is the other bubble team...I think they're going to have to beat UNC (and Wake, obvs) to get in.  I think.  It's close though, and I've got them right around the cutline at the moment.  Their profile doesn't have a lot of red flags, but it does have a lot of yellow flags.  Getting one extra Group 1 win would be huge, a loss to UNC means a 3-8 record there.  4-6 road record...great non-con SoS....this profile could get in anyways, but it's close.

Notre Dame.  Beat Duke and...we won't talk.  Not enough.  Get one more after that (Miami or UNC only) and then we'll talk.

Boston College is a NIT bubble team if that's your thing.  7-11 ACC record is in typical NIT range.

Big Sky conference tournament preview

This is part 18 of a 32-part series.

Standings:
Montana 16-2
Idaho 14-4
Eastern Washington 13-5
Weber St 13-5
Northern Colorado 11-7
Portland St 9-9
Idaho St 9-9
North Dakota 6-12
Montana St 6-12
Southern Utah 5-13
Sacramento St 4-14
Northern Arizona 2-16

Format:
March 6 and 8-10.  No funny business with the layout of the bracket, minus the day off between the 1st round and quarterfinals.  Neutral site host is Reno.

Matchups:
1) Montana vs. 8/9) North Dakota/Montana St
4) Weber St vs. 5/12) Northern Colorado/Northern Arizona
3) Eastern Washington vs. 6/11) Portland St/Sacramento St
2) Idaho vs. 7/10) Idaho St/Southern Utah

The stakes:
Conference RPI 19, so not too bad this year for them.  Seems to be better than usual.  This is marked by some RPIs being better than you think:  Montana 96, Idaho 113, UNC 111, EWU 132, PSU 152, Weber 160.  That's a pretty good Top 6 for this conference (all 6 are in line for postseason bids, if they want them). 

This should help the conference escape the 16 line for sure, and probably the 15 line for Montana and Idaho at least.  There's not too much going on in these resumes overall, but that's the same situation for many other conferences, who don't sport the computer numbers these guys built up.  Not much else to say here.

SWAC tournament preview

This is part 17 of a 32-part preview.

Standings:
Grambling 13-5
Prairie View A&M 12-6
Texas Southern 12-6
Arkansas-Pine Bluff 12-6
Southern 10-8
Jackson St 9-9
Alabama St 8-10
Alcorn St 7-11
Mississippi Valley St 4-14
Alabama A&M 3-15

Format:
Quarterfinals are March 6 at campus sites.  The final 4 will then converge in Houston on March 9-10.

10 teams in the conference, but only 8 play.  Two teams are ineligible for postseason - Grambling and Alabama A&M.  In years past, all 10 teams would play the tournament anyways.  This led to a couple occasions where an ineligible team played in the final, meaning there was no autobid on the line in the final.  The SWAC has remedied that situation.  Thank GOD.

Matchups:
1) Arkansas-Pine Bluff vs. 8) Mississippi Valley St
4) Southern vs. 5) Jackson St
3) Texas Southern vs. 6) Alabama St
2) Prairie View A&M vs. 7) Alcorn St

The stakes:
The SWAC is the worst conference.  Everyone but Grambling is below .500 overall.  Send the winner to Dayton.  There's nothing else left to say.

I do believe UAPB holds a NIT auto-bid in its hands, as being the "champion" of record for this conference, since Grambling is ineligible.

MAC tournament preview

This is part 16 of a 32-part series.

Standings:
Buffalo 15-3
Toledo 13-5
Eastern Michigan 11-7
Ball St 10-8
Kent St 9-9
Western Michigan 9-9
Miami 8-10
Central Michigan 7-11
Bowling Green 7-11
Ohio 7-11
Akron 6-12
Northern Illinois 6-12

Format:
They play first round games March 5 at the higher seed.  The top 8 then congregate from March 8-10 in Cleveland.

Matchups:
1) Buffalo vs. 8/9) Central Michigan/Bowling Green
4) Ball St vs. 5/12) Kent St/Northern Illinois
3) Eastern Michigan vs. 6/11) Western Michigan/Akron
2) Toledo vs. 7/10) Miami/Ohio

The stakes:
Solid year for the conference, RPI of 10.  The big thing?  The bad teams were better.  So don't get too excited.

Buffalo with an RPI of 32!  This has been a couple times now where they've had an unusual RPI.  Is there any substance behind it?  No.  0 Group 1 wins, 1 Group 2 win which was @Ball State.  They played the #11 non-con SoS, but a large part of it was bad team avoidance, and the other large part was losing to all relevant opponents (Cincy and A&M and Syracuse and Bonaventure and even South Dakota St).  SDSU is the pivot point, even if they could just beat them, it elevates the profile one level.  Instead, they're safely ignored on Selection Sunday.  I've been keeping them on the 12/13 seed borderline, could go either way.

Toledo is probably short of an at-large bid to the NIT.  EMU, Ball St, and WMU (and CMU too) are all in range of the lesser tourneys.

MEAC tournament preview

This is part 15 of a 32-part series.

Standings:
Hampton 12-4
Bethune-Cookman 12-4
Savannah St 12-4
NC A&T 11-5
Norfolk St 11-5
NC Central 9-7
Morgan St 7-9
Howard 7-9
Florida A&M 7-9
South Carolina St 6-10
Coppin St 5-11
UMES 3-13
Delaware St 2-14

Format:
March 5-10, as they share venues with the women.  Norfolk is the host city.

Matchups:
1) Hampton vs. 8/9) Howard/Florida A&M
4/13) North Carolina A&T/Delaware St vs. 5/12) Norfolk St/UMES
3) Savannah St vs. 6/11) NC Central/Coppin St
2) Bethune-Cookman vs. 7/10) Morgan St/South Carolina St

The stakes:
Who cares.  CRPI 31.  SSU is the only team sub-200 in the RPI, and they're under .500 overall.  Winner of this tournament is going to Dayton, full stop.

Hampton has the NIT autobid.  Bethune-Cookman and NC A&T are CIT eligible.  For those who speculate.

3/3 recap

@Virginia 62, Notre Dame 57 - some people are talking about Notre Dame.  Let's stop that.  The injury situation is unlucky and unfair, but teams are judged on their resume, what they did on the court.  UND didn't do enough.  Injuries are a factor in seeding once you're in the tournament, but can't impact the selection of the team in the first place.  UND needs to do serious damage in the ACCT
@Duke 74, North Carolina 64 - ok, Duke back to the 2 line, and I guess UNC to the 3?  This will be a very fluid situation next week, and frankly fans of both should be scoreboard watching, that'll impact both seeds here highly
@Syracuse 55, Clemson 52 - Clemson has lost some seed equity these last few weeks.  Is this enough for Syracuse?  Probably not
@Miami 69, Virginia Tech 68
@Florida St 85, Boston College 76
@NC State 76, Louisville 69 - we may need to leave UL out of the bracket after all

Xavier 65, @DePaul 62
@Villanova 97, Georgetown 73
@Providence 61, St John's 57
@Marquette 85, Creighton 81 - hmm
@Seton Hall 77, Butler 70

@Oklahoma St 82, Kansas 64 - ok, I want to drop Kansas, but who the hell is the 4th 1 seed?  I'm praying someone emerges.  Meanwhile, all of a sudden we're going to put ANOTHER Big 12 team on the bubble.  What a mess
@Texas Tech 79, TCU 75
@Texas 87, West Virginia 79 (OT) - needless to say, big win for Texas....and the 4 line is a mess right now.  I feel like I have 12 teams on the 5 line and 0 teams on the 4 line
@Kansas St 77, Baylor 67 - guys, I really don't want to put K-State in the bracket.  This is a problem

@Auburn 79, South Carolina 70
@Tennessee 66, Georgia 61
@Florida 80, Kentucky 67
@LSU 78, Mississippi St 57
@Texas A&M 68, Alabama 66 - we'll deal with Alabama's bubble hopes in the following days
@Missouri 77, Arkansas 67

@Arizona 66, Cal 54
Stanford 84, @Arizona St 83 - oh my god, ASU.  What are you doing
Oregon 72, @Washington 64 - whatever, Pac-12
@Utah 64, Colorado 54
UCLA 83, @USC 72 - UCLA seems like the bubble team of record in this conference

St Bonaventure 64, @St Louis 56

@San Diego St 79, Nevada 74 - boy.  Nevada is still home free, but they've spilled a couple seed lines with late losses
@Boise St 95, Wyoming 87

Marshall 76, @Middle Tennessee 67 - I just can't.
@UAB 101, Western Kentucky 73 - this hurts MT too.  Need elite opponents to make them look better

OVC final:
Murray St 68, Belmont 51

Big 10 semis:
Michigan 75, Michigan St 64 - I've railed on Michigan's non-con SoS, but signature wins do a great job of masking that.  They'll move up a bit as a result.  The trickier situation is MSU's seed.  I have no idea what to do
@Purdue 78, Penn St 70 - we should be able to safely put away PSU now

MVC semis:
Loyola(Chi) 62, Bradley 54
Illinois St 76, Southern Illinois 68 (OT)

WCC quarters:
Gonzaga 83, Loyola Marymount 69
St Mary's 69, Pepperdine 66
BYU 85, San Diego 79
San Francisco 71, Pacific 70 (OT)

NEC semis:
LIU 78, Fairleigh Dickinson 77
Wagner 75, Robert Morris 64

SoCon quarters:
UNC Greensboro 72, Citadel 58
Wofford 73, Mercer 53
East Tennessee St 77, Chattanooga 59
Furman 97, Western Carolina 73

AEast quarters:
UMBC 89, UMass Lowell 77
Hartford 71, New Hampshire 60
Vermont 75, Maine 60

Horizon quarters:
Wright St 87, Green Bay 72
Cleveland St 89, Northern Kentucky 80 - a pretty severe upset

MAAC quarters:
Fairfield 90, Niagara 77
Iona 72, Manhattan 60

Summit quarters:
South Dakota St 66, Western Illinois 60
South Dakota 87, Omaha 73

CAA 1st round:
Drexel 70, James Madison 62
Delaware 86, Elon 79

Saturday, March 3, 2018

3/3 S-CURVE

Scrub-a-dub-dub.  Scrubbing the seed lines will continue all weekend. 

The 1 line:  Virginia, Villanova, Kansas, Xavier
The 2 line:  Michigan St, North Carolina, Purdue, Tennessee
The 3 line:  Duke, Auburn, West Virginia, Cincinnati
The 4 line:  Texas Tech, Ohio St, Gonzaga, Arizona
The 5 line:  Clemson, Wichita St, Kentucky, TCU
The 6 line:  Miami, Nevada, Creighton, Florida
The 7 line:  Seton Hall, Michigan, St Mary's, Arkansas
The 8 line:  Houston, Rhode Island, Texas A&M, Virginia Tech
The 9 line:  Butler, Missouri, Middle Tennessee, Oklahoma
The 10 line:  North Carolina St, USC, Arizona St, Providence
The 11 line:  Florida St, St Bonaventure, Alabama, Texas, UCLA
The 12 line:  Baylor, Louisville, New Mexico St, Loyola(Chi), Buffalo
The 13 line:  Charleston, Louisiana, Vermont, South Dakota St
The 14 line:  Murray St, UNC-Greensboro, Bucknell, Montana
The 15 line:  Northern Kentucky, Harvard, UC-Davis, Wagner
The 16 line:  FGCU, Niagara, Radford, Nicholls St, Hampton, Arkansas-Pine Bluff

Next 4 in:
Providence
Arizona St
Florida St
St Bonaventure

Last 4 in:
Texas
UCLA
Baylor
Louisville

Last 4 out:
Kansas St
Marquette
Penn St
Washington

Next 4 out:
Nebraska
Syracuse
Utah
Georgia

Friday, March 2, 2018

3/2 recap

@Davidson 63, Rhode Island 61 - boy, URI spilled some blood right at the end here.  They will be bleeding seed lines in the next week
@Oklahoma 81, Iowa St 60 - okay we can all relax, OU will be in, one way or the other

B1G quarters:
Michigan St 63, Wisconsin 60
Purdue 82, Rutgers 75
Penn St 69, Ohio St 68 - well well well.  The plot thickens, and PSU is the bubble team of record now.  I think they have to beat Purdue to really be legitimately considered, but it's out there now
Michigan 77, Nebraska 58 - the most fraudulent 13-5 in Big 10 conference history.  See the preview post for the details as to why

MVC quarters:
Loyola(Chi) 54, Northern Iowa 50
Bradley 63, Drake 61
Southern Illinois 67, Missouri St 63
Illinois St 77, Indiana St 70

WCC 1st round:
Loyola Marymount 78, Portland 72
Pepperdine 85, Santa Clara 69

OVC semis:
Murray St 70, Jacksonville St 63
Belmont 94, Austin Peay 79 - I don't know why the OVC wasted our time this season with every game leading up to a Murray/Belmont final

Big South semis:
Radford 61, Winthrop 52
Liberty 69, UNC Asheville 64 - and we have our first NIT bid poacher of the year, UNCA

SoCon 1st round:
Citadel 78, VMI 70
Chattanooga 89, Samford 79

Horizon 1st round:
Green Bay 93, Detroit 81
Cleveland St 72, Youngstown St 71

MAAC quarterfinals:
St Peter's 66, Rider 55 - uh oh, top seed gone
Quinnipiac 72, Canisius 69 - uh oh, second seed gone.  MAAC tourney has gone sideways early

3/1 recap

Virginia 67, @Louisville 66 - this just about might do it for the race for the #1 overall seed.  Not maybe yet, but probably
@Georgia Tech 78, NC State 75 - I think NCSU is home free, but this isn't a good look

Cincinnati 78, @Tulane 49
Wichita St 75, @UCF 71

@Arizona 75, Stanford 67
@Washington St 78, Oregon 76 - so we're not paying attention to Oregon...agreed?
@Arizona St 84, Cal 53
@Washington 79, Oregon St 77

@Middle Tennessee 82, Western Kentucky 64 - we're starting to get to the point where I think MTSU might be home free for an at-large bid

B1G second round:
Michigan 77, Iowa 71 (OT) - this keeps Nebraska's at large hopes alive
Wisconsin 59, Maryland 54 - boy, Maryland punted on this season
Penn St 65, Northwestern 57
Rutgers 76, Indiana 69 - oh lord, Rutgers is advancing in this tournament now

A-Sun semis:
FGCU 95, North Florida 72
Lipscomb 77, Jacksonville 62 - A-Fun has gone to form 

MVC first round:
Northern Iowa 60, Evansville 50
Missouri St 83, Valparaiso 79

Big South quarters:
Radford 59, Longwood 53
Winthrop 72, Gardner-Webb 58
UNC Asheville 71, Charleston Southern 66
Liberty 73, Campbell 59

Patriot quarters:
Holy Cross 81, Navy 65
Boston 88, Lehigh 82
Bucknell 83, Loyola(MD) 78
Colgate 76, Lafayette 54

OVC quarters:
Jacksonville St 73, Tennessee Tech 70
Austin Peay 73, Eastern Illinois 66

MAAC first round:
St Peter's 60, Monmouth 58
Quinnipiac 67, Siena 58
Fairfield 71, Marist 57

America East conference tournament preview

This is part 14 of a 32-part preview.

Standings:
Vermont 15-1
UMBC 12-4
Hartford 11-5
Albany 10-6
Stony Brook 7-9
New Hampshire 6-10
UMass-Lowell 6-10
Maine 3-13

Format:
March 3, 6, and 10.  Better seed hosts each time.  Travel away!

Matchups:
1) Vermont vs. 8) Maine
4) Albany vs. 5) Stony Brook
3) Hartford vs. 6) New Hampshire
2) UMBC vs. 7) UMass-Lowell

The stakes:
A-East is usually pretty bad, this year they're okay at 23 CRPI.  UMBC, Hartford, Albany are in CBI/CIT range and/or 15 seed range, blah blah blah. 

Vermont is the thing to talk about.  Holding onto a top 50 RPI, and played 4 Group 1 games in the non-con.  Unfortunately, lost them all.  Non-con SoS was 88, and that's an unlucky 88.  They traveled a bunch.  Roadies at Kentucky, Bucknell, Marquette, Northeastern, neutral at Bonaventure....but they didn't win any of those.  Did poach N-NKU, @Harvard, and ran up 15 road/neutral wins.  They can easily push into the 12 line with those metrics, because the committee likes to see those things.  My money is on the 13 line.  Basically what I'm saying is, don't blindly pay attention to conference RPI and seed them on the 15 line, or even 14 line.  They're better than that.

CAA conference tournament preview

This is part 13 of a 32-part series.

Standings:
Charleston 14-4
Northeastern 14-4
Hofstra 12-6
William & Mary 11-7
Towson 8-10
UNC-Wilmington 7-11
Elon 6-12
Delaware 6-12
Drexel 6-12
James Madison 6-12

Format:
March 3-6.  Charleston is the host.  Hmm

Matchups:
1) Charleston vs. 8/9) Drexel/James Madison
4) William & Mary vs. 5) Towson
3) Hofstra vs. 6) UNC-Wilmington
2) Northeastern vs. 7/10) Delaware/Elon

The stakes:
Conference RPI 12.  Down just a bit from previous years, but still pretty strong.  The bottom of the conference was the issue this year with their slide.

But yet again, they are just good enough to just miss being relevant in the at-large race.  Northeastern did at least try to schedule up and give themselves chances, but didn't cash in on any of them.  Charleston didn't do anything with their non-con. 

So in the end, it feels like the 13 line is the destination for this conference champ, unless we get someone funny winning this.  Northeastern actually has a very good shot at the 12 line, but Charleston, Hofstra, and Bill & Mary are safe bets for the 13 line.  Actually, I wonder about Northeastern and a potential NIT at-large bid (Charleston has the autobid).  Further down, Towson is CIT eligible if you care about that.

Summit League conference tournament preview

This is part 12 of a 32-part series.

Standings:
South Dakota St 13-1
South Dakota 11-3
Denver 8-6
Fort Wayne 7-7
North Dakota St 5-9
Oral Roberts 5-9
Omaha 4-10
Western Illinois 3-11

Format:
March 3-6.  Sioux Falls hosts again.

Matchups:
1) South Dakota St vs. 8) Western Illinois
4) Fort Wayne vs. 5) North Dakota St
2) South Dakota vs. 7) Omaha
3) Denver vs. 6) Oral Roberts

The stakes:
The league is CRPI 17.  South Dakota St is sporting a rather healthy 52 RPI, albeit lacking the signature win that would take their resume up a level.  Add it all up, and a 13 seed is possible, and if we get regular attrition in other conference tourneys, probable.  South Dakota is in good shape as well...everyone else would be sent careening towards Dayton.  This is a step down for the conference as a whole compared to previous years, when they usually had a team or two creep up to the edge of the 12 line.

The conference lacks depth; only IPFW outside of the top 2 are in good shape for a CBI/CIT.  South Dakota St and South Dakota have been the class of the league all year long; both are in good shape to at least avoid the 15 line.

West Coast Conference tournament preview

This is part 11 of a 32-part series.

Standings:
Gonzaga 17-1
St Mary's 16-2
BYU 11-7
San Diego 9-9
San Francisco 9-9
Pacific 9-9
Santa Clara 8-10
Loyola Marymount 5-13
Portland 4-14
Pepperdine 2-16

Format:
March 2-6.  Neutral site in Las Vegas, which annually hosts about 375 D1 conference tournaments.

Matchups:
1) Gonzaga vs. 8/9) Loyola Marymount/Portland
4) San Francisco vs. 5) Pacific
3) BYU vs. 6) San Diego
2) St Mary's vs. 7/10) Santa Clara/Pepperdine

The stakes:
Gonzaga is merely playing for seeding, with a pretty wide possibility from 5 to 9, IMO.  It will largely depend on what other teams seeded around them do in the next week, whether or not they pick up signature wins.

I think St Mary's is home free.  The non-con SoS of 180 is juuuuust good enough, and while there's not much meat in the resume....they mostly avoided bad losses (neutral site to Wazzu notwithstanding) that I think they'll survive  into the at-large field somewhere.  It's not like the bubble is teeming with solid candidates at the moment.

With those two things out in the open, there's not much drama going on here.  I suppose BYU as a NIT bubble team if you like that drama.  They might even be out, as 3 conference losses outside of the big two might be too many.  San Diego and San Francisco are merely CIT fodder this year.  And this conference is well down, which is hurting the profiles of Gonzaga and St Mary's.  However, since they lost a combined once to the rest of the conference, I don't think the committee will punish them as much as most people think.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Horizon league tournament preview

This is part 10 of a 32-part series.

Standings:
Northern Kentucky 15-3
Wright St 14-4
UIC 12-6
Oakland 10-8
Milwaukee 8-10
IUPUI 8-10
Green Bay 7-11
Cleveland St 6-12
Youngstown St 6-12
Detroit 4-14

Format:
March 2-6.  Neutral site in Detroit.  Bracket is straightforward despite splitting up a round across a couple days.

Matchups:
1) Northern Kentucky vs. 8/9) Cleveland St/Youngstown St
4) Oakland vs. 5) IUPUI
3) UIC vs. 6) Milwaukee
2) Wright St vs. 7/10) Green Bay/Detroit

The stakes:
Much lower than usual for the conference.  They plummeted all the way to CRPI 26.  That is such a massive drop for this league, and their seed will be punished as a result.  Highly likely to wind up on the 15 line, with modest hopes to getting to the 14 line.  NKU and WSU really don't have much going on in their resume.  Everyone else might (well, probably, not might) end up in Dayton if they win this tournament.  It's a bleak outlook for a conference used to playing a weight class or two above this.  And only the top 4 teams are above .500 overall, and I'm not even sure why the CIT or CBI would even want Oakland or UIC at this point.