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:
North Carolina St
Last 4 in:
Last 4 out:
Next 2 out:
Bubble out: Notre Dame, Penn St, Nebraska, Davidson, Oregon, Utah, Washington
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.