-The bracket reflects games played through January 1st. It is not a prediction of the future, but rather a checkpoint of where teams currently stand. I use the exact same criteria the actual selection committee uses to select and seed the teams.CLICK HERE TO SEE THE BRACKET. MY APOLOGIES THAT AN IMAGE IS NOT AVAILABLE FOR THE ARTICLE THIS WEEK, BUT YOU CAN VIEW THE BRACKET BY CLICKING THIS LINK. The Notes are located right belowNotes on the Bracket
-This is the part of the season when it is the most difficult to put a bracket projection together. All of the data is somewhat scattershot. For instance, Connecticut is ranked high in the coaches poll, which would indicate a good ranking in the NABC rankings that are handed into the committee. They also appear to have a very good team. However, when looking at their other credentials, they have played a very weak schedule and were beaten rather handily in their only road game of the season against West Virginia. There are other teams that are hard to place for similar reasons, particularly LSU, Texas A&M and Washington. In looking at their resumes things about them would indicate that they should receive a very good seed, and other things about them suggest that they shouldnt even be in the field at all. Common sense tells me that as these teams go through conference play their credentials will improve significantly and theyll end up receiving good seeds in the end, but when putting together a bracket on what has happened and trying to avoid making assumptions about what might happen in the future, its difficult. Just try and understand that as youre looking at this.
New Mexico State
San Diego State
NOT IN THE BRACKET, BUT STILL DOING WELL
-Some of these teams are really on a roll, and although they arent in the bracket now, there is a lot of season left and they certainly appear to be good enough to earn themselves a spot.
-USC defeated Washington in their conference opener and lost to Washington State in the final seconds of a very exciting game. It was a huge win for Wazzu because they were coming off a loss in the final seconds to top ranked UCLA. They also have a pretty good win against Wichita State. They are 11-4 and dont have any poor losses. Their RPI and SOS are poor right now, and they dont have any true road wins, but theyll get their chances to boost their resume as they continue through Pac Ten play.
-Davidson and Appalachian State might be two teams to watch for. Both are in the Southern Conference and both currently have excellent RPIs and SOSs. Appalachian State is in at #10 and they have some notable wins against Virginia, Vanderbilt and VCU. None of those teams are in this bracket, and #12 may seem like a poor seed for an 8-3 top ten RPI team, but the problem is that they really havent beaten anyone else who is in the bracket picture. The same is true for Davidson. Both teams are playing in the Bracket Buster and they could pick up some nice wins there, but other than that their margin for error is very small if they want to make the field as an at-large. It is possible though, and both teams are worth keeping an eye one.
-Kansas State is not in this bracket, but theyve really strung together some pretty decent wins. They are 10-3 on the year and have won their last six, including wins against New Mexico and USC. They face Xavier tomorrow night in what should be a good game since both teams appear to be near the bubble right now. Theyll also get their chances at high quality wins in conference play. They began the season rather sluggish, but they are really playing well now.
-New Mexico State has won nine straight since beginning the season 1-3. They arent in this bracket, but they are doing a very nice job of building up their resume and there is a lot of season left. They will face Nevada twice and play in the Bracket Buster as a home team. If they can win one or two of those games and avoid any poor losses the rest of the way they could very easily play their way into the field. As good as they are playing now, they are certainly good enough to do just that.
-De Paul is another team that is hot right now, and they will certainly receive a trial by fire in Big East play. They are 9-5 on the year (RPI 53, SOS 26), but theyve won seven of their last eight, which includes wins against Kansas and a blowout win against California. They begin conference play this week and if they can finish above .500 and beat some more quality teams along the way they should get some very strong consideration.
-Not everyone is on a roll. Wichita State has lost four in a row. None of the teams were particularly bad (New Mexico, USC, Northern Iowa, Southern Illinois), but they dont look like a Pod System team anymore. I originally had them in this bracket as a #11 seed, but had to move them due to potential conference match ups prior to the Elite Eight. There are certainly reasons to give them a much better seed than that, but how a team finishes the season is hugely important, and if they were to lose four straight to bubble teams at the end of the year, it would hurt their profile as well. We saw that happen to some degree with Creighton last season.
-Washington has yet to win a true road game. They do have some impressive wins against Northern Iowa and LSU, but those came at home. They are off to an 0-2 start in Pac Ten play.
-Xavier is one of the teams that really has me scratching my head. Theyve beaten two teams in this bracket (Illinois, Villanova), but they have two losses to teams that arent even close to being in the picture (Cincinnati, Bucknell). Their other losses came to Creighton and Alabama, and they really havent performed on the road. As good as those two wins are, they still dont have the overall profile that the other teams in this bracket projection have, so they are out this week. As I said earlier, they face Kansas State tomorrow in what should be a big game.
-Georgia Tech is another team that is hard to figure out. The Jackets are a respective 10-3 with wins against Memphis and Purdue. However, they also have losses to Vanderbilt and Miami, FL, neither of which are anywhere close to being considered tournament teams right now. They are in this bracket as an #11 seed because I think their wins are better than their losses are poor.
-Gonzaga has lost four out of five. That isnt too terrible considering that they came against Georgia, Duke, Nevada and Washington State, but if they want to make the pod system they better begin stringing together some wins. They have Virginia tomorrow and then it really lightens up after that as they go into conference play. If they run the table, which they are certainly good enough to do, then they should end up making the pod system and being placed in Spokane. They still have a good win against North Carolina, and none of the losses are all that bad. Its just bad that theyve suffered four of them in their last five games. Feel free to send questions, comments or criticisms to firstname.lastname@example.org