Breaking down the Bracket

So, Championship week is coming up and the smaller conferences have already started their tournaments (that really snuck up on us). So I figured it was time to do a little bracket analysis. There are 68 spots in the tournament with 31 of those bids going to Conference Champions. Doing some quick math that means that there are 37 spots for At-Large teams in the tournament. For this analysis we are just going to assume that the number one team in each conference standing is going to win the conference tournament and make it in. Things get more complicated (and also more fun) when the upsets start happening. Now, going conference by conference you can determine locks. Teams like North Carolina, Georgetown, Notre Dame, Saint Johns, Syracuse, Connecticut, Louisville, West Virginia, Villanova, Purdue, Wisconsin, Texas, Kansas State, Missouri, Texas A&M, UCLA, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, San Diego State, UNLV, Temple, and Old Dominion are all going to make the tournament even though they are not the favorites to win their conference tournaments. That means you can take 22 spots off of that list of 37 openings to leave only 15 spots up for grabs.

Then you have the teams that are oh so close to having nothing to worry about, teams such as Florida State, Cincinnati, Marquette, Illinois (although I am very close to considering them a bubble team), Washington (See Illinois), Tennessee, (see Illinois and Washington and multiply it by 100), and Utah State (I don’t care what you say, you can’t keep a team with three losses out of the tournament). This leaves 8 spots for bubble teams right now.

In this ever changing bracket it is extremely difficult to determine who deserves the spots. However, I want to give you my opinion as of today March 3rd BEFORE the games happen, so that I can start doing this a little more often.

The first of the eight goes to Georgia, with wins At Tennessee and hosting Kentucky, as well as Colorado and UAB, it is tough to deny them a spot on this weak bubble.

Second and Third Spots go to Virginia Tech and Michigan State. Virginia Tech did a lot for their resume with that huge win over Duke. As for Michigan State, their SOS (6) is enough to get them in on their own, but that win over Wisconsin and the fact that they have won three of their last four helps too. Five more spots.

The next three go to Richmond, Gonzaga, and Memphis (although this third spot is really reserved for the loser of the Memphis Vs. UAB game). Richmond’s resume (not including their win against Purdue) is pretty dull including some bad losses. But its too tough to keep that record out of the tournament in a conference like the A10. As for Gonzaga, wins over Baylor, Marquette, Xavier, and Saint Mary’s give them the nod for now. That last spot, reserved for Memphis or UAB. For now I say Memphis because they have some quality wins including UAB (2), Southern Miss, Gonzaga, and UCF (2) and Miami if you count those as quality. And in all honesty, their losses aren’t that bad either.

The last two spots are the hardest to determine because this bubble is just so weak. I’m deciding to give the first to Boston College purely due to the strength of their conference, their recent win over Virginia Tech, and their early season win over Texas A&M.

Finally my last team in…drumroll please…No it is not Alabama, No it is not Michigan, No it is not Clemson…it is…Colorado! They have bad losses to San Francisco and Oklahoma, a sub 75 RPI, a sub 80 SOS, and they aren’t that impressive. But…they get the nod thanks to their healthy display of Top 50 wins including their recent one over Texas.

 

So thats my bracket breakdown for today, more in the coming days here are the teams that just missed the cut: Alabama, Michigan, Clemson, Baylor, Cleveland State, Minnesota, Southern Miss, Colorado State, Nebraska, and Washington State. (Disclaimer, there are more then these that still have shots at the at-large, but these are the only ones I considered for the final few spots.)

Buckeyes Bubble Analysis January 24th

Welcome to the first ever installment of Buckeyes Bubble Analysis. I’m sure the format of this will change multiple times over the course of my bracketology career, but for now this is how I plan on doing it.

I’m going to go along by conference and list every team that I feel has a realistic chance of making the tournament. I will not be including teams who only have a chance if they win their conference tournament because then they are technically not on the bubble (come selection sunday we will know if they are in or out). This list is purely for the teams that can get in with an at large bid. If you are wondering, this format is similar to the one used over at bracketville for his bubble preview.

Also, I would like you guys to know that I hate the word “lock” referring to teams this early in the season. In my opinion, lock means that even if they lose out they will still make the tournament and there are no teams like that right now. So until then I will be using the terms “Safe”, “Good Chance”, and “Bubble” to categorize. The teams I have listed under the category “bubble” are going to be any teams that I deem have any realistic chance as of right now so the bubble will be pretty big. Likewise the teams listed under safe will be relatively small due to very few teams having that convincing of a resume right now as many games are yet to be played.

(This has been updated for games played through January 23rd)

Atlantic 10:

Safe: None

Good Chance: Temple

Bubble: Xavier, Richmond, Dayton, Duquesne

Comments: Although Temple is buried in the A10 standings, I still see them as the team to beat in the conference and the team with the best resume. Xavier is looking good right now though and is currently undefeated in the conference along with Duquesne. Richmond has an extremely solid win over Purdue while also suffering some bad losses while Dayton is also in the conversation.

ACC:

Safe: Duke

Good Chance: North Carolina

Bubble: Virginia Tech, Florida State, Boston College, Miami (Florida), Maryland, Clemson

Comments: Duke is obviously the team to beat in the conference right now with their only loss coming to Florida State. North Carolina also has a pretty impressive resume in large part due to the quality of their losses with the exception of Georgia Tech. The bubble in the ACC is pretty large with Virginia Tech, Boston College and Florida State currently sitting on the right side of it in my opinion, and Miami, Maryland and Clemson still having some work to do.

Atlantic Sun:

Safe: None

Good Chance: None

Bubble: Belmont

Comments: Am I the only bracketologist who thinks that if Belmont somehow does not win the Atlantic Sun title they still may deserve a spot in the tournament? They only have three losses all of which come to the top two teams in Tennessee (two to the Volunteers and one to Vanderbilt) and they have impressive wins over their conference due to the fact that they have been destroying.

Big 12:

Safe: Kansas, Texas, Texas A&M

Good Chance: Missouri

Bubble: Kansas State, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa State

Comments: The Big 12 is a labyrinth right now with no one knowing who will win the title, no one knowing whether they will have four or ten teams in (although yes I know ten is highly unlikely, but since they all have good resumes they are all here) and no one knowing what happened to Kansas State. I can’t wait til these teams start figuring things out.

Big East:

Safe: Pittsburgh, Villanova, Connecticut, Syracuse

Good Chance: Notre Dame, West Virginia, Georgetown, Louisville

Bubble: Cincinnati, Saint Johns, Marquette

Comments: I know there are arguments saying that the Big Ten is the best conference in college basketball but even being a Big Ten fan I have to say it is the Big East. Eleven teams with a legitimate shot at the tournament, and seven or so with a realistic chance at the conference title. This is a fun conference to watch.

Big Ten:

Safe: Ohio State, Purdue

Good Chance: Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan State, Minnesota

Bubble: Northwestern, Penn State

Comments: The Class of the conference in Ohio State and Purdue will clash on Tuesday for Big Ten Supremacy, after that its pretty mixed up for third through sixth and then you get to Northwestern and Penn State who both barely make my bubble list and who both have a lot of work to do if they want to stay on the bubble let alone make it into the tournament.

Colonial:

Safe: None

Good Chance: None

Bubble: Virginia Commonwealth, George Mason, Old Dominion, James Madison, Drexel, Hofstra

Comments: So many teams with chances at the tournament with little to distinguish themselves from the rest. Each one needs to start winning if they truly want a spot, but in the end I don’t see a scenario in which more then two of these teams ends up in the tournament unless something drastic happens.

Conference USA:

Safe: None

Good Chance: None

Bubble: UTEP, Memphis, UAB, Southern Miss, Marshall, UCF

Comments: Extremely similar situation to the Colonial except these teams are much more prone to big losses but also to big wins. In this situation I could see three teams getting in provided Memphis (who seems to be in the best shape right now) doesn’t win the tournament but does well til then and another team starts proving their stuff.

Horizon:

Safe: None

Good Chance: None

Bubble: Cleveland State, Butler, Valparaiso

Comments: Cleveland State has an impressive record, Butler has an impressive history, Valparaiso has…a win over Cleveland State?

Ivy:

Safe: None

Good Chance: None

Bubble: Harvard

Comments: I can’t believe I am saying Harvard has a chance at an at large but with wins over Boston College and Colorado it is in the back of my mind. I don’t see the Ivy getting two teams though as Harvard would have to start losing for another team to win the regular season title.

Missouri Valley:

Safe: None

Good Chance: None

Bubble: Missouri State, Wichita State, Northern Iowa

Comments: One of the first two will likely win the conference tournament leaving the other to hope for an at large. Northern Iowa is hanging on to the bubble by a thread but five wins in a row including one over Wichita State and earlier wins over Iowa State and New Mexico keep them on for now.

Mountain West:

Safe: San Diego State, BYU

Good Chance: UNLV

Bubble: Colorado State, New Mexico

Comments: I’m pretty sure I’m not looking forward to any game this week more then I am BYU Vs. San Diego State, the battle for supremacy. Colorado State has picked things up recently to give themselves a chance in addition to New Mexico who has faltered and UNLV, the team no one talks about in the middle of the tournament.

Pac 10:

Safe: None

Should Be In: Washington

Bubble: Arizona, UCLA, Washington State, USC, California

Comments: I hate that USC and California are still on this list with nine losses each. Washington leads this sub-par Pac Ten and will likely move up to safe if they can stay faultless this week. Arizona, UCLA, and Washington State all need to prove stuff with big wins in order to be comfortable.

SEC:

Safe: Kentucky

Good Chance: Florida, Vanderbilt, Tennessee

Bubble: Georgia, South Carolina, Arkansas

Comments: The SEC East should consider becoming their own conference in College Basketball as any of the six of them could beat any of the six in the west. Oh well, if Arkansas wins out from here, and makes the final of the SEC tournament, and loses by one point in triple overtime, they may have a slight chance.

West Coast:

Safe: None

Good Chance: None

Bubble: Saint Mary’s, Gonzaga, Portland

Comments: I’m not quite ready to take Saint Mary’s off of the bubble and on to good chance because I just don’t see their quality of wins. Gonzaga is in pretty good shape but similarly needs some wins to move up. Portland has a lot of work to do if they want the West Coast to be a three bid league.

WAC:

Safe: None

Good Chance: None

Bubble: Utah State

Comments: I am very inclined to move them up as well because they only have two losses and both are to great teams. But they have no quality wins so I will wait to see if they can keep this up until at least the end of January.

So there is my first bubble analysis, I know this is long but I hope it is an interesting read for you guys. Updated bracket coming soon.