Bracketology: Vol. 3

By Harris Hicks

Whenever the bracket begins to focalize, stuff breaks. The conference tournaments have always provided a dash of spice on selection Sunday, but this year, that is more like a table spoon of Mad Dog 357.

Teams like Saint Mary’s and Middle Tennessee- who were ranked in the AP Poll just a week ago- looked like sure locks for the tournament. Now, like many, they find themselves cemented in the middle of the bubble after both squads suffered  losses in their respective conference tournaments. It’s further proof that a season can change in just forty minutes. Any thing can happen and everyone has hope. If you disagree, talk to  Lorenzo Charles.

This time of year is what sports are about. March is Jim McKay’s signature tag line; “The thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat” , brought to life in electric technicolor. Conference tournaments bring us unadulterated despair and grief, but they also bring us joyous thieves who plunder their way into the filed and restore themselves renaissance and resurrection.

Its fun. Its March. Its Madness.

BUBBLE WATCH

(Last 4 Byes: Saint Mary’s, Florida St, Alabama, NC State)

Last 4 In

Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (C-USA)

(16-2 Conf 23-7 Overall) 84 SOS +7.6 Pt Diff 33rd RPI 49th BPI 47th SOR 1.98 QWI

About a week ago, the Blue Raiders were ranked in the AP poll and were a lock. A rough patch struck.MTSU gave games to Marshall and Southern Miss, both of which hover just barely above over .500.

However, the metrics swing in the favor of Middle Tennessee. They are just one of two teams to perch in the top 50 in RPI, BPI and SOR. Despite the lack of momentum and the absence of quality wins, their resumé, reputation, an total body of work will likely edge  them into the field for their third straight tournament appearance.

636551044880870646-9-MTSU-vs-UAB

Missouri Tigers (SEC)

(10-8 Conf 20-12 Overall) 38 SOS +5.2 Pt Diff 41st RPI 46th RPI 48th BPI 4.94 QWI

The return of Michael Porter Jr was supposed to fuel Missouri’s tournament hopes and change the view of their season, but his return was spoiled by Georgia in the second round of the SEC tournament.

The Tigers are just one of two of these bubble teams to possess a top 50 RPI, BPI and SOR. These numbers bode well for Missouri and should be able to elevate them into the NCAA Tournament.

NCAA Basketball: Iowa State at Missouri

Southern California Trojans (Pac 12)

(12-6 Conf 23-11 Overall) 58 SOS +7.5 Pt Diff 34th RPI 42nd BPI 57th SOR 3.38 QWI

Most of these teams on the bubble could do nothing but just sit back and watch during the weekend, but for the Trojans, that isn’t the case. The Trojans, who have ravaged their opponents in the Pac 12 tournament, reached the final and stood tall against a streaking Arizona team in the conference championship game last night. They will be fresh on the committees mind because of this performance.

Their RPI has skyrocketed to 34th, and their BPI has risen to the top 45. It seems the closer that we get to the final bell, the metrics continue to fluctuate towards USC’s side.

stanford_usc_basketball_25260879.jpg

UCLA Bruins (Pac 12)

(11-7 Conf 21-11 Overall) 54 SOS +5.6 Pt Diff 36th RPI 55th BPI 55th SOR 4.41 QWI

Despite the turmoil and drama of this season for the Bruins, Steve Alford has his Bruins on the cusp of his 4th NCAA Tournament appearance in five years. It was a bumpy start when presumed starter, Cody Riley was expelled for shop lifting. Thusly, UCLA started out the season cold.

For that reason, the Bruins find themselves on thin ice. They are just one bid stealer away from being pushed out of the tournament entirely, but UCLA’s top 55 RPI, BPI and SOR, combined with four QWI, translates to a tournament-like resume.

Central Arkansas v UCLA

 

First 4 Out

Baylor Bears (Big 12)

(8-10 Conf 17-14 Overall) 14 SOS +5.1 Pt Diff 64th RPI 38th BPI 44th SOR 4.15 QWI

Unfortunately for Baylor, they have been the victim to the losses by Middle Tennessee and Nevada. Things were trending up for the Bears, but that was before they dropped four out of five by double digits. If Baylor were to get in, they would become the second lowest rated RPI team to ever make the final cut.

However, the Bears’ strong BPI and SOR are keeping Baylor in contention for the NCAA Tournament. Chances are slim for Baylor, as all they can do is sit, watch, and hope that the committee gives them the nod.

NCAA Basketball: Kansas State at Baylor

Arizona State Sun Devils (Pac 12)

(8-10 Conf 20-11 Overall) 80 SOS +8.2 Pt Diff 63rd RPI 44th BPI 69th SOR 4.81 QWI

There is no doubt in my mind that when Arizona State is on their A game, they are an obvious tournament team. We saw a glimpse of that in non conference. They pulled out double digit wins against top two seeds Xavier and Kansas and beat the daylights out of San Diego State.

However, they have gone through one of the biggest collapses I have seen in a long time in conference play. The Devils tumbled from a 12-0 start to an 8-11 finish. The misery was punctuated Thursday in their conference tournament when ASU was overpowered by Colorado in the first round. According to a brief eye test, I can see why the committee  would put Arizona State in, but the smarter bet is that a Sun Devil team that has lost five of their last six and have an RPI and SOR below the top sixty miss the field.

636485286197001700-best

Syracuse Orange (ACC)

(8-10 Conf 20-13 Overall) 13 SOS +3.0 Pt Diff 40th RPI 54th BPI 49th SOR 3.93 QWI

Gritty defense has allowed Syracuse to be in this position, but it’s the other end of the court that’s called into question. In their last four losses, they failed to score 75. The Orange even scored less than sixty twice.

Cuse’s QWI isn’t elite, nor is their sub top 50 BPI. However, their top 40 RPI is allowing them to remain in the NCAA Tournament discussion. In terms of Syracuse’s tournament consideration, the question is this: does the committee still favor RPI as its go to statistic? If so, then don’t be surprised to hear Syracuse’s named called today.

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Georgia Tech

 

Notre Dame Fighting Irish (ACC)

(8-10 Conf 19-14 Overall) 44 SOS +5.7 Pt Diff 65th RPI 33rd BPI 53rd SOR 2.97 QWI

It has been an unfortunate year for Notre Dame. Their entire season has been consumed by injuries to star players such as former All-American Bonzie Colson and All-ACC G Matt Farrell.

However with both of them back, Notre Dame might have the best case to prove that they’re a tournament team. Using common sense, it’s bluntly obvious that Notre Dame is a tournament team when healthy. Will the committee look at it in that way is the question.

Notre Dame’s resume doesn’t scream NCAA Tournament team. Their RPI is outside the top 60, and their SOR is outside the top 50. For the Irish, it all comes down to how the committee will look at them.

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Next 4 Out: Marquette, W. Kentucky, Penn St, Nebraska

Fringe: Boise St, Oklahoma St, Vermont, Davidson Fringe Two: Louisiana-Lafayette, Utah, Oregon, Temple

 

SOUTH REGION

1

Virginia

16

UC Irvine/LIU Brooklyn

8

Saint Bonaventure

9

Louisville

4

Auburn

13

Marshall

5

Gonzaga

12

Murray State

6

Arkansas

11

Loyola-Chicago

3

Michigan

14

Montana

7

Miami (FL)

10

Providence

2

Cincinnati

15

Wright State

WEST REGION

1

Duke

16

Radford

8

Texas A&M

9

Kansas State

4

Texas Tech

13

South Dakota State

5

Kentucky

12

Buffalo

6

Arizona

11

Missouri/North Carolina State

3

Wichita State

14

UT Arlington

7

Florida

10

Oklahoma

2

Xavier

15

Lipscomb

EAST REGION

1

North Carolina

16

UC Irvine

8

Butler

9

Virginia Tech

4

West Virginia

13

Charleston

5

Houston

12

New Mexico State

6

TCU

11

Middle Tennessee/UCLA

3

Michigan State

14

Bucknell

7

Seton Hall

10

Florida State

2

Kansas

15

Iona

MIDWEST REGION

1

Villanova

16

NC Central/Texas Southern

8

Creighton

9

Texas

4

Clemson

13

UNC Greensboro

5

Ohio State

12

San Diego State

6

Rhode Island

11

Alabama

3

Tennessee

14

Stephen F. Austin

7

Nevada

10

Saint Mary’s

2

Purdue

15

UMBC

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