"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Christmas S-Curve

The season is coming up on two months old, so I decided to do a first S-Curve. To start, I established the conference champions primarily using the NET Rankings. When there was a significant difference between the kenpom and NET rankings (such as Old Dominion and North Texas in C-USA) I made a judgment call. At the moment, the bubble is pretty soft. Here's what I came up with:

1-Seeds: 1-MICHIGAN 2-DUKE 3-Virginia 4-TENNESSEE
2-Seeds: 8-Texas Tech 7-NEVADA 6-GONZAGA 5-KANSAS
3-Seeds: 9-MARQUETTE 10-Wisconsin 11-NC State 12-Oklahoma
4-Seeds: 16-Indiana 15-HOUSTON 14-Michigan State 13-North Carolina
5-Seeds: 17-Mississippi State 18-ARIZONA STATE 19-Auburn 20-Kentucky
6-Seeds: 24-Ohio State 23-Nebraska 22-BUFFALO 21-Virginia Tech
7-Seeds: 25-Louisville 26-Florida State 27-Cincinnati 28-Iowa
8-Seeds: 32-Minnesota 31-Florida 30-TCU 29-Seton Hall
9-Seeds: 33-Villanova 34-LSU 35-Butler 36-Utah State
10-Seeds: 40-St. John's 39-Kansas State 38-Purdue 37-Creighton
11-Seeds: 41-Mississippi 42-Iowa State 43-VCU 44-FURMAN
12-Seeds: 50-LIPSCOMB 49-UC-IRVINE 48-St. Louis/47-Texas 46-Arizona/45-San Francisco

Last Four In: San Francisco, Arizona, Texas, St. Louis
Last Four Byes: Kansas State, St. John's, Mississippi, Iowa State

First Four Out: Maryland, Syracuse, Oregon, Clemson
Next Four Out: Providence, Notre Dame, Northwestern, Vanderbilt

Also Considered: UCF, Penn State, Washington, Fresno State, Murray State, St. Mary's, West Virginia, Miami, Alabama, Arkansas, UCLA, Baylor, Colorado

Marquette came up higher than I expected. That could be a personal bias, but they are one of only three teams in the nation with four top-50 Pomeroy wins (actually all top-40) and zero sub-25 losses. The other two are Michigan and Duke. When you are comparing top-100 games and the actual wins and losses in those games, MU's resume is really tough.

There were three teams that stood out that I was higher on than most others. I have NC State on the 3-line, higher than anyone at Bracket Matrix, despite their soft schedule. They are 3-1 in top-100 kenpom games with the only loss on the road at Wisconsin. Seton Hall is another team I'm higher on. All of their losses are to teams in the field while they boast three top-50 kenpom wins away from home. The last is St. Louis, who most don't have in the field. They are my last team in despite their low kenpom ranking because of their wins over Seton Hall and Butler while sporting a respectable 3-3 top-100 record and only one loss outside the top-100.

I also noticed three teams I'm lower on. Michigan State is on my 4-line because while the computers like them, they don't have any top-25 kenpom wins while having a loss outside the top-25. The teams ahead of them have either better wins, more acceptable losses, or both. Florida State is another one I'm not as high on. I'm not sold on either the Florida or Purdue wins being as good as they looked in the preseason. The last one is UCF, who are one of the last four in on Bracket Matrix but not even in my next four out. Their entire resume is a win over Alabama that is offset by an ugly home loss to Florida Atlantic. They will need to pick up a couple big wins in conference play if they want to make the field. Beating Houston and/or Cincinnati at least twice feels like a must.

Finally, some thoughts on the Big East. After Marquette, no one's resume has really separated itself from the rest. Seton Hall's wins over Kentucky and Maryland have helped immensely. Everyone else seems to have highs and lows, with the exception of St. John's who's results are all highs but opponents are all lows. Six bids for this league feels like a lot, but I just don't see a case for any of the teams on the outside ahead of Creighton or St. John's (the last two Big East teams). Neither of those two teams has any losses outside the top-25 and they've come away with wins in every game they would be expected to win.

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