"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, March 10, 2020

Back to the Bracket

After a vacation week to start March, it's time to get back into the bracket. While there's been some movement at the top of the field, all the talk right now is about bid thieves and bubble teams. Let's start with bid thieves.

With ETSU and Gonzaga winning last night, it guaranteed no bid thieves out of the SoCon or WCC. Utah State already stole a bid, based on our current S-Curve, they took it from Cincinnati, who many still have in as the American auto-bid but I have out as I slotted Houston in there. There are now a maximum of 8 possible bids that can be stolen. Based on this Curve, Marquette is guaranteed safety as there are 12 teams between them and the NIT. Even a loss to Seton Hall on a neutral (Q1A loss) wouldn't significantly change that.

So where could we see bid thieves? There could still be bid thieves in the American (44.8% chance of a thief per Ken Pomeroy), A-10 (30.2%), ACC (9.7%), Big East (4.2%), Big 10 (7.3%), Big 12 (2.7%), Pac 12 (12.6%), and SEC (28.2%). Every other league remaining is either a one-bid league or their winner is guaranteed to be a team that will be in the field regardless. As spoilers drop out, this number will be reduced.

Finally, let's talk about the actual bubble. Right now, we have 11 total teams on the bubble: Wichita State, Xavier, Stanford, Richmond, Indiana, Texas Tech, Northern Iowa, Cincinnati, UCLA, Texas, and NC State. I don't believe anyone above Arizona State is in any danger (barring every bid possible being stolen) nor is anyone below NC State worth considering for an at-large bid. Here are a few thoughts on those teams:

Wichita State: (23-8, NET 41, NCSOS 139, 2-5 Q1, 7-3 Q2) Nothing terrible on the resume, but nothing eye-popping. Their biggest pros are solid computer numbers, but the downside is their two Q1 wins are at the very back end of the quadrant.

Xavier: (19-12, NET 44, NCSOS 65, 3-11 Q1, 7-1 Q2) The Musketeers should be safe, though that Q1 record is ugly. They only have one loss outside the top-40, however, and beating Seton Hall on the road is huge. I don't put a lot of stock in Championship Week results barring title games, but for the sake of blood pressures in Cincinnati, DLTD.

Stanford: (20-11, NET 30, NCSOS 219, 4-7 Q1, 3-3 Q2) The Q1 record is solid but their sub-200 NCSOS is the worst of teams on the bubble. The Selection Committee has punished teams like that before. I think the NET is good enough for inclusion, but I'm not certain.

Richmond: (24-7, NET 37, NCSOS 85, 3-4 Q1, 3-2 Q2) The Spiders greatest asset and biggest deficiency are neutral court results: a win over Wisconsin and loss to Radford. There's really nothing terrible on the resume but they are clearly the best chance for the A-10 to be a two-bid league beyond a bid thief.

Indiana: (19-12, NET 60, NCSOS 71, 4-10 Q1, 5-2 Q2) Archie Miller is clinging to Strength of Record, which is the only metric that has the Hoosiers in the top-30, like Ernie clings to his Rubber Duckie on Sesame Street. Their 2 Q1A wins stand out and are what warrants inclusion. They compare favorably to poor NET high-major teams like St. John's and Arizona State that played in Dayton last year.

Texas Tech: (18-13, NET 22, NCSOS 182, 3-10 Q1, 4-3 Q2) Teams that have a losing Q1+2+3 record don't usually fare well on the bubble, and the Red Raiders are 10-13 in that category. They benefit a ton from the computer numbers, but the poor NCSOS and low quantity of wins given a ton of opportunities could cost them. I'm not nearly as sold as others on their chances. Like Xavier, I don't put much stock in this week's results, but they really don't want to take a loss to Texas this week.

Northern Iowa: (23-6, NET 48, NCSOS 114, 1-1 Q1, 3-2 Q2) Northern Iowa has a resume that's nearly identical to Belmont from last year, which was good enough to get into Dayton. The difference is UNI's best win is better than anything Belmont had and they have far fewer Q4 games than the Bruins did. I am in the minority in having them in and they really need to cheer for the favorites this week to have any chance of staying here.

Cincinnati: (20-10, NET 51, NCSOS 27, 2-6 Q1, 7-0 Q2) The Bearcats could benefit from a tough NCSOS, but carrying 4 losses in Q3 with no Q1A wins is quite the anchor on their resume. A lot of others have them in as the American champ, I went with Houston in that slot. It will be interesting to see how they are handled considering how average the American is this year.

UCLA: (18-12, NET 76, NCSOS 202, 6-7 Q1, 3-3 Q2) The Bruins are everyone's darling right now, but I would caution everyone to remember recent play is not a metric. The 3 Q1A wins are great, but their NET, NCSOS, and computer numbers are all really bad. I still think they need the autobid, despite the great work Cronin did to turn things around.

Texas: (19-12, NET 69, NCSOS 120, 5-8 Q1, 2-4 Q2) The Longhorns have some nice wins at the top of the resume, but there's very little meat after that and their 7-12 record in the top two quadrants is pretty bad. While the resume compares nicely in many ways with Texas Tech, who we have in, that 47 spot difference in the NET is pretty stark when you consider that is the NCAA's own sorting tool.

NC State (19-12, NET 54, NCSOS 90, 4-5 Q1, 4-5 Q2) The Wolfpack have the win over Duke, but other than that, not much to hang their hat on. Losing records in each of the first two quadrants with mediocre computer numbers doesn't scream at-large team to me, especially with two Q3 losses. Not impossible, but unlikely.

Here's the full S-Curve:

1-Seeds: 1-KANSAS 2-GONZAGA 3-Baylor 4-DAYTON
2-Seeds: 8-Villanova 7-FLORIDA STATE 6-CREIGHTON 5-San Diego State
3-Seeds: 9-Duke 10-Michigan State 11-OREGON 12-KENTUCKY
4-Seeds: 16-WISCONSIN 15-Maryland 14-Louisville 13-Seton Hall
5-Seeds: 17-Butler 18-Ohio State 19-Auburn 20-Byu
6-Seeds: 24-Virginia 23-Colorado 22-Michigan 21-West Virginia
7-Seeds: 25-HOUSTON 26-Penn State 27-Iowa 28-Illinois
8-Seeds: 32-Arizona 31-St. Mary's 30-Providence 29-Lsu
9-Seeds: 33-Marquette 34-Rutgers 35-Usc 36-Oklahoma
10-Seeds: 40-Xavier 39-Wichita State 38-Arizona State 37-Florida
11-Seeds: 41-EAST TENNESSEE STATE 42-Stanford 43-Richmond/44-Indiana 45-Texas Tech/46-Northern Iowa

NIT 1-Seeds: Cincinnati, UCLA, Texas, NC State
NIT 2-Seeds: Arkansas, St. Louis, Mississippi State, Rhode Island

Last Four Byes: Arizona State, Wichita State, Xavier, Stanford
Last Four In: Richmond, Indiana, Texas Tech, Northern Iowa

Multibid Leagues
Big 10: 10
Big East: 7
Pac 12: 6
Big 12: 5
ACC: 4
SEC: 4
WCC: 3
American: 2
Atlantic 10: 2
Missouri Valley: 2
Mountain West: 2

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