"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

Friday, February 03, 2023

Blue Blooded Bubble

The current bracket matches North Carolina and Kentucky in Dayton

Photo from Getty Images

Digging into resumes this week, two teams really stood out when it came to the bubble discussion. Not only did North Carolina and Kentucky both end up among the last teams in the field, this week they are slated to play each other in Dayton, with the winner meeting Indiana.

It's six weeks to Selection Sunday so a lot of this will change. But as it stands right now, Kentucky and North Carolina are both 1-6 against Quadrant 1 opponents. They both have losing records against Quadrants 1 and 2 combined. The main things holding them in the field are their metrics. Let's compare the resumes of the the current Dayton teams (last four in) and the NIT 1-seeds (first four out).

Looking first at Kentucky, they have great Predictive numbers and a solid NET, but that 1-6 Quadrant 1 mark is glaring and having a Quadrant 4 loss certainly doesn't help. What really buoys them into the field is who that Quadrant 1 win was against. They beat Tennessee on the road, which is one of the best wins in the country this season. While other bubble teams have more quality wins, none have a win that good coupled with the Wildcats' metrics.

For North Carolina, their lone Quadrant 1 win is less impressive. They beat Ohio State, who took a loss to Wisconsin last night and dropped to .500 on the year. UNC's only win against an at-large caliber opponent was over NC State at home, which is currently a Quadrant 2 win. But with no bad losses and good metrics, it's hard to keep them out entirely.

The last two teams in are Wisconsin and Clemson. Bucky's win at Ohio State vaults them back into the field. Not only does Wisconsin have 3 Quadrant 1 wins, all three are Quadrant 1A, which are the highest level of win recognized by the Selection Committee. Clemson is an odd case where they have some truly terrible losses but an incomparable 7-2 record in Quadrants 1 and 2 combined; only 1-seeds Purdue, Alabama, and Houston have a better Quadrant 1+2 winning percentage. Because we use highest NET instead of conference record, they don't get in as an automatic qualifier, but their resume average jumps off the table compared to the rest of the bubble. In for now, but hanging on by a string.

On the outside, it's a glut of high majors. Our first eight out are all from traditional Top-6 conferences. Penn State was strongly considered with 3 wins over the field, but a combined 4-8 in Q1+2 wasn't good enough to offset their metrics. Seton Hall is making a push of late and their 3 Quadrant 1 wins really stand out, but like Penn State the metrics weigh them down and they likely need to pick off another top Big East team before they cross into the field. Arizona State and Oklahoma both have a very good top-of-the-resume win, but just not enough volume of quality to overcome their negative factors.

This will all certainly change in the next 6 weeks, but for Marquette fans, I imagine the storyline of Kentucky/North Carolina playing in Dayton for the right to take on Indiana (with UCLA in the same pod) would have storyline potential outmatched only by Marquette's own pod. This week we see MU matched up with alum Brian Wardle and Bradley, with the winner taking on the winner of Duke playing its own alumni match against Chris Collins and Northwestern. As much as people think the NCAA sets these storylines, sometimes it's just how the bracket falls.

Let's look at the S-Curve and bracket ahead of the weekend:

Multibid Leagues

Big 10: 9

ACC: 7

Big 12: 7

SEC: 6

Big East: 5

Mountain West: 4

Pac-12: 3

American: 2

WCC: 2

No comments: