"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
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Friday, March 15, 2024

Bracketology: Quick Hits

Oso Ighodaro and Marquette burst Villanova's bubble
 Photo from gomarquette.com

Bubble teams are making their final statements, other teams are seeing their bubbles burst, and the top seed lines are coming into form. Today we just have an S-Curve and some notes on the events of the week. We'll start with some comments on the shape of the field, then have our updated S-Curve.

The Bubble: 11 teams for 8 spots

This is a big bubble that mercifully shrunk a bit in the past few days. As we've mentioned in the past, Championship Week typically isn't factored as heavily as most college talking heads indicate, but we do pay attention to the Wednesday/Thursday games. If you needed to win beyond Thursday, then you had too much work to do and just need to win your autobid (I'm looking at you, Ohio State). Here's where we came down on the bubble:

Should be safe - Colorado, Mississippi State, Oklahoma

Colorado has all their metrics inside the top-44, is 17-9 against Q1-3, and despite not having the marquee wins of other programs, don't have any real blemishes that hurt them either. Mississippi State needed that win yesterday and if that wasn't enough, today's win over Tennessee may have cemented their position. But even before that they had all their metrics in the top-47, two wins over protected seeds and two more neutral court wins over tourney teams, and a 14-11 record against Q1-3. Oklahoma might be in some trouble, but their SOR of 32 really stands out (all metrics top-50) and while they are just 12-12 against Q1-3, all 12 losses are Q1 and no bubble team has more Q1A wins (3) than the Sooners. One of these might fall to Dayton, but they should all be in.

Reasons for concern - Texas A&M, Virginia, Indiana State

Texas A&M has 5 Q1 wins, is an adequate 14-13 against Q1-3, and all of their metrics are in the top-49. That's the good, but they also are just 2-5 in Q3 and that's a lot of bad losses on the ledger. In the past, they have scheduled poorly, but they are the only bubble team with a top-150 NCSOS and it's a sparkling #21. I think that puts them over the top. Virginia has an awesome #25 SOR, usually a guarantee for selection, but their predictive average is a poor 57.5 because all their losses are by double digits. This is a team that passes the resume test, but does horribly with the eye test. Typically the Committee values the former more heavily, so we have Virginia in for the moment. Every metrics for Indiana State is in the top-44 and no top-32 NET team has ever been left out (they are #28). But they only have one Q1 win and a Q4 loss. Selection Committee chair Charles McClelland noted that Indiana State was missing Jayson Kent for that Q4 loss, so they might get an injury consideration that gets them in. The Sycamores should still be nervous with every bid that's stolen.

Walking the tightrope - St. John's, New Mexico

We felt good about St. John's until taking a second look at their resume. All but one metric is top-43, but their 71 KPI drags their predictive average down to 57, which would be a record low for inclusion. They also only have one win over a surefire tourney team in Creighton. 13-12 against Q1-3 is adequate, but not overly encouraging. Right now they are probably in, but it's close. New Mexico will likely set a new precedent either way. Their 23 NET would be the highest left out, but their 63 SOR would be the lowest included. 13-8 against Q1-3 and six wins over tourney teams is very solid, but their #272 NCSOS is the second worst on the bubble, so they aren't entirely safe.

Outside looking in - Seton Hall, Pittsburgh, Providence

Seton Hall has an impressive #40 SOR, but every other metric is outside the top-60 and they have an 11-12 record against Q1-3. Five Q1 wins including two over protected seeds keep them on the periphery, but right now our vote would be for the Pirates to go to the NIT. Pittsburgh has a lot to like, with a 15-10 record against Q1-3 and all but one metric in the top 42 (and 58 KPI is bad but not prohibitive). But they have the #344 NCSOS, and when you're this close to the cutline, that's a death blow. They would have to break precedent or win the ACC to get in, and I doubt they do either. Providence is 10-12 against Q1-3 and unless they win the Big East tournament will be two games under .500 in that category. No team has ever got in at two games under .500 in Q1-3. Providence's 55.5 resume average would also be the second worst ever, and their resume just doesn't have enough good to offset those negatives.

Need to win their tournament - Ohio State, Oregon, N.C. State

You can't put together a tourney resume during Championship Week, which is what these teams would need to do. Even Ohio State, who has admittedly looked like a different team under Jake Diebler, just can't count on wins this week to bolster their resume. And if you discount their performance under Chris Holtmann, that means discounting their win over Alabama, which is critical to their case. It's just too little too late (see also: 2022 Texas A&M).

Marquette Thoughts: Losses by Duke and Creighton helped solidfy Marquette's hold on a 2-seed, and also likely keeps them in Indianapolis for the first weekend. There are three teams still in the mix for a 2-seed, but it's really only two because Baylor or Iowa State will fall out of 2-seed contention when they play each other tonight. Kentucky is the other team to watch as an SEC Championship coupled with a Marquette loss could push them to a 2-seed in Indianapolis. Tennessee's loss also helps solidify North Carolina as the last 1-seed, which keeps Tennessee as a 2-seed and likely the South region, which makes Marquette as the 2-seed in the Midwest beginning in Indianapolis as the most likely scenario for Marquette fans.

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