"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

Saturday, March 02, 2024

Bracketology: By land or by air?

Projecting a bracket is like playing chess on an airport runway
 Photo by Marquette Athletics | Twitter.com

March is finally here, and as the Selection Committee prepares to select and seed the bracket, Marquette fans can start looking at travel plans to determine where our team will be playing in the first and second weekends of the tournament. Let's start by looking at Marquette's date and distance calculator:

For the first weekend, the top overall seed gets to pick their destination, then teams 2-16 are placed based upon the closest geographical location to their campus. Looking up the S-Curve, it seems that the first three seeds are locked into 1-seeds and their locations. Purdue will go to Indianapolis, UConn will go to Brooklyn, and Houston will go to Memphis. But even the three teams after that are not competing with Marquette for location. Arizona will head to Salt Lake City, North Carolina to Charlotte, and Tennessee also to Charlotte (even though Memphis is in their home state, Charlotte is closer). If any of these teams fall, it won't likely be further than the 2-line which means they are all likely to get their top choices.

1. Indianapolis, IN (276 miles)

If the tourney started today, Marquette would be in Indianapolis. As the top overall seed, Purdue will certainly be here, but the next teams to have Indianapolis as first choice aside from Marquette are all current 4-seeds. It's possible Marquette could be displaced if they stumbled in the next week and one of Creighton, Illinois, or Kentucky won out. Indy feels likely at the moment, but it's not impossible this could change. Geographical Nightmare Draw: Between Purdue fans and the location of this site, a Big 10 opponent in the second round like Northwestern or Michigan State could place Marquette into a veritable road atmosphere. Both of those teams could fall in a 7/10 or 6/11 game and be a team Marquette sees in the second round.

2. Omaha, NE (507 miles)

This spot feels very unlikely. First, if Marquette is displaced from Indianapolis, that likely means they've fallen on the S-Curve, and if they are falling behind Creighton, Illinois, or Kentucky, they are also likely falling behind Iowa State and Kansas in the process, both of whom have Omaha as first choice. Despite being second choice, I think this is a rather unlikely location. Geographical Nightmare Draw: The Selection Committee rules prohibit geographical disadvantage for protected seeds in the first round, but there's nothing that says Nebraska couldn't be placed in Omaha in Round Two. The already hostile CHI Health Center would be a sea of red if that were the case.

3. Pittsburgh, PA (552 miles)

 If Marquette falls, Pittsburgh feels a little more likely. While there's a good chance Duke will be here (second choice for them, but UNC and Tennessee will occupy Charlotte) anyone else that passes them for Indy would the the next most likely contenders for Pittsburgh. If they land as a 3-seed, this is a logical consolation spot. Geographical Nightmare Draw: While the Selection Committee tries to avoid a first round "home court disadvantage," they have typically inferred that as 50 or 75 miles from a team's campus. The Akron Zips are located 113 miles from Pittsburgh and while they went 0-4 away from home against kenpom top-100 opponents, those losses were by an average of just 4 points. A road environment against a scrappy underdog would be less than ideal. 

4. Brooklyn, NY (900 miles)

We skip a couple spots to get here, but if everything goes wrong and Marquette falls to the 4-line, my guess is they don't fall further than Brooklyn. Memphis and Charlotte would be closed, leaving Brooklyn and the West Coast destinations. In this case, my money would be on joining UConn fans in Brooklyn. While it's not as close to home, a weekend in NYC isn't the worst thing in the world. Geographical Nightmare Draw: If the Committee is using 50 miles as their geographical cutoff, playing a 13-seed Princeton team just 54 miles from their campus would make for a tough opener. It would be bad enough playing a slow-down style against a team that doesn't turn it over, but doing so just outside their backyard would make this one difficult.

A couple bubble notes...we have Memphis back in the field, skyrocketing up ahead of teams like Wake Forest, Ole Miss, and Villanova that are in at many other bracketology sites. The reason is pretty straightforward, but it's not what most would expect. While the FAU win helped the Tigers, it wasn't adding a Q2 win but rather the movement of Clemson and VCU into Q1 that really benefited them, along with their Ole Miss loss dropping to Q2. They went from Q1/Q2 splits of 1-3/4-2 in our last bracket to 3-2/3-3. It wasn't just the FAU win pushing their combined record there to a winning 6-5, but the winning Q1 record specifically. I hate the Tigers' metrics, but they have some Q1 meat and don't have the eyesores of other bubble contenders (Wake only having one Q1 win, Ole Miss' sub-80 predictive average, Villanova's sub-60 result average). Throw them in the field and let Dayton sort them out.

Multibid Leagues

Big 12: 9

SEC: 7

Big East: 6

Big 10: 6

Mountain West: 6

ACC: 4

Pac-12: 3

American: 2

WCC: 2

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Just Clowning Around

No matter how you slice it, that was a fun and stress free week of #mubb. We're back to talk about a Kam Jones heater, Tyler Kolek pass-o-rama, and getting wins that count without overtaxing ourselves. We then preview the week ahead in a rematch against both Providence and Creighton where we decide how worried to be about a Hopkins-less Providence and how much it sucks to be in Omaha. We close out looking ahead a little bit at where Marquette is in the race for a protected seed in the NCAA tournament and whether or not the cherished 1 seed is still available. Enjoy! https://mcdn.podbean.com/mf/web/rbbsh6/ScrambledEggs_Editted_022624.mp3

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Bracketology: Bubble Bath

Seton Hall is trying to box Butler out of the bubble
 Photo by Michelle Pemberton | IndyStar

With March less than a week away, the bubble actually looks pretty strong this year. The final spots are filled with teams who have quality wins, competitive metrics, and viable claims to the final bids. Today we're going to dig in a bit deeper on some of the teams fighting for those last spots and talk about why they landed where we have them. We're going to look at teams in 4 different groups. The last four byes are teams that would currently earn at-large bids but not have to play in Dayton. The last four in are the final four teams to make the field and would have to go to Dayton for play-in games. The first four out are the teams right on the edge of being in but have a fatal flaw keeping them out. The next four out are the teams that are close enough to still be in the mix, but need to do some work to get back into the field.

A few things to consider. First, our methodology uses the highest NET ranking in a conference to determine autobids. As a result, we don't have teams like South Florida or Richmond in our field, which allows a couple more at-large teams in. Second, when it comes to selection, resume metrics are typically king. The lowest ever resume average to make the field was 56.5 by 2022 Rutgers. Other than that, no team has made it in with lower than 52.5. Finally, let's look at a couple recent tweets that guide us toward historical selection and what the Selection Committee chair is saying currently.


These comments largely reaffirm things bracketologists are aware of, but it's worth noting on the bubble if you aren't .500 or better in Q1-3 or you have a sub-300 NCSOS and mediocre conference record, a bid is less likely unless you have some really strong ammo to prop up your case.

Last Four Byes

Nebraska: The win over Purdue is doing a lot of work here, but they do have four wins over teams comfortably in the field. The Huskers biggest problems are their 3-7 road/neutral record and their #321 non-conference strength of schedule. They have nothing but landmines left on the schedule (Minnesota, at Ohio State, Rutgers, at Michigan), so they would be advised to win out because if they find themselves in the last four in discussion, their NCSOS could keep them out.

Virginia: The Cavaliers show up as the last 10-seed and are really helped by their resume metric average of 32. That's a hard number to leave out, but they fall this far because every loss they've taken is by double-digits with a staggering 21.3 point average margin of defeat. They seem likely to make the field, but their weak predictive metrics will likely push them close to the cut line. 

Providence: The Friars Q1-3 record of 8-9 isn't ideal, but 3 wins over protected seeds (Marquette, Creighton, Wisconsin) and 5 Q1 wins really stands out. Their resume and predictive averages are both in the 40s, which make them a solid bet for inclusion. They avoid Dayton for now.

Utah: I'm not sure anyone benefited more from Washington State's sweep of Arizona than Utah. It gave them another Q1 win and like Providence, their resume and predictive averages are both in the 40s but they also have a winning Q1-3 record.

Providence and Seton Hall are scrambling after a bouncing bid
 Photo by Vincent Carchietta | USA Today Sports

Last Four In

Seton Hall: Everything about Seton Hall's resume is fine. They have two excellent wins over UConn and Marquette. They are 5-5 in Q1 with a 9-9 record in Q1-3. Their NCSOS of #241 isn't great, but could certainly be worse. This is easily a team that could fall out of the field, but for now they have just enough to be in Dayton.

Drake: There's been a lot of talk about Indiana State as an at-large candidate, but I think Drake is the more likely Missouri Valley team to get in as an at-large, and as we use NET for automatic bids, we have them in the mix here instead of ISU. Drake's 41.0 resume average is good enough for selection, and while they have three Q3 losses, they are 5-2 against the first two quadrants and 13-5 against Q1-3. They also have a winning record away from home (8-5). The closer I look at Drake, the more they remind me of 2019 Belmont who got in with a similar resume. In fact, according to T-Rank, 2019 Belmont is the most similar resume to this Drake team. Put the Bulldogs in.

Gonzaga: This is a difficult team to put in. First, their resume average is 58.5, which would be a new low, and they don't have the big wins that 2022 Rutgers had. So why do they get in? The Kentucky win helps a lot, but Gonzaga's #24 NCSOS also helps a lot. This team scheduled tough and their intent was to play an even tougher schedule. In Maui, they ended up with Syracuse and UCLA, both teams that came into the year with NCAA aspirations and came up short. It's not Gonzaga's fault, and they did win those games. They also beat USC on a neutral court, who was projected to be the Pac-12 champs but have been unpredictably bad. The Kentucky road win gives them a marquee win few teams on the bubble have matched with only one loss outside Q1. I think they likely need to win out until the WCC Tournament final to stay here, but for now they are in.

Ole Miss: The Rebels resume average of 30.0 is one that virtually guarantees inclusion for a high major team, their 12-8 Q1-3 record is solid, but their #332 NCSOS and sub-300 conference record (considering the McClelland comments above) are flashing red warning lights. For now, the resume average and lack of bad losses keep Ole Miss in, but as their resume average continues to drop (it was 17.5 a month ago) the idea of leaving them out gets easier to stomach. I don't think they'll be in on Selection Sunday, and their resume average (74.5 is the worst among at-large teams) is what drags them to Dayton, but for now they survive.

Ole Miss is blocking Texas A&M's path to an NCAA bid

Photo by Hayden Carroll | Ole Miss Athletics

First Four Out

Wake Forest: Steve Forbes won't like it, but the Demon Deacons have a lot to dislike. Home wins over Florida and Virginia just aren't enough to get them in. Compare them to Seton Hall who has two wins over protected seeds and barely makes the cut and it's pretty clear why the Deacs get left out despite their strong predictive averages. It's true that 8 of their 9 losses are by single-digits, while 14 of their 17 wins are by double-digits, but the wins they do have aren't good enough and there just aren't enough of them. Beat Duke today and we can revisit this, but for now they haven't beat anyone close to the field away from home and don't have a true marquee win to show they belong.

Oregon: The Ducks have quietly moved back into NCAA consideration. Washington State's win over Arizona pushed their resume average to a more respectable 52.0 while they are the only team to beat the Cougars in Pullman. But while they are 13-7 in Q1-3, the Wazzu win is the only one over a team in the field and they don't have any more such games until the Pac-12 Tournament. This might be as high as the Ducks can fly.

Butler: The Butler resume average of 55.5 isn't as bad as 2022 Rutgers or the Gonzaga team we have in, but it certainly isn't good. The real fatal flaw though is their 9-11 record against Q1-3. No team has ever made the field at more than one game below .500 in those games, and while Butler has two awesome road wins, it's just not enough to break precedent for. They likely need to go 3-1 down the stretch to get in (at Seton Hall, St. John's, at DePaul, Xavier).

Texas A&M: My expectation is their exclusion would lead to a long research project from Buzz Williams explaining why they deserved to be in. Their 6-5 record against Q1 opponents, two wins over protected seeds, and #21 NCSOS would all be solid talking points. But their 10-11 record vs Q1-3 and 60.0 resume average is similarly problematic. On their best days, Texas A&M is very good, but on the whole they are very average, and teams that are very average on the whole go to the NIT.

Wake needs to do more than shoot over non-tourney teams to get in
 Photo by Walt Unks | Winston-Salem Journal

Next Four Out

Colorado: The Buffalos aren't necessarily bad, but nothing about their resume demands inclusion. They beat Wazzu at home, but it's their only win over the field. They are 10-9 in Q1-3, but with a resume average of 53.5 and few compelling wins, there's no reason to say "pick us."

Villanova: The Wildcats have wins away from home over North Carolina and Creighton, which is fantastic. Their problem is they don't do as well in the rest of their home town, where they have three Q3 losses. They have a 57.0 resume average and are 11-11 against Q1-3. Two really good wins just aren't enough to offset the bad.

Virginia Tech: The Hokies have some nice wins, but 9-11 against Q1-3 with a 61.0 resume average just isn't good enough.

Iowa: Wins over Wisconsin and Michigan State have moved the Hawkeyes from nowhere close to worth talking about. 10-11 against Q1-3 with a 61.5 resume average is also not good enough, but if they can finish 3-1 (at Illinois, Penn State, at Northwestern, Illinois) it would push their Q1-3 over .500, give them another big win over Illinois, and likely get their resume average to a respectable level. Don't count them out yet.

Here's the full S-Curve and bracket:



Multibid Leagues

Big 12: 9

SEC:8

Big 10: 6

Mountain West: 6

Big East: 5

ACC: 4

Pac-12: 3

Missouri Valley: 2

WCC: 2

Monday, February 19, 2024

Well that was unfun

Boy that did not go the way we had it planned in our heads. #mubb took a drubbing against clear #1 in the country, UCONN. So we talk about the game, what happened, what went wrong, what takeaways for the season as a whole, and is Marquette as far behind as that game might indicate. We then look to the week ahead with the hopes that the team having a chance to come home for a bit and play some not as awesome teams will have restorative powers. Enjoy! https://mcdn.podbean.com/mf/web/yfknym/ScrambledEggs_Editted_021824.mp3

Bracketology: Monday Morning Point Guarding the Top-16

 

The Selection Committee released their top-16 on Saturday morning, and for the second year in a row, our projections from 6 days before the release were more accurate than the day before. While David Worlock reported the Selection Committee didn't begin their meetings until Wednesday, they seemed to again disregard the results of Monday through Thursday. UNC's loss to So what were the lessons learned? Here's what we took away: 

Conference Titles Matter: North Carolina was thought to be 7th, but finished 5th. In fact, the top-5 were all teams leading Power-6 conferences, and the team who was the highest compared to our projection was SEC leader Alabama. San Diego State also showed up after beating New Mexico Friday, the one result that did seem to matter from the week as San Diego State was at 19 on our S-Curve going in yet showed up 5 spots higher for the Committee.

NCSOS Matters: Iowa State's productive conference play (6 Q1 wins, including 3 Q1A on the road) wasn't enough to get them to the 2-line where we thought they deserved to be. Instead, they were the third 3-seed. This could be problematic for Big 12 bubble teams that largely played terrible non-conference schedules, and factored into the final spot in our new S-Curve.

Metrics Over Results: Tennessee ahead of Marquette despite a better collection of wins for the Golden Eagles, Alabama ahead of Baylor and Iowa State despite multiple more Q1 wins for the Big 12 teams, and Auburn and Illinois ahead of Wisconsin despite 6 Q1 wins for the Badgers and 6 combined for the Tigers and Illini. When it came to seeding, predictive metrics were highly prioritized.

Aztec Uprising: The highest NET team in the potential 6-bid Mountain West landed not just a protected seed, but 14 overall. A few things stand out. First, this likely means for the Mountain West, the Committee ignored BPI, which rates Mountain West teams significantly lower than the other predictive metric, kenpom. Second, this reinforces that NCSOS matters. The Aztecs #14 NCSOS was better than Auburn, Wisconsin, Creighton, Dayton, or Clemson that they finished ahead of.

Ultimately, this all led to a pair of major decisions. The first was a change not to make. After the UConn rout of Marquette and Purdue loss at Ohio State, many bracketologists moved UConn to #1 overall, but we're sticking with Purdue. For now, they still have the better NCSOS, metrics, and top-end results. Putting UConn ahead feels like a prisoner of the moment move, not a review of the entire season, though if the metrics did shift in UConn's favor that change would be made.

Second, on the bubble, Gonzaga moved into the field. The Committee has historically punished teams on the cut line with weak NCSOS, and Ole Miss was slated to be the last team in with a #324 NCSOS while Gonzaga is 300 spots better at #24. They still have to go through Dayton, but there's just enough there to put Gonzaga on the right side of the cut. More than other bubble teams, though, they can't afford slip-ups because their remaining conference slate doesn't give them much opportunity to improve (they really need the win at St. Mary's).

As far as how the Committee did, we try to remember that when you come up with the official seed list, you can't be wrong. Marquette at #7 overall was a surprise because they had the better body of work than North Carolina or Tennessee, but given that information and the rout at UConn, they've now fallen to #8 on our S-Curve. Alabama was even more shocking at the top of the 3 line, as was the separation between Alabama and Auburn, who came in with virtually identical resumes including splitting the season series with each other. That speaks strongly to the importance of conference championships because that's really the only place the Tide stands out over the Tigers. The same goes for San Diego State, who doesn't have the overall resume of teams they are ahead of but moved into the Mountain West champs position Friday night (likely the contingency the Committee mentioned). Finally, Illinois was a mild surprise. Every number indicated they belonged in the top-16, but so often the Committee has valued overall resumes that compare to Clemson rather than metrics with minimal top-line wins like Illinois.

Here's the full S-Curve and bracket:


Multibid Leagues

Big 12: 10

SEC: 8

Big East: 6

Big 10: 6

Mountain West: 6

ACC: 4

Pac-12: 2

WCC: 2

Friday, February 16, 2024

Bracketology: Top-16 Contingency Plans

 

Thursday on Twitter, NCAA Director of Media Coordination David Worlock reported that the March Madness Selection Committee wrapped up their meetings on Thursday and had contingency brackets built based on the potential results to come Thursday and Friday night (likely referring to Purdue/Minnesota, which Purdue came from behind to win). This is vastly different than last year, and with that in mind, we decided to dig back in on the Top-16 and try to get a better forecast for Saturday, because there have definitely been changes since we posted our expected list on Monday. We won't do a full S-Curve and bracket breakdown, but are instead going to focus just on what we think will be revealed on Saturday.

Photo from The Athletic
 

1-Seeds: 1-Purdue (Midwest) / 2-UConn (East) / 3-Houston (South) / 4-Arizona (West)

Purdue remains a lock for the #1 overall seed. UConn remains our expected #2 due to more overall Q1 wins than Houston and a better top of the resume win (North Carolina on a neutral vs a BYU road win). Arizona edges out the teams on the 2-line because of 7 Q1 wins and an excellent pair of top line wins, having beaten both Alabama and Duke away from home.

Where we're prepared to be wrong: The UConn/Houston order could be flipped, but both will be 1-seeds. It's possible Arizona could miss the top line. If they do, expect to see Marquette there on the strength of a better Q1 record than Tennessee and better resume/predictive averages than North Carolina.

Photo by Associated Press

2-Seeds: 5-Marquette (South) / 6-North Carolina (East) / 7-Tennessee (Midwest) / 8-Iowa State (West)

Marquette beating Butler coupled with North Carolina's loss at Syracuse moves the Golden Eagles to the top 2-seed. Both UNC and Tennessee are solidly on this line. Iowa State jumps up to the 2-line thanks to their third Q1A win on the road over Cincinnati. It's tough rewarding the Cyclones' #324 non-conference strength of schedule, but their Big 12 play has reinforced their quality metrics.

Where we're prepared to be wrong: Iowa State was moved up here late due to a metric edge and better road performance than Kansas. But the Jayhawks have some of the best wins in the country and a tougher SOS than the Cyclones, so it's possible they could remain a 2-seed.

Photo by Kayla Wolf | USA Today

3-Seeds: 9-Kansas (Midwest) / 10-Baylor (East) / 11-Duke (West) / 12-Wisconsin (South)

Kansas has the best top-line wins of anyone in the field, Baylor has solid metrics and more Q1A wins than anyone else in consideration here, and Duke's 5-2 Q1 record overshadows their Q2+3 losses. The hardest decision was the last 3-seed. Despite their recent fade, we're going with Wisconsin. There are teams with better metrics, but none of them have a winning Q1 record and 6 Q1 wins.

Where we're prepared to be wrong: The computers like Alabama and Auburn more than Duke or Wisconsin, but the SEC schools are 3-6 and 2-4 in Q1, respectively. Traditionally, teams need to have .500 records or better in Q1 to be 3-seeds. If the committee values metrics over Q1 performance, either or both SEC schools could find themselves here, knocking Duke and Wisconsin down in the process.

 

Photo by Jeff Hanisch | USA Today Sports

4-Seeds: 13-Alabama (West) / 14-Creighton (Midwest) / 15-Auburn (East) / 16-Clemson (South)

As mentioned above, Alabama and Auburn have the predictive metrics to be much higher, but fall here due to their lack of Q1 production. Between the two of them, they only have two wins against top-25 NET teams, and that's because they split the season series with each other. Creighton was a tough call here, but makes the 4-line because of their win over Alabama, 4-4 Q1 record, and 6-4 road record. Clemson gets the last protected seed, though this may be controversial. The Tigers are the only team in the country with two road wins over top-15 NET teams (Alabama and UNC). They are 4-4 in Q1, 2-2 in Q1A, and 5-4 on the road. Their resume warrants it, even if the predictive metrics do not. Regional placement here was largely to try to balance the regions, especially as the West was shaping up to be particularly weak.

Where we're prepared to be wrong: If anyone else shows up here, it is most likely Illinois. The Illini have all-around metrics of a 3-seed, but 3-5 in Q1 with zero Q1A wins makes us suspect. Their best win is FAU on a neutral court, and their best road win is at Ohio State, a team so far from at-large consideration they just fired their coach. The committee may also mention Dayton and San Diego State, but neither have the overall body of work to be included. It's worth mentioning San Diego State hosts New Mexico Friday night, which may be another contingency the Selection Committee planned for.


 

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

National Marquette Day Hits Different

This is gonna be an intense one. #mubb is back after a brief layoff with a heart pounding win against St John's on National Marquette Day. We talk about the vibes, the crowd, and the game to start off the pod. We then turn to the big week ahead. Marquette is on a 7 game winning streak but face to tough road games this week if they hope to extend it. First is a revenge game against Butler in Hinkle, surely Marquette won't shoot so poorly again? Then there is the top 5 showdown in Hartford against #1 UCONN. What will it take for Marquette to win, how does this game impact the rest of the season, we discuss. Enjoy! https://mcdn.podbean.com/mf/web/s4b6wg/ScrambledEggs_Editted_021224.mp3

Monday, February 12, 2024

Bracketology: Breaking Down the Top-16

Tristen Newton & Tyler Kolek are battling for 1-seeds in the NCAA Tournament
 Photo by Patrick McDermott | Getty Images

A year ago, the Selection Committee ignored the results between the Super Bowl and Selection Sunday in revealing their mid-season Top-16. With that in mind, our expectation is that this upcoming Saturday's reveal will likely come closer to what we see right now than whatever results occur between now and then. With that in mind, we have a new S-Curve and bracket, but will focus on those Top-16 teams today.

1-Seeds: Purdue, UConn, Houston, Arizona

Purdue is a lock for the top overall seed with an 8-2 Q1 record, 15 Q1+2 wins, and a perfect 7-0 record against Q1A teams. The order could be debated for UConn and Houston, but the Huskies have one more Q1 win and Houston doesn't have any wins over the top-16 while UConn has a win over North Carolina. Arizona edges Kansas for the last 1-seed due to far superior metrics and one more Q1 win. There will be a 5-loss team on the 1-line, and there's a case to be made for Arizona, Kansas, North Carolina, or Marquette as that team, but we're going with Arizona.

2-Seeds: Kansas, North Carolina, Marquette, Tennessee

All of these teams could make a push over the next month for the last 1-seed. Kansas is closest for now due to their 5-2 Q1A record and three wins over teams on the top-two seed lines. North Carolina edges Marquette due to slightly better metrics and one more Q1 win. If bad losses mattered as much as good wins, Marquette's lack of any losses outside the first two Quadrants (Arizona, Kansas, and UNC all have a Q3 loss) would matter more, but what they really need to do is increase their Q1 win totals, particularly in Q1A. Winning at Butler and UConn would be a massive start. Tennessee has hurt themselves with recent losses, but there is still a significant gap between the last 2-seed and the first 3-seed.

3-Seeds: Iowa State, Baylor, Alabama, Duke

Iowa State's non-con left questions as to whether they were just beating up on bad competition, but wins over Houston, Kansas, and both Texas and TCU on the road have diminished those criticisms. Had Baylor won at Kansas there would've been an argument for them to be in the last 1-seed discussion, but for now their metrics and lack of really standing out keeps them on the outside. Alabama will be an interesting test case as they have every metric edge on Duke, but their 3-6 Q1 record is atypical for a team in the 3-seed discussion. If any of these fall to the 4-line, it's more likely Alabama than Duke despite their S-Curve placement. The Blue Devils are here largely because of their 5-2 Q1 record and the Committee's historic valuing of Q1 wins over Q2+3 losses (Duke has 3, more than any other team in the top-3 lines). If anyone crashes the 3-line, it is most likely Wisconsin, who despite their recent swoon still has a 6-5 record against Q1.

4-Seeds: Wisconsin, Auburn, Clemson, South Carolina

The Badgers lead the way here due to that 6-5 Q1 record and solid computer numbers. That could even push them to the 3-line, though 8 total losses is more than anyone else on the top-6 seed lines, so the Committee could also leave them out for that entirely. Auburn's computer numbers indicate they should be a 2-seed, but they are the only team in our top-16 with fewer than 2 Q1A wins, so they get knocked down a couple lines for that. Clemson rocketed up our list from 32 to 15 thanks to adding a Q1A win over North Carolina. The Tigers have been a yo-yo team up and down the seed list, but they have true road wins over UNC and Alabama while non-con wins over TCU, South Carolina, and Boise State have aged well. Speaking of South Carolina, they round out our top-16. The Gamecocks are a bit of a reach here due to weak predictive metrics, but they have a 3-2 Q1 record backed up with a win at Tennessee and they are tied for the lead in one of the traditional power leagues. The Committee has rewarded teams with strong resume metrics but weak predictives on the 4-line in past reveals (Providence and Wisconsin in 2022) so we put them here despite not having typical 4-seed numbers.

Also Considered: Creighton, Illinois, Dayton

The Committee always gives us hints by mentioning the next few teams, and these are the three whose names will either surprise us by showing up in the top-16 or be mentioned as contenders. All three have strong enough metric numbers but lack the signature wins to be among the elite. Creighton's best win is over Alabama at home, but they have no other wins against single-digit seeds. Illinois' best win is probably FAU on a neutral, but they are 0-3 against the protected seeds. Dayton has respectable numbers and no losses outside Q1, but they also don't have a single win against a projected at-large team.

Let's dig into the full S-Curve and bracket:


Multibid Leagues

Big 12: 9

SEC: 9

Big 10: 6

Mountain West: 6

ACC: 5

Big East: 4

Pac-12: 3

Missouri Valley: 2