"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 08, 2019

Top-16 Seed Prediction

On Saturday, Feb. 9 the NCAA will release their Top-16 Seeds. Let's dig into what we expect to see when CBS gives us that Selection Sunday preview by taking a quick look at why each team is on the line they are & the region they are in.

East: Virginia This is the top team in the S-Curve. A clear #1 seed that gets the regional closest to home. 
Midwest: Tennessee The Vols are a clear #1. They go to the Midwest because they lag slightly behind Duke in overall resume & the computers. 
South: Duke Coach K gets another #1 seed but as the East is already taken, they get sent to the South. Quality of wins & computer numbers moves them to 2 in the S-Curve. 
West: Gonzaga Losses by the Michigan schools make the Zags the fourth 1-seed. Easy choice going out West.

1-Seed Notes: For the moment, this is the easiest line with the placement of Duke & Tennessee the only question. The team most likely to play themselves onto the 1-line seems to be Kentucky if they can move past the Vols in the SEC. Gonzaga is the fourth 1-seed, but they seem unlikely to lose before Selection Sunday & I doubt they drop without a loss.

East: Kentucky Kentucky has a legitimate shot at a #1 seed. For now, they get put in the East as Duke shouldn't face a road environment in Louisville & the Wildcats can't be seeded with Tennessee.
Midwest: Michigan State Sparty was placed last. I didn't want the weakest 2 with the weakest 1, so they go to the Midwest.
South: Michigan The Wolverines go to the South because it's the closest region to Ann Arbor. Despite surges by Kentucky & UNC, they have the best overall 2-seed resume.
West:  North Carolina The Heels can't go to the East or South, so they go out West to balance the bracket as I don't want to put the last 1-seed (Gonzaga) opposite the last 2-seed (MSU).

2-Seed Notes: Kansas has a 2-seed resume but has clearly fallen off without Udoka Azubuike. Marquette, Villanova, Purdue, & Wisconsin could also push up to the 2-line with strong finishes.

East: Marquette I looked at 4 teams for the last 2 spots on this line. Wojo's team led the way over Purdue, Wisconsin, & Louisville in Q1 wins, the best losses, & overall record which keeps them from having to go West.
Midwest: Houston Kelvin Sampson's squad is the top 3-seed, which keeps them close to home. Their 11-1 Q1/2 record stacks up with anyone despite only 3 Q1 wins. Critics point to NCSOS, but it's not the Cougars' fault that games at BYU, Oklahoma State, & against Oregon aren't as impressive now as when they were scheduled. 
South: Kansas The Jayhawks remain the second 3-seed thanks to being tied for the lead or leading the nation in Q1A wins, Q1 wins, & Q1+2 wins. They go to the South because I didn't want to give a 3-seed a veritable home regional. 
West: Purdue Purdue gets the last 3-seed due to having the best SOS, NET, & kenpom rankings of the teams straddling the 3/4 line. They get sent West because it's all that's left.

3-Seed Notes: Wisconsin & Louisville got serious consideration here. I could easily see either of them here in place of Marquette or Purdue.

East: Wisconsin Bucky has some great Q1 wins & computer rankings, but it's not enough to offset their Q2 losses so they go to the 4-line. They go to the East because there are no other Big 10 teams in the region.
Midwest: Louisville The Cards have great top-tier wins, no really bad losses, & solid computer numbers. They can't go to the East or South due to seeding rules. There are 2 ACC teams on this line which puts Louisville in the Midwest since they played West 2-seed UNC twice in the regular season.
South: Iowa It was a really tough call for the last 4-seed. The computers liked Iowa State, but the Hawkeyes had the best win, better Q1/2 record, & won the head-to-head. But the biggest factor was losses; 4/5 losses for Iowa come to teams in the top-16, while ISU has 4/5 losses outside the top-16. Just 5/105 brackets on Bracket Matrix have Iowa on the 4-line, but if the Selection Committee truly values resume, Iowa should be the pick. That gives the Big 10 5 teams, so they go to the South because they only play Michigan once in the regular season. 
West: Virginia Tech Virginia Tech's computer numbers, 8-4 record v Q1/2 teams, & 2 wins over Q1A opponents jump off the page compared to other teams vying for a 4-seed. They go out West with UNC because they only played once in the regular season.

4-Seed Notes: I took a look at everyone in the top-30 of NET for these spots. The teams that were closest to making the cut were Iowa State, Nevada, & Villanova. ISU had a great resume, but just not good enough to overcome Iowa. Nevada's complete lack of Q1 wins is a killer, especially with a 27-point Q3 loss on there. Villanova has surged of late, but has no Q1A wins & 2 Q2 losses. There's just not enough quality in the wins to offset the lack thereof in some of their losses. One last note, aside from the 21-1, #7 NET ranked Houston Cougars, every team in my top-16 has a victory against another team in the top-16. If you wanna be among the best, you have to beat the best. The 16 teams I list above have done that.

This leaves us with the following Top-16 region seedings as follows:

East: 1-Virginia, 2-Kentucky, 3-Marquette, 4-Wisconsin
Midwest: 1-Tennessee, 2-Michigan State, 3-Houston, 4-Louisville
South: 1-Duke, 2-Michigan, 3-Kansas, 4-Iowa
West: 1-Gonzaga, 2-North Carolina, 3-Purdue, 4-Virginia Tech

Here's the complete S-Curve:

1-Seeds: 1-Virginia, 2-DUKE, 3-TENNESSEE, 4-GONZAGA
2-Seeds: 8-Michigan State, 7-Kentucky, 6-North Carolina, 5-MICHIGAN
3-Seeds: 9-Kansas, 10-HOUSTON, 11-Marquette, 12-Purdue
4-Seeds: 16-Iowa, 15-Virginia Tech, 14-Louisville, 13-Wisconsin
5-Seeds: 17-Iowa State, 18-Lsu, 19-VILLANOVA, 20-Texas Tech
6-Seeds: 24-Florida State, 23-NEVADA, 22-Maryland, 21-KANSAS STATE
7-Seeds: 25-BUFFALO, 26-Auburn, 27-Cincinnati, 28-Ohio State
8-Seeds: 32-Minnesota, 31-Oklahoma, 30-Texas, 29-Mississippi State
9-Seeds: 33-Baylor, 34-St. John's, 35-WASHINGTON, 36-Indiana 
10-Seeds: 40-Temple, 39-Syracuse, 38-Tcu, 37-Mississippi 
11-Seeds: 41-Alabama, 42-NC State, 43-LIPSCOMB, 44-WOFFORD
12-Seeds: 50-DAVIDSON, 49-BELMONT, 48-Seton Hall/47-Utah State, 46-Creighton/45-Arizona State

Last Four Byes: Syracuse, Temple, Alabama, NC State
Last Four In: Arizona State, Creighton, Utah State, Seton Hall
First Four Out: Nebraska, Georgetown, Butler, VCU
Next Four Out: Florida, Arizona, Arkansas, UCF

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