"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

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Squishy Bubbles

Kyle Lofton looks to help St. Bonaventure shoot their way back to the bubble
 Photo from St. Bonaventure Athletics

The back and forth of the bubble this season has been wild. Marquette is fortunately not in the bubble mix currently and, despite fan worries, I'm not worried about them falling into that scrum. Marquette's 7 Quadrant 1 wins are more than double that of anyone on the bubble except Rutgers (5) and Kansas State (4). Marquette's resume average of 30 is also better than anyone in that area and is a better determinant of selection than the other metrics. While recent form hasn't been great, this is still a team comfortably in the field as a single-digit seed and closer to a protected seed than a trip to Dayton.

So what are some of the factors we are looking at when it comes to the bubble and Selection? Let's take a look at a few of the big factors the Selection Committee has looked at in the past to help determine who will be in and out come Selection Sunday.

Non-Conference Strength of Schedule: When it comes to the field as a whole, teams can make it in with a weak NCSOS. USC has a sub-300 NCSOS this year but appears to be comfortably in, but it's different when it comes to teams on the bubble. 2019 NC State is the best example of this and the reason why teams like Indiana (NCSOS 318) and Wake Forest (NCSOS 334) are on the outside of today's S-Curve. When you don't have many wins over the field and your resume is built heavily on Q4 non-conference wins, the Selection Committee doesn't like putting those teams in.

Resume Average: While everyone is focused on the NET and the predictive metrics like kenpom and Sagarin, no team has ever made the field with a Resume average (KPI and Strength of Record) worse than 52.5. In our current field, the lowest Resume average we have in is Memphis at 53, but this is a danger sign, particularly for teams like Florida and Oregon who have a Resume average at 60 or worse. Rutgers, Indiana, Dayton, and Oklahoma are other teams popping up in the Bracket Matrix that are below the 52.5 barrier and might be in more trouble than bracketologists think.

Win/Loss Gap: While Michigan State got in with a 15-12 record last year, that +3 difference between wins and losses was the lowest in quite awhile and that was likely only because of the COVID shortened season. It's rare for teams to get in without at least 18 wins and a gap of +5 between wins and losses. There are a number of teams this would impact, but particularly the Big 12 bubble teams like Kansas State (14-13), Oklahoma (14-14), and West Virginia (14-14). They have great top end wins, but the record disparity really hurts them. It's a big reason why I have long thought 6 bids for the Big 12 was more likely than the 8 some were predicting. The teams that have been most rewarded in that league are teams like Iowa State and TCU that are still trending towards bids even though they are likely to go 7-11 or worse in league play, just like the three mentioned above.

Big Wins Offset Bad Losses: Teams like Rutgers and Dayton have 3+ losses out of Quadrants 1+2, but teams like 2021 Colorado and 2019 Arizona State and Baylor proved you can get in with some bad blemishes on the resume. I'm hesitant with Dayton considering their losses are all in Quadrant 4, but the Kansas win for the Flyers and the Purdue, Illinois, and Wisconsin wins for Rutgers are enough that those teams shouldn't be ruled out strictly because of the losses.

Net Bottom Line: 2019 St. John's at 73 and 2021 Wichita State at 72 are the two lowest teams in the NET to get into the field. That doesn't bode well for Rutgers (83) and St. Bonaventure (84) who we have just outside the field. That said, if either team can get some big margin wins that move those numbers, they could find themselves on the right side of the bubble.

Let's look at the full S-Curve:

1-Seeds: 1-GONZAGA 2-ARIZONA 3-KANSAS 4-Auburn

2-Seeds: 8-DUKE 7-PURDUE 6-KENTUCKY 5-Baylor

3-Seeds: 9-Texas Tech 10-VILLANOVA 11-Tennessee 12-Illinois

4-Seeds: 16-Connecticut 15-Providence 14-Ucla 13-Wisconsin

5-Seeds: 17-Texas 18-HOUSTON 19-Alabama 20-Ohio State

6-Seeds: 24-Lsu 23-St. Mary's 22-Usc 21-Arkansas

7-Seeds: 25-Marquette 26-Boise State 27-Michigan State 28-Iowa State

8-Seeds: 32-San Francisco 31-Iowa 30-Seton Hall 29-COLORADO STATE

9-Seeds: 33-Xavier 34-MURRAY STATE 35-Miami 36-Creighton

10-Seeds: 40-Michigan 39-San Diego State 38-Tcu 37-Wyoming

11-Seeds: 41-Notre Dame 42-Smu 43-North Carolina 44-Vcu 45-Byu 46-Memphis







Last Four Byes: San Diego State, Michigan, Notre Dame, SMU

Last Four In: North Carolina, VCU, BYU, Memphis

First Four Out: Florida, Rutgers, St. Bonaventure, Wake Forest

Next Four Out: Indiana, Belmont, Oregon, Dayton

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