"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

Monday, March 28, 2022

#mubb season is over, let's review

We're back for the final "in-season" podcast for #mubb to review the NCAAT results (real bad) and the season over all(good to really good). We first discuss the blow out at the hands of North Carolina and why is it that Marquette is the launching platform for other teams to make Elite Eight or better tournament runs. We then talk about the roster construction and what we know, what we speculate, and what we hope for the roster next season. We also evaluate the 2022 campaign overall and how we feel about Shaka Year 1. We close out with some general thoughts on the state of college basketball. Enjoy! https://mcdn.podbean.com/mf/web/qw8imp/ScrambledEggs_Editted_032822.mp3

Friday, March 18, 2022

Season-ending observations for Year One of the Shaka Smart Era

We shared our thoughts on the 2021-2022 season in a Twitter thread, & figured we should post it here for easier reading and posterity. It's not TLDR; take a look and join us on Twitter @CrackedSidewlks for the conversation:


A wild ride this past #MUBB season was ... low expectations that were raised dramatically before achieving a laudable milestone and finishing with a thud. In preparation for Year One, Shaka threw together a roster in about 45 days and developed that bunch into an NCAA tourney/top half of the #BigEast team. A remarkable achievement. Because of our first rate Marquette education, we can believe two contradictory thoughts. The team both exceeded expectations and was disappointing.

The late season bitterness is made worse by previous recent program history, of which the present staff had nothing to do with, of course. But #MUBB fans are thirsty for sweet satisfaction in March, the program's present albatross. The next time #mubb plays in an NCAA game it will be >3500 days since their last NCAA victory.

This MU team peaked early & we all drank the Kool-Aid. Pre-season and in-season player development was extraordinary, the coaching staff did more w the talent, in different ways than expected, & it led to a successful season.

  • Kolek, Morsell, and Oso performed in ways their careers never indicated they could; this staff knows how to open up new avenues for success for players. Future transfers should and will pay attention.
  • #mubb developed players. Smart elevated the play of Lewis, coaxed promising frosh campaigns from Jones & Mitchell, and patiently developed an increasingly effective OMax
  • With the 10th youngest roster in the nation, #mubb played a top 25 schedule and made the NCAA in his first season. This is a remarkable achievement worthy of celebration. Nobody expected this.
  • MU was competitive in almost every game, they beat Q1 opponents, they beat many Q1 opponents. They had a top 25 defense at one point. For a 7 game stretch, we saw the future of #mubb.
Unfortunately, Shaka's 10 year streak of top 40 defenses came to an end. However, MU finished w the program's second-best defense of the past 8 seasons, topped only by the '19 squad. Yet the D got significantly worse late in the season, a concern the staff must address. #MUBB was either figured out, the players tuned the coaching staff out, or the talent is not quite there for Shaka.

There are legitimate coaching questions. In yesterday's game we saw Smart roll out and stick with a poor defensive lineup, despite hundreds of possessions since February proving its ineffectiveness. If we can see this, can't the staff see it? In addition, the coaching staff purposely ignored the value of rebounding on both ends. #mubb was the worst team in the BE at both ends by far. This lowered the ceiling for team performance. The truth is that Wojo did this kind of thing with TO%. It's a bad strategy to be terrible at anything, and it's worse strategy to be terrible at both ends. We believe that there is some thoughtful reasoning from the coaching staff behind these choices, but the questions remain.

Having said all that, more than anything the *juice* is back with #mubb. How many of us had increased group texts? Spent more time on #mubb Twitter? Smashed every single like button possible yesterday? MU is back big time.

Honestly, if you are selling your Shaka stock, #mubbpac will buy it. Our holdings are already substantial, however, because we believe in the future of #mubb. Comfortably finishing in the top half of the Big East, as a "solidly in" choice on Selection Sunday shows how far the program came in just one season.

Optimism should remain high; this program is going places. #WeAre #mubb

Monday, March 14, 2022

Joe's Guide to Fort Worth


After our recent podcast, I thought it might be useful to have my Fort Worth recommendations in article form. I may not be the best DFW tour guide, but considering I’ve lived here 10 years and many of you will be visiting for the first time, I can provide a few pointers to give Marquette fans an idea of what to look for.

Dickies Arena

Let’s start with the location for the game. The area immediately around Dickies doesn’t offer much. So, if you’re looking for a place a block or two from the arena, you’ll probably be disappointed. I’ll also add that food-wise, Dickies has only had the basics the few times I’ve been (granted, that was for high school games. Maybe this will be better). But, I wouldn’t expect much more than typical stadium food: chicken fingers, pizza, burgers, nachos. I’d highly suggest eating before and/or after your trip to the games. Where to do that? Allow me to offer places I like.

West 7th

Depending on your tolerance for walking, the West 7th area is either a healthy walk or a very short Uber ride from the arena. I confess I’ve never actually walked it, but it’s a little over a mile, and I’m going to imagine this is where a lot of the pregame and postgame partying will happen. This is a very popular area for the young professional crowd.

Varsity Tavern has a lot of TV’s, so if you want a game-watching spot, that should work fine. Trinity College Irish Pub will probably be very popular on St. Patrick’s Day, so that should be a good place to hang out. I’d also recommend The Social House, just a chill place for either drinks or a meal.

Rodeo Goat is a great burger spot if you’re hungry. There's not a ton of TV's in there if you want game-watching, but it'll do if your priority is to eat.


I know my audience here, so before I get to some other places to eat around Fort Worth, let’s talk beer. If you want to hit a brewery while you’re in town, there are several all over the Metroplex to check out. Here are a few I’d suggest.

Rahr & Sons - Rahr is probably the most popular brand that is from Fort Worth proper. I’d suggest their Texas Red.

Maple Branch -  a few blocks north of the West 7th area, it has a great beer garden if you just want to sit outside and enjoy some brews.

HopFusion Ale Works - Located very close to Rahr, this is a place to go if you like sour beers or fruity beers. HopFusion is one of the more creative brewers in the area. I’m personally not big on sour or fruity beers myself, but if you are, this is the spot for you. I will say, though, if you end up here and don’t want one of their unusual creations, their Feisty Blonde and Feisty Redhead will suit you just fine.

Martin House - Martin House is a fine brewery, but here's my favorite thing about it: it's right next to a Top Golf. If you know Top Golf, you know it's an awesome place to hang out, but the wait can be quite long. Putting your name in, going to Martin House and then going back to Top Golf to hit golf balls, watch sports, and eat? There are worse ways to kill an afternoon.

Revolver - Now, the brewery itself is located a long way away in Granbury, too far to make it worth your trip. However, Revolver’s Blood & Honey is my favorite beer in the DFW area. So, if you’re at a bar in Metroplex and can’t decide what to start with, order a Blood & Honey. It’s like a Blue Moon with more alcohol content. You’ll love it.

Dallas breweries – if you’re deciding to make a trip to Dallas (more on that later), there are a number of breweries over there as well that I’d recommend: Deep Ellum, Community, Oak Highlands, and Manhattan Project would all be worth a stop. Deep Ellum is one of the more popular ones in the area, especially their Dallas Blonde.

Elsewhere in Fort Worth

Okay, back to food. Sundance Square is a very nice part of downtown Fort Worth: plenty of restaurants (some local, some you've probably seen elsewhere like Mi Cocina or Texas de Brazil). There are some fine dining options if you want to break your budget and treat yourself (like The Capital Grille or Reata), but if you just want a bar to chill at, I'd suggest Buffalo Bros.

If you're looking for stereotypical Texas, a place to go wearing boots and a cowboy hat, go to the Stockyards: it's an area with cowboy bars with country music all over the place. Billy Bob's is a popular one. With a name like Billy Bob's, it has to be, right?

The number one place I'd have to recommend in the Stockyards area to eat is Joe T. Garcia's. It's a TexMex icon down here: good food, casual setting, an awesome patio. You may be in for a wait, but good things are worth waiting for. The good news about the wait: you can get a margarita pitcher from the bar, and bring it back to the line and start drinking while you wait.

If you want barbecue, Heim gets my highest recommendation, and there are a couple in Fort Worth. I also really like Hard Eight BBQ, but there isn't one anywhere near downtown Fort Worth. There is one near the airport, though. Something to consider on the way in or way home.

There isn't a Pluckers in downtown Fort Worth, but if you're elsewhere in the Metroplex and see one, that's my favorite sports bar in the area. Wings and beer and lots of TV's. It's like BWW, but better. Try their spicy lemon pepper wings.

One more place I have to mention that's not downtown but it has a few locations around the greater DFW area: Babe's Chicken Dinner House. If you eat here, you may not eat again all weekend because it's a ton of calories but my gosh is it good. Family-style servings of mashed potatoes, gravy, biscuits, creamed corn and your choice of fried chicken or chicken fried steak. Ignore the salad when they bring it because it's just lettuce and dressing. After that though? Oh man, nothing but good southern cooking and enough calories to last you two days. Not a place for game-watching, though, and it does NOT serve alcohol. This is a place to eat and eat and eat.

Fast Food and Fast Casual

Not everybody wants to sit down and be waited on. So, if you want your food a bit quicker - but don't want McDonald's or Chick-fil-A - here are some places you may not have where you're coming from.

Whataburger is a Texas icon. Patrick Mahomes missed it so much, he opened a franchise in Kansas City himself. We also have In-n-Out Burger here. Yes, that's a California thing, but we have it. But as a Texan, I have to tell you to get Whataburger. Heck, get both and compare for yourself if you want. Burgers are fine at both places, but the fries are the tiebreaker for me. Whataburger's are far superior.

I know Raising Cane's is making its way up north, but if you've never had it and like chicken fingers, that gets it done for sure.

Taco Bueno is for when you want Taco Bell, but you want something different than Taco Bell.

As far as fast casual TexMex, I'd recommend Torchy's Tacos, and there is one not too far from Dickies Arena. Fuzzy's Taco Shop is also good.  I think Torchy's is better, but Fuzzy's will save you a few bucks. There's a Fuzzy's near TCU's campus, which is just a bit south of Dickies Arena.

Touristy Stuff

Here's the thing about DFW: there really isn't a "must see" as far as tourist stuff, but it has some things that are interesting for out-of-towners, most of of it is in Dallas though (about an hour drive). I'd recommend looking into tickets in advance if you plan on any of this, but here are some ideas:

Sixth Floor Museum - This the location where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. It is an interesting museum about that day and his presidency.

Bush Library - I'm not going to get into politics here, but regardless of what you think of George W. Bush, his presidential library is on the SMU campus and it is a piece of American history. 

Perot Museum - I've never actually been to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, but I hear kids love it. So, if you're looking to entertain kiddos on Friday, this is an idea.

Reunion Tower - It's the big green tower you see in the Dallas skyline. It offers panoramic views of the city, and there are places to eat and drink up there.

Arlington - If you don't want to go all the way to Dallas, Arlington is an option: it has Six Flags, first of all. It also has AT&T Stadium (home of the Dallas Cowboys), Globe Life Field (home of the Texas Rangers), and the new Texas Live, which is a big entertainment complex built right between the stadiums. I would imagine Texas Live would be jumping with people watching games and getting drinks all weekend.

Fort Worth Zoo - Something for the kids that's not in Dallas. It's a zoo, and kids love zoos! I do have to say the Fort Worth Zoo is a good one. It's also close to the TCU campus if you want to see that.

Finally, an FYI

There is a lot of construction on I-35W, which leads you north out of Fort Worth up towards Oklahoma. The good news is most of you probably won't have any reason to get on this for too long. I-35W takes you to Texas Motor Speedway, which has an IndyCar Series race this weekend. So, traffic in that area should be brutal if you're driving into town from Oklahoma or Kansas or north of there. You've been warned.

Okay, I think I've covered plenty here. Surely you can find plenty to entertain yourselves. If you're going to be in town, come find me in Fort Worth! Let's go Marquette!

We Have a Bracket!

Greg Elliott is the returning Marquette player from last year's win at Chapel Hill
 Photo by Gerry Broome | Associated Press

The bracket was released yesterday and Marquette is headed to Fort Worth to take on North Carolina with the winner likely facing Baylor for a trip to the Sweet 16. You can check out your Scrambled Eggs podcast feed for the latest on the matchup and more Fort Worth tips from resident Joe McCann. If you need a place to stay, check out Joe's creepy Texas basement. I plan to have a preview of North Carolina as well in the coming days. But today, we break down how Cracked Sidewalks did in the prediction game now that the bracket is finalized.

The Results

Cracked Sidewalks finished 66th out of 211 brackets this year (69th percentile...nice). We correctly picked 66/68 teams. Regarding seeding, we had 46 teams seeded exactly correctly and 19 more seeded within 1 line of their actual seed. Our score of 355 came up just short of last year's 357 but was still good enough to place ahead of bracket luminaries such as Joe Lunardi and Jerry Palm as well as some of the best current bracketologists such as Delphi Bracketology and the entire Fielding the 68 panel.

The Bubble

The two teams we missed were Notre Dame and Rutgers, picking Texas A&M and SMU instead. The A&M pick was one made by 94.8% of the brackets, so we're in fine company there, but it really reinforced what we said last year (and then went against this year) that you CANNOT play your way in during Championship Week. It can't be done. Not only A&M being left out, but Virginia Tech getting an 11-seed shows that if you aren't in when the week starts, you aren't getting there, period. You can play your way out (Wake, Xavier are examples of that) but you aren't going from out to in unless you cut nets.

It's hard to wrap our heads around Buzz Williams being left out this year
 Photo by Andy Lyons | Getty Images

So why did we miss ND and Rutgers? Simply put, both were unprecedented. Notre Dame was the first at-large team to not be ranked in the top-47 of at least one of resume or predictive metric averages on the team sheet. Not only did SMU and Texas A&M check both boxes, Oklahoma, Wake Forest, and VCU, all also left out, checked at least one and would've been a better pick than Notre Dame based on past precedent. Rutgers was even worse in both categories. The Scarlet Knights had a NET of 78 and resume average of 57.5. Both of those are the lowest numbers ever for an at-large selection. Yes, they had good wins, but we are told the entire season matters (which would've led Xavier to inclusion) and the entire resume matters (SMU). Clearly the Selection Committee did not believe that message.

That said...the Notre Dame/Rutgers winner got a pretty sweet spot on the bracket and either could make a run. 6-seed Alabama has 4 losses to sub-50 kenpom teams (both ND and Rutgers fit that mold). Good offense tends to beat good defense in March, so 3-seed Texas Tech could also be vulnerable, particularly to Notre Dame's attack. Just because these teams did not deserve to be placed in the field on merit from November through Selection Sunday doesn't mean they couldn't win some games now that the Madness is here.

Our Seed Miss

As far as seeding, we're very happy with our placement. 65 of the 66 teams we placed were within one line of their actual spot. Had we picked the other two at-large teams correctly, it would've been 67/68 as we had Texas A&M and SMU on the same 11-line that Notre Dame and Rutgers occupy. The only 2-line miss we had this year is one of the same we had last year. We gave Loyola-Chicago a 12 and the Selection Committee gave them a 10. I can't argue here, however. Our spreadsheet had Loyola-Chicago as a 10, but historically the Selection Committee places the bottom 22 autobid teams from the 12-16 lines. This is the first time since 2014 that an at-large play-in game is not on the 11 line.

Because of that trend, and because we had Loyola as a 6-seed last year and saw them unjustly given an 8-seed, we expected the Selection Committee to follow the 11-seed play-in trend as well as again picking the lowest autobid and dropping them to make that happen. Credit to the Selection Committee, it was the correct choice, even if not the one we expected.

Regional Thoughts

West: The seeding in the region is fine, but man does Gonzaga get a tough road. If you filter Torvik for the past 6 weeks (to January 28) three of top six teams in the country are in this region. Gonzaga and potential second round foe Memphis are two of them, while Texas Tech is another in the bottom half of the bracket. Also lurking in the bottom half are two teams that beat the Zags this year, Alabama and Duke. If Gonzaga makes another Final Four, they will have to earn it.

South: Seeding here is fine, but another tough region. Per kenpom, four of the top-11 teams in the country are here.

East: Don't be surprised if there's some chaos in Marquette's region. The 11-seed Virginia Tech, 12-seed Indiana/Wyoming winner, 13-seed Akron, and 15-seed St. Peter's were all underseeded, in our opinion. If you're looking to pick a double-digit seed, the East is probably the place for it.

Midwest: Kansas got what looks like the easiest region. 3-seed Wisconsin and 4-seed Providence both fit the profile of overseeded teams that would be expected to lose sooner than their seed indicates. One other team to watch here might be Iowa State. While they fell to an 11-seed, the Cyclones are a perfect 13-0 against teams outside the Big 12.

Final Thoughts

We had the Protected seeds all correctly selected, with only 3-seed Wisconsin and 4-seed UCLA placed on the incorrect lines. Nailing 65 teams within one seed line feels very good. Selection was frustrating, mostly because last year it seemed that the choices of Syracuse over Louisville and Utah State over Colorado meant metrics were more important than resume at the end of the cutline while this year the opposite was the case. It shows how sometimes you just guess the direction the Selection Committee is going to go and despite showing a history of zigging, sometimes they zag.

We're in the Endgame now

Selection Sunday has come and gone with us reacting to where #mubb is seeded. We talk about Marquette's seeding and breakdown the first game against UNC. We talk about the game with eyes wide open, as it will not be an easy game. We then talk about the bracket overall as well as what odds the Big East has in making a run as a conference. Lastly, Joe shares lots of insights into Fort Worth if anyone is making the treck for the game on Thursday. As always, enjoy! https://mcdn.podbean.com/mf/web/tytpcf/ScrambledEggs_Editted_031322.mp3

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Bring on the Madness!

Last update. Richmond stealing a bid knocked North Texas out. Davidson stays in the field and actually moves up to a 10-seed, being evaluated a little differently as an at-large. Richmond comes in on the 13 line and secures the play-in games being 11-seeds. This has almost always been the case, but it almost guarantees there will be some angst about Loyola-Chicago's placement again.

After further review, Michigan edged Xavier to get into the field. Despite Michigan's record, they are better in every metric the Selection Committee uses, have more top-tier wins, and fewer blemishes outside Quadrant 1. I may kick myself for that one, but it was always close between those two and I think Michigan has a little bit more.

Results of today's games won't have much impact. I think Tennessee was locked into a 3-seed yesterday because there's rarely movement this late in the process, which keeps Duke on the 2-line. The Big 10 and American results are similarly too late to matter.

It's been a stressful week with all the movement and meaningful late results that impacted the field from top to bottom. Bring on the Madness.

Here's the final S-Curve:

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

2-Seeds: 8-Duke 7-VILLANOVA 6-Auburn 5-Kentucky

3-Seeds: 9-TENNESSEE 10-PURDUE 11-Texas Tech 12-Ucla

4-Seeds: 16-Providence 15-Arkansas 14-Wisconsin 13-Illinois

5-Seeds: 17-HOUSTON 18-Connecticut 19-Iowa 20-St. Mary's

6-Seeds: 24-Usc 23-Alabama 22-Texas 21-Lsu

7-Seeds: 25-Ohio State 26-Michigan State 27-BOISE STATE 28-Colorado State

8-Seeds: 32-North Carolina 31-MURRAY STATE 30-San Diego State 29-Seton Hall

9-Seeds: 33-Tcu 34-Memphis 35-Creighton 36-Marquette

10-Seeds: 40-Davidson 39-Iowa State 38-San Francisco 37-VIRGINIA TECH

11-Seeds: 41-Miami 42-Smu 43-Texas A&M 44-Indiana 45-Michigan 46-Wyoming






Last Four Byes: Iowa State, Davidson, Miami, SMU

Last Four In: Texas A&M, Indiana, Michigan, Wyoming

First Four Out: Xavier, North Texas, Notre Dame, Wake Forest

Three other great Marquette overachieving seasons

This year’s Marquette Golden Eagles defied expectations. Picked to finish no higher than ninth in the Big East, the Marquette Golden Eagles finished fifth. They are poised to hear their name called on Selection Sunday.

This is not the first time this century the Golden Eagles exceeded low expectations. There are three other seasons where Marquette surprised the college basketball world.

2001-2002: This is the season that kicked off Marquette’s run of success through 2013. Dwyane Wade was eligible after sitting out his freshman year as a partial qualifier. It was Travis Diener’s freshman season. The Golden Eagles had a senior class led by Cordell Henry that never made the NCAA Tournament.

There were rumors that Wade had a chance to be good but no one knew just how great he would be.

Wade’s coming out party happened in the Great Alaskan Shootout were Marquette beat Tennessee, Indiana, and Gonzaga.

Fans stormed the court after Marquette beat No. 4 Cincinnati at the Bradley Center. The Golden Eagles went undefeated at home. Marquette reached as high as No. 9 in the rankings. 

Unfortunately, Marquette’s season ended in the NCAA Tournament’s first round against Tulsa. Diener’s second desperation three fell short and Wade's put back attempt missed.

2005-2006: Marquette’s first year in the Big East was supposed to be rough. One local reporter had Marquette winning just three Big East games.

The Golden Eagles won three of their first five Big East game. Steve Novak introduced Marquette to the Big East in grand fashion with 41 points against No. 2 UConn. 

Freshman Dominic James and Jerel McNeal stellar play aided Novak towards a first Big East season that far exceeded expectations. Wesley Matthews and Joe Champan also provided solid contributions.

The Golden Eagles went onto a 20-win season but bowed out in the NCAA Tournament's first round to Alabama.

2009-2010: The James, McNeal, and Matthews trio graduated. It was supposed to be a rebuilding year.

Lazar Hayward and Jimmy Butler had other plans despite all the early season bad luck.

Junior Cadougan, Chris Otule and Joe Fulce all suffered major injuries. Jerrone Maymon left the team after nine games. That left Marquette with a rotation player no taller than Butler and Erik Williams.

Yet, the undersized Golden Eagles could shoot like no other. They had Maurice Acker, David Cubillan, Dwight Buycks, and Darius Johnson-Odom bombing away from three.

Hayward played like a NBA first-round pick and Butler stepped up his game.

Marquette ended up with a 22-12 and made the NCAA Tournament but lost a heartbreaker to Washington in the first round.

One way this season can be better than those three seasons is avoiding being one-and-done.


Marquette is Dancing!

Shaka Smart & Justin Lewis led Marquette back to the NCAA Tournament
 Photo from JSOnline.com

It's Selection Sunday, and if you only take one thing away from this article, it's that Marquette will be learning their NCAA Tournament destination tonight. In a year when most fans were just hoping to see progress and a reinvigorated defense, this team is going to be playing on the biggest stage in the sport in the next week. There is no question. There is no doubt. Marquette is a lock.

Moving on, here are the tough decisions that came today:

The Protected Seeds: Arizona and Kansas locked in 1-seeds by winning conference tournaments, Baylor held on to the last 1-seed thanks to Auburn, Kentucky, and Duke all falling in conference tourney play. Tennessee has the best claim at the last 2-seed and could slip past Duke or Villanova. UCLA claims the last 3-seed thanks to Illinois and Wisconsin both losing early in the Big 10 tourney. Providence's stellar record allows them to hold on to our last 4, though I could see Houston passing them. It would be far more surprising to see Providence as a 3 than a 5.

The Mountain West: Resume-wise, Colorado State is the favorite. However, Boise State won both the regular season and conference tournaments. Meanwhile, San Diego State has the best predictive numbers (by far) and no losses outside the Quadrant 1. I ended up going with the champs first on the 7-line, with CSU joining Boise there and San Diego State a couple spots back as an 8-seed. I could see them coming out in any order. Wyoming also sneaks into the First Four, anchored down by their predictive metrics but making it in due to their 10-5 Q1+2 record.

Marquette's Seed: I haven't published all of my updates, but I've had Marquette on every line from 7-10 this week. Ultimately, their top end quality placed them as a 9-seed, just behind Creighton due to the 3-game sweep. I could see an argument for Virginia Tech being ahead of Marquette, but their lack of wins over the field kept Marquette ahead. If this proves correct, there is no one on the 8-line I would want to see, considering Seton Hall wouldn't be an option. San Diego State is probably Marquette's best matchup as they have an anemic offense that would almost guarantee a close game.

The Bubble, Falling Out: Teams like Wake Forest, Notre Dame, and Michigan that needed help to polish their resumes dropped their openers, which ultimately played their way out of the field. Wake's loss put them in a circumstance where their 338 NCSOS would have been unprecedented to select for Dayton. The Demon Deacons needed to be in the main field, because precedent was a killer once you get to Dayton. Notre Dame suffered from two different problems. First, before the week began two of their Q2 wins fell to Q3, leaving them with a 4-8 Q1+2 record that quickly became 4-9. There just isn't enough good to offset that mediocre record despite the NCSOS. Michigan fell out because their final record was 17-14. No team has made the tournament with a W/L margin of +3 or lower in a non-pandemic year since Georgia's 16-14 in 2001. That knocked Michigan out and kept Oklahoma from moving in.

The Bubble, Moving In: Typically, I don't move teams in on the basis of conference tourney results, but this year has been different for a few reasons. The teams above falling out meant going to find replacements. UAB winning Conference USA put North Texas into the at-large pool. The Mean Green's profile is nearly identical to 2019 Belmont which went to the First Four. In the NET, UNT is 46 and Belmont was 47. UNT is 6-4 in Q1+2, Belmont was 5-3. Both had 2 losses in Quadrant 3. UNT's NCSOS is at 57 and Belmont was at 43. Indiana moved in partially due to their wins this week but more because when the teams above fell out and they were Next Four Out while Florida and Rutgers didn't do anything to improve their fatal flaws. The last team added was Buzz Williams' Texas A&M. Their 3 wins this week, two in Q1, was unprecedented in teams trying to play in the past 5 NCAA years. The second reason is because the Committee was still voting on 6 teams for inclusion as of Saturday evening. With the Committee taking long to decide the field, it indicates these games will be valued more seriously. Finally, Xavier is still in. They are there because of their 5 Q1 wins, acceptable overall record, and good enough metrics. When looking at Michigan, Oklahoma, and Rutgers, all teams with quality wins as well, Xavier is the only team that doesn't have an obvious thing to keep them out (Michigan and Oklahoma's +3 win margins, Rutgers' unprecedented resume and NET numbers).

The Bid Thieves: Virginia Tech was really testing the "play your way in" theory but made it easy by knocking off Duke, while as mentioned, UAB put North Texas into the at-large pool. The only remaining bid thief is Richmond in the A-10. If they win, Davidson will earn an at-large, most likely pushing SMU or Texas A&M to Dayton and North Texas out of the field.

Here's the full S-Curve:

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

2-Seeds: 8-Duke 7-VILLANOVA 6-Auburn 5-Kentucky

3-Seeds: 9-TENNESSEE 10-PURDUE 11-Texas Tech 12-Ucla

4-Seeds: 16-Providence 15-Arkansas 14-Wisconsin 13-Illinois

5-Seeds: 17-HOUSTON 18-Connecticut 19-Iowa 20-St. Mary's

6-Seeds: 24-Usc 23-Alabama 22-Texas 21-Lsu

7-Seeds: 25-Ohio State 26-Michigan State 27-BOISE STATE 28-Colorado State

8-Seeds: 32-North Carolina 31-MURRAY STATE 30-San Diego State 29-Seton Hall

9-Seeds: 33-Tcu 34-Memphis 35-Creighton 36-Marquette

10-Seeds: 40-Miami 39-Iowa State 38-San Francisco 37-VIRGINIA TECH

11-Seeds: 41-Smu 42-Texas A&M 43-Indiana 44-Xavier 45-Wyoming 46-North Texas






Last Four Byes: Iowa State, Miami, SMU, Texas A&M

Last Four In: Indiana, Xavier, Wyoming, North Texas

Still Evaluating: Michigan, Notre Dame, Wake Forest

Bid Thief Potential: A-10 (Richmond)

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Saturday Morning Madness

Virginia Tech & Xavier have gone from non-con battle to bubble battle
 Photo by Adam Hunger | AP

This has been an insane week on the bubble. Teams like Indiana, Texas A&M, and Virginia Tech are really putting the "you can't win your way in" theory to the test. Teams like Wake Forest, Notre Dame, and Xavier seem eager to confirm the "you can lose your way out" theory. We have a new S-Curve this morning, with the caveat that this is all reacting to the results of the week. I also have some comments on the teams around the bubble that are still being considered. We'll start there.

Michigan, SMU, and Wyoming are the last teams we have safe. The resume metrics are all good for those teams. Michigan's Q1+2 isn't great, but they have enough Q1 wins and predictive metrics to be in, while Wyoming has a great Q1+2 record despite their weak predictives. SMU is just acceptable across the board.

In terms of last four in, Indiana benefitted from Wake and Rutgers slipping up early, while Xavier's 5 Q1 wins keep them barely in. I don't feel great about Xavier at all and they could easily still fall out. The last two in are VCU and North Texas. VCU's resume average of 31.5 would be unprecedented to leave out and despite a resume that doesn't blow you away, I still think their performance with Ace Baldwin is enough coupled with the resume for inclusion. North Texas looks stunningly similar to 2019 Belmont, who made the field. Nearly identical NET, Q1+2 records, and Q3 losses. It would certainly be in Dayton, but the Mean Green have a tourney type profile.

On the outside, Wake was eliminated on the basis of their non-conference strength of schedule, which came into focus when their early loss pushed them to play-in status. Rutgers falling in their first game puts them in a position where they simply don't have the NET to get in. For teams that are close, Oklahoma is like a worse version of Michigan in every way, so +3 in the win column doesn't do it. Notre Dame was hurt when two of their Q2 wins fell to Q3, but 4-9 against Q1+2 simply isn't good enough despite the Kentucky win. For Virginia Tech, Texas A&M, and Dayton, all of them warrant some consideration, but they can still play their way in. I'm continuing to reevaluate them as the games go by.

Let's get to that S-Curve:


2-Seeds: 8-DUKE 7-VILLANOVA 6-Auburn 5-Kansas

3-Seeds: 9-Tennessee 10-Purdue 11-Texas Tech 12-Ucla

4-Seeds: 16-Providence 15-Arkansas 14-Wisconsin 13-Illinois

5-Seeds: 17-HOUSTON 18-Connecticut 19-Iowa 20-St. Mary's

6-Seeds: 24-Usc 23-Alabama 22-Texas 21-Lsu

7-Seeds: 25-Ohio State 26-SAN DIEGO STATE 27-Michigan State 28-North Carolina

8-Seeds: 32-Tcu 31-MURRAY STATE 30-Seton Hall 29-Colorado State

9-Seeds: 33-Memphis 34-Iowa State 35-Creighton 36-Marquette

10-Seeds: 40-DAVIDSON 39-Boise State 38-San Francisco 37-LOYOLA CHICAGO

11-Seeds: 41-Miami 42-Michigan 43-Smu 44-Wyoming

12-Seeds: 50-SOUTH DAKOTA STATE 49-UAB 48-North Texas 47-Vcu 46-Xavier 45-Indiana





Last Four Byes: Miami, Michigan, SMU, Wyoming

Last Four In: Indiana, Xavier, VCU, North Texas

At-Large Consideration: Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Texas A&M, Dayton

Bid Thief Potential: ACC (Virginia Tech), A-10 (St. Louis, Richmond, Dayton), American (Tulane), SEC (Texas A&M)

Wednesday, March 09, 2022

Seeding Primer, with Special Guest Marquette

Marquette's NCAA Resume
 Screenshot from WarrenNolan.com

I have been getting feedback about Marquette's current seed range, particularly0 why Marquette is behind Seton Hall on the S-Curve despite the season sweep. Let's dig into Marquette's position and where they could get. I apologize in advance, this is going to get a little nerdy.

When it comes to seeding the most reliable measure is found by taking the average of two different averages. When you look at a team sheet, in the upper left corner, there are 5 metrics provided. The Result-Based metrics are the Kevin Pauga Index and Strength of Record, shortened to KPI and SOR. The Predictive metrics are the Basketball Power Index, Pomeroy rank, and Sagarin Rating, shortened to BPI, POM, and SAG.

For Marquette, their Result-Based average uses the 30 KPI score and 37 SOR score for an average of 33.5. Their Predictive average uses the 52 BPI, 41 POM, and 44 SAG for an average of 45.7. Using those numbers, you can find what I call the RAP (Results And Predictive) score of 39.6. When you line those numbers up against the entire field, the RAP score predicts teams within one seed line 85% of the time. Let's look at the RAP scores of teams around Marquette:

NET Team R Avg P Avg RAP X Seed
33 North Carolina 27.5 28.3 27.9 7
34 USC 24 34.7 29.35 7
29 San Diego St. 32.5 27.3 29.9 7
31 Michigan 35 25.7 30.35 7
32 Seton Hall 29 32.3 30.65 8
40 Michigan St. 27.5 35.3 31.4 8
35 Memphis 40.5 25.7 33.1 8
24 San Francisco 39 28.3 33.65 8
28 Colorado St. 22 49 35.5 9
23 Murray St. 31 40.7 35.85 9
30 Boise St. 34 40.3 37.15 9
25 Loyola Chicago 48.5 28 38.25 9
38 Marquette 33.5 45.7 39.6 10
39 Wake Forest 46 35.3 40.65 10
41 Iowa St. 37.5 45 41.25 10
46 TCU 39 44.7 41.85 10

This shows pretty clearly why a number of bracketologists would have Seton Hall ahead of Marquette. Head-to-head only matters if it's close, and a 9 point RAP gap isn't exactly close. Marquette on the 8 line is seeded 2 lines ahead of where they are expected to be at, which would make them a positive outlier to that 85% figure listed above.

If you want to look deeper into these, I recommend either the team sheets from Warren Nolan or the Team Sheet Ranks on Bart Torvik's site. While I'm a huge Marquette fan, the members of the Selection Committee are not and their seeding will come down to math and resume, not emotion. I'd love to see a 7-seed or even 6-seed on Selection Sunday, but in my opinion the numbers say they have work to do to get there.

So what work is that? The RAP score is what the computers think of you, but the Selection Committee also looks at Quadrant records and Road/Neutral records. Quadrant 1A games are big feathers in the cap if you win and don't hurt much if you lose. Quadrant 1+2 record is how you played against postseason caliber teams. Quadrant 3+4 losses are the bad ones that can drag you down. Finally, Road/Neutral record shows how you play away from your home gym, which all NCAA games are. We're also looking mainly at Marquette and teams ahead of them on the S-Curve, because the discussion is about moving up. The teams here are ordered by current S-Curve position. I added in Iowa and Ohio State, as they are the last 6 and first 7, for context. The reason they are ahead and didn't show up on the last list is because their RAP scores are much better, at 22.65 and 25.1, respectively. Here's the comparison:

S-Curve Team Q1A Q1/2 Q3/4 Ls R/N
23 USC 1-3 9-5 1 12-3
24 Iowa 2-5 8-9 0 7-6
25 Ohio St. 3-4 10-9 1 6-7
26 Colorado St. 1-1 12-3 1 10-3
27 Seton Hall 2-6 9-9 0 7-6
28 San Diego St. 1-3 8-7 0 7-6
29 Murray St. 1-1 5-1 1 15-2
30 Marquette 4-5 10-11 0 6-8
31 Michigan St. 4-7 11-10 1 8-8
32 North Carolina 2-5 5-7 1 8-6

The reason Marquette is as high as they are is their 4 Q1A wins. That's a big number for a team as far down the S-Curve as they are, and it is a differentiator with other teams in the 8-12 range that has them near the top of that group despite their RAP score. The areas they can still improve in the Big East Tournament are the Q1+2 record and the Road/Neutral record. It's important to note the timeline for the Selection Committee. As of this writing, the top-16 is probably mostly set. Wednesday and Thursday will be spent hammering out the field. That is largely the reason that I don't put much stock in Championship Week results, even on the bubble, because as we noted last year teams are more likely to fall out with bid thieves or a particularly poor performance than they are to play their way in with a good one.

If the Protected Seeds and the bubble are mostly set, it's the middle of the field, the 6-10 range, that has the most opportunity to move. That said, I don't think there's room for a team to move much more than one seed line, largely because the S-Curve will be mostly set by Saturday, before games like the Big East Tournament final are played. But if Marquette were to notch a Q2 win over Creighton and Q1 win in the semifinal, suddenly they have a 12-11 Q1+2 record and an 8-8 Road/Neutral record, which combined with the 4 (possibly 5) Q1A wins they would have at that point could move them up to a 7-seed. I will also be clear that I don't think 1-1 will do anything for them. It would be a case of moving ahead an inch, then back an inch. I believe Marquette has to be playing Saturday night to see their seed improve.

I will also note that a few great bracketologists, such as Kevin Pulsipher, One Man Committee, and Dave Omman are both generally better at this stuff and higher on Marquette (7-seed) than I am, so if they are right, it's possible a 6-seed could also be in play. Let's get on with the full S-Curve:


2-Seeds: 8-DUKE 7-VILLANOVA 6-Kansas 5-Auburn

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

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

5-Seeds: 17-Connecticut 18-Alabama 19-HOUSTON 20-Texas

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

7-Seeds: 25-Ohio State 26-COLORADO STATE 27-Seton Hall 28-San Diego State

8-Seeds: 32-North Carolina 31-Michigan State 30-Marquette 29-MURRAY STATE

9-Seeds: 33-Boise State 34-Iowa State 35-San Francisco 36-Memphis

10-Seeds: 40-DAVIDSON 39-Miami 38-Tcu 37-Wake Forest

11-Seeds: 41-Creighton 42-Michigan 43-Vcu 44-Xavier 45-Wyoming







Last Four Byes: VCU, Creighton, Michigan, Wake Forest

Last Four In: Xavier, Wyoming, SMU, Notre Dame

Not Dead Yet: Rutgers, Florida, Indiana, Oklahoma

Tuesday, March 08, 2022


The regular season for #mubb has come to close and we are getting ready for the post season. Welcome into the THIS IS MARCH podcast. We first look back at the last week of the regular season and decide if there are take aways. We then look at the Big East bracket and discuss scenarios and make suggestions. Then it's NCAA tournament discussion time where we talk about seeding expectations, match up preferences, and location quandaries. The real season is upon us, everyone prepare and above all else, enjoy! https://mcdn.podbean.com/mf/web/8dsd76/ScrambledEggs_Editted_030822.mp3

Bid Thief Rap Sheets

Storm Murphy's Hokies & Kyle Lofton's Bonnies aim to steal NCAA bids
 Photo by William Howard | Getty Images

We made it through the first week and so far no bids have been stolen. Morehead State had a chance but came up short, Loyola-Chicago insured the only MVC bubble team would be in the NCAA Tournament proper, and Santa Clara gave St. Mary's a challenge but couldn't get across the finish line.

Now we move on to the big boys. A refresher on the rules. We are looking at bid thieves who are not on the bubble but could still steal a bid. That means teams like Xavier, Rutgers, or about a third of the ACC isn't being considered. This is looking to figure out the team who isn't on anyone's radar but is well-positioned to maybe sneak into their conference final, knowing that anything can happen in a one-game setting. The main factors are how the bracket fell, the matchups before the final, and the teams who are good enough to make noise in March despite not making enough noise in the months before March.

ACC: Virginia Tech

The Hokies have the DNA to make a run. Stylistically, they play very slow and are excellent shooting threes (#4 nationally). They are also on the opposite side of the bracket from Duke, which means avoiding the biggest bad until the final. They play the winner of Clemson/NC State, then if they win that would face Notre Dame, teams they went 3-1 against in the regular season. The only bad matchup on their side of the bracket is North Carolina, but the Hokies would be favored on a neutral court against anyone in the ACC not named Duke. Watch out for the Hokies, they might be the most likely bid thief in the country this week.

Big East: Butler

I'm not saying Butler will win it, but they certainly are well-positioned to do so. First of all, they are on the right side of the bracket. The three toughest teams in the league per Pomeroy are all on the opposite side of the bracket. If they can get past Xavier, they play a Providence team that they held second half leads on twice this season. In the semis, they would face either Marquette or Creighton, both teams they beat this year. Butler has also been a much better team with Bo Hodges in the lineup, so their low analytic rankings aren't as reflective of how good they've been of late. I don't expect a Big East bid thief, but if there is one, the Bulldogs are the team to do it.

Big 10: None

I don't buy anyone in that league going 5 wins in 5 days. The way this tournament is structured, it's just not realistic to predict anyone outside the top-9 (all of which are at least bubble teams) cutting nets.

Big 12: Kansas State

This is a huge mountain to climb, but if anyone in the Big 12 can do it, it's the Purple Kittens. Their side of the bracket features West Virginia, Kansas, Texas, and TCU. K-State beat all of those teams this season except Kansas, and they squandered a 17-point second half lead against the league's #1 seed in Manhattan. The Wildcats also have a tendency to play in close games, going 2-7 in games decided by one possession. If they can stay close and their luck normalizes a bit, this team could sneak into an autobid.

Pac-12: Colorado

This league produced a bid thief last year and it seems very possible this year as only three teams are safely in the field. Colorado opens play with the winner between the Oregon schools, both of whom they have defeated this year. Most likely Arizona awaits if they win, with Arizona State and Stanford the other possibilities. Collectively, the Buffalos went 7-3 against the teams on their side of the bracket, securing at least one win over each team. There's no one they haven't already beaten on their path to the final. Colorado has also won seven of their last eight, so they come in hot, with a win over top-seeded Arizona included in that stretch.

SEC: None

The double-bye format here makes it very difficult to see any shocking teams come through. The most likely candidates are the 7-10 seeds, but they collectively went 3-13 against the top three teams on their respective sides of the bracket, with no one winning more than one such game. I can't see any of them doubling that on short rest.

Mountain West: UNLV

The Running Rebels went 4-1 against teams not named Boise State on their side of the bracket, so they can play with these guys. The Broncos would be a tough impediment to make the final, but UNLV did have a second half lead against BSU in their home game earlier this season. Add in that UNLV will be playing this tourney on their home court and there's a real chance they could spoil a bubble team's week.

American: Wichita State

I think a bid thief here is unlikely, but if anyone can pull off a Shocker in this tournament, it's Wichita. WSU went 3-0 against their first and second round opponents, so a semifinal is certainly within reach. If they get there, the biggest challenge would potentially be Memphis. While I don't like the matchup for the Shockers, it's a better chance than anyone on the other side of the bracket would have with Houston.

Atlantic 10: St. Bonaventure

The Bonnies have fallen off the bubble, but it's not impossible they could make a surprise run to an autobid. They get a double-bye and their first opponent will be one of a St. Louis/La Salle/St. Joseph's trio that went 0-5 against St. Bonaventure this year. That would put them into a likely semifinal with Davidson, who beat them by 5 in their only meeting this year. The Bonnies could definitely be a team to watch on Selection Sunday, especially as they would steal that bid just hours before the Field of 68 Reveal.
At this point of the season, it's mostly teams playing for seeding. The bubble has shrunk considerably and we are including only 5 teams that have any possibility of coming in from the outside. The Last Four In are definitely still at risk, and could be knocked out either by losing their first conference tourney game, especially if there are bid thieves that shrink the field. Let's continue with the current S-Curve:

2-Seeds: 8-DUKE 7-VILLANOVA 6-Kansas 5-Auburn
3-Seeds: 9-Tennessee 10-PURDUE 11-Texas Tech 12-Illinois
4-Seeds: 16-Connecticut 15-Providence 14-Wisconsin 13-Ucla
5-Seeds: 17-Arkansas 18-St. Mary's 19-Alabama 20-HOUSTON
6-Seeds: 24-Iowa 23-Usc 22-Texas 21-Lsu
7-Seeds: 25-Ohio State 26-COLORADO STATE 27-Seton Hall 28-San Diego State
8-Seeds: 32-North Carolina 31-Michigan State 30-Marquette 29-MURRAY STATE
9-Seeds: 33-Boise State 34-Iowa State 35-San Francisco 36-Memphis
10-Seeds: 40-DAVIDSON 39-Miami 38-Tcu 37-Wake Forest
11-Seeds: 41-Creighton 42-Michigan 43-Vcu 44-Xavier 45-Wyoming
Last Four Byes: VCU, Creighton, Michigan, Wake Forest
Last Four In: Xavier, Wyoming, Smu, Notre Dame
Not Dead Yet: Rutgers, Florida, Indiana, BYU, Oklahoma

Saturday, March 05, 2022

Marquette Dreams and Nightmares

 Oscar Tshiebwe goes at Walker Kessler

Photo by Butch Dill | AP Photo

The regular season is about to wrap up and Marquette seems to be settling in to their seeding. This team likely has a ceiling of a 7-seed and floor of a 10-seed. With that in mind, we decided to dig into the different scenarios and look at which teams Marquette fans should be excited to see in the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament and which ones might mean a short stay in the Madness. For first round opponents, we looked at teams from the 8-seeds to Dayton and for the second round we looked at teams on the top three seed lines.

There were four main factors we considered. The first is Pick and Roll defense, because the majority of Marquette's offense (and nearly everything Tyler Kolek is praised for) comes from pick and roll, and the team has struggled with teams like Creighton and Butler that do well taking away pick and roll. The second is offensive rebounding rate, as Marquette's biggest defensive liability is giving up second chances and Marquette has struggled with teams like Connecticut and UCLA that are effective on the offensive glass. The third is offensive turnover rate, because Marquette has also struggled with teams like Wisconsin and St. Bonaventure that don't beat themselves with turnovers. The final factor considered was the presence of a potentially dominant big man. Marquette has struggled with the likes of Adama Sanogo and in two games turned Ryan Kalkbrenner into a star.

While none of these factors guarantee victory or defeat, the better teams are at Marquette's weaknesses the more likely we'll see a matchup problem that leads to an early exit, and the more Marquette is able to exploit opponent weaknesses, the more likely the team can make a deeper NCAA run. As we always hear, March is about matchups, so let's see who we want to match up with and who we want to avoid.

Opening Game

10-Seed Dream: Miami - Get excited if this is the draw. Miami is terrible at pick and roll defense, ranked #225, and worse at offensive rebounding, ranked #315. The Hurricanes have the ideal big man combo for opponents, Sam Waardenburg is efficient but his low usage makes him less effective, while his backup Anthony Walker is higher usage but low efficiency. It's a manageable front court. They don't turn the ball over much, ranked #7, so it's not all seashells and balloons, but this is a great matchup.

10-Seed Nightmare: Davidson - In general, the 10-seed matchups are pretty decent for Marquette, but Davidson is probably the toughest of them. They are elite at not turning the ball over, ranked #24 nationally, and Luka Brajkovic is a stretch-5 matchup nightmare that is a high-efficiency big who is great on the boards and shoots 42.3% from deep. Add in that Bob McKillop's offense is one of the toughest to prepare for on short notice and Davidson is a team I'd rather see playing elsewhere in their opener. On the upside, they don't defend pick and roll well, ranked #278, and aren't a good offensive rebounding team, ranked #292.

9-Seed Dream: Michigan State - The storyline here will clearly be around a certain letter writer, but this is desirable for more than a narrative. Sparty is a fine matchup as they are only average at pick and roll defense, ranked #69, and offensive rebounding, ranked #84. The real upside is they turn it over frequently, ranked #260, and their best big, Marcus Bingham, isn't getting enough minutes to be a game changer.

9 Seed Nightmare: North Carolina - The biggest problem here is Armando Bacot and the size UNC has available to them. Bacot has played at an All-American level and can play alongside another big body in Brady Manek. They are an average offensive rebounding team, rankedl #99, and also in turnover rate, ranked #70, so not much for Marquette to exploit there. UNC's weakness is pick and roll defense, ranked #214, so they aren't a true nightmare, but they're the worst on this line.

8-Seed Dream: Colorado State - While the Rams don't turn it over, ranked #12 in turnover rate, they are poor at pick and roll defense, ranked #170, and abysmal at offensive rebounding, ranked #339. While David Roddy is a versatile matchup difficulty, the 6'6" big spends as much time at the 4 as the 3 and they really don't have anyone in the mold of the players that have really hurt Marquette.

8-Seed Nightmare: Murray State - The good news is they don't have Ja Morant. The bad news is they do have KJ Williams, who would have every opportunity to become a household name if he played Marquette. The Racers aren't elite in pick and roll defense, ranked #93, or offensive turnover rate, ranked #81, but they are good enough that they aren't areas easy to exploit. They are an excellent offensive rebounding team, ranked #13. That is largely because of Williams, who can score, rebound, block shots, and even step out to hit threes.

7-Seed Dream: Boise State - Nothing Boise does would particularly bother Marquette. They are pretty average in pick and roll defense (#108), offensive rebounding (#71), and offensive turnover rate (#148). Center Mladen Armus is the lowest efficiency player in their rotation and is turnover prone. It wouldn't be an easy matchup, but if Marquette is on the 10-side of a 7/10 matchup, this is the team we want to see.

7-Seed Nightmare: USC -  This is a tough one. USC is a great offensive rebounding team, ranked #19 and anchored by Isaiah Mobley, who would be a pain for this defense. They also don't have any glaring weaknesses playing into Marquette's favor, ranked #143 in pick and roll defense and #81 in offensive turnover rate. The hope would be that maybe they are a paper tiger propped up by a soft schedule, but there is a lot to be concerned about with the Trojans.


Second Round

2-Seed Dream: Kansas - This isn't a great matchup, but we're talking about 2-seeds, so what do you expect? Kansas is mediocre against pick and roll, ranked #81, and is poor in offensive turnover rate at #153. They are a great offensive rebounding team, ranked #25, and have a potent big man in David McCormick, but his hit-or-miss nature makes him more desirable than the front lines of Duke or Auburn.

2-Seed Nightmare: Auburn - There's no good points about playing Auburn. Their pick and roll defense at #52 and offensive turnover rate at #63 aren't excellent, but they're good enough to be problematic, while they are excellent rebounding at #33 and have a dominant big in Walker Kessler backed up by a near equally effective Dylan Cardwell.

1-Seed Dream: Baylor - Of all the teams Marquette might see to get to the Sweet 16, Baylor just might be the most attractive. The biggest positives are the turn the ball over too much, ranked #187 in offensive turnover rate, and don't have a dominant big with the injury to Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua that also shortened a rotation that has already been injury plagued. Their pick and roll defense, ranked #70, is only average. While they are very good at offensive rebounding, ranked #7, they have been below their season average percent in every game since JTT was injured.

1-Seed Nightmare: Kentucky - Oh hell no. This is the worst matchup in the entire country for Marquette. From their #38 ranked pick and roll defense to their #1 ranked offensive rebounding rate to the likely National Player of the Year, the monstrous Oscar Tshiebwe, in the middle, there is nothing good about playing Kentucky. The biggest spot to exploit is their still respectable #66 offensive turnover rank. No good can come of this matchup.

Before we get to the S-Curve, a few notes. First, I have made a change to the "Last Four Byes" methodology. I do selection and seeding separately. I will continue to put the last four selected teams into Dayton, but everyone else is seeded on slightly different criteria than why they are selected. It's the reason a team like VCU is, in my opinion, safely in, but shows up on the 11-line. Their resume score (main factor in selection) makes them safe, but their average resume/metric score drags them back. The "Last Four In" at the bottom are the teams I actually selected last, so even if they appear higher than teams seeded below them, their spots are the most precarious. Finally, we are close enough to Selection Sunday that the "Next Four Out" are teams I do not believe can play their way in anymore, which is why they are in red text.


2-Seeds: 8-VILLANOVA 7-Auburn 6-Kansas 5-DUKE

3-Seeds: 9-Tennessee 10-Wisconsin 11-PURDUE 12-Texas Tech

4-Seeds: 16-HOUSTON 15-Providence 14-Ucla 13-Illinois

5-Seeds: 17-Arkansas 18-Texas 19-Connecticut 20-St. Mary's

6-Seeds: 24-Iowa 23-Lsu 22-Ohio State 21-Alabama

7-Seeds: 25-Seton Hall 26-Usc 27-SAN DIEGO STATE 28-Boise State

8-Seeds: 32-MURRAY STATE 31-Iowa State 30-Tcu 29-Colorado State

9-Seeds: 33-Marquette 34-Michigan State 35-San Francisco 36-North Carolina

10-Seeds: 40-Wyoming 39-Wake Forest 38-Miami 37-DAVIDSON

11-Seeds: 41-Vcu 42-Creighton 43-Xavier 44-Smu 45-Memphis

12-Seeds: 50-SOUTH DAKOTA STATE 49-NORTH TEXAS 48-LOYOLA CHICAGO 47-Michigan 46-Notre Dame






Last Four Byes: Xavier, Miami, North Carolina, Wake Forest

Last Four In: SMU, Memphis, Notre Dame, Michigan

First Four Out: Rutgers, BYU, Florida, Indiana

Next Four Out: Dayton, Belmont, Virginia Tech, Oregon