Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Post-Midnight Madness BP68

This will be the last BP68 before the W-17 BP68, which will come out on Sunday, November 14th (17 months before Selection Sunday). There have been quite a few movers since the last BP68, which is here.

Purdue drops because of the Robbie Hummel injury, of course. North Carolina also has to drop a couple of spots because Will Graves was kicked off the team. I never particularly liked Graves, who was always a bit of a knucklehead on the court, but with the Wear Twins gone his loss really makes the team thin in the frontcourt. Baylor has to drop because of the LaceDarius Dunn incident, although not too far since there's still a decent chance that Baylor brings him back before they play any important games.

In my last BP68 I had Michigan State #1 overall, with Duke #2. This time I'm flipping those two teams. Michigan State has some injury problems that will test their depth. In addition, the ACC is really falling into place for Duke. The conference will be deep, but I don't see how any team seriously contends with Duke. The Blue Devils could easily go 14-2 or 15-1 in conference play. Michigan State has much more competition in the Big Ten. Purdue will be tough at home, even with the Robbie Hummel injury. The Spartans will be challenged for the Big Ten title by Ohio State, another team they have to visit during the regular season. They also have to head to Illinois and Wisconsin, two teams that could end up in the Top 25, and probably the two teams with the strongest home court advantages in the Big Ten. Even if Michigan State wins the conference they might do it with a 14-4 or 13-5 record, and that's why I give Duke the edge on the #1 overall seed in the Tournament.

One other thing to take into account with the BP68 is trying to narrow down the format. What we know is that they will make a field of 68, and there will be four first round games. Two of those games will pit the last four at-large teams against each other, and the other two games will pit the last four auto-bid teams. That latter games are easy - there will be six 16 seeds. But let's say that the last two at-large teams get an 11 and 12 seed. In that case, does the second-to-last at-large team get a 12 seed, and the last at-large team gets an 11 seed? That's what seems to make the most sense, but it's a little tough to project when the worst at-large team could be getting an 11 seed. In the bracket below, the final two at-large spots are both 12 seeds, so I'm just going to put in six 12 seeds. If it turns out that I'm wrong, I'll change the format on the fly, as all bracketologists will have to.

For now, here's how I see things ending up on Selection Sunday:

1. TEXAS (BIG 12)

2. Kansas State
2. Ohio State

3. Georgetown
3. Kansas
3. Kentucky
3. Syracuse

4. Florida
4. BYU (MWC)
4. North Carolina

5. Purdue
5. Virginia Tech

6. Baylor
6. Illinois
6. Texas A&M

7. New Mexico
7. Wisconsin
7. Villanova

8. Temple
8. Arizona State

9. Louisville
9. San Diego State
9. Oklahoma State
9. Missouri

10. West Virginia
10. UTEP
10. Vanderbilt
10. Clemson

11. Marquette
11. California
11. Miami (Fl)
11. Florida State

12. Maryland
12. Northwestern
12. Mississippi
12. UConn
12. Boston College
12. St. John's

13. OHIO (MAC)




Teams seriously considered that just missed the cut:
NC State, Dayton, Saint Louis, Notre Dame, Seton Hall, Minnesota, VCU, Creighton, South Carolina, Saint Mary's

Other teams with a decent shot to get onto the bubble:
Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Duquesne, Richmond, Indiana, George Mason, UAB, Fairfield, Missouri State, Northern Iowa, Colorado State, Arizona, UCLA, USC, Arkansas, Mississippi State, New Mexico State

Other teams I'm keeping my eye on:
Charlotte, Rhode Island, Cincinnati, South Florida, Michigan, Penn State, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, UC Santa Barbara, Northeastern, Central Florida, Southern Miss, Tulsa, Cleveland State, Wright State, Princeton, St. Peter's, Siena, Akron, Kent State, Bradley, Southern Illinois, Utah, Oregon, Stanford, Washington State, Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Portland, Fresno State, Nevada


JohnF said...

Did I count 10 Big East schools in your bracket? That seems a bit excessive, even for me (an ND grad).

Jeff said...

Yeah, in retrospect I probably should have put in only 9. Remember that the field expands this year, and the past few years the Big East has had 8 in the field and at least one team very close on the outside.

The ACC will be down, as will the SEC, so somebody will have to take advantage of that, be it the Big East, Big Ten, Atlantic Ten or some other conference.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jeff,

I'm in a pool that rewards you for total number of wins vs. DI opponents. It includes conference tournaments but excludes March Madness. Who would you like in this format. I'm able to pick four teams. Thus far- I like Duke, SDSU, Utah State and Murray State as I think these four could do some big damage and rack up wins in their respective leagues. Last year, the league was won with Siena, ODU, BYU and Kansas. Who else would you put on this list? Btw, love your blog!

Jeff said...

That's an interesting pool. And I think your picks are pretty good, but I'd change one.

Duke is clearly the best pick of any major conference team. They are the #1 team, and don't have a serious contender in their conference. I'll be shocked if they have less than 28 wins heading into the Tournament, and will most likely be over 30.

Murray State and Utah State are good picks as well. Utah State is very safe because they should destroy what will be a weak WAC. I also think Murray State will be even better than last year.

San Diego State is the one team I'd lay off. I know they were picked by the media to win the MWC, but I disagree. And however it turns out, the top four teams in the MWC will all be very close and will beat up on each other. Also, the bottom of the MWC will be stronger than last year, and that will hurt the record of whichever team wins the conference. San Diego State also has a tougher out of conference slate than BYU had last season.

Gonzaga is always a good pick because they won't lose more than one game in conference, but I actually think the better pick is Butler. They never lose more than one game in conference either, and their toughest conference opponent isn't nearly as tough as Saint Mary's.

The Zags will likely lose a game at the CBE Classic (just look at the bracket), and then have to play Xavier, Memphis, San Diego State, Illinois and Xavier at home, plus Wake Forest, Notre Dame and Baylor on the road. Butler will play Duke on a neutral court, as well as tough games at the Diamond Head Classic. But other than that, they'll only be seriously tested at Louisville and Xavier.

I would project (including conference tournament games) 27-4 for Butler and 26-6 for Gonzaga. But both would be good picks.

I would also view Xavier, Memphis and Old Dominion as good picks. My biggest worry about Xavier is that the schedule will be too tough in the Atlantic Ten, and my biggest worry with Memphis is that there are so many question marks around the very young team, particularly since Will Barton isn't even eligible yet. The worry about Old Dominion is simply whether they will be able to handle expectations - they should win the Colonial fairly handily.

Anonymous said...

Jeff, thanks. A few teams that popped into my radar for the pool are- Wichita State, North Texas, Quinnipiac, Morgan State, Long Beach State, UCSB. I stay away from the Ivy League schools because they have no conference tournament.

I looked at the other schools you mentioned. My thoughts with Butler are they have a pretty touch non-conference schedule and w/o Gordon, can the still win 27 games. Xavier will play in a tough A-10 and Temple looks like a pretty good squad. ODU is good but they lose Gerald Lee and have to play VCU and George Mason who will both be tough. Memphis, like you said, has some unknowns.

I agree with your San Diego State call because BYU, UNLV and New Mexico will all beat each other up all year.

Can you give me some projections from the schools I mentioned? Also, if you're interested in participating in the pool, you're welcome to.

Jeff said...

Butler is going to take a step back, but to be honest Gordon Hayward was overrated (many people would have their minds blown to find out he shot 29% behind the arc last season). Butler still has one good year in them before they lose Shelvin Mack (he's only a junior, but he's expected to go pro). And the thing is that even a couple of years ago when Butler was at best a marginal Top 25 team they were still blowing through the Horizon with a 15-3 or 16-2 record. You're right to be more worried about ODU - I think Butler and Gonzaga are better picks. I just think ODU is a pretty safe 24-25+ wins.

I definitely wouldn't take North Texas or UCSB because I'm projecting both to fail to win their conferences. I did take Long Beach State to win the Big West, but nobody ever wins a lot of games in that conference. It's been five years since any Big West team won more than 24 games. Throwing in the fact that it's not clear who will win the conference, I'd definitely lay off. That conference is so hard to project every year because all of the top teams rely so heavily on transfers. In the Sun Belt I'm taking Western Kentucky, and I think that conference is going to be a lot deeper, and it's going to be really tough for a team to win the 28-29 games that South Alabama and Western Kentucky were winning a few years back.

As for Morgan State, I am picking them to win the MEAC again, but they won't be as good as they were last year. And other than last year, it's been a really long time since any team won 25 games in that horrid conference.

Quinnipiac might be a decent pick, but I'm picking them to lose the conference to Mt. Saint Mary's. If you think I'm wrong, though, 23-26 wins is pretty typical for the winner for the winner of the NEC, because they play 18 games and so much of the conference is atrocious.

I did pick Wichita State to win the Missouri Valley, but that conference is always such a grind. If you think they'll dominate the conference then go for it, but in my opinion it's too big of a risk.

For a contest like that you want sure things - you want teams where you can take 24 wins in the bank, and have a chance of 28-30. So to me, teams like Duke, Utah State, Gonzaga, Butler and Murray State are all guaranteed 24 wins, with a good shot at more. All are heavy, heavy favorites to win their respective conferences.

DMoore said...

"The ACC will be down"

Well, the ACC will be different.

Some ACC team other than Duke will win a strong number of games, but that team isn't likely to be taken too seriously because it won't be a big name school like UNC or even Maryland. Instead, it'll be a Virginia Tech or Florida State or NC State. The conference also won't be taken seriously because Duke is likely to have a sick number of wins in conference.

My point is that the depth of the conference is still pretty good. How down can it be when you predict 8 of the 12 teams to make the tourney?

Jeff said...

DMoore, I absolutely agree with you. In this very post, this is what I said about the ACC:

"In addition, the ACC is really falling into place for Duke. The conference will be deep, but I don't see how any team seriously contends with Duke. The Blue Devils could easily go 14-2 or 15-1 in conference play."

So in the comments just now I shortened that - my point wasn't that the ACC will not be one of the best conferences, but simply that it is falling into place for Duke to have a great conference record and breeze to the conference title.

I very much agree that the ACC will be very strong from the 5th-through-12th team. Even the last placed ACC team will be pesky. But what the ACC is lacking is another Top 15 team to challenge Duke. That was all I was saying.

Anonymous said...

Okay, Jeff. Thanks. Last thing- who would be the better bet- Duke&ODU or Zags&Butler? Unless, I'm missing a school entirely? I can't take Duke and Butler or Zags. Rules are detailed but it's based on the pre-season top-25. However, I can take Butler & Zags. I'm sold on USU and Murray ST. Thanks again!

Jeff said...

Also, I agree with you that in general the mainstream media judges conferences by how many Top 15 teams they have and how the glamor teams are doing. So the ACC can be the best conference in the land, but if Duke is the only ACC team ranked in the Top 15 and UNC is way back, the media perception will be that the ACC is down.

But you know me. If there's any writer who won't fall for that, it's me. I've been the one hammering the Big East the past couple of years as completely overrated because nobody takes into account how poor the bottom of the conference is. And I was the one who "overrated" Duke and the ACC last season.

Jeff said...

As for Duke+ODU or Zags+Butler, that's a tough choice. I think both pairs are looking at 52-54 combined wins. Duke/ODU probably has the higher ceiling, because if Duke really is a dominant top team in the country and ODU runs through the CAA then you could be looking at 58-59 wins. But at the same time Zags/Butler is probably safer - I just don't see any way those two teams combine for less than 50-52 wins, while there's always a chance that Duke and ODU underperform and fail to get more than about 45-48.

So I'd say that Duke/ODU has the higher ceiling, and Butler/Zags is safer. You can't really go wrong with either pair. You'll have to make a judgment based on how many people you're competing with and how good they are.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Jeff. Look forward to keeping up with your blog during the season. I started following it right before March Madness last year! Take care!

Jeff said...

No problem. I'll see you in the comments section!