Sunday, December 18, 2011

W-12 BP68

It's been a slow week of college basketball - it is finals week after all. Next week will be more of the same. The good news is that at least Saturday gave us some good match-ups and good finishes. There have been some changes to the bracket: two teams entered the Field of 68, and two teams were necessarily dropped out. I moved Wichita State and Kansas State in, while dropping out Villanova and the University of Miami.

We're only 12 weeks from Selection Sunday, which doesn't sound like a particularly long time. Less than three months. We're just a little bit more than a week away from the start of most of the major conference regular seasons. That's when the college basketball season really gets started.

I want to emphasize this week that this post is a projection of where things will be on Selection Sunday, and not a statement on where things stand now. I had a couple people last week question why I do it that way. But as I said in the comments, the fact is that we all do some projecting. Almost no bracketologists just take the current leader of each conference as their conference champion. And an example I gave this past week was Texas A&M - a team well outside the Top 100 in Sagarin ELO_CHESS and that would have been nowhere near the bubble if the season actually ended now, but which was in almost every bracket in the Bracket Matrix. Why? Projections.

Since everybody is doing projecting, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me to have some vague, undefined combination of projections and "where things stand now". Besides, how exactly would you put a bracket projection out today without any conference records for the major conference teams? We have learned over the years how the Selection Committee weighs non-conference games, conference games, conference tournaments and the last 5/10 games. How would the Selection Committee come to decisions on December 18th? Who could know?

Sorry for the ramble, but hopefully that answers some questions readers have. Without further ado, here's my new bracket:


2. Duke
2. Louisville
2. Florida
2. TEXAS (BIG 12)

3. Kansas
3. Pittsburgh
3. Wisconsin
3. UConn

4. Marquette
4. Alabama

5. Georgetown
5. Baylor
5. Michigan

6. Xavier
6. Missouri

7. Indiana
7. West Virginia
7. Purdue
7. Vanderbilt

8. BYU
8. Florida State
8. Michigan State
8. New Mexico

9. Illinois
9. California
9. Saint Louis
9. Texas A&M

10. San Diego State
10. Stanford
10. Saint Mary's

11. Virginia
11. Northern Iowa
11. Northwestern

12. Washington
12. Virginia Tech
12. Wichita State
12. Oklahoma State
12. Kansas State





Teams seriously considered that just missed the cut:
Miami (Fl), NC State, St. Joseph's, Cincinnati, Seton Hall, Villanova, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Marshall, Southern Miss, Missouri State, Oregon State, Washington State, Mississippi, Mississippi State

Other teams with a decent shot, but that need to improve their resume:
Clemson, Dayton, Richmond, Nebraska, Iowa State, VCU, Central Florida, Cleveland State, Indiana State, Boise State, UCLA, Oregon, Arkansas, New Mexico State

Other teams I'm keeping my eye on, but that need to dramatically improve their resume:
Georgia Tech, Maryland, Duquesne, La Salle, St. Bonaventure, Notre Dame, Providence, Rutgers, South Florida, Iowa, Drexel, James Madison, Old Dominion, UAB, Tulane, Tulsa, UW-Milwaukee, Kent State, Ohio, Drake, Illinois State, TCU, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona State, USC, Auburn, Georgia, LSU, South Carolina, Tennessee, Charleston, Denver, Nevada


Anonymous said...

So what's your obvious bias against Miss. State?

Jeff said...

I've been accused of having a bias both for and against many dozens of different teams. It's a good sign, in my opinion.

Anyway, the Mississippi State issue was beaten to death over the past week on this post.

You are welcome to disagree with me on putting them in the Field of 68, and you might be right, but I don't think there's any question that Mississippi State is a bubble team. Even if you put them in the field you've got to have them as a 9-12 seed. In no way do they deserve to be ranked as high as they are in the human polls.

Anonymous said...

Well, I went back and read your post and comments.

I don't agree with the statement that you think State is over-performing and other teams are having "off nights" or "cold shooting".

You are what you're record says you are. Plus, I think some are holding MSU accountable for the chaotic season they had last year. Its practically a new team with an entirely new dynamic.

There are 3 (possibly 4) future NBA players on this team so to say they have over performed is a stretch. To a lot of analysts, they are finally performing up to their potential.

Jeff said...

Even if four players from this Mississippi State team make the NBA some day (and that's unlikely) it doesn't matter. That's not a factor that the Selection Committee considers.

The fact is that by any objective "luck" metric, Mississippi State has been lucky so far. Now sometimes teams finish an entire season with extremely good or bad luck, but it's unlikely. It's not something I'd bet on or project for any individual team.

Anonymous said...

What are your thoughts on Washington getting blown out at home by South Dakota State? Now they're only 5-5 with their best win being UC-Santa Barbara. CSU-Northridge and Seattle are the only OOC games left, so the best they can do is 7-5. With how weak the Pac 12 is this year, will 12-6 even be enough to guarantee a bid with that pathetic OOC resume?

They're looking alot like last year's Alabama team. Bad OOC results, weak conference schedule which is going to lead to terrible computer numbers. 12-4 wasn't even good enough for them, so...

Jeff said...

You know, I think you're exactly right with comparing Washington to last year's Alabama team. If anything, it's more difficult for Washington since they don't get to play any elite teams in conference, while Alabama at least got one game against each team from the SEC East (they got a win over Kentucky).

Assuming Washington does finish 7-5 in their non-conference slate, I don't think that even 12-6 is likely to be enough. That would make them 19-11 with their best wins coming against the likes of Cal or Arizona, and bad losses to South Dakota State, Nevada, and whoever they lose to from the bottom half of the Pac-12. Their only chance would be making the finals of the Pac-12 tournament and getting a weak bubble.

If I was doing my bracket today instead of late last night, I'd drop Washington out. I don't see how they're consistent enough to win enough games and to avoid another bad loss or two in conference play.

DMoore said...

So if you'd drop Washington out, who would you move in? Is your Teams Seriously Considered list in order of strength/likelihood to move into the projected field?

Jeff said...

It's alphabetized, by conference and then by teams within each conference.

I think the next team in is probably either Southern Miss or Mississippi State.

Charles said...

Yes, I am the Michigan St. fan from last week. I didnt really even mention them last week though.

But I can't hold back this week. You really think Purdue is going to finish with a higher seed than the Spartans? Michigan? Possible, probably not though. Indiana? Possible, probably not though. Yes, MSU was sluggish against Bowling Green but Purdue is just bad. I'm starting to think you have a degree from Purdue Ha.

Jeff said...

Yes, I spent half of my college career at Purdue and half at Ole Miss, that's why I love Purdue and hate Mississippi State. You figured it out...

In all seriousness, it's natural to assume that the results a team has had so far will continue. But it doesn't happen. Indiana is going to have a reality check at some point, and Purdue is still a team that is finding themselves. Without two brutal losses in the final minute, Purdue would be ranked the in the Top Ten.

The difference between being Top Ten and being a team that is "just bad" is more than just a few minutes of performance over two games.

Anonymous said...

Anon Rob, back again.

Wow! MSU - still not good enough to warrent the invite? So long as we are 3-0 over teams you currently have in tourny, you will continue to look as if you have a bias against MSU because it doesn't make any sense. I love this ..."by any objective measure, we are a "lucky team"." I realize basketball polls don't mean too much at this point, but to suggest that we don't deserve our ranking is a bit asinine and offensive. Does Vandy, Bama, Memphis, Texas A&M deserve rankings? I'm sure there are more.

The only reason I came to this site was because you were apparently the only oddball that didn't include us in the tournament out of 20 other "polls" so I had to click to check it out.

So who's really the one being objective? It seems you've got your heels dug it at this point. I hope you aren't on the committee.

Jeff said...

I don't know of any other websites that project where teams will be on Selection Sunday, so by definition I'm an "oddball".

Go look at what the Bracket Matrix had in mid-December of previous seasons versus where those teams end up in March. There are a lot of big changes every year. I'm trying my best to project how things will change. I get some wrong, but I feel like my record is pretty good.

Go back and read my bracket projections from two seasons ago, where I had Rhode Island fans furious at me. At one point they were 19-3 with an RPI inside the Top 15, and a pair of RPI Top 50 wins with zero bad losses. They were a 6-7 seed in the Bracket Matrix. But I stuck to my guns, never put them in my bracket, and they finished 4-6 down the stretch and ended up in the NIT.

I've explained why I feel the way I do about Mississippi State's future. You are free to disagree. Each of us have a probability of being right. We'll see what ends up happening.

Slim Smith said...

Dude. On the NCAA Matrix, you are the only one out of 24 that leaves Mississippi State off. What's the deal? Double-digit wins over W. Va., Arizona and Texas A&M seem OK to me. They lost one game, to Akron, in the second game of the season and are ranked 16th/17th in the polls. There must be some bad blood there, huh?

Slim Smith said...

One final point (after reading your views on a previous post about the unimpressive wins by MSU). Three starters have missed a combined 9 games. I guess that doesn't matter, either. yeah, they are just lucky. Funny, none of the other bracketologists seem to hold this view. Of course, it doesn't really matter in the long run, unless, of course you place some value on your credibility. It's no skin off my nose, after all.

Anonymous said...

I have to spell this out for you? Bracket Matrix IS what I'm talking about. It list teams ranked by projected seed across 24 different polsters.. which includes you.

Collectively, MSU is seen as deserving of a 6th seed. You are the ONLY one (hence the oddball reference) that doesn't have us in. It sticks out like a sore thumb, but congrats - it also cause me to click on your site.

Again - it's all an opinion, but to repeatedly use "luck" and say we aren't deserving is extremely bogus when you really don't know that much about us. yada yada, I know you'll say you watched us recently, but seriously... you are being irrational for some reason and I can see you angling to excuse it all as "probabilities".

Yeah, well I can claim Akron & Detroit make the tournament just as well and shrug off any objection as mere "probabilities" also.

Now, your disrespect aside, my only concern about our team is if Moultrie stays healthy. If he does, it's highly unlikely that we miss the tourny and most casual observers are beginning to realize that.

Jeff said...

Guys, let me explain this again. To paraphrase a famous politician, the Bracket Matrix is full of apples, and I'm talking about oranges.

The other brackets are saying where is the Field of 68 right now. I'm trying to project where it's going to be in March.

As I have said numerous times, if the NCAA Tournament was being selected today, Mississippi State would be in. They'd probably be something like a 6-9 seed. So I don't disagree with the Bracket Matrix at all.

I will explain the concept of luck one more time. On Selection Sunday, your luck is irrelevant. Teams are not judged by how good they are, but how good their resume is. If you've gotten lucky and have a resume better than you deserve then you'll be seeded high, and I'll probably pick you to lose early in the NCAA Tournament. The other brackets in the Bracket Matrix are doing just that - they're judging teams on their resumes. And I can assure you that when I do my last bracket on Selection Sunday I'll judge teams solely on their resumes as well.

But until then, I'm projecting how teams are going to do from here on out. I'm trying to project what each team's resume is going to look like in March, not now. So teams that I project will have better results henceforth than they've had so far will be seeded higher here than they are in the Bracket Matrix, and vice versa.

Does that make sense?

Anonymous said...

okay -one more request (from Anon Rob) - you have Southern Miss on par with MSU as "first one's out". Nothing against USM, but exactly what in their schedule or performance do see as justifying that?

You excuse every single nice win we have, yet I can't see a single victory on their schedule that ranks above our top 3 (though I think beating umiss was a solid win) and I suspect Akron could top Denver. In all honesty though, I can't claim I've watched them play so it could be they are unlucky as hell.

Jeff said...

Let me also add, again, the links to what the computers are projecting:



Both of them have MSU with numbers that would put them right on the NCAA Tournament bubble, and more likely than not narrowly out. The computer numbers need to be taken with a grain of salt this early in the season, but I just present them so you realize that my projections are right in the ballpark with what the best computer models project as well.

You can disagree. But it certainly doesn't make me a crazy, ignorant hater to be in line with Sagarin & Pomeroy.

Anonymous said...

(Rob) - We get your methond...really. It doesn't make it more logical and by the way, that's the same thing that everyone else is doing. Of course teams can earn their way in or out from today until tourny time but you seem intent on acting like we are a giant fluke.

So let's just cut to the chase. Your crystal ball has State on the outside, so you MUST think we loose at least 10 games? At this point that comes down to almost 50-50 record in the sec. Possible, but like you said... ANYTHING is possible. Tell us State projected final record then we can move on for now.

Jeff said...

The Southern Miss resume right now isn't as good as the MIssissippi State resume, though it's not too far off. What I like about them is their potential. Their two losses consisted of a double overtime loss in Alaska, and a narrow loss at altitude in Denver, and both losses were to teams likely to finish in the RPI Top 100.

Southern Miss also has played well in true road games, winning decisively at Colorado State and Southern Alabama. Mississippi State just had their first true road game, at Detroit, and it went down to the final seconds. They're probably going to have to finish at least 3-5 in road games in the SEC to make the NCAA Tournament, and I think that's an iffy proposition at best.

Southern Miss, if they can get past Arizona St and South Florida over the next week, would only need to go 11-5 in CUSA play to have an excellent shot at an at-large bid on Selection Sunday. They seems eminently reasonable to me.

Jeff said...

If Mississippi State beats Utah State and loses to Baylor, and then goes 9-7 in SEC play and then wins one game in the SEC tournament before being dispatched, they'll be 23-10 and right on the Tournament bubble. If the bubble is strong this year then they'll be out.

You may think 9-7 is pessimistic, but look at Mississippi State's schedule. I'd say 8-8 is more likely than 10-6.

Jeff said...

By the way, I just checked both Sagarin & Pomeroy, and both project MSU more likely to finish 8-8 than 10-6 as well. So once again I'm in line with the two best computer ratings.

I might be wrong, but I might not be.

Anonymous said...

If State goes 9-7, we are in, not on the bubble unless the SEC just absolutely folds (and they have taken their lumps with Vandy & Bama lately....... but they are in!)

MSU hasn't done WORSE than 9-7 in 5 years and only once in 8.

Btw, I would think everyone would adknowledge that the computers can't be perfect, so why do you keep using Sagarin & Pomeroy to justify yourself in this specific instance? For goodness sakes, man you just said our resume was better than Southern's, yet Sagarin has them in the top 20!!! Therefore you don't always follow the computers.

But I do appreciate your giving me your prediction. We'll see how it works out. 3-5 on road IFFY at best?? We may not be great, but we are one of the better road teams in the conference over the last 10 years. Besides, 3-5 on road might easily get us to 10 or 11 wins in the conference. Geez dude, you either really don't like us, or more likely, don't know anything about us.

Jeff said...

You're trying very hard to spin the stats, but the facts are the facts. If you want to look at recent history, Mississippi State has finished better than 9-7 in the SEC only once in the past seven seasons.

You say a 3-5 road record will mean 10 or 11 conference wins? That means going 7-1 or 8-0 in home games, which include Alabama and Kentucky. A win in either game would be an upset, and it is very unlikely that MSU will go 6-0 in their other home games anyway.

And, no, going 9-7 in the SEC would not lock anybody into the NCAA Tournament.

It seems you want it both ways. You want to use the fact that MSU has tended to go 8-8 or 9-7 in recent years against a weak SEC as evidence that they'll do better than 9-7 this year, but then you want to use the fact that the SEC is stronger this year than it's been in recent years as proof that a 9-7 record will get them into the NCAA Tournament.

Those arguments can't both work at the same time. You have to pick one.

Jeff said...

By the way, the point of the computer ratings isn't to take them as gospel, it's to understand them. Why is it that a team is rated where they are? And then once you do, you can judge whether the computers are right or wrong.

Southern Miss is overrated by Sagarin, and I can tell you precisely why. It's because both Murray State and Denver are way overrated. Over time those two teams will fade in the Sagarin ratings, and Southern Miss will fade as well.

But don't dismiss the ratings out of hand. Until you understand where they're coming from, you're not in a position to judge them.

Anonymous said...

O good grief, I wasn't trying to be misleading, I said 9-7 was likely good enough to get in this year and we don't usually do worse than that.

And beating bama at home would not be considered by most of us to be that big of an upset.

But to point out your hypocrisy, YOU want it both ways.. we aren't good enough, yet you listed the very teams we've beaten ahead of us. Additionally you still have Bama & Vandy in (who hasn't done squat yet) in ahead of us. Booo! Check in next week.

Jeff said...

Beating Bama wouldn't be a huge upset. But neither would losing to LSU or South Carolina.

You're committing the classic fan fallacy of thinking your team will pull a few upsets, but discounting the fact that they're just as likely to be upset a few times by opponents you find inferior.

And I'll be here all season long. When I get a projection wrong I'm honest about it and try to learn - there's always going to be uncertainty when projecting the future. The people who never come back are the ones that tell me I'm an idiot and hate their team after I've ended up being right on Selection Sunday.

Des said...

Now that Texas has picked up a couple of quality wins (i.e against Temple etc.), I can begin to see where they can be with that 2 seed especially with Kabongo's massive improvement at the point. I still wonder whether they can get enough wins (i.e run through the big 12) to attain it though. we all know how iffy Rick Barne's coaching is.. and they absolutely locked to drop a couple games to the bottom half of the league.

I still dont see how Arizona can get a 4 seed. Yes sure they will improve since they got plenty of young talent and the lack of a reliable point guard now.. but Pac 12 is just so bad and Arizona will definitely start off the conference season in consistent.. (although You can lock in games against Utah, Coloroda, USC etc. as wins already lol), I dont think they will get enough wins for a 4 seed.

I also think that the winners of the CAA and Horizon will get 14 seeds in place of Long Beach State/UC Santa Barbara and Murray State. The committee is sure to be biased by all the hype going on and Murray State has a history of absolutely destroying the conference (going 19-1 etc.)and they still have upperclassmen from those seasons. Would be great to see if they can actually earn a 11-12 seed or so.

Jeff said...

Texas doesn't need to run away with the Big 12 to get a good seed. The Big 12 is the second best conference in the country. If Texas (or Kansas or Baylor, for that matter) goes 13-5 and wins the Big 12 tournament then that will be good enough for a 2 seed.

As for Arizona, I did want to drop them to a 5, but didn't like my choices to move ahead of them. So I left them as a 4. Obviously they're going to need to go 13-5 or 14-4 in the Pac-12 to achieve that, though. I'm definitely worried about their consistency, as you said.

I understand what you're saying about the smaller conferences, but hype can be so fleeting. Think about all the hype Long Beach State was getting three weeks ago. What happened to all that? Murray State is the team du jour, but if they lose a couple of games going forward they'll be quickly forgotten.

I do hope that the Tournament gives reasonable opponents to teams like Long Beach State, Iona, Murray State and Belmont. I'd much rather watch those teams win a game or two in the NCAA Tournament than some team that went 9-9 in the Big East.

DMoore said...

It seems like every other article talks about a mid-major that is really good, but will struggle to get into the tourney because of the strong competition in their conference this year.

On the other hand, tons of articles talk about how the ACC is down, the Big East is down, and the Pac 12 is horrible. I see the Big 12 mentioned as the 2nd strongest conference, and so far Kansas and Texas have looked somewhere between spotty and mediocre. Maybe your prediction of how good Texas will be comes true, but so far they have utterly failed the eye test.

Could this translate to the rare year where a decent number of mid majors get at large bids? When I see your list of "just missed the cut" teams, along with your 11 and 12 seeds, there's a sea of undeserving power conference teams. Rhetorically, how bad do the major teams need to be to get denied, and how good do the mid-majors have to be for them to get bids? Do all of those major teams need to falter before mid majors get seriously considered?

Jeff said...

It's a good question. You know my belief, which is that I'd much rather see a team like Long Beach State or Charleston that loses its conference tournament earning those last at-large bids than some 9-9 Big 12 team or 8-8 ACC team.

But that said, the experience of the past is that teams from the smaller conferences (the "mid-major" conferences other than the A-10, Colonial, CUSA, MVC, MWC, WAC & WCC) are always one big leagues. The Selection Committee simply never takes them seriously. Just look at how Harvard got denied last season, and wasn't even considered seriously on Selection Sunday, even though they were clearly a "better" team with a better resume than some of the teams that got in.

I do think that this year the gap between the SoCon and Sun Belts of the world and the Pac-12 and ACC's of the world is lower than it's ever been. But I don't think it's close enough that the Selection Committee will let one of them in. At least that's my feeling at this point in the season.

The best test, I think, would be if Murray State went 28-2, or something like that. That would challenge the Selection Committee by offering them something difference - no team with a record that good has been denied an at-large bid in the modern era.