This year's Selection Sunday is different from most year's in the past in where the uncertainty lies. In most years, the bubble has been down to just three or four spots, and there was general agreement of the small number of teams on that bubble. At the same time, we had quite a few teams whose resumes were well out of whack with how good they were, and we had the potential for a real "Region Of Death" (the most famous recent case being Wichita State 2014).
This year, we have fewer teams with resumes way out of whack with how good they are. The most glaring examples are Wichita State being much better than their resume and St. Bonaventure being much worse. So you want to hope not to get seeded against Wichita State (assuming that they get in, which is not a certainty). But in general, I doubt we'll see a true "Region Of Death" this year.
At the same time, we have a big, confusing bubble this year, made more confusing by the fact that the Selection Committee seemed to incorporate a little bit of the Pomeroy ratings into their selections last season. How much will advanced metrics (and how "good" a team actually is) play into selection this season? If they continue that trend, maybe a team like St. Bonaventure could actually drop out? In the end, we're all just basically guessing on a Selection criteria for those last few teams.
My philosophy on this, as I have stated all year, is that ratings like Pomeroy are going to be used as a "tiebreak", of sorts. RPI will still be used to group the teams, their wins, their losses, their schedule strengths, etc. But when two teams are close, and there's a debate in the room, the Pomeroy ratings will get mentioned, and they could cause a team to slide up or down a seed line. So Wichita State's #12 ranking in Pomeroy isn't earning them a 3 seed, or even a 6 seed. But their #12 ranking in Pomeroy could be the difference between getting in and getting left out.
Remember that bracketology is an inexact science, and we've had some inexplicable teams get in (UCLA last year, for example), but in my opinion the true bubble is ten teams for five spots. Those ten teams consist of the five teams I've got as 11 seeds, plus the five teams in the first category out.
In my opinion, Vanderbilt's resume is stronger than given credit for. They're strong across the board, regardless of what you're looking for, and the advanced metrics like them, too. My only significant concern for Vanderbilt is that 3-9 road record. If San Diego State gets in it's going to be because of their RPI NCSOS, because the rest of their resume just doesn't support it. A single big win does not a resume make. I'm also unexcited about Temple's resume, which boils down entirely to an AAC regular season title. History says that regular season conference titles don't buy you much on Selection Sunday.
Michigan is probably the toughest resume on the bubble. They have four big wins, but also have an ugly 4-12 record vs the RPI Top 100. They will be a good test of the Selection Committee's philosophy this season. Their closest comparison in terms of resume is probably Syracuse, though if you drill down I do think Michigan's resume is stronger. The only case for Syracuse over Michigan is that Syracuse won at Duke while Michigan went 0-6 on the road vs the RPI Top 100. Michigan also has the "last impression" edge with that win over Indiana this week, while Syracuse went down meekly in the ACC tournament. That's why I'm giving the edge to Michigan.
If I get a team wrong, my bet is on San Diego State getting in over Michigan. But trying to comp those two, with such disparate resumes, is why this year is so tough. It's just so hard to compare so many of these resumes head-to-head. My guess is that most of us get something like 66/68 teams right. Anybody who gets all 68 right was more "lucky" than "good."
1. KANSAS (BIG 12)
1. MICHIGAN STATE (BIG TEN)
1. NORTH CAROLINA (ACC)
1. OREGON (PAC-12)
2. West Virginia
3. KENTUCKY (SEC)
4. Texas A&M
4. SETON HALL (BIG EAST)
5. Iowa State
6. SAINT JOSEPH'S (ATLANTIC TEN)
7. Notre Dame
8. Texas Tech
8. UCONN (AAC)
9. St. Bonaventure
9. Oregon State
10. GONZAGA (WCC)
10. Wichita State
11. Saint Mary's
11. ARKANSAS-LITTLE ROCK (SUN BELT)
12. SOUTH DAKOTA STATE (SUMMIT)
12. NORTHERN IOWA (MISSOURI VALLEY)
12. CHATTANOOGA (SOUTHERN)
12. STONY BROOK (AMERICA EAST)
13. FRESNO STATE (MOUNTAIN WEST)
13. YALE (IVY LEAGUE)
13. UNC-WILMINGTON (COLONIAL)
13. HAWAII (BIG WEST)
14. STEPHEN F. AUSTIN (SOUTHLAND)
14. MIDDLE TENNESSEE (CONFERENCE USA)
14. BUFFALO (MAC)
14. IONA (MAAC)
15. GREEN BAY (HORIZON)
15. WEBER STATE (BIG SKY)
15. CAL STATE BAKERSFIELD (WAC)
15. UNC-ASHEVILLE (BIG SOUTH)
16. SOUTHERN (SWAC)
16. HAMPTON (MEAC)
16. AUSTIN PEAY (OVC)
16. FLORIDA GULF COAST (ATLANTIC SUN)
16. FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON (NEC)
16. HOLY CROSS (PATRIOT)
If I missed somebody on the bubble, these are the most likely teams:
Temple, Syracuse, San Diego State, Florida, South Carolina
Other more distant possibilities - that could possibly get a bid but probably shouldn't
George Washington, Tulsa, Ohio State, Valparaiso, Hofstra, Princeton, Akron, Alabama, Georgia