Posted by deaconcat08 on March 11, 2012
Well… the day has finally arrived! Our Christmas presents will be revealed for us tonight at 6:00. Here are the final seeds I have assigned to the NCAA and NIT tourney fields. I will publish a full bracket with seeds, sites, and game times later this afternoon, but I thought I would go ahead and just post the seeds so that you have an idea if your team is in or out and along what seed line you can expect to see your favorite team later tonight. Any discrepancies between these seeds and the ones published later today will be a result of bracketing principles and procedures which may force me to move a particular team up or down a seed.
The teams below are displayed below on an S-curve, so they are ranked from left to right within each seeding line. The italicized teams have clinched automatic berths into their respective postseason tournaments or are projected to later on today. This bracket projection has been updated through all games played on Saturday March 10th and includes contingency plans to account for the potential outcomes of today’s conference title games. Check the bracket project poll to see how this projection compares to the other top bracketologists from across the county. Last year my projection ranked 10th out of the 89 nationally-recognized bracketologists and I am currently ranked as the 9th most accurate new bracketologist in the country. Therefore, chances are this bracket will be pretty accurate, especially when compared to the prominent bracket projection posted by Joe Lunardi who had the 52nd most accurate bracket in the same poll last year and currently ranks 27th out of 44 bracket veterans.
NCAA Tourney Field:
1-seeds: Kentucky, Syracuse, North Carolina, Missouri
- Note: I am going to start out my final bracket with a surprise by picking Missouri to grab the fourth and final # 1 seed. Most other bracket projections have Ohio State or Kansas getting that last # 1, but even though the computers don’t like Mizzou, I just love that 30-4 overall record, which is two full games better than Kansas, Duke, and Ohio State. I don’t see why the Jayhawks should get the nod here just because they played a bunch of games against other # 1 and 2 seeds and lost most of them.
2-seeds: Kansas, Ohio State, Duke, Michigan State
- Note: I’ve noticed over the years that the committee tends to ignore Sunday’s Big 10 Championship because it is played so close to the Selection Show. As a result, I think the easiest thing for the committee to do is just to give both Ohio State and Michigan State # 2 seeds and not worry about setting up a scenario that gives the winner a # 1 seed and/or the loser a # 3.
3-seeds: Baylor, Marquette, Indiana, Georgetown
- Note: A win last night by the Bears would have given Baylor a # 2 seed in my opinion. Instead, this squad enters the tourney as the first # 3.
4-seeds: Michigan, Wisconsin, Louisville, Florida State
- Note: It was a really tough call differentiating between Indiana, Georgetown, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Two of those teams will likely be # 3 seeds while the other two will be 4s. In the end, I decided to go with the two squads who boasted the slightly better record.
5-seeds: Murray State, Florida, Wichita State, Temple
- Note: I had the Racers on the 4 line for most of the past two weeks, but I think the conference tourney runs made by Louisville and Florida State have been enough to surpass Murray and drop them down to a # 5. Therefore, despite the overall depth of this year’s mid-major field, I don’t think anyone outside the Big 6 conferences will earn a protected 1-4 seed in tonight’s bracket.
6-seeds: Creighton, Vanderbilt, New Mexico, UNLV
- Note: I think you should see the 5-7 seed lines populated with a slew of really good mid-major programs. If so, we will definitely have several interesting “second round” matchups between mid-major powerhouses and power conference bubble teams.
7-seeds: Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s, San Diego State, Memphis
- Note: Everyone is in agreement that the bubble is especially bad this season, but it should go without saying that if certain areas of the bracket are weaker this year than in years past than other parts should be stronger. That notion definitely applies to my projected 7 seeds who all picked up either landmark victories or won conference championships this season. You don’t typically see an array of 7 seeds that boast such credentials, but I think you may this year.
8-seeds: Gonzaga, Kansas State, Iowa State, Cincinnati
- Note: The Zags are a difficult team to seed this year because despite their impressive computer numbers and solid non-conference work, they failed to win either the WCC regular season title or tournament title in over a decade. As a result, I ended up sliding the Zags down a little lower than one might expect.
9-seeds: Alabama, Purdue, Connecticut, Harvard,
- Note: Harvard is really the dividing line on my s-curve that separates at-large teams who have legitimate NCAA tournament resumes and those who should feel very lucky that we have a really soft bubble this season.
10-seeds: Southern Miss, Saint Louis, Colorado State, Texas
- Note: We should call this group the “fraudulent 10’s” because all four teams featured here have inflated computer numbers that are keeping them above the cut line.
11-seeds: West Virginia, Brigham Young, VCU, Virginia
- Note: If the committee hates on the non-elite ACC teams as much as they did last year, then Virginia could end up as a surprise First Four participant… or worse. For despite the Cavs’ good overall record, the only wins they really have to cling to is an early season home victory against Michigan. Their 235th ranked non-conference strength of schedule could end up costing them dearly.
12-seeds: Xavier, Long Beach State, Seton Hall, California, South Florida, NC State
- Note: I had to back off my Oral Roberts prediction because of the Bonnies upset over Xavier. If that hits, then I’m not going to be happy.
13-seeds: Belmont, Colorado, South Dakota State, Davidson
- Note: I love the Jackrabbits! They’re going to be a dangerous 13 seed.
14-seeds: St. Bonaventure, New Mexico State, Ohio, Montana
- Note: The Bonnies steal a bid thanks to their upset over Xavier.
15-seeds: Loyola-MD, Lehigh, LIU-Brooklyn, Detroit
- Note: Only one of these four teams actually won the regular season championship for their conference (LIU-Brooklyn), but all four are playing great basketball right now. It’s been 11 years since the last time a 15 seed knocked off a # 2, so it’s about time one of these hit.
16-seeds: UNC-Asheville, Norfolk State, Lamar, Mississippi Valley State, Western Kentucky, Vermont
- Note: Watch out here, folks, both UNC-Asheville and Norfolk State can play! The Bulldogs of Asheville have one of the most talented backcourts in the country with J.P. Primm and Matt Dickey. Meanwhile, Norfolk boasts a dominant 6’10” center in Kyle O’Quinn and only lost by 2 points to Marquette earlier this season. # 1 seeds beware!
NIT Tourney Field:
1-seeds: Washington, Mississippi State, Drexel, Miami-FL
- Note: All four of these squads are going to be bummed if they don’t get an NCAA at-large bids on Sunday night, but quite frankly none of them won the games they needed to in order to get a bid.
2-seeds: Iona, Marshall, Northwestern, Nevada
- Note: My 68 & 16 Sports Colleague Justin is predicting that Marshall will get a surprise at-large bid on Sunday night. I admit that the Thundering Herd have the top 75 wins that are consistent with what the committee used for their selections of VCU and UAB last season, but the 9-7 C-USA conference record is just too weak in my opinion. Especially since none of those wins came against Memphis. The Herd had three chances to land a marquee win over Memphis, and all three occasions Marshall fell short. In fact, two of the losses were by 20 or more points.
3-seeds: Oregon, Ole Miss, Middle Tennessee, Arizona
- Note: If Middle Tennessee could have just knocked off Vandy in their January 28th meeting in Nashville, then they would likely have the resume to get an NCAA at-large bid. As it stands now, MTSU will almost certainly have its bubble burst on Selection Sunday.
4-seeds: Tennessee, UMass, Dayton, St. Joe’s
- Note: I realize that it’s quite rare for one conference to possess three teams on the same NIT seed line, but I really couldn’t figure out how to differentiate between the profiles of UMass, Dayton, and St. Joe’s.
5-seeds: Minnesota, Central Florida, Illinois, Stanford
- Note: I assume Illinois will accept their NIT bid, but after Webber’s firing, I have no idea who is going to coach them.
6-seeds: Akron, Wyoming, LSU, Pittsburgh
- Note: Nine NIT bids have been stolen by mid-major regular season champions, so the Panthers of Pitt are the first of my projected last four NIT at-large teams.
7-seeds: Weber State, Arkansas, Iowa, Bucknell
- Note: I think there is a big difference between how the NCAA selection committee chooses its last few at-large teams and how the NIT committee does so. The NCAA committee is looking for teams who have put together a good body of work, whereas the NIT committee (whether they admit or not) seems to want to include as many big names as possible (see UNC in 2010). As a result, I think Arkansas and Iowa get the nod over teams with better computer profiles such as Northern Iowa and Buffalo.
8-seeds: Valparaiso, UT-Arlington, Stony Brook, Savannah State
- Note: Valpo will be a very dangerous 8 seed in this tournament. The Crusaders are definitely capable of knocking off a 1 seed who is still hanging their head about not getting an NCAA tourney bid.
First Four Out of NIT: Northern Iowa, Buffalo, St. Bonaventure, George Mason
Second Four Out of NIT: UCLA, La Salle, TCU, Maryland