Brad-ketology: February 23rd Edition

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 are ones predicted to win their conference tourney and gain an automatic bid to the dance.  For the conferences who currently have NCAA tourney teams, it is assumed that one of those teams will win their conference tourney.  If not, then a stolen bid would result, and the number of at-large bids would drop.

Also, just to clarify, my bracket projection is intended to project the NCAA Tournament field if it was chosen today.  Unlike some bracketologists, I am not trying to predict how each team will finish the season and then seed the teams based on that.  There is one slight exception to this rule, however, and that is that I have always chosen to award the projected automatic bid for each conference to my projected best team in that conference, and not the team who is currently leading the conference standings.   Given how unbalanced conference schedules are, it just seems like common sense to project that the best team in a conference will win the league championship, not the squad currently in first place.

Brad-ketology columns will be published at least twice a week (typically on Sundays and Fridays) and more often than that when it gets closer to tourney time.  This bracket projection has been updated through all games played on Sunday February 23rd.

NCAA Tourney Field:

1-seeds: Florida, Syracuse, Arizona, Wichita State

2-seeds: Villanova, Creighton, Kansas, Duke

3-seeds: Iowa State, Wisconsin, Virginia, Saint Louis

4-seeds: Michigan, Michigan State, UCLA, Kentucky

5-seeds: Ohio State, San Diego State, Cincinnati, Louisville

6-seeds: UMass, Memphis, Texas, North Carolina

7-seeds: Iowa, Oklahoma, UConn, New Mexico

8-seeds: VCU, George Washington, Colorado, Stanford

9-seeds: California, Oregon, Arizona State, Pittsburgh

10-seeds: Kansas State, SMU, Gonzaga, Toledo

11-seeds: St. Joe’s, Missouri, Baylor, Oklahoma State

12-seeds: Richmond, Xavier, Providence, Brigham Young Southern Miss, Harvard

13-seeds: North Dakota State, Green Bay, Belmont, Mercer

14-seeds: Stephen F. Austin, Delaware, New Mexico State, Georgia State

15-seeds: UC Santa Barbara, Iona, Boston University, North Carolina Central

16-seeds: Vermont, Robert Morris, Davidson, Weber State, High Point, Alabama State

NIT Tourney Field:

1-seeds: Minnesota, St. John’s, Southern Miss, Harvard 

2-seeds: North Dakota State, Tennessee, Dayton, Clemson

3-seeds: Nebraska, LSU, Florida State, Georgetown

4-seeds: Marquette, NC State, Arkansas, Boise State

5-seeds: West Virginia, Green Bay, Belmont, Louisiana Tech

6-seeds: Indiana State, Maryland, St. Mary’s, Washington

7-seeds: Ole Miss, Illinois, Utah, Ohio

8-seeds: Mercer, Middle Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Stephen F. Austin

Ranking of Other Postseason Contenders: Delaware, New Mexico State, Oregon State, Georgia State, Indiana, Georgia

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Brad-ketology: February 21st Edition

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 are ones predicted to win their conference tourney and gain an automatic bid to the dance.  For the conferences who currently have NCAA tourney teams, it is assumed that one of those teams will win their conference tourney.  If not, then a stolen bid would result, and the number of at-large bids would drop.

Also, just to clarify, my bracket projection is intended to project the NCAA Tournament field if it was chosen today.  Unlike some bracketologists, I am not trying to predict how each team will finish the season and then seed the teams based on that.  There is one slight exception to this rule, however, and that is that I have always chosen to award the projected automatic bid for each conference to my projected best team in that conference, and not the team who is currently leading the conference standings.   Given how unbalanced conference schedules are, it just seems like common sense to project that the best team in a conference will win the league championship, not the squad currently in first place.

Brad-ketology columns will be published at least twice a week (typically on Sundays and Fridays) and more often than that when it gets closer to tourney time.  This bracket projection has been updated through all games played on Thursday February 20th.

NCAA Tourney Field:

1-seeds: Syracuse, Florida, Arizona, Wichita State

2-seeds: Villanova, Creighton, Kansas, Iowa State

3-seeds: Wisconsin, Michigan State, UCLA, Virginia

4-seeds: San Diego State, Duke, Cincinnati, Saint Louis

5-seeds: Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio State, Iowa

6-seeds: Texas, Louisville, UConn, UMass

7-seeds: Memphis, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Colorado

8-seeds: Pittsburgh, VCU, New Mexico, George Washington

9-seeds: Gonzaga, Arizona State, Kansas State, Missouri

10-seeds: Stanford, California, Oregon, Toledo

11-seeds: SMU, St. Joe’s, Xavier, Baylor

12-seeds: Minnesota, Oklahoma State, St. John’s, Richmond, Southern Miss, Harvard

13-seeds: North Dakota State, Green Bay, Belmont, Mercer

14-seeds: Delaware, Stephen F. Austin, New Mexico State, Georgia State

15-seeds: UC Santa Barbara, Iona, Boston University, North Carolina Central

16-seeds: Vermont, Robert Morris, Davidson, Northern Colorado, High Point, Alabama State

NIT Tourney Field:

1-seeds: Tennessee, Providence, Brigham Young Southern Miss

2-seeds: Harvard, North Dakota State, LSU, Dayton

3-seeds: Clemson, Georgetown, Nebraska, Indiana State

4-seeds: West Virginia, Florida State, Marquette, NC State

5-seeds: Arkansas, Boise State, Green Bay, Belmont

6-seeds: Ole Miss, Louisiana Tech, Mercer, Delaware

7-seeds: Maryland, St. Mary’s, Washington, Illinois

8-seeds: Ohio, Middle Tennessee, Oregon State, Vanderbilt

Ranking of Other Postseason Contenders: Stephen F. Austin, Utah, New Mexico State, Georgia State, Indiana, Wyoming, St. Bonaventure, Georgia

Brad-ketology: February 16th Edition

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 are ones predicted to win their conference tourney and gain an automatic bid to the dance.  For the conferences who currently have NCAA tourney teams, it is assumed that one of those teams will win their conference tourney.  If not, then a stolen bid would result, and the number of at-large bids would drop.

Also, just to clarify, my bracket projection is intended to project the NCAA Tournament field if it was chosen today.  Unlike some bracketologists, I am not trying to predict how each team will finish the season and then seed the teams based on that.  There is one slight exception to this rule, however, and that is that I have always chosen to award the projected automatic bid for each conference to my projected best team in that conference, and not the team who is currently leading the conference standings.   Given how unbalanced conference schedules are, it just seems like common sense to project that the best team in a conference will win the league championship, not the squad currently in first place.

Brad-ketology columns will be published at least twice a week (typically on Sundays and Fridays) and more often than that when it gets closer to tourney time.  This bracket projection has been updated through all games played on Sunday February 16th.

NCAA Tourney Field:

1-seeds: Syracuse, Florida, Arizona, Wichita State

2-seeds: Villanova, Creighton, Kansas, San Diego State

3-seeds: Duke, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Iowa State

4-seeds: Virginia, UCLA, Cincinnati, Saint Louis

5-seeds: Michigan, Texas, Kentucky, Ohio State

6-seeds: Iowa, Louisville, UConn, UMass

7-seeds: Memphis, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Colorado

8-seeds: Arizona State, Pittsburgh, Gonzaga, New Mexico

9-seeds: VCU, George Washington, Kansas State, Oklahoma State

10-seeds: Minnesota, California, Missouri, Oregon

11-seeds: Stanford, Toledo, SMU, Richmond

12-seeds: Xavier, St. Joe’s, Baylor, Providence, Southern Miss, Harvard

13-seeds: North Dakota State, Green Bay, Delaware, Belmont

14-seeds: Mercer, Stephen F. Austin, New Mexico State, Georgia State

15-seeds: UC Santa Barbara, Iona, Boston University, North Carolina Central,

16-seeds: Vermont, Robert Morris, Davidson, Weber State, Southern, Coastal Carolina

NIT Tourney Field:

1-seeds: St. John’s, Georgetown, Tennessee, Southern Miss

2-seeds: Harvard, North Dakota State, LSU, Dayton

3-seeds: Clemson, NC State, Brigham Young, Nebraska

4-seeds: Florida State, Marquette, Indiana State, West Virginia

5-seeds: Arkansas, Ole Miss, Boise State, St. Mary’s

6-seeds: Louisiana Tech, Ohio, Green Bay, Washington

7-seeds: Delaware, Belmont, Mercer, Maryland

8-seeds: Vanderbilt, Middle Tennessee, Oregon State, Stephen F. Austin

Ranking of Other Postseason Contenders: Illinois, New Mexico State, Georgia, Georgia State, Wake Forest, Indiana, Utah, Wyoming, St. Bonaventure

Brad-ketology: February 15th Edition

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 are ones predicted to win their conference tourney and gain an automatic bid to the dance.  For the conferences who currently have NCAA tourney teams, it is assumed that one of those teams will win their conference tourney.  If not, then a stolen bid would result, and the number of at-large bids would drop.

Also, just to clarify, my bracket projection is intended to project the NCAA Tournament field if it was chosen today.  Unlike some bracketologists, I am not trying to predict how each team will finish the season and then seed the teams based on that.  There is one slight exception to this rule, however, and that is that I have always chosen to award the projected automatic bid for each conference to my projected best team in that conference, and not the team who is currently leading the conference standings.   Given how unbalanced conference schedules are, it just seems like common sense to project that the best team in a conference will win the league championship, not the squad currently in first place.

Brad-ketology columns will be published at least twice a week (typically on Sundays and Fridays) and more often than that when it gets closer to tourney time.  This bracket projection has been updated through all games played on Friday February 14th.

NCAA Tourney Field:

1-seeds: Syracuse, Villanova, Florida, Arizona

2-seeds: Wichita State, Michigan State, Creighton, Kansas

3-seeds: San Diego State, Duke, Wisconsin, Kentucky

4-seeds: Iowa State, Virginia, Michigan, Cincinnati

5-seeds: UCLA, Saint Louis, Texas, Ohio State

6-seeds: Iowa, Louisville, Memphis, UConn

7-seeds: UMass, Pittsburgh, Colorado, Oklahoma

8-seeds: Kansas State, North Carolina, Arizona State, VCU

9-seeds: George Washington, Oklahoma State, Gonzaga, New Mexico

10-seeds: SMU, Xavier, Minnesota, California

11-seeds: Missouri, Oregon, Stanford, Southern Miss

12-seeds: Richmond, Georgetown, Providence, Tennessee, Toledo, Harvard

13-seeds: North Dakota State, Green Bay, Delaware, Belmont

14-seeds: Mercer, Georgia State, Stephen F. Austin, New Mexico State

15-seeds: UC Santa Barbara, Iona, Boston University, North Carolina Central,

16-seeds: Vermont, Robert Morris, Davidson, Southern, Weber State, Coastal Carolina

NIT Tourney Field:

1-seeds: LSU, Baylor, Toledo, Harvard

2-seeds: North Dakota State, Dayton, NC State, Clemson

3-seeds: Ole Miss, Florida State, Brigham Young, Louisiana Tech

4-seeds: Indiana State, St. Joe’s, St. John’s, West Virginia

5-seeds: Indiana, Boise State, Green Bay, Delaware

6-seeds: Belmont, St. Mary’s, Mercer, Nebraska

7-seeds: Washington, Maryland, Illlinois, Arkansas

8-seeds: Marquette, Oregon State, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest

Ranking of Other Postseason Contenders: Georgia State, Stephen F. Austin, New Mexico State, Ohio, Wyoming, St. Bonaventure, UTEP, Middle Tennessee

Brad-ketology: February 9th Edition

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 are ones predicted to win their conference tourney and gain an automatic bid to the dance.  For the conferences who currently have NCAA tourney teams, it is assumed that one of those teams will win their conference tourney.  If not, then a stolen bid would result, and the number of at-large bids would drop.

Also, just to clarify, my bracket projection is intended to project the NCAA Tournament field if it was chosen today.  Unlike some bracketologists, I am not trying to predict how each team will finish the season and then seed the teams based on that.  There is one slight exception to this rule, however, and that is that I have always chosen to award the projected automatic bid for each conference to my projected best team in that conference, and not the team who is currently leading the conference standings.   Given how unbalanced conference schedules are, it just seems like common sense to project that the best team in a conference will win the league championship, not the squad currently in first place.

Brad-ketology columns will be published at least twice a week (typically on Sundays and Fridays) and more often than that when it gets closer to tourney time.  This bracket projection has been updated through all games played on Sunday February 9th.

NCAA Tourney Field:

1-seeds: Syracuse, Arizona, Villanova, Florida

2-seeds: Wichita State, San Diego State, Kansas, Michigan State

3-seeds: Iowa State, Duke, Wisconsin, Kentucky

4-seeds: Virginia, Ohio State, Creighton, Cincinnati

5-seeds: Michigan, UMass, Oklahoma, UCLA

6-seeds: Saint Louis, Texas, Iowa, Colorado

7-seeds: Louisville, Memphis, Oklahoma State, Pittsburgh

8-seeds: George Washington, UConn, New Mexico, Minnesota

9-seeds: North Carolina, SMU, Southern Miss, Gonzaga

10-seeds: Kansas State, VCU, Xavier, Arizona State

11-seeds: Stanford, California, Missouri, Florida State

12-seeds: Oregon, Providence, Tennessee, LSU, Toledo, Harvard

13-seeds: North Dakota State, Green Bay, Delaware, Belmont

14-seeds: Mercer, Georgia State, Stephen F. Austin, UC Santa Barbara

15-seeds: Iona, Boston University, North Carolina Central, Vermont

16-seeds: Robert Morris, Davidson, Utah Valley, Southern, Weber State, Coastal Carolina

NIT Tourney Field:

1-seeds: Brigham Young, Richmond, Baylor, Dayton

2-seeds: Georgetown, Toledo, Harvard, North Dakota State

3-seeds: Clemson, Ole Miss, NC State, Indiana

4-seeds: Louisiana Tech, Indiana State, St. Joe’s, St. John’s

5-seeds: Green Bay, Delaware, Belmont, St. Mary’s

6-seeds: Mercer, Arkansas, Maryland, Nebraska

7-seeds: Illinois, West Virginia, Boise State, Vanderbilt

8-seeds: Wake Forest, Marquette, Oregon State, Washington

Ranking of Other Postseason Contenders: UTEP, Ohio, Northwestern, Georgia State, Stephen F. Austin, St. Bonaventure, Akron, Middle Tennessee, UC Santa Barbara, New Mexico State

Brad-ketology: February 7th Edition

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 are ones predicted to win their conference tourney and gain an automatic bid to the dance.  For the conferences who currently have NCAA tourney teams, it is assumed that one of those teams will win their conference tourney.  If not, then a stolen bid would result, and the number of at-large bids would drop.

Also, just to clarify, my bracket projection is intended to project the NCAA Tournament field if it was chosen today.  Unlike some bracketologists, I am not trying to predict how each team will finish the season and then seed the teams based on that.  There is one slight exception to this rule, however, and that is that I have always chosen to award the projected automatic bid for each conference to my projected best team in that conference, and not the team who is currently leading the conference standings.   Given how unbalanced conference schedules are, it just seems like common sense to project that the best team in a conference will win the league championship, not the squad currently in first place.

Brad-ketology columns will be published at least twice a week (typically on Sundays and Fridays) and more often than that when it gets closer to tourney time.  This bracket projection has been updated through all games played on Thursday February 6th.

NCAA Tourney Field:

1-seeds: Syracuse, Arizona, Villanova, Florida

2-seeds: Wichita State, Michigan State, San Diego State, Kansas

3-seeds: Creighton, Iowa State, Cincinnati, Duke

4-seeds: Michigan, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Virginia

5-seeds: Ohio State, UMass, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma

6-seeds: UCLA, Texas, Colorado, Saint Louis

7-seeds: Louisville, Memphis, Pittsburgh, George Washington

8-seeds: Iowa, UConn, Gonzaga, New Mexico

9-seeds: Minnesota, VCU, North Carolina, SMU 

10-seeds: Southern Miss, Kansas State, Florida State, Xavier

11-seeds: Providence, Missouri, Arizona State, Stanford

12-seeds: Oregon, California, Tennessee, Baylor, Harvard, Toledo

13-seeds: North Dakota State, Green Bay, Delaware, Belmont

14-seeds: Mercer, Canisius, Georgia State, Stephen F. Austin

15-seeds: UC Santa Barbara, Boston University, North Carolina Central, Vermont

16-seeds: Robert Morris, Davidson, Utah Valley, Southern, Weber State, Coastal Carolina

NIT Tourney Field:

1-seeds: LSU, Harvard, Dayton, Brigham Young

2-seeds: Richmond, Georgetown, Indiana, Toledo

3-seeds: North Dakota State, Green Bay, Clemson, NC State

4-seeds: Louisiana Tech, Indiana State, Ole Miss, Delaware

5-seeds: Belmont, St. Joe’s, St. Mary’s, Mercer

6-seeds: St. John’s, Boise State, Vanderbilt, Arkansas

7-seeds: Nebraska, Maryland, Illinois, West Virginia

8-seeds: Wake Forest, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Marquette

Ranking of Other Postseason Contenders: Washington, Oregon State, UTEP, Ohio, St. Bonaventure, Canisius, Georgia State, Wyoming, Akron, Middle Tennessee, Purdue, New Mexico State

Defining a Mid-Major

Every February and March college sports pundits begin throwing out the term “mid-major” to describe the “little guy” of college basketball.  First, we focus on the “mid-major” conference tourneys where only the winner of event gets to advance to the NCAA Tournament.  Then, we get inspired by mid-major Cinderella stories as they emerge in the Big Dance.  However, it always seemed to me that college basketball analysts throw out the term “mid-major” without defining exactly what it is.  Obviously, it refers to smaller conference teams, but what exactly does that entail?  Below, I will discuss several different perspectives, including my own, on this issue.  I have also included the benefits and drawbacks of each viewpoint.  There may never be a consensus opinion on what exactly a mid-major is, but I’ve always felt this issue needs to be analyzed in greater detail, and here is my attempt to do so.

Viewpoint # 1: The Big 6– This is probably the most popular viewpoint, but in my opinion, it is also the most flawed.

  • Definition: A “mid-major” is any team outside of the Big 6 power conferences.
  • Benefits to the theory: Very simple and easy to figure out.
  • Drawbacks to the theory:  My criticisms of this overly simplistic mid-major classification system are numerous.  First of all, under this theory, the 2007 Memphis team, 1998 Utah squad, and UNLV dynasty of the early 1990s would all be considered mid-majors.  That means that we’ve had two mid-major runners-up in the past 2 decades and one mid-major national champion.  However, none of these runs were the least bit surprising or even intriguing.  Those teams were stacked with future NBA superstars, which is definitely not a typical characteristic of mid-major programs.  By applying this theory, we also make the George Mason Final Four run of 2006 somewhat insignificant since mid-major Memphis made it even farther than them in the tourney two years later.  And yes, all those trivia answers that said George Mason was the first mid-major to make the Final Four since Indiana State would be entirely inaccurate. Finally, if we are to only draw one line separating the high-majors and the mid-majors, then any second grader can notice that something is missing.  In any type of hierarchy there can’t just be a high-level and a mid-level.  There also has to be a low-level.  Thus, this theory also fails to define what a low-major is.  In general, that is a huge problem I have with how college basketball analysts typically use this term.  They throw out the phrase “mid-major” when referring to any small conference team, as to imply that there is no such thing as a low-major.

Viewpoint # 2: The FBS/FCS divide

  • Definition: Any team outside the 11 Division 1-A football conferences is a mid-major. 
  • Benefits to the theory: Also, very simple and easy to figure out.  It is superior to viewpoint # 1 because it removes the mid-major classifications from the Memphis, UNLV, and Utah powerhouses I mentioned earlier.
  • Drawbacks to the theory: Almost every year Mid-American and Sun Belt conferences rank half of college basketball conferences, yet under this theory, they are lumped in as “high-majors”.  That just doesn’t work.  Also, this viewpoint once again fails to differentiate between mid-majors and low-majors.

Viewpoint # 3: The Red-Line (from Mid-Majority.com)

  • Definition: Any team in a conference that is below the red line drawn on Mid-Majority.com (the premier small conference basketball site on the web) is a mid-major.  The red line is the dividing line between conferences whose members have an average annual athletic budget of $20 million or more and those conferences who don’t.  Thus, there are 8 conferences that are considered high-majors, the big 6 conferences, the Mountain West, and C-USA.
  • Benefits to the theory: Also, very simple and easy to figure out.  This viewpoint seems to really follow the modern perception of which teams are mid-majors and which aren’t.  Kyle Whelliston, the author of the mid-majority blog, even admits that this is exactly what he is going for, as he says that the mid-major classification is one that changes over time.  Also, the aforementioned “misstated mid-majors” (Memphis, Utah, and UNLV) would be high-majors based on their current conference affiliation.
  • Drawbacks to the theory: It seems cynical to use money (or lack thereof) as the only factor in making the mid-major determination.  Also, Whelliston is taking into account each school’s total athletic budget for this analysis, not just what the amount they spent on men’s basketball.  Obviously, such numbers will be greatly affected by a university’s football team, or lack thereof.  Furthermore, this viewpoint once again fails to differentiate between mid-majors and low-majors.  In addition, Atlantic 10 basketball is typically superior to both the C-USA and MWC, but most seasons it possesses a lower classification according to this theory. 

Viewpoint # 4: Numbers Games

  • Definition: Mid-major conferences can be determined quantitatively in many different ways.  Example # 1: If your conference has averages less than 2 tourney bids per year, then it is a mid-major.   Example # 2: If your conference averages less than 1 tourney win per year, then it is also a mid-major.
  • Benefits to theory: This theory can be modified to include a low-major classification by simply adding another dimension (ex: teams that receive less than 1.5 bids per year are mid-majors).  Also, this theory’s results change over time, so the Numbers Game theory can evolve to fit the current landscape of college basketball.
  • Drawbacks of theory: The major drawback is its complexity.  No one wants to sit down with a calculator and determine what a mid-major is.  We want our mid-majors to be evident and obvious. 

Viewpoint # 5: The Rule of Thirds (My personal view)

  • Definition: There are 31 conferences in Division 1, and there are 3 categories we much create.  Therefore, it makes perfect sense to me to divide the conferences in thirds.  The top 10 RPI conferences are the high-majors, the next 10 are the mid-majors, and the final 11 are the low-majors.
  • Benefits to theory: They are quite numerous in my opinion.  First, it is not nearly as complex as the numerical calculations I mentioned previously.  Secondly, the parameters are very exact leaving no room for ambiguity.  Third, the theory allows for the classifications to adapt to the changes in college hoops.  Fourth, it accurately differentiates between the George Mason run of 3 years ago and the UNLV, Memphis, and Utah runs I spoke about earlier.   The Colonial was not a top 10 conference in 2006, but C-USA was in 2008, the WAC was in 1998, and the Big West was in 1990.  Fifth, this system clearly differentiates between mid-majors and low-majors.  
  • Drawbacks of theory: One drawback is that it requires a little bit of research to go out and find the conference RPI rankings.  But let me help you out: http://realtimerpi.com/rpi_conf_Men.html.  The other drawback is that there are multiple RPI formulas in existence (ex: Ken Pomeroy, CBS, Real-time RPI, etc.) so it is possible that one site could have a different classification than another.

Viewpoint # 6: Theory of Mid-Major Relativity– Here is the sentimentalist viewpoint on this issue. 

  • Definition: Quite simply, a “mid-major” is any underdog that we fall in love with in March.  There are no exact specifications or parameters.  We just know it when we see it. 
  • Benefits to theory: It sure makes it easy for everyone to pick out who is a mid-major and who is not.
  • Drawbacks of theory: This theory obviously leaves the door wide open for disagreement and ambiguity.

The bottom line is that no matter how you personally define a mid-major make sure you do it in a way that allows you to be inspired by their success.  Because that’s what March is all about.  It’s about the miracles.  It’s about the upsets.   And it’s about the mid-majors… whatever those are.