Every year around the time that January turns into February, I start catching college basketball fever (no relation between that and Covid-19), and as a result, I begin working on my annual bracket projection. This year is no different, despite the bracketing issues that have occurred as a result of the Covid-impacted schedules. Every season it is difficult to compare teams in different leagues who play different schedules, but this season we’re adding the extra variable in that teams have played a drastically different number of games. Also, the non-conference slate was cut short by several games so we have significantly less data to work with at this point in the season. Nevertheless, the bracketing must go on and I am up to the challenge in publishing an accurate bracket projection on a bi-weekly basis. Thus, for the 12th consecutive season, this column will become the staple of my blog from now until Selection Sunday. Brad-ketology is a little different than other NCAA bracket projections in that it is much more expansive, as it also includes the NIT field and NIT bubble. Furthermore, it is one of the columns used in the nationally-recognized bracket project which seeds NCAA teams by taking an average of the most prominent bracket projections in the country.
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. You may also notice that some teams are listed both the NCAA and NIT brackets. These are teams predicted to be automatic qualifiers to the NCAA tournament that would also earn at-large bids to the NIT tournament but not the NCAA tourney. The reason these teams are displayed like this is two-fold. First and foremost, it shows how close those teams are to getting at-large bids in the NCAA tournament field. Secondly, it shows where those squads would be seeded if in fact they lost in their conference tournament and garnered an automatic bid to the NIT.
Furtherfore, 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 the 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 typically be published twice a week (typically on Mondays and Fridays) and more often than that when it gets closer to tourney time. Please feel free to comment or debate.
NCAA Tourney Field:
1-seeds: Gonzaga, Baylor, Michigan, Villanova
2-seeds: Houston, Illinois, Alabama, Ohio State
3-seeds: Iowa, Texas, Oklahoma, Tennessee
4-seeds: Kansas, Virginia, Texas Tech, Wisconsin
5-seeds: Missouri, West Virginia, Purdue, Florida
6-seeds: Creighton, Virginia Tech, Florida State, Colorado
7-seeds: Southern Cal, UCLA, Oklahoma State, Xavier
8-seeds: Minnesota, Louisville, North Carolina, Clemson
9-seeds: Rutgers, LSU, Arkansas, UConn
10-seeds: Boise State, Drake, BYU, San Diego State
11-seeds: Saint Louis, Colorado State, Indiana, Oregon
12-seeds: Stanford, St. Bonaventure, Seton Hall, Richmond, Colgate, Toledo
13-seeds: UC Santa Barbara, UAB, Wright State, Winthrop
14-seeds: Furman, Abilene Christian, Liberty, Belmont
15-seeds: Vermont, Siena, Grand Canyon, Northeastern
16-seeds: Long Island, UL-Lafayette, South Dakota, Montana State, Prairie View, North Carolina A & T
NIT Tourney Field:
1-seeds: Georgia Tech, Loyola-IL, Penn State, Syracuse
2-seeds: VCU, Maryland, Utah State, Duke
3-seeds: Colgate, SMU, Saint Mary’s, Providence
4-seeds: Pittsburgh, Davidson, Memphis, Toledo
5-seeds: UC Santa Barbara, UAB, Western Kentucky, Wichita State
6-seeds: Rhode Island, Wright State, Dayton, Winthrop
7-seeds: Tulsa, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Furman
8-seeds: Abilene Christian, TCU, NC State, St. John’s
Ranking of Other Postseason Contenders: Liberty, Belmont, Michigan State