We've finally made it to the pinnacle. Today is Selection Sunday, the greatest day of the year. In just over anhour we will know the entire bracket, the matchups, who's in, and who's out. But before the official bracket is released, let's make one more prediction about how the field of 68 will look:
The Final Bracket:
The Final S-Curve:
Last Four In: Saint Mary's, Vanderbilt, Temple, Monmouth
First Four Out: San Diego State, South Carolina, Michigan, Syracuse
Next Four Out: Florida, Valparaiso, Tulsa, Georgia
Contingencies: If Purdue beats Michigan State, Sparty will move to a 2-seed and Virginia will jump to a 1. If Memphis beats UConn, they will earn a 13-seed, UConn will drop to a 10-seed, Oregon State will jump to an 8-seed, Gonzaga will jump to a 9-seed, and Hawaii will drop to a 14-seed.
First off, let's talk about the 1-seeds. Kansas and North Carolina are locks for the 1 line while Oregon, Michigan State, Virginia, and Villanova are fighting for the last two slots. One of those spots should go to Oregon. The Ducks' resume is other-worldly yet no one is talking about them. They won the Pac-12 regular season outright, the conference tourney, are #2 in the RPI, are 12-3 against the Top 50 RPI and 22-4 against the Top 100 - Jesus. Michigan State really shouldn't be a 1-seed but they have so much momentum and media coverage that it would be difficult for the committee to leave them off the top-line.
The 2-seeds are ridiculous, toughest group of 2s in years. West Virginia jumps Xavier on the 2-line with their Big 12 Tourney ship.
Some random thoughts: Three Big Ten schools are on the 4-line with Purdue, Indiana, and Maryland. Iowa State barely holds onto a 5-seed. Texas A&M could easily earn a 4-seed today, but I'll slot them at a 5. Seton Hall makes the biggest jump to a 6-seed with their Big East ship.
The bubble: Excuse my language, but HOLY SHIT this was an impossible bubble to sort out. Really you can make a case for any at-large team seeded 9 and below to not be in the final field. I ultimately decided to put St. Mary's in due to their strong RPI and winning percentage (6-3) against the Top 100 RPI. Vandy gets in due to their KenPom ranking of 26 and wins over A&M and Kentucky (also the SEC needs to get more than 2 bids). Temple has 7 wins vs. the Top 100 RPI and they won the American regular season title. Their sweep over Cincy and UConn should put them in the field. I decided to include Monmouth because frankly the bubble is so murky why not reward the little guy this year? The media coverage (I believe) will help Monmouth's case for a bid and their wins over Notre Dame and USC on neutral courts are big. Iona made the tourney as an at-large in 2012 with a far worse resume, but that's neither here nor there. San Diego State was my toughest cut as the Aztecs are #42 in the RPI and played the 5th toughest non-conference schedule. They just didn't have the wins. Michigan, despite their late season heroics over Indiana does not deserve to be in this tournament. The Wolverines are 4-12 against the Top 100 RPI and they have no true road wins over a good opponent. South Carolina fell off a cliff this year. The committee may put the Cocks in because of their 8-5 record against the Top 100 RPI, but SC was just 1-1 vs. the Top 50 and they played the 298th strongest non-conference schedule which is bush league and over-inflates their 23-8 record (they also lost to MIZZOU). Syracuse just didn't do enough, if they would have beaten Pitt, they'd be in and Pitt would be out.
Will this be the field? I hope so because that'd be awesome. But really it could go several different ways. This is the toughest field in years to choose. Either way it's going to be a great tournament.
Stay tuned for regional previews from 3MW!