Bracketology - One Month In - 12/7/18

-Jim Root

“WHY?! Why would you make a bracketology one month into the season?? There’s so many more games to play!” Well, you see, I like talking about and debating college basketball, and nothing lights fans’ fuses like an NCAA Tournament projection, so let’s get some controversial fireworks going!

Right now is probably the most difficult time to make a projected bracket. We have some results, but not enough to make sweeping, declarative statements on teams, so we still have to factor in some preseason bias. It’s like judging a movie 20 or 30 minutes in: there’s still just too much time left to make a firm conclusion.

Using a kind of a blended method (expectations and results) to evaluate teams is openly inviting fans on both sides to be outraged: anyone can argue that one set of information is being unfairly weighted. For example, Iowa fans are probably going to be furious, as their Hawkeyes have wins over Iowa St., Oregon (neutral), and UConn (neutral), and thus would have a claim to being top 20ish if I used only results. Yet I still have them on the fringes of the field, because I’m skeptical of how B1G play will go (and they’re already 0-2). But no matter! I put my blinders on and gave my best effort, using early season results to inform (but not dominate) my rankings in the S-Curve. Here’s the bracket as I see it:


1. Injuries are really hurting some prime mid-majors (Northeastern – Pusica, Occeus, Boursiquot; Loyola-Chicago – Williamson, Skokna; Harvard – Lewis, Aiken, Towns; Stephen F. Austin – Holyfield, Niemenin, Comeaux)

2. Picking a Pac-12 champion is like deciding which episode of Big Bang Theory to watch.

3. Teams I’ve moved up – Michigan, Auburn, Texas Tech, Buffalo, Creighton, Iowa, Oklahoma, San Francisco (among others)

3a. I couldn’t quite put San Francisco in – predictive metrics ratings have them super high because they whip the teams they play, but their best win is vs. massively short-handed Harvard by 4 after a cross-country flight, or @ a horrible Cal team by 19. Their best performance is honestly probably the Buffalo loss.

4. Teams I’ve moved down – Syracuse, West Va, Florida, Clemson, Washington, Xavier (among others)

5. Michigan State is probably too low. They’ve got some nice wins (Texas and UCLA on neutrals, vs. Iowa), and their only losses are away from home against Kansas and Louisville. I just have relatively tempered expectations for them in the Big Ten – although I’d probably bump them up a bit if I redid everything (it was already too late when I decided this).