-Jim Root and Ky McKeon
It’s only right that our site’s first bracket of 2019 be a two-fer, so Jim Root and myself (Mr. Ky) selected our current Field of 68 and built out our Dance. Most of the bracket was based off current results, but it would be wrong to say a little bit of “foresight” didn’t influence the pecking order of a few teams. For the auto-bids, Jim & I stuck mostly with the current conference leader, but took liberties to sub out certain first place squads for teams we think will sit atop of the pole position in March (sorry Valpo, you are not our MVC representatives).
With that said, let’s see the brackets…
Jim’s S Curve
Ky’s S Curve
Bracketing at this point is a subjective process, but that doesn’t mean I can’t razz Jim while he’s 3,000 feet up in the air unable to defend himself… (I’ll try to be self-aware as well)…
Jim and I have the exact same 1 and 2 seeds, which is pretty remarkable. Good job, Jim, you did well.
The 3-seed line is where our thoughts started to differ. We both penciled in North Carolina and Virginia Tech, but Jim opted to include Kentucky and Iowa State on this line whereas I went with Marquette and Nevada. Let’s look closer:
This pic shows maybe a slight difference of preference between Jim and I. Jim’s two squads, the Clones and the Cats, have the better NET ratings and overall better KenPom ratings. However, my schools, particularly Marquette, have the more quality wins. Nevada is a tricky case. One could argue I should move them down for having zero Q1 wins, something I punished other teams for, but 6-0 against Q2 means something and combined, Nevada has twice as many Q1/Q2 wins as Iowa State and three times as many as Kentucky. Jim’s choices are very reasonable, which is what makes bracketing both fun and difficult.
The case of Buffalo is an interesting one. Jim has Buffalo up on the 4-line, whereas I have them pegged as the top 6-seed. The 4-6 lines are incredibly close right now - teams have very similar resumes. Besides the four teams mentioned above, Jim and I only have one discrepancy in our 4-6 lines. Jim gave Auburn a 5-seed (I have them as a 7). I gave Indiana a 4-seed (Jim has them as a 7). Indiana is tied for our biggest seed-line discrepancy (3 seed lines), so let’s compare them to Auburn (one of just a handful of squads we have 2 seed lines apart):
This is where I’m going to give my buddy a little guff, but I shall also make fun of myself. From a NET and KenPom perspective, Auburn and Indiana are essentially the same. The biggest differences are non-conference SOS, which the Committee highly values, and Q1 wins. When push comes to shove, I tend to value Q1 wins over everything because this is what the Committee has done in years past (Hi, Syracuse). Indiana’s 3 Q1 wins plus a NET rating of 18 necessitates them being higher than a 7-seed. Now, to make fun of myself - Auburn’s resume is very similar to Nevada’s, who I made a 3-seed despite zero Q1 wins and just one more Q2 win. I have no argument for this - I should take a long look in the mirror.
Ole Miss is now comfortably in for both Jim and I - I might even like his placement up on the 8-line better than my 10-line spot.
Iowa is a 7-seed in my bracket and a 10-seed in Jim’s. Jim may be adding a little future thought into Iowa’s seeding, and I admittedly had to challenge myself not to do that as well. Frankly, Iowa’s resume is rock solid this year and I submit that they should be higher than a 10 (though Jim’s seeding isn’t outrageous). Let’s take a look at their resume compared to some of the squads around them:
The above pic is more or less a composite of our 7-10 lines. As you can see, differentiating squads is no easy task. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions, but I’ll make a case for the Hawkeyes. Of the 15 teams shown, Iowa has the 8th best NET and KenPom ratings, the T-2nd most Q1 wins, and is tied for the most Q1/Q2 wins. Iowa’s only three losses are against Q1 competition. The NCSOS is lacking (14th out of 15 teams), but the other factors keep them above a 10 for me. In reality, something between my 7-seed and Jim’s 10 is where the Hawkeyes should be at this juncture.
Finally, the Bubble is a choose-your-own adventure novel right now. Really most of the teams in our Bubble watch have blah resumes. How would you rate these squads?":
Stay tuned for more brackets from Jim and I throughout the remainder of the regular season and tweet us @3MW_CBB with any qualms about the brackets!