WNUR Bracketology: Week 4 – Back to Square One

By: Jake Liker

Now that the selection committee has released a preview bracket, we have a bit more insight into what really matters come Selection Sunday. Having learned what the committee prioritizes, I had to start from scratch this week.

Up until now, I had taken the projections from week 1 and adjusted them each week according to how each team performed over the previous seven days. You may have noticed that it was quite rare for me to move a team up seed after going 0-2 since the previous bracketology column, or down a seed after going 2-0.

It is now apparent that the week 1 projections served as an unrealistic baseline––I can’t move Michigan State down from a 2-seed to a 3-seed after beating Purdue––so I began again, making a new, more realistic baseline that aligns with the committees’ priorities, which I have inferred from analyzing the preview bracket and watching Andy Katz’s interview with this year’s selection committee chairman, Bruce Rasmussen.

This was all a very time-intensive process, so this week’s column is a bit of an express version. Hope you like bullet points!


OBSERVATION #1: Q2 wins matter, too (Quadrant 2 games: home vs RPI 31-75, neutral vs 51-100, away vs 76-135). The committee often added teams’ Q1 and Q2 wins when evaluating their resumes.

  • BENEFITS: Wichita State, Boise State, Kentucky
  • HURTS: Florida State, Michigan, Louisville

OBSERVATION #2: No recency bias. November results matter just as much as February results.

  • BENEFITS: Temple, Arizona State, Florida
  • HURTS: Ohio State, Arizona, Virginia Tech

OBSERVATION #3: Margin of defeat does not matter*. Rasmussen outright said this in reference to Tennessee’s loss to Alabama. *-The committee does make note if a game went to overtime, however.

  • BENEFITS: Tennessee, Xavier, Washington
  • HURTS: Middle Tennessee, Purdue, Vermont


  • All 5 of Florida’s Q1 were away from home. The committee will like this, considering this is the same reasoning the committee used when putting Purdue as a 1-seed.
  • Alabama has 6 Q1 wins. Only Virginia, Villanova, Xavier, Kansas, and UNC have more (yes, that’s an oxford comma. This column is pro-oxford comma.)
  • Note that this bracket was so hard to put together that the best solution involved having USC and Providence play each other in the tournament for the third year in a row.
  • Congratulations to Savannah State on being granted a wavier which lifted their APR postseason ban. Savannah State has the best non-conference strength of schedule in the country. That ended about as well as you’d expect (page 187 of this link)
  • Kansas State’s non-conference strength of schedule is 344th out of 351 division I teams. Don’t be surprised if that comes back to bite them.

And now, the projections, after these friendly reminders:

  • This is what I think the committee would given what we know about each team. I do not necessarily agree with what I think the committee’s evaluations
  • My bracketology does not aim to predict what will happen; it is a simulation of what would happen if the season ended today
  • Italics in the graphic denotes conference champions
  • Projections do not account for games played on the day the projections are made (ex: games played on February 12th are not accounted for in these projections)
  • Keep all of this in mind before you @ me on Twitter



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