By: Jake Liker
I write to you today, esteemed reader, from the brink of insanity. It seems every week now, I dedicate 300 words to how monumental a challenge it was to assemble the new projections. I truly thought that this wouldn’t be the case this time. There was no question as to who the 1-seeds were, and the field of 68 seemed pretty cut and dry.
I knew St. Bonaventure had earned a spot in the tournament (for the moment). Perhaps it was punishment for failing to heed the my own desperate warning, to which I dedicated most of last week’s column. Maybe it was because I was ignoring the haunting errors of Selection Sundays past. For whatever reason, the dark and mysterious forces of bracketology conspired against me, and I live to tell the tale.
It started innocently enough: there was a cluster of teams on the border between 14- and 15-seed, which took 20 minutes of deep thought to untangle. Tedious, but nothing to write home about. But then, things took a cruel turn: it became evident that by giving the Bonnies the final at-large bid, I would have to rule UCLA, to whose colors I am so fiercely loyal, out. But it had to be done. The Bonnies clearly had the better resume…right? RIGHT?!
After finally selecting and seeding the 68 teams, it was time to construct the bracket. This is supposed to be the easy part. Not this time. Competitively unbalanced regions, geography issues, regular season rematches, recent tournament rematches, and conference rematches lurked behind every cell in my Excel spreadsheet. I was forced to restructure again and again and again. My computer crashed three times today.
The 3, 6, and 11 lines featured six Big 12 teams (teams from the same conference who met twice in the regular season can’t face one another until the Sweet Sixteen, which means there can usually be no more than 4 teams from the same conference, in the same pod grouping––1/8/9/16, 2/7/10/15, 3/6/11/14, 4/5/12/13), so I had to make two different seeding adjustments. For reference, I hadn’t had to do this once in the previous five weeks.
***IMPORTANT NOTE: As a result of this rule, I moved TCU down from a 6-seed to a 7-seed and bumped Michigan up from a 7 to a 6, and moved Baylor/St. Bonaventure from an 11 to a 12-seed, and bumped Middle Tennessee up from the 12 line to the 11 line.
Now, the Bracket Matrix mocks me. It calls me a heretic for putting Houston as a 9 when they should be a 6, and a fool for placing so much faith in Louisville. I finished writing this column at 1 a.m., feeling incredibly uncertain about my projections for this week.
But we’re only two weeks away from Selection Sunday. The finish line is in sight. Vindication awaits. Madness is on the horizon.
Now, please enjoy this week’s projections (I spent too much time on this for you not to) after the usual disclaimers:
- 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 26th are not accounted for in these projections)
- Keep all of this in mind before you @ me on Twitter