Welcome back! It’s good to see you again. I have new projections for you.
The fog of last week has started to dissipate, and a couple of things seem clearer. I feel confident about 67 of the 68 teams that made the bracket this week. As for the 68th spot, nine teams were in contention, and any one of them could have made it in over the other.
In the top 4 seed lines, things also cleared up. There are very clear tiers as of right now (teams within each tier listed in NET order):
- Tier 1: Baylor
- Tier 2: San Diego State, Gonzaga, Kansas,
- Tier 3: Dayton, Duke, Louisville
- Tier 4: West Virginia, Villanova, Florida State
- Tier 5: Michigan State, Maryland, Seton Hall, Oregon
- Tier 6: Butler, Creighton, Auburn, Iowa, Kentucky
It was a very difficult task to pick two 4-seeds from that 6th tier, no doubt. All I’ll say is don’t sleep on Creighton’s resume.
But let’s turn our attention to the subject of this week’s column: road games. If you’re a fan of Rutgers or Alabama, you’ll want to read this.
Road games matter more than home games when it comes to bracketology. The reason is very simple: there are no home games in the NCAA tournament. The committee needs to be sure that teams won’t play like garbage outside of their own gym.
Rutgers looks like a top 4-seed at the RAC, but as soon as they play in literally any other building, they produce a resume that wouldn’t even make the NIT. They are allowed to lose at Iowa, Michigan State, and Illinois. They can even lose at MSG to Michigan. They cannot do all of that and also lose at Pitt and on neutral court against St. Bonaventure. Their only non-home win is at Nebraska. The Huskers are 170th in NET. If the Scarlet Knights don’t win any of their remaining road games, they will pay the price on Selection Sunday.
Alabama should be somewhat comfortable right now, given that the Tide are 41st in NET and 11th in SOS. And yet, I refuse to let them in this tournament. The tournament does not take place in Tuscaloosa. Sure, ‘Bama has two road wins, but they’re at Samford (306 in NET) and Vanderbilt (169). Their best non-home win is on neutral court against Belmont (116). They have had plenty of opportunities to notch a feasible non-home, Quad 1 or Quad 2 victory, and they have failed every time.
Broaden your horizons, tournament contenders. Travel, explore, and take home a couple Ws as souvenirs. The world is bigger than your home court, and the committee knows it.
The Usual Disclaimers
- This is what I think the committee would do given what we know about each team. I do not necessarily agree with the committee’s projected evaluations of these teams.
- My bracketology does not aim to predict what will happen; it is a simulation of what would happen if the season ended today.
- Asterisks in the graphic denote conference champions (determined by whoever has the fewest losses in conference play, with NET as a tiebreaker).
- Keep all of this in mind if you choose to @ me on Twitter.