It’s Monday afternoon, which means it’s time for the first Bracketology of the season! This is what I think the bracket would look like if yesterday was Selection Sunday (which we all know isn’t until March 13). A few notes before we get started:
- Bracketology is a very inexact science. The selection committee has an extremely difficult job, and there are a number of factors involved. This bracket will be based on my opinion and what I think of the teams. With the committee, you get a collection of multiple opinions.
- My bracket will look different from other bracket predictions you will see online. There are expert “Bracketologists” out there who know much more than I do, but if you devote the time, and research these teams, anyone can be a “Bracketologist.”
- As far as the automatic bids go, I took the team who is currently in first place in each conference. In the event of a tie, I chose the team rated highest by KenPom. This does not mean that I think these teams will end up winning their conferences, but it does do a nice job of representing some of the chaos that occurs during Championship Week.
- The 1-seeds get placed in the region closest to them, chosen based on how the committee ranks them 1 through 4. The 5th best team does not go in the same region as the 4th ranked team. The 2-seeds are placed in regions the same way the 1-seeds are. Therefore, the 1st and 5th best teams could be placed in the same region. The committee looks to avoid early conference match-ups as best they can.
- The First Four is played in Dayton, Ohio on Tuesday and Wednesday, March 15-16. The Round of 64 then begins on Thursday in Providence, Raleigh, Des Moines and Denver. Friday games are in St. Louis, Brooklyn, Oklahoma City and Spokane.
- Keep in mind that this is what I think the bracket would look like TODAY. The actual bracket will almost definitely look a lot different, as there is still a lot of basketball to be played, and crazy things happen in sports.
Without further ado, here is my first bracket prediction of 2016!
As my top-rated team, Kansas was placed in the South Region, playing their Round of 64 game in Des Moines. While I have Miami as my 8th ranked team, that is not why they were placed in this region. It was simply for geographic reasons. Many people have Kentucky still on the 2-seed line, but they have struggled as of late, and that made me drop them to a 3-seed. USC is a team that is rising quickly, and many have them even higher than a 9-seed. They could rise further in the coming weeks. One surprise in this region is San Diego State. Boise State currently leads the Mountain West, but I think San Diego State has played well enough thus far to deserve an at-large bid. I expect the Aztecs to win the Mountain West, so it may work itself out.
In my projection, North Carolina is the worst of the 1-seeds, matching up their East Region with the South. Many have Maryland as a 1-seed, but I think North Carolina is the better team right now. Virginia has struggled lately, with losses to Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech, but I still have them as a 3-seed. South Carolina remains undefeated, and while their resume leaves a lot to be desired, their perfect season so far cannot be ignored. Jackson State vs Wagner and Cincinnati vs Michigan are two First Four games with winners advancing to this region. Everybody knows about Monmouth’s bench, but their team is pretty good too, with wins over UCLA, Notre Dame and Georgetown on their resume. Iona currently leads their conference, but I think Monmouth’s resume would have them in as an at-large.
Oklahoma heads out west in my projection, as the 3rd ranked team. They would face the winner of Tennessee Tech vs Hampton in the First Four. Iowa is surging and Arizona is falling. Last week, these two teams’ seeds would have been flip-flopped. My bracket has two WCC teams in the tourney, and they are both here in the West Region; Gonzaga as a 7-seed and Saint Mary’s a 9-seed. It will be interesting to see which team wins that conference, but both teams are good enough to get in. Washington is not a team I expect to be in the tournament come March, but they are the early leaders in the Pac-12, so they get in here.
Michigan State will head to the Midwest Region as my #2 team, with Big East leader Villanova, Duke and West Virginia rounding out this region’s top-4 seeds. Baylor got a big road win over Iowa State on Saturday, and that has sent them from bubble team to 6-seed. The final First Four game can be found in this region,with Oregon State and Marquette battling for a chance to head to Providence to take on Baylor. My first “Giant Killer,” Arkansas-Little Rock, is a 12-seed as the Sun Belt leader in my first bracket. I would have this region rated toughest of the four regions in this first projection.
Last Four Byes: Notre Dame, San Diego State, Utah, Monmouth
Last Four In: Oregon State, Michigan, Cincinnati, Marquette
First Four Out: Clemson, George Washington, Georgetown, UT-Arlington
Next Four Out: Texas, St. Joseph’s, LSU, BYU
And there’s the first installment of Bracketball’s Bracketology! The bracket will be updated again next Monday. Tomorrow, look for a preview of this week’s biggest game, Kansas @ West Virginia in a battle for 1st place in the Big 12!