Now that football season is over, we turn our attention to the hoops landscape and that means the we’ll be updating Bracketology regularly until Selection Sunday. I’ll be posting new projected NCAA Tournament bracket updates every Monday and Friday until we get later in the season, when they will update even more frequently.
I’ll get to a few details of this week’s bracket shortly, but first, I need to review a few things about bracket projections in general.
Bracket projections are always based on as if the tournament started today. I am not attempting to predict future results.
Conference “automatic qualifiers” are determined by the team with the fewest conference losses, with ties broken by the most recently available NET rankings.
The NCAA debuted the, which are a replacement for the RPI. Unlike the RPI, which had an open and accountable formula, little is known about the NET. Here is what we do know…
- . I am not sure why the selection committee is afraid to release the formula, but so far, they are not willing to share.
- Margin of victory is a big factor, and despite what you have been told,
A recent example of the impact of margin of victory came when Nevada lost at New Mexico by 27 on January 5th. In the NET, the Wolf Pack fell from 8th to 29th, but the RPI, which does not count margin of victory at all, only dropped Nevada from 3rd to 5th.
. There is no concept of diminishing returns either. It’s hidden though, in a component called Net Efficiency. In short, that is a measure of margin of victory in points per possession rather than points per game. Net efficiency is the second most weighted of the five inputs to the NET formula. There is also a margin of victory component that is capped at 10 points per game. That is the lowest weighted input.
- The most weighted component is something called the “Team Value Index.” The formula for that is a secret as well, but we are told that it is strictly results oriented. The only data it uses are opponent, game location and whether it was a win or a loss.
- Strength of schedule is still being calculated the way it was with the RPI, which is simply average winning percentage of each team’s opponents after removing games against the team in question. And, as with everything, only games against Division I opponents count.
As for the bracket projection, after Houston’s loss at Temple on Wednesday, there are only two undefeated teams left, Michigan and Virginia. Those are the top two seeds in this bracket, followed by Tennessee and Duke on the top line.
The ACC is well represented at the top of the bracket, with two teams on the top line and five teams total among the top 12. Because the league has so many teams among the top four seeds, the bracketing rule that requires them all to be in separate regions has to be set aside.
The Big Ten has the most teams overall. Ten of the league’s 14 teams appear in the current bracket, although three of them are among the last four in. Dayton would be a mini-Big Ten Tournament if that happened. Such a thing is pretty unlikely in March, but not against the rules. Purdue and Iowa are bracketed to face each other in the First Four. The Big Ten putting ten teams in the final field is also pretty unlikely.
The Pac-12 only has three teams and none seeded higher than Arizona State as an eight. That may very well be a peak number. If things go badly, this could end up even being a one-bid league. I’m not sure I would bet on that though.
If you are looking for a bubble watch, you are about a month early. With nine weeks to go, almost everybody is still on the bubble. Check back with me in February, when a list of bubble teams is much more manageable and meaningful.