Sunday, March 11, 2012

2012 NCAA Tournament Bracket Prediction

With the Selection Show mere hours away, here's a look at how I see the bracket as of right now.

UPDATE: With Michigan State beating Ohio State, they move up to the top line.

To start with, the #1 overall seed in the Tournament is...

Really no surprise here. UK has been the best team all season and their loss to Vanderbilt in the SEC Championship doesn't change that. The rest of the #1 seeds are:

Head-to-head, Michigan State and Kansas had very even resumes, but Michigan State won their conference tournament, giving them the edge for the top line. To be honest, the difference between the 4th #1 seed and the top #2 seed is very slim in my book. Here's how my bracket looks:

Midwest Region
1. Kentucky vs 16. Norfolk State/Vermont
8. Kansas State vs 9. Connecticut
5. UNLV vs 12. Colorado
4. Wisconsin vs 13. Virginia Commonwealth
6. Wichita State vs 11. Texas
3. Marquette vs 14. New Mexico State
7. St Mary's (CA) vs 10. Colorado State
2. Duke vs 15. Loyola (MD)

East Region
1. Syracuse vs 16. Lamar
8. Memphis vs 9. Harvard
5. Vanderbilt vs 12. BYU/North Carolina State
4. Indiana vs 13. Long Beach State
6. Temple vs 11. California
3. Baylor vs 14. Montana
7. Cincinnati vs 10. Virginia
2. Ohio State vs 15. Detroit

South Region
1. North Carolina vs 16. Western Kentucky/Mississippi Valley State
8. Iowa State vs 9. Purdue
5. Florida vs 12. South Florida/Marshall
4. Louisville vs 13. South Dakota State
6. San Diego State vs 11. Xavier
3. Michigan vs 14. Belmont
7. Gonzaga vs 10. West Virginia
2. Missouri vs 15. Lehigh

West Region
1. Michigan State vs 16. UNC-Asheville
8. Notre Dame vs 9. Alabama
5. Creighton vs 12. St Bonaventure
4. Florida State vs 13. Ohio
6. Murray State vs 11. Southern Mississippi
3. Georgetown vs 14. Davidson
7. New Mexico vs 10. St Louis
2. Kansas vs 15. Long Island

To speak to the bubble for a moment, obviously my "Last 4 In" were BYU, South Florida, North Carolina State, and Marshall. The "First Five Out" were Iona, Seton Hall, Mississippi State, Drexel, and Miami. Here's a look at their resumes:

(click to enlarge)

While all of the teams (except Miami) had multiple bad losses against teams with 100+ RPIs, the Committee has given good wins more weight than bad losses in the past. South Florida, NC State, and Marshall all had strong computer numbers, including excellent Non-Conference Strength of Schedule numbers. While Seton Hall and Mississippi State had the most Top 100 wins (7) of any teams in the group, their RPIs were prohibitively high (67+) and their Non-Conference SOS numbers were both over 125. On the other hand, Marshall had a similar number of Top 100 wins (6) but more Top 50 wins (4 to 3 for Seton Hall and 2 for Mississippi State). Marshall's more wins against the Top 50 gave them an edge in my book for the last spot. Iona's 0-2 record against the Top 50 was what kept them out, and Drexel's horrendous Non-Conference SOS number was a scar on their resume. Additionally, Marshall's top wins (#19 Southern Miss twice, #40 Cincinnati, and #41 Iona) were better than Iona or Drexel's best wins. 

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