Sunday, March 17, 2013

2013 Final Bracket Prediction

The Selection Show is just hours away, the tournament picture is mostly decided. Only 4 conference tournaments remain and only one team (Ole Miss) is on the bubble.

Entering Champ Week, I had Duke as the #1 overall seed in the tournament due to their perfect computer numbers (RPI 1, SOS 1, NCSOS 1) but their quarterfinal loss to Maryland in the ACC Tournament not only knocked the Blue Devils out of the #1 overall seed but also off the top line. Not to be outdone, the team I had as the #2 overall seed (Indiana) also lost this week, leaving me a difficult decision for who to put at the top of the bracket. My #1 overall seed is....

Obviously this is a very non-traditional pick, but it's hard to argue with Gonzaga's resume. They are 31-2 overall, with their only 2 losses coming to top 40 teams: Illinois (at home) and Butler (on the road on a last-second shot). The Bulldogs blazed through the West Coast Conference and are deserving of the top spot.

The next two #1 seeds were not very difficult to determine. Louisville and Kansas both won their respective Conference Tournaments and had Top 10 RPIs. Louisville had only one loss outside the Top 50 all season (at Villanova) and Kansas had two (Baylor and TCU). They were 2 of only 3 teams in the nation had double-digit wins against the Top 50 (New Mexico being the other). Kansas' 13 Top 50 wins is the most in the nation with Louisville's 10 a close second. 

The battle for the last #1 seed was close between Indiana, Duke, New Mexico and Miami. Duke had the best computer profile of the group, but has 4 losses outside the Top 30, with 3 of them coming outside the Top 50. New Mexico has the most Top 50 wins of the group (10) and the most Top 100 wins in the nation (19), but they also have 3 losses outside the Top 30 with 2 of them coming outside the Top 50. The Lobos also only have 2 wins against Top 20 teams with their best wins coming over Colorado St (RPI 18). By comparison, Indiana has 7 wins over Top 20 teams, Duke has 5, and Miami has 5. Despite being the ACC Champion, Miami has the worst losses of the group, having dropped two games to teams with 100+ RPIs and 4 games to teams with RPIs over 70.

At the end of the day, Miami's bad losses and New Mexico's lack of top-tier wins were too much to overcome. In a decision between Indiana and Duke, Indiana got the slight edge because while both teams have 9 Top 50 wins, Indiana has more Top 20 wins and no losses outside the Top 50 whereas Duke has 3. 

Here's how the rest of my bracket looks:

West Region

1. Gonzaga vs 16. NC A&T/Liberty
8. Cincinnati vs 9. Iowa St
5. St Louis vs 12. California/Tennessee
4. Wisconsin vs 13. Akron
6. UCLA vs 11. Oklahoma
3. Ohio St vs 14. Iona
7. Creighton vs 10. Temple
2. Georgetown vs 15. Harvard

Midwest Region

1. Louisville vs 16. Southern/James Madison
8. Colorado St vs 9. Illinois
5. Arizona vs 12. Bucknell
4. Kansas St vs 13. New Mexico St
6. Butler vs 11. Villanova
3. Michigan vs 14. Northwestern St
7. San Diego St vs 10. Missouri
2. Duke vs 15. Pacific

South Region

1. Kansas vs 16. LIU-Brooklyn
8. North Carolina vs 9. Minnesota
5. VCU vs 12. Boise St/Kentucky
4. Syracuse vs 13. South Dakota St
6. Notre Dame vs 11. St Mary's
3. Florida vs 14. Montana
7. Oregon vs 10. Wichita St
2. New Mexico vs 15. Florida Gulf Coast

East Region

1. Indiana vs 16. Western Kentucky
8. Memphis vs 9. NC State
5. Marquette vs 12. Belmont
4. UNLVvs 13. Davidson
6. Oklahoma St vs 11. Colorado
3. Michigan St vs 14. Valparaiso
7. Pittsburgh vs 10. Ole Miss
2. Miami (FL) vs 15. Albany

Bids by Conference: Big East (8), Big Ten (7), Big XII (5), Pac 12 (5), Mountain West (5), SEC (5), ACC (4), Atlantic 10 (4), Missouri Valley (2), West Coast (2)

The Bubble

It was a hard decision for the last team in, but Kentucky's overall computer numbers were clearly better than Virginia's and UMass's. Kentucky had two wins (Florida and Missouri) better than UMass' best win over Temple. Kentucky's best two wins were also better than Middle Tennessee's best win, which was the Blue Raiders only win over a Top 100 squad. Virginia simply had too many bad losses to include in the field. It was a tossup between Kentucky and La Salle, and I picked Kentucky based on their better Non-Conference schedule and the fact that they got their best win of the season (Florida) without Nerlens Noel in the lineup and La Salle's best wins came during a hot streak in January.

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