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2018 March Madness bracket projections as conference season comes to a close

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Virginia holds steady as the number one overall seed and the ACC puts in NINE teams

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Midwest Regional Practice Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

We are less than two weeks from Selection Sunday, so there is no better time to unveil the most recent Streaking the Lawn bracket. Our Virginia Cavaliers are a mainstay at the top (it’s not even close) and barring a three game losing streak where the team doesn’t even look competitive, a top seed is a lock. As for the rest of the pairings, let’s take a look

2018 NCAA Bracketology - South/West Regionals

South Regional West Regional
South Regional West Regional
1. Virginia (1) 1. Xavier (4)
16. North Carolina Central / UMBC 16. Lipscomb
9. Oklahoma 9. Saint Mary's
8. Nevada 8. Kansas St.
5. Wichita St. 5. Ohio St.
12. Montana 12. San Diego State
13. South Dakota State 13. Bucknell
4. Gonzaga 4. Kentucky
3. Tennessee 3. West Virginia
14. Charleston 14. Georgia State
11. Loyola Chicago 11. USC / Providence
6. Miami FL 6. Arkansas
7. Seton Hall 7. Texas A&M
10. North Carolina St. 10. Rhode Island
15. Penn 15. Cal State Fullerton
2. Purdue 2. Duke

2018 NCAA Bracketology - East / Midwest Regionals

East Regional Midwest Regional
East Regional Midwest Regional
1. Villanova (2) 1.Kansas (3)
16. Radford 16. Long Island / Texas Southern
9. St. Bonaventure 9. Creighton
8. Texas 8. Florida St.
5. Texas Tech 5. Clemson
12. Davidson 12. Murray State
13. Buffalo 13. UNCG
4. Auburn 4. Arizona
3. Michigan St. 3. Michigan
14. Marshall 14. Stephen F. Austin
11. Alabama / Middle Tennessee 11. New Mexico St.
6. Houston 6. Florida
7. TCU 7. Virginia Tech
10. Missouri 10. Butler
15. Wright State 15. Iona
2. North Carolina 2. Cincinnati

Last Four In: Louisville, Baylor, Mississippi St, Boise St

First Four Out: Alabama, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Utah

Bracket Thoughts

  • UNC vs. Duke (vs. Michigan St) - UNC beat Duke, who beat Michigan State, who beat UNC. Alright, now that we have that out of the way, who gets the #1 seed? I’m leaning the North Carolina Tar Heels...today. When assessing a team’s resume, I care most about who you beat. I want to see a resume full of quality wins. Some losses here and there are ok, but I want to see that a team played high caliber competition and won more often than not. And UNC is far and away the best of these three. Their 10 Kenpom “A” game wins trumps Duke’s six and Michigan State’s four, while the Tar Heels’ 10 Quadrant 1 RPI wins destroys three apiece from the Duke Blue Devils and Michigan State Spartans. And while much has been made about how Duke and Michigan State have been playing of late, don’t look now, but the Tar Heels haven’t lost in the month of February. The Spartans have a longer streak, but UNC has tallied the same amount of “A” game wins (4) during the surge. All this being said, there is plenty still left to come. Duke and UNC are both on a collision course to play at least once, maybe twice in the next two weeks, so play on the court should determine who gets the nod between the two rivals. And unless a perfect storm occurs and all of Duke/UNC, Villanova, and Kansas win their conference titles, the Spartans should get a #1 seed with a tournament championship in the Garden.
  • 3-5 Seeds – After compiling the bracket, I was most intrigued by the mashup of teams that make up the 9-20 range in the rankings. The top is made up mostly of teams that are on the downswing (e.g. Auburn, Texas Tech, West Virginia) and the back end is littered with teams who are coming on strong and have the makeup to make a run to San Antonio (e.g. Wichita St, Michigan, Arizona). In ranking them, there was a difficult balance between what teams have done all season and what teams look to be capable of come March. It will be interesting to see how the Committee treats this range.
  • The Oklahoma Sooners - Over the last week, much has been made about whether Oklahoma and their all-everything freshman guard (I’m sure you’ve heard of him) will even make the tournament. While their fall from the top wouldn’t be as far as UVA’s in the 2001-2002 season (too early?), it would be incredible for the Sooners to miss out on a bid. Fortunately for the inevitable CBS hype machine, Oklahoma should be around come the middle of March. I have them as an eight seed buoyed by their volume of quality wins. While I’ll never say never, I just don’t see 12+ teams doing enough in the next two weeks to overtake them.
  • Mid Major Tournaments – As they always do, bubble teams across the country will be keeping an eye on conference tournaments over the next two weeks. However, the Missouri Valley, Sun Belt, and Western Athletic conference tournaments will be the source of the most intrigue. In my rankings, I have the teams leading those conferences right on the dividing line between last four in, and first four out. The Loyola-Chicago Ramblers (48th in my rankings), the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns(49), and the New Mexico State Aggies (51) all have an at-large case should they not win their conference tournaments. Teams right on the bubble should be rooting hard for the chalk to hit, otherwise everyone could be in for a nice little sweat come March 11th.
  • ACC Bubble Teams – The ACC might not be the best conference in the country this season due to the inept bottom third of the league, but it’s still likely to get the most bids of any conference. I currently have nine ACC teams getting into the tournament with a tenth, Notre Dame in the first four out. However, five of the nine that are “in” are eight seeds or worse. The final week of the season will be very interesting as Miami, NC State, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Louisville, and Notre Dame all jockey for position. Notre Dame is the most interesting of those as it’s possible that they’ll get Bonzie Colson back this week or next. Given they’ve improved their play with Matt Farrell back in the lineup, the committee could look favorably on the Irish should they win a couple games down the stretch at full strength.

There you have it. Do you agree? Disagree? Who’s too high, who’s too low? Is there anyone missing? Leave a comment, and enjoy the madness.