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Virginia is the #3 overall seed in our latest March Madness Bracketology

The ACC puts seven teams in the tournament led by your Virginia Cavaliers.

NCAA Basketball: Final Four Preview David Wallace-USA TODAY Sports

As we enter the final week of January and conference play is heating up, there is no better time to look into the crystal ball and project the 2018 NCAA Tournament bracket. As I have done each of the past two years, I’ve built this bracket based on teams’ resumes as of today. No attempt has been made to project what might happen, rather it’s a snapshot of what a team has done up to this point in the season.

I care more about whom you beat rather than whom you played or to whom you lost (though losses do hurt). Its key attributes is to award points based on a team’s record in KenPom A and B games (normalizing top-50 and top-100 games based on location of the game) as well as utilizing the RPI’s new Quadrant 1, 2, 3, and 4 system (for an explanation, check out UVA’s team sheet and an explanation of the changes from Will Campbell). Overall it’s an objective approach using criteria and weighting that I have defined. So without further ado, here is this season’s initial projection.

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

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

Last Four In: Alabama, Western Kentucky, Providence, Houston
First Four Out: St. Bonaventure, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Maryland

Bracket Thoughts

  • The Virginia Cavaliers check in at number three overall and has earned a #1 seed. This should come as no surprise. However, what could come as a surprise is that if I had published this bracket before Virginia’s win over Clemson on Tuesday night, they would have been a #2 seed. While that may seem like blasphemy, the Hoos’ resume simply wasn’t as strong as some of the teams in their same range of ranks. Virginia’s four KenPom A game wins are tied for eighth in the country and their three RPI Quadrant 1 wins ranks 13th in the country. Have no fear though: half of the Cavaliers’ remaining games are KenPom A games, so should Virginia keep winning, resume strength won’t be an issue come Selection Sunday.
  • The ACC, Big 12, and Big East all have seven teams in the field, but it’s the SEC that paces all leagues checking in with eight. I don’t expect that to be the case come March, as I don’t believe each team can sustain their lofty rankings and with the balance in the league, expect there to be a lot of beating each other up. All that said, raise your hand if you had the Auburn Tigers as the best SEC team at this point in the year. Now put your hand down.
  • The Kansas Jayhawks remain a #1 seed despite its loss to the Oklahoma Sooners on Tuesday night. The Jayhawks generally fare well in my model based on the volume of A games they play (and win). I may be too high on them and I wouldn’t argue if you wanted to put the Duke Blue Devilson the top line.
  • The bubble at this time in the year is very large, and it could actually get larger. There don’t seem to be any teams from historical one-bid leagues in the at-large mix, so bid stealers won’t be as much of a problem as they have been in past years. There are also several teams from two-bid leagues who could fall off the bubble opening up a spot for a mediocre high major team.

What are your thoughts? Who is too high? Who is too low? Who is left out?