Merry Christmas everyone, err Merry Selection Sunday. The day has finally arrived and wrapped up under the tree this year is a #1 Ranking, #1 Overall Seed, ACC Regular Season Championship, and ACC Tournament Championship. Virginia took all the fun out of the very top of these bracket projections, but there have been plenty of dynamics throughout the rest of ranks. In my three years of building brackets, I’ve always lamented others making changes based off the results of a single game as my rankings tended to be more about total body of work and not susceptible to recency bias. Not this year. Over the last five days, 6-8 teams have been either in or out based on a win here, a loss here, a change in Kenpom, a change in RPI. It’s been quite fun to watch. Before I get to the bracket, check out the compilation of brackets over at Bracket Matrix. They score the accuracy of brackets each season and compare them over the years. For the first time, Streaking the Lawn will be included in those rankings. Now, on to the bracket.
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: Middle Tennessee, Providence, USC, Alabama
First Four Out: Baylor, Oklahoma State, Louisville, UCLA
Next Four Out: Marquette, Nebraska, Syracuse, Notre Dame
Xavier vs. Duke - Earlier in the week, I noted that there were four teams vying for three number one seeds. I also said it would come down to conference championships with the Big East Final serving as something of a play-in game. Unfortunately, we never got to see Villanova-Xavier part three as the Xavier Musketeers fell in the semifinals to the Providence Friars. At that point, I declared Duke a final number seed. Until, of course, they fell to North Carolina later in the night. Villanova and Kansas went on to take care of business solidifying their spots as the number two and number three overall seeds respectively. That leaves Duke and Xavier. When the dust settles, this ranking comes down to losses. Duke’s seven were just one two many. Xavier had five including twice to Providence and twice to Villanova. Their worst loss was an early season tilt with Arizona State while Duke lost to Boston College and St. Johns. Advantage Xavier.
Bursting Bubbles - That popping you heard starting Thursday was the 2018 NCAA Tournament hopes and dreams of teams throughout the country. It all started Thursday when the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders dropped their Conference USA quarterfinal game to Southern Miss and continued Friday night when the Nevada Wolfpack fell victim to San Diego State in the Mountain West semifinals. The Raiders and Wolfpack were their conferences only members solidly in the field, thus the automatic bid was sure to go to someone who otherwise wouldn’t be in. Fast forward to today where the Davidson Wildcats stole a final bid from an unsuspecting resident of the bubble with their win over Rhode Island. The Wildcats weren’t in the tournament without win today, so it became the third instance of bubble going, pop.
Playing Their Way in: For all those teams that lament being left out of the NCAA Tournament, the answer is simple. At some point, somewhere, you didn’t take care of business. However, on the flip side, each season certain teams do just what they need to do and end up getting rewarded with a coveted bid. Two teams in particular stick out this season. The first is Alabama who needed a Colin Sexton buzzer beater to beat Texas A&M, but then followed that up with a drubbing of the Auburn Tigers. Despite falling to Kentucky in the semifinals, those wins coupled with several strong wins through the year elevated them to “in.” The second is Providence. As I noted earlier, they own two wins over Xavier on the season, but it was their semifinal win over the Musketeers that put them over the top. It also probably doesn’t hurt that they took the Villanova Wildcats to overtime in the Big East Final.
You Lost it for Yourself: Aw yes, the famous Gunnar Stahl quote from D2: The Mighty Ducks rings true every March. Despite what Seth Greenberg may have led you to believe when he unsuccessfully campaigned for his Virginia Tech Hokies inclusion in something like 12 tournaments in a row, nobody is actually snubbed from the NCAA Tournament. Every team that doesn’t make the Dance has major warts, had major chances to take care of business, and at the end of the day didn’t do enough. Enter the Louisville Cardinals. Do I think they are one of the best 48 at-large teams out there, sure I do (of all teams UVA played this season Louisville played them the toughest), but the resume just isn’t there. Just four wins against teams that will be in the tournament (two wins apiece versus Florida State and Virginia Tech) just doesn’t add up. And we all know a lot can happen in 0.9 seconds. Notre Dame is another team that fell just short. While the Fighting Irish played without Bonzie Colson for much of the season, and were a much better team with him, they also lost Ball State. Don’t lose to Ball State. You may be noticing a theme here discussing ACC teams being left of the tournament. Finally, there’s Syracuse, and like Louisville their four wins against teams in the field just doesn’t add up. And unlike Louisville, one of those wins came against SWAC Champion and their 249 Kenpom ranking.
All will be revealed tonight. In the meantime, let us know what you think. And check back after the show to see how we did.