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2019 NCAA Bracketology: Mid February Edition

We’re in Mid-February and the Tournament picture is getting clearer.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-San Diego Practice Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Last Saturday, I unveiled my top 16 for the upcoming NCAA Tournament just before the committee unveiled theirs. I did pretty well, naming 15 of the 16 teams that the committee named. The only exception was the committee’s inclusion of Nevada over my inclusion of Virginia Tech. Given the week the Hokies had, I can’t argue and Nevada has cracked the Top 16 this week. But I stand by where they were ranked last week as Nevada has yet to even play a NET Quad One game. So while I think based on the eye test they belong amongst the top teams in the country, their resume doesn’t bear that out. But enough about that, on to the brackets.

East and West Regionals

East/West Regionals

East Regional West Regional
East Regional West Regional
1. Duke 1. Gonzaga
16. Monmouth / Saint Francis (PA) 16. Bucknell
9. Ohio St. 9. TCU
8. Wofford 8. Mississippi
5. Maryland 5. Virginia Tech
12. VCU 12. Nebraska / Alabama
13. New Mexico State 13. Yale
4. Marquette 4. Wisconsin
3. Kansas 3. LSU
14. Old Dominion 14. South Dakota State
11. Utah St. 11. Clemson
6. Florida St. 6. Villanova
7. Buffalo 7. Washington
10. Texas 10. Lipscomb
15. UC Irvine 15. Montana
2. Kentucky 2. Michigan St.

South and Midwest Regionals

South/Midwest Regionals

South Regional Midwest Regional
South Regional Midwest Regional
1. Virginia 1. Tennessee
16. Sam Houston State 16. Norfolk State / Prairie View A&M
9. Auburn 9. St. John's
8. Baylor 8. North Carolina St.
5. Kansas St. 5. Iowa
12. UNC Greensboro / Indiana 12. Belmont
13. Hofstra 13. Vermont
4. Purdue 4. Nevada
3. Texas Tech 3. North Carolina
14. Texas State 14. Northern Kentucky
11. Minnesota 11. Syracuse
6. Louisville 6. Iowa St.
7. Cincinnati 7. Mississippi St.
10. Oklahoma 10. UCF
15. Radford 15. Loyola-Chicago
2. Houston 2. Michigan

Last Four In: UNC Greensboro, Nebraska, Indiana, Alabama

First Four Out: Seton Hall, Liberty, Florida, Temple

Bracket Thoughts

  • Duke, Virginia and Everyone Else - The Duke Blue Devils and Virginia Cavaliers have clearly separated themselves as the top two teams in the country. I know the Tennessee Volunteers get a lot of love but their resume pales in comparison to the Blue Devils and Cavaliers. The Vols have four KenPom A game wins while Virginia and Duke have eight and nine respectively. Furthermore, since Tennessee’s win over Gonzaga on December 9th, their best win is on the road against KenPom #38 Florida (a team not even in this bracket). And while the SEC is much improved this season, Tennessee hasn’t played a single game against the next five best teams in the league, all rated 36th or better in KenPom. But we’ll figure out if they’re real sooner rather than later. The Vols face all five of those teams (and Kentucky twice) over the next three weeks with four of the six games coming on the road. If Tennessee gets through that gauntlet with two losses or fewer, then we can say this team is for real.
  • #2BidSoCon - About a month ago, I can across the hashtag #2BidSoCon and totally think it should be a thing. But why stop at two? Why not three? In the current bracket Wofford and UNC Greensboro have earned the right to be among the the 68 team field. That doesn’t imply that either wins the conference tournament. What if it’s Furman? What if it’s East Tennessee State? It’s February 15th and a #2BidSoCon looks pretty good while a #3BidSoCon isn’t out of the cards.
  • Big Bubble - I feel like a broken record each and every year, but this year the bubble may be especially interesting. Note that UNC Greensboro is among the last four in while Liberty is in the first four out. Given that the Pac 12 and Atlantic Ten look like one bid leagues at the moment, that extends the bubble out quite a bit. In fact, when I’ve done this analysis in previous years, the cutoff for the bubble is usually around teams ranked 45-46 and the play-in game is among 11 seeds. This bracket sees my 49th ranked team among the last four in and the First Four games will feature all 12 seeds. This could change obviously between now and Selection Sunday, but what it means is that there will be plenty of teams in the conversation and their overall profiles will be worse than what we’re used to seeing

What do you think? Who’s too high, who’s too low? Is that a bracket you’d like to see a month from now?