2019 March Madness Bracketology 2.0: Who’s on Top as Conference Championships Wrap Up?

Selection Sunday is finally here.  There are just about seven hours left till the big reveal, and today, I’ll be releasing my final projection of the March Madness bracket before the selection committee reveals the real bracket. Feel free to comment with your thoughts, and let’s get started with the East Region.

Note: Bracketology is Accurate as of March 16, 2019 at 12:00 PM EST

Since this was written:

  • Prairie View A&M has defeated Texas Southern in the SWAC Championship, clinching a March Madness bid and likely taking Texas Southern’s previously expected tourney slot.
  • My only A10 reps, VCU and Davidson, have been eliminated from the A10 tournament.  Saint Louis or Saint Bonaventure will punch their ticket as well.
  • Oregon has defeated Washington in the Pac-12 championship.  It is now highly unlikely that they will have to play in the First Four as I predicted

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After winning the ACC tournament thanks to Zion Williamson’s return, I have Duke winning the ACC and grabbing the 1 seed and take on the Patriot League winner, Colgate. I have Michigan State snagging a 2 seed in the East after they win the B1G, as they don’t have a 1-seed resume regardless of their Big Ten tournament results. They’ll take on Gardner-Webb, who surprised some when they punched their March Madness ticket this week. LSU should also earn a Top 4 seed after a strong finish to the season. Virginia Tech will grab the 4-seed after a strong start to the ACC season. They’ll play New England-based teams in the Round of 64 (Northeastern and Yale).

Kansas State will take the 5 seed after missing out on the Big 12 championship, and Cincinnati will grab the 6 seed on an at-large bid. I see Colorado grabbing one of the last four at-large bids despite playing in a weak Pac-12, but Clemson will beat them out in the First Four and take on Kansas State. UNC Greensboro will grab an at-large bid as well in an unusually strong SoCon. Villanova hasn’t quite been themself this year, but they’ll still win the Big East and snag a 7 seed. Syracuse will grab a 10 seed and take on Villanova despite an underwhelming ACC performance. NC State has been inconsistent, but they’re fitting for an 8 seed. Davidson should still make the tourney even if they lose the Atlantic 10 to VCU or someone else. They’ll take the 9 seed.

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Tennessee just took down Kentucky in the SEC semifinals, and as long as they win the SEC, they should grab the final 1 seed. They’ll take on Montana, who won a weak Big Sky. UNC may have lost in the ACC semifinals. But after a very strong finish to the season, they are still 2-seed material in my eyes. They’ll face off with Northern Kentucky. Texas Tech finished the regular season with a bang despite a playoff choke.  They should still earn a 3 seed as they did last year. Georgia State will challenge them after making the tournament for the third time in 5 years. Purdue will take the 4 seed after a similar situation to the Red Raiders, facing the winner of a strong C-USA, Old Dominion.

Wofford turned out to one of the best mid-major teams in a long time, and they are deserving of a top half slot in the NCAA tournament. I have them taking on the Florida Gators, who have come up big when they needed to despite inconsistency. The Gators will take down another PAC-12 team, Oregon in the First Four. Maryland will grab a 6 seed after finishing the season strong, taking on an Ole Miss team who topped off a strong start with a decent SEC performance. Mississippi State may have struggled down the stretch this year in the SEC, but they should still grab a top half seed as well. Belmont will face them: I feel that their strong season is enough to justify an at-large bid despite playing in a weaker conference. Temple’s resume is somewhat underrated as well, and they’ll snag the 8 seed to play Arizona State, one of the stronger teams in the PAC-12.

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Virginia is coming off another strong regular season despite being upset by UMBC a year ago today. The question is, will they choke in the tourney again? They will play either Iona or NC Central, both of whom are experienced March Madness teams. Michigan will grab the 2 seed after their strong inter-conference performance, and Bradley will take them on after a surprise MVC victory. Nevada will still grab a 3 seed despite losing the MWC – they are still another one of the best mid-major teams in the NCAA. Vermont will give them a run for their money though after beating UMBC in the America East finals. Kansas will snag the 4 seed despite an inconsistent year and relatively early Big 12 tourney elimination. They’ll play Liberty, one of this year’s first ticket punchers.

Auburn is not quite on the level of SEC rivals Tennessee and Kentucky, but they should still get a fairly high seed, playing Saint Mary’s, who shocked Gonzaga in the WCC tourney. Marquette didn’t finish as strong as they started, but their early success still warrants a 6 seed, and they’ll play Oklahoma, whose struggles in the Big 12 aren’t enough to disqualify them from an at-large bid. Buffalo, another strong mid-major, was undefeated for almost half the season, but their slightly underwhelming intra-Conference performance will keep them to a 7 seed and a first round date with Louisville, who just barely makes the cut after an underwhelming start and struggles late in the season. Iowa and UCF will face off in the 8-9 game, as UCF nearly kept up with Cincinnati and Houston in the AAC and Iowa improved upon 2017-18 struggles.

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Gonzaga should still be able to grab a #1 seed, even after losing in the WCC Championship. Fairleigh Dickinson or North Dakota State (Both already punched tickets) will face them.  After a strong SEC performance, Kentucky will grab a 2 seed despite losing to Tennessee in the SEC semifinals and should easily defeat Abilene Christian of the Southland Conference.  AAC favorite Houston should be able to snag a 3 seed after just two regular season losses.  UC Irvine, who has been a regular contender in the Big West throughout the Russell Turner era will challenge them.  Florida State made the ACC finals.  Considering their above average regular season, they are definitely deserving of a Top 4 seed.  Texas Southern will win the SWAC and take them on.

Wisconsin was at least competitive in the B1G, and Ethan Happ’s return gave them a boost this year.  They should earn the 5 seed after their performance, but New Mexico State is an experienced NCAA tournament team who has pulled many upsets before.  They will not be an easy opponent.  Washington, the Pac-12 regular season winner, should still be considered a Top 25 overall team despite their weak conference.  TCU will just barely earn the at-large bid and first-round bye as they take Washington on.  Whether VCU wins the A10 or not, they should still make it in with a top half seed after a late-season surge to the top of the A10 standings.  Murray State, the OVC winner will give them a hard time though after losing just 4 games on the season.  I have Big 12 winner Iowa State and MWC winner Utah State in the 8-9 game.  Neither is deserving of Top 4 seeds due to underwhelming regular season performances.  But their conference victories will boost their resumes.

Additional Notes

Conferences with Multiple Teams:

  • ACC: 9
  • SEC: 7
  • Big 12: 6
  • B1G: 6
  • AAC: 4
  • PAC-12: 4
  • A10: 2
  • Big East: 2
  • MWC: 2
  • OVC: 2
  • SoCon: 2
  • WCC: 2

Bubble Watch

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That’s all for my final bracketology of the year.  Stay tuned for more March Madness coverage soon, including a region-by-region breakdown of my bracket this week.

2019 March Madness Bracketology 1.0: What’s Changed Since “February Frenzy”

I know, aside from a quick post sharing my latest Harbinger article about my high school’s basketball team, it’s been a while.  Since the Super Bowl, I have been busy with schoolwork, preparing for an upcoming keynote speech I will be delivering at the Visions of Community Conference in March.  But this week, I’m on February Vacation.  I was planning on doing a Super Bowl recap, and there’s a lot you can say about the Patriots defensive dominance and Tom Brady’s sixth ring, but other than that, it was a dull game.  Honestly, if the Pats hadn’t won, I would probably be wondering why I wasted 4 hours of my life watching such a dull football game.  I definitely overhyped it, but so did everyone else.

Normally, this time of year is a dull time for sports fans.  Football is over, baseball hasn’t started yet, and the NBA and NHL are still in the regular season.  But with Bryce Harper and Manny Machado still on the market, the AAF continuing football after February, Spring Training starting and March Madness coming right around the corner, I have plenty to write about.  This week, I will be covering a few different things, starting today with a March Madness bracketology.  Later this week, I will likely have some MLB coverage (either something on the remaining free agents or season predictions depending on when Harper and Machado sign), and maybe even some AAF coverage.  Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about the Celtics and Bruins.  The Celtics do have a big game this Thursday against the Milwaukee Bucks, and the Bruins are on a 4 game win streak, gathering momentum they’ll need tomorrow in San Jose.

But today, I will be sharing my first March Madness bracketology of the season.  About a week ago, the bracket committee released a Bracket Preview that was called “February Frenzy” by some.  This is what it turned out like:

Image result for ncaa top 16 2019

I did release my own Top 16 on the day of as well:

  EAST     MIDWEST     SOUTH     WEST

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What has changed this week, and what would the rest of the bracket look like?  Keep reading to see what I think.  Feel free to comment with your own thoughts and predictions.

That’s all for my first bracketology of 2019.  Stay tuned for more March Madness coverage soon.

Bracketology 3.0: Who’s In & Who’s Out After Championship Week

Selection Sunday is finally here.  Most tickets are already punched, and as you are reading this, it is likely that the selection committee is building their bracket.  For this bracketology, I followed the real algorithm that the selection committee uses, the only differences being that I do not represent any NCAA team (even as a fan) and that my bracketologies are made by a one person committee (me), so that saved me time that the committee spends voting.

For this bracketology, I have provided analysis for each of the four regions I have put together.  I will also give you a final look at this year’s Bubble Watch.

Note: On this bracket, the final five automatic bids that are available have been awarded to the teams I have predicted to win today.  This bracket was finalized this morning around 9:00 AM EST.  (This did not account for Davidson’s A10 title)

East Region

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Villanova secured their 1 seed with an OT victory over Providence in the Big East championship.  Cincinnati should secure their #2 with a win over Houston today.  I couldn’t see an overload of upsets here, as Villanova, Cincinnati and other powerhouses make this a strong conference.  But do not sleep on Michigan, who quietly made their way into the Big Ten finals and beat Purdue, putting an end to Purdue’s contention for a #1 seed and giving a huge boost to Michigan in the selection process.  Rhode Island could be another surprise team here, as long as they hold off a rising Providence team.  Alongside Providence, Loyola-Chicago, Buffalo, and UNC Greensboro could also pull upsets.

I think Buffalo could easily upset a Clemson team that struggled a bit late into the season.  UNC Greensboro could also pose a significant threat to a Texas Tech team that was contending for a Big 12 title until the final weeks of the season.  Loyola-Chicago could also be dangerous after going 28-5, a great record for a mid-major team.  In the end, I think this conference will come down to Villanova, Cincy, and possibly Michigan.

West Region

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Much like Villanova, Kansas secured their #1 seed with the Big 12 win.  But Villanova was already a practical lock for one, while Kansas competed with several other teams for the fourth 1 seed.  That leaves Duke, also a #1 contender who I have in the west region, in a #2 seed.  They will likely compete for the final four in another strong conference.  Wichita State, Gonzaga, and Kentucky among others could also contend.  But even though it looks unlikely for Cinderella teams to make a crazy run without pulling a shocker over Kansas or Duke, I do see upsets happening.

New Mexico State has pulled upsets in the past, and they could become a Cinderella if they can get to the Sweet 16 over Nevada and Duke.  Boise State and San Diego State, who came close to Nevada in the battle for the Mountain West’s regular-season title, could also pull upsets.  SDSU had to beat Nevada to get to the title game and win the conference tourney.   Boise State is now on the bubble after failing to win the Mountain West in both the regular season and playoffs, but despite a lack of strong victories, I think they are on the committee’s radar.  Montana is the mid-major team I could see pulling a shocking upset.  But they’ll have to get past Gonzaga, a west coast powerhouse.

UCLA and Western Kentucky make up half of my Last Four In, and they could also pull an upset.  I think UCLA should be in after making the Pac-12 semifinals, and I value Western Kentucky’s win over Purdue very highly, so even in a mid-major conference, I think they can make it after falling to Marshall last night.  In the end, as I had said before, I think it will be Kansas or Duke that comes out of the west.

South Region

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This region is a little more upset friendly.  Michigan State was upset in the first round the last time they were a #2 seed, and although I doubt UMBC can beat MSU, it’s a possibility that Florida can beat them.  Although Virginia was the best team in the league during the regular season, I don’t know if they will have the same success under the pressure of March Madness.  They should make the Sweet 16, but after that, the pressure could get to them.  Auburn is pushed into the #3 slot after losing to Florida in the SEC tournament.  There will be plenty of upsets here.  Stephen F. Austin upset West Virginia in 2016, but can they do the same to the #4 seed Arizona?  SFA got here by winning the Southland championship last night.

Bubble teams like Alabama and Louisville, who round out my Last Four In, could pull an upset as well, especially against West Virginia.  SFA will also have a chance to beat West Virginia again if they both win in the Round of 64, so even as a #5, West Virginia will not have it easy.  However, teams like SFA and Louisville are not serious contenders.  Look for Houston and Florida to pull upsets later on to contend for the conference alongside Virginia, MSU, and others.

Midwest Region

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This is the conference that I see having the most upsets.  Xavier proved that they can struggle under pressure after losing to Providence in the Big East semifinals.  Will lower seeds get a piece of them, especially in later rounds?  I think Ohio State could be the team that upsets them, in the Sweet 16.  Although OSU lost to Penn State multiple times, including in the B1G quarterfinals, I see them bouncing back for a deep run, especially if they can beat an ambitious South Dakota State team, who nearly pulled an upset last time they were here, as a #12 seed.

Iona is another team to watch.  Purdue has struggled a bit of late, and the Gaels surprised many by winning the MAAC and returning to the Big Dance.  Murray State and Charleston are also among the mid-majors with plenty of upside in this region.  Even bubble teams, like Middle Tennessee could pull upsets.  I still see the dominant Blue Raiders as a tournament team.  They made a mistake.  It just happened to occur in the conference semifinals.  Marshall, who beat them, went on to win Conference USA.  With Xavier, Purdue, and other high seeds being matched up against high upside teams, UNC and Ohio State among others could emerge as contenders for the Final Four.

Bubble Watch

Last Four In

  1. Image result for ucla basketball logo UCLA
  2. Related image Alabama
  3. Image result for louisville logo  Louisville
  4. Image result for western kentucky logo red Western Kentucky

UCLA should still make it.  They finished with a decent record and made the Pac-12 semifinals, and although USC is in a better position, UCLA has a pretty secure slot.  On the other hand, I didn’t have Alabama in the field of 68 until they made the SEC semifinals.  Their impressive run should put them on the committee’s radar.

You could argue that Louisville’s late collapse and lack of quality wins will cause them to drop out of the field, but I still see them as a contender for a spot after beating FSU to make the ACC quarterfinals.  They didn’t have a chance against Virginia, so the FSU win might be enough to put Louisville in and kick FSU out.  Western Kentucky’s success in the C-USA will help them, but it’s their wins over Purdue and other high major conference teams that proves them worthy of grabbing a spot.  You could argue for Louisiana or Vermont instead, but WKU has more quality victories.

First Four Out

  1. Related image Florida State
  2. Image result for oregon logo Oregon
  3. Related image Penn State
  4. Image result for syracuse logo Syracuse

FSU could be put in the field of 68 over Louisville or WKU, but they lacked quality wins.  Oregon’s struggles in the weakening Pac-12 will keep them out.  They couldn’t stay on top in a downfall for most Pac-12 teams.  Penn State is on the committee’s radar after their upset of OSU, but it’s not enough to put them in the tourney.  Syracuse will also miss the tournament.  They had some impressive wins, but also embarrassing losses.  All these teams will be in serious consideration though.

Next Four Out

  1. Image result for nc state logo North Carolina State
  2. Related image Texas
  3. Image result for vermont catamounts logo Vermont
  4. Image result for louisiana lafayette basketball logo Louisiana

NC State’s loss to Boston College likely burst their bubble.  They are not even in my first four out anymore.  Texas’ lack of quality wins plus their 14 loss season likely put an end to their hopes.  Vermont and Louisiana may be mid-majors who lost their conference, but they dominated in regular season play.  However, it does not compare to what high major teams on the bubble have done, as both Vermont and Louisiana lack Quadrant 1 wins.

 

That’s all for my bracketology.  Stay tuned for my bracket breakdown series, which will be released throughout the week after the selection show.

Bracketology 2.0: MSU Snags a 1-Seed Before Conference Tourneys

Welcome to the second of my three 2018 March Madness bracketologies.  In this bracket prediction, automatic bids were awarded to teams that I think will win their conference tourneys.  Who is in?  Who is out?  Read below to find out.

Note: This bracketology was created on February 25th.

East Region

  1. Image result for villanova logo blue Villanova
  2. Image result for auburn logo Auburn
  3. Image result for duke logo blue background Duke
  4. Image result for west virginia logo colored background West Virginia
  5. Related image Miami
  6. Related image Rhode Island
  7. Related image Florida
  8. Image result for louisville logo  Louisville
  9. Related image Arkansas
  10. Image result for murray state Murray State
  11. Image result for louisiana lafayette basketball logo Louisiana
  12. Image result for vermont catamounts logo Vermont
  13. Image result for UB logo Buffalo
  14. Image result for ETSU logo ETSU
  15. Related image Pennsylvania
  16. Image result for unc asheville basketball logo colored background Image result for texas southern logo UNC Asheville/Texas Southern

The East is a highly SEC and ACC dominated region, but also includes dark horses from smaller conferences.  Auburn has continued to impress people, so they jump into a #2 seed on my bracket.  They aren’t quite up there with the #1 seeded teams, but they’re close and could pose a threat to Villanova, the East’s #1 team.  I could also see some bigger upsets.  I could see Louisville making a run in the ACC tourney, earning them a slightly higher seed and putting them in line to try and become the second straight #8 seed to upset Villanova.  Florida and Rhode Island could also make runs.

I still see Florida as a SEC contender (and my projected SEC winner, in an upset).  Rhode Island is a big dark horse in the tournament who has dominated their smaller conference.  Vermont is another small conference dark horse, but they’ll have to get past Miami to make a run (I think it’s highly possible).  In this scenario, I wouldn’t be surprised if a team outside the Top 4 makes the Final Four here.  There could be a lot of upsets in this region.

Midwest Region

  1. Image result for michigan state logo Michigan State
  2. Image result for kansas logo Kansas
  3. Image result for tennessee volunteers logo Tennessee
  4. Image result for clemson logo colored background Clemson
  5. Related image Wichita State
  6. Related image Michigan
  7. Image result for nevada logo Nevada
  8. Image result for Virginia Tech logo Virginia Tech
  9.  USC
  10. Related image Middle Tennessee
  11. Related image Loyola-Chicago
  12. Image result for st bonaventure logo St. Bonaventure
  13. Related imageImage result for butler logo Belmont/Butler
  14. Image result for charleston logo Charleston
  15. Image result for bucknell logo Bucknell
  16. Image result for florida gulf coast logo green background Florida Gulf Coast

This is a strong conference.  You could argue for Kansas or Michigan State as a #1 seed, especially if they win their respective conferences like I think they will, but MSU only lost three games all season.  They may have had an easier schedule than most, but 28-3 is the best record in the league right now.  Wichita State could also be a contender in the conference.  They are known for surprise success in the NCAA Tournament.

Middle Tennessee could also surprise people as they usually do.  Nevada, their projected opponent, has had a great season, but they may receive a rude awakening against Middle Tennessee, who has won a March Madness game in each of the last two years while they have dominated their small conference. Just because they are in a small conference, it does not mean they are not good.

As for bubble teams in the conference, I see FGCU making it after winning their conference.  They’ve had a rough stretch of late, but I think they’ll make it in (they don’t have a chance as a #16 seed though).  I do think USC and Virginia Tech will make it despite having trouble competing in tougher conferences. I also think St. Bonaventure making it in despite losing to Rhode Island in the Atlantic 10.  Will they be able to get past Wichita State in Round 1?  In the end, this is a pretty strong conference where the top teams will be pretty hard to beat.  But do not be surprised to see an upset or two, especially in later rounds.

South Region

  1. Related image Xavier
  2. Related image Purdue
  3. Related image North Carolina
  4. Image result for texas tech red raiders logo Texas Tech
  5.   Saint Mary’s
  6. Image result for kentucky logo blue Kentucky
  7. Image result for houston logo Houston
  8. Image result for seton hall logo Seton Hall
  9. Related image Florida State
  10. Image result for kansas state logo Kansas State
  11. Image result for oregon logo Oregon
  12. Image result for unc greensboro athletics logo UNC Greensboro
  13. Image result for stpehen f austin logo colored background Stephen F. Austin
  14. Image result for northern kentucky logo Northern Kentucky
  15. Image result for jacksonville state gamecocks logo red background Jacksonville State
  16. Image result for hampton university logo colored backgroundImage result for uc irvine logo colored background Hampton/UC Irvine

I see another upset-heavy region here.  Jacksonville State is one upset threat, and they’re my bold pick to win the OVC.  I still think Murray State and Belmont can make the tourney if they lose out to JSU, but they will not have the same momentum.  Stephen F. Austin is another bold pick for me.  They pulled a big upset the last time they were here, and I see them beating out Nicholls in the Southland conference and making the NCAA tournament.  Even Northern Kentucky, who just made it here for the first time in 2017 could be a candidate to pull an upset.  They’ve taken over the Horizon League, and they’ll also come in with momentum.  UNC Greensboro and Oregon among others are also candidates within the region.

Contenders to win this conference will include UNC and Kentucky in addition to the top 2 seeds in Xavier and Purdue.  Houston could also be a sleeper after doing well in the AAC despite trailing behind Cincinnati and Wichita State.  But be prepared for crazy results in the South region.

West Region

  1. Image result for virginia logo Virginia
  2. Image result for cincinnati bearcats logo colored background Cincinnati
  3. Related image Ohio State
  4. Image result for arizona logo Arizona
  5. Image result for gonzaga logo Gonzaga
  6. Related image Creighton
  7. Related image Arizona State
  8. Image result for tcu basketball logo TCU
  9. Image result for ucla basketball logo UCLA
  10.  New Mexico State
  11. Image result for boise state logo colored background Boise State
  12.   South Dakota State
  13. Image result for byu basketball logoImage result for montana basketball logo BYU/Montana
  14.  Weber State
  15. Related image Wagner
  16. Image result for canisius basketball logo Canisius

There are a lot of sleeper teams here, but also a lot of legitimate contenders in Cincinnati, Ohio State, UVA and others.  Arizona could be in some turmoil, but I think a high seed team will come out of the region.  There will be some upsets though.  South Dakota State could be a big upset team after dominating their conference in 2017-18.  I think Weber State could pull an upset if they make it here, and I think they can win the Big Sky.  Boise State and New Mexico State could also be Cinderella teams.  Cincinnati is my favorite to win the conference, but many other dark horses and favorites will compete.

That’s all for this bracketology.  Stay tuned for more March Madness coverage soon.