Bracket Projection: January 29

It is Chad’s turn for the bracket this week, so below is the current field through games of January 28.  Below the brackets you will find the (incorrect) comments by other HoopsHD staffers in which they try to pick apart what is otherwise a perfect bracket.

Notes on this week’s field:

– Virginia has moved to #1 overall after winning at Duke.  Honestly, comparing their profile to Villanova, it is hard to even argue that the Hoos are not the best team.  Six Tier 1 wins, four top 11 wins, and the only loss was early in the year at West Virginia.  This team really is this good, folks.

– Yes, that is Auburn on the 2 line.  I honestly don’t think this team is 2 seed good, but I base the field on profiles, and the Tigers profile is better than all but 7 teams in the field.

– Speaking of SEC teams, after winning the SEC-Big 12 challenge this weekend, two more SEC teams (Tennessee and Florida) have moved up to 4 seeds, with Kentucky right on their heels for a possible fourth.  Arizona, despite winning, was the team that dropped out of being a protected seed, though the Wildcats are likely to move back up as they pile up wins in a weak Pac 12.

– North Carolina State was barely on my radar last week.  North Carolina State is a 9 seed this week.  That is what winning at North Carolina can do for you.  The Wolfpack have four wins over teams that are among the top 20 on my seed list, and that simply cannot be ignored.

– Loyola-Chicago is on my 12 line, but I have them ranked above all four of my First Four teams.  The Ramblers are 18-4 overall, but three of the four losses came during a stretch when one of their top players, Clayton Custer, was out with injury.  Plus, they have the huge win at Florida, a team that just became a 4 seed in my field.  If they win out until the MVC title game, there should be some long discussions about this team in the committee room.

– My last four teams in are, in order, Virginia Tech, Houston, Washington and Syracuse (and yes, I had to hold my nose at that last one).  My top four teams out are, again in order, Middle Tennessee, Utah, Missouri and SMU.  The next four out are UCLA, Boise State, LSU and Texas A&M.  I also considered Oklahoma State, Oregon, Boston College, Georgia and Notre Dame.


Comments from John:

-In regards to overall #1, I agree that Virginia should be here based on merit. I also should emphasize that I am NOT considering Villanova’s injury situation for the purpose of this exercise.

-It’s not far fetched to see Tennessee and Florida eeking out protected seeds over teams like Seton Hall, Kentucky and Arizona. Putting Florida State this high requires a lot more imagination that I can provide at this point. I blame Ohio State’s losing to Penn State for the Noles being placed this high.

-I almost want to flip-flop TCU and Miami at this point. TCU was finally given the keys to a Porsche after their win at West Virginia gave their profile some legitimacy with a protected seed win. Unfortunately, the Porsche got keyed when they lost at Vandy. As for Miami, they have home wins against Louisville and Florida State that are respectable, and their win against Middle Tennessee is also a solid one in Hawaii. They also won at NC State, and that win is rapidly looking better by the day.

-As for the Wolfpack, they are a team that Chad is correct to put in the NCAA field. Maybe not as high as a 9 categorically, but I’d argue they are certainly playing better than anyone else below them right now. Four protected-seed quality wins (v. Arizona, Duke, Clemson, at North Carolina) will do that for you.

-Syracuse. Syracuse. Syracuse. It was one thing to make a case for them last year when they were beating big-name teams at home despite a putrid record away from home. They were a little smarter in scheduling buy games this year, but it doesn’t solve their pressing need to a)win games against solid NCAA Tournament teams (not just bubblish teams) and b)winning games away from home. They’re going to have to do a lot more than just beat UConn, Georgetown and Pittsburgh away from home. (As our colleague Rocco Miller noted on Twitter, Chad probably couldn’t resist the temptation to have a Jim Boeheim/Mike Hopkins First Four matchup.)

-As I’ve said before, you also better come with an alternative in mind when said bubble team is discussed. Oklahoma State also makes me cringe a little, but at least they have some noteworthy wins (Florida State on a neutral court, Oklahoma and Texas) versus only one bad loss (at Baylor) so far this season.

Chad’s Reply:

– I have seen very little love for this Florida State profile and John criticizes my decision to give them a 5 seed.  However, take a close look at this team and I am not seeing them as low as others say they are.  The Noles have five “Tier 1” wins all over teams that made my field, including a road win at 4 seed Florida and a home win over 3 seed North Carolina.  Three of their five losses were against teams wearing white in the first round (at Duke, at Miami, home to Louisville).  Their other two were at Boston College (which is a lot more respectable this year) and on a neutral court to the Oklahoma State team that John wants me to put in.  Almost every metric is in the low to mid 20’s, which would have them in the 5-6 seed range.  Six road/neutral wins.  Compare that to a team like Michigan with only two Tier 1 wins, and two losses to teams not even meriting serious consideration.  Michigan won at Michigan State and at Texas.  That may be marginally better than winning at Florida and at Va Tech — however, Florida State has home wins over UNC, Miami and Syracuse that Michigan can only counter with home wins over Maryland and UCLA.  Their losses are close to equal.  Their metrics and SOS are close to equal.  At the end off the day, if Florida State had not beaten North Carolina at home, these two profiles would be almost dead-on even.  But Florida State did beat Carolina at home.  They have a better profile.  End of story.


-Chad made some mistakes, but fortunately I am here to fix them for him.

-I cannot fathom not having Kansas on the #1 line.  I guess being 4-1 in true road games with wins at TCU and West Virginia just aren’t doing it for Chad.  He’s more impressed by a team that’s lost at Boston College.  Yeah, that makes sense!  And they say I’M the one that needs to stop drinking!!

-I thought people would say I was overseeding Auburn when I had them on my #3 line last week.  I guess Chad wouldn’t feel that way.  He’s got them on the #2 line.  Although I wouldn’t have them quite that high, I don’t think Chad is completely wrong by having them up there.  The Tigers are definitely for real.

-Clemson is dealing with an injury to a key player, was run off the floor by Virginia, and barely won at Georgia Tech by just one more point than what Grambling won by.  So, naturally, Chad has them as a protected seed!  Arizona, who has lost just one game post Thanksgiving, is not protected.

-I do like that he has Western Kentucky on the #10 line.  I hope the real committee looks at this team as well.  They have limited bad losses, one of which was due to a really bad call at the end of the Wisconsin game, and they have a massive neutral win against Purdue.

-I’d like to thank Chad for verifying in his write-up who the last four teams in the field are.  Geez, that would have been tough to figure out!!

And, why the hell is SYRACUSE one of those teams??  I guess they are red hot right now!  Following a four game losing streak, they managed to win three straight against Pitt, BC, and Pitt again!  WOW!  Syracuse has done what any team in the top half of the Southland would have been able to do!  Beat Pitt twice!!  Now, they do have an abundance of home wins against likely NIT teams.  At least a team like Boise State has a smattering of wins against NIT teams away from home!  Middle Tennessee would have been a much better choice.  In fact if Syracuse and Middle Tennessee were to play on equal terms, I think MTSU would win rather easily.  Their win at Western Kentucky is, by itself, better than anything Syracuse has done.

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