College Basketball Bracketology: Latest NCAA Tournament Predictions & Tracking Future Value (Jan. 24)
Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images. Pictured: K.D. Johnson (Auburn)
We are back with the second edition of Bracketology at the Action Network. There have been some significant results since the initial bracket came out on January 10th, and the new bracket reflects all of those outcomes.
Once we hit February, I will be releasing a new bracket every Monday.
As always, here are the core ground rules that will hold true throughout the rest of the year:
- First and foremost, the bracket will always be based off of the games that have been played. I am not projecting out how I think the year will finish, but rather seeding teams off of their current body of work. Each team will be seeded off of its total resume to this point in the year, the same process the Selection Committee ultimately uses when they give us the finalized bracket in mid-March. As a result, there will be a lot of change in the bracket as we get more data and conference play unfolds.
- I will be using the current conference leader for the 32 auto-bids until we get into conference tournaments. Example: Florida State currently sits atop the ACC standings, so as of now it holds the auto-bid despite being a 10-seed.
- Lastly, if you think I have under-seeded your favorite team, no that does not mean I hate them. My job is to compare resumes and rank them from most complete down the line.
Here are some quick facts before we dive into the bracket:
- Last Four Byes: Saint Mary’s, San Francisco, West Virginia, North Carolina
- Last Four In: Mississippi State, Miami (FL), Oregon, Arkansas
- First Four Out: Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Notre Dame, Kansas State
Bids by Conference:
- SEC: 8
- Big Ten: 7
- Big East: 7
- Big 12: 7
- ACC: 5
- WCC: 4
- Pac-12: 4
- MWC: 3
What Stands Out in South?
The first piece worth pointing out here is that Auburn has officially moved up to the No. 1 overall seed in the bracket, as the Tigers continue to roll through the SEC.
Providence moves up to the 4-line and currently sits atop the Big East standings. The Friars remain one of the biggest surprises of the 2021-22 season.
Arkansas, Oregon and TCU all re-join the field, as each has made some serious headway in the last two weeks. The Ducks’ wins over UCLA and USC on the road will go a long way come March.
In looking at this region, I love the potential path UConn would have to make a run to the second weekend and beyond. I’d be looking to bet the Huskies at +500 or better to win the South here.
Dan Hurley’s team has a combination of size and steady guard play that will make it a dangerous out come tournament time.
Vermont would be worth a look here for a To Make the Sweet 16 bet. UVM is dominating in the America East, and both Providence and Ohio State would be beatable opponents for the Catamounts.
What Stands Out in West?
How fun would a Gonzaga/Purdue Elite 8 matchup be? That would certainly be my pick when diving into this region, as I don’t see another team here that possesses the firepower to upset one of the top two seeds.
Despite injuries, Kelvin Sampson and Houston continue to dominate in the AAC, allowing the Cougars to hold serve on the 3-line.
Texas continues to fall down the bracket, as the Longhorns are really struggling on the offensive end.
Chattanooga is a really dangerous mid-major that I would love to take on the moneyline in this hypothetical matchup against Tennessee. The Mocs can really score it, and will be a trendy upset pick come March if they can punch their ticket out of the Southern Conference.
What Stands Out in Midwest?
Wisconsin moves all the way up to the 2-line. The Badgers already have five Quad 1 wins and five more Quad 2 victories on their resume.
As Texas struggles, Texas Tech continues to make its rise up the bracket. Mark Adams’ team is elite defensively, and will have plenty more chances to add quality wins to its resume in a loaded Big 12.
North Carolina is starting to creep dangerously close to the cutline. The Heels have been awful on the defensive end, allowing 85 to Miami and 98 to Wake Forest in their last two outings.
My action in this region would be on the team that’s been there and done that in March. Villanova will continue to get better as the year goes on, and I’d love the Wildcats’ chances of upsetting a young but talented Arizona team in the Sweet 16.
What Stands Out in East?
Baylor has lost twice since the last bracket came out, but the Bears still hold firm as a No. 1 seed after two road wins in Morgantown and Norman.
Kansas is the highest ranked No. 2 seed, and I’d love to play the Jayhawks at +200 or better here to win the East, in what I view as a very favorable path over Xavier and MSU.
Kentucky and Illinois would be an incredible 4/5 matchup in the Round of 32. Both teams lost this past week, but will have plenty of chances in February to improve their seeding.
What a two-week run it has been for Shaka Smart and Marquette. The Golden Eagles have won six in a row — including victories against Villanova, Xavier and Seton Hall — and they’re all the way up to a No. 6 seed.