College Basketball Bracketology: NCAA Tournament Predictions & Future Betting Value (Feb. 15)
Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images. Pictured: Oscar Tshiebwe (Kentucky)
Another week has come and gone, and just like that, we are two weeks away from the calendar turning to March.
There’s been some movement on the top line since last week’s bracket, and there’s also been some bubble teams that have helped and hurt themselves.
Let’s get into it.
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: Illinois currently sits atop the Big Ten standings, so as of now, it holds the auto-bid.
- 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 for this week’s projection:
- Last Four Byes: North Carolina, Miami, Creighton, Wake Forest
- Last Four In: BYU, Oklahoma, Iowa State, San Diego State
- First Four Out: Memphis, Michigan, Florida, Oregon
Bids by Conference:
- Big East: 7
- Big Ten: 7
- Big 12: 7
- SEC: 6
- ACC: 5
- MWC: 4
- WCC: 4
- Pac-12: 3
- AAC: 2
What Stands Out in South?
- Providence just keeps winning. The Friars now sit at 21-2 overall and alone atop the Big East standings. A win at home over Villanova tonight would catapult Ed Cooley’s team to a 2 seed.
- USC finally got a big conference win when it took down UCLA at the Galen Center on Saturday. The Trojans can continue to improve their seeding to end the year, as they will host Arizona and also head to UCLA and Oregon.
- From a gambling perspective, this feels like the top two seeds in the region would be on a collision course to meet in the Elite 8 in San Antonio.
- I think Duke matches up pretty well with Auburn, as Mark Williams can go toe-to-toe with Walker Kessler. I’d be playing the Blue Devils to win the South at +200 or better.
- I’d also be looking to back UConn to “Make the Sweet 16” with this draw. The Huskies would pose a lot of matchup problems for a good but not great Wisconsin team.
What Stands Out in West?
- BYU and Oklahoma are both barely hanging inside the field, and both will need strong finishes to the year to feel safe.
- Indiana has lost three in a row, and could really use a victory over Wisconsin tonight in Assembly Hall. Lose that one and all of a sudden, the Hoosiers are flirting with the bubble.
- Tennessee has won four in a row and the Vols play host to Kentucky tonight. Win that one and Rick Barnes’ team will have a legitimate case for a 3 seed.
- How physical and fun would a Texas Tech/Purdue Sweet 16 matchup be? I think both teams would be able to handle business in the early rounds here, setting up a showdown in the Sweet 16 with the winner to face Gonzaga.
- Give me the chalk here, as I think the Zags would cruise to the Elite 8 before getting their first test in that round. I’d play Gonzaga to win the West at +120 or better.
What Stands Out in Midwest?
- After a really bad loss at home to Portland, San Francisco bounced back with a big road win at Santa Clara. The Dons get their shot at home with Gonzaga on Thursday, Feb. 24. Win and in.
- Last week, I touched on how Houston just keeps winning, and I may have jinxed the Cougars. UH lost back-to-back games to SMU and Memphis, and this is clearly not the same team without Marcus Sasser and Tramon Mark.
- Illinois remains atop the Big Ten standings despite getting swept by Purdue. The Illini hit the road twice this week, with games in Piscataway and East Lansing.
- I think this hypothetical region is one where we could see chaos ensue. Baylor will miss Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua, and I’m still not fully sold on the young Wildcats.
- I’d take my chances here playing both Texas and Arkansas to win the Midwest at +400 or better for each.
What Stands Out in East?
- SMU enters the field as the current AAC auto bid after its home victory over Houston.
- North Carolina bounced back nicely after the blowout loss to Duke. The Tar Heels have the opportunity to play their way off of the bubble with a strong finish down the stretch. Virginia Tech in Blacksburg on Saturday will not be an easy game.
- Alabama added to its wild resume with a home victory over red-hot Arkansas on Saturday. I don’t think anyone will be shocked if the Tide bow out in the first round or if they make a deep run given what this team has showed this year.
- Jay Wright has kind of had Bill Self’s number when these two teams have squared off in recent NCAA Tournament’s. Nova/KU would be an awesome Sweet 16 game, and I’d give the edge to the Jayhawks this go-round.
- Kentucky has looked elite lately, and I like the Wildcats’ draw in this bracket. Give me UK to get back to New Orleans at +130 or better.
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