Sunday, March 29, 2015
That's this week's bracket. I present it without a lot of distracting blather this week. I'm usually pretty confident in the outcome, but this week even more so. Some weeks are like that. Everything just makes sense this week. If Towson and Richmond - the teams with the best resumes in their conferences - were getting the autobids at the moment, it'd make even more sense. But it wouldn't change much about the placement of teams in the bracket.
A few notes:
-- Ohio State continues to be just a sliver behind Yale for the last spot, and once again the difference is OSU's bad losses. The system figures them incredibly close, but using actual judgment makes it easy.
-- Brown is also knocking on the door; let's see what happens when they get around to playing Yale.
-- Nobody else is close. Very small bubble this year. Towson has nothing but CAA games left, and the CAA isn't good enough to earn someone an at-large bid. Villanova wouldn't be in without a lot of help even if they beat both Denver and Georgetown, the next two games on their schedule. The rest of the so-called bubble is Patriot League teams, who are just going to beat each other up.
-- All this also means that bid thieves should be close to nonexistent. I only see three realistic possibilities: Villanova, Ohio State (if you can call moving up from "first team out" bid theivery) and Johns Hopkins. Nova is likely to be the 4th seed in the Big East tournament, but even then, if they win it, they'll probably just replace another Big East team - Georgetown, say.
The Hop is a huge wild card. They're the joker in the deck. At 4-5 they don't qualify to be in the conversation right now, and they have OSU next week. If they win that, they'll appear on the page somewhere, but probably not actually in the bracket. If they lose, it'll be weeks before we even discuss them again. They could make an upset-run through the Big Ten tourney and make the B1G a two-bid league.
But that's the only one-bid league that can become a two-bid league. Albany is close, but a loss to anyone in their crappy league would torpedo any at-large hopes they ever had. (They do have Yale on their schedule, which could make things interesting, but still.)
Last week's games of interest:
-- Albany 21, Harvard 18: Albany is doing their best, though. I think they've been hamstrung a bit by their schedule; Drexel, UMass, and Harvard were all supposed to be good schedule-boosting teams, and they just haven't been.
-- Colgate 11, Loyola 4: This is what I mean by the Patriot League beating itself to death. Loyola is - or was - the team in this matchup with the far superior resume, and Colgate crushed them.
-- Navy 14, Boston U. 6: It's a bit amazing that Navy has managed to stay above it all. Pity they had that one loss to Bucknell - it's standing between them and the insulation of a possible at-large bid.
-- Notre Dame 13, Syracuse 12: And in two overtimes. A game between the two best that didn't disappoint. The Domers are now in the driver's seat, and their schedule is tough the rest of the way.
-- Towson 6, Massachusetts 3: Towson does look like the strongest team in the CAA, but it's a very parity-filled league as well and the race for the auto-bid there is just getting cranked up.
-- Army 12, Bucknell 4: Five of the PL's nine teams now have exactly three wins, and four of them are 3-2.
-- Denver 19, Georgetown 7: As it turns out, Georgetown's resume withstood that blow pretty well.
-- Marquette 9, Villanova 8: The bubble could've been a deal messier if Nova had won that one, but Marquette remains in very solid shape. Richmond made a very big deal out of getting to the tournament in their first year of existence, and that's nice work and all, but for my money, Marquette earning an at-large in year 3 would far more impressive than winning the fledgling Atlantic Sun (now Southern) Conference.
-- Brown 10, Princeton 8: If Hopkins is everyone's resume booster, Bucknell is everyone's resume ruiner. I was a little surprised this didn't push Brown higher on the food chain, but they've played too many crappy teams to overcome their Bucknell loss.
-- North Carolina 15, Duke 14: Duke's resume is surprisingly soft. Their best win is Georgetown; otherwise it's more about who they've lost to than who they've beaten. The only reason they're hosting a game in this week's edition is because nobody below them has a better win. Naturally, they're still going to beat the hell out of UVA just because.
This week's games to watch:
-- Albany at Syracuse: This is how Albany could earn at at-large bid. Otherwise, forget it.
-- North Carolina at Virginia: Mainly for seeding purposes, and for the Hoos to try and avoid the Penn game. Which itself would be a big help in seeding.
-- Navy at Loyola: Let's see how Navy handles the last two games on its schedule, probably the two toughest it has in conference play.
-- Notre Dame at Duke: Duke's chance to put a marquee win on its resume and leapfrog a bunch of teams.
-- Johns Hopkins at Ohio State: I built this great spreadsheet that calculates RPI and all the associated doodads that go along with RPI that the committee uses for its selection criteria. That means that often I can kind of cheat on bracketology if a Sunday game or three look easy to predict. I just enter the result before those games actually end, or, in some cases, before they begin. Next week I have no hope of this. This is the last game of the week and it has just enormous bubble implications. An OSU win would likely put them in the bracket, because of the boat-floating nature of Hopkins and because Yale is only playing Dartmouth. And Hopkins wouldn't even be able to be considered for another two weeks. If Hopkins wins, OSU is almost certainly sunk and the Hop would probably appear in the "first four out" section, with a decent chance of moving into the bracket in later weeks. Either way, Yale is looking over their shoulder.