Friday, February 24, 2017

February 24, 2017

Another tough loss for the Badgers last night knocks them down to a 6-seed.  That's a loss in 3 of the last 4 games for Wisconsin with games remaining at Michigan State and at home against the red hot Gophers.  Ohio State worked their way back into the bubble discussion, and with two winnable Big10 games left against Penn State and Indiana, they could easily finish the regular season 18-13.  They'd probably need two Big10 tourney wins to earn an at-large bid, but they could be an 8th (or 9th) Big Ten representative in the field.

The Big Ten has the night off tonight, with three big match ups tomorrow night.
-Purdue @ Michigan: not much at stake for Purdue, other than clinching a double-bye in the Big10 tourney.  For Michigan, stakes are a big higher.  A home loss would knock their RPI down close to 60 and may bump them near the Last Four In.  A win, however, would be a huge resume booster and could slide them up as high as an 8-seed.
-Northwestern @ Indiana: with Michigan and Purdue left on their schedule, Northwestern needs to avoid a loss against the Hoosiers to avoid slipping onto the bubble.  Indiana is just outside the RPI top-100, so a win for them would mean an extra top-100 win for some of their prior opponents and one fewer sub-100 loss for those they beat earlier in the season.
-Iowa @ Maryland: Maryland is safely in the tournament, but is heading in the wrong direction for a team many consider to be a title contender.  They really need to right the ship after two straight losses.  Iowa needs this win to keep their NIT hopes alive, and to help Minnesota climb another spot in the Big10 standings if they beat Penn State Sunday.

Looking forward to the Big Ten Tournament, here's a great site that lets you plug in different scenarios to see where teams will be bracketed in DC in a couple weeks.  There are 20 regular season games left in the Big10 and a lot of different ways the seeding can still go.  If there are no upsets in the remaining 20 games, the Gophers will finish 4th with a double bye and face the winner of Michigan State/12v13 winner.  Given the last two results against Sparty, I'd rather face Northwestern, Michigan, or even possibly Maryland.


This bracket is created as if today were Selection Sunday, not a forward looking projection.

1's: Villanova, Kansas, Gonzaga, North Carolina
2's: Baylor, Louisville, Arizona, Oregon
3's: Florida, Duke, Florida State, Butler
4's: Kentucky, Purdue, UCLA, Cincinnati
5's: Minnesota, Creighton, Notre Dame, Saint Mary's
6's: Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin
7's: SMU, South Carolina, USC, Miami (FL)
8's: Xavier, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma State, Northwestern
9's: Dayton, Arkansas, VCU, Iowa State
10's: Seton Hall, Michigan, Michigan State, Marquette
11's: Kansas State, California, TCU, Wake Forest, Vanderbilt, Wichita State
12's: Middle Tennessee, UNC Wilmington, Nevada, UTA
13's: New Mexico State, Monmouth, East Tennessee State, Valparaiso
14's: Princeton, Vermont, Belmont, Akron
15's: Florida Gulf Coast, Bucknell, UNC Asheville, North Dakota State
16's: Eastern Washington, North Carolina Central, Texas Southern, New Orleans, Mount Saint Mary's, UC Irvine

FFO: Syracuse, Providence, Illinois, Georgia Tech
NFO: Ohio State, Rhode Island, Ole Miss, Georgia 

Others still in contention for At-Large bid:
(<14 losses, Top-150 SOS, 3+ Top-100 wins)
9. Alabama
10. Clemson
11. Pittsburgh
12. Tennessee
13. Indiana
14. Texas Tech
15. Iowa
16. Auburn
17. Boise State
18. Houston
19. BYU
20. Colorado State
21. Texas A&M
22. Stanford
23. Colorado
24. Charleston
25. New Mexico
26. Fresno State
27. San Diego State
28. Memphis
29. La Salle
30. Connecticut

Thursday, February 23, 2017

February 23, 2017

Last night was a huge step forward for Minnesota in proving they belong in the discussion of tournament contenders.  The win moved the Gophers into 4th place in the Big10 standings, and 2nd in terms of bracket standing.  There will still be some skeptics, but if Selection Sunday were today, Minnesota would be a borderline #4 or #5 seed.  If they can keep the winning streak alive against Penn State on Sunday, they'll undoubtedly be ranked and would lock up a top-6 seed with a win over Nebraska next Thursday.

Quick selection scenario update.  The best case scenario of winning their remaining 7 games leading up to Selection Sunday would still be on track for a #3, or possibly low #2 seed/high #4 seed.

The worst-case scenario is 21-11 with an RPI near 25 and 6 top-50 wins with no sub-100 losses.  That should slot them at a #7 seed, or at worst #8.

The most likely scenario now is a 2-1 finish in the regular season with a 1-1 showing in the Big10 tournament (semifinal loss).  That leaves a record of 24-9, top-20 RPI and a likely #5 seed.  

Just a couple of Gophers resume stats for any of you who doubt the possibility of a #2-#3 seed with a strong finish.
1. Their Strength of Win is 8th in the nation, behind only Kansas, UNC, Butler, Louisville, Vanderbilt and Baylor.
2. Their 6 top-50 wins is tied for 8th in the nation, behind only UNC, Butler, Villanova, Duke, Florida State, Baylor and Kansas.

There were several other big games last night which resulted in a few minor bracket shifts.  Duke lost to Syracuse, which bumped them down to a #3 seed and moved 'Cuse up to the very edge of the bubble.  The Orange just need to get their RPI up about 5 spots to qualify for an at-large bid.  They'll have a great opportunity to do so against Louisville on Sunday, but with 12 losses already, the Orange can hardly afford to lose that tough matchup.

Speaking of Louisville, they lost in Chapel Hill last night to a North Carolina team who showed they deserve to be on the top seed line.  Louisville's grueling schedule keeps them on the #2 line for now, but they'll need to win their last two regular season games to stay there.  Not that it matters, but if UNC can remain at 5 losses by Selection Sunday, they should move ahead of unbeaten Gonzaga for a top-3 #1 seed.  

Despite losing to Butler at home last night, I still have Villanova as my overall #1 seed for two reasons.  First, their 9 top-50 wins is tied for best in the nation, two better than Kansas's 7.  Second, their three losses have been against an average RPI of 30.3, compared to Kansas's three losses against an average RPI of 55.7.  Kansas has a slight edge in strength of win (RPI #89 vs Nova's #107), and a decidedly better SOS (#5 vs #29), but Nova gets the very close nod.  


This bracket is created as if today were Selection Sunday, not a forward looking projection.

1's: Villanova, Kansas, Gonzaga, North Carolina
2's: Baylor, Oregon, Louisville, Butler
3's: Arizona, Duke, Florida State, Florida
4's: Kentucky, UCLA, Purdue, Cincinnati
5's: Minnesota, Creighton, Notre Dame, Wisconsin
6's: Saint Mary's, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia
7's: SMU, South Carolina, Miami (FL), USC
8's: Xavier, Dayton, Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech
9's: Northwestern, VCU, Michigan, Arkansas
10's: Seton Hall, Iowa State, Marquette, Michigan State
11's: Kansas State, California, TCU, Wake Forest, Vanderbilt, Wichita State
12's: Middle Tennessee, UNC Wilmington, Nevada, UTA
13's: New Mexico State, Monmouth, East Tennessee State, Valparaiso
14's: Princeton, Vermont, Belmont, UNC Asheville
15's: Akron, Florida Gulf Coast, Bucknell, North Dakota State
16's: Eastern Washington, North Carolina Central, Texas Southern, New Orleans, Mount Saint Mary's, UC Irvine

FFO: Syracuse, Illinois, Providence, Georgia Tech
NFO: Rhode Island, Ole Miss, Alabama, Georgia 

Others still in contention for At-Large bid:
(<14 losses, Top-150 SOS, 3+ Top-100 wins)
9. Clemson
10. Pittsburgh
11. Tennessee
12. Indiana
13. Ohio State
14. Texas Tech
15. Boise State
16. Auburn
17. Texas A&M
18. Iowa
19. Houston
20. Colorado
21. Colorado State
22. Fresno State
23. BYU
24. Charleston
25. New Mexico
26. San Diego State
27. Stanford
28. Connecticut
29. La Salle

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

February 22, 2017

Purdue and Iowa both pulled off overtime wins last night, effectively knocking Penn State and Indiana out of at-large contention.  The Big Ten is now looking at likely just seven teams in the big dance, unless Illinois makes a run as the eighth.

The Gophers have their second to last road game of the season tonight at Maryland.  The nice thing about this game and the season finale at Wisconsin is that a loss doesn't do a lot of damage to the resume, but a win is a huge boost.  The real pressure for Minnesota is to avoid resume-crushing losses in their final two home games against Penn State and Nebraska.

The other Big10 game tonight is Michigan @ Rutgers - a major trap game for the Wolverines coming off the loss to Minnesota on Sunday.  A loss would be their second outside the top-100 and would place them back on the bubble they recently climbed their way above.

Elimination games tonight: Vanderbilt @ Tennessee, DePaul @ Georgetown, Oregon State @ Stanford


This bracket is created as if today were Selection Sunday, not a forward looking projection.

1's: Villanova, Kansas, Gonzaga, Baylor
2's: North Carolina, Louisville, Duke, Florida
3's: Florida State, Arizona, Oregon, Kentucky
4's: Butler, Purdue, UCLA, Creighton
5's: Notre Dame, Maryland, Cincinnati, Wisconsin
6's: Minnesota, West Virginia, Virginia, Saint Mary's
7's: Xavier, SMU, USC, Miami (FL)
8's: Virginia Tech, Northwestern, South Carolina, Oklahoma State
9's: Iowa State, Dayton, VCU, Michigan
10's: Arkansas, Michigan State, Kansas State, Marquette
11's: Seton Hall, California, TCU, Pittsburgh, Wake Forest, Wichita State
12's: Middle Tennessee, UNC Wilmington, New Mexico State, UTA
13's: Nevada, Vermont, Monmouth, Valparaiso
14's: Princeton, Belmont, Akron, UNC Asheville
15's: Florida Gulf Coast, Bucknell, Furman, North Dakota State
16's: North Carolina Central, Eastern Washington, Texas Southern, UC Irvine, New Orleans, Mount Saint Mary's

FFO: Illinois, Georgia Tech, Tennessee, Ole Miss
NFO: Alabama, Georgetown, Vanderbilt, Rhode Island

Others still in contention for At-Large bid:
I tweaked my process here for at-large contention after doing some further research on previous years' selections.  I learned that top-100 wins is a significantly stronger indicator than sub-100 losses.  In particular, at least three top-100 wins are needed for an at-large bid, which I believe has happened just once: 2015 Oklahoma State.
(<14 losses, Top-150 SOS, >2 top-100 wins)
9. Clemson
10. Syracuse
11. Providence
12. Indiana
13. Georgia
14. Ohio State
15. Iowa
16. Texas Tech
17. Texas A&M
18. Auburn
19. Colorado
20. Boise State
21. Colorado State
22. Stanford
23. Charleston
24. San Diego State
25. Fresno State
26. BYU
27. New Mexico
28. La Salle

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

February 21, 2017

A couple of at-large teams pulled off overtime wins yesterday to ensure they stayed ahead of the bubble.  Iowa State beat Texas Tech in what could have been a bad loss for the Cyclones and Miami handed Virginia its fourth consecutive loss.  Each team moved up 6 spots (2 seed lines) on my bracket.

Big 10 games tonight:
Purdue @ Penn state - The race is on for the top seed in the Big10 and with four games left, each of the three teams tied at the top is looking to finish strong.  Purdue can keep pace with a win tonight, which would also knock Penn State from at-large contention with their 14th loss.

Iowa also faces elimination tonight against Indiana, whose selection hopes are also on life support.  Neither team has much of a chance, but Indiana can at least keep some hope alive with a 16th victory.  At the very least it should clinch an NIT invitation for the Hoosiers.

Northwestern @ Illinois - Northwestern is safely in at this point, but still one win away from a lock based on their mediocre SOS and quality win totals.  Illinois is yet another Big 10 team on life support that desperately needs this win to remain in bubble discussions.

Other games with bubble implications: Rhode Island @ La Salle, Clemson @ Virginia Tech, Saint John's @ Marquette, NC State @ Georgia Tech, Ole Miss @ Mississippi State.

This bracket is created as if today were Selection Sunday, not a forward looking projection.

1's: Villanova, Kansas, Gonzaga, Baylor
2's: North Carolina, Louisville, Duke, Florida State
3's: Arizona, Kentucky, Oregon, Florida
4's: Butler, Creighton, UCLA, Purdue
5's: Maryland, Notre Dame, Cincinnati, Wisconsin
6's: Minnesota, West Virginia, Virginia, Saint Mary's
7's: Xavier, SMU, USC, Miami (FL)
8's: Northwestern, South Carolina, Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech
9's: Dayton, VCU, Iowa State, Michigan
10's: Kansas State, Michigan State, Arkansas, Marquette
11's: Seton Hall, California, TCU, Clemson, Wake Forest, Middle Tennessee
12's: Illinois State, UNC Wilmington, New Mexico State, Vermont
13's: Nevada, Monmouth, Belmont, UTA
14's: Valparaiso, Princeton, Akron, UNC Asheville
15's: Florida Gulf Coast, Bucknell, North Dakota State, Furman
16's: Eastern Washington, Texas Southern, New Orleans, UC Irvine, North Carolina Central, Mount Saint Mary's

FFO: Georgia Tech, Ole Miss, Rhode Island, Pittsburgh
NFO: Tennessee, Alabama, Georgetown, Syracuse

Others still in contention for At-Large bid:
(<14 losses, Top-150 SOS, <4 losses outside RPI top-100)
9. Vanderbilt
10. Georgia
11. Illinois
12. Indiana
13. Providence
14. Texas Tech
15. Texas A&M
16. Ohio State
17. Boise State
18. Auburn
19. Penn State
20. Iowa
21. Utah
22. Colorado
23. Colorado State
24. San Francisco
25. Davidson
26. Saint Bonaventure
27. Stanford
28. George Washington

Monday, February 20, 2017

February 20, 2017

Yesterday's win over Michigan got the Gophers to the 20-win mark for the season, and more importantly I believe it effectively clinches an at-large selection.  In the worst-case scenario of losing their final four regular season games and their first Big10 tournament match, they would finish at 20-12 with an RPI near 35, SOS of 30, 4 or 5 top-50 wins and no losses outside the top-100.  In that scenario they'd be a bubble team no doubt, but barring 3 or 4 conference tournament upsets, they'd likely still get in - probably a #10 or #11 seed.

With the selection hurdle effectively out of the way, let's look at more realistic scenarios.  

Most realistic:
Lost remaining road games at MD and WI, win home games versus Penn State and Nebraska.  Then, as a #5-#7 seed in the Big10 tournament win one game, then lose in the quarterfinal.  A second tourney win is very possible, depending on matchup, but we'll go with a 1-1 conference tourney showing.  That would be a 23-10 record with an RPI near 25 and more than likely a #6 or #7 seed. Depending on what teams around them on the bracket do, it could be as high as a #5 or as low as a #8.

Best-case:
Winning the conference is unlikely, but not off-your-rocker out of the picture.  Let's go with that best case scenario of winning the remaining 4 Big10 games and then going 4-0 to win the tournament.  That leaves a record of 28-7, and RPI between #10-15, and 7 or 8 top-50 wins.  In all likelihood that's a #3 seed, but could potentially be a #2 or #4, again depending on what other teams do, and how much extra credit the committee may award the Big 10 champion.

So there you have the range of Gophers tournament selection possibilities, with the most likely seeding being somewhere between a #5 and #8.

This bracket is created as if today were Selection Sunday, not a forward looking projection.

1's: Villanova, Kansas, Gonzaga, Baylor
2's: North Carolina, Louisville, Duke, Florida State
3's: Arizona, Kentucky, Oregon, Florida
4's: Creighton, Butler, UCLA, Cincinnati
5's: Purdue, Notre Dame, Maryland, Wisconsin
6's: Virginia, Minnesota, West Virginia, Saint Mary's
7's: South Carolina, Northwestern, Xavier, SMU
8's: USC, Oklahoma State, VCU, Dayton
9's: Virginia Tech, Miami (FL), Michigan, Kansas State
10's: Michigan State, Arkansas, California, Marquette
11's: Iowa State, Seton Hall, TCU, Ole Miss, Rhode Island, Middle Tennessee
12's: Illinois State, UNC Wilmington, Nevada, New Mexico State
13's: Vermont, Monmouth, UTA, Princeton
14's: Belmont, Valparaiso, Akron, UNC Asheville
15's: Bucknell, Florida Gulf Coast, North Dakota State, Furman
16's: Eastern Washington, Texas Southern, New Orleans, UC Irvine, North Carolina Central, Mount Saint Mary's

FFO: Georgia Tech, Clemson, Syracuse, Wake Forest
NFO: Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Alabama, Georgetown

Others still in contention for At-Large bid:
(<14 losses, Top-150 SOS, <4 losses outside RPI top-100)
9. Vanderbilt
10. Georgia
11. Illinois
12. Indiana
13. Providence
14. Texas Tech
15. Texas A&M
16. Ohio State
17. Boise State
18. Auburn
19. Penn State
20. Iowa
21. Utah
22. Colorado
23. Colorado State
24. San Francisco
25. Davidson
26. Saint Bonaventure
27. Stanford
28. George Washington

Friday, February 17, 2017

February 17, 2017

Big win for the Wolverines over Wisconsin last night, helping them climb up off the bubble.  Selfishly, I'm thrilled the rival Badgers lost a second consecutive game, and they play Maryland next.  It's setting up a for a great regular season finish on March 5th in Madison.  It could be a big game for both teams in terms of Big Ten tournament seeding, as there is currently a three-way tie for first between Maryland, Purdue and Wisconsin.  A fourth double-bye is up for grabs, with Northwestern and Michigan State currently tied for that 4-seed at 8-5.  Minnesota and now Michigan are tied for 6th at 7-6, within striking distance.

From a resume standpoint, a 5 or 6 seed wouldn't be the worst thing in the world as you'd get a first round game against one of the bottom four seeds and potentially a winnable top-100 game to add to the resume.  Obviously it doesn't help if it means losing an extra game to get that seed, but if the teams currently tied or ahead of the Gophers prevent them from getting the 4-seed, there's a nice silver lining there.

Next up for the Gophers are those Michigan Wolverines on Sunday - should be a great game.

This bracket is created as if today were Selection Sunday, not a forward looking projection.

1's: Villanova, Kansas, Gonzaga, Baylor
2's: Florida State, North Carolina, Louisville, Duke
3's: Oregon, Arizona, Florida, Kentucky
4's: Creighton, Butler, Cincinnati, UCLA
5's: Maryland, Virginia, Purdue, Notre Dame
6's: West Virginia, Minnesota, Saint Mary's, Wisconsin
7's: SMU, Xavier, South Carolina, USC
8's: Northwestern, Oklahoma State, VCU, Virginia Tech
9's: Dayton, Michigan, Miami (FL), Seton Hall
10's: California, Arkansas, Michigan State, Iowa State
11's: TCU, Kansas State, Clemson, Georgetown, Wake Forest, Middle Tennessee
12's: Illinois State, UNC Wilmington, Akron, Nevada
13's: Vermont, Monmouth, Valparaiso, UTA
14's: Belmont, Princeton, UNC Asheville, Florida Gulf Coast
15's: Cal State Bakersfield, Furman, Bucknell, North Dakota State
16's: Eastern Washington, Texas Southern, North Carolina Central, New Orleans, UC Irvine, Mount Saint Mary's

FFO: Marquette, Syracuse, Georgia Tech, Providence
NFO: Texas Tech, Rhode Island, Ole Miss, Indiana

Others still in contention for At-Large bid:
(<14 losses, Top-150 SOS, <4 losses outside RPI top-100)
9. Pittsburgh
10. Tennessee
11. Alabama
12. Auburn
13. Ohio State
14. Georgia
15. Illinois
16. Utah
17. Boise State
18. Iowa
19. Texas A&M
20. Vanderbilt
21. Penn State
22. New Mexico
23. San Francisco
24. Colorado State
25. Saint Bonaventure
26. North Carolina State
27. Stanford

Thursday, February 16, 2017

February 16, 2017

The Gophers kept their streak alive with a 4th consecutive Big10 win last night against Indiana.  The win really doesn't help Minnesota's resume as much as a loss would have significantly hurt it.  Help also came in the form of losses from teams near them in the bracketing.  Losses by Xavier and South Carolina helped secure their spot on the 6-line.  

This bracket is created as if today were Selection Sunday, not a forward looking projection.

1's: Villanova, Kansas, Gonzaga, Baylor
2's: Florida State, North Carolina, Louisville, Duke
3's: Oregon, Arizona, Florida, Kentucky
4's: Butler, Creighton, Cincinnati, UCLA
5's: Virginia, Maryland, Purdue, Notre Dame
6's: West Virginia, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Saint Mary's
7's: SMU, Xavier, South Carolina, USC
8's: Northwestern, Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech, VCU
9's: Seton Hall, California, Dayton, Arkansas
10's: Michigan State, Miami (FL), Iowa State, TCU
11's: Michigan, Kansas State, Clemson, Georgetown, Wake Forest, Middle Tennessee
12's: UNC Wilmington, Illinois State, Akron, Vermont
13's: New Mexico State, Nevada, Valparaiso, Monmouth
14's: UTA, Belmont, Princeton, UNC Asheville
15's: Florida Gulf Coast, Bucknell, Furman, North Dakota State
16's: Sam Houston State, Eastern Washington, Texas Southern, North Carolina Central, UC Irvine, Mount Saint Mary's

FFO: Marquette, Syracuse, Georgia Tech, Ole Miss
NFO: Rhode Island, Texas Tech, Alabama, Georgia

Others still in contention for At-Large bid:
(<14 losses, Top-150 SOS, <4 losses outside RPI top-100)
9. Indiana
10. Pittsburgh
11. Auburn
12. Providence
13. Ohio State
14. Tennessee
15. Boise State
16. Utah
17. Illinois
18. Texas A&M
19. Iowa
20. Vanderbilt
21. New Mexico
22. San Franciso
23. Colorado State
24. Saint Bonaventure
25. Penn State
26. North Carolina State
27. Stanford