Saturday, February 11, 2017

February 11, 2017 - Committee's mid-season Top-16

I've added some additional commentary to my top-16 ahead of the committee's announcement of their current #1 - #4 seeds.

#1 seeds: The four top seeds are relatively clear at this point, but their order may not be.

1. Villanova: This is closer for me than many might think.  Baylor holds the edge in several categories, but what tips the scales for me is just two road losses for Nova compared to Baylor's home defeat against Kansas State. Obviously Villanova passes the eye test, and remaining matchups against Xavier, Butler & Creighton will boost their SOS and offer a few more chances to add signature wins.

2. Baylor: It's tough for me to slot the Bears #2 as I really think their resume is better overall, but I suspect the committee will prefer Nova's record.  Baylor is the only team in the country with 10 top-50 wins, and they boast a #4 SOS to backup their 20-3 record.  They have ample signature wins over Louisville, Oregon and Xavier to go along with their #1 RPI.

3. Kansas: Without the home loss to Iowa State, the Jayhawks would very likely be sitting at #1.  Even still, their 8 top-50 wins and top-20 SOS keep them on the top seed line.  Signature victories over Baylor, Kentucky and Duke don't hurt either.

4. Gonzaga: How can you beat perfection?  The answer is with a SOS better than 92.  Just because Zaga has been here before with better resumes in past years, this year's team just hasn't faced enough quality opponents to deserve a #1 overall seed.  To be quite honest, I don't think they even deserve a #1 seed at all, but the chances of the committee snubbing an undefeated perennial contender are slim.

#2 seeds: With the easy top line out of the way, now there are about 10 teams who could theoretically get a #2 seed. I think the first two should be locked in on this line, but then it gets tricky comparing quality win-loss records against quality victories.

5. Florida State: The Noles are the only team in the country with 5 wins against the RPI top-25; they've proven they can beat the best.  Three losses outside the top-50 may come into play, but they're  unblemished at home and only Baylor has more top-50 wins.  I may have them 1-2 spots too high, but I think Florida State should be a lock for a #2 seed.

6. North Carolina: Despite their 5th loss, the Tar Heels resume shines.  Their 8 top-50 wins is tied for second best in the country, and their #18 SOS is third best on the top two seed lines. Iffy losses at Indiana and Georgia Tech aren't great, but like Florida State, they're unbeaten at home.

7. Louisville: The Cardinals have just 3 top-50 wins, but they're all signature wins against the top-20 RPI. The elder Pitino's squad also boasts the top SOS in the field and Notre Dame (#28) is their only loss outside the top-25.  Their remaining 7 games are all against top-65 teams, including four top-50, so they have more time to gather those needed quality wins.

8: Arizona: This is a resume that really doesn't shine in any particular area, but has most of the pieces put together.  A 22-3 record against the #37 schedule give Arizona the #9 RPI, Just one win in the top-25 and four in the top-50 are weak spots, but their only losses were against their neighbors at #8, #10, and #11.

#3 seeds: As with the 2-line, I'm pretty confident about the first two here, but it's all starting to get a bit fuzzy with conflicting resume strengths and weakness.

9. Virginia: 18 wins is the fewest among my top-16, but 6 of those are against the top-50 and 12 against top-100.  Their #17 SOS is very solid.  Virginia's remaining schedule has great opportunities to boost their stock as they face UNC twice and a home game against Duke.

10. Kentucky: Coach Cal's normally dominant Wildcat team has been more beatable this year with five losses already.  That said, they've played an impressive #11 SOS schedule, with 5 wins against the top-50 and 10 against the top-100.

11. Creighton: Only Florida State has more wins against the top-25, but the Blue Jays have faltered recently, losing 3 of their last 5 games - two to sub-50 foes.

12. Cincinnati: As with Arizona, their quality wins are a weak point on their resume, just 3 top-50 and 8 top-100.  However, a 22-2 record with no home losses goes a long way.  Like Zaga, their SOS (#70) needs a boost, which doesn't look likely given their soft remaining schedule.  Unless they win the AAC tournament (very possible), the Bearcats have probably reached their ceiling at a #3.

#4 seeds:

13. Oregon: Hampered by a bad loss at Colorado, the Ducks 5 top-50 and 10 top-100 wins keep them in my top 16.

14. Butler: If not for two losses outside the top-100, Butler could very well be a 1-seed.  4 top-25, 7 top-50 and 15 top-100 wins exactly matches Villanova's resume.  Depending which Bulldog team shows up in March, this team could make a very deep tournament run.

15. Duke: After a rocky stretch after Christmas where they lost 4 of 7 games, Duke is heading back in the right direction, reeling off four straight ACC wins including against UNC on Thursday.  Never count out Coach K.  Duke is my pick to win the ACC and may still be around in the third week of the big dance.

16.  UCLA: This last spot was tough, but I gave the edge to UCLA due to two top-15 wins against Oregon and Kentucky.  A weak #82 SOS is really holding back the Bruins, but this is clearly a team that knows how to win.

Full Bracket:
Reminder: this bracket is created as if today were Selection Sunday, not a forward looking projection.

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

FFO: Wake Forest, Syracuse, Clemson, Indiana
NFO: Georgia Tech, Ohio State, Alabama, Auburn


  1. Committees Ranking:
    1. Villanova
    2. Kansas
    3. Baylor
    4. Gonzaga
    5. North Carolina
    6. Florida State
    7. Louisville
    8. Oregon
    9. Arizona
    10. Virginia
    11. Florida
    12. Kentucky
    13. Butler
    14. West Virginia
    15. UCLA
    16. Duke

  2. I'm not terribly surprised by Oregon being a #2, I clearly underrated them at as my top #4 seed. My biggest takeaway today is that top-50 wins really is the key metric the committee is looking at.

    I agree with Jerry Palm that Florida is a bit high as a #3, but they certainly have the resume for the top-16.

    My biggest question mark with the committee's top-16 is #33 RPI West Virginia! This is a team with 5 losses against the #78 SOS. They have ample quality wins on their resume, but a bad loss at home against the Sooners has me questioning their seed stock.

    I often disagree with Seth, but he's right that Cincinnati should have been in the top-16. More of a snub yet is Creighton, with their great quality win resume. Even without Watson, the Bluejays deserve a top-4 seed.

  3. Updated "Still in Contention" list - down to 32:
    9. Pittsburgh
    10. Illinois
    11. Geortetown
    12. Ole Miss
    13. Illinois State
    14. Houston
    15. Texas Tech
    16. Charleston
    17. Vanderbilt
    18. Iowa
    19. Georgia
    20. Texas A&M
    21. North Carolina State
    22. Utah
    23. Boise State
    24. Penn State
    25. Providence
    26. Saint Bonaventure
    27. Stanford
    28. New Mexico
    29. Colorado State
    30. Rutgers
    31. Connecticut
    32. Washington State