Tuesday, February 14, 2017

February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day!

Today, I want to talk about Wichita State.  As of yesterday, they were included in 93 of 103 brackets on bracketmatrix.com.  While I did not review each of them to determine whether they were an at-large or conference winner, their average seeding of 10.01 has them ahead of six at-large selections in the matrix.  As you may or may not have noticed, the Shockers have not only been missing from my field, but also my bubble.  They're not even on my list of teams still in contention for an at-large bid...what gives?

The simple answer is their schedule is sufficiently poor that they can only get in by winning the MVC.  It's understandable why some analysts like the Shockers - they've been in the at-large feild each of the last five years, with as many as 8 losses.  The difference is that in each of those seasons, their SOS has been between #56 and #98, this year they're currently #156.  Their remaining four regular season opponents have a combined Win% of .495 and opponents' Win% of .512.  Even if all four of those teams win the rest of their other games, the Shockers SOS ceiling is around .504, or about #148.

Since the field expanded to 68 teams in 2011, the lowest SOS to be included in the at-large field has averaged .5223, or about 111th.  The worst during that time was 2012 Iona at .505 - #145.  That team was 25-7 on Selection Sunday with the #45 RPI, 1 top-50 win, 5 top-100 wins and 4 sub-100 losses, really an at-large anomaly by more recent years' standards.  Therefore, if Wichita State receives an at-large bid this year, they would have the lowest SOS of any at-large entry in the current format.

The other big resume weakness weighing down Wichita State's chances of an at-large bid is quality wins.  They currently have just one top-100 win, and the only remaining chance they'll have is in the MVC championship game against that same opponent Illinois State. Although a victory in that game would also earn them an automatic bid.  I haven't had time to thoroughly research this, but I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that no team has ever earned an at-large bid with fewer than two top-100 wins.  The cutoff is usually around 4.

All that being said, the Shockers have a pretty good shot at the MVC title - maybe even better than 50%.  But even as an auto-qualifier, they're unlikely to be in the at-large field with a ceiling at an 11-seed.

Okay, onto the good stuff...

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

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

FFO: Georgia Tech, Marquette, Texas Tech, Rhode Island
NFO: Syracuse, Indiana, Auburn, Georgetown

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

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