Barnes Bracketology: Feb. 13
It’s that time once again. The Super Bowl is over. The NBA hasn’t caught my full attention yet. The Blue Jackets are not in the playoff race (again). And the NFL Draft isn’t until April. That means there’s only one thing to do: Barnes Bracketology.
If this is your first time checking this out, welcome. I have been doing this now for 4 years and each and every year, I like to think I get a little better at it. Last year, I correctly predicted 67 of the 68 teams (I left out VCU ironically in favor of Virginia Tech). This year, I’m hoping to get all 68 for the first time in my 4 years.
My goal is to update this twice a week in February and probably a bit more come March as we get close to Selection Sunday. I have read the NCAA Principles and Procedures for Establishing the Bracket and will conform by their rules when creating my projected brackets. It can sometimes be very tough to do but hey, that’s what I signed up for.
I love any and all feedback on my projections, good or bad. I especially appreciate letting me know of any glaring errors. Many times, I try to do this late at night after work so mistakes will happen. With that said, here we go.
(changes from previous projections in italics)
LOCKS: This group is for teams that whether they win their conference tournament or not, are going to receive a bid to the tournament. With Selection Sunday 5 weeks away, this list may seem short but it needs to be. I do my best to not move teams in this category. If you’re a lock, you are a LOCK. As the games go on, you will see teams added to this list. But for now, this is the list and in no particular order. It kind of goes by conference now but as teams get added, they will just go to the end of this list.
LOCKS (23): Duke, North Carolina, Virginia, Missouri, Kansas, Baylor, Syracuse, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida State, Creighton, Wichita State, San Diego State, UNLV, Kentucky, Florida, St. Mary’s, Murray State
AUTOS: This group is for those teams that will receive their bid by winning their conference tournament. Now this is a tough one to predict as I clearly do not have knowledge of who is going to ultimately win the smaller conferences’ tournaments. So what I do normally is just go with the team with the best record in the conference when I make a bracket. Once the conference tournaments get going, this will change a ton as favorites fall. Some will move to the AT-LARGE section, others will stay in the BUBBLE section, and others will never be seen again.
Teams that have clinched their automatic bid will appear in bold.
AUTOS (22): America East - Vermont, Atlantic-10 - Temple, Atlantic Sun - Belmont, Big Sky - Weber State, Big South - UNC-Asheville, Big West - Long Beach State, Colonial - VCU, Conference USA - Southern Miss, Horizon - Valparaiso, Ivy - Harvard, MAAC - Iona, MAC - Akron, MEAC - Norfolk State, , Northeast -Wagner, Patriot - Bucknell, Southern - Davidson, Southland - UT-Arlington, SWAC - Miss. Valley State, Summit - Oral Roberts, Sun Belt - Middle Tennessee, WAC - Nevada
AT-LARGE: This group is obviously for the teams I think are going to make the field by earning an AT-LARGE bid. This is in order but beware, these will fluctuate quite often as I continue to get a handle on these teams. So the teams you see first in this list should feel pretty safe. In fact, they are probably 1-2 wins away from moving to the LOCKS category. Also, remember the last 4 teams in this category will be playing in the 2 “First Four” games to earn a spot in the now-named second round.
AT-LARGE (23): Indiana, Notre Dame, Gonzaga, Memphis, Vanderbilt, Seton Hall, Mississippi State, California, Illinois, New Mexico, West Virginia, Saint Louis, Kansas State, Alabama, Purdue, Iowa State, UConn, Texas, Xavier, Miami (FL), BYU, NC State, Arizona, Cincinnati
Now, the way the BUBBLE works is fairly simple. These are the teams that will be worrying come Selection Sunday. Every team in the AT-LARGE category will be in here as well because they are not guaranteed a spot, but instead just in my projected bracket. Some AUTOS will be here as well as they will become BUBBLE teams if they happen to not win their conference tournaments as they are expected to. As we get closer, I will put these in order so you have an idea of who just missed the cut but this time, I will just list them.
BUBBLE (47): Indiana, Notre Dame, Gonzaga, Memphis, Vanderbilt, Seton Hall, Mississippi State, California, Illinois, New Mexico, West Virginia, Saint Louis, Kansas State, Alabama, Purdue, Iowa State, UConn, Texas, Xavier, Miami (FL), BYU, NC State, Arizona, Cincinnati, Temple, Long Beach State, Southern Miss, Cleveland State, Valparaiso, Harvard, Washington, Davidson, Nevada, VCU, UMass, Pittsburgh, South Florida, Minnesota, Northwestern, Drexel, George Mason, UCF, Wyoming, Colorado, Oregon, Stanford, Ole Miss, Arkansas
This is no doubt the hardest part about this process. Seeding the teams is tough because so many teams sometimes deserve higher seeds but there are just simply not enough slots. Plus, you have to change some seeds to follow the procedures set forth by the NCAA. And without a full committee, I find myself using RPI, team’s record, SOS, and my gut as the real guide to where these teams end up. It has worked well the past 3 years and I see nothing changing this year.
Big East (9), Big Ten (7), ACC (6), Big 12 (6), SEC (5), A-10 (3), MWC (3), WCC (3), C-USA (2), MVC (2), Pac-10 (2)
(click on bracket to enlarge)
SOUTH vs. WEST
EAST vs. MIDWEST
**Kentucky is the overall top seed
Now in future posts, I will post the records of the teams here but this time, just the bracket.
Ohio State at Minnesota - For OSU, a chance to rebound from the loss at MSU and stay in the race for a 1 seed. For Minny, a chance to jump into an AT-LARGE spot.
Florida at Alabama - Florida is fine in terms of the bracket. Alabama is not, especially after a loss at LSU last week. This is a big game for the Tide.
Mississippi State at LSU - LSU is just trying to play spoiler to Miss. State, who is in good shape but you never know with this team come March.
Texas at Oklahoma - Texas is firmly on the bubble so a win in Norman could be huge. Oklahoma has the propensity this season to play good teams tough at home.
VCU at George Mason - Anytime two BUBBLE teams get together, it’s a big one. Both are longshots without an AUTO bid but winner here helps their case for sure.
Cleveland State at UW-Milwaukee - The Vikings record looked good before last week when they lost 2 in a row. Gotta get back in the win column here.
North Carolina @ Miami (FL) - UNC is still fighting for a #1 seed. Miami (FL) could pull off the rare double of beating Duke and UNC. That would go a long way for the committee.
New Mexico @ San Diego State - The Lobos could use a win over the Aztecs to solidify their case. The Aztecs though should win easily with this being at home.
Northwestern @ Indiana - N’Western can’t afford to lose games like this anymore. They need quality wins and this would qualify for sure.
Arkansas @ Tennessee - Every road win is a good win. That would be the case for the Razorbacks who are firmly on the BUBBLE.
Purdue @ Illinois - Two teams who don’t feel great about their standing right now. But a win against a fellow Big Ten BUBBLE squad will calm some fears.
NC State @ Duke - It won’t be easy for the Wolfpack to knock off the Devils but if they can, it would do wonders for their resume.
Wisconsin @ Michigan State - Both teams are firmly in the field but anytime these two get together, it is a game to watch, seeding or no seeding.
Vanderbilt @ Ole Miss - Vandy should be okay but losses down the stretch, including this one may change some things. The Rebels need this one badly to stay in the conversation.
West Virginia @ Pittsburgh - The Panthers are livin’ on a prayer right now, which is remarkable. WVU is the better team but it’s never easy playing in front of the Oakland Zoo.
Arizona @ Washington State - The Wildcats barely got in my field. A loss here will see them drop out for sure.
Oregon @ California - California has 20 wins and is trending up. Oregon though it trending up as well. Good game to see just how good Cal really is.
That’s all for now. I’ll update this hopefully Thursday night after some of these big games that could affect seeding. Hope you enjoyed it and check back soon.