Preseason bracket 2019-20

Another year, another set of preseason predictions that will probably prove to be laughably wrong come March!

Bracket form: bracket_preseason_2019

Seed list

  1. Duke, Florida, Michigan St., Kentucky
  2. Kansas, Louisville, Gonzaga, Villanova
  3. North Carolina, Maryland, Seton Hall, Baylor
  4. Xavier, Memphis, Ohio St., Oregon
  5. Texas Tech, Colorado, Utah St., NC State
  6. Virginia, Arizona, Saint Mary’s, LSU
  7. VCU, Auburn, Washington, Purdue
  8. Iowa, Davidson, Creighton, Iowa St.
  9. Houston, Notre Dame, Alabama, Georgetown
  10. Illinois, Arizona St., Tennessee, Dayton
  11. Florida St., Wisconsin, Cincinnati (play-in), Marquette (play-in), Oklahoma St. (play-in), Ole Miss (play-in)
  12. Missouri St., New Mexico St., Western Kentucky, Harvard
  13. Liberty, Wright St., Murray St., Bowling Green
  14. UC Santa Barbara, Georgia Southern, East Tennessee St., Hofstra
  15. Iona, Oral Roberts, Colgate, Eastern Washington
  16. Gardner-Webb, Vermont, New Orleans (play-in), St. Francis (play-in), Bethune-Cookman (play-in), Grambling St. (play-in)

Final Bracket

Here’s my final bracket for the season. I tried as best I could to follow all bracketing procedures, but apologies if there are any minor issues with matchups — had to make some last minute changes after the Big Ten Championship!

In bracket form: 2019_03_17 FINAL BRACKET

Seed list

1: Duke, Virginia, Michigan St., North Carolina
2: Gonzaga, Tennessee, Kentucky, Michigan
3: Texas Tech, Houston, LSU, Florida St.
4: Kansas, Purdue, Auburn, Wisconsin
5: Kansas St., Villanova, Virginia Tech, Marquette
6. Marquette, Iowa St., Mississippi St., Buffalo
7: Wofford, Nevada, Maryland, Louisville
8: Utah St., Iowa, Florida, Washington
9: VCU, UCF, Oklahoma, Ole Miss
10: Syracuse, Seton Hall, Baylor, Minnesota
11: Saint Mary’s, NC State, TCU (play-in), Belmont (play-in), Ohio St. (play-in), Arizona St. (play-in)
12: Oregon, Murray St., Liberty, New Mexico St.
13. UC Irvine, Old Dominion, Yale, Saint Louis
14. Northeastern, Vermont, Georgia St., Montana
15. Bradley, Northern Kentucky, Gardner-Webb, Colgate
16. Abilene Christian, Prairie View A&M, North Dakota St. (play-in), Fairleigh Dickenson (play-in), Iona (play-in), NC Central (play-in)


Getting closer to a final bracket

Selection Sunday is still a month away, but even so, the top 5 or 6 seed lines look like they are becoming pretty solid. The top 9 or 10 teams have established themselves as elite — it might just be me, but it feels like there have been fewer upsets of top teams this season. The teams below that group have also built up solid records and some impressive wins, and it’s hard to see any of those teams tumbling too far down the seed line. This also means that the bubble is as soft as it’s ever been. I have some teams as much as five games under .500 in conference play are currently getting in the tournament! We’ll see if the Committee ends up making this a reality, or if some intriguing mid-major schools who don’t win their conference tourneys will get a chance, but for now it makes for some very difficult decisions on the last few spots in the field.

FYI, a lot of websites that show conference standings simply tiebreak by overall record. I break ties by head-to-head record, which is why Liberty gets the Atlantic Sun auto bid over Lipscomb, and Bowling Green gets the MAC bid over Buffalo. This ultimately won’t matter when the conference tournaments are played, but right now it does bump a couple teams off the bracket that might have been in the last four in.

PDF with teams in regions: 2019_02_18 bracket

Seed list:

1 seeds: Duke, Virginia, Tennessee, Gonzaga

2 seeds: Kentucky, Michigan St., Michigan, North Carolina

3 seeds: Kansas, Houston, LSU, Marquette

4 seeds: Nevada, Purdue, Texas Tech, Wisconsin

5 seeds: Iowa St., Villanova, Louisville, Maryland

6 seeds: Virginia Tech, Mississippi St., Florida St., Cincinnati

7 seeds: Kansas St., Iowa, Buffalo, Auburn

8 seeds: Ole Miss, Texas, Washington, NC State

9 seeds: Wofford, Baylor, TCU, St. John’s

10 seeds: Ohio St., Syracuse, Seton Hall, Florida

11 seeds: Clemson, Oklahoma, Nebraska (play-in), Lipscomb (play-in), Alabama (play-in), Minnesota (play-in)

12 seeds: Liberty, Hofstra, New Mexico St., Belmont

13 seeds: Vermont, Yale, Davidson, Old Dominion

14 seeds: UC Irvine, Bowling Green, Texas St., South Dakota St.

15 seeds: Montana, Northern Kentucky, Radford, Missouri St.

16 seeds: Bucknell, Sam Houston St., Prairie View A&M (play-in), Norfolk St. (play-in), St. Francis (PA) (play-in), Canisius (play-in)

Last four in: Nebraska, Lipscomb, Alabama, Minnesota

First four out: Arizona St., Indiana, VCU, Utah St.

Next four out: Creighton, UCF, Temple, Furman


A blind bracket

I like to get my first bracket posted right around the last week of January, as it gives more time to learn about teams and get data from the first few weeks of conference play. I also tend to avoid looking at other bracketology sites after January 1st, so as to not be unduly influences by the thoughts of others. That doesn’t mean I won’t check them out to compare and make I don’t have some teams way too high or way too low, but I like to at least get one bracket out there to test whether my thought process is generally on the right track or not. I’m always pleasantly surprised when I match pretty well with the Bracket Matrix, but before we get to March, I’m not too worried if I’ve got some left field choices in there. Without further ado…

PDF with teams in regions: 2019_01_27 bracket

1 seeds: Duke, Virginia, Michigan St., Tennessee

2 seeds: Michigan, North Carolina, Kansas, Gonzaga

3 seeds: Kentucky, Purdue, Nevada, Louisville

4 seeds: Wisconsin, Texas Tech, Virginia Tech, LSU

5 seeds: Villanova, Marquette, Houston, Mississippi St.

6 seeds: Maryland, Iowa St., Oklahoma, Buffalo

7 seeds: Florida St., Iowa, Auburn, Kansas St.

8 seeds: NC State, Ole Miss, Nebraska, TCU

9 seeds: Washington, Ohio St., Cincinnati, Syracuse

10 seeds: Texas, Wofford, Baylor, Arizona St.

11 seeds: Minnesota, Florida, St. John’s, Alabama (play-in), Seton Hall (play-in)

12 seeds: Murray St., Liberty, Hofstra, Indiana (play-in), Creighton (play-in)

13 seeds: Yale, Radford, Vermont, Loyola-Chicago

14 seeds: Northern Kentucky, UC Irvine, Georgia St., George Mason

15 seeds: North Texas, South Dakota St., Lehigh, CSU Bakersfield

16 seeds: Rider, Northern Colorado, Sam Houston St. (play-in), Prairie View A&M (play-in), Robert Morris (play-in), Norfolk St. (play-in)

Last four in: Alabama, Seton Hall, Indiana, Creighton

Last four out: Butler, Utah St., Temple, UCF

Next four out: Lipscomb, Belmont, VCU, Arizona

Down to the wire…

Davidson’s upset of Rhode Island in the A-10 Championship made my choices for the last teams in and out a little easier (we’ll see how accurate I really am), but bracketing procedures meant I had to flip a few teams around in the 6-9 seed lines, so I won’t be shocked if that’s the toughest part of the bracket to predict. Here’s the final bracket:


Last Four Byes: Providence, NC State, USC, Florida St.

Last Four In: St. Mary’s, Texas, Oklahoma, UCLA

First Four Out: Louisville, Middle Tennessee St., Arizona St., Notre Dame

Next Four Out: Baylor, Syracuse, Marquette, Oklahoma St.

Getting closer…

By this time next week, we’ll already know a few of the teams who will have automatic berths in the 2018 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament. March seems to sneak up on us faster than any other month (thankfully I remembered to pay rent before the 1st!), and before we know it the field will be set and games will tip off around the country. There seems to be a consensus around the teams that will make up the first 4 or 5 seed lines, but after that there are many moving parts: how much weight will Creighton’s victory over presumptive 1 seed Villanova get? Will Arizona St.’s impressive non-conference performance still help them overcome struggling through a weak Pac-12? And how does the Committee judge middling major conference teams against impressive mid-majors who get upset in their conference tournaments?

I’ll try to have a blog update with a preview of the conference tournaments. Until then, here’s my last bracket update before Selection Sunday:

2018_02_26 bracket

1 seeds: Virginia, Villanova, Kansas, Xavier

2 seeds: North Carolina, Duke, Michigan St., Auburn

3 seeds: Purdue, Cincinnati, Tennessee, Texas Tech

4 seeds: Wichita St., West Virginia, Gonzaga, Ohio St.

5 seeds: Clemson, Kentucky, Rhode Island, Michigan

6 seeds: Creighton, Arizona, Nevada, TCU

7 seeds: Houston, Texas A&M, Seton Hall, Butler

8 seeds: Oklahoma, Arkansas, Florida, Miami-FL

9 seeds: Florida St., St. Mary’s, Middle Tennessee St., Virginia Tech

10 seeds: Louisville, USC, Kansas St., Arizona St.

11 seeds: St. Bonaventure, Texas, Missouri, Alabama (play-in), Boise St. (play-in)

12 seeds: Loyola-Chicago, Louisiana-Lafayette, New Mexico St., NC State (play-in), Providence (play-in)

13 seeds: Vermont, Murray St., Buffalo, South Dakota St.

14 seeds: Montana, UNC Greensboro, College of Charleston, Bucknell

15 seeds: Northern Kentucky, Penn, Wagner, Rider

16. Florida Gulf Coast, UNC Asheville, UC Irvine (play-in), Nicholls St. (play-in), Bethune-Cookman (play-in), Arkansas-Pine Bluff (play-in)


Last four in: Alabama, NC State, Providence, Boise St.

First four out: Baylor, Syracuse, UCLA, Nebraska

Next four out: Mississippi St., Marquette, Utah, Washington


The Committee provides a framework

When I started working on my bracket update for this week, I tried to stop myself from peeking at the NCAA Tournament Committee’s preview of what teams would comprise the top 4 seed lines if the season ended today. I wanted to trust my own process for looking at teams and crunching the numbers, and for the most part, I came to many of the same conclusions. Having produced my own rankings, I did take a look at what the Committee was thinking and made a few slight adjustments to my bracket. A lot of these came down to the Committee’s bracketing procedures, so in the end my top 4 seed lines look pretty similar to the Committee’s.

One thing that I have noticed is that RPI (finally) seems to have lessened in importance for the Committee. Where I have tended to use it as a very strong predictive metric in the past, I will have to play around with adjusting it, and giving more weight to newer metrics such as Strength of Record (SOR).

Bracket through 2/11: 2018_02_12 bracket

Seed list:

1 seeds: Virginia, Villanova, Xavier, Kansas

2 seeds: Purdue, Auburn, Duke, Cincinnati

3 seeds: Michigan St., Texas Tech, Clemson, North Carolina

4 seeds: Tennessee, Ohio St., Arizona, Texas A&M

5 seeds: Oklahoma, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Gonzaga

6 seeds: Florida, Wichita St., Nevada, TCU

7 seeds: Kentucky, St. Mary’s, Arizona St., Creighton

8 seeds: Alabama, Missouri, Butler, Florida St.

9 seeds: Miami-FL, Arkansas, Michigan, Houston

10 seeds: Seton Hall, Texas, Louisville, Virginia Tech

11 seeds: USC, Middle Tennessee St., Kansas St., UCLA (play-in), St. Bonaventure (play-in)

12 seeds: Syracuse, Vermont, New Mexico St., Marquette (play-in), Baylor (play-in)

13 seeds: South Dakota St., Loyola-Chicago, Louisiana-Lafayette, East Tennessee St.

14 seeds: Belmont, College of Charleston, Rider, Montana

15 seeds: Northern Kentucky, UNC Asheville, UC Santa Barbara, Bucknell

16 seeds: Florida Gulf Coast, Wagner, Nicholls St. (play-in), Harvard (play-in), Savannah St. (play-in), Grambling (play-in)