Sunday, January 13, 2008


Year 3, Bracket 1

Selection Sunday is a mere nine weeks away, and since most teams have a few league games under their belts now (I'm talking to you, Big 12.), I figured it was time to deliver to you, my few and faithful readers, my first projected bracket of the season.

I have big plans for this season (and beyond) that I won't quite get into yet. Since I'm not in the process of job hunting and relocating this season, I'll be posting more and delivering more analysis as the season progresses. But without further is Bracket Number One.

The Top Quarter of the S-Curve

For as early in the season as it is, the top seed line was unbelievably easy to set up. The consensus is that North Carolina, Memphis, UCLA, and Kansas are the top four teams in the country at the moment, and I don't disagree. I've placed these four teams in this order in the bracket, setting up a potential UNC-Kansas and Memphis-UCLA Final Four. There's room for movement on the two and three lines. Georgetown. Michigan State, Duke, and Tennessee are the two seeds; four clubs who could all move up with slip ups by the top seeds. Indiana leads the three line (where things start to get really interesting), but two matchups with the Spartans could see those two teams switch places as the season progresses. Washington State was a candidate for a two seed going into their game at UCLA Saturday afternoon, but the loss at Pauley and weak non-conference slate makes them a three. Look out for Xavier, who beat the Hoosiers in a Thanksgiving event in the Chicago suburbs. Even though the Musketeers dropped a close one to Tennessee and got trounced by a under the radar Arizona State squad, they've been crushing teams of late and the Atlantic 10 schedule will be a boost to their computer numbers this year. Texas, a solid side who isn't missing Kevin Durant much, rounds out the three line. The four line includes a couple of teams who are quietly winning under the radar (Texas A&M and Wisconsin), a solid Marquette team who had an odd week at home (beating Seton Hall by 5, then steamrolling Notre Dame), and Dayton. I still can't believe St. Louis took the Flyers to overtime last night. Of course, the Billikens did revert to their woeful offensive ways in the extra period.

The Five Line

On the five line, Vanderbilt would be higher, if not for following up a struggle with a bad South Carolina team at home with a loss away to Kentucky. Normally, losing at Rupp wouldn't lead me to do that. Turnovers, bad shot selection, and an apparent interest in not winning a game against an inconsistent opponent will though. Gus Johnson was on Defcon 6 yesterday afternoon during the late stages, which completely made my weekend. Butler is a team due to move into a protected seed with a slip up on the four line. Arizona and Pittsburgh, however, could go either up or down based on injuries. I anticipate the Wildcats will move up with Jerryd Bayless's return, but the Panthers depth will be challenged in the Big East.

The Rest of the At-Larges

I had to do a lot of shuffling at the bottom of the at-large pool since there are quite a few ACC, Big East, SEC, and Pac 10 teams crowding lines 7 through 11. West Virginia moved up to an 8 seed after their convincing win over Syracuse today (I'm shaking my head as I type this...two terrible road losses for the Orange this week. They're hanging on as a 10 seed now.) As for my other team, the Gators are in as a 9 seed this week, but if they play with as much heart as they did in their first two conference out! I had to flip Gonzaga and Boston College on the 11 and 12 lines for balance (and to avoid potential conference rematches), and Florida State and Arizona State on the 10 and 11 lines. The committee may be de-emphasizing avoiding early conference rematches this season, but I'll believe it when I see it.

These Auto Bids Will Straighten Themselves Out

As for the last five lines of the bracket, the vast majority of automatic bids are down here. We're down an at-large this week, as Cleveland State leads the Horizon instead of Butler. The Vikings are on the 13 line. There are quite a few teams leading their conferences early who have losing records against Division 1 opponents and terrible computer profiles
Arkansas-Pine Bluff (4-7)
Jacksonville (6-8)
Hartford (8-9)
Idaho State (3-10)
Northwestern State (3-9)
Dartmouth (5-8)

In non-conference play, the SWAC and Ohio Valley as a whole have been terrible against Division 1 competition. The SWAC is currently 8-86. Yes, that means they haven't cracked .100 in winning percentage! (They're mired at .086.) The OVC is 16-62, good to barely crack .200 (.205 actually). The OVC will have BracketBusters to improve their mark, but the SWAC doesn't participate in this event, so they may be out of chances to get to 10 percent.

I'll be back later in the week with some previews and analysis. Before I go, here's some key information about this week's bracket.

Bids by Conference
Big East - 8
ACC - 6
Pacific 10 - 6
Big 12 - 5
SEC - 5
Atlantic 10 -4
Big Ten - 4
Horizon - 2
Missouri Valley -2
West Coast - 2

Last Four In
St. Joseph's
Boston College

Last Four Out
New Mexico
NC State
Southern California

Next Four Out
Brigham Young
George Mason
Kansas State
Virginia Commonwealth

Also Considered
Mississippi State
Wake Forest

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