Friday, December 24, 2010

Seeding Update - December 24

As a Christmas Eve bonus, here's a seeding update for today. A full bracket will be released as scheduled on January 3.

1 - Duke, Ohio State, Kansas, Connecticut
2 - Syracuse, Pittsburgh, San Diego State, Villanova
3 - Georgetown, Missouri, Kentucky, Kansas State
4 - Purdue, Michigan State, Baylor, Minnesota
5 - Texas, BYU, Tennessee, Notre Dame
6 - Memphis, Texas A&M, Illinois, Florida
7 - Central Florida, Vanderbilt, Wisconsin, Louisville
8 - UNLV, West Virginia, Temple, Washington
9 - Cleveland State, Washington State, Arizona, North Carolina
10 - Boston College, Butler, St. Mary's (CA), Old Dominion
11 - Northwestern, Drexel, Southern Miss, Oklahoma State
12 - Utah State, Miami (FLA), St. John's/California, Cincinnati/Gonzaga
13 - Wichita State, Princeton, UC Santa Barbara, Belmont
14 - North Texas, Furman, Quinnipiac, Coastal Carolina
15 - Fairfield, Austin Peay, American, IPFW
16 - Ohio, Weber State, Stephen F. Austin/Morgan State, Jackson State/Boston University

Monday, December 20, 2010

Update - December 20

I'm celebrating my birthday today so a matrix update will have to wait until tomorrow. As a bonus, I'll have a seeding update as well.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Bracket - December 6

It's the first bracket of the year! Before anybody freaks out, remember it's still early. There's still 3 1/2 months worth of games remaining. If you don't see your favorite team, as long as they win, they'll eventually make the cut.

This year marks the first year of the "first four" where the last 4 at-large teams and 4 automatic qualifiers get to play in Dayton in the first round. In this bracket, I put Gonzaga, Cincinnati, Maryland, and Missouri State as the at-larges.

So check it out and the next bracket is scheduled to be released January 3.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

BCS 2010

Time for the annual BCS post. While Auburn and Oregon will make for a compelling championship game, who's to say that TCU, Stanford, or Wisconsin would not have been equally compelling opponents? The ideal way to solve this is a playoff. However, I'm afraid we're years away from this. In the meantime, I'd really like to see a plus-one. This is how I've been wishing such a system implemented.

Even having the top 4 play each other sounds too much like a playoff so you have to work with what you've got.

1. Promote the Cotton Bowl to BCS status. This will keep the 10 team system the BCS currently has.
2. The champion from each of the BCS conferences receives an automatic berth.
3. The highest ranked non-BCS conference champion (or Notre Dame) will receive an automatic berth provided it is ranked higher than the lowest ranked BCS conference champion. If this lowest ranked team is unranked in the BCS, then the non-BCS team (or Notre Dame) must be ranked in the top 25.
4. Fill out the rest of the lineup with the highest ranked teams remaining in BCS order. Ignore the two-team limit per conference.
5. Pull out the Pac-10 and Big 10 champions and place them in the Rose Bowl (keeps them happy).
6. The top 4 teams remaining will play each other. The highest ranked of these 4 will play the lowest ranked team of these 4 that avoids a rematch. Then the remaining two teams will play each other. The same will apply to the bottom 4 teams.
7. Once matchups are determined, assign them to bowls. Apply conference affiliations (Big 12-Fiesta, ACC-Orange, SEC-Sugar) with the remaining game to the Cotton Bowl. If a bowl needs to give up a conference affiliated with them to another bowl, that bowl will have priority over the Cotton Bowl.
8. Play the games!
9. After the games are played, run the BCS system one more time and pit the top 2 teams against each other for a BCS champion.

How would it work this year?

This year's BCS conference champions were 1. Auburn (SEC), 2. Oregon (Pac-10), 5. Wisconsin (Big Ten), 7. Oklahoma (Big 12), 13. Virginia Tech (ACC), and NR. Connecticut (Big East).

TCU is the highest-ranked non-BCS conference champion, is ranked higher than Connecticut, and in the top 25. It gets an automatic berth.

The three remaining slots go to the highest-ranked BCS teams remaining: 4. Stanford, 6. Ohio State and 8. Arkansas.

As a result, these matchups are formed and matched with the following bowls.

Rose: 2. Oregon (Pac-10) vs. 5. Wisconsin (Big 10)
Sugar: 1. Auburn (SEC) vs. 6. Ohio State
Fiesta: 7. Oklahoma (Big 12) vs. NR Connecticut
Orange: 8. Arkansas vs. 13. Virginia Tech (ACC)
Cotton: 3. TCU vs. 4. Stanford

All the matchups are slightly more compelling than the ones already chosen, even though they involve the same teams and Connecticut's still involved. Plus the top two after the BCS standings are run again would still play an extra game.

But hey, under this scenario, what if Wisconsin and Ohio State win? Shouldn't they get to play in the plus-one over the TCU/Stanford winner? See, the scenarios are endless. We should have a playoff bracket. We need to have a playoff.

Speaking of brackets, the first bracket for this season of The Bracket Project is released tomorrow.

Monday, November 29, 2010

First Matrix of 2010-11 posted

The first matrix of the new season has been released. I've weeded out the preseason brackets so only 10 brackets are active. Expect that number to dramatically increase as we move forward into the season (you know, when people actually start caring).

My own first bracket will be released on December 6.

The Bracket Matrix - 2011

Want to contribute??? Read this! 2010-11 Edition

1. You need to set up a web site to place your bracket that will be consistent throughout the season. A blog will do. A web site will most definitely do. A bracket posted on a message board will not do. The link will change frequently and will get lost in various discussions, making it difficult for the average reader to find it. (Exception: A message board devoted exclusively to bracketology.) Also, you can't post it on Facebook, Myspace, or some other social networking site because not everyone can access it.

2. You have to tell me where your site is. I don't have a sixth sense when it comes to finding these things. I rely on you and readers like you to tell me what kind of sites to add to this page.

3. The NCAA sets up procedures and principles for building a bracket. Read them! A seriously flawed bracket won't be posted. However, if your seedings are out of the norm, I'll still most likely post it provided that the principles are followed and you have an explanation as to why you've built the bracket like you did. I reserve the right to not post a bracket with something like a winless team as a #1 seed.

4. Please date-stamp your bracket. Brackets of a certain age will be removed from the list, and if there's no date-stamp, obviously I can't tell when your bracket was updated.

5. To make it easier on me, please format your bracket so that at least half of it can be seen on the screen at any one time. You can make it even easier for me by publishing a seed list of your 68 teams. Brackets must have at least 48 seeded teams to be listed in the matrix. Sites that merely list teams with no seeding can be linked to the page but will not be added to the matrix. To be listed in the final matrix of the season, you must have all 68 seeded teams.

6. No new sites will be added to the 2011 page after March 1, 2011 unless you appear in the rankings page (linked to the side), in which case, you will be grandfathered in. In addition, no bracket will be accepted to the final matrix of the season after the beginning of the Selection Sunday show.

7. Link to my site! I've linked to yours!

8. I'm only one guy. If this could pay me what I get at my regular job, I'd update this site 24/7. That simply is not the case. If someone else can do this better, I'll gladly step aside, but from the looks of it, I'm the only (crazy) one. So if you don't see your site on here, an update hasn't been done for a while or I don't respond to you, I hope you'll understand why.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The 2010-11 Bracket Matrix Links

All the links used in the Bracket Matrix for 2010-11 are listed below.

The window for new contributors to join the matrix is now closed. Bracketologists who were in the matrix in years past can still join this year's matrix by contacting me.

The Bracket Project - BP

ESPN - Joe Lunardi
CBS - Jerry Palm
FOX Sports - Jordan Schwartz (also at Bleacher Report)
Rivals - Mike Huguenin
Sporting News - Ryan Fagan
Sports Illustrated - Andy Glockner
Yahoo Sports - Brad Evans

5 Borough Sports - 5B
68 & 16 College Sportscast
ASN College Bracketology
Basketball Predictions - BaP
Bleacher Report - Ezra Amacher (BR-EA), Jesse Kramer (BR-JK), Jordan Schwartz (BR-JS)
Blogging the Bracket - BtB
Bluejay Banter Bracketology from White and Blue Review - BBB
Brack Attack
Brackentology - KENT
The Bracket Board - TBB
Bracket Facts
Bracket Madness - MAD
The Bracket Mensa - BM
Bracket Predictions - BrP
Bracketological Excellence - BE
Bracketology 101 - B101
Bracketville USA - BUSA
Bucky's Bracket
Bulldog Brackets
Busting Bracketologists - Bryce and CJ
Busting the Bracket - BtBr
CHN Bracketology
Countdown to March - CM
The D-World Society - DW
Daily Bracket - DB
The Honest Charlatan - HC
Howard Salwasser's Bracket Watch - BW
Jeff D Lowe's Bracketology - JDL
Kentucky Sports Online - KSO
Kerrance James - KJ
Kurt's NCAA Bracket Projection
March 24/7
March Madness '11 - MM11
NCAA Bubble Trouble - NBT
Oak Creek's March Madness
Prime Time Bracketology - PTB
The Quantitative Prognosticator
Rainmaker's Bracketology
RFS Bracket Science
Rock M Nation
Rush the Court - Zach Hayes
Ryan's Bracketology
The Sports Bank - TSB
SportsRatings - SR
Steve's Bracketology
The 68 from the Washington Post - WP
Zoukmaster's NCAA Bracketology

2011 March Madness - MM
Beer's Bracket
Shelby's Bracket WAG
Bracketography - Graph
Bracketville - BV
Brendan Cox's Bracketology - BC
Chandler's Bracketology
Coolpohle's Bracketology - CP
The Columbus Dispatch - Bill Rabinowitz
Crashing the Dance - CtD
D1scourse - D1
DB's Space - DBS
Feature Presentation Online - FPO
Ivar's Sports
LAOJoe Bracketology
Lobofan2003's Bracketology
MAG NCAA Tournament Projections
My San Antonio - Stephen Fontenot - SA
Online Sports Fanatic - Daniel Evans
Real Time RPI
RPI Forecast
Schmolik 64
Seed Madness
The Hoops Report - Ryan Feldman - THR
VTS Bracket
Warren Nolan - WN

Monday, November 8, 2010

Welcome back!

It's November so that means it's the start of another season here at the Bracket Project.

The big change is the addition of three new teams in the tournament for a grand total of 68. How this will affect things is anybody's guess but the NCAA has released the new principles and procedures so you can read them here.

The first bracket and the first edition of the Bracket Matrix will come out November 29. All sites which have been listed in prior years on the matrix can submit their brackets anytime during the year. New sites must notify me by March 1 to be included in the Selection Sunday matrix. My expectations can be found on the current matrix page.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Breathing a Sigh of Relief

According to the press release from the NCAA, CBS and Turner, the NCAA tournament will undergo an expansion to 68 teams starting next year. This is a good move, especially in comparison to the looming 96-team concept. I'm sure years down the road, 96 teams will be a good idea, but not today. Not when the 65-team bracket was fine the way it was.

No official word yet on any format changes, but with 68 teams, presumably the bottom 8 teams (the 15 and 16 seeds of today) will have to play on opening round day, which is still unfair since they qualified for the tourney while a middle-of-the-road major conference team that barely makes it in gets to play in the "real" tournament.

With the basketball tournament moving forward relatively unchanged, we can move on to presentation. They're adding three networks (TNT, TBS, and truTV, which used to be Court TV if I'm not mistaken) to cover the tourney so that every game is televised. My hope is that CBS will continue to produce the tourney a la the Masters when ESPN televises the early rounds. Watching Turner personalities cover a tournament where they don't even show any regular-season games is a bad idea.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Bracket Project takes a break

Congrats to Duke for winning the 2010 championship. I'll be back in November to re-start the site but will pop up every now and then to keep track of any news involving the NCAA tournament including expansion.

Until then...

Friday, April 2, 2010

96 Teams: The Schedule's All Wrong

Judging from the news conference held by Greg Shaheen and the NCAA, an expansion to 96 teams seems like a certainty. The only question would be will it happen after the NCAA opts out of its contract this year or after its contract expires in three years.

But for something they claimed to have studied since 2004, how could they get the schedule of the tournament so wrong? Shaheen lays it out this way. In total, it would stay in the footprint of the existing 65-team tournament but additional games would be played in the weekdays between the first and second weekends.

So if it were held this year, here's your schedule:

March 18-19: Round of 96
March 20-21: Round of 64
March 23-24: Round of 32 (Site Unknown)
March 25-26: Round of 16
March 27-28: Round of 8
April 3: Final Four
April 5: Championship Game

Students lose: As John Feinstein points out in his back-and-forth with Shaheen, it's possible the Sweet 16 will lose an entire week of classes. But it's worse than that. 96 teams have to wait until Sunday at the latest to play their first game. How much focus will there be on school when there's a tournament to be played in a few days? Better to get it out of the way sooner so that the focus on school can come back a lot quicker.

Teams lose: When I set up my 96-team bracket a couple of months ago, I set it up assuming 3 games would be played in first week. Why? It gives the top 32 teams more of a competitive advantage to be a top-8 seed because they would play a possible two games while the other 64 teams would have played 3 games that first week. Under the proposed model, it's quite possible during the second week, a top-8 seed would have to play 4 games in a week. That's no incentive. Plus, the round of 32 may occur at the regional sites, which would mean teams would fly out for 1 game for the round of 64 and then hurry onto the plane to get to the regional site, which is wasteful.

Fans lose: Specifically, fans who attend the games. If you want to follow your team around, you don't have a NCAA travel agent to help you with your flight the next day nor would you have the 3 or 4 days of lead time you have in today's format. And if your team truly is playing a maximum of 1 game at a first/second round site, why would you go?

I'm sure by the time the 96-team tournament begins, we'll be waiting in anticipation for the game between the 12th-place Big East team against the 3rd-place team from a conference most people have never heard of, but until then, there's still time to fix the logistics of such a tournament (or to leave things the way things are).

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Bracket Project Predictions - 2010

My full bracket predictions will be released Wednesday.

In the meantime, I'll say Winthrop over Arkansas-Pine Bluff tonight in the opening round game.

UPDATE: 0 for 1. That's not good. Okay, here are my final predictions.

This sure smells chalky.

FIRST ROUND UPDATE: 25 out of 32 correct. (96.6 percentile according to ESPN.) Only lost Georgetown for the Sweet 16.

SECOND ROUND UPDATE: ESPN says I'm at the 97.7 percentile but when you lose your predicted national champion Kansas, you're pretty much done. My Midwest is shot but the rest of the elite 8 can still happen.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Bracket Matrix Results - 2010

The scoring is complete and the winners of this year's bracket challenge are Bracketville, Bracket Madness, and Eric Prisbell of the Washington Post. All three tied with a Paymon score of 322.

Shawn Siegel at College Hoops Net seeded the most teams correctly with 36. Bracketville seeded the most teams within one seed line at 61.

The average score was a little bit north of 303. Joe Lunardi and his team of bracketologists got a score of 300.

Find all the results here.

The rankings page has also been updated for 2010.

Final Bracket - 2010

Here it is. Let's see how wrong I am.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Bracket - March 13

The newest bracket is posted on the main page. Tomorrow, the bracket gets blown up and I'll start fresh. The final bracket will be posted sometime during the Big Ten championship game.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Bracket - March 12

No time for a bracket today. Here's my latest update. A full bracket will be released tomorrow morning.

1. Kansas, Duke, Syracuse, Kentucky
2. West Virginia, Kansas State, Purdue, Ohio State
3. Villanova, Baylor, Wisconsin, New Mexico
4. Georgetown, BYU, Maryland, Pittsburgh
5. Temple, Tennessee, Michigan State, Vanderbilt
6. Texas A&M, Xavier, Butler, Texas
7. Northern Iowa, Florida State, Gonzaga, California
8. Marquette, Missouri, Richmond, Clemson
9. Utah State, Oklahoma State, UTEP, St. Mary's (CA)
10. Wake Forest, Old Dominion, Notre Dame, Louisville
11. Florida, UNLV, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech
12. Mississippi, San Diego State, Washington, Siena
13. Cornell, Rhode Island, Wofford, Murray State
14. Akron, Montana, Sam Houston State, Oakland
15. UCSB, Morgan State, Vermont, North Texas
16. E. Tenn. State, Robert Morris, Lehigh, Winthrop, Arkansas-Pine Bluff

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Schedule up to Selection Sunday

Because of work and personal commitments, updates will be sporadic up to Selection Sunday. Friday's really busy, so there will only be one matrix update tomorrow. Here's a schedule of things to come (all times Pacific):

Thursday night: Matrix updates as needed

Friday by 11:00 AM: Updated NCAA and NIT bracket
Friday by 6:00 PM: The only matrix update of the day

Saturday by 10:30 AM: Updated NCAA and NIT bracket
Saturday all day: Matrix updates as needed

Sunday all day: Matrix updates as needed
Sunday @ 2:30 PM: Final NCAA bracket is released
Sunday @ 2:55 PM: Last matrix update

Sunday @ 3:00 PM: NCAA Selection Show on CBS

Sunday @ 5:00 PM: Final NIT bracket is released

Sunday night: Final matrix is released with results

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My team can't make it to the CBI or the CIT??? Say it ain't so!

A few people are reading my NIT page and are wondering why their team isn't even listed in the CBI/CIT section. While I feel the 32 teams I list are the most deserving (quite honestly, I'm mostly looking at computer rankings and RPI by the time I get to team #129), there's still a chance your team could be selected. Take a look at who was invited in 2009 by RPI ranking.


71. Wisconsin-Green Bay
83. Nevada
85. UTEP
86. Houston
89. Northeastern
90. Buffalo
97. Vermont
100. Wyoming
102. College of Charleston
106. Stanford
110. Boise State
129. Richmond
131. Troy
150. St. John's
154. Oregon State
158. Wichita State


95. Evansville
98. Bradley
103. Old Dominion
118. Mount St. Mary's
120. Portland
122. Oakland
124. Belmont
125. Rider
135. Idaho
137. Kent State
138. James Madison
143. Austin Peay
147. Pacific
151. Liberty
163. Drake
175. The Citadel

175! They only invite 129 teams total to the 4 tournaments!

The CBI and CIT are in it to fill their at-large bids and make money, not to find what teams are most deserving. So if your favorite team had a winning record or did okay in a BCS conference, you're going to get consideration.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Bracket - March 8

Only one addition to the bracket this week as Memphis moves up to the bracket and Rhode Island moves out. It's Championship Week, so this bracket will change drastically come Friday. New brackets will come out Friday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoon.

In the meantime, the Bracket Matrix will be updated twice a day and anytime a change to the National Bracket is required due to the conference tournaments.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Bracket - March 5

Congrats to Cornell for clinching the Ivy League championship and the automatic bid to the NCAAs. 4 more automatic bids will be claimed this weekend in the following conferences:

Atlantic Sun (Mercer or East Tennessee State)
Big South (Coastal Carolina or Winthrop)
Ohio Valley (Murray State or Morehead State)

Missouri Valley (Northern Iowa, Wichita State, Illinois Sate, or Bradley)

As for today's bracket, Notre Dame's win over UConn meant they switched places on the bracket as the Irish are the last team in while UConn's back outside. The Huskies can't get in with a 7-10 Big East record and certainly can't with a 7-11 record if they lose to USF. Notre Dame's place is not assured, but a win over Marquette would provide a lot of breathing room.

Mississippi State looked awfully shaky against Auburn and fall back while their rival Ole Miss move into the bracket on the heels of a 3-game winning streak.

Two other teams also lost key games this week to fall out of the bracket: UAB lost to Memphis and fell to 3rd in the CUSA. Illinois fell to Ohio State, which is a respectable loss, but their RPI is now 73 and their record against Big Ten teams above them in the standings is 2-5. They are the first team out.

To replace them, Washington has won 8 of 10 and has a win over conference leader California, something Arizona State doesn't have, and Rhode Island, which was helped not only by their win over Charlotte but also by the loss by Dayton.

In NIT land, Jacksonville clinched the NIT auto bid for the Atlantic Sun after advancing furthest in the tourney but falling to Mercer in the semifinals.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Lipscomb Loses; May Head to NIT

In the Atlantic Sun tournament today, Kennesaw State beat Lipscomb, which was the #1 seed. As a result, Lipscomb receives an automatic bid to the NIT, thus taking away a spot from an at-large team. Based on Monday's S-Curve, that team would be St. Louis.

The only other game to watch out for today, in terms of NIT implications, is Lehigh's game against Army in the Patriot League tournament.

UPDATE: According to this article, the Atlantic Sun changed its tiebreaker rule for the NIT bid. It now states that the regular-season champion who advances furthest in the A-Sun tournament will get the NIT automatic bid. So Lipscomb won't go to the NIT, leaving Belmont, Jacksonville, and Campbell still in the running provided they don't win the A-Sun tournament. (The tournament champion, of course, goes to the NCAA tournament.)

2ND UPDATE: Belmont and Campbell both lost today, making Jacksonville the recipient of the automatic NIT bid should it not win the conference tournament.

3RD UPDATE: According to the director of athletics at Lipscomb, the Bisons would receive the automatic NIT bid should Jacksonville win the conference tournament.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Bracket - March 1

The only change in terms of teams in this bracket is Mississippi State went in and Rhode Island went out. Mississippi State is in the midst of a three-game winning streak and currently on top of the SEC West. Rhode Island suffered a loss to St. Bonaventure and now the Atlantic 10 is down to 3 teams. However, Dayton is on the doorstep to get right back in with its remaining games against Richmond and St. Louis.

I seriously considered putting Notre Dame in the bracket. They just won against Pittsburgh and at Georgetown but that was after a 3-game losing streak, falling to St. John's, Seton Hall, and Louisville. In the end, I left them as last 8 out. A huge bubble game awaits on Wednesday against Connecticut. Winner is in the bracket.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Matrix Update

In an effort to provide the casual fan more of a quick glance at the matrix's bracket, I've re-organized the main matrix page in bracket form. The main information is there including average seed and number of brackets.

I hope it's easier to read and less intimidating. Not many people like seeing 70 columns of data in front of you. But if that is more to your liking, the matrix is still there but at a new address.

Please post any feedback in the comments section.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Bracket - February 26

I don't wanna keep picking on Joe Lunardi, but it's just so much fun. Today, he proposed a Duke-Maryland second round matchup which he hastily fixed. However, one problem leads to another. This is probably in his advanced course, but the NCAA also likes to avoid rematches of previous years' tournament matchups in the first and second rounds. By moving Maryland and making a Maryland-California first-round matchup, he'll repeat the same first round matchup from last year.

As for my bracket, Connecticut moves into the bracket at the expense of Dayton. The Flyers, with its ugly loss to Temple, moves down to 7th place in the Atlantic 10. St. Mary's and San Diego State stay put but with their lack of defining games down the stretch, both are subject to being passed by bubble teams behind them.

Also, this weekend, I'm planning on re-organizing the matrix. Lemme know what you think when you see it. A reminder to wanna-be contributors that the deadline to notify me is Monday.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Site Update

March 1 is rapidly approaching. That's the last day for new contributors to join the Bracket Matrix this year. If you're already listed on the rankings page (, the March 1 deadline does not apply to you but if you haven't started publishing mock brackets, lemme know when you do.

If you're interested in joining this madness, please read this page. For those really interested, also read the NCAA Principles and Procedures for constructing a NCAA bracket and a NIT bracket.

Just today I saw a couple of things that are noteworthy when building your bracket:

-Try not to confuse Temple and Tennessee. I saw it on three different sites.

-If you're making a true bracket and not just a seed list, keep in mind that the NCAA tries to avoid first and second round rematches. Case in point, our good friend Joe Lunardi currently sets up a Kentucky-Louisville second round rematch. In his defense, at first glance, it's not an easy fix, but it should be done.

Bracket - February 22

As I write this, I see my bracket is already outdated. After toiling away in the NIT as low as a 4 seed in my projections after losing 5 of 6, Connecticut has won 3 straight including wins over Villanova and West Virginia. Before tonite's win, my bracket had them as the first team out, staying out mostly because of its 6-8 record in the Big East. Come Friday, the Huskies could be as high as a 10 seed.

There was a bit of shuffling in the top seeds. Purdue had already become a 1 seed in last Friday's bracket. Pittsburgh moved up to a 3 seed by virtue of its win over Villanova on Sunday. Michigan State moved down to a 5 after its home loss to Ohio State.

The first teams out are the aforementioned Connecticut Huskies along with Arizona State, Minnesota, and Mississippi State. They can be found on the top line of the NIT projections.

By email, I got questions about long shots for the NCAA tourney including Cincinnati and Michigan. The interesting thing about these teams is that they both have difficult schedules remaining which means chances to build up their resumes quickly. Obviously, Cincinnati has the better shot right now. After what should be an easy game against DePaul, the Bearcats finish up the season against West Virginia, Villanova, and Georgetown. If they win two out of three and get a quality win in the Big East tournament (beating DePaul again wouldn't help much), they should be right at the cut line.

Michigan's road got a lot tougher after their home loss to Penn State. Even though they finish the season against Illinois, Ohio State, Minnesota, and Michigan State, a sweep will likely only get them to the top half of the NIT. A run to the title game is a requirement. They don't necessarily have to win it; just get there. Losing one more time in the regular season means they will have to win the Big Ten tournament.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Bracket - February 15

Two changes to the bracket today: San Diego State and Mississippi State replaced UAB and Florida.

The Aztecs moved into a tie for 3rd in the Mountain West with their win over UNLV. They were the first team out last year, in my opinion, and it's shaping up to be a nail-biter this year as well. They have decent computer numbers including an RPI of 40, but the defining road win is not there (Utah, I guess?). What helps them are wins over New Mexico and Arizona, especially if the Wildcats can make a run in the vulnerable Pac-10.

Mississippi State got two nice wins last week over Mississippi and Auburn but they'll need to show some fight against conference leader Kentucky to stay in the bracket Friday.

UAB has lost 3 of their last 4 and dropped to 4th in the CUSA. Florida has lost their last two including a loss at home to Xavier. Florida's next two opponents are the exact same ones Mississippi State beat last week so beat both of them and they'll definitely be back in.

Near the top, Ohio State looked extremely impressive in a win over Illinois and moved into the 3 seed. Like I said though, they face an extremely tough test this week as they face Purdue and Michigan State.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Bracket - February 12

No changes in or out in today's bracket. Up top, Villanova and West Virginia switched spots after Villanova beat West Virginia on Monday. In addition, though Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Tennessee all lost, all stayed as 3 seeds as I didn't think Gonzaga and Ohio State should pass them quite yet. Gonzaga, after beating St. Mary's last night, might have reached its peak as its toughest remaining opponent has an RPI of 202. Ohio State, meanwhile, has its toughest games of the year in the next week and a half and I want to see how it does, starting with Illinois this weekend (followed up by Purdue and Michigan State).

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thursday Update

The matrix will be updated a little earlier than usual (in the next couple of hours) to accomodate the earlier start time for Cal vs. Washington. There will also be two matrix updates tomorrow as Lunardi posts his first Friday bracket of the year (probably in the morning) and I'll be around after work posting mine.

Speaking of Joe, I just wanted to point out that he published an email on his ESPN Insider blog from a 15-year-old kid that made his own bracket while he was waiting for the snow to melt. Yes, the kid omitted BYU and included Northwestern, but it's a decent bracket and Joe marvels at his level of detail and passion. If only Joe and "his team of bracketologists" could match this level of detail and passion...(5 Big East teams on the bubble this week? UConn and Pitt in the first round last week?)

Ok, off to Berkeley for a Top Dog and hopefully a competitive game.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Bracket - February 8

Minnesota and Charlotte both scored road wins last weekend. However, both left my bracket tonight. What???

The Golden Gophers have been struggling for the past few weeks, losing 5 of their last 7, including a 22 -point loss to Ohio State. They went to last place Penn State and escaped with a 2 point victory. Then Illinois upset Michigan State. The knock on Illinois was that while it had a great conference record, they had feasted on the likes of Penn State, Indiana, and Iowa. But with the victory over the Spartans, that 8-3 conference record means something now (would've meant more if Lucas was in the lineup), and so they passed Minnesota to get a spot in the bracket, albeit the last one.

Charlotte also struggled on the road against last place Fordham. I woke up Saturday and happened to catch this game because I just put them in the bracket the day before. Yet, here I was watching them trail by 10 with 7 minutes to go then take the lead with only about 3 minutes to go. On Friday, it was a toss-up between Charlotte and Richmond for the last spot and Charlotte got it. While they still have the A-10 lead, Richmond had the better weekend, upsetting Temple, and the Spiders replace the 49ers.

Don't fret...Minnesota and Charlotte top the NIT projection along with Washington, who scored a sweep over the Arizona schools, and Virginia Commonwealth, on a 4-game winning streak with Old Dominion as its latest victim.

For those in the Bay Area, I'll be up in Berkeley this Thursday to watch Cal vs. Washington, just so that I can see first-hand how bad inconsistent the top two teams in the Pac-10 are.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Bracket - February 5

The last two teams in the last bracket, Cincinnati and Mississippi State, both lost and as a result, both were kicked into the NIT for the time being. Both have a good chance to come back in with wins this weekend over Syracuse at home and at Florida, respectively.

To replace them, UTEP is on a 6-game winning streak and will battle Tulsa today for sole possession of first place in CUSA. Charlotte becomes the fifth team from the Atlantic 10 to make the bracket. The 49ers' non-conference schedule was pretty average with its best win being against Louisville, but they have no bad losses and like UTEP, are on a 6-game winning streak and could be atop the A-10 standings by the end of the day.

The only bracket matrix update this weekend will be around noon Pacific time on Sunday so that we can all focus on the Super Bowl. (I'm going high scoring and saying 38-31 Colts.)

The next bracket will be released on Monday night.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Bracket - February 1

I guess my last post about 96 teams was timely as Sports Business Journal reports CBS and Turner are planning a joint bid for the NCAA basketball tournament and other championships to counter potential bids by ESPN, FOX, and others. The key date is August 31, the last day the NCAA can opt out of its current TV deal with CBS for basketball. Also interesting is that the NCAA's deal with the NIT also ends after this season.

The bracket this week stayed relatively stable as no teams made a really big move upward. Notable items include New Mexico's win over BYU, which brought the Cougars back closer to the pack of Lobos, Rebels, and Aztecs chasing them, and Cornell's crushing win over Harvard, solidifying its hold over the Ivy League.

UConn became the first team out after two losses to Providence and Marquette. It wasn't included in my bracket, but losing to Louisville tonite didn't help matters. Being the first team out means they also became the top team in the new NIT projection I released. Other teams on the top line include UTEP, San Diego State, and Seton Hall.

Please note that the NIT guarantees bids to regular season champions which do not win their conference tournament. So, teams seeded on the 7 and 8 lines should be worried about being dropped. Also remember that NIT seeding is a lot more volatile than NCAA seeding. A team could be up in the NCAAs or not participating in either tournament depending on the outcome in even their next game.

Friday, January 29, 2010

96 Teams - Does this look ridiculous?

Last month, word got out that the NCAA was looking to, among other things, expand the tournament from the current 65 teams to a proposed 96 teams. So a few days ago, I got to wondering, as a prelude to my first NIT bracket projections on Monday, how would a 96-team bracket look? At first glance, it's not pretty.

Here are the ground rules:

I pretty much extended the rules for 65 teams to get to 96 teams. I kept the same format as it is today with 8 cities hosting the initial rounds. (Since the first round cities have been announced through 2013, the NCAA would have to keep them right?) News articles think CBS (or ESPN or whoever would televise this) would need an extra week to do this, but really all you would need is two extra days tops. So just add it on to the existing hosting format. Instead of Thursday-Sunday, you could have it from Wednesday-Monday.

Once 2014 rolls around (or the NCAA breaks the contracts with the cities already committed to hosting the first rounds), I would suggest they let the 16 national seeds (the top 16 teams) host the first three rounds. This would also get rid of numbering teams to a 24 seed, like I have it in this bracket (I only kept it for easy comparison with today's modern bracket). Each 6-team pod would be seeded from 1-6.

In terms of the bracketing rules, the main thing I kept an eye on was to prevent rematches in the round of 96 and 64 and conference rematches in the round of 96, 64, and 32. Everything else became fair game. The existing rules would probably need to be simplified in such a way so that the committee can complete the bracket in a timely manner.

Here's the sample bracket! (Note: this has little bearing on the regular brackets I produce.)

Sorry Georgia, NC State, Kent State, and Oklahoma. You are the first 4 teams out.

The breakdown of teams by conference:
13 - Big East
11 - ACC
8 - SEC, Big 12
7 - Big 10
6 - Atlantic 10
5 - CUSA
4 - Colonial, Mountain West, Pac-10
3 - WAC
2 - Missouri Valley, Ivy, West Coast

So after doing this exercise, here are some pros and cons:


There are more teams! - Yes, there are 31 more teams, which means theoretically 31 more coaches are safe and 31 more schools get a piece of that tournament money for their conferences.

More openings for non-BCS teams - In my bracket, non-BCS teams got 14 of the 31 additional spots after receiving 6 out of 34 in last Monday's bracket.

The lower seeds have a better chance at advancing - The 16 seeds of today are usually one and done after facing a number one seed. However, in this format, they would be re-numbered as a 24 seed and would have to face the 9 then 8 seed in the first two rounds, a significantly easier path for Cinderella. At the same time, a 1 seed would get a more difficult opponent in its first game.


BCS dominance - It probably just applies to this bracket only but practically the entire Big East and ACC get to participate. Is that really spreading the wealth?

Say goodbye to the NIT - The NIT has been the home to the NCAA rejects lately and now that the NCAA owns the NIT, there really isn't a good reason to hold on to it.

Dull first round matchups - Before the NCAA tourney begins, how psyched are you to watch those first round NIT matchups on ESPN? Yeah, that's what I thought. Well, with the top 32 teams getting a bye for the first round, get ready for that, but renamed as the NCAA first round.
Large bracket - Did you see how large that bracket is? There would be too many teams to keep track of for the average person to stay focused. The pro for me would probably be I would not have to track 60-odd brackets in the matrix at the end of the year.

So, is it doable? Sure it is. Would I want it? Probably not. It's fine at 65. Maybe at most, 68. If to make the money work, the NCAA needs 80, that may also be palatable.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Bracket - January 25

The last teams in? That would be Florida and North Carolina. Wow. For UNC, three straight losses including two at home will do that. I'm not sure what's wrong with the team, but judging by Roy Williams' looks on the sideline, he's looking for answers too. The next 4 games are tough but winnable before a home date with Duke.

Florida has the looks of a decent resume with wins over Michigan State and Florida State and only a bad loss to South Alabama. But after watching them a few times this year, they haven't been overly impressive. Without Parsons' heroics versus NC State and South Carolina, the resume turns ugly really fast. Its game against Tennessee on Sunday looms large.

As for the Pac-10, it's already been ugly and getting uglier. It's probably best that we let them have their fun until a Pac-10 tournament winner emerges in mid-March.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Bracket - January 18

Just a follow-up to last week's note about the Pac-10. The top teams actually came out okay this week. California split a difficult road trip to the Washington schools (though they did look bad in Seattle). Washington defended the home court against Cal and Stanford. And Arizona State swept the Oregon schools on the road. It's a step in the right direction.

The big mover up the bracket was Ohio State. I had started to doubt them even with Evan Turner back in the lineup after their road loss to Minnesota. However, wins over Purdue and Wisconsin pushed them from first team out to a six seed. If they get wins over Northwestern and West Virginia this week, they'll shoot back into a protected seed.

On the flip side is Miami (FL). With a weak non-conference schedule that the Hurricanes pretty much dominated and a win over Wake Forest, things were looking good. However, losses to Virginia Tech and Virginia brought them back to earth. They'll need to collect wins in their next 5 games before a tough 3-game stretch against Georgia Tech, Clemson, and Duke.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Bracket - January 11

I was going to write this earlier today, but work got in the way and then I just had to read up on Lane Kiffin going from Tennessee to USC. That was just as surprising as Carroll to Seattle.

The big topic this week centered on the Pac-10. If the right (wrong?) dominoes fall, it's possible only the conference tournament champion would go to the NCAA tournament. The only team with a great non-conference win is USC and they won't be part of anything this postseason. In order to avoid this one-team fate, it's important that 2 or 3 teams break away from the pack (ideally, Cal, Washington, and Arizona State would be the strongest contenders). Beating each other up will give the committee no reason to consider any team for an at-large bid. This week, I've got 2 teams: Cal as the champ and Washington as the last team in.

All in all, while there were many upsets this weekend, there wasn't too much change at the top as only New Mexico and Ole Miss fell out of the top 4 seeds and were replaced by Wisconsin and Gonzaga.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Bracket - January 4

Pittsburgh is the big mover this week as a 5-game winning streak including a road win over Syracuse has propelled them to a 5 seed. Tonight's win over Cincinnati only helps their resume as they enter a tough 3-game stretch in conference (Connecticut, Louisville, Georgetown).

Also making big moves in the bracket were Baylor, with convincing wins over SEC foes Arkansas and South Carolina, and Cincinnati, with its win over UConn (though the Bearcats will tumble a bit with its loss to Pitt).

Ohio State makes a big fall after going 0-2 to start Big Ten play. Their RPI right now is in the 90s. Luckily, facing Big Ten teams will improve their RPI by the time Selection Sunday but they also need to start winning and right now, since Evan Turner probably won't be back for another couple of weeks at the earliest. (Edit: Well, I guess he's back now.)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

USC Out of Postseason Contention

USC has announced self-imposed sanctions in connection with the recruitment of O.J. Mayo. The immediate effect is that the Trojans will not participate in any postseason tournament this year, including the Pac-10 tournament. So, bracketologists, take note.