Now that we’re approaching the end of the non-conference season, the NCAA bubble picture is coming into greater focus. There’s still plenty of time for a team to make moves up or down the board. But by now we have a good idea of who the tournament shoe-ins are and who will have to turn things around in a hurry to make the tournament.
Last season I came up with my own tournament projection system as a way to keep track of where the Huskies were with regards to both the NCAA tournament and eventually NIT. It takes into account both a team’s resume based on the quadrant system as well as its standing in the computer numbers. All of the seedings are based strictly on math so I haven’t manipulated anything to make teams look better or worse. We’ll start with a look at the Pac-12 and then I’ll post the entire seed list.
But first, a few definitions. Resume points is a shorthand way to assess how well a team has performed just in terms of wins and losses. A quadrant one victory is worth 4 points down to a quadrant four victory being worth only 1 point. The reverse is true where a quadrant one loss only subtracts 1 point whereas a quadrant four loss subtracts 4 points. When you add it all together it’s a solid way of capturing the strength of a team’s resume in one number. Right now the #1 overall team (Kansas) has 29 points, while my last team in (Ole Miss) has 10 points, and the worst team in the country (Coppin State) has -33 points).
A team’s computer ranking is the average of their KenPom ranking and their ranking in the new NET system which the NCAA debuted this season. A team’s opportunity score is the number of victory points they would get if they won all of their remaining regular season games. Kentucky has the toughest remaining schedule in the country with 76 possible victory points remaining.
In the Tournament
Arizona State (8-2) - #9 seed (#33 overall), Bracketology Score: 89.98
Resume: 13 points (35th), Computer Rank: 38th, Opportunity Score: 56 (68th)
First Four in Dayton
Arizona (7-4) - #12 seed (#45 overall), Bracketology Score: 86.64
Resume: 11 points (44th), Computer Rank: 55th, Opportunity Score: 52 (74th)
Washington (7-4) - #12 Seed (#46 overall), Bracketology Score: 86.28
Resume: 9 points (56th), Computer Rank: 49th, Opportunity Score: 51 (75th)
Currently I have the Pac-12 in almost an identical spot to last season with 3 teams making the NCAA tournament but two of them barely scraping in and thus ending up in the First Four with a play-in game. The one difference is last year Arizona at least managed to get a #5 seed but Arizona State is only on track for a #9 seed at the moment. But they host Kansas on Saturday and a win in that game would vault them up several seed lines. The Huskies’ opportunity score is the lowest of any team in the conference because they only play the other Arizona schools once and they only have a pair of Q4 games left on their non-conference schedule. It’s also the lowest of any team in the basketball Power 6. UW just doesn’t have any margin for error and a home loss to any team in the bottom half of the conference absolutely must be avoided.
Colorado (8-1) - NIT (#54 overall), Bracketology Score: 84.15
Resume: 8 points (64th), Computer Rank: 53rd, Opportunity Score: 53 (73rd)
Oregon (8-3) - NIT (#56 overall), Bracketology Score: 83.51
Resume: 7 points (74th), Computer Rank: 50th, Opportunity Score: 58 (64th)
NIT Bubble Teams
UCLA (7-4) - NIT Bubble (#72 overall), Bracketology Score: 79.82
Resume: 4 points (103rd), Computer Rank: 49th, Opportunity Score: 57 (67th)
Oregon State (7-3) - NIT Bubble (#83 overall), Bracketology Score: 75.69
Resume: 5 points (95th), Computer Rank: 80th, Opportunity Score: 55 (71st)
There are still an additional 4 teams in the conference that could realistically pull off an at-large berth if they turned things around in a hurry and either won or came close to winning the conference. Colorado has the best record in the conference but have played an abysmal schedule so it hasn’t translated to their resume score. Oregon was viewed as the pre-season favorite, have the best player in the conference, and have dealt with injuries so they have the largest amount of wiggle room but the home loss to Texas Southern was a killer. UCLA has been embarrassed in their 3 biggest games but again, with their talent and public perception they might be able to sneak in with a 12-6 conference record. Finally, Oregon State has a long road for an NCAA berth but once again are capable of beating anyone else in the Pac-12 when they’re on their game.
Stanford (6-4) - #106 overall, Bracketology Score: 70.58
Utah (5-5) - #126 overall, Bracketology Score: 64.82
USC (5-6) - #145 overall, Bracketology Score: 61.27
Washington State (7-3) - #148 overall, Bracketology Score: 60.41
California (4-6) - #181 overall, Bracketology Score: 49.68
Stanford almost beat Kansas at Kansas so they have the strongest case for moving up a group but I think they’d need something like a 16-2 conference record to get in still given their resume so I don’t think it’s realistic right now to say they still have a shot at an at-large berth. The final 4 teams all have absolutely no shot except through a Pac-12 tournament win. A home loss to any of the four could be a death knell to a prospective bubble team’s resume so Washington win will definitely need to sweep those 4 games to avoid a bad loss.
Current NCAA Tournament Seedings as of 12/21 (conference auto-bid projection in bold)
Charleston Cougars (10-2), UC Irvine Anteaters (11-2)
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