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Monday MBB Rankings and Bracketology Update

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The Huskies are in the dance and in others receiving votes

NCAA Basketball: Arizona at Washington Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

Last season Monday mornings were merely the start of another work week. After Washington’s insanely exciting last two games they now get an added boost. They are now the day on which new rankings and brackets are released and on which the Huskies have a chance of appearing.

Let’s start with the rankings talk. There were many Husky fans clamoring that UW should be on any top-25 list that came out today. That didn’t happen. They weren’t included in CBS Sports’ rankings. They weren’t included in ESPN’s rankings. And they didn’t make the AP Poll. Although they were 2nd in the Others Receiving Votes category which means they essentially finished 27th.

First, Put down your pitchforks Husky fans on twitter. This is not an example of East Coast Bias or Husky hate. Washington had an awesome week. As we’ll shortly get to, it did wonders for their NCAA tournament chances. But the top-25 is still a stretch. From an NCAA tournament perspective you have to be considered a 7-seed to have a shot in the top-25. Last week Washington was squarely on the bubble. That’s a big jump and even if both of the Arizona wins had been on the road it likely would’ve been too much.

Here’s a resume test between the Huskies, #24 Kentucky, #25 Miami, #26 Butler, and #30 Seton Hall; all of whom have 17 wins.

UW vs. Fringe Top-25

Team Wins RPI KenPom Tier 1 Tier 2 Tier 3 Tier 4
Team Wins RPI KenPom Tier 1 Tier 2 Tier 3 Tier 4
Team A 17 35 88 4-3 1-2 4-1 8-0
Team B 17 27 19 3-7 2-0 4-0 8-0
Team C 17 17 29 5-5 0-0 5-1 7-0
Team D 17 16 30 4-4 7-2 1-0 5-0
Team E 17 18 28 4-4 2-1 5-0 6-0

Washington is Team A, Butler Team B, Seton Hall Team C, Kentucky Team D, and Miami Team E. The Huskies are the only team with a winning record in Tier 1 games among those teams. But the other four squads have combined for 4 losses in Tier 2 and below contests while UW has 3 already themselves. Tier 2 losses are fine for bubble team purposes but they’re what starts to separate teams hoping for higher seed lines.

The biggest problem is the KenPom ranking. Advanced stats are increasingly used by bracketologists and rankers alike. RPI is a measure designed to determine how good a team’s resume is. KenPom and BPI are designed to figure out how good a team actually is when making predictions moving forward. They have different goals and should be used in different situations.

If you look at everything except KenPom then the five are just about a toss up. But using the advanced numbers when they’re that vastly different as a tiebreaker is totally reasonable. UW is now 7-0 in games decided by 5 points or less. A system which expects that to be closer to .500 looks at UW’s resume and sees a 14-9 team rather than a 17-6 one hence the difference. And where the Huskies show up in the latest bracketology updates is a reflection of to what extent each person uses those numbers in their bracket.

Jerry Palm of CBS Sports detests KenPom with a burning passion. He won’t even consider it as part of his evaluation for a second. And that is why he has Washington as a #7 seed in his update this morning. That would have the Huskies squaring off against the #10 seeded TCU Horned Frogs who they played in consecutive games last season due to a weird scheduling quirk where they met in a tournament final and then had a game already scheduled. The winner of that game would face #2 Duke in Pittsburgh.

Joe Lunardi of ESPN is a much bigger believer in BPI (which has the Huskies an abysmal 115th) and this is the first time that Washington has appeared on the right side of the ledger for him. Lunardi has the Dawgs on the opposite side of a 7-10 matchup as a #10 seed playing the 7th seeded Nevada Wolfpack. That would be another repeat matchup from last year when Nevada defeated Washington by 2 points in Seattle. The winner of that game would play #2 seed Michigan State in Detroit.

Finally, Yahoo put out their updated bracket on Sunday and had the Huskies in the dance as the last #9 seed. Yahoo only lists the teams by seed order rather than actually filling out a full bracket but presumably they would be facing the top #8 seed Michigan in that scenario with the winner playing one of the #1 seeds (Villanova, Virginia, or Purdue). They (unfortunately) wouldn’t be able to play the last #1 seed Kansas since there can’t be rematches within the first two rounds.

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