It’s never too early to start looking ahead to March Madness. At least for us fans. The players should be focused on the next game but I am beholden to no such obligation.
In order to put together my own bracket I use a couple of data points. First of all the NET rankings which inform the actual team sheets for the selection committee doesn’t release data for another few weeks. In its absence I use KenPom’s rankings. I still follow the rules of the official quadrant system but insert the KenPom number to determine which quadrant it falls under.
My bracket score for each team is a combination of the computer numbers and the schedule that a team has actually faced. To determine the strength of record a Q1 victory is worth 4 points, Q2 3 points, Q3 2 points, and Q4 1 point. Similarly a Q1 loss is -1 points, Q2 -2 points, Q3 -3 points, and Q4 -4 points. Games against non-D1 competition don’t count. A win over a bottom feeder mid major at home doesn’t help you a ton but losing a high profile road game doesn’t hurt you much.
This early on there is a ton of variation. Today marks the start of the Thanksgiving tournament season and a lot of teams wait until then to play a premium game if they’re in a tournament like Maui or Battle 4 Atlantis where they’re guaranteed 3 good games.
The presumed auto bid is the team in each conference that has the highest current bracket score. The #1 overall seed receives a bracket score of 100. It will take another few weeks for the results to really start resembling how they’ll actually appear in March but let’s take a look anyways and we’ll update occasionally throughout the year.
Pac-12 Bracket Scores
Before we get into the actual bracket I’ll list out how the Pac-12 is performing so far with the overall D-1 rank plus their win/loss margin.
7. Oregon (4-0)- 97.2, +9 margin. #2 Seed
8. Arizona (4-0)- 96.7, +7 margin. #2 Seed
20. Colorado (3-0)- 92.2, +6 margin. #5 Seed
21. USC (5-0)- 92.1, +8 margin. #6 Seed
42. Washington (3-1)- 86.7, +5 margin. #11 Seed
45. Stanford (5-0)- 85.5, +6 margin, #12 seed (First Four)
56. Oregon State (4-1)- 82.9, +4 margin, NIT
59. Utah (3-0)- 82.5, +6 margin, NIT
76. UCLA (4-0)- 78.5, +4 margin
89. California (4-0)- 74.3, +5 margin
96. Arizona State (2-1)- 72.3, +1 margin
135. Washington State (2-1)- 60.5, +0 margin
Right now the conference has 8 teams that are firmly in contention for a spot in a postseason tournament which is about as well as the Pac-12 could possibly hope to be doing. Washington has the only Q1 win of any of the teams right now with their season opener against Baylor but the conference has wracked up an additional 6 Q2 wins to bolster the overall resume.
The Huskies are substantially below where you’d see them in most bracketology settings because while they’re #25 in the AP Poll they’re just 55th in the KenPom rankings. Washington will likely be leapfrogged by a few teams in the next week that finally get opportunities for Q1 wins and will pass others that have gotten where they are by virtue of a relatively weak schedule. In case you’re wondering what would’ve happened had Washington beaten Tennessee? They’d have moved up to a #5 seed and be tied for the best W/L margin in the country.
Stanford is perhaps the biggest surprise but they’ve gotten into contention mostly by playing an extra game over Washington. The Cardinal are 5-0 but they have only one non-Q4 win and it was at home against #128 Santa Clara. They’ll play their first game both away from home and against a top-125 team next week and the odds are that they won’t sniff the bracket after that’s over.
Another thing I keep track of is how many win/loss margin points a team would have if they won out through the rest of their schedule. Washington has 70 potential W/L points remaining which is 74th in the entire country. Oregon State has the easiest schedule with 62 left and Utah the hardest with 77. Even with a good start by the conference in the non-con the Huskies are going to be at a disadvantage compared to other power conference teams when league play starts which adds pressure on the Gonzaga game and winning the Diamond Head Classic. They need another Q1 non-con victory in addition to the Baylor one to put on the mantle come selection Sunday to put themselves in position for more than just making the bracket.
1. Ohio State- 99.4; Big 10 AQ vs. 16. Siena- 44.5; MAAC AQ/Grambling State- 28.0; SWAC AQ
8. Seton Hall- 89.6; Big East At-Large vs. 9. Mississippi State- 88.7, SEC At-Large
4. Texas- 94.4; Big 12 At-Large vs. 13. Northern Kentucky- 77.3; Horizon AQ
5. Virginia Tech- 93.1; ACC At-Large vs. 12. Liberty- 84.5; Atlantic Sun AQ
6. Oklahoma State- 90.8; Big 12 At-Large vs. 11. Washington Huskies- 86.7; Pac 12 At-Large
3. Penn State- 95.6; Big 10 At-Large vs. 14. Delaware- 72.3; Colonial AQ
St. Louis, MO
7. San Diego State- 90.5; MWC AQ vs. 10. Georgia- 88.1; SEC At-Large
2. Louisville- 98.9; ACC At-Large vs. 15. Boston University- 58.3; Patriot AQ
Washington ends up in an interesting spot here as they would have to travel to the East Coast but by getting to play in Albany they would be the de facto home team given Coach Hopkins’ New York connections and NY natives Naz Carter, Isaiah Stewart, and Hameir Wright on the roster. I promise I didn’t set that up intentionally. It was just the way the bracket fell. Oklahoma State is ahead of Washington in the computer rankings but they’ve yet to play a top-125 team so it wouldn’t surprise me to see them quickly fall off the radar as their schedule toughens up.
1. Duke- 99.4; ACC At-Large vs. 16. Southern Utah- 52.5; Big Sky AQ
8. Saint Mary’s- 89.6; WCC At-Large vs. 9. Vermont- 88.7, America East AQ
4. Butler- 93.7; Big East At-Large vs. 13. Kent State- 80.8; MAC AQ
5. Maryland- 92.4; Big 10 At-Large vs. 12. Kansas State- 86.3; Big 12 At-Large/Stanford- 85.5, Pac-12 At-Large
6. Michigan- 90.6; Big 10 At-Large vs. 11. Texas Tech- 87.4; Big 12 At-Large
3. Tennessee- 96.0; SEC At-Large vs. 14. South Dakota- 66.1; Summit AQ
7. Florida State- 90.0; ACC At-Large vs. 10. Kentucky- 88.6; SEC At-Large
2. Arizona- 96.7; Pac 12 At-Large vs. 15. Texas State- 61.1; Sun Belt AQ
St. Louis, MO
1. Virginia- 100.0; ACC AQ vs. 16. St. Francis PA- 31.5; NEC AQ/Norfolk State- 28.5; MEAC AQ
8. Marquette- 89.6; Big East At-Large vs. 9. Arkansas- 88.6, SEC At-Large
4. Michigan State- 94.4; Big 10 At-Large vs. 13. Western Kentucky- 77.3; CUSA AQ
5. Kansas- 93.3; Big 12 At-Large vs. 12. Northern Iowa- 83.9; MVC AQ
6. USC- 92.1; Pac 12 At-Large vs. 11. Memphis- 86.2; American AQ
3. Oklahoma- 95.5; Big 12 AQ vs. 14. UC Irvine- 71.8; Big West AQ
7. Indiana- 90.4; Big 10 At-Large vs. 10. Utah State- 87.7; MWC At-Large
2. Auburn- 97.4; SEC AQ vs. 15. New Mexico State- 61.8; WAC AQ
1. Gonzaga- 99.4; WCC AQ vs. 16. Stephen F. Austin- 46.0; Southland AQ
8. West Virginia- 89.5; Big 12 At-Large vs. 9. Wisconsin- 89.2, Big 10 AQ
4. Xavier- 94.0; Big East AQ vs. 13. Furman- 81.6; Southern AQ
5. Colorado- 92.2; Pac 12 At-Large vs. 12. Illinois- 85.3; Big 10 At-Large/Ole Miss- 84.3, SEC At-Large
6. VCU- 91.5; Atlantic 10 At-Large vs. 11. Belmont- 84.9; OVC AQ
3. North Carolina- 95.6; ACC At-Large vs. 14. Winthrop- 63.7; Big South AQ
7. Missouri- 89.9; SEC At-Large vs. 10. DePaul- 89.0; Big East At-Large
2. Oregon- 97.2; Pac 12 At-Large vs. 15. Yale- 61.9; Ivy AQ