Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Bracket Projections

There are numerous bracket projections available. Apparently people are obsessed with projecting the field. My projections are not necessarily better than any of them, but I post them today in order to have a basis point for my discussion of the tournament over the next few days. My rankings are based on a simple formula and some conference affiliation adjustments that allow me to perfectly match the 2006 and 2005 fields. Exact details are available upon request.

So far this year, my rankings have closely followed Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated. My only disagreement with his Monday bracket is that I have Purdue as my last team in. Mandel has Florida St. in the field. Based on the poor last 10 and poor road/neutral record, they are clearly out of the field using my formula. The only question is how the committee will handle the injury to point guard Toney Douglas. From what I’ve heard in interviews, the committee needs to see clear evidence that the team is performing at a different level once the player has returned. Beating Miami in overtime did not provide that evidence, and in my opinion beating Clemson would not provide that evidence either. I think Florida St. has to beat North Carolina to earn a tournament bid. (Mandel also was not aware Wright St. won in his Monday projections and has Arkansas in the field.)

My rankings are also disturbingly close to Joe Lunardi's Tuesday bracket. The main difference is that he currently has Drexel out of the field and Illinois in the field. Lunardi correctly views that there will be some resistance to a team with 5 losses in a non-BCS conference. One of the key assumptions of my model is that CAA resistance will be lessened this year because of the success of George Mason last year. Regardless, expect Florida St. and Drexel to be the major differences in expert brackets heading into Selection Sunday.

The Field
Projected tournament teams listed in green. T50 is record against teams with the top RPI, 1-50. N50 is record against teams with the next best RPI, 51-100. BL is bad losses to RPI over 100. For teams still alive in their conference tournament, I list the wins and losses in the previous nine games instead of the last 10. RPI numbers are through Monday’s games, courtesy of
The following teams have already clinched tournament bids in one-bid conferences. Appalachian St. deserves some discussion for an at-large bid, but will probably not be able to overcome the 5 bad losses.

Single Bid       Conf  T50  N50  BL NCSOS  L10   RN   RPI
Gonzaga          WCC   2-6  4-2   2   10   7-3  10-8   60
Winthrop         BSth  2-4  1-0   0   42  10-0  13-4   69
Pennsylvania     Ivy   1-3  0-2   3  152   9-1   9-5   86
Davidson         SC    0-1  0-3   0   75  10-0  16-3   51
Belmont          ASun  0-2  1-0   7  160   9-1  13-6  113
Niagara          MAAC  0-0  1-1  10  280  10-0  13-5  136
Eastern Kentucky OVC   0-2  0-1   8   62   8-2  10-8  130
Appalachian St.  SC    3-2  2-0   5    4   8-2  13-6   62

After accounting for 11 other one-bid conferences, that leaves 47 slots for the remaining 13 conferences.

One to Two Bid Conf  T50  N50  BL NCSOS  Final9    RN  RPI
Memphis        CUSA  1-3  4-0  0    22  WWWWWWWWW 11-3   7
Nevada          WAC  0-1 11-2  0   111  WWWWWWWLW 12-2  19

I’m going to assume Memphis and Nevada win their conference tournaments so that those remain one bid conferences. That leaves 45 slots for the other 11 conferences.