It’s almost here. Selection Sunday is tomorrow. Conference tournaments are almost over. Before the regular season closes, I want to share my post-regular season bracketology. There’s still a lot to be decided, with major conferences still playing out tourneys this week, but here’s my best guess at what will happen.
Note: This bracketology is partially based on what I think will happen, and partially based on what has happened. I abided by 3 major NCAA bracket-making rules:
- Conferences should be as even as possible
- No teams from the same conference that have played twice in the regular season/conference tournament should not face off until the Sweet Sixteen. If they have played 3 or more times, they should not face off until the Elite Eight.
- The higher seeded First Four games consist of the four worst at-large teams, while the lower seeded First Four games consist of the 65-68 overall seeds.
- Virginia Tech
- UNC Asheville/Houston
- Georgia State
Villanova and Kentucky have both been really good this year, but the competition is tougher than that here in the East. Duke hasn’t been as good but will compete in the 3 seed they will be pushed down to. I’m beginning to question why I even put UVA in a Top 4 seed, though. They’ve really fallen apart, and Wisconsin has gotten better. Below those 5 teams, there are plenty more contenders too.
I think even though Syracuse is a bubble team, they could make it pretty far if they get in. VCU is another big sleeper, and I think they may have the capacity to beat Villanova. Their conference rival Dayton could be another sleeper to go far, but their chances of facing off are very low because it wouldn’t happen until the Elite Eight, and it’s more likely that one or both of these teams will lose before then. So, this conference could go in many different directions.
- North Carolina
- Florida State
- Michigan State
- Florida Gulf Coast
- Stephen F. Austin
- Jacksonville State
- UC Irvine
This is a decent conference. It lacks sleeper teams. Utah could go farther than you think, though, and Jacksonville State has a shot to go far. At the top, North Carolina definitely earns the 1 seed after last night’s win. Baylor and Arizona are interchangeable, but will both get high seeds and go far. FSU, Florida, and Cincinnati aren’t major contenders but will also be tough to beat.
If there are upsets, it’s either going to be barely any or a lot. Jacksonville State, FGCU, and Princeton are all in the position to pull an upset, but they may not be able to pull it off. I like the potential this conference has to surprise us, but realistically this conference is probably going to a high seed.
- West Virginia
- Notre Dame
- Iowa State
- Wichita State
- South Carolina
- Middle Tennessee
- UNC Wilmington
- Boise State
- ETSU/Northern Kentucky
This conference isn’t as good as the Midwest, and there aren’t too many sleepers in this conference, but there are a couple notable teams. Kansas was upset, but will still dominate in a number one seed. Louisville is also a major contender, and I’m pretty high on them. There are no other teams that I can guarantee will go far, but a lot of teams will have a chance.
Watch out for Wichita State, Middle Tennessee, and UNC Wilmington too. They could all pull some unexpected upsets. Wichita State has surprised many teams before, and Middle Tennessee pulled the biggest upset of the entire 2016 tournament. UNC Wilmington almost upset Duke last year good.
- Saint Mary’s
- Oklahoma State
- New Mexico State
- Weber State
- South Dakota State
- Texas Southern
- NC Central/Mount St. Mary’s
This region is a breeding ground for upsets. Northwestern, New Mexico State, Valparaiso and Weber State are the four biggest March Madness sleepers in my opinion. The other reason I think this is that Gonzaga can’t stay good forever, UCLA has won more than anyone, but they haven’t had March Madness success lately. Butler, Creighton, SMU and Saint Mary’s are in smaller conferences and don’t have as much experience in the tourney. I can’t really say who the favorite is here. All I can say is nearly everyone has a chance here.
So, that’s all for this Bracketology. Comment your thoughts and stay tuned tomorrow for Selection Sunday.