Well, it is that time of the year again when we can begin speculating about the NCAA Tournament picture. Before we get into it, let's go over a few notes:
- The Committee looks at: Strength of Schedule, Head-to-Head Competition, RPI (wins against top 5, top 10, and top 20, losses verse teams outside the top 20 in RPI)
- There are 10 automatic qualifiers and eight at-large bids
- Only the top eight teams are seeded
- The #1 and #2 seeds play the winner of play-in games
- The four lowest rated AQs must play in the play-in game
- A team must have a winning record to be an at-large bid
- Non-seeded teams are placed with geographic consideration
- First round matchups are determined with consideration given to separate conference oppenents
This year, we have a pretty solid 1-5 grouping of teams. As far as the at-large bids go, the final two are really up in the air at this point. I believe the Syracuse Orange will make the tournament as the first, non-seeded team, but after that everything is up in the air.
For me, the final spot in this version (at this point in time) of my bracketology comes down to the Stony Brook Seawolves vs. the Duke Blue Devils. Duke has two wins over top twenty teams in the RPI but four losses against programs outside of the top twenty in RPI. Stony Brook doesn't have any wins in the top twenty nor any losses to teams outside of the top twenty. The Seawolves are #8 in RPI and Duke is #17. In terms of strength of schedule, Duke has the edge at #17 while Stony Brook sits at #31. As for common opponents, the only one is Lehigh, which both teams beat. The biggest problem for Duke is that the Blue Devils could end up with a losing record which would make them ineligible for post-season play unless they win the automatic qualifier. Right now, I have Duke out, and it's due mostly to the lower RPI, it's record, and the losses to Harvard, Richmond, UNC, and Air Force.
I should note, that I selected the automatic qualifiers based on conference leaders. In the case of ties, I gave the team with the higher RPI the nod. It should be noted that Marquette is actually leading the Big East right now over Denver.
I put together a neat spreadsheet and analyzed all the data available, but there is certainly plenty to disagree with, so check it out and let me know what you think.
AmEast: Albany Great Danes
Big East: Marquette Golden Eagles
Big Ten: Maryland Terrapins
Colonial: Towson Tigers
Ivy: Yale Bulldogs
Metro: Quinnipiac Bobcats
Northeast: Saint Joseph's Hawks
Patriot: Navy Midshipmen
SoCon: Air Force Falcons
#1 Yale/Ivy vs. Towson/Colonial or Saint Joseph's/Northeast
#8 Villanova vs. Syracuse
#4 Maryland/Big Ten vs. Stony Brook
#5 Brown vs. Navy/Patriot
#3 Notre Dame/ACC vs. Marquette/Big East
#6 Albany/AmEast vs. Penn State
#2 Denver vs. Air Force/SoCon or Quinnipiac/Metro Atlantic
#7 Johns Hopkins vs. Loyola
Next out: Stony Brook, Marquette, Navy, Penn State
Next in: Duke, UNC, Rutgers, Bryant