BracketBot: March 10, 2019

Seed List:

1: Virginia, Duke, Gonzaga, North Carolina
2: Michigan State, Kentucky, Michigan, Tennessee
3: Texas Tech, Houston, LSU, Purdue
4: Kansas, Florida State, Kansas State, Virginia Tech
5: Nevada, Buffalo, Wisconsin, Auburn
6: Maryland, Marquette, Cincinnati, Mississippi State
7: Villanova, Iowa State, Louisville, VCU
8: UCF, Washington, Wofford, Iowa
9: Oklahoma, Syracuse, Utah State, Baylor
10: Texas, TCU, Arizona State, Clemson
11: Minnesota, Ole Miss, Ohio State, Temple
12: Seton Hall, Creighton, NC State, New Mexico State, Murray State, St John’s
13: Lipscomb, UC Irvine, Hofstra, Vermont
14: Old Dominion, Yale, N Kentucky, Georgia Southern
15: Radford, Montana, Colgate, Abilene Christian
16: Nebraska Omaha, Bradley, Texas Southern, St Francis PA, Iona, Norfolk State

Four new teams in the bracket today!

First, Florida finished their regular season with a third straight loss, finishing at 18-14 and 9-9 in the SEC. That’s enough to make BracketBot say “enough” and they fall out of the bracket. The Gators are in a position now where they may need to beat Arkansas in the 8-9 matchup of the SEC tournament to get in at all.

The same nearly happened to St John’s, who finished their regular season with losses to Xavier, DePaul, and then Xavier again and finished an unimpressive 7th in the Big East. For now, they’re the very last team to get in. They don’t even have a first-round bye in the Big East Tournament coming up this week, so they’ll have to take on DePaul again in the tournament’s first round on Wednesday before the winner meets Marquette. A tough road to hoe for them.

Also three changes based on things that happened in conference tournaments yesterday. First, congrats to Murray State for winning the first automatic bid! They’ll definitely be in, and they’ll be a decent seed too. BracketBot did its bet-hedging yesterday by picking Belmont, but that of course didn’t happen. So, Murray’s back in, and in to stay. I don’t think Belmont has quite enough for an at-large bid, even with just five losses. They did beat an impressive Lipscomb twice in a rare home-and-home non-conference series, and they won at a down UCLA, but that’s literally it. 26-5 is an impressive record, but they don’t have the wins or the efficiency numbers to match.

We also had a couple conference favorites get upset earlier in their tournaments! In my MVC conference preview (see here), I listed Loyola and Drake as fairly equal co-favorites, each with about a coin flip’s chance of making the final. Well, neither of them won their coin flip, losing out to the #5 and #6 seeds, Bradley and Northern Iowa respectively. Those two teams will play for a bid today – BracketBot pegs Bradley as slight favorites, but either will slot in as a 16 seed, barring several further upsets.

In the Summit League quarterfinals, a great season ended on a sour note as South Dakota State were upset by Western Illinois. (They will play in the NIT, but…) In the second part of BracketBot’s conference tournament preview series (here ya go), WIU was estimated at having just a 7% chance of winning this first-round game. The new favorites will be Nebraska-Omaha, so they’re new to the bracket too.

On top of all that, there were huge results at the top of this list that moved the needle substantially too. Michigan State got the sweep over Michigan, knocking the Wolverines from the last #1 seed spot all the way down to #7 on the S-curve and opening the door for them to be a #1 seed themselves. They might have been one in this update if not for North Carolina completing their Duke sweep as well. At the same time, Tennessee lost their season finale at Auburn. Early in the year, I looked at this game as a possible SEC championship decider, and although it didn’t turn out that way with Auburn’s relative struggles, this is still “a loss” rather than “a bad loss” for Tennessee. So, from #6 overall to #8 they go. They’ll play either Alabama or Ole Miss in their first SEC tournament game, and a win probably seals up a #2 seed for them.

Last Four Byes: Minnesota, Ole Miss, Ohio State, Temple
Last Four In: Seton Hall, Creighton, NC State, St John’s
First Four Out: Florida, St Mary’s, Indiana, Belmont
Next Four Out: Davidson, Nebraska, Oregon, Dayton

Bids by conference:
ACC 9, Big XII/Big Ten 8, SEC 6, Big East 5, AAC 4, Pac-12/MWC 2

Full bracket:

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