Wednesday, March 19, 2014

2014 Schmolik Bracket Analysis

Hello, college basketball fans!

Now that the damage by the Selection Committee has been done, now it's time for my annual Schmolik Bracket Analysis! All I ask is you give me a piece if you win the billion dollars!

I will begin in the South Regional led by Florida.

When I saw Florida and Kansas in the same regional I thought it would be tough. But the #3 seed is a Syracuse team that is clearly not the same team as they were early in the season. They lost home games to Boston College and Georgia Tech and face a somewhat dangerous MAC team in Western Michigan. I could see the Orange being one and done this year. #4 seed UCLA had a great week in the Pac-12 tournament including beating Arizona. But they may have overachieved and they also lost to Wazzou as well. UCLA will be playing in San Diego which is a huge advantage, especially against VCU. Syracuse and Ohio State could potentially meet in the Round of 32. They met in a regional final in 2012.

The big question for Kansas is Joel Embiid's health and status. They have a potential match with New Mexico, arguably the most under seeded team this year. Then again, the Lobos lost to Harvard in their first game last season. 

I think if Embiid plays we can see a great Florida/Kansas final. The Gators have lost in the regional final the last two years, one game away from the Final Four. But I think this is their year.

South Regional Final Pick: Florida over Kansas

Let's go to the East Regional since the East and South regional winners play in the national semifinals.

I am usually big on tournament experience. Look at the top three seeds in the regional. At the top is ACC champion Virginia who didn't even make the tournament last season. While Villanova made the Final Four in 2009 they haven't done much since. And the last time Iowa State made the Sweet 16 their head coach was partying with coeds.

But who is in this regional? Two teams that have won national championships since 2009 in North Carolina and Connecticut plus Michigan State who has made two Final Fours in the same span. I am not big on the two V's. Virginia only played most of the top ACC opponents once during the regular season. I would love to see Villanova win but the Big East was weak and the Wildcats choked in their two games vs. Creighton as well as the Big East tournament opener. Their only real good win this season was over Kansas back in the Bahamas.

I have seen many experts say Michigan State is the favorite in this regional which is extremely rare for a 4 seed. The Spartans have had injury problems all season long. They actually lost a home game to Nebraska this year. But now they are healthy and played well in the Big Ten Tournament beating both Wisconsin and Michigan. I can tell you Harvard is dangerous but we all know that from last year so I'm sure Cincinnati will be ready.

Philadelphia will be excited if St. Joseph's and Villanova meet this Saturday in Buffalo. But I think Connecticut may have something to do with that matchup. Remember that Connecticut was one of only two teams to beat Florida this year and have been playing well lately, making the AAC final. This will be Kevin Ollie's debut in the NCAA Tournament and St. Joseph's will be a dangerous opponent. Iowa State looked impressive in winning the Big 12 Tournament, especially over Kansas. But they have a potential second game against North Carolina and I will respect the Cyclones when they perform in the NCAA Tournament, not just in the regular season.

So I am going upset happy in this regional. I like Connecticut and North Carolina to meet in the Sweet 16 in New York. I also like Michigan State to win the regional. I am not saying Virginia does not deserve a #1 seed but you have to think they are the most vulnerable #1 seed (don't forget Wichita State made the Final Four last year). This year's 16 seeds are pretty weak (if you go by RPI) but if some #16 is going to be the first to go down, it has to be Virginia (even if you think Wichita, remember they get the winner of the play in game involving the two worst teams in the tournament including Cal Poly). I would pick Kentucky and probably Gonzaga or Oklahoma State over Virginia but the odds of Memphis or George Washington beating Virginia is lower IMHO.

East Regional Final Pick: Michigan State over North Carolina

Now we head out west or as I like to call it the regional no one wants to be in. You can usually tell who the weakest #1 seed because it is the one that is in the west. This year is the exception since Arizona is, at least according to the NCAA, the second best team this year.

Since 2000, only one team west of the Mississippi River has won the national championship (Kansas in 2008). If you look at the number of Final Four teams east of the river vs. west, the east dominates. Well only two teams in the West Regional are clearly east of the Mississippi (I'm not sure about Louisiana Lafayette) and the two meet in their first game. I would give the edge to Wisconsin but the regional final is virtually in Arizona's backyard.

I would watch out for Gonzaga as they return to the role of giant killer as opposed to the giant being killed like they were last season. If Marcus Smart lives to preseason expectations, they could give Gonzaga (and Arizona) fits. Don't forget about San Diego State. They beat Kansas in Lawrence this year and will be playing the regional final in Los Angeles. I will say my choice for this year's most likely 12 vs. 5 is North Dakota State beating an overrated Oklahoma team (and the game is in Spokane so I don't expect a lot of either team's fans there).

If Arizona and Wisconsin played closer to Madison, I'd take the Badgers. But Arizona out west is going to be hard to beat by a team East of the river making a long trip.

West Regional Final Pick: Arizona over Wisconsin

Only one regional remains. Have I discussed the defending champion Louisville, runner up Michigan, Final Four participant and undefeated Wichita State, Duke, or Kentucky yet? What? They're all in the same regional? Are you kidding me????

Yes, Duke, Kentucky, Louisville, Michigan, and Wichita State all in one regional! I can think of three times in the last four years that one regional is loaded compared to the others. Last year Louisville and Duke were also the top two seeds in the toughest regional. In 2011, you have Ohio State, North Carolina, and Louisville in the same region (for some region Louisville always is in the toughest regional). Last year's Group of Death (to borrow from a soccer term) was in Indianapolis and this year's is as well. You should not be surprised. Indianapolis is a centrally located city close to all five of these schools. I'm sure all five of these schools would want to play here from a geographical standpoint. It just makes the regional that much harder. But what's the alternative? Force Duke or Louisville out west to balance the regionals? I'm not sure Pitino or Coach K would be in favor of that.

Charles Barkley said the Selection Committee stacked the deck against Wichita State but it's not the first time they loaded up a regional and it won't be the last. It's Indy's central location that worked against them. Ironically this would be the year Wichita State would have wanted to be shipped out west (they did make the Final Four out of the west last year), but Arizona blocked it this year.

Still, you have a Kentucky team that shouldn't be an 8 and a Louisville team that shouldn't be a 4 in Wichita State's path. I'm not sure if that was a coincidence. I'm surprised they didn't place New Mexico as a 7 seed in there as well. Now of course both schools can drive to Indianapolis so why wouldn't they be placed in Indy if they had a choice?

If Wichita State switched with Arizona, they'd probably be the favorite to get to Dallas. I'd go as far as to say if they switched with Florida they'd be favored (although Wichita State vs. Kansas will be a tough game). Wichita State did play Louisville tough in last year's Final Four but it looks like Louisville is most people's choice to make it out of the Group of Death. Plus, Rick Pitino and the Cardinals now have a chip on their shoulder and will have extra motivation to win in this regional.

4 seeds are rarely favored to ever win a regional. But I think Louisville and Michigan State are both favorites to win their regionals this year. I would say Michigan State is the bigger favorite as their regional is way weaker than this one. Louisville would likely have to beat Wichita State (or their in state rival in Kentucky) and then either a rematch of last year's championship game vs. Michigan (who has been playing well lately before the final vs. Michigan State) or Duke with Jabari Parker. But after last season, do you want to pick against Louisville? I don't. Yet.

Midwest Regional Final Pick: Louisville over Michigan

So my Final Four is Louisville, Michigan State, Arizona, and Florida. Two #1 seeds and two #4 seeds. I can't remember ever picking a #4 seed to make the Final Four and this year I picked two.

And guess what? I'm going 4's all the way to the final. Florida plays in a lousy SEC where only two other opponents made the tournament (and one, Tennessee, wound up in the play in game). Arizona plays in the Pathetic 12. Michigan State is battle tested and their coach has won it all before. I just think Arizona and Sean Miller in this scenario will have a deer in the headlights moment and will be no match for Louisville. As for Florida and Michigan State, I just think MSU has faced better competition this year.

As for the final, I should pick Louisville. But I (kind of like the Selection Committee) question the level of competition in their conference. I don't think the AAC is as bad as the NCAA's thought but it would never be mistaken for the Big Ten or ACC. I would say the Big Ten has to win a national championship eventually and I think this year's Spartans have a much easier path to the title game and I say they pull it off. I would finally love to silence the SEC and Big 12 fans who think their conference is better than the Big Ten. They have more championships because their best team is better than anyone in the Big Ten. But our second through fifth teams would destroy most of their second through fifth teams.

Championship: Michigan State over Florida.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Comments on 2014 Bracket Matrix

Hello, college basketball fans!

For those of you not familiar with The Bracket Matrix, it is a collection of sort of "mock" brackets of people like myself all around the internet who put together brackets of teams that get in and where they will be seeded before the NCAA announces the official field of 68. As always, I like to thank Brian for all his hard work and effort putting it all together and for giving me and others great publicity.

I said in a previous article that you really shouldn't complain who got in or didn't unless you chose a field before they are chosen. Well me and 120 others including people from (Jerry Palm), (Joe Lunardi) and others did so.

The Bracket Matrix ranks brackets based upon how close they are to the actual field. What I like to do is compare the NCAA picks (and my own) to the consensus picks by the Bracket Matrix. If we are 121 mostly independent people we're probably closer to who's right and wrong than a bunch of AD's and conference commissioners are. Sure we may disagree on a pick or two (Iowa) but for the most part we have an idea as to who should be in and shouldn't and where teams should be seeded.

Team Selection:

This year there were 121 brackets on the matrix. Of the 68 teams chosen by the most brackets, SMU was chosen by the fewest number of brackets. 96 (slightly less than 80% of the brackets chose SMU). BYU was chosen by 108 of 121 (almost 90%). While most of the brackets did have Iowa, eight brackets did not include them. Other teams left off brackets were Tennessee (6), Dayton (6), Xavier (4), Nebraska (3), Oklahoma State (2), and Kansas State (1). So if the Bracket Matrix were in charge, the teams in the play in game (based upon fewest number of brackets) would have been SMU, BYU, Iowa, and Dayton (Tennessee's average seed was higher).

If you go by the Bracket Matrix, it is clear who the 68 teams should have been. If it is based on total number of brackets included, SMU ranked 68th. Wisconsin Green Bay ranked 69th but were only chosen on 19 brackets (less than 16%). So it was cut and dry as to who belonged and who didn't. A team I chose but didn't make the field was Southern Miss, who were in 12 brackets. I also chose Minnesota (6 brackets).

I mentioned I was shocked when I heard North Carolina State. I was not alone. In fact, I believe the ten committee members and Coach K might have been the ones alone. Out of 121 brackets, three chose NC State. THREE! In nine years of the Bracket Matrix, they are the worst selection ever by the Selection Committee. On the Bracket Project's Twitter page, three teams were chosen by less than 10% of brackets in a given year (2006 Air Force, 2006 Utah State, and 2012 Iona).

They were the only school that wasn't expected to make the field according to the Bracket Matrix. SMU was the one team that got screwed.

Team Seeding:

Florida and Arizona were unanimous choices for #1 seeds. All but one bracket had Wichita State as a top seed. They had them as a FOUR seed?

As for the fourth #1, there was no clear majority. Michigan received an average seed of 1.64. Villanova was 1.80, and Villanova was 1.83. The breakdown was 50 for Michigan, 33 for Villanova, 31 for Virginia. I said I thought Villanova was overrated but most of the brackets disagreed. As for Louisville being a #1 seed? Not even close. Only 3 brackets chose Louisville as a #1. By the way, that is the same as the number who chose NC State.

In fact, the next two highest average seeds after Villanova and Virginia were Wisconsin (2.20) and Kansas (2.23). Louisville (2.97) ranked 11th, also behind Iowa State (2.80) and Duke (2.85). The NCAA had Louisville ranked 13th in its official seed order so it was only two places away from where they should have been and only one seed line. It still was quite a shock though. Louisville's breakdown by seed: 3 #1's, 17 #2's, 85 #3's, 14 #4's.

Had the Bracket Matrix been in charge, Michigan State (3.51) would have been the fourth #3 seed barely over Creighton and Syracuse (3.63 each). 58 brackets gave MSU a #3 while 58 gave them a #4. San Diego State was a clear cut #4 while Cincinnati and UCLA were a virtual toss up as the last #4 seed.

I gave New Mexico a #4 which might have been high. New Mexico led the #6 seeds, slightly lower than Ohio State. The four #5's would have been UCLA, North Carolina, Connecticut, and Ohio State (lot of national championships between those four schools!) The Matrix ranked the Lobos #21 while the Committee ranked them #28. Also ranked as #6 seeds were Oklahoma, VCU, and Kentucky, who the NCAA had as an 8 seed. Connecticut was also seeded two places below their matrix seed. Other than NC State, the other school that might want to send gifts to the Selection Committee was St. Louis. The Matrix game them a 7 seed while the NCAA gave them a 5. In fact, the committee was especially nice in that they were the only #5 seed that didn't have to go out west (two #5's had to go to Spokane!). If you go by the seed list, St. Louis was #18 by the NCAA's and #25 by us.

Almost every other pick by the NCAA's was within one seed of the Matrix seeds.

As for whether the brackets are balanced or not, I'm not going to look at all 121 brackets to see who is where. I did put Duke in the west regional in my bracket to try to balance out the regions. I don't know if others did. But in practice, it's hard to tell schools like Duke or North Carolina to go out west (I am amazed they had the nerve to make Tom Izzo and Michigan State go to Spokane twice in five seasons). You want to allow teams to stay close to home and reward the good teams. But then who goes out west? The bad teams.

There were a few questionable choices. I kind of liken this committee to the 2012 committee. Almost everything was reasonable except for Iona that year and NC State this year. The good news is there is about a 50-50 chance they won't make the "real" tournament. But you can also get a VCU in 2011 as well. If NC State makes the Final Four, I and a lot of other bracketologists will be very unhappy.

Comments on 2014 NCAA Field

Hello, college basketball fans!

This post  is to compare my picks to the actual NCAA field.

My personal feeling is if you do not put together a bracket before they unveil the real bracket you have less to complain about afterwards. You can say this team belongs in the field and this team does not. But the fact is that no matter what year 68 teams make the field. It is easy to say Team X doesn't deserve to get in or Team Y does. But 68 teams make it and (starting this season) 36 at large teams make it. There may be more than 36 deserving at large candidates but you can only put 36 in. Or there may be fewer than 36 and you have to put in a team that deserves to but does not.

So let me compare my 68 to the NCAA's 68.

I have said in previous posts that I thought Iowa had no business being in the NCAA field. They lost six of their last seven games, choked in the Big Ten Tournament to Northwestern, and made it in with the lowest RPI of any at large team. It seems every year (with the exception of last year when I didn't miss any teams) that there is a team that plays well early in the season that chokes down the stretch. I throw them out and the NCAA says no problem. If you're going to do that, why wait until Selection Sunday? Do the bracket in February.

Another team I actually thought deserved to make the field but I didn't have in my field of 68 was Xavier. I had actually said on Friday I thought they did enough. There was really only one reason I didn't have them. They had lost a game in the Bahamas to Iowa. Because of the head to head, I really couldn't have put them in the field and left out Iowa even though I could always bring up Northwestern.

One of the last teams I did pick that didn't make the field was Minnesota. I'm sure most of you were wondering why I picked Minnesota and not Iowa. Iowa finished 9-9 in the Big Ten while Minnesota went 8-10. The teams split games this season. While Iowa lost to Northwestern in the Big Ten Tournament, Minnesota also lost to them (at home no less!) When comparing them straight up, Minnesota had the higher RPI, the better non conference schedule, and the better finish down the stretch. If it was Minnesota and Xavier head to head, I probably go with Xavier. But between Xavier, Minnesota, and Iowa, I didn't want Iowa and couldn't pick Xavier so Minnesota had to be the choice.

The other team I put in my field was Southern Mississippi. No one wanted to discuss them being left out, but I'm sure they had the highest RPI of teams that didn't make the NCAA field. To me the RPI exists for a reason. People want to talk about beating good teams but what counts as a good team? Usually they mean the RPI. So why should teams be rewarded for beating a team with a high RPI but not for having a high RPI?

I posted on Twitter yesterday that Minnesota was in the Top 50 RPI while Iowa was not. Well Iowa gets credit for beating Minnesota as a "quality win" but Minnesota does not get credit for beating Iowa. That's ridiculous to me. Iowa finished with five Top 50 RPI wins in my last calculations but one was Minnesota and the others were Nebraska and Xavier who were in the low 50's. Minnesota not only beat Iowa but also Florida State who just missed the Top 50 RPI. I get you have to draw the line somewhere but you do have to look at the teams they beat instead of just counting Top 50 wins.

As for Southern Mississippi, they also had a Top 50 win over North Dakota State. I have seen several teams with high RPI's make the field even though they didn't win many (or any) Top 50 games so it isn't unprecedented.

The other team that I had in my field but didn't make the real field was Southern Methodist (SMU). I didn't like their RPI or their loss to Houston in the AAC tournament but I did like their two wins over Connecticut and their win over Cincinnati. One of the CBS guys also mentioned their non conference schedule as a reason they didn't get in and I think for a major conference team (you can argue whether the AAC is a major or not) to schedule that poorly is no excuse. I remember Colorado being left out a few years ago for the same reason.

Of the three teams I had in the field that didn't make the real field I had all three of them in play in games so I did think all three of them were questionable choices and aren't too upset with any of them not getting in. I still cling to the tournament should be 64 and had it been before they expanded to 68 they wouldn't have gotten in I can't complain too much.

I kind of expected Iowa to make the field. I do like the fact that they were in a play in game. While the NCAA calls them the first round games, I think of them as play in games. To me, if you are one of the last four teams to make the field, prove you actually belong in the field. I think the First Four games should be all play in games. Let the teams that earn their way into the field get their day to play one of the top teams in a "regular" site. I don't consider the Dayton experience the same as the real NCAA experience. To me, that is playing one of four games at a site and the small conference Big South teams playing ACC opponents, not Big South opponents playing Southland opponents. But if you didn't win the automatic berth then I don't mind you missing out on the regular Field of 64 experience. And let's be honest, you would rather see Dayton play BYU and Nebraska play Arizona State than see Albany play Mt. St. Mary's or Cal Poly play Texas Southern. Then again, if a team goes 11-19 like Cal Poly does, maybe they deserve to have to fight their way to play a top seed rather than just get the experience. How about one play in for the lowest two automatic berths and three for at large teams?

While I kind of expected Iowa to make the field, the one that shocked me on Sunday was North Carolina State. I'm guessing the win over Syracuse was a big reason to put them in (but apparently losing to Northwestern is acceptable too). Also in the last month Syracuse lost home games to Boston College and Georgia Tech so why is beating Syracuse that big a deal right now? Mike Krzyzewski lobbied for the Wolfpack to make the field yesterday. The fact that the head of the AD was from Wake Forest, a fellow ACC member, makes me wonder about that choice. 

When the NCAA's released their bracket guidelines this season, they said the First Four matchups are to put the two worst automatic bids in one game, then the next two worst automatic bids in the other. The same holds for the at large bids. According to the NCAA seed list, these were followed. If I were in charge, I would put the worst team against the fourth worst and then the second worst against the third worst. Right now, one of the two teams you thought were the two worst teams to make the field will make the Field of 64 while one of the two teams you thought were better will not. Same applies for the at large bids. If you think Iowa and Tennessee are better than NC State and Xavier, why are you rewarding NC State and Xavier and guaranteeing one will make the Field of 64 while saying one of Iowa and Tennessee will not?

As for seeding, I thought even after Virginia won that Michigan was the better choice for the last #1 seed win or lose in the final although you can make the argument for Virginia. I believe I heard a committee member say that had Michigan won they would have been the last #1.

Some people thought Louisville should have been a #1. I didn't. I had them as a #3. But I thought #4 was low for sure. I moved the Spartans up to a #3 at the end after they won over Creighton.

Another team I was shocked at their seed was New Mexico. They win the MWC title and beat San Diego State two out of three times but get a  #7 while San Diego State gets a #4? You can argue the Aztecs are better (beating Kansas in Lawrence is impressive) but three seeds different is ridiculous.

The other team I was shocked at was Kentucky. They were playing for the SEC Tournament on Sunday and got a #8? They had the SEC championship game on late. I was watching the Big Ten at the time but I heard Kentucky almost won. Would UK still had been a #8 if they had won that game? That's crazy. Even after losing, I can't believe they were that low.

I also had Connecticut a #5 instead of a #7. Remember they won two of three from Cincinnati, who is a #5.

I had Iowa State over Villanova as a #2. Iowa State won the Big 12, beating Kansas as well as two other NCAA teams while Villanova choked in their first game against a team not even in the field. You can say Villanova won the Big East regular season but even I will admit the Big 12 is much more loaded than the Big East and Villanova choked twice against the only team in the field from their conference seeded above a 10 seed. The only good win Villanova had all year was Kansas, a team Iowa State also beat.

I had Syracuse a #4 based upon their slide. You can't tell me Syracuse is a better team than Michigan State or Louisville.  The others I thought were overseeded were Oklahoma and Massachusetts, both seeded two above where I had them.

Charles Barkley complained that he felt that they stacked the deck against Wichita State. I think the reason why is because of the four NCAA regional sites that Indianapolis is the most centrally located. Usually teams are placed in the regionals by placing the highest rated of each seed in the regional that is the closest geographically while spreading out conference foes in the first four lines. Well Michigan is a natural fit for Indianapolis and so is Louisville. Duke would probably be closer to New York but because Virginia is there Duke couldn't go there so they went to the next closest site which was Indianapolis.

But if you use that logic, guess where the worst teams go? Of course. The West. Going by the official seed order, the Midwest got the #3, #6, #9, and #13 ranked teams while the West got #2, #8, #11, and #16. In the three years since they went to seeding 1-68, the West has gotten the weakest #2 seed all three times. They got the weakest #1 seed two of the three years with this year the exception because Arizona is a western team so they got to stay in the west. Last year's Midwest Regional (also in Indianapolis) had Louisville, Duke, and Michigan State. There is usually one stacked regional and if you look at a map you can probably see why. The west nine out of ten times is going to be the worst of the four regionals. So either you tell some of the better teams you have to go out west or you're going to get unbalanced regionals. Or better yet, why have a West Regional at all? This year it does make sense because of Arizona. But I've seen years Connecticut and Duke were sent out west as the #1 seed. If Arizona or UCLA is the best team out west they are virtually guaranteed the right to stay out west. You can't say that about any other regional.

But at least Los Angeles and San Diego are nice places to go. You got the sun and the beach. Why is the NCAA insisting on punishing teams and shipping them to Spokane? Congratulations Michigan State for winning the Big Ten Tournament and beating Wisconsin and Michigan. You've won an all expense trip to Spokane ... again (they were there in 2010!) You can complain about Buffalo and Raleigh all you want but there are plenty of top NCAA teams close by. Who's close to Spokane? Gonzaga (and they're not even playing in Spokane). They assign teams to first weekend sites in the seed order. Michigan State and San Diego State were #14 and #16 on the list of the top four seeds. I believe the only reason MSU got punished is because UCLA (#15) was so close to San Diego that they decided to let them play there.

But if I wasn't clear, NO ONE WANTS TO GO TO SPOKANE!

I also think it is time to move the games (at least some of the time) from Dayton. If you go by strict competitive balance, then in theory the winners of the two play in games should play the two best #1 seeds. Well the second #1 seed was Arizona. It is a little too much to have teams go to Dayton on Tuesday night and then fly out to San Diego on Thursday to play Arizona. So instead of getting a play in winner, Arizona has to play a regular #16 seed (technically a #15 if you say the four worst #16's are the four #16's).

As for the at large berths, usually I would have the play in games as 12 seeds. But most of the 12 seeds are placed in western sites. Of the four #12 seeds, two play in Spokane and one plays in San Diego. So they then have to give one of the play in winners a #11 seed (although according to the seed list the highest of the last four at large teams, Tennessee, was #44 which was a #11 seed anyway). I often feel that if you are one of the last four teams to get in, you should have to go to Spokane and not complain about it because you should be happy you get to go at all. Well the last four teams get to avoid Spokane (or Boise if they host) altogether while teams that earn conference titles have to be punished and sent to Spokane. Or better yet, get rid of sites like Spokane altogether. When most of the teams have to fly more than halfway across the country to play there, they shouldn't be hosting.

I have actually once commented to someone who works for the NCAA's about the imbalance of NCAA teams from the west. While this seasons field has six Pac 12 teams and seven Big 12 teams, college basketball for the most part is dominated by teams East of the Mississippi River. The last Pac-12 team to win the national championship was Arizona in 1997 and since then just one Big 12 team (Kansas) has won the national championship. Since 2000, only one (Kansas) out of 14 national champions came west of the Mississippi River. The NCAA has to account for that. It seems unfair that far more eastern teams have to fly west than the other way around. Have more sites east of the Mississippi and fewer west. Or put the sites in the west in Texas or Kansas City or Denver. I can live with California. But the Pacific Northwest? Maybe Seattle or Portland once in a while (next year BOTH host which makes no sense whatsoever). But Spokane (or Boise)? No way!

Coming shortly, Schmolik Bracket Analysis.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Final 2014 Schmolik 64

Hello, college basketball fans!

It is time for this year's unveiling of the Schmolik 64 bracket.

The regions are presented in order of the top seeds. * Automatic bid.

SOUTH REGIONAL (Memphis, TN - Thur/Sat March 27-29)

Orlando, FL (Thur/Sat March 20-22)

1) Florida* (32-2) vs. 16) Play in Game A
8) George Washington (24-8) vs. 9) Oklahoma State (21-12)

San Diego, CA (Fri/Sun March 21-23)

5) UCLA* (26-8) vs. 12) Stephen F. Austin* (27-2)
4) Creighton (26-7) vs. 13) Delaware* (25-9)

Orlando, FL (Thur/Sat March 20-22)

6) North Carolina (23-9) vs. 11) BYU (22-11)
3) Louisville* (29-5) vs. 14) Mercer* (23-8)

Milwaukee, WI (Thur/Sat March 20-22)

7) Oklahoma (23-9) vs. 10) Stanford (21-12)
2) Wisconsin (26-7) vs. 15) American* (20-12)

MIDWEST REGIONAL (Indianapolis, IN - Fri/Sun March 28-30)

St. Louis, MO (Fri/Sun March 21-23)

1) Wichita State* (32-0) vs. 16) Play In Game B Winner
8) Texas (23-10) vs. 9) St. Joseph's* (24-9)

Buffalo, NY (Thur/Sat March 20-22)

5) Connecticut (26-8) vs. 12) Play In Game C Winner
4) Syracuse (27-5) vs. 13) Manhattan* (26-7)

San Antonio, TX (Fri/Sun March 21-23)

6) Virginia Commonwealth (27-7) vs. 11) Tennessee (20-12)
3) Michigan State* (26-8) vs. 14) Louisiana Lafayette* (20-11)

St. Louis, MO (Fri/Sun March 21-23)

7) Memphis (22-9) vs. 10) Pittsburgh (25-9)
2) Kansas (24-9) vs. 15) Wisconsin Milwaukee* (20-13)

WEST REGIONAL (Los Angeles, CA - Thur/Sat March 27-29)

San Diego, CA (Fri/Sun March 21-23)

1) Arizona (30-4) vs. 16) Weber State* (17-11)
8) Massachusetts (24-8) vs. 9) Gonzaga* (27-6)

Spokane, WA (Thur/Sat March 20-22)

5) Kentucky (24-10) vs. 12) North Dakota State* (22-6)
4) New Mexico* (27-6) vs. 13) Tulsa* (21-12)

Raleigh, NC (Thur/Sat March 20-22)

6) St. Louis (25-6) vs. 11) Play In Game D Winner

3) Duke (26-8) vs. 14) Eastern Kentucky* (22-9)

San Antonio, TX (Fri/Sun March 21-23)

7) Oregon (23-9) vs. 10) Nebraska (19-12)
2) Iowa State* (26-7) vs. 15) Wofford* (17-12)

EAST REGIONAL (New York, NY - Fri/Sun March 28-30)

Milwaukee, WI (Thur/Sat March 20-22)

1) Michigan (25-8) vs. 16) Albany* (18-14)
8) Colorado (23-11) vs. 9) Kansas State (20-12)

Spokane, WA (Thur/Sat March 20-22) 

5) Cincinnati (27-6) vs. 12) Harvard* (25-4)
4) San Diego State (27-4) vs. 13) New Mexico State* (25-9)

Buffalo, NY (Thur/Sat March 20-22)

6) Ohio State (25-9) vs. 11) Dayton (23-10)
3) Villanova (28-4) vs. 14) Western Michigan* (22-9)

Raleigh, NC (Fri/Sun March 21-23)

7) Baylor (22-11) vs. 10) Providence* (23-11)
2) Virginia* (28-6) vs. 15) NC Central * (26-5)

Play In Games (All Games in Dayton, OH)

Play In Game A: Tue. March 18: South #16: Texas Southern* (18-14) vs. Cal Poly* (11-19)

Play In Game B: Wed. March 19: Midwest #16: Mount St. Mary's* (16-16) vs. Coastal Carolina* (18-12)

Play In Game C: Tue. March 18: Midwest #12: Southern Mississippi (25-6) vs. Minnesota (19-13)

Play In Game D: Wed. March 19: West #11: Arizona State (21-11) vs. SMU (23-9)

Highest RPI's left out: Toledo, Xavier, Missouri, Minnesota

Compare my bracket to others in the Bracket Matrix.

Last Year's (2013) Schmolik 64

Hello, college basketball fans!

I wanted to post last year's bracket because I never posted it to this site and also because it was the first time every team I put in the bracket made the actual NCAA Tournament.


Dayton (Fri/Sun)

1 Indiana (27-6) vs. 16 Play In Game B Winner
8 Pittsburgh (24-8) vs. 9 California (20-11)

Kansas City (Fri/Sun)

5 St. Louis (27-6)* vs. 12 Akron (25-6)*
4 Kansas State (26-7) vs. 13 South Dakota State (22-9)*

Austin (Fri/Sun)

6 UNLV (24-9) vs. 11 Colorado (21-11)
3 Florida (26-7) vs. 14 Northwestern State (19-8)*

Philadelphia (Fri/Sun)

7 Illinois (21-12) vs. 10 Iowa State (22-11)
2 Georgetown (25-6) vs. 15 Iona (20-13)*

EAST REGIONAL (Washington)

Lexington (Thur/Sat)

1 Louisville (29-5)* vs. 16 Play In Game A Winner
8 NC State (24-10) vs. 9 San Diego State (20-10)

Austin (Fri/Sun)

5 Virginia Commonwealth (26-8) vs. 12 Play In Game D Winner
4 Wisconsin (23-11) vs. 13 Valparaiso (25-7)*

Auburn Hills (Thur/Sat)

6 Oklahoma State (24-8) vs. 11 Cincinnati (22-11)
3 Michigan State (24-8) vs. 14 Florida Gulf Coast (22-10)*

Lexington (Thur/Sat)

7 Oregon (26-8)* vs. 10 Belmont (24-6)*
2 Miami (27-6)* vs. 15 Western Kentucky (19-15)*


Salt Lake City (Thur/Sat)

1 Gonzaga (30-2)* vs. 16 LIU-Brooklyn (20-13)*
8 Colorado State (23-8) vs. 9 Minnesota (20-12)

San Jose (Thur/Sat)

5 Arizona (25-7) vs 12 Play In Game C Winner
4 Syracuse (26-9) vs. 13 New Mexico State (23-10)*

Auburn Hills (Thur/Sat)

6 Butler (25-8) vs. 11 Mississippi (26-8)*
3 Michigan (25-7) vs. 14 Davidson (25-7)*

Philadelphia (Fri/Sun)

7 Notre Dame (25-9) vs. 10 Oklahoma (20-11)
2 Duke (27-5) vs. 15 Harvard (18-9)*


Kansas City (Fri/Sun)

1 Kansas (29-5)* vs. 16 Albany (24-10)*
8 Memphis (30-4)* vs. 9 Missouri (23-10)

San Jose (Thur/Sat)

5 North Carolina (23-10) vs. 12 Middle Tennessee State (28-5)
4 Marquette (23-8) vs. 13 Bucknell (27-5)*

Salt Lake City (Thur/Sat)

6 UCLA (25-9) vs. 11 Temple (23-9)
3 New Mexico (29-5) * vs. 14 Montana (23-6)*

Dayton (Fri/Sun)

7 Creighton (27-7)* vs. 10 Villanova (19-13)
2 Ohio State (25-7)* vs. 15 Pacific (20-12)

Play In Games: All Games in Dayton

Play In Game A: (East 16) Tue. James Madison (20-14)* vs. Liberty (12-20)* - Winner plays E #1 Louisville in Lexington.

Play In Game B: (Midwest 16) Wed. Southern (20-9)* vs. North Carolina A&T (18-16)* - Winner plays MW #1 Indiana in Dayton.  

Play In Game C (West 12): Tue. Wichita State (26-8) vs. LaSalle (21-9) - Winner plays W #5 Arizona in San Jose.

Play In Game D: (East 12): Wed. St. Mary's (26-6) vs. Boise State (19-10) - Winner plays E #5 VCU in Austin.

Schmolik 64 Field So Far (3/16/14 AM)

Hello, college basketball fans!

I am listing the teams I have in my final Schmolik 64 right now. I have excluded the last four at large teams. Feel free to comment or tweet to @Schmolik64 which bubble teams should get in? Unless there is a bracketing problem or a change of mind, expect them to be the four teams I put in the play in games (BTW if it the tournament was still at 64, this would be the final field.)

* Automatic bid for conference with more than one team (if one bid, assume that team won the automatic bid).

Big 12 (7): , Iowa State*, Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas

A-10 (6): Dayton, George Washington, Massachusetts, St. Joseph's, St. Louis, VCU (final today)

ACC (5): Duke, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Virginia (final today)

Big Ten (5): Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Ohio State, Wisconsin (final today)

Pac 12 (5): UCLA*, Arizona, Colorado, Oregon, Stanford

AAC (4): Louisville*, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Memphis

Big East (3): Providence*, Creighton, Villanova

SEC (3): Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee (final today)

MWC (2): New Mexico*, San Diego State

WCC (2): Gonzaga*, BYU

One bid (for now) (21)

MVC: Wichita State
Summit: North Dakota State
Ivy: Harvard
S'land: Stephen F. Austin
MAAC: Manhattan
CAA: Delaware
MAC: Western Michigan
SB: TBD (Georgia State vs. Lafayette)
WAC: New Mexico State
C-USA: Tulsa
A Sun: Mercer
OVC: Eastern Kentucky
MEAC: NC Central
Patriot: American
Horizon: Wisconsin Milwaukee
Big Sky: Weber State
Southern: Wofford
A-East: Albany
NE: Mt. St. Mary's
Big South: Coastal Carolina
Big West: Cal Poly
SWAC: Texas Southern

Still under consideration (RPI from RPI)

Southern Mississippi (32)
Toledo (38)
Arizona State (44)
Xavier (47)
Missouri (49)
Minnesota (50)
SMU (53)
Iowa (57)

Four of these teams will be in. Which ones? Comment or tweet to @Schmolik64!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Schmolik 64 Bubble Update 3/14/14 AM

Hello, college basketball fans!

I will refer to bubble teams as those at large teams who were seeded 8 or below or those who just missed.

* Team eliminated from conference tournament

8 seeds

Kansas State* - Lost to Iowa State in QF. Expected and certainly not a bad loss. They're in.

George Washington - Plays Massachusetts in QF. Probably in even with a loss as UMass is a solid team.

SMU* - Lost to Houston in QF. This loss hurts but I feel they had plenty of leeway and they do have two wins over UConn and a win over Cincinnati. Probably will be a double digit seed but that keeps them away from a top seed in the first weekend so that might not be a bad thing.

UCLA - Beat Oregon in QF, SF vs. Stanford. They're in.

9 seeds

Nebraska - Plays Ohio State in QF. Pretty solid in even with a loss to the Buckeyes. Glad they didn't have to play Purdue even though they probably would have beaten the Boilermakers.

Colorado - Beat USC and California Berkeley, Plays Arizona in the SF. Win over Berkeley sealed the deal. They are in. Beat Arizona and they could be a 7 or better seed.

Baylor - Beat TCU and Oklahoma. Plays Texas in SF. Definitely in at this point, playing for seeding.

(The other #9 seed, Gonzaga, clinched an automatic bid).

10 seeds

Tennessee - Plays South Carolina in QF. Should be in if they win today, a loss would really hurt them. On one hand, they are stuck playing a lousy opponent. But had they played Arkansas and lost, Arkansas probably would have jumped them in the SEC pecking order so that would have hurt them too.

Dayton - Beat Fordham. Plays St. Joseph's in QF. I like their chances win or lose but a win cements their bid.

Arizona State* - Lost to Stanford in QF. Has to be sixth in the Pac-12 pecking order right now. They did sweep California so they clearly would get in over Cal (they both beat Arizona this year). I think they are still likely in at this point.

St. Joseph's - Plays Dayton in QF. The Hawks do have two wins over Dayton so they might still be ahead of the Flyers in the A-10 pecking order (unless Dayton makes the A-10 final). They would have ended up with a three game losing streak. I think they're still in with a loss but a win would lock them up.

11 seeds

Xavier - Beat Marquette. Plays Creighton in SF. I think the Marquette win is enough but another win over Creighton would be gravy.

BYU* - Lost to Gonzaga in F. RPI is still very high and they have wins over Stanford and Texas. I think they still make it.

Oklahoma State* - Beat Texas Tech, lost to Kansas in QF. Have a sub .500 conference record but probably has done enough to get in (recent win over Kansas probably has them dancing).

Stanford (play in) - Beat Washington State and Arizona State, Plays UCLA in SF. The SF most likely has them in.

Iowa* (play in) - Lost to Northwestern in 1st round. Finished sub .500 in conference. Their RPI (according to CBS is 54. They went 3-7 in their last 10, including three losses to teams clearly not in the NCAA field including Illinois at home and to Northwestern (Northwestern?) in the Big Ten Tournament. They don't belong in the field and I won't put them in. I don't care if they probably get in, they don't deserve to make the field.

12 seeds

Southern Mississippi (Listed as projected C-USA champion) - Beat UTEP, Plays Louisiana Tech in SF - Don't look now but their RPI stands at 29. It's starting to look harder to leave them out of the field the more they win especially when teams like Iowa choke.

Pittsburgh (play in) - Beat Wake Forest, Plays North Carolina in QF - No bad losses but no good wins. I think they've done enough to get in but a win over the Tar Heels certainly puts them in.

California (play in) - Lost to Colorado in QF - Probably 7th in the Pac-12 pecking order now and the Pac-12 has never had seven teams in the tournament I believe. The win over Arizona might be enough for them to sneak in. It depends on what else happens the next day or two.

Not in most recent projection

Minnesota - Beat Penn State, Plays Wisconsin in QF - Still just 9-10 in conference (same as Iowa). Probably needs a win to get in the field.

Missouri - Beat Texas A&M, Plays Florida in QF - Should be in easily if they can pull the unthinkable. Might be helped if Tennessee loses.

Providence - Beat St. John's, Plays Seton Hall in SF - Win over St. John's (on St. John's home floor at MSG) helps. Losing to Seton Hall might erase that though and they are clearly on the bubble at this point. Make the final and they are in.

Georgetown* - Lost to DePaul in 1st round - No way they get in.

Florida State - Beat Maryland, Plays Virginia in QF - Absolutely needs to beat the Cavaliers to get in. Even with the win, best other wins are vs. VCU and Massachusetts. Also lost to fellow bubbler Minnesota.

Teams that are clearly out but can put themselves in the discussion with big wins

North Carolina State - Beat Miami, Plays Syracuse in QF - Could make an argument they belong in over Florida State as they beat them. Also has a win at Pittsburgh as well as at Tennessee (bubble team). They did lose to Clemson though.

Illinois - Beat Indiana,  Plays Michigan in QF - Beat Michigan State (in East Lansing), Nebraska, Minnesota (in Minneapolis in only meeting this year) and Iowa (in Iowa City). Also have a win in St. Louis over fellow bubbler Missouri. Probably needs to win two (get to the final) to get in but stranger things have happened.

Clemson - Beat Georgia Tech, Plays Duke in QF - Already owns a win over Duke. If NC State and Clemson both pull upsets, I can see the winner in their SF matchup making the field.

Georgia - Plays Ole Miss in QF - Did finish 3rd in the SEC but behind Tennessee in the SEC pecking order. Very low in the RPI right now and a win over Ole Miss does nothing. They'd have to beat Kentucky to have a chance (a final run without beating UK probably wouldn't be enough either). Even a win over UK is nowhere near the quality of opponents that any of these teams above them can gain.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Schmolik 64 Update (3/12/14)

Schmolik 64 Update (3/12/14)

Hello, college basketball fans!

Welcome to my latest update to the Schmolik 64. This reflects games played Tue. March 11. It will likely be my final update before Selection Sunday although I may post some thoughts on bubble teams before Sunday.

* Team has clinched automatic bid. Records via's RPI page. Remember, only Div. 1 games are counted.

MIDWEST REGIONAL (Indianapolis - Fri/Sun March 28-30)

St. Louis (Fri/Sun. March 21-23)

1) Wichita State (33-0)* vs. 16) Play In Game B winner
8) Kansas State (20-11) vs. 9) Nebraska (19-11)

San Antonio (Fri/Sun. March 21-23)

5) North Carolina (23-8) vs. 12) Toledo (25-5)
4) Cincinnati (26-5) vs. 13) Manhattan (25-7)*

Milwaukee (Thur/Sat. March 20-22)

6) Memphis (22-8) vs. 11) Xavier (19-11)
3) Wisconsin (25-6) vs. 14) Mercer (23-8)*

St. Louis (Fri/Sun. March 21-23)

7) Oregon (22-8) vs. 10) Tennessee (19-11)
2) Kansas (23-8) vs. 15) Utah Valley (17-10)

SOUTH REGIONAL (Memphis - Thur/Sat March 27-29)

Orlando (Thur/Sat March 20-22)

1) Florida (29-2) vs. 16) Play In Game A winner
8) George Washington (23-7) vs. 9) Colorado (21-10)

San Antonio (Fri/Sun. March 21-23)

5) Oklahoma (23-8) vs. 12) Play in Game D winner
4) Creighton (24-6) vs. 13) Stephen F. Austin (25-2)

Buffalo (Thur/Sat. March 20-22)

6) Connecticut (24-7) vs. 11) Play in Game C winner
3) Syracuse (27-4) vs. 14) Boston University (24-9)

Milwaukee (Thur/Sat. March 20-22)

7) Texas (22-9) vs. 10) Dayton (22-9)
2) Michigan (23-7) vs. 15) Eastern Kentucky (22-9)*

WEST REGIONAL (Los Angeles Thur/Sat March 27-29)

San Diego (Fri/Sun. March 21-23)

1) Arizona (28-3) vs. 16) Wofford (17-12)*
8) SMU (23-8) vs. 9) Gonzaga (27-6)*

Spokane, WA (Thur/Sat. March 20-22)

5) New Mexico (24-6) vs. 12) North Dakota State (22-6)*
4) St. Louis (25-5) vs. 13) Delaware (25-9)*

Spokane, WA (Thur/Sat. March 20-22)

6) Ohio State (23-8) vs. 11) BYU (22-11)
3) San Diego State (25-3) vs. 14) UC Irvine (20-10)

Raleigh, NC (Fri/Sun, March 21-23)

7) Massachusetts (23-7) vs. 10) Arizona State (21-10)
2) Duke (24-7) vs. 15) NC Central (23-5)

EAST REGIONAL (New York Fri/Sun March 28-30)

Buffalo (Thur/Sat March 20-22)

1) Villanova (28-3) vs. 16) Stony Brook (22-9)
8) UCLA (23-8) vs. 9) Baylor (19-10)

San Diego (Fri/Sun. March 21-23)

5) VCU (24-7) vs. 12) Southern Mississippi (24-5)
4) Iowa State (23-7) vs. 13) Harvard (25-4) *

 Orlando (Thur/Sat March 20-22)

6) Michigan State (23-8) vs. 11) Oklahoma State (20-11)
3) Louisville (26-5) vs. 14) Georgia State (22-7)

Raleigh, NC (Fri/Sun, March 21-23)

7) Kentucky (22-9) vs. 10) St. Joseph's (21-9)
2) Virginia (25-6) vs. 15) Wisconsin-Milwaukee (20-13)*

Play In Games:

Play in Game A: Tue. March 18: Weber State (15-11) vs. Southern (16-12)
Play in Game B: Wed. March 19: Mt. St. Mary's (16-16) * vs. Coastal Carolina (18-12) *

Play in Game C: Tue. March 18: Stanford (19-11) vs. Iowa (19-11)
Play in Game D: Wed. March 19: Pittsburgh (23-8) vs. California (19-12)

Highest RPI's Not in Tournament: Minnesota (51), Missouri (52), Providence (53), Georgetown (55)

Big 12: 7
Pac-12: 7 (2 in play in)
A-10: 6
Big Ten: 6 (1 in play in)
AAC: 5
ACC: 5 (1 in play in)
Big East: 3
SEC: 3
MWC: 2
WCC: 2
One bid: 22

Compare my bracket to many others at the Bracket Matrix. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Schmolik 64 Update (3/3/14)

Hello, college basketball fans!

I know it is March already but this is my first Schmolik 64 update for 2014.

MIDWEST REGIONAL (Indianapolis, IN, Fri/Sun)

St. Louis, MO (Fri/Sun)

1) Wichita State vs. 16) Play In Game A Winner
8) Iowa vs. 9) Kentucky

San Antonio, TX (Fri/Sun)

5) Iowa State vs. 12) Play in Game D Winner
4) Cincinnati vs. 13) Stephen F. Austin

Milwaukee, WI (Thur/Sat)

6) Texas vs. 11) Play in Game C Winner
3) Michigan vs. 14) Georgia State

Raleigh, NC (Fri/Sun)

7) Arizona State vs. 10) Xavier
2) Duke vs. 15) Mercer

SOUTH REGIONAL (Memphis, TN - Thur/Sat)

Orlando, FL (Thur/Sat)

1) Florida vs. 16) Play in Game B winner
8) Memphis vs. 9) Colorado

San Diego, CA (Fri/Sun)

5) Massachusetts vs. 12) Toledo
4) North Carolina vs. 13) Green Bay

Milwaukee, WI (Thur/Sat)

6) Kansas State vs. 11) BYU
3) Wisconsin vs. 14) Iona

Buffalo, NY (Thur/Sat)

7) UCLA vs. 10) Oklahoma State
2) Villanova vs. 15) Vermont

WEST REGIONAL (Los Angeles, Thur/Sat)

San Diego, CA (Fri/Sun)

1) Arizona vs. 16) NC Central
8) Gonzaga vs. 9) Baylor

Spokane, WA (Thur/Sat)

5) Oklahoma vs. 12) North Dakota State
4) San Diego State vs. 13) Harvard

San Antonio, TX (Fri/Sun)

6) Michigan State vs. 11) Stanford
3) Creighton vs. 14) Utah Valley

Buffalo, NY (Thur/Sat)

7) Connecticut vs. 10) George Washington
2) Syracuse vs. 15) UC Irvine

EAST REGIONAL (New York, Fri/Sun)

St. Louis, MO (Fri/Sun)

1) Kansas vs. 16) Davidson
8) SMU vs. 9) St. Joseph's

Spokane, WA (Thur/Sat)

5) New Mexico vs. 12) Southern Miss
4) St. Louis vs. 13) Belmont

Orlando, FL (Thur/Sat)

6) VCU vs. 11) Pittsburgh
3) Louisville vs. 14) Delaware

Raleigh, NC (Fri/Sun)

7) Ohio State vs. 10) California
2) Virginia vs. 15) Boston University

Play in Game A (Midwest 16): Weber State vs. High Point. Winner plays 1) Wichita State in St. Louis

Play in Game B (South 16): High Point vs. Weber State. Winner plays 1) Florida in Orlando

Play in Game C (Midwest 11): Tennessee vs. Missouri. Winner plays 6) Texas in Milwaukee

Play in Game D (Midwest 12): Oregon vs. Arkansas. Winner plays 5) Iowa State in San Antonio

Compare my bracket to many others at the Bracket Matrix