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.

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