March Madness Bracketology Update: What Do We Do With Kansas?
Selection Sunday is just around the corner, and our algorithms have been working hard to see and predict where teams will be seeded before the bracket is even released. Let's break down our updated projected bracket, which you can find on our bracketology page.
|Kentucky||30-0||22.95 (1)||.6776 (1)|
|Virginia||28-1||18.75 (4)||.6677 (3)|
|Duke||27-3||18.14 (6)||.8580 (6)|
|Kansas||24-6||16.02 (10)||.6762 (2)|
At this point in the season, it would be nearly impossible for Kentucky to squander a 1 seed. They're playing for a perfect season now, and face a home test against the underrated Florida Gators before heading to the SEC Tournament. Our numbers won't expect a loss though, as Kentucky's nERD -- the number of points you'd expect them to win by against a league-average team -- is 13 points higher than Florida's.
The Virginia Cavaliers may have the least to play for of the top seeds, as their 1 seed is close to locked up as well. And they, of course, aren’t playing for a perfect season. Virginia faces a tough task on the road against Louisville, where they face the number eight defense in the country per our metrics.
Virginia also is projected to have a tough road in the ACC Tournament, where they'll likely play Pittsburgh or Clemson in their first game before getting the winner of North Carolina and Louisville. Though they're likely to get a 1 seed, we have Virginia as the number four team in the country with an 18.75 nERD.
DukeThe Dukies have the most to gain by winning their conference tournament in Greensboro. Since their two-game losing streak, Duke has been on a roll, winning 12 of 13 with their only loss on the road to a good Notre Dame squad.
Despite Virginia’s dominance throughout the season, Duke has a much easier road to get to the ACC Championship. After the first round, instead of matching up with Louisville or UNC -- who are 16th and 7th in nERD, respectively -- in the semi-finals, they will either play Notre Dame or North Carolina State, who are 15th and 35th. On top of these factors, the tournament is being played, as usual, in Greensboro, NC, which is an hour drive from Duke’s campus.
Kansas is the top seed in our bracketology that's most likely to drop down to a 2 seed over the next couple of weeks because of their brutal road ahead. First, the Jayhawks head to Oklahoma on Saturday, where they will be without star Perry Ellis. Ellis leads Kansas in both points and rebounds, recording 14.2 and 7 this season, while shooting 47% from the field. Oklahoma's nERD score is less than a point lower than Kansas', and that's a Jayhawks team with Ellis.
After dealing with Oklahoma, Kansas will get no favors in the Big 12 Tournament, either, with their first-round matchup to be against TCU or Kansas State. If they win there, they would have to play the winner of Baylor and West Virginia, two top-20 teams in nERD. The Big 12 Tournament is going to be a bloodbath, and it's hard to predict any one team getting out unscathed.
Last Three In
|Indiana||19-11||9.12 (48)||.5710 (51)|
|Georgia||19-10||10.31 (36)||.5831 (34)|
|Xavier||18-12||12.60 (23)||.5810 (41)|
Indiana has clung to a final tournament spot on the back of home wins against Ohio State and Maryland, yet nERD suggests that they are not the team that their record suggests -- the Hoosiers sit at 48th on the numberFire nERD power ranking, which suggests that they may not be strong enough to make up one of the 36 at-large bids in the NCAA tournament.
Indiana has a difficult road in front of them to keep their tournament hopes alive -- they face Michigan State this weekend at home, then head to Chicago for the Big Ten tournament.
If the Hoosiers can beat MSU at home and then pull out a win in their conference tournament (likely against Illinois), they will probably keep their spot and make the dance.
It would be a real shame for a team of Xavier's quality to miss the tournament, but at this point, that's a very real possibility. Despite Xavier’s 23rd-ranked nERD, they are only 41st in the NCAA’s favorite stat, RPI.
Xavier now has to go on the road to Creighton to end their season, then face a date with either Georgetown or Butler in the first round of the Big East tournament. If Xavier goes 0-2, they will almost certainly miss the tournament. And a 1-1 record, the most likely event, might leave Xavier on the outside looking in.
Of all of the last three in, Georgia has the easiest path to keeping its spot in the tournament. The Bulldogs end the season against the 12-18 Auburn Tigers, then head to the SEC tournament, where they will most likely be the 5 seed. In the SEC tournament, Georgia would most likely play their first game against Mississippi State or Auburn before facing Texas A&M. Georgia has a very easy path to finishing the season at least 2-1 -- if not 3-1 -- and they also have a strong team with their 36th-ranked nERD.