Sunday, March 12, 2017

Bracket Reaction: Nine Notes

1. This is the first time in the now nine-year history of RBP that the Selection Committee has gotten it right.  So, while the seeding was still a little off, at least the most deserving 68 teams are in the field.

2. The Big Ten has been down this year, and the Selection Committee took notice.  No Big Ten school got better than a 4 seed.  Purdue, the Big Ten regular season champ, picked up the 4, while the league's co-runners-up, Maryland and Wisconsin, received 6 and 8 seeds, respectively.  Confusingly, both Minnesota (5) and Michigan (7) were awarded lower seeds than Wisconsin.  The Wolverines at least won the conference tourney and finished 2-1 versus the Badgers this season.  Minnesota, on the other hand, finished a game behind Wisconsin, failed to advance as far in the conference tourney, and lost twice to the Badgers.

3.  Coming into the tournament as the defending champ with the fewest losses since '92 Duke, Villanova gets rewarded with...Wisconsin as its 8 seed.  The Badgers are the strongest 8 seed since Kentucky in '14.  That year the Wildcats knocked off 1 seed Wichita State in the Round of 32.

4.  Speaking of Wichita State and Kentucky, the Shockers are an extremely strong 10 seed.  First Gregg Marshall's squad will need to get past A-10 regular season champion Dayton, but Kentucky could be looking at Ken Pomeroy's 8th ranked team nationally in the Round of 32.

5.  The Selection Committee did Kentucky no favors, placing the Cats in a region that includes both North Carolina and UCLA.  While the Tar Heels likely will have to contend with either Kentucky or UCLA to advance to the Final Four, the top half of the South Region sets up nicely for Roy Williams' squad.  RBP ranks the Heels' 4 (Butler), 5 (Minnesota), and 8 (Arkansas) seeds as the weakest at each of those positions across the entire bracket.

6. Given their overall records, Vanderbilt (4 games over .500) and Michigan State (5 games over .500) have no business being 9 seeds, even in a weak field.  Both should have been headed to Dayton to play their way into the Field of 64.

7.  The Selection Committee released its 1-68 rankings of the tourney field.  Comparing those rankings to RBP's rankings (see previous post), we can see who the Committee is overvaluing and undervaluing.  The Selection Committee is overvaluing -- Vanderbilt (+13), Michigan State (+13), Minnesota (+12), Butler (+11), and Seton Hall (+8).  It is undervaluing -- Wichita State (-13), Wisconsin (-12), Middle Tennessee (-12), Nevada (-8), and Vermont (-8).  RBP and the Selection Committee agreed on Villanova (1), ETSU (52), South Dakota State (64), and Mount St. Mary's (68).

8. Here are the teams included in RBP's preseason top 25 that did not make the tourney -- Indiana (4), Syracuse (14), California (17), Connecticut (21), Texas (22), and Texas A&M (24).

9. With a healthy Chris Boucher, Oregon comes out of the Midwest and is RBP's pick for the title.  Without Boucher, the Ducks' third leading scorer and the Pac-12's top shot blocker, the Ducks will be hard-pressed to advance beyond the Sweet 16.

Field of 68

*Seeding and invites do not project what I believe the Selection Committee will do.  Rather, this entry reflects what the Selection Committee should do.

**This is the weakest bubble in recent memory.  The last four in (the 12 seed play-ins) really have no business being in the tournament.  Kansas State is below .500 in Big 12 play.  The overall records of Vanderbilt and Michigan State are particularly underwhelming - just 4 games and 5 games over .500, respectively.  USC may be the weakest at-large RBP has ever recommended.  The 11 seeds are not much better.  And the first four out - Utah, Syracuse, Illinois State, and Houston are deeply flawed teams that do not deserve 1 seeds in the NIT.

1 seeds
North Carolina

2 seeds

3 seeds
West Virginia

4 seeds
Notre Dame
Florida State

5 seeds
Iowa State
Southern Methodist

6 seeds

7 seeds
Wichita State
St. Mary's

8 seeds
Virginia Tech

9 seeds
South Carolina
Virginia Commonwealth
Middle Tennessee

10 seeds
Oklahoma State

11 seeds
Rhode Island
Seton Hall
Wake Forest

12 seeds
Vanderbilt (play-in)
Kansas State (play-in)
Michigan State (play-in)
USC (play-in)
UNC Wilmington

13 seeds
New Mexico State

14 seeds
Florida Gulf Coast
Kent State

15 seeds
Northern Kentucky
North Carolina Central
Jacksonville State

16 seeds
North Dakota
South Dakota State
New Orleans (play-in)
Texas Southern (play-in)
UC Davis (play-in)
Mount St. Mary's (play-in)

Sunday, March 5, 2017

2016-17 Preseason All-Americans & Award Projections

First Team
Grayson Allen, Duke [jr]
Josh Hart, Villanova [sr]
Dillon Brooks, Oregon [jr]
Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin [sr]
Ivan Rabb, California [soph]

Second Team
Monte Morris, Iowa State [sr]
Trevon Blueitt, Xavier [jr]
Jaron Blossomgame, Clemson [sr]
Alec Peters, Valparaiso [sr]
Thomas Bryant, Indiana [soph]

Tra-Deon Hollins, Nebraska-Omaha [soph]
OG Anunoby, Indiana [soph]
Hassan Martin, Rhode Island [sr]
Khadeem Lattin, Oklahoma [jr]
Chris Boucher, Oregon [sr]

De'Aaron Fox, Kentucky
Dennis Smith, North Carolina State
Malik Monk, Kentucky
Josh Jackson, Kansas
Jayson Tatum, Duke

Player of the Year: Dillon Brooks, Oregon

Top Defender: OG Anunoby, Indiana

Best Freshman: Josh Jackson, Kansas

2016-17 RBP Preseason Rankings

1) Duke
2) Kentucky
3) Oregon
4) Indiana
5) Wisconsin
6) Kansas
7) Villanova
8) North Carolina
9) Xavier
10) Louisville
11) Michigan State
12) Arizona
13) Purdue
14) Syracuse
15) Cincinnati
16) Virginia
17) California
18) West Virginia
19) Notre Dame
20) Gonzaga
21) Connecticut
22) Texas
23) Maryland
24) Texas A&M
25) Dayton

2015-16 NCAA Awards & Honors

1st Team All-American
Kris Dunn, Providence [jr]
Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia [sr]
Buddy Hield, Oklahoma [sr]
Denzel Valentine, Michigan State [sr]
Brice Johnson, North Carolina [sr]

2nd Team All-American
Tyler Ulis, Kentucky [soph]
Yogi Ferrell, Indiana [sr]
Thomas Walkup, Stephen F. Austin [sr]
Georges Niang, Iowa State [sr]
Perry Ellis, Kansas [sr]

All-Defensive Team
Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia [sr]
Gary Payton, Oregon State [sr]
Chinanu Onuaku, Louisville [soph]
Egidijus Mockevicius, Evansville [sr]
Vashil Fernandez, Valparaiso [sr]

All-Freshman Team
Jamal Murray, Kentucky
Brandon Ingram, Duke
Jaylen Brown, California
Ben Simmons, LSU
Henry Ellenson, Marquette

Player of the Year: Buddy Hield, Oklahoma
Top Defender: Vashil Fernandez, Valparaiso
Best Freshman: Ben Simmons, LSU
Coach of the Year: Dana Altman, Oregon