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WAY Too Early Bracketology – Summer 2017

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Photo by Anthony Giacomino/ Paint Touches

For the past two summers Paint Touches has put together a WAY Too Early Bracketology as a way to pass the time during the dog days of summer. It was moderately successful the first year, accurately picking 26 out of 36 at large bids, 10 out of 11 automatic qualifiers from major conferences (AAC, ACC, A10, B1G, B12, BE, MVC, MWC, P12, SEC, and WCC), and 4 out of 21 automatic qualifiers from minor conferences. Last year showed slightly better results as we again got 26 out of 36 at larges and 10 out of 11 automatic qualifiers from major conferences but got an improved 7 out of 21 on the automatic qualifiers from minor conferences. 

Summer is here again so it is time to tweak our process and take another crack at a summer bracketology. To create this bracketology, a formula was used that looked at KenPom rankings, conference ranking, percentage lost of major categories (points, rebounds, steals, blocks, 3PM), assigned value to incoming players (including freshmen, JUCOs, transfers, graduate transfers, players coming off a redshirt, and players returning from injury suffered during the ’16-’17 season). This formula gave all 351 teams a score that was used to put each team on an s-curve. Teams were then plugged into the bracket and then adjusted to fit as many of the unofficial tournament committee rules as possible.

Important disclaimer! A lot of this is very basic statistics. There are much more accurate advanced stats out there. If you want to pay me or give me an intern who works for free, I would be happy to use them. This is meant to be a fun project to pass the time that gives fans a rough prediction of their team’s prospects going into season.

So, without further ado:

EAST:
1: VILLANOVA
16: NORTH CAROLINA CENTRAL/ST. FRANCIS (PA)
8: Vanderbilt
9: Wake Forest
5: Purdue
12: VERMONT
4: Virginia
13: OAKLAND
6: Ucla
11: Maryland
3: West Virginia
14: YALE
7: Alabama
10: Southern Methodist
2: Duke
15: IONA

MIDWEST:
1: LOUISVILLE
16: IDAHO
8: Oklahoma State
9: Texas A&M
5: Kentucky
12: MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE
4: Xavier
13: LOYOLA (IL)
6: Baylor
11: SAN DIEGO STATE
3: Minnesota
14: UNC ASHEVILLE
7: Notre Dame
10: Creighton
2: MICHIGAN STATE
15: BUFFALO

WEST:
1: ARIZONA
16: HAWAII
8: Virginia Tech
9: Texas Tech
5: Providence
12: NEVADA
4: ST. MARY’S
13: UT ARLINGTON
6: Miami (FL)
11: Michigan/Arkansas
3: CINCINNATI
14: NEW MEXICO STATE
7: Indiana
10: Butler
2: KANSAS
15: SOUTH DAKOTA

SOUTH:
1: WICHITA STATE
16: ALCORN STATE/SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA
8: Seton Hall
9: RHODE ISLAND
5: North Carolina
12: CHARLESTON
4: Tcu
13: FURMAN
6: Northwestern
11: Florida State/Marquette
3: Florida
14: FLORIDA GULF COAST
7: Gonzaga
10: Texas
2: Southern California
15: BELMONT

LAST FOUR BYES:
SMU
Butler
Texas
Maryland

LAST FOUR IN:
Michigan
Marquette
Florida State
Arkansas

FIRST FOUR OUT:
Oregon
Tennessee
UCF
Wisconsin

NEXT FOUR OUT:
Kansas State
Houston
Clemson
Oklahoma

IN THE HUNT:
Auburn
Georgia
Georgia Tech
Iowa
Iowa State
Mississippi State
Missouri
Nevada
St. John’s
Stanford

Conference Breakdown:
ACC: 9
Big East: 7
Big 12: 7
Big 10: 7
SEC: 6
AAC: 3
PAC 12: 3
WCC: 2
Atlantic 10: 1
Mountain West: 1

Quick Analysis:

I swear I didn’t do this on purpose, but Marquette ends up in pretty much the exact spot in my bracketology as it did last year. I picked the Golden Eagles to play in Dayton as a 12 seed last season and they ended up snagging the 10 seed instead. If that pattern holds maybe Marquette is in for a 9 seed this season. Marquette is in for slight step back this season due to the departures of talents like Jajuan Johnson, Katin Reinhardt, and Luke Fischer. As criticized as they often were, that is is a lot of production to replace. The recruiting class looks fine though not impressive on paper. The good news is that gives the newbies a lot of room to surprise.

To give myself a credibility check, I decided to put my bracket up against the bracket king himself, Joe Lunardi. Joey Brackets posted his way too early bracketology on June 1st and to my surprise, it looks very similar to ours. In fact, 40 of the top 45 teams are a match. The five that don’t match up? I have Indiana (6 seed), Oklahoma State (8 seed), Wake Forest (9 seed), Texas A&M (9 seed), and Marquette (11 seed) making it in. Lunardi has Oregon (8 seed), Wisconsin (8 seed) Oklahoma (10 seed), Iowa State (10 seed), and  St. Bonaventure (11 seed) instead. Most of those are understandable though I can’t fathom how St. Bonaventure could be expected to be an at large worthy team when they barely finished in the top 100 of KenPom last season and don’t bring in any recruits of note. Oregon and Iowa State both bring in an impressive crop of transfers but I think both are simply losing too much to overcome. Wisconsin on paper should not be a tournament team next season after losing four starters. But I can’t disagree with Joe that they will end up making it. They have some sort of voodoo that allows them to pull talent from players seemingly out of nowhere.

One of the most interesting things about both our bracket and that of the Bracket King is the downfall of mid-majors. The Mountain West has already been a 1 bid league for the last couple of years. Wichita State jumped from the Valley and now it is unquestionably a 1 bid league. A10 powerhouses Dayton and VCU both lost their coaches and most of their production from last season. Neither looks an NCAA team and the A10 is in danger of becoming a 1 bid league as well. Rhode Island should win the conference easily and despite the vote of confidence from Lunardi, I don’t think St. Bonaventure will be able to get the A10 that second bid.

Who is making the most of the faltering mid-majors? The SEC. With the exception of the Gamecocks, just about every team should be either about the same as they were last year or significantly better. They have four for sure tournament teams in Florida, Kentucky, Alabama, and Vanderbilt and they have 5 more (Texas A&M, Arkansas, Tennessee, Auburn, and Missouri) that have solid arguments for why they have a shot to go dancing as well.  Most of the improvement is coming from the bottom as the 5 worst teams from last season combined to snag the #2 overall freshman (Michael Porter – Missouri), 5 other top 60 freshmen (#27 Nick Weatherspoon – Mississippi State, #39 Tremont Waters – LSU, #41 Jeremiah Tilmon – Missouri, #44 Chuma Okeke – Auburn, #56 Davion Mitchell – Auburn), 1 JUCO All American (Bruce Stevens -Ole Miss), 4 top grad transfers ( Kassius Robertson – Missouri, Markel Crawford – Ole Miss, Randy Onwuasor – LSU, Jeremy Combs – LSU) and two talented traditional transfers (DeSean Murray – Auburn, Dominik Olejniczak – Ole Miss). With all this improvement from the bottom, the SEC may not have any sub 100 teams and should feature a lot of exciting basketball.

Think someone is too high or too low? Don’t see your team and curious how for from the tournament you really are? Other random opinions? Leave em in the comments and I’d be happy to answer them. Just don’t be the Syracuse fan from last year who wrote  a short novel on why Syracuse was a legit Final Four contender last season.

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Categories: Analysis, Home, Offseason

Author:Ryan Jackson

Texas A&M Professional, Marquette Fantatic

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