Bracket Express Preseason Bracket Notes, and More

Bracket Express Preseason Bracket Notes, and More
Nov 07, 2006, 05:46 am


My preseason bracket is now posted in the Bracket Express portion of the site.

-Obviously, the entire bracket is based off of nothing other than my own speculation. It will change each week between now and the end of the season to reflect what teams have actually done on the court. I use the exact same criteria to select and seed the teams as the selection committee does. The idea is to offer a check point as to where teams stand as far as making the tournament and being seeded all throughout the season.

-Last season was the worst I have ever done at projecting the bracket, but that was due to the fact that the selection committee was inconsistent with some of their selections when comparing it to previous years. To their credit the tournament was very exciting last year (at least until the Final Four), but that had a lot to do with the play of the teams and not the bracketing of them. I had 62 of 65 teams in the field correct and 46 of them within one of the actual seed. It is the first time I’ve ever had fewer than 55 teams within one of the actual line, but then again I think I have a better understanding of what to pay attention to this year, so I believe that our weekly projections will be as good an indicator of where teams stand as far as making the NCAA Tournament as any other site out there.

-Some of my speculations may seem a little strange. New Mexico State and San Diego State were the last two at-large teams that I took. New Mexico State has really turned themselves around since Reggie Theus arrived as head coach. They have a very talented squad and if they can avoid too many slipups they should be in the picture come March. A problem for them is that they don’t face a whole lot of high quality competition and that could hold them back somewhat, but if they can finish second in the standings and avoid losses to teams at the bottom of the league they should be in the picture come March.

-Kansas State is another team I like. I was very impressed with the way they looked out of conference last year and they got off to a good start in conference play with an early win over Kansas. Then they fell apart for whatever reason. They have a lot of contributing players back, along with a new head coach in Bob Huggins. One of the things Huggins has been good at over the years is preventing teams from falling apart (well, at least during the regular season). I’m really looking forward to watching the Wildcats this season.

-Florida is my top #1 seed, but it happened to work out that all the #1 seeds were playing on Thursday instead of Friday. Since it was impossible for the play-in winner to play on Friday, I was guessing that the committee might do them the courtesy of not making them travel so far in order to get their brains beaten in by their first round opponent.

-Louisville isn’t getting a whole lot of love, but they are extremely talented and extremely well coached. They were a disappointment last season, but I think that last year will turn out to be an exception to the rule. They are in this bracket as a #5 seed, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they ended up a few lines higher than that come March.

-I only have one team out of the Atlantic Ten and that’s Xavier. Massachusetts is another team to watch, but if they want to make a case for themselves they’ll have to get a statement win or two out of conference, which is something that all the teams in Atlantic Ten have struggled with over the years. UMass will have their chances. They face Pittsburgh, Boston College, Louisville and Kentucky out of conference. If they can win one or two of those and finish high in the Atlantic Ten standings they’ll be dancing in March. The series with Connecticut, which used to be a big rivalry, has evidently been dropped.

-For the third straight year there are first and second round games in the state of North Carolina. That means that once again teams in the ACC will be battling it out to get a placement that is geographically to their advantage. Florida will also be involved in this battle, as will several other teams from the SEC East.

-I have four Missouri Valley teams in the field this year, but I think that at least five teams have a legitimate shot at making it. The league is absolutely stacked once again. Their play in the NCAA Tournament last year probably shut all the people up who were saying they didn’t deserve four bids, but in case it didn’t, this season most likely will. Both Creighton and Southern Illinois are top 25 caliber teams if they’re both healthy. Wichita State could spend some time in the rankings as well.

-BYU is a team that I have projected into the field out of the Mountain West Conference. BYU is a bracket projectionist’s nightmare because they must be placed in a bracket where it is not possible for them to play on Sunday. Sometimes I think that solving the rubrics cube is a simpler task. They won twenty games a year ago and return the nucleus of their team so they should be in the bracket picture. I have nothing against the Cougars, but I wouldn’t be upset if they weren’t in the running for the NCAA Tournament simply because they can be hard to accommodate. You may recall that even the actual committee screwed it up back in 2003.


-The Coaches vs Cancer Classic begins today, so there actually are some regular season games. The way this tournament works is that four good teams are selected and placed in their own regions along with three other cupcakes. This year, the good teams are Saint John’s, Maryland, Texas and Michigan State. Maryland’s region begins tonight. The Terps will face Hampton, and assuming they win they’ll get the winner of the Vermont vs New Orleans game tomorrow night. The first official game of the season will be Vermont vs New Orleans. There will probably be around 100 people in the arena when the game starts. It will fill up for the second game when Maryland plays, but I always get a kick out of how only a few hundred people watch the season begin, and then we pack a dome full of people for when the season ends.

Although these are cupcakes, Maryland does not want to slip up against either of these teams for two reasons. These games actually do count, and a bad loss will be looked at by the committee if it were to happen. If Maryland were to win this tournament and beat either Texas, Saint John’s or Michigan State along the way, they would get credit for the quality wins. For a team that has missed the NCAA Tournament two years in a row they don’t want to be fooling around. A game in November counts every bit as much toward's a team RPI as the final regular season game they play.

Although very few people will see it, New Orleans vs Vermont might actually be an interesting game. Both teams are from what would be considered low level conferences, but both ended last season with some momentum and have a lot of their contributing players coming back.

Both games are being televised on ESPNU, which is #609 on DirecTV.

Check this site every day between now and the end of the season for updates and analysis.

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