Latest Bracket Math update
Miami in mix to join top line; could Big Ten land three No. 1 seeds?
This edition of Bracket Math includes games through Tuesday, Feb. 5. Rankings reflect an up-to-date S-curve from yours truly, posing as one hypothetical member of the NCAA men's basketball committee.
Notes on the "new" math:
• Call me late to the party, but I'm finally drinking the Big Ten Kool-Aid. The Indiana Hoosiers and Michigan Wolverines now hold the No. 1 and No. 2 overall positions on the S-curve. This runs counter to the more typical pattern of 1-seed candidates such as the Kansas Jayhawks and Florida Gators, playing in weaker conferences, to lose less frequently (if at all) and hold onto their top-line positions.
• It's possible that the Michigan State Spartans join the party and we end up with three No. 1 seeds from the same conference, as last occurred with the Big East in 2009 (Louisville, Connecticut and Pittsburgh). That year, a fourth Big East team -- Villanova -- made the Final Four.
• At some point -- if not already -- we need to be talking about the Miami Hurricanes as a serious No. 1 seed candidate. The polls haven't caught up to the Hurricanes yet, but we're talking about a truly stellar "on paper" profile. Miami has the No. 2 InsideRPI, the No. 2 strength of schedule, the No. 1 conference-only RPI and the No. 2 nonconference schedule. And the Canes are 6-1 versus top-50 teams, including the blowout of Duke last month.
• Most impactful Wednesday games: St. John's (versus UConn), Southern Miss (at Central Florida), Charlotte at Temple (both), Indiana State (versus Creighton), Alabama (at Auburn), Air Force (at New Mexico), Boise State (at San Diego State) and Stanford (at Arizona).
• Most impactful Thursday games: Illinois (versus Indiana), Virginia (versus Clemson), Niagara (at Rider), Belmont at Murray State (both), Maryland (at Virginia Tech), NC State at Duke (both), Washington (at UCLA), California at Arizona State (both), BYU (at San Diego), Colorado (at Oregon), Saint Mary's (at Santa Clara) and Long Beach State (at Hawaii).
• Today we change the odds for "green" teams to make the NCAA field from 75 percent to 80 percent. That number will continue to rise as the bubble shrinks in the week ahead.
• One other procedural item: Please note that the Bucknell Bison return to the at-large pool (Next Four Out) in this edition of Bracket Math. Since our last posting, Lehigh has again moved into a first-place tie in the Patriot League, and the Mountain Hawks currently hold a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Bison.
This is where teams would fall if Selection Sunday were today. Remember, the S-Curve flows left-to-right, then right-to-left, then back again as you read down the chart. It gives you a look at which teams are locks, which teams still have work to do, which teams are primed to land automatic bids and which teams are on the right and wrong side of the bubble. (Note: Teams in ALL CAPS are current conference leaders.)
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