Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Bracketology: Big 12 has eight in projected NCAA Tournament bracket update, Purdue jumps up to a No. 1 seed

The bottom of the latest bracket update leaves a lot to be desired. When I put together my initial list of teams for the at-large pool, I only had 38. That is not enough to even list a first four out. When conference play gets started in earnest, things should begin to sort themselves out.

The major conferences have not really distinguished themselves so far. The Big 12 has been very good though. It has eight of its ten teams in today’s bracket.

However, the Pac 12 only has three teams in the bracket – Arizona, UCLA and USC – and those were the only three teams that were even considered.

The ACC is not much better. Four teams from that storied league are in today’s bracket and one of them is among the last four in. It is no coincidence that these are the only two major conferences that are below .500 against Quadrant 2 teams.

Purdue a new No. 1 seed

The No. 1 seeds have changed a little bit since my previous bracket almost a month ago. Purdue has rejoined the fray as the fourth No. 1. Iowa State, which is coming off a pretty good performance in a loss at home to overall No. 1 Baylor is still on the top line as the third overall seed. Duke is up there as well as the No. 2 overall seed.

The Cyclones are still not getting a ton of respect from pollsters, but fortunately that has no bearing on the bracket. Besides giving Baylor its toughest test of the season, they have wins away from home over Xavier, Creighton and Memphis, along with a 20-point beatdown of in-state rival Iowa. Three of those opponents are in the bracket and the Tigers are the first team out.

Bracketology top seeds

Check out Palm’s latest bracket, full field of 68 and all the teams on the bubble on the Bracketology hub.

Kentucky vs. Iona in first round?

When it comes to bracketing, geography drives the process. There are rules about keeping teams from the same conference from meeting too soon and guidelines about avoiding rematches, but the primary objective is to keep teams as close to home as possible.

Teams go in the bracket in order from 1-68 and in the best available geographic location.

So, sometimes we end up with pretty cool matchups and sometimes we miss out. More often than not, I do not even notice the cool matchups. However, in this bracket, I did see a first round game between Kentucky and Iona. There might be a storyline or two in that game.

The No. 6 -seed line has both Kentucky and LSU. Had their spots in the 1-68 list been switched, the Kentucky-Iona matchup would not be here.

NET not a huge factor 

This is a good time to remind everyone of a couple of things. One is that a team’s own NET doesn’t matter much. The NET is not used to compare teams at all. Rather, it is used to classify a team’s opponents and sort them into the quadrants. The NET rankings of a team’s opponents are much more important than its own ranking.

That said, the NET is not entirely reliable this early in the season, so I am still largely eyeball-testing schedules.

As for KenPom.com and other rankings, those have never meant a lot, even when they appeared on team sheets. However, since the NCAA created the NET, those rankings no longer appear on the team sheets and are now irrelevant. That was one of the reasons for creating the NET. Even Ken Pomeroy told the NCAA that they should not consider his rankings because he is not measuring what they are trying to reward.

So if all you have is a good NET and/or KenPom ranking, you have nothing. The details on the team sheets need to back that up.

Finally, I determine each conference’s automatic qualifier as the team with the fewest conference losses, with the NET being used to break ties. When conference tournaments roll around, I use the highest remaining seed.

Note: Monday marks the beginning of twice weekly brackets on the site. I will be posting new brackets every Monday and Friday, except for next Monday, which is the day of the CFP championship game. When the conference tournaments begin, brackets will be updated daily.

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