Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Bracketology: Kansas beats Baylor in showdown of No. 1 seeds; Arizona to replace Bears on top line of bracket

A day after Kansas jumped up to a No. 1 seed the Jayhawks won a showdown vs. another No. 1 seed. The Jayhawks were the fourth No. 1 in Friday’s projected NCAA Tournament bracket, replacing Wisconsin, but on Saturday KU defeated No. 1 seed Baylor 83-59 at Allen Fieldhouse.

That loss will give a new look to the top line of the next bracket projection to be released Monday with Arizona moving up to replace the Bears as a No. 1 seed.

Baylor has been struggling of late in no small part due to injuries, especially at the guard position. The Bears were a little healthier today, but you wouldn’t know it from the beating they took at Kansas. Baylor will drop down to the No. 2-line for now and Arizona, which beat USC at home Saturday, will move up to take that spot.  

The top of Arizona’s resume is a little thin, with wins at home over UCLA and USC, but the Wildcats won at Illinois and their only two losses came on the road to quality teams. It may be tough for Pac-12 teams to stay at or near the top because of the lack of chances for the kind of wins it takes to stay there. The margin for error for Arizona and UCLA is pretty small.  

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

Upon further review: What’s on an NCAA team sheet

There was some confusion regarding what I wrote on Monday about what is relevant and not relevant on the team sheets. The confusion resulted from the fact that there were two versions of team sheets. However, the one the selection committee has been using is no longer publicly available, so I thought it had been replaced by the other one. In fact, it had simply been locked down for the committee’s view only. I apologize for the confusion.

The main difference between the two team sheets, other than formatting, is that conference record and placement do not appear on the committee team sheets and the rankings in five non-NCAA metrics do appear. Conference record and placement have not been criteria for a couple of decades. In fact, the committee does not consider anything about a team’s conference during this process. They specifically exclude even the name of the conference from the team sheets.

The other metrics have been on team sheets since 2018, but were being discussed by the committee during deliberations for a few years prior to them being officially added to the sheet.

Let’s do a quick breakdown of the information on the team sheets the selection committee uses with an example provided by the NCAA:


Courtesy of NCAA

Click here to enlarge image

The top line is the NET and other rankings. These are not used to make decisions. The committee does not compare the NET rankings of a couple of teams to determine which should be selected or get seeds. Instead, if the information in the more important parts of the resume does not seem to match up with the rankings, a discussion will probably take place around why that is.

The answer to that is usually pretty simple: Margin of victory. That’s a significant factor in some form or fashion in all of those rankings. KPI is more results-oriented than most of the others. SOR may be as well. However, the selection committee does not generally incentivize margin of victory. If a team is counting on a good ranking alone to get into the tournament or a good seed, it will very likely be disappointed.

The box below the rankings contains some basic information. The strength of schedule rankings are particularly important, but road record is as well. Teams are largely being judged on the strength of their schedule and how they performed against that schedule. It is not unusual for a team on the bubble to be left out of the bracket primarily because of a very poor non-conference schedule.

The committee also wants to see that teams can perform well away from home. Neutral site games are also considered away from home, but not listed in that box.

The record in those games does appear in the box below that, which looks like a blind resume on steroids. This information is a good starting point for comparing teams. However, like much of this process, the devil is in the details.

The box below that contains the details and the most important part of a team’s resume – the actual games and results. Not all Quadrant 1 opponents are the same and this is where those comparisons can be made. In fact, you may notice on Gonzaga‘s sheet that the Quad 1 list is divided into two parts. The Quad 2 box has a division as well, but the Bulldogs do not have any games in the second part of Q2, so no line is drawn. Quads 3 and 4 are not similarly divided.

Hope this helps, even though this will probably be the last time you see a team sheet this season.

Note: Bubble Watch will make its first appearance this season on Tuesday. That is a daily look at games affecting teams I believe to be on the bubble. The bubble is relatively large this time of year and teams will go on and off of it as we progress toward Selection Sunday.

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