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College Basketball Bracketology 2019: Setting up the race for NCAA Tournament No. 1 seeds with two months to go

NCAA Basketball: Northwestern at Michigan

Did you are feeling it?

No, not the temperature plunging due to the arrival of the winter storm du jour. However the breeze from the calendar flipping. With January 18th’s arrival, Choice Sunday (which coincidentally can also be St. Patrick’s Day) is out of the blue lower than two months away. And with Saturday that includes yet one more big contest in a 2018-19 season that’s been filled with them, it’s time to check out the most promising contenders for the 4 spots on the bracket’s prime seed line and the video games that may play the largest elements in shaping the race.

Under I’ll take a look at the No. 1 seed probabilities of 14 groups from seven totally different conferences. First up, the ACC, a league that has earned at the very least one prime seed in every of the previous 5 NCAA Tournaments.

Word: Data mirror video games performed towards Division I opposition by way of Thursday, January 17th; nevertheless, NCAA Analysis Software (NET) and power of schedule (SOS) knowledge solely displays video games performed via Wednesday, January 16th.

NET rating: 1
SOS rankings: 53 (general)/155 (non-conference)
Group 1 and a couple of data: Four-Zero vs. Group 1/Four-Zero vs. Group 2
Greatest wins: No. 9 Virginia Tech (house), No. 21 Maryland (away), No. 22 Wisconsin (impartial)

Potential Group 1 video games remaining: 9 (2 house, 7 away)
Potential Group 2 video games remaining: Four (Three house, 1 away)
Most necessary remaining video games: at Duke (January 19th), at N.C. State (January 29th), Duke (February ninth), at North Carolina (February 11th), at Louisville (February 23rd), at Virginia Tech (February 18th), Louisville (March ninth)

Having obliterated Virginia Tech in a recreation that not many received to see on Tuesday night time, the Cavaliers began the first of two probably tough weeks off on the proper foot. Now, Virginia will subsequent purpose to transfer to 17-Zero by beating Duke in Durham on Saturday. The second Saturday in February brings the second tough stretch, one which begins with return matchup with the Blue Devils and concludes with a visit to Chapel Hill following just a little greater than 48 hours afterward Massive Monday. Precisely one week later, Tony Bennett’s workforce will once more take to ESPN, this time for their rematch with the Hokies.

The Massive Ten’s enchancment is boosting the high quality of Virginia’s two greatest non-conference wins and if the Cavaliers proceed to dominate the ACC, as they did in a 2018 that ended with only a single convention loss, they’ll have a shot to treatment final season’s unpleasantness.

NET rating: Four
SOS rankings: 7 (general)/5 (non-conference)
Group 1 and a couple of data: 5-1 vs. Group 1/1-1 vs. Group 2
Greatest wins: No. Eight Texas Tech (impartial), No. 10 Kentucky (impartial), No. 18 Auburn (impartial), No. 30 Indiana (house)
Losses: No. 5 Gonzaga (impartial), No. 51 Syracuse (residence)

Potential Group 1 video games remaining: 9 (2 residence, 7 away)
Potential Group 2 video games remaining: 2 (2 residence, Zero away)
Most essential remaining video games: Virginia (January 19th), St. John’s (February 2nd), at Virginia (February ninth), at Louisville (February 12th), N.C. State (February 16th), North Carolina (February 20th), at Virginia Tech (February 26th), at North Carolina (March ninth)

The Blue Devils have 5 large ACC contests left, thanks to home-and-home collection with each Virginia and, as all the time, archrival UNC, alongside with a visit to Virginia Tech for that pair’s solely assembly. However Duke additionally has one final non-conference recreation left — an opportunity to avenge final February’s loss at St. John’s, a defeat that helped push Mike Krzyzewski’s workforce to a two seed.

Three non-conference neutral-floor wins presently elevate the Blue Devils’ profile, however they’ll finally want to win on the street persistently to seize a prime seed. And whereas they took their first two true away video games of the season, they wanted a buzzer-beater to win at Florida State final Saturday. Duke won’t be so fortunate the remainder of the method, notably with two units of back-to-back street journeys in February.

NET rating: 13
SOS rankings: 16 (general)/20 (non-conference)
Group 1 and a couple of data: Four-Four vs. Group 1/Three-Zero vs. Group 2
Greatest wins: No. 5 Gonzaga (house), No. 29 Wofford (street), No. 31 N.C. State (away)
Losses: No. 2 Michigan (away), No. 10 Kentucky (impartial), No. 19 Louisville (house), No. 45 Texas (impartial)

Potential Group 1 video games remaining: 6 (Three residence, Three away)
Potential Group 2 video games remaining: 5 (Three residence, 2 away)
Most essential remaining video games: Virginia Tech (January 21st), at Louisville (February 2nd), N.C. State (February fifth), Virginia (February 11th), at Duke (February 20th), Florida State (February 23rd), Duke (March ninth)

On one hand, the ACC schedule does the Tar Heels no favors in giving them simply 4 video games towards the prime seed contenders listed right here. However on the different, three of these contests will are available Chapel Hill.

Then once more, contemplating how Louisville ran riot over North Carolina on Saturday in the Dean Smith Middle, these house video games won’t be as useful as anticipated. And thanks to the 4 losses Roy Williams’ squad already owns and the lack of any marquee wins past the one over Gonzaga, the Heels will probably want to sweep their 4 most essential schedule matchups and win the ACC Tournament to have any shot at a No. 1 nod.

NET rating: 9
SOS rankings: 128 (general)/270 (non-conference)
Group 1 and a couple of data: 2-1 vs. Group 1/Three-1 vs. Group 2
Greatest wins: No. 17 Purdue (impartial), No. 41 Washington (impartial)
Losses: No. 1 Virginia (away), No. 84 Penn State (away)

Potential Group 1 video games remaining: 9 (Three residence, 6 away)
Potential Group 2 video games remaining: 2 (1 house, 1 away)
Most necessary remaining video games: at North Carolina (January 21st), at N.C. State (February 2nd), Louisville (February 4th), Virginia (February 18th), Duke (February 26th), at Florida State (March fifth)

Although the Hokies have misplaced simply twice, they’re the least probably ACC squad to earn a prime seed in 2018. That’s thanks to an abysmal non-conference schedule (with six Group Four house wins) and the presence of simply three future matchups towards the convention’s greatest — with a type of set for Monday night time at UNC. Like the Tar Heels, an ACC Tournament title could be crucial for Buzz Williams’ squad to crack the prime line.

Keep in mind how the weak Massive Ten restricted its greatest groups’ seeding prospects a season in the past? This time round, the convention’s a lot improved prime and center tiers imply that each Michigan and Michigan State may have a fantastic probability at breaking by way of 2018’s ceiling of the two line.

Michigan’s street to a possible No. 1 seed is highlighted by three home-and-home collection with the one towards Michigan State wanting notably vital. Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports activities

NET rating: 2
SOS rankings: 67 (general)/132 (non-conference)
Group 1 and a couple of data: 5-Zero vs. Group 1/Three-Zero vs. Group 2
Greatest wins: No. 13 North Carolina (house), No. 17 Purdue (house), No. 24 Villanova (away), No. 30 Indiana (residence)

Potential Group 1 video games remaining: 10 (Four house, 6 away)
Potential Group 2 video games remaining: Three (2 house, 1 away)
Most necessary remaining video games: at Wisconsin (January 19th), at Indiana (January 25th), at Iowa (February 1st), Wisconsin (February ninth), Maryland (February 16th), Michigan State (February 24th), Nebraska (February 28th), at Maryland (March third), at Michigan State (March ninth)

Outdoors of the win at Villanova, the Wolverines have finished their greatest work at the Crisler Middle. However John Beilein’s squad could have loads of alternatives to load up on high quality street victories to cement its place. The primary three are available consecutive weekend journeys (Wisconsin, Indiana and Iowa) with the the final two — excursions to Maryland and Michigan State — closing the common season.

NET rating: 6
SOS rankings: 30 (general)/65 (non-conference)
Group 1 and a couple of data: 6-2 vs. Group 1/Three-Zero vs. Group 2
Greatest wins: No. 11 Nebraska (away), 17 Purdue (residence), No. 25 Iowa (house), No. 36 Ohio State (away), No. 42 Florida (away), No. 45 Texas (impartial)
Losses: No. 12 Kansas (impartial), No. 19 Louisville (away)

Potential Group 1 video games remaining: 9 (Four house, 5 away)
Potential Group 2 video games remaining: 2 (2 house, Zero away)
Most essential remaining video games: Maryland (January 21st), at Iowa (January 24th), at Purdue (January 27th), Indiana (February 2nd), at Wisconsin (February 12th), at Michigan (February 24th), at Indiana (March 2nd), Nebraska (March fifth), Michigan (March ninth)

In contrast to their in-state rivals, the Spartans shut with a pair of inauspicious house video games, with an opportunity to sweep Nebraska previous the finale with the Wolverines. However Michigan State’s remaining schedule isn’t with out its street challenges, thanks to a late January Iowa-Purdue swing and journeys to Ann Arbor and Bloomington over the week earlier than the last residence stand.

Thanks to November losses to Kansas and Louisville, Tom Izzo’s workforce’s greatest two non-conference wins got here towards disappointing Florida and Texas. And meaning the Spartans will want to excel in league play to seize a prime seed — and meaning MSU may simply want to the late season collection with Michigan.

The SEC’s prime No. 1 seed contender is probably going a staff that you simply weren’t anticipating to problem for a nationwide title this yr. However Rick Barnes’ Tennessee squad has already confirmed itself to be a respectable menace to minimize down the nets in Minneapolis.

NCAA Basketball: Arkansas at Tennessee

The Tennessee Volunteers have misplaced simply as soon as and crushed Division I opposition by 10 factors or extra a staggering 13 occasions.Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports activities

NET rating: Three
SOS rankings: 24 (general)/17 (non-conference)
Group 1 and a couple of data: Four-1 vs. Group 1/1-Zero vs. Group 2
Greatest wins: No. 5 Gonzaga (impartial), No. 19 Louisville (impartial), No. 42 Florida (away)
Loss: No. 12 Kansas (impartial)

Potential Group 1 video games remaining: 7 (2 residence, 5 away)
Potential Group 2 video games remaining: Four (2 house, Three away)
Most necessary remaining video games: at Kentucky (February 16th), at LSU (February 23rd), at Mississippi (February 27th), Kentucky (March 2nd), Mississippi State (March fifth), at Auburn (March ninth)

It’s unlucky for the Volunteers that the SEC/Massive 12 Problem doesn’t use BracketBusters-style flex scheduling. And meaning January 26th residence recreation with Eight-9 West Virginia gained’t assist Tennessee’s case all that a lot. With the SEC not being fairly as highly effective as anticipated heading into the season, Tennessee might have used the additional high quality win probability.

Nevertheless, if Rick Barnes’ membership continues to dominate because it has up to now, the half-dozen really good possibilities left on its schedule ought to be sufficient to hold Tennessee in the thick of the dialog. And continued excellence by Gonzaga and a bit extra consistency out of Louisville will make the Vols’ two greatest non-league wins look higher and higher.

NET rating: 10
SOS rankings: 50 (general)/66 (non-conference)
Group 1 and a couple of data: 2-Three vs. Group 1/2-Zero vs. Group 2
Greatest wins: No. 13 North Carolina (impartial), No. 19 Louisville (away)
Losses: No. Four Duke (impartial), No. 49 Seton Corridor (impartial), No. 55 Alabama (away)

Potential Group 1 video games remaining: 9 (Four residence, 5 away)
Potential Group 2 video games remaining: Four (2 house, 2 away)
Most essential remaining video games: at Auburn (January 19th), Mississippi State (January 22nd), Kansas (January 26th), at Florida (February 2nd), at Mississippi State (February ninth), LSU (February 12th), Tennessee (February 16th), Auburn (February 23rd), at Tennessee (March 2nd), at Mississippi (March fifth), Florida (March ninth)

Whereas Tennessee has the SEC’s two greatest non-league outcomes, the Wildcats’ pair of UNC and Louisville isn’t far behind. Plus, John Calipari’s group has one thing the Volunteers don’t — an SEC/Huge 12 Problem recreation that may matter — as prime seed contender Kansas visits Lexington.

Kentucky in all probability shouldn’t be on this race, thanks to losses to Seton Corridor and Alabama. Nevertheless, a remaining schedule that options the go to from Kansas and home-and-home collection towards SEC heavyweights Auburn, Mississippi State and Tennessee signifies that it might be silly to write the Wildcats off at this level.

NET rating: 18
SOS rankings: 26 (general)/18 (non-conference)
Group 1 and a couple of data: 1-Three vs. Group 1/5-Zero vs. Group 2
Greatest wins: No. 50 Arizona (impartial), No. 41 Washington (residence), No. 43 Murray State (house)
Losses: No. Four Duke (impartial), No. 28 Mississippi (street), No. 31 N.C. State (impartial)

Potential Group 1 video games remaining: 7 (Three house, Four away)
Potential Group 2 video games remaining: 6 (Three house, Three away)
Most necessary remaining video games: Kentucky (January 19th), at Mississippi State (January 26th), Florida (February fifth), at LSU (February ninth), Mississippi (February 13th), at Kentucky (February 23rd), Mississippi State (March 2nd), Tennessee (March ninth)

Whereas the Tigers are very a lot in the hunt for a second straight SEC common season title, they’re the league contender with the weakest case for a nationwide prime seed. That’s due in no small half to a scarcity of a marquee non-conference wins (two Pac-12 victories gained’t do the trick this season). However the unbalanced league schedule additionally hurts Bruce Pearl’s squad, because it solely performs Tennessee as soon as (albeit at Auburn Area).

Kansas has earned a prime seed in every of the final three NCAA Tournaments. However very similar to the Jayhawks’ far longer Huge 12 championship run, that is one other streak that’s in peril of ending in 2019.

NCAA Basketball: Texas at Kansas

If Kansas earns a No. 1 seed for the fourth straight season, its non-conference schedule could have (once more) performed a big position.Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports activities

NET rating: 12
SOS rankings: 1 (general)/1 (non-conference)
Group 1 and a couple of data: Eight-1 vs. Group 1/1-1 vs. Group 2
Greatest wins: No. Three Tennessee (impartial), No. 6 Michigan State (impartial), No. 20 Marquette (impartial), No. 24 Villanova (residence), No. 26 TCU (residence), No. 27 Oklahoma (residence), No. 29 Wofford (residence)
Losses: No. 16 Iowa State (away), No. 80 Arizona State (away)

Potential Group 1 video games remaining: 9 (2 house, 7 away)
Potential Group 2 video games remaining: Four (Three house, 1 away)
Most necessary remaining video games: Iowa State (January 21st), at Kentucky (January 26th), Texas Tech (February 2nd), at Kansas State (February fifth), at TCU (February 11th), at Texas Tech (February 23rd), Kansas State (February 25th), at Oklahoma (March fifth)

The Jayhawks have extra Group 1 wins than another staff on this submit — by a reasonably vital margin. And with the Massive 12 once more being robust, Invoice Self’s staff ought to find a way to improve that complete, which might end in Kansas’ NET rating leaping. Nevertheless, for that to transpire, the Jayhawks should enhance their efficiency in true street video games. Whereas Kansas is 5-2 in video games performed away from Lawrence, it’s simply 1-2 in true street contests. And with seven Group 1 street video games left on the schedule, that’s wanting like a stat to control.

NET rating: Eight
SOS rankings: 58 (general)/176 (non-conference)
Group 1 and a couple of data: Three-2 vs. Group 1/Three-Zero vs. Group 2
Greatest wins: No. 11 Nebraska (impartial), No. 27 Oklahoma (house), No. 37 Kansas State (house), No. 45 Texas (away)
Losses: No. Four Duke (impartial), No. 16 Iowa State (residence)

Potential Group 1 video games remaining: 9 (2 residence, 7 away)
Potential Group 2 video games remaining: Three (Three house, Zero away)
Most necessary remaining video games: at Kansas State (January 22nd), TCU (January 28th), at Kansas (February 2nd), at Oklahoma (February ninth), Kansas (February 23rd), at TCU (March 2nd), Texas (March 4th), at Iowa State (March ninth)

On the flip aspect, a Pink Raider squad that appears to be Kansas’ most critical challenger for the Massive 12 crown is 2-Zero over its restricted street slate. And thanks to an unimpressive home-heavy non-conference schedule that featured a pleasant win over Nebraska, a loss to Duke in New York and 5 wins over groups ranked in the NET’s backside 50, Chris Beard’s staff will want that success away from Lubbock to proceed in the event that they’re to have any hopes of securing an sudden No. 1 seed. No less than Tech performs Kansas twice in February.

NET rating: 16
SOS rankings: 41 (general)/166 (non-conference)
Group 1 and a couple of data: Three-Three vs. Group 1/1-1 vs. Group 2
Greatest wins: No. Eight Texas Tech (away), No. 12 Kansas (residence)
Losses: No. 25 Iowa (away), No. 37 Kansas State (house), No. 50 Arizona (impartial), No. 61 Baylor (away)

Potential Group 1 video games remaining: 9 (Three house, 6 away)
Potential Group 2 video games remaining: Four (Three residence, 1 away)
Most necessary remaining video games: at Kansas (January 21st), at Mississippi (January 26th), Texas (February 2nd), at Oklahoma (February 4th), TCU (February ninth), at Kansas State (February 16th), at TCU (February 23rd), Oklahoma (February 25th), at Texas (March 2nd), Texas Tech (March ninth)

With the Cyclones’ roster lastly rounding into form, even with accidents nonetheless inflicting issues right here and there, they’re lastly wanting like a group able to difficult for the Huge 12 crown. And that shall be a requirement for Iowa State to earn a No. 1 seed, due to some disappointing non-conference performances, notably in Maui the place a loss to Arizona meant Steve Prohm’s staff left with a largely empty 2-1 document, So, the Cyclones are yet one more squad that may have to make a run via convention play (and beat Mississippi in the SEC/Huge 12 Problem for good measure) to stay in rivalry. And with the inconsistency the Cyclones have displayed up to now in Huge 12 play, that’s not one thing to rely on occurring.

With the Huge East taking a slight step again this season and even the Pac-12’s greatest groups hovering close to the minimize line, we should look additional afield for our ultimate two contenders. Making issues worse, solely considered one of them actually seems to be to have a reputable shot at the prime line.

NCAA Basketball: Loyola Marymount at Gonzaga

As soon as once more, Rui Hachimura and Gonzaga ought to be in the prime seed hunt till the very finish.James Snook-USA TODAY Sports activities

NET rating: 5
SOS rankings: 39 (general)/47 (non-conference)
Group 1 and a couple of data: Four-2 vs. Group 1/2-Zero vs. Group 2
Greatest wins: No. Four Duke (impartial), No. 41 Washington (house), No. 47 San Francisco (away), No. 50 Arizona (impartial)
Losses: No. Three Tennessee (impartial), No. 13 North Carolina (away)

Potential Group 1 video games remaining: 1 (Zero residence, 1 away)
Potential Group 2 video games remaining: Four (2 house, 2 away)
Most essential remaining video games: San Francisco (February seventh), Saint Mary’s (February ninth), at Saint Mary’s (March 2nd)

With two losses, the Bulldogs’ hopes may relaxation on how the Choice Committee evaluates them with Killian Tillie and Geno Crandall in the lineup, contemplating each missed the losses to Tennessee and UNC. In fact, Mark Few’s group beat Duke with out the pair. The most important issue working towards Gonzaga is the WCC’s slide after a promising begin to the non-conference season. That decline limits the variety of high quality win alternatives out there to Gonzaga the remainder of the approach. Consequently, the Bulldogs will possible want to be good in WCC play, win the convention event and get substantial assist to earn something greater than a two seed in March 2019.

NET rating: 7
SOS rankings: 63 (general)/148 (non-conference)
Group 1 and a couple of data: 2-1 vs. Group 1/6-Zero vs. Group 2
Greatest wins: No. 15 LSU (residence), No. 40 Utah State (house)
Loss: No. 46 Temple (away)

Potential Group 1 video games remaining: 1 (Zero house, 1 away)
Potential Group 2 video games remaining: 6 (Three residence, Three away)
Most necessary remaining video games: Temple (January 31st), at UCF (February seventh), Cincinnati (February 10th), UCF (March 2nd)

After which there are the Cougars, who solely misplaced their first recreation (in controversial circumstances) on January ninth. To have any shot at the prime line, Kelvin Sampson’s workforce could have to keep away from additional slip-ups. A non-conference schedule that didn’t ship the high quality anticipated finally lets Houston down right here. Positive, LSU seems like a robust win, and there’s hope for Saint Louis, however BYU, Oregon and Oklahoma State have all dissatisfied. Making issues worse, the American Athletic Convention solely set up one Houston-Cincinnati matchup (which will probably be at the Fertitta Middle to the Cougars’ profit). Regardless that the league is enhancing, it’s nonetheless prime heavy (and that’s with Wichita State struggling), which suggests contenders actually need to keep away from the dangerous groups in an unbalanced schedule, not different at-large threats.

I’ll be again with a full bracket projection on Tuesday, January 22nd.