2014 NCAA Tournament Bracketology “what ifs”


UCLA CHEERLEADERS

Selection Sunday is six days away. For college basketball nuts, you can’t spend more than 18.3 seconds on the internet without looking at someone’s bracketology (speaking of which, check out The Sports Bank’s latest bracketology.) Unless you’re one of the gifted who can think in terms of brackets, regions and at-large bids, the bracketology is only a tool for a snapshot of the current state. Those fancy looking graphics don’t take into consideration the scenarios of an early exit in the conference tournament, a miracle run to the conference tournament championship game, or even the dreaded out of the tournament team stealing the automatic bid.

The Sports Bank’s David Kay and Peter Christian have you covered. Peter is going to pose some poignant “What Ifs” to world renowned bracketologist David who will explain the repercussions of that “what if.”

(PC) What if #1 (#1 seeds)
What if Virginia, Florida, Arizona, Kansas, Villanova and Wichita St. all win their conference tournaments, who gets the top seeds in each Region? Are there any other teams that could move up to a #1 seed by winning their conference tournament? Which teams are locks for #1 seeds regardless of their result in their conference tournament?

(DK) The way I see it; there is only one #1 seed up for grabs. I think Florida, Arizona, and Wichita State are locks even if the Gators or Wildcats bow out of their conference tournaments early. Virginia’s loss to Maryland on Sunday pretty much eliminates them from the conversation even if they win the ACC Tournament which would be crazy since they would have won the regular season AND tourney titles.

That leaves Villanova, Kansas, and Wisconsin fighting for the fourth top seed. Nova is on the one line right now so if they win the Big East Tournament, they are good to go. If the Wildats don’t cut down the nets at Madison Square Garden, both Kansas and Wisconsin would pass them if they won their respective league tournaments.

(PC) What if #2 (Big Ten Bubble)
What if Nebraska loses its first game as the four seed versus Ohio St and Minnesota wins two games as the 7 seed? Does Minnesota getting to 21 wins make them a lock? Would Nebraska get punished for playing a tougher first game in the Big Ten Tournament? Can both teams make the Field of 68?

(DK) Both the Huskers and Gophers are living on the edge on the bubble and have work to do in the Big Ten Tournament. Minnesota has the fifth toughest strength of schedule in the country but their 8-10 conference record hurts (although that was their Big Ten record last year and they received an invite to the dance.)  Two wins would mean they would knock off Penn State and Wisconsin which, barring crazy outcomes of other teams stealing multiple at-large bids, should solidify the Gophs’ status as a tourney team.

Nebraska’s win against Wisconsin Sunday was huge.  It put them into my Field of 68 for the first time this season but doesn’t mean they are safe.  The Huskers still have to beat Ohio State to help their cause and sleep easier.  A loss could be devastating as it would likely bump them to the wrong side of the bubble.

(PC) What if #3 (At Large Nightmare)
What if neither Southern Miss nor Louisiana Tech win the Conference USA Tournament? Does Southern Miss have the resume to get in without the automatic bid? If they do get in at-large, what conference’s bubble teams are most affected (Big Ten or SEC).

(DK) Regardless of who wins the C-USA Tournament, I think it is a one bid league. Southern Miss’ best non-conference win came against North Dakota State, their strength of schedule is in the 150’s, and Conference USA has the 13th highest overall RPI as a league so that is all working against them. Louisiana Tech’s RPI is in the high 60’s and SOS is above 200 so they don’t have any at-large chance.

If there is a Cinderella run by some team that ends up stealing an at-large bid, I actually think the Big East will get hurt the most. Creighton and Villanova are the only NCAA Tournament locks with Xavier in for now and Georgetown, Providence, and St. John’s all having work to do. It would be a nasty black eye on the new Big East if they only get two teams in.

(PC)What if #4 (SEC seeding)
What if SEC Bubble teams (Arkansas/Tennessee) play each other in the SEC Quarterfinals? Does the winner lock up their tourney chances? Is being the 4 seed a less desirable outcome due to the higher probability of being one and done?

(DK) The Vols RPI is about 20 spots higher than Arkansas and their strength of schedule is in the high-20’s compared to the Hogs’ which is in the 80’s. The Razorbacks would need to beat Tennessee and then upset Florida to pass the Vols on the NCAA Tournament totem pole.

As for the four seed being less desirable, I don’t see that at all. Arkansas would play Auburn or South Carolina first and a win over either of those teams does nothing for them. However, a loss would absolutely burst their bubble so having the five seed is much more dangerous.

(PC) What if #5 (Seed Improvement)
What if VCU wins the A-10 Tournament? Can they improve to be a 4 seed? Is there a team in the country that could gain more (seeding wise) than VCU?

(DK) Absolutely. St. Louis’ slide late in the season has opened up the door for VCU who I currently have as a five seed in my most recent bracketology. There could be quite a bit of jockeying for seeds in the A-10 with VCU, SLU, UMass, St. Joseph’s, George Washington, and Dayton all looking like they will get in as of right now.

Kentucky is an interesting team to keep an eye on. Right now, they project as a six or seven seed but if they ran the table in the SEC Tournament and knocked off Florida, I could see them moving up to the four line. I also think UConn and Memphis could move up a couple of spots if they won the AAC Tournament.

David Kay is a senior feature NBA DraftNBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu to Milwaukee.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet , AND the second most accurate 2013 NBA Mock Draft. (Yup, nearly 3peat champ… #humblebrag.)

You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.

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