College basketball bracketology: The Bracketeur’s 68-team NCAA Tournament projections

Welcome to DieHards’ foray into the world of college basketball bracketology. Periodically throughout the regular season, and weekly beginning February, our resident Bracketeur, Eric Yates, will bring you full projections for the 2018 NCAA Tournament field, as well as some notable storylines that are reflective of the projections.

Rankings and seedings are a combination of statistical analysis, KenPom adjusted efficiency margin rating, strength of a team’s conference, and the tried-and-true eyeball test.

Things will no doubt change dramatically come March, but here’s where things stand as the nonconference season winds down.

Mid-December takeaways

Texas A&M as a No. 1 seed

Ranked 25th in the preseason AP poll, the Aggies have vaulted up the ranks and subsequently have earned a spot on the top line. They sit at 8-1 and are the fifth-best team in the country per KenPom’s adjusted efficiency rating, despite playing the toughest schedule of any team in the top 29 teams in the country. Led by big men Robert Williams and Tyler Davis, A&M’s lone loss is a 3-point defeat to Arizona (who was a preseason top-3 team) in Phoenix. The Aggies are for real.

The SEC isn’t just a football conference anymore

If you take out perennial powerhouse Kentucky, the SEC has had a total of 14 bids among the last five NCAA Tournaments. However, it is in a position to reach half of that total this year alone. Strong starts by the aforementioned Aggies, Kentucky (8-1), Arkansas (8-1) and Tennessee (7-1), have given respectability to the league. And with surprising play from Mississippi State (8-1), Auburn (8-1), Georgia (7-1) and a better-than-their-record Alabama (7-3), you could argue that there isn’t a better conference top to bottom in the country so far. The SEC trails only the ACC in at-large bids in this projection (8 to 6), but that could quickly change once the cream of each league starts to rise to the top in conference play.

Top seed rankings

1. Villanova

2. Duke

3. Michigan State

4. Texas A&M

5. North Carolina

6. Miami

7. Kansas

8. Wichita State

Conference Breakdown

At-large bids

ACC: 8

SEC: 6

Big Ten: 5

Big 12: 5

Big East: 4

American: 3

Pac-12: 3

Mountain West: 1

West Coast: 1

Atlantic 10: 0

College basketball bracketology: The 68-team field and matchups

EAST

(1) Villanova vs. (16) St. Francis (PA) / Texas Southern (play-in)

(8) Creighton vs. (9) Louisville

(5) Florida vs. (12) Ball State

(4) Purdue vs. (13) Towson

(6) Florida State vs. (11) Middle Tennessee State

(3) Kentucky vs. (14) Yale

(7) Minnesota vs. (10) Saint Mary’s

(2) Kansas vs. (15) Florida Gulf Coast

SOUTH

(1) Duke vs. (16) Morgan State/Liberty (play-in)

(8) USC vs. (9) Arkansas

(5) Cincinnati vs. (12) Boise State

(4) Gonzaga vs. (13) New Mexico State

(6) Tennessee vs. (11) Temple/Virginia Tech (play-in)

(3) West Virginia vs. (14) South Dakota State

(7) Nevada vs. (10) Michigan

(2) Wichita State vs. (15) UNC Greensboro

MIDWEST

(1) Michigan State vs. (16) Portland State

(8) Alabama vs. (9) Texas

(5) Seton Hall vs. (12) UCLA/Clemson (play-in)

(4) Virginia vs. (13) Bucknell

(6) Texas Tech vs. (11) Northern Kentucky

(3) Xavier vs. (14) Murray State

(7) SMU vs. (10) Penn State

(2) Miami vs. (15) UC Santa Barbara

WEST

(1)Texas A&M vs. (16) Iona

(8) Oklahoma vs. (9) Rhode Island

(5) TCU vs. (12) UT-Arlington

(4) Arizona vs. (13) Albany

(6) Notre Dame vs. (11) Maryland

(3) Arizona State vs. (14) Loyola-Chicago

(7) Baylor vs. (10) Butler

(2) North Carolina vs. (15) Stephen F. Austin

Bubble Watch

Last Four In: Clemson, Virginia Tech, Temple, UCLA

First Four Out: Kansas State, Houston, Ohio State, St. Johns

Opening round locations

Boise, Idaho

Charlotte, N.C.

Dallas

Dayton, Ohio (First Four games)

Detroit

Nashville, Tenn.

Pittsburgh

San Diego

Wichita, Kan.

Regional locations

South: Atlanta (Phillips Arena)

East: Boston (TD Garden)

Midwest: Omaha, Neb. (Century Link Center)

West: Los Angeles (Staples Center)

Final Four location

San Antonio, Texas (Alamo Dome)

The post College basketball bracketology: The Bracketeur’s 68-team NCAA Tournament projections appeared first on Diehards.

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