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Examining the Expert Predictions for the NCAA Tournament Field at Week 16

Kerry MillerCollege Basketball National AnalystFebruary 20, 2013

Examining the Expert Predictions for the NCAA Tournament Field at Week 16

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    The NCAA tournament tips off in less than four weeks, but the experts in the field of bracketology remain in substantial disagreement over which schools will be involved, let alone where they will be seeded.

    In the six expert brackets studied, there are eight different teams—Arizona State, Baylor, Charlotte, Iowa State, Kentucky, Saint Mary's, Temple and Virginia—that appear in at least two of the brackets while also not appearing in at least two others.

    Depending on which expert you ask, Missouri is projected for anywhere between a No. 6 seed and a No. 12 seed. Apparently, there's some debate over whether Butler deserves a No. 3 seed or a No. 8 seed.

    Along the top lines, Gonzaga, Kansas and Michigan State are each varying by two full seed lines from one bracket to another.

    In fact, the only thing the experts unanimously agree on are Miami and Indiana as No. 1 seeds, and strangely enough Marquette as a No. 4 seed.

    The lesson, as always, is that there's a lot left to be determined. But let's take a look at what the experts' projected fields are looking like at the start of what's certain to be another crazy week of college hoops.

ESPN (Joe Lunardi)

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    Architect: Joe Lunardi

    Last Updated: Tuesday morning

    Link: Lunardi's Bracketology

    Largest deviations from the mean:

    Illinois (No. 10 seed)

    Memphis (No. 6 seed)

    Ohio State (No. 5 seed)

    Creighton (No. 8 seed)

    Synopsis: 

    For a second consecutive week, Lunardi is the highest of the bunch on Creighton and the least impressed by Illinois' recent string of wins.

    The concern over Illinois' sub-.500 conference record is at least understandable. Even so, only Lunardi and Chris Dobbertean have the Illini lower than a No. 7 seed in their projected brackets.

    What makes no sense about his seeding of Creighton, though, is that he has Wichita State as a No. 10 seed, even though he has the Shockers getting the auto bid from the Missouri Valley Conference. Wichita State is 12 spots higher than Creighton in the RPI rankings, and two spots higher in "Joe Lunardi's preferred RPI formula."

Yahoo (Brad Evans)

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    Architect: Brad Evans

    Last Updated: Monday morning

    Link: Evans' Projected Bracket

    Largest deviations from the mean:

    Baylor (No. 10 seed)

    San Diego State (No. 6 seed)

    Illinois (No. 6 seed)

    Wichita State (No. 11 seed)

    Memphis (No. 9 seed)

    Synopsis:

    Pray tell, what is the case for Baylor as a No. 10 seed? The Bears have two key wins all season, and one of them occurred 80 days ago. Their 7-5 record in the Big 12 is courtesy of a home win over Oklahoma State, and wins in the six easiest games one can play in that conference.

    The bubble is weak, but there's no way it's weak enough to justify Baylor as a team safely in the field.

    Evans' other curious seeding is Memphis as a No. 9 seed. What more could the Tigers possibly need to do to deserve more respect in the seedings than a team like UCLA or North Carolina State? They're 22-3 and haven't lost a game in over two months. 

Sports Illustrated (Andy Glockner)

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    Architect: Andy Glockner

    Last Updated: Tuesday afternoon

    Link: Glockner's Bracket

    Largest deviations from the mean:

    Missouri (No. 6 seed)

    Iowa State (No. 10 seed)

    Baylor (out)

    Cincinnati (No. 9 seed)

    Oregon (No. 5 seed)

    Synopsis:

    These brackets were all submitted before Missouri's Tuesday night win over Florida, at which point in time having Missouri as a No. 6 seed seemed ludicrous. The Tigers cannot win on the road. It's the exact same argument that has Iowa State on the bubble and excluded from two of these six brackets.

    Oregon as a No. 5 seed is almost as insane. The Ducks have been lost on the court for the past four weeks without starting point guard Dominic Artis. 

CBS Sports (Jerry Palm)

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    Architect: Jerry Palm

    Last Updated: Tuesday morning

    Link: Palm's Bracketology

    Largest deviations from the mean:

    Boise State (No. 10 seed)

    Iowa State (out)

    Charlotte (No. 11 seed)

    North Carolina (No. 12 seed)

    Synopsis:

    It's one thing to be the only expert with a particular team in the field of 68. It's another thing entirely to have that team as a No. 10 seed. Boise State doesn't even crack Joe Lunardi's "First Eight Out," yet Jerry Palm has them more comfortably in the tournament than La Salle or North Carolina.

    What could Boise State have possibly done in the past two months to garner that kind of respect? The Broncos have lost six of their last nine games, and were at best a bubble team before that stretch of misfortune.

    Having North Carolina in one of the play-in games is just crazy talk. The Tar Heels haven't been as good as a traditional Tar Heels team, but there's just no way that six teams from the Atlantic 10 and five teams from the Mountain West should be seeded ahead of them.

    His bias towards the little guys should've been obvious when he put Gonzaga on the No. 1 line and Butler on the No. 3 line, but it wasn't egregious until the double-digit seeds.

SB Nation (Chris Dobbertean)

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    Architect: Chris Dobbertean

    Last Updated: Tuesday morning

    Link: Dobbertean's Projected Field

    Largest deviations from the mean:

    UCLA (No. 10 seed)

    Ohio State (No. 5 seed)

    Colorado State (No. 6 seed)

    Cincinnati (No. 6 seed)

    Synopsis:

    For a second straight week, Dobbertean's bracket served as the constant for the group. UCLA as a No. 10 seed was the only instance in which he varied from the average by more than 1.5 seeds, and frankly that's only askew because the rest of the experts haven't dropped UCLA far enough.

    Here's a blind resume comparison of UCLA and a team that everyone other than Dobbertean seeded at least two lines behind UCLA:

    Team A: 18-6, 8-3 in conference, RPI 33, SOS 77, 9-5 vs. RPI Top 150

    Team B: 19-7, 9-4 in conference, RPI 41, SOS 39, 11-6 vs. RPI Top 150

    Team B is UCLA. Team A is La Salle.

    Everyone has come around on La Salle and given them at least a No. 11 seed, but having UCLA in better shape than a No. 8 seed is just plain ignorant.

Team Rankings

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    Architect: Not identified

    Last Updated: Monday afternoon

    Link: TeamRankings Bracket

    Largest deviations from the mean:

    Butler (No. 8 seed)

    Missouri (No. 12 seed)

    Virginia (No. 9 seed)

    Colorado (No. 6 seed)

    Synopsis:

    It's my understanding that this TeamRankings bracket is an algorithm based on thousands of computer simulations of what's left of the season between now and selection Sunday.

    It would appear there are a few kinks to work out with those formulas.

    How badly would Butler need to collapse down the stretch in order to fall to a No. 8 seed?

    Short of winning every remaining regular season game and the Pac-12 conference tournament, can you imagine any scenario in which Colorado gets a No. 6 seed?

    It didn't make the cut for largest deviations, but this bracket also has Southern Miss as a No. 12 seed. The same Southern Miss that has one win over the RPI Top 100, and it came at home against Denver in November.

    In future installments of this article, perhaps I should only include brackets projected by actual human beings, because it was the computer-generated ones that have skewed the numbers in each of the past two weeks.

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