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Examining the Expert Predictions for 2013 NCAA Tournament Field at Week 17

Kerry MillerCollege Basketball National AnalystDecember 5, 2015

Examining the Expert Predictions for 2013 NCAA Tournament Field at Week 17

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    Few things in life are more hotly debated than NCAA Tournament brackets.

    Like fingerprints and snowflakes, no two brackets are exactly alike. The best way to get a gauge for where a team truly stands is by determining its average position from a collection of different brackets.

    So we did.

    Selection Sunday is just 18 days away, but there's still a considerable amount of divergence amongst the experts in the field of bracketology. Save for Indiana as a No. 1 seed and Kansas State as a No. 4 seed, there were no teams unanimously receiving the same honor.

    In fact, both UCLA and Illinois vary from a No. 5 to a No. 10 seed, depending on who you ask, while Kansas, Miami, Florida and Michigan each ranged from a No. 1 to a No. 3 seed.

    Translation: The season may be close to finished, but there's still a whole lot left to be determined.

    On the following six slides, we'll take a look at the projected field of our six experts while calling out where each one deviates the most from the group average.

    Very important note: Some of these brackets were posted on Monday afternoon while others were posted on Tuesday morning. Therefore, differences in seeds for teams who played on Monday night (most notably Villanova, Kansas and Iowa State) are disregarded. Similarly, Tuesday night upsets of Indiana, Memphis and Florida would not be factored into any of the projected fields or my analysis of them.

ESPN (Joe Lunardi)

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    Architect: Joe Lunardi

    Last Updated: Tuesday morning

    Link: Lunardi's Bracketology

    Largest deviations from the mean:

    Minnesota (No. 11 seed)

    Memphis (No. 5 seed)

    Ole Miss (No. 11 seed)

    Cincinnati (No. 9 seed)


    Lunardi is the highest of the bunch on Memphis and the lowest on Minnesota, both of which are completely defensible positions to take, given that those are the hottest and coldest teams in the country right now.

    However, Cincinnati (19-9) as a No. 9 seed seems particularly out of place in the bracket that otherwise makes the most sense of the six examined.

    The Bearcats are 7-9 against the RPI Top 100 and have lost five of their last six games while seeing their RPI drop all the way to 50. They're under .500 in Big East play and played the 164th ranked non-conference schedule before that.

    For sake of comparison, Minnesota (18-9) is 11-8 against the RPI Top 100 and has lost eight of its last 11 games. The Gophers are two games below .500 in a better conference than the Big East, and their RPI is still a very respectable 17. So how is Cincinnati two seeds ahead of them?

CBS Sports (Jerry Palm)

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    Architect: Jerry Palm

    Last Updated: Monday morning

    Link: Palm's Bracketology

    Largest deviations from the mean:

    Kentucky (out)

    Butler (No. 4 seed)

    Virginia (out)

    Saint Louis (No. 4 seed)


    Let's start this one out with a comical observation.

    In last week's update, Jerry Palm had Boise State as a No. 10 seed. He was the only bracketologist that had the Broncos in the field, but clearly there was something about them that he liked.

    Since then, the Broncos are 2-0 with comfortable wins over Fresno State and Air Force, getting to .500 in MWC play in the process. Naturally, Palm dropped them from a No. 10 seed to his last four in.

    Wait, what?

    If you want to drastically drop a team's seed after a loss, be my guest. But with no other teams on the bubble having a convincingly better week than Boise State's, the only possible rationale for the move is that it took him three weeks to realize that he still had Boise State as a No. 10 seed.

    Getting back to the current week's brackets, Palm was the only one to have neither Kentucky nor Virginia in his field. The explanation for this is pretty simple, albeit preposterous—he has seven teams from the Atlantic 10 receiving a bid, including Butler and Saint Louis as No. 4 seeds.

    In the immortal words of Jon Gruden—Are you out of your skull? I thought Lunardi had an A-10 bias, but this is insane. No one else has Massachusetts or Charlotte in the field. No one else has Butler better than a No. 5 seed. No one else has Saint Louis better than a No. 6 seed. What is everyone in the world except for Jerry Palm missing?

Yahoo! (Brad Evans)

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    Architect: Brad Evans

    Last Updated: Monday morning

    Link: Evans' Bracketology

    Largest deviations from the mean:

    Wichita State (No. 7 seed)

    VCU (No. 10 seed)

    St. Mary's (No. 12 seed)

    Cal (No. 9 seed)


    Not much variation from the norm in Evans' bracket. He was the only person with Wichita State doing better than a No. 8 seed and the only one with VCU doing worse than a No. 9 seed.

    Those seeding differences are marginal enough that they could've been caused by having to avoid first round pairings that would've been illegal.

    It's a little curious that he vaulted Cal from last four in to a No. 9 seed in the span of a week. But to be fair, everyone has been overreacting to Cal for the past month.

Sports Illustrated (Andy Glockner)

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    Architect: Andy Glockner

    Last Updated: Tuesday morning

    Link: Glockner's Bracketology

    Largest deviations from the mean:

    Illinois (No. 5 seed)

    Boise State (No. 11 seed)

    Missouri (No. 6 seed)

    Pitt (No. 8 seed)


    And we're back to crazy variances.

    Illinois as a No. 5 seed? My word! What happens if the Illini lose to Nebraska on Saturday? Has a team ever dropped from a No. 5 seed to the last four in as a result of one game? They have a handful of very nice wins, but have two hands full of losses. No other team with nine or more losses received better than a No. 9 seed from anyone.

    Glockner has been high on Missouri all season, so that one was no surprise. He had them as a No. 6 seed last week, too, and it's frankly impressive that he showed the restraint to not move the Tigers any higher after a week in which they beat Florida and lost to Kentucky.

    Dropping Pitt to a No. 8 seed was equally impressive. The middling teams from the Big East (Pitt, Cincinnati and Villanova) have been getting too much credit for simply playing in the Big East. It's refreshing to see one of the professionals actually critique them for a change. 

SB Nation (Chris Dobbertean)

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    Architect: Chris Dobbertean

    Last Updated: Tuesday morning

    Link: Dobbertean's Bracketology

    Largest deviations from the mean:

    Virginia (No. 10 seed)

    UCLA (No. 10 seed)

    Oregon (No. 5 seed)

    Ole Miss (No. 11 seed)


    In each of the past two looks at the experts' brackets, Dobbertean was the closest thing to an average bracket, with very few deviations from the mean.

    However, he's the human most throwing the curve off this week.

    It seems most would agree that the Cavaliers are currently in the field by the skin of their teeth, but Dobbertean has them as a No. 10 seed. He notes that they were a No. 11 seed, but became a No. 10 as a "procedural move." Still, being on the cusp between No. 10 and No. 11 is a far cry from being on the cusp between in and out of the field.

    His seeding of Oregon and UCLA is equally bizarre, and they come with no footnote about procedural moves.

    The only way the Ducks make sense as a No. 5 seed is if you're giving them extra credit for having a share of first place in a Pac-12 Conference that you perceive to be particularly strong. But he doesn't have any other Pac-12 teams seeded higher than his peers, so there goes that theory.

    He especially isn't high on the Bruins, giving them a No. 10 seed, which is 2.7 spots lower than the average. It's all very strange once you consider that UCLA is ahead of Oregon in RPI and SOS, and only a half game behind in the Pac-12 standings. So Oregon's head-to-head win over UCLA was worth five seeds in the NCAA Tournament?

Team Rankings

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    Architect: Not identified

    Last Updated: Monday afternoon

    Link: TR's Bracketology

    Largest deviations from the mean:

    Minnesota (No. 6 seed), UCLA (No. 5 seed), Akron (No. 10 seed), Colorado (No. 7 seed), San Diego State (No. 11 seed), Butler (No. 9 seed), Illinois (No. 10 seed), Temple (out)


    If there's a bracketologist you follow that isn't on this list but you think should be, please mention that person in the comments, because this Team Rankings bracket has got to go.

    This bracket has 11 different teams that are at least two full seeds higher or lower than the group average. For sake of comparison, Brad Evans was within 1.5 seeds on every single team, and no one else had more than three teams that deviated by two or more seeds.

    At a certain point, a bracket goes from "It's nice to see that person thinking on their own and not conforming to mass opinion on every team," to "I'm not sure that person has ever done a projected bracket before."

    Minnesota as a No. 6 seed and San Diego State as a No. 11 seed are just offensive to the art of bracketology. I'm lower than most on the Aztecs, but putting them behind Akron is just cold. And though Butler has struggled, there's no way the Bulldogs have played down to a No. 9 seed.

    The absolute best (see: craziest) part about this bracket, though, is that it has both Louisiana Tech and Denver getting in out of the WAC. I'll admit, Louisiana Tech has a mildly compelling at-large profile, but projecting them to lose their conference tournament and still get in ahead of Temple is beyond questionable.

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