NCAA Tournament 2013: 10 Teams Bracketologists Can't Agree on
Debate rages about which teams are positioned to get into the NCAA tournament. Even the experts who pore over the numbers don't agree, and with Selection Sunday less than three weeks away, their projections are changing almost daily.
The bracketologist's challenge is to determine which aspects of a team's resume will be persuasive to the selection committee.
All but seven potential at-large teams are unanimously in or out of the 68-team field projected by those five bracketologists. We look at those seven along with three other teams whose seeding seems to be in flux.
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Obviously Florida will be in the tournament, but what seed will the Gators get?
Two of the five bracketologists have the Gators with a No. 1 seed at the moment, two have them with a No. 2 seed and Jerry Palm of CBSSports.com has them at No. 3.
That's a pretty wide range at this stage of the season, and there's a big difference between being a top seed, which has never lost a first-round NCAA tournament game, and a No. 3 seed, which has lost 14 first-round games the past 27 years.
The Gators have a No. 4 RPI ranking, but their 5-3 record against top-50 RPI teams.and the competition in the suspect Southeastern Conference may not warrant a top seed in some bracketologists' minds.
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Can a team be a No. 1 seed if it lost to a squad that currently has an RPI ranking of 229?
Well, two of the five bracketologists have Kansas on the top line despite that inexplicable seven-point loss to TCU, probably because the Jayhawks have nine wins over top-50 RPI teams, more than any other team in the country.
The other three bracketologists were not as forgiving, with two giving Kansas a No. 2 seed and Palm at CBSSports.com handing the Jayhawks a No. 3 seed.
The bad officiating call that enabled the Jayhawks to beat Iowa State in overtime is not supposed to be a factor in these projections, but you wonder whether it will have any subliminal effect on bracketologists or selection committee members.
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The Illini have done enough recently to get them safely into the tournament, but their erratic results have bracketologists scratching their heads where to seed them.
SI.com seeds Illinois No. 5, while ESPN.com places it at No. 9, with the other three nestled in between. No school has such a wide disparity in its seeding among the five projections, but you can see why there's a difference of opinion.
Illinois has wins over Gonzaga and Indiana, both of whom are in position for a No. 1 seed, and the win over the Zags was on the road.
However, Illinois also lost to Purdue (RPI 125) and Northwestern (RPI 137), the latter at home, and it lost six of seven games in one stretch..
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NBCSports.com has the Sun Devils in the field, but none of the other four does. CBSSports.com doesn't even have them in its first four out.
Arizona State's 20-8 record looks pretty good for a team from one of the power conferences, and wins over UCLA, Cal and Colorado, the latter on the road, would seem to make it worthy of inclusion.
But the Pac-12 is still not getting much respect, and there is no way to disguise that nasty RPI ranking of 87.
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The Cavaliers are among the last at-large teams in the field according to four of the bracketologists, but CBSSports.com does not have them in the tournament or even in its first four out.
Virginia's 73 RPI ranking makes it a bubble team in anyone's mind, and its 3-6 road record doesn't help either.
But a road win against Wisconsin apparently turned some heads. Even the close road loss to Miami may have helped, because how a team plays, even in defeat, can have a bearing,
Although conference records are not supposed to be a selection criterion, being tied for third in the Atlantic Coast Conference can't hurt.
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Charlotte is in the NCAA tournament according to Jerry Palm of CBSSports.com, but none of the other four has the 49ers in the field, and NBCSports.com is the only one that has them anywhere close to being in.
That recent road win against Butler must be carrying a lot of weight with Palm, and it should. But the 4-5 road record and 2-5 record against top-50 RPI teams give others reason to keep the 49ers out.
Besides the victory over Butler, the 49ers (18-8) have no wins of note, and middling teams in the Atlantic-10 typically don't get the benefit of the doubt.
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The Minutemen are in much the same position as Charlotte, and CBSSports.com's Palm is pretty much on an island by including UMass in his field of 68.
None of the other four bracketologists has the Minutemen (17-9) close to getting an at-large bid.
They have no signature wins, and although their No. 55 RPI ranking is not too bad, that is negated by their 1-5 record against RPI top-50 teams.
Certain experts have respect for particular conferences, and Palm has seven Atlantic-10 teams in the tournament at the moment.
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The disparity of opinions is not as wide as you might expect. Four of the bracketologists have the Wildcats in the tournament at the moment with either an 11 or 12 seed.
Palm of CBSSports.com is the only one who does not have them in the field, and he has Kentucky on the cusp as one of the first four out.
With Kentucky's NCAA tournament worthiness based to a degree on its performance without Nerlens Noel, it's surprising to have such agreement on the Wildcats' tournament status after just three games without him.
The victory over Missouri apparently carried a lot of weight.
It's possible opinions on Kentucky's postseason status could begin to diverge over the final weeks.
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Fading Mississippi is still in the 68-team field according to ESPN.com and Yahoo.com, while the other three have the Rebels out, but just barely.
A home victory over Missouri while they were on their way to a 17-2 start is the Rebels' chief positive mark, They lost to Missouri by 19 in the rematch on the Tigers' home court, and losing to South Carolina does not look good either.
But the Rebels are a Southeastern Conference team with 20 wins that had four regular-season games left, so you can see why they are getting some love.
The five bracketologists may differ on Ole Miss all the way to the end.
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Boise State was not expected to be in contention for an at-large berth, and the bracketologists don't know quite what to make of the Broncos.
CBSSports.com and SI.com have Boise State in the field, and SI.com even gives the Broncos a No. 11 seed. The other three bracketologists don't give the Broncos an at-large berth, and NBCSports.com does not even have the Broncos in its first five teams out.
They are the fifth-place team in the Mountain West Conference, which figures to get four berths but maybe not five. A team's standing in its conference is not supposed to matter when selecting at-large teams, but you wonder whether a person's opinion of the Mountain West Conference may have some influence.
A No. 47 RPI rankings as well as a road win over Creighton and a home victory over UNLV apparently carry enough weight to put them in the conversation.