NCAA Bracketology 2022: Real-Time Seed and Region Projections for All 68 TeamsMarch 8, 2022
Selection Sunday is here, and it's time to find out if countless hours of analysis and antacids helped us predict how the selection committee for the 2022 men's NCAA tournament puts together the brackets.
I hope you enjoyed the week of nonstop madness and updates as much as my coffee machine did.
Here's the final projection of the field, followed by some thoughts on the bubble and some of the last-minute changes I made this morning (minus the SMU/Notre Dame debate for the final spot that became moot with Richmond's party-crashing win in the A-10 championship.)
Gonzaga is the No. 1 overall seed in the West, Kansas is No. 2 overall in the Midwest, Arizona is No. 3 overall in the South and Baylor is No. 4 overall in the East. That means the East winner would face the West winner (and Midwest would face South) in the Final Four.
Last Updated: FINAL
East No. 16: Texas A&M-Corpus Christi vs. Wright State
South No. 16: Texas Southern vs. Bryant
South No. 11: Michigan vs. Texas A&M
East No. 12: Indiana vs. Wyoming
Sunday Morning Scrub Notes
I try not to go too overboard with last-minute changes, because this is where I get myself into trouble every year. But a few noteworthy changes to address:
- Tennessee replaces Duke on the No. 2 seed line. Had to think long and hard about this one, as Duke has the four most important letters on its resume: D-U-K-E. Any time there's a debate, the Blue Devils always seem to land on the higher seed. But the Volunteers now rank at least four spots better than the Blue Devils in all six metrics, they have four more Quadrant 1 wins (10 vs. 6) and four fewer losses outside of Quadrant 1 (0 vs. 4). Frankly, the only argument for Duke as a No. 2 seed is that it's Duke, but that doesn't change the metrics. If the Vols win the SEC title game today, I'll feel much better about this decision. (And let's be honest: The No. 3 seed in Philadelphia is preferable to the No. 2 seed in San Francisco. And now we can get Duke-Kentucky on the 30-year anniversary of "The Shot." Win-win!)
- Boise State replaces Murray State on the No. 8 seed line. Honestly, I hope I'm wrong here, because Murray State deserves better than a No. 8 seed. But with six Quadrant 1 wins, 13 wins against the top two Quadrants and a sweep of the MWC regular-season and conference-tournament titles, moving the Broncos up at least one spot from where they started the week felt like the right thing to do. Hopefully the selection committee can at least give the Racers a better draw than I ended up with. Going 30-2 and then needing to beat UNC and Baylor to reach the Sweet 16 is absurd.
- Seton Hall and Iowa State swap on the No. 8/9 seed lines. Iowa State's nine Q1 wins are mighty impressive, but the Pirates are at least 10 spots ahead of the Cyclones in five of the six metrics. It's still the same projected matchup, but the jersey colors might change.
- Texas A&M from a No. 12 to a No. 11, replacing Wyoming among the last four byes. If Texas A&M beats Tennessee today, it cannot play in the First Four. And even if the Aggies lose, they've improved that resume enough to warrant avoiding Dayton. Wyoming does have 11 wins against the top two Quadrants, which is more than any other team outside our top projected eight seed lines. But the Cowboys also have the worst BPI and Sagarin ratings of any team under consideration. A play-in game feels like a good compromise. (This changed when Richmond beat Davidson. A&M is back to a play-in game, albeit still as a No. 11 seed.)
Last Four In
Last Team In: Indiana Hoosiers
20-13, NET: 39, RES: 53.5, QUAL: 33.7
The combination of mediocre resume metrics and a putrid nonconference strength of schedule kept Indiana just on the wrong side of the cut line at the start of the day Friday. However, that quarterfinal victory over Big Ten No. 1 seed/projected NCAA No. 4 seed Illinois was, well, a fantastic way for the Hoosiers to pick up their best win of the season.
They now have five wins over projected tournament teams and nary a loss outside the NET top 100. Now that Indiana's resume metrics have crept back to around 50, it's next to impossible to argue it no longer belongs in the field.
And that buzzer-beating loss to Iowa in the Big Ten semifinals? It would have been nice to have, but it's not the end of the world. The Hoosiers probably just need to win an extra game to get into the official first round.
Second-to-Last In: Michigan Wolverines
17-14, NET: 34, RES: 40.5, QUAL: 28.7
Michigan's record isn't great, to say the least, but its metrics sure are. Thursday's loss to Indiana bumped those figures down slightly overnight, but the Wolverines are still in good shape. Thanks to four wins against the top half of Quadrant 1, Michigan still feels safe. However, if the committee opts to leave out a team that went 8-13 against the top two Quadrants and basically sleepwalked through the first three months of the season, we can't be too mad or surprised.
Third-to-Last In: Wyoming Cowboys
25-8, NET: 50, RES: 46.0, QUAL: 81.3
At some point this summer, we need to do an audit of ESPN's BPI to figure out why it has been so anti-Wyoming all season long. That 103 ranking is the main thing weighing down that went 4-5 against Quadrant 1 and 11-6 against the top two Quadrants. While I do feel reasonably confident about Wyoming getting into the dance, there has been enough focus on the predictive metrics this year that it's easy to see that costing them an immediate spot in the round of 64.
Fourth-to-Last In: Texas A&M Aggies
23-12, NET: 42, RES: 41.5, QUAL: 44.3
Though unable to clinch an automatic bid in the SEC championship game, Texas A&M did enough against Florida, Auburn and Arkansas this week to get into the dance. We had the Aggies ahead of the play-in games this morning, but Richmond's A-10 championship shrunk the bubble by one spot. Either way, Buzz Williams is taking his third program to the NCAA tournament.
First Five Out
First Team Out: SMU Mustangs
23-8, NET: 44, RES: 46.0, QUAL: 46.0
SMU's first step in the AAC tournament—a 25-point win over Tulsa in the quarterfinals—was a great one. But with the loss to Memphis in the semifinals, the Mustangs are in major bubble trouble.
The metrics are fine and dandy, but the Mustangs had just three quality wins (two vs. Memphis, one vs. Houston) and six losses to teams unlikely to make the tournament. That is a rough ratio, not much better than what VCU and BYU have on the wrong side of the bubble, and exactly the same ratio that Notre Dame has.
Second Team Out: Notre Dame Fighting Irish
22-10, NET: 53, RES: 51.0, QUAL: 52.7
Would the committee really leave out the No. 2 seed from the ACC tournament? Well, if years of "conference record does not matter" is actually true, it's certainly on the table.
The Fighting Irish had one great win at home against Kentucky, as well as a home win over North Carolina that has gained all sorts of value over the past couple of weeks. But they went just 4-9 against the top two quadrants and had a 16-point road loss to Boston College. Strength of record is the only one of the six metrics that doesn't list the Irish 50th or worse.
Are their three wins over projected tournament teams enough to make up for the six losses to teams not projected to dance? It's very possible that when Virginia Tech punched its ticket on Saturday night, it kicked this ACC foe to the curb.
Third Team Out: Oklahoma Sooners
18-15, NET: 40, RES: 51.0, QUAL: 32.7
With the excruciatingly close loss to Texas Tech on Friday, Oklahoma presents quite the conundrum. The Sooners have three excellent wins (Baylor, Texas Tech and Arkansas) plus six solid Quadrant 2 wins. But they are just 12-15 against the top three quadrants.
This resume reminds me a lot of the Florida team that got a No. 10 seed in 2019. Those Gators were 19-15 with two really good wins away from home against LSU (which earned a No. 3 seed), a decent home win over Ole Miss (No. 8 seed), and that's about it. But they faced a tough schedule, finished with solid metrics (31 NET, 48.5 RES, 28.3 QUAL) and got in despite a 14-15 record against the top three quadrants.
However, the bubble was much less crowded in 2019 than it is this year.
Texas A&M's win over Arkansas knocked Oklahoma out of our projected field, and the Sooners fell even more convincingly out with Virginia Tech's win.
Fourth Team Out: Xavier Musketeers
18-13, NET: 41, RES: 52.5, QUAL: 49.3
It took impressive wins by Indiana, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Virginia Tech to finally make it happen, but Xavier dropped out of the projected field, in part because of that bad loss to Butler in the opening round of the Big East tournament.
The Musketeers do still have five Quadrant 1 wins keeping them afloat, but notably none of those victories came against the top half of Q1, which means they don't carry quite as much weight. Couple that with 13 losses and two Q3 losses, and things don't look good.
Fifth Team Out: Wake Forest Demon Deacons
23-9, NET: 48, RES: 56.5, QUAL: 40.3
It's hard to imagine a 23-win team from the ACC missing the dance, but who knew a 23-win team from the ACC could put together a resume this weak? Wake Forest is just 1-4 against Quadrant 1, with that lone win coming against Virginia Tech. (Which, to be fair, looks a lot better lately.) The Demon Deacons were also swept by Miami and suffered not-great regular-season losses to Clemson, Syracuse and Louisville.
And they saved their worst for last, immediately getting ousted from the ACC tournament by 13-20 Boston College. In addition to making the Q3 portion of its resume look worse, that loss cost Wake about half a dozen spots in all the metrics. For a team that entered the week teetering along the cut line, that's no bueno.
Also Under Consideration: BYU, VCU, North Texas
Kerry Miller covers men's college basketball and college football for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter: @kerrancejames.