Introducing: Connoracketology (Week 14)

This version of Connoracketology uses games played through Feb. 8, 2015

     Welcome to Connoracketology, where I attempt to predict the 68-team field for March Madness if the season ended today.  This weekly series will be replacing my weekly NFL picks series, and will come out every Monday, coinciding with the weekly AP Poll Rankings until the Monday before Selection Sunday, when the actual 68-team field is announced.
     For those unfamiliar with this idea, and probably wondering what the heck the name of this series means, here’s the basics.  Bracketology is the word sports fans use for the science of predicting which teams will make it into March Madness.  People such as Joe Lunardi of ESPN, and Jerry Palm of CBS Sports updated their predictions frequently and are used as guides of how teams are doing, and how their likelihoods of making March Madness changes over time.  I’ve attempted to do the same as Lunardi and Palm, but with my own opinion’s on each team.
     Let me tell you, this was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done for the blog.  The process started on Thursday with me making a list of the automatic qualifiers and then using all kinds of data to select the at-large bids, to create my 68 team field, as well as giving each team a range of seeds I felt they would be appropriate in.  On Friday I created my first seeding of the teams.  Saturday and Sunday I spent watching games and making note of who should move up and down.  Today, I updated a few automatic qualifiers which had changed and re-seeded the teams. Very few teams stayed in their same exact position, and two new teams entered the field.
     The field is comprised of 32 teams which are automatic qualifiers, meaning they have the best record in their conference (bolded), and 36 at-large bids which are the best remaining teams from all the other conferences.  Teams participating in play-in games, which are the four worst at-large teams and automatic qualifiers will be italicized in the list.
     The list reads top to bottom, from 1 seeds through 16 seeds, and from left to right within the seeds.  For instance, the first team in the 1 seed category is better than the second team in that category, and so forth.
     Without further ado, here is my tournament field if the season ended now.

1s:  Kentucky, Virginia, Duke, Gonzaga
2s:  Wisconsin, Villanova, Kansas, Arizona
3s:  Louisville, Utah, North Carolina, Iowa St
4s:  Notre Dame, Baylor, Oklahoma, Northern Iowa
5s:  Wichita St, VCU, Butler, Maryland
6s:  West Virginia, Arkansas, Providence, Ohio State
7s:  Georgetown, SMU, Georgia, Oklahoma St
8s:  Indiana, Cincinnati, Xavier, San Diego St
9s:  Texas, Ole Miss, Iowa, Stanford
10s: Texas A&M, Dayton, Michigan St, Colorado St
11s: Seton Hall, LSU, Tulsa, Old Dominion, Illinois
12s:  Temple, St. Johns, Stephen F. Austin, Wofford, Murray St
13s:  Harvard, Iona, Louisiana Tech, Bowling Green
14s:  Valparaiso, William & Mary, UC Davis, NC Central
15s:  High Point, Albany, New Mexico St, UL Monroe

16s:  North Dakota St, Sacramento St, St Francis, North Florida, Colgate, Alabama St
First Four Out: George Washington, Purdue, Miami (Fl), Rhode Island
Next Four Out: UCLA, Boise St, Oregon, NC State
Barely Hanging: Davidson, BYU, Green Bay, St. Mary’s
# of Tournament Bids by Conference:
Big 12: 7
Big East: 7
Big Ten: 7
SEC: 6
ACC: 5 (and weirdly none worse than a 4 seed)
American: 4
Atlantic 10: 3
PAC-12: 3
Conference USA: 2
Missouri Valley: 2
Mountain West: 2
21 others: 1

Bracket Notes:
     I am fully aware that most people see Gonzaga as the #3 overall team in the field, ahead of Duke, but in this instance I felt that Duke’s recent performances in huge wins over Virginia and Notre Dame pull them up more so than Gonzaga was pulled down.  There is a large gap between Gonzaga at #4 overall and Wisconsin at #5.
     It was interesting filling out the 2-4 seeds in the bracket because while I was expecting tons of change over my rough draft from Friday, many teams lost over the weekend, including Kansas, Arizona, Lousiville, Notre Dame, Maryland, West Virginia and VCU.  Many other teams lost earlier in the week, namely North Carolina and Iowa State.  As a result, the #2 line stayed the same except in a different order, and the only real gains were made by the few teams that didn’t lose, such as Utah and Baylor, who were able to jump several spots.
     This is unrelated, but I feel this year there will be a large number of automatic qualifiers that knock off top teams.  Many of the 3-5s seem a bit weak to me, and 12 seeds like Murray State and Stephen F. Austin are scary, as well as 14s like UC Davis and Valparaiso.
     Comment or message me with any questions about why I seeded teams where I did, or why I didn’t include a team in the field.

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