2013 Mens’ college basketball tournament bracketology – 1/21 to 1/27

Kansas Jayhawks guard Ben McLemore (23) leaves the court after the game against the Iowa State Cyclones at Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas won the game 97-89 in overtime. (John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports)

Well I’ve crunched the numbers and this is my latest effort.  Two newcomers that might shock you, but I like the Red Storm outta Saint John’s and that Iowa Hawkeye team after a solid win against Wisconsin to go along with the victory against Iowa State.  Wyoming is back in after a week’s absence and Washington drops out thanks to some sloppy play.  As always, sound off below!

1 Seeds: Duke, Michigan, Syracuse, Kansas

Duke is obviously the top seed in the entire field and Michigan/Syracuse are locks.  Kansas and Louisville are essentially interchangeable but I like Kansas thanks to wins over Ohio State and Belmont by just a hair.  They have a big game at Kansas State on the Jan. 22, though, and that will determine how long they stay in this group.

2 Seeds: Louisville, Arizona, Indiana, Butler

Butler’s fantastic win over Gonzaga gives them a huge boost.  If you are going to have Indiana as a two, how can you have a team that beat them behind them?  Butler now boasts wins over those Bulldogs and Hoosiers to go along with Marquette and North Carolina.  They also have a stacked A-10 to go through so if they keep winning, they can stay this high (or even better).  Don’t forget, Saint Joe’s was a 1-seed when they had Jameer Nelson and Delonte West.

3 Seeds: Florida, Michigan State, Kansas State, Gonzaga

MSU is over-seeded right now based on their standings, but they have wins over Ohio State, Kansas, Boise State and Iowa as well as some stout computer numbers.

4 Seeds: Ohio State, Oregon, New Mexico, Minnesota

The Ducks are trending up while the Gophers are trending down.  Lot of fluidity in this group.  Did you know that the Lobos have a 7th-ranked RPI, 8th-ranked SOS, boast a 16-2 mark with wins over UNLV, Boise and Cincy yet are ranked just 15th-overall nationally? What’s up with that?!

5 Seeds: Creighton, NC State, VCU, Wichita State

Creighton, VCU and WSU and an up tempo Wolfpack team?  Now this is a fun group of teams. Of the four, VCU’s vicious defense makes them the scariest in this blogger’s humble opinion.

6 Seeds: Cincy, Ole Miss, Notre Dame, Miami (Fl)

The pair of Big East teams are trending down while SEC power Mississippi and ACC power Miami are rising.  I’m using the word “power” very liberally there.

Missouri Tigers head coach Frank Haith during the first half at Mizzou Arena. The Georgia Bulldogs fell to the Missouri Tigers 79-62. (Dak Dillon-USA TODAY Sports)

7 Seeds: Missouri, Marquette, Colorado State, UCLA

UCLA’s computer numbers aren’t great but did you know they are now 16-2?  The worry now could be they are peaking too soon.  Missouri is in a world of trouble losing to a similarly ranked Florida team by 31.  That’s a joke.  With the upcoming NCAA investigation of their coach, distractions are certainly a possibility.

[Related >> In-depth look at the investigation into Mizzou coach Frank Haith]

8 Seeds: UNLV, SDSU, Wisconsin, North Carolina

UNLV and SDSU’s computer numbers (and records) should put them in the top 25 and much higher in the seed pecking order. Yet, for some reason the amazing Mountain West still has its doubters.  Wisconsin is in with the eye test (I think the incredible comeback to make a game of it in Iowa City was almost as impressive as the Indiana win).  North Carolina has the 34th RPI and the 20th SOS — no way a team with that pedigree, brand name, CPU numbers and a part of a power league gets snubbed.

9 Seeds: Iowa State, Wyoming, Illinois, Rutgers

First the bright spots of this group. Wyoming rebounded in a big way with an impressive win over SDSU and Rutgers is putting together a nice season.  Illinois though, wow.  After an impressive start, the Illini is now 1-4 in the league with bad losses to Northwestern and Purdue.  Iowa State has a wait-and-see feeling to me.  They have a nice record and decent computer figures but that 0-3 record against ranked teams so far has to pick up.  Next up for them in terms of ranked teams, K-State in Ames.  Time to step it up, Cyclones.

10 Seeds: Belmont, Oklahoma, Temple, Baylor

First off, Belmont is getting dinged by the committee and impressions around the nation since their league is the Ohio Valley.  In a blind bracket, their resume (23 RPI, 38 SOS and a big win over Middle Tennessee State) they would be much better than 10th.  Oklahoma’s computer numbers are fantastic but they are winless against ranked teams, have a bad loss to Arkansas and a loss to Stephen F. Austin — I don’t buy the 21/15 RPI/SOS.  So what does this show?  That computer numbers can help clubs like Belmont and should be taken lightly when the eye test doesn’t match.  Have a headache yet?  I do.

11 Seeds: Oklahoma State, La Salle, Iowa

Outside that NC State win before Thanksgiving, what exactly have the Cowboys done?  This is a tournament to determine the best team in college hoops, not one rewarding teams for a single win two months ago.  As for La Salle and the Cougars, both have top 40 RPIs and decent SOS, better than teams like Georgetown (57/90) or Kentucky (52/43).  As for Iowa, yes their RPI isn’t as good as some of those Big East teams, the Hoyas included, but it isn’t that far away, they also are playing in the premiere basketball league, so they’ll get a pass.

12 Seeds: Middle Tennessee State, Bucknell, BYU

Bucknell is a lot like Belmont in that they have fantastic computer numbers but will inevitably drop because of their league.  To get a high seed from these leagues you really need to go 28-1, 27-2; something like Murray State did a season ago.

13 Seeds: Stephen F. Austin, North Dakota State, Louisiana Tech, Southern Miss

Louisiana Tech’s RPI is much better than a 13-seed but I’m not jazzed by that 240 SOS.  Similar story for Southern Miss.

14 Seeds: Long Beach State, Harvard, Valparaiso, Akron

Its the sad state of the MAC that their league leader right now is a 14-seed but that’s how it goes.  That Ohio team that was such a popular pick (and I’m guilty of if too) has a 130 RPI and a 264 SOS — yikes.

15 Seeds: Northeastern, Davidson, Weber State, Bryant

When the Colonial’s leader is 129th in RPI with the 150th-ranked schedule, it really puts it into perspective with how far this league has fallen with VCU bolting, George Mason/Old Dominion struggling and Drexel/Delaware major disappointments in their season to shine.

Kentucky Wildcats guard Nerlens Noel (3) completes a slam dunk during the first half against the Auburn Tigers at Auburn Arena. The Wildcats beat the Tigers, 75-53. (John Reed-USA TODAY Sports)

16 Seeds: Niagara, Albany

Niagara has now moved ahead in the MAAC as no team can hold onto momentum for more than a week, so it would seem.  Albany has reclaimed the top spot after Stony Brook stumbled against Vermont (tied with Albany atop the standings).

Play-in for 16: Stetson vs Norfolk State and Southern vs Charleston Southern

Stetson is under .500 and Norfolk is right at it.  Duke would love to see either.

Play-in for 12: Colorado vs Kentucky

A fantastic First Four game in Dayton.  You have Wildcat nation a short drive away and a power-league match-up.  As for why Colorado (18/5 RPI/SOS) is here, look at the schedule:  2-4 in the Pac 12, which isn’t fully recovered; a win over CSU and a win over shaky Baylor.  Moral victories (Arizona/UCLA) don’t cut it.  Super over-inflation by the CPU.  They are a good example of how those numbers can only go so far.

Play-in for 11: Memphis vs Saint John’s

Memphis’ SOS (96th) is harming them in a big way by sending them to the First Four.  The Red Storm have the best SOS (33rd) of the teams remaining in the hunt and since I like teams that go out and play, I’ll give them the nod — just barely.  They can score a big win at Rutgers on the Jan. 23 and then a string of winnable ones before that grueling road trip to Syracuse and Louisville in back-to-back outings.

Last 5 In (order of safety):

La Salle
Saint John’s

First 5 Out:
Pittsburgh–Good record, good RPI, horrid SOS (95th).  Also their best win is Georgetown.
Georgetown–The free fall continues.  The RPI is now worse than Pitt’s and the SOS is only 90th.
Texas A&M–If picked blind, the Aggies would probably have made it, but the fact is they had a horrid week with losses to Alabama and a 21-point spanking by Florida.  They also got killed by Saint Louis in the non-con.
Boise State–With an SOS outside 100, you really can’t afford to lose games like the one they dropped to Air Force.  They can get a bounce back on Jan. 30, though, when they go to Colorado State.  Knocking off the Rams in Fort Collins would be huge.
Maryland–Great record but the RPI is in the high 60s and the SOS is outside 125; not a tournament team yet.
Washington–70 RPI with a 62 SOS, those are workable numbers.  Here’s the bigger problem: 12-6 with bad losses to Utah, Nevada and Albany.

Next 5 Out:
Charlotte–Great record, solid RPI but that schedule; ugly.  173 won’t cut it.
UMass–Nearly identical RPI to Charlotte, but a better schedule.  Guess who they get to end the month?  At La Salle and at Charlotte, two teams they are looking up at right now.  Safe to say that stretch, coupled with four winnable home games before and after that pair is crucial for the Minutemen.
Saint Mary’s–A top 68 RPI is a nice place to start, but the schedule isn’t pretty (163) plus is the selection committee really going to put three WCC teams in?
Florida State–Similar story as Washington but with an even better schedule.  Their bad losses might be even uglier: South Alabama, Mercer, Auburn and Virginia.
Xavier–Don’t look now but the Musketeers have taken four straight, including wins over Temple and La Salle.  They still have work to do, a lot frankly, but they do have that win over Butler in their back pocket and don’t face a ranked team until VCU in late February meaning they can string together plenty of wins.

Sniffing around:
Arizona State, Villanova, Saint Louis: Neither of them are that far out from being in the top 68.  Villanova even has a respectable 48th ranked schedule.  The tale of the tape is they don’t have enough good wins so far.  ASU has a 14-4 mark, but didn’t really play anyone.  Nova had that tough schedule and didn’t really beat anyone.  Saint Louis is a mix, but is not in a power league.  You know I love the A-10 but is the committee really going to put five teams in?

As for the OVC:

So last week I had two teams in, that was with Murray winning and Belmont getting the at-large.  With Belmont now in first place, the OVC will most likely be a one-bid league.  Still, Murray, Tennessee State and Eastern Kentucky are all good enough to upset Belmont in the title game, meaning several power league teams will be sweating it out on Selection Sunday.

31 League Champions
27 “Power” At Larges
10 “Mid-major” At Larges

League Breakdown:
8 – Big Ten
7 – Big East
6 – Big 12
5 – Mountain West
4 – A-10, ACC, Pac 12, SEC
2 – C-USA, Missouri Valley, WCC
1 – 20 leagues

Latest AP basketball rankings have been released