Conference Tournament Predictions.

March is upon us. The lead-up to the Big Dance will commence this week in the form of Conference Tournaments. Let’s look at the brackets for this week and who should be favorited to take home the tournament championships along with some dark horses to keep an eye on.

AAC

Regular Season

The Wichita State Shockers took home the regular-season trophy finishing 11-2 in conference play.


My Prediction: Houston (2 seed)

Houston actually had 3 more conference wins than the Shockers and only one more loss. This is what happens in a COVID season though. Regardless, the metrics back Houston to be the much better team and they will be playing for seeding coming down the home stretch before March Madness. This is a physical Houston team that has been dominant of late. Look for them to meet Wichita State in the finals and win in dominating fashion.

Team to watch: Memphis Tigers


ACC

Regular Season

The Virginia Cavaliers took home the regular-season trophy finishing 13-4 in conference play.


My Prediction: Florida State (2 seed)

This is a tournament that could go a lot of different ways. It is quite possible that the six seeded Tar Heels could come out on top. That being said, I would put my money on Florida State. The Seminoles are coming off a tough road loss to Notre Dame and their play in the conference tournament will influence their seeding for March Madness. I have faith in Leonard Hamilton and the high powered offense that ranks 10th in the country in Adjo.

Team to watch: North Carolina Tar Heels


Big 12

Regular Season

The Baylor Bears took home the regular-season trophy finishing 13-1 in conference play.


My Prediction: Baylor (1 seed)

Baylor will have a very tough conference tournament schedule, but nothing that the Bears can’t handle. Apart from a loss at Kansas, they have looked dominant the entire season. If they can hold off a hot Oklahoma State team I would expect them to get their revenge against Kansas in the championship round of the tournament. The Bears have the 3rd best offense in the country and a respectable defense to back it up.

Team to watch: Oklahoma State


Big East

Regular Season

The Villanova Wildcats took home the regular-season trophy finishing 11-4 in conference play.

My Prediction: UConn (3 seed)

James Bouknight. That is really all you need to know. The Sophomore guard is one of the best players in the country. After returning from injury in mid February, the Huskies are 5-1 winning in dominating fashion for the most part. With the injury to Villanova’s star point guard it would seem that UConn has a great chance to compete for the conference tournament championship. They will be a fun team to watch under the leadership of Dan Hurley down the stretch of March.

Team to watch: St. John’s



Big Ten

Regular Season

The Michigan Wolverines took home the regular-season trophy finishing 14-3 in conference play.

My prediction: Illinois (2 seed)

This conference tournament will represent around 15% of the March Madness bracket. You can say what you want about the Big Ten but it is unarguably the best conference in the country. The Illini are hot and the Wolverines are not coming down the home stretch. Look for Illinois to continue their climb to the top as they fight for a #1 seed in March Madness. It will be worth watching the Michigan State Spartans as they come off a win against Michigan, they still seem unlikely to win the tournament but I would never count Izzo out.

Team to watch: Michigan State



SEC

Regular Season

The Alabama Crimson Tide took home the regular-season trophy finishing 16-2 in conference play.

My Prediction: Arkansas (2 seed)

This will be a great conference tournament. It will likely be a rematch between Arkansas and Alabama to decide the outcome. That being said, I wouldn’t count out Ole Miss, Kentucky, or LSU. I struggled to make this decision but I decided to go with the Hogs who are one of the hottest teams in the country. Either way, the finals of the SEC tournament will be high-powered and could drastically impact seeding for March Madness. If it is Arkansas/Alabama, the winner would likely secure the #2 seed in March Madness while the loser would fall to the #3 seed.

Team to watch: Ole Miss



Pac 12

Regular Season

The Oregon Ducks took home the regular-season trophy finishing 14-4 in conference play.

My Prediction: USC (2 seed)

I love the Trojans this year. Led by the 7-foot freshman phenom, Evan Mobley, they have put together a good regular season. They are the best team from a metrics standpoint in their conference and have more experience than an Oregon team that has been plagued with cancellations. I really see Oregon and USC as the only real threats to win this tournament and we will likely see them meet in the finals. I expect the staunch USC defense to slow down the Ducks in a relatively close battle to finish the season heading into the Big Dance.

Team to watch: UCLA

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Selection Sunday



6 Teams That Can Make the Final 4 Outside of the AP Top 4

As we approach Selection Sunday, let’s take a look at a few teams that have Final 4 potential based on metrics, trajectory, and the good ol’ eye test.

Resources:


AP Top 4:

1. Gonzaga — 2. Michigan — 3. Baylor — 4. Illinois


The Prospects

Houston 20-3 (14-3)

One thing we know for certain is this team is tough. While they do hold a pair of strange losses, at Tulsa and at East Carolina, they have dominated lesser opponents of late. They have won their last three games by a combined 108 points. They are led by star guard Quentin Grimes who is averaging 18 points per game with 6 rebounds per game. They take a balanced approach with the 10th ranked offense and 5th ranked defense in adjusted efficiency. Their defense has held teams to the lowest effective field goal percentage in the country.

Kelvin Sampson has the Cougars sitting at 4th in Ken Pom as they are dominating teams down the stretch. They lack any serious resume builders apart from a neutral floor victory over Texas Tech in November. That being said their recent dominance should not go unnoticed. If they enter the Big Dance off of a conference tournament championship they will be one of the hottest teams in the country. While they are still searching for a marquee win, this team looks ready to compete with anyone come March Madness.

Iowa 18-7 (12-6)

The roller coaster that is Hawkeye basketball is coming off a dominant win at Ohio State. This past week has been an illustration of Iowa’s inconsistency this season. The metrics still love their offense that ranks 2nd in adjusted efficiency. While their defense has seen slight improvement it is still subpar for a tournament team.

Iowa is a school no one wants to see in the Big Dance. They may also have the largest gap between floor and ceiling in College Basketball. This is a team that could truly get knocked out in the first round or make a run to the Finals. I would expect at least a Sweet 16 appearance with the potential to make the Final 4 if they can shore up their defensive efforts.

Alabama 20-6 (15-2)

Nate Oats squad may have sputtered a little of late but they seem to be back on track with two dominant wins this past week. They rely on their defense which ranks 3rd in the country. Their offense has struggled recently as they continue to push the ball at a rapid pace (14 seconds a possession). As they return to full strength expect them to be favorites to win the SEC Tournament where they could likely face a red hot Razorback team.

The Tide can truly hang with anyone in the country and have a high floor. With no true bad losses since conference play expect this team to at least make the Sweet 16. They are a team that can knock off some of the best in the country with suffocating defense and a dangerous three-point attack. I like the Tide to make a deep run in March and make an appearance in the Elite 8.

Ohio State 18-7 (12-7)

Yes, the Buckeyes have lost three in a row. They could very well finish the regular season with four straight losses as they face Illinois to finish the season. All that being said, they still hold wins at Iowa, at Wisconsin, and at Illinois. This is a dangerous team that also competed for 40 minutes against Michigan. They have a similar balance to Iowa with a dangerous offense mixed with a lackluster defense.

The Buckeyes may be trending down, but it has been against good competition. This is still a team with plenty of talent that is well-coached by Chris Holtmann. Regardless of how they finish the regular season, I would be shocked if they did not at least make it to the Sweet 16 with a good chance of making the Elite 8 or Final 4.

Arkansas 20-5 (12-4)

On January 16th this would have felt like a joke as the Hogs suffered their second blowout loss in a week. Since then the Razorbacks have won 10 straight conference games including each of their best resume builders. Their defense has continued to improve and has climbed to 13th in the country. During this stretch the Arkansas offense has shot up in efficiency from the mid 60’s to 26th in the country.

The Hogs are quite possibly the hottest team in the country right now as they seem to improve with every passing victory. They will have an extremely high floor in March Madness as they are yet to suffer a “bad” loss. Don’t be surprised if the Hogs to take care of business early in March Madness and earn their first Sweet 16 bid since 1996. That being said, apart from a home win against Alabama the Hogs have not proven to be giant killers. They will likely not be favorites in any game beyond the Sweet 16 should they advance to that point.

Loyola Chicago 21-4 (16-2)

Yes, the same Loyola Chicago that shocked the world with a Final 4 run in 2018. The Ramblers will yet again pose a threat to many teams this March. They have the 2nd best defensive efficiency in the country which could prove dangerous against a team like Iowa or Ohio State later in the tournament should the teams meet. Their offense runs through the massive 6’9 255 pound senior forward, Cameron Krutwig. For his size and strength, he moves well and plays a key role in their pick and roll offense averaging 15 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.

The Ramblers may lack any resume-building wins but they have taken care of business the majority of the season. They will certainly be one of the most difficult teams to project this year, but I have faith in head coach Porter Moser. I will not make any guarantees other than the Ramblers will make it out of the Round of 64. Other than that this team remains a dangerous mystery, but don’t be shocked if you see Sister Jean highlighting the later rounds of March Madness this year.

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March Madness

D1CollegeHoops.com Top 25 Rankings

Drag and drop, in rank order from right to left, your Top 25 Power Rankings. When you submit your response it will tell you how many rankings you have in common with the latest AP Top 25. I will be able to compile the results mid-way through the week and share the results of the Followers of D1CollegeHoops Top 25.

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Bracketology: SEC Outlook Update

A look into which teams have hopes of making the Big Dance as they enter the backstretch of regular season play.

*Seeding is provided from bracketmatrix.com where they have compiled rankings from over 30 leading bracketologists based on past accuracy*

Resources:


The Prospects

Alabama 18-6 (13-2)

Best Seed: 2 // Worst Seed: 3 // Consensus: 2

The Tide are still looking like they will easily finish as the regular season conference champions in SEC. That being said, Nate Oats team has sputtered of late. Most recently they fell by 15 points to the Razorbacks in Fayetteville. They still are far and away the best team in the SEC from a metrics standpoint with the 29th ranked AdjO and 4th ranked AdjD.

My prediction: 3, Alabama is a very dangerous team for many reasons. They shoot a ton of threes and make 36% of them. They pair their fast-paced offense with lockdown defense that works to push teams late into the shot clock. I like Alabama against the majority of the teams in the country but they need to right the swaying ship before March. I see this as a team that can beat anyone and has Final 4 potential. I don’t like their chances against the likes of Gonzaga/Baylor/Michigan.

Floor: Sweet 16 // Ceiling: NCAA Championship // Guess: Elite 8

Arkansas 18-5 (10-4)

Best Seed: 3 // Worst Seed: 8 // Consensus: 5

The Hogs currently hold the SEC’s longest conference winning streak at eight wins. Many were worried after the 2-4 start to conference play but the doubters have since been silenced. They have relied on a stingy defense, ranked 15th in the country, to attack teams weaknesses. Eric Musselman has proven to be one of the best coaches in the conference this year as Arkansas looks prepared each and every game.

My prediction: 4, The red hot Razorbacks look to continue their success against LSU at home this Saturday. If they can win out in the regular season and win a game in the SEC tournament they will be positioned to earn a 3 seed. Regardless of seeding, they are one of the hottest teams in all of college basketball that looks poised to compete with nearly anyone. The Hogs have won every game they have been predicted to win so I see them with a high floor with a decent ceiling come March.

Floor: Sweet 16 // Ceiling: Final 4 // Guess: Sweet 16

Tennessee 16-6 (9-6)

Best Seed: 4 // Worst Seed: 8 // Consensus: 5

The Volunteers rely on their 3rd ranked defense and a slow pace. This has led to a respectable season. However, some would consider it to be an underperformance for a highly anticipated Tennessee team led by Rick Barnes. They struggle to score at times and are coming off a recent home loss to Kentucky where they were ultimately dismantled over 40 minutes of play.

My prediction: 5, The Volunteers have taken care of business for the most part against inferior teams but lacks any big wins at the moment. They are a team that should make it past the the round of 64 but does not seem to have high upside. That being said, they do have two five start freshman who are liable to change the trajectory of this team down the stretch.

Floor: Round of 32 // Ceiling: Elite 8 // Guess: Sweet 16

Missouri 14-7 (7-7)

Best Seed: 5 // Worst Seed: OUT // Consensus: 6

The Tigers have been very uninspiring of late. They suffered three straight losses including two with their star forward, Jeremiah Tilmon, missing due to a death in the family. Missouri is an interesting team that could move anywhere in seeding over the next few weeks. They don’t impress from a metrics standpoint, 39th AdjO and 65th AdjD, but that doesn’t take into account Tilmon’s absence.

My prediction: 10, The Tigers have to face Florida and LSU to finish up the season. If they drop both they will very much be a bubble team. I am surprised anyone has this team above the 8/9 line and see them ending up somewhere between 8-10. I think they sneed into March Madness to find an early exit.

Floor: OUT // Ceiling: Round of 32 // Guess: Round of 64

Florida 12-6 (8-5)

Best Seed: 5 // Worst Seed: 10 // Consensus: 7

Florida is a very balanced team, 34th AdjO and 26th AdjD, that has done well so far this year. Their resume stacks up nicely with wins at West Virginia and at home against Tennessee and LSU. Apart from a pari of ugly losses (Kentucky and South Carolina) the Gators look poised for post season play.

My prediction: 6, I like the Gators. They use a nice blend of guard play and are good in the paint as well. Their balanced approach leaves few weaknesses. Look for the Gators to surprise some teams down the stretch.

Floor: Round of 64 // Ceiling: Elite 8 // Guess: Sweet 16

LSU 14-7 (9-5)

Best Seed: 6 // Worst Seed: OUT // Consensus: 8

Will Wade is managing to waste a very talented LSU team yet again. They are as talented as anyone in the conference but have not performed at a high level. They have a dangerous offense, 7th AdjO, but struggle on defense with the 155th ranked AdjD. They have two opportunities to improve their resume to end the season at Arkansas and against Missouri.

My prediction: 7 The Tigers success will depend heavily on their seeding. They truly have the talent to beat anyone in the country but are inconsistent. They may be the toughest team to predict in March Madness. If they end up on the 8/9 line I would not want them in my bracket as a 1 seed.

Floor: Round of 64 // Ceiling: Final 4 // Guess: Round of 32

Ole Miss 13-9 (8-7)

Best Seed: 11 // Worst Seed: OUT // Consensus: OUT

The Rebels are currently on the outside looking in. What seemed impossible has changed as they have won five of their last six. They have an easy last three games and would need all three to move into the tournament. They struggle offensively but hold the 17th best defense in the country. They are led by Devontae Shuler and Romello White.

My prediction: 11, I think Ole Miss could very well sneak into the tournament. While it is an uphill battle they have looked up to the challenge of late. No one is going to want to see this team in the SEC tournament. The Rebels are looking great but I wouldn’t consider them a serious threat in the tournament.

Floor: OUT// Ceiling: Round of 32 // Guess: Round of 64


Darkhorse:

I have said all year I am not counting Kentucky out. At this point it would take a conference tournament championship to make the Big Dance but that isn’t impossible. Calipari has the young Wildcats playing better almost every week. Most recently, Kentucky knocked off Tennessee on the road in domination fashion. Do not be surprised to see them in the conference finals in early March.

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Selection Sunday

Top 25 Power Rankings

Despite dealing with COVID-19, college basketball is about as entertaining as it has ever been this season. In a year where Blue Bloods have struggled we have seen a wide range of teams take the national spotlight. While Gonzaga, Baylor, and Michigan seem to be in a class of their own, that could change on any given night. I am a believer in using advanced metrics to evaluate talent, but there is obviously way more to it than that. Here are my 25 best teams in college basketball right now based on advanced metrics and how I view their current trajectory.

Resources



  1. Gonzaga (+1)
    The Zags are back on top as they continue their pursuit of a perfect season. On offense, they can score on all levels as they push the ball down the court. With the best effective FG% in the country while playing faster than almost any team, the Bulldogs look like favorites to win it all this season.
  2. Baylor (-1)
    “There is no such thing as a bad win”. Well… going down to the wire with a 2-17 Iowa State team is about as ugly of a win as you can get. Granted, they were coming off a lengthy COVID break. The Bears absolutely have the ability to win it all, but their last game finally separated them from Gonzaga’s dominance from a metrics standpoint.
  3. Michigan (–)
    The Wolverines are hot. With only one loss to a dangerous Minnesota team, they are not far behind Baylor at this point in time. Their win at Ohio State may be the most impressive performance by any team this season. Michigan relies on a good balance of offensive and defensive ability as they take a methodical approach in terms of pace.
  4. Ohio State (+1)
    Despite a loss at home, I still love this Ohio State team. Very similar to Iowa, they can hang with anyone with their elite scoring ability. That being said, they also struggle on defense where they rank 86the in AdjD. This is a team that no one will want to see in March and is being coached at an elite level.
  5. Illinois (-1)
    This is the least confident I have been about a top 5 team all year. The Illini are well balanced but rely too heavily on the play of Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn. If I am a 15 seed in the tournament I would be praying to match up with this team. At the same time, this team has the ability to hang with anyone but lacks consistency.
  6. Iowa (–)
    It is a thing of beauty to watch the Hawkeyes on offense. They have the best AdjO. in the country and are seriously dangerous from deep. Not to mention Luka Garza torturing every opposing big man he faces. It’s a mystery how they are so bad on defense but they can typically make up for it on the offensive end. Watch for a massive matchup tonight against Michigan.
  7. Houston (+3)
    The Cougars are a difficult team to get a read on. With losses to Tulsa, ECU, and Wichita State they have an ugly resume. It is worth noting that they perform very well metrically coming in at 5 on Ken Pom, 6 on NET, 7 on Sagarin, and 8 on Massey. Kelvin Sampson leads a physical squad that is good on both sides of the ball. Will be one of the most interesting teams to look for in March.
  8. USC (–)
    Evan Mobley. The 7’0 freshman is one of the best players in the country and possibly the best prospect in college basketball. Averaging 17 points per game with nearly 8 rebounds and 3 blocks he is as versatile as they come. The Trojans rank 19th in AdjO and 14th AdjD to round out a very good basketball team.
  9. Florida State (+3)
    Leonard Hamilton has to be one of the most underrated coaches in basketball. The Seminoles weaponize the three-point shot to create a powerful offensive attack. Florida State has won their last four games and nine of its last ten. Their resume isn’t anything special but includes wins over Virginia, Florida, and North Carolina.
  10. Alabama (-3)
    The Tide have sputtered a little of late but are still a very formidable opponent. They push the ball on offense as fast as almost anyone in the country. This paired with their 4th ranked defense makes for a dangerous team. With a blend of height and experience, they are not easily rattled and are never out of a contest with their three-point ability.
  11. Villanova (-1)
  12. Creighton (+1)
  13. Wisconsin (+2)
  14. Arkansas (+4)
    The Razorbacks may very well be the hottest team in the country right now. They are riding an 8 game conference win streak with all of their resume-building wins in the last couple of weeks. With the emergence of Justin Smith, Jalen Tate, Devo Davis, Jaylin Williams, and Connor Vanover this last month they have as much depth as almost anyone in college basketball. All of that being said, Hog fans may need to pump the brakes a little bit. I have seen far too many “Final 4” tweets over the last 24 hours. The Razorbacks have moved into the 5 seed line in most bracketologists minds, but this is college basketball, who is to say what will happen over the next few weeks. One thing you can count on is Eric Musselman will have his players prepared as they can possibly be going into each game. The Hogs are looking like a team with a floor in the round of 32 and a ceiling as high as the Elite 8.
  15. West Virginia (+2)
  16. Virginia (-8)
  17. Tennesee (-3)
  18. Kansas (+3)
  19. Purdue (+3)
  20. Texas (+1)
  21. Texas Tech (-3)
  22. Loyola-Chicago (Newly Ranked)
  23. BYU (Newly Ranked)
  24. Colorado (-8)
  25. Oklahoma (-5)

Dropped from Rankings: San Diego State and LSU

Biggest Movers Up: Arkansas +4

Biggest Movers Down: Colorado/Virginia -8

Who’s Hot?

The Razorbacks have won their last 8 conference games. On Wednesday night they knocked off No. 6 Alabama by 15 points.


Who’s Not?

The Cavaliers have dropped their last three games. Including a 21 point loss to Florida State and a 7 point loss to NC State at home.

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Selection Sunday

Top 25 Power Rankings

  1. Baylor 17-0 (9-0)

    Key Wins: n-Illinois, Oklahoma, @TCU, @Texas Tech, Kansas, @Oklahoma State, Auburn, @Texas
    Key Losses: TBD
  2. Gonzaga 21-0 (12-0)

    Key Wins: n-Kansas, n-Auburn, n-West Virginia, n-Iowa, n-Virginia, San Francisco, BYU, @Saint Mary’s, St. Mary’s
    Key Losses: TBD
  3. Michigan 15-1 (10-1)

    Key Wins: Penn State, @Maryland, Northwestern, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Maryland, @Purdue, @Wisconsin, Rutgers
    Key Losses: @Minnesota
  4. Illinois 15-5 (11-3)

    Key Wins: @Duke, Minnesota, @Penn State, Indiana, Purdue, @Northwestern, Penn State, Iowa, @Indiana, Wisconsin, Northwestern
    Key Losses: n-Baylor, @Missouri, @Rutgers, Maryland, Ohio State
  5. Ohio State 18-4 (12-4)

    Key Wins: n-UCLA, Rutgers, @Rutgers, Northwestern, @Illinois, @Wisconsin, Penn State, Michigan State, @Iowa, @Maryland, Indiana, @Penn State
    Key Losses: @Purdue, @Northwestern, @Minnesota, Purdue
  6. Iowa 16-6 (10-5)

    Key Wins: North Carolina, Purdue, Northwestern, @Rutgers, Minnesota, @Northwestern, Michigan State, Rutgers, @Michigan State, @Wisconsin
    Key Losses: n-Gonzaga, @Minnesota, Indiana, @Illinois, Ohio State, @Indiana
  7. Alabama 17-5 (12-1) +1

    Key Wins: Ole Miss, @Tennessee, Florida, Auburn, @Kentucky, Arkansas, @LSU, Mississippi State, Kentucky, LSU
    Key Losses: n-Stanford, n-Clemson, Western Kentucky, @Oklahoma, @Missouri
  8. Virginia 15-4 (11-2) +2

    Key Wins: @Clemson, Georgia Tech, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, @Georgia Tech, North Carolina
    Key Losses: n-San Francisco, n-Gonzaga, @Virginia Tech, @Florida State
  9. USC 18-3 (12-2) +4

    Key Wins: n-BYU, Utah, @Arizona, @Stanford, UCLA
    Key Losses: n-Connecticut, Colorado, @Oregon State
  10. Villanova 13-3 (8-2) -3

    Key Wins: @Texas, @Marquette, Seton Hall, Providence, @Seton Hall, Marquette
    Key Losses: n-Virginia Tech, @St. John’s, @Creighton
  11. Houston 17-3 (11-3) -2

    Key Wins: n-Texas Tech, @SMU, Wichita State, Tulsa, SMU
    Key Losses: @Tulsa, @East Carolina
  12. Florida State 12-3 (8-2) +3

    Key Wins: Indiana, Florida, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Clemson, Virginia
    Key Losses: UCF, @Clemson, @Georgia Tech
  13. Creighton 16-5 (12-4) +5

    Key Wins: @Connecticut, Xavier, @Providence, Seton Hall, Connecticut, @Seton Hall, @Marquette, Villanova
    Key Losses: @Kansas, Marquette, @Butler, Providence, Georgetown
  14. Tennessee 15-5 (10-6) -3

    Key Wins: Colorado, @Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi State, Kansas, @Kentucky
    Key Losses: Alabama, @Florida, Missouri, @Ole Miss, @LSU
  15. Wisconsin 15-8 (9-7) -3

    Key Wins: Rhode Island, Louisville, @Michigan State, Minnesota, Indiana, @Rutgers, Northwestern, @Maryland
    Key Losses: @Marquette, Maryland, @Michigan, Ohio State, @Penn State, @Illinois, Michigan, Iowa
  16. Colorado 16-7 (10-6) +1

    Key Wins: @USC, Oregon, Stanford, Arizona, @Stanford
    Key Losses: @Tennessee, @Arizona, @UCLA, @Washington, Utah, @California, @Oregon
  17. West Virginia 14-6 (7-4) -3

    Key Wins: Richmond, @Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Kansas, @Texas Tech
    Key Losses: n-Gonzaga, @Kansas, @Oklahoma, Texas, Florida, Oklahoma
  18. Texas Tech 14-6 (6-5) -2

    Key Wins: @Oklahoma, @Texas, @LSU, Oklahoma
    Key Losses: n-Houston, Kansas, Oklahoma State, Baylor, @West Virginia, West Virginia
  19. Arkansas 17-5 (9-4) +5

    Key Wins: @Auburn, Auburn, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, @Kentucky, @Missouri, Florida
    Key Losses: Missouri, @Tennessee, @LSU, @Alabama, @Oklahoma State
  20. Oklahoma 13-5 (8-4)

    Key Wins: @TCU, West Virginia, TCU, Kansas, @Texas, Alabama, @West Virginia
    Key Losses: @Xavier, Texas Tech, @Baylor, @Kansas, @Texas Tech
  21. Texas 13-5 (7-4) -2

    Key Wins: n-Indiana, n-North Carolina, Oklahoma State, @Kansas, @West Virginia, TCU
    Key Losses: n-Villanova, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Baylor, @Oklahoma State
  22. Kansas 16-7 (10-5) +3

    Key Wins: n-Kentucky, Creighton, @Texas Tech, West Virginia, @TCU, Oklahoma, TCU, Oklahoma State
    Key Losses: n-Gonzaga, Texas, @Oklahoma State, @Baylor, @Oklahoma, @Tennessee, @West Virginia
  23. Purdue 14-8 (9-6) -2

    Key Wins: Ohio State, Maryland, @Michigan State, @Indiana, Penn State, @Ohio State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Michigan State
    Key Losses: n-Clemson, @Miami, @Iowa, @Rutgers, @Illinois, Michigan, @Maryland, @Minnesota
  24. San Diego State 16-4 (10-3) -2

    Key Wins: UCLA, @Arizona State, @Saint Mary’s
    Key Losses: BYU, Colorado State, @Utah State, @Utah State
  25. LSU 13-6 (8-4) NEW

    Key Wins: Ole Miss, Arkansas, @Mississippi State, Tennessee
    Key Losses: @Saint Louis, @Florida, Alabama, @Kentucky, Texas Tech, @Alabama

Dropped From Rankings: Loyola-Chicago

Arkansas Update:

Ken Pom: 22, Sagarin: 20, Massey: 23, NET: 24

The Razorbacks are rolling as they move down the homestretch. Riding a 7 game conference win streak, the Hogs have added a couple resume building wins. With wins at Kentucky, at Missouri, and home against Florida they have put themselves in great position for March Madness. At this point it seems like more of a question of where the Hogs will be seeded rather than if they will make the Big Dance. Arkansas fans will have to wait until Wednesday as their latest matchup with Texas A&M was postponed due to COVID in the Aggies program. The Wednesday meeting with Top 10 Alabama may very well be the biggest home game the Hogs have played in this century.

2021-03-14T18:00:00

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Selection Sunday

Conference Tournament Predictions.
March is upon us. The lead-up to the Big Dance will commence …
6 Teams That Can Make the Final 4 Outside of the AP Top 4
As we approach Selection Sunday, let's take a look at a few …

Jonah’s Top 25 (and Hog ranking)

Excited for the day that the I can remove the “and Hog ranking”, but until then here are my power rankings and an update on the Razorbacks. Also, today is that day.

Some resources I use to put these rankings together:


1. Baylor (–)

Baylor continues to impose their dominance as they cruise through their Big 12 schedule. The Bears hold the third highest AdjO as well as the third highest AdjD. They have won 15 of their 17 matchups by double digits.

Key Wins: n-Illinois, Oklahoma, @TCU, @Texas Tech, Kansas, @Oklahoma State, Auburn, @Texas
Key Losses: TBD

2. Gonzaga (–)

Gonzaga and Baylor are interchangeable at the top spot in the country. The Bulldogs are 2nd in AdjO and 5th in AdjD. The Zags are 10-0 in conference with an average winning margin of over 23 points. Look to see Gonzaga and Baylor matchup in the National Championship.

Key Wins: n-Kansas, n-Auburn, n-West Virginia, n-Iowa, n-Virginia, San Francisco, BYU, @Saint Mary’s
Key Losses: TBD

3. Michigan (–)

While only playing 14 games the Wolverines have racked up an impressive resume. Michigan is 8-1 in the first two Quadrants with their sole loss coming on the road to Minnesota who they also beat by double digits earlier in the season.

Key Wins: Penn State, @Maryland, Northwestern, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Maryland, @Purdue
Key Losses: @Minnesota

4. Illinois (+3)

The Illini are on a four game winning streak (all four Quad 1) in the toughest conference in America. Despite having five losses they have ranked very well in the metrics. Coming in at 8th offensively and 12th defensively. Their blend of talent across the floor make them a threat against anyone they face.

Key Wins: @Duke, Minnesota, @Penn State, Indiana, Purdue, @Northwestern, Penn State, Iowa, @Indiana, Wisconsin
Key Losses: n-Baylor, @Missouri, @Rutgers, Maryland, Ohio State

5. Ohio State (-1)

The Buckeyes are 8-1 over their last 9 games. They have an elite offense but struggle to defend, coming in at 64th in AdjD. Chris Holtmann has his team playing some of their best basketball down the stretch as they have strung together a handful of massive wins.

Key Wins: n-UCLA, Rutgers, @Rutgers, Northwestern, @Illinois, @Wisconsin, Penn State, Michigan State, @Iowa, @Maryland
Key Losses: @Purdue, @Northwestern, @Minnesota, Purdue

6. Iowa (–)

The Hawkeyes possess the best AdjO in the country but have issues on the defensive end. They have returned talented guard, C.J. Fredrick to their lineup and should finish strong if they remain healthy. With all of their weapons on offense they are good enough to beat anyone they face.

Key Wins: North Carolina, Purdue, Northwestern, @Rutgers, Minnesota, @Northwestern, Michigan State, Rutgers
Key Losses: n-Gonzaga, @Minnesota, Indiana, @Illinois, Ohio State, @Indiana

7. Villanova (+1)

The Wildcats, led by future Hall of Famer Jay Wright, are 13-2 and look the part for another NCAA Tournament run. Their 5th ranked offense runs at a slow pace as they wear down their opponents. If they can shore up on the defensive end the Wildcats could become dangerous in March.

Key Wins: @Texas, @Marquette, Seton Hall, Providence, @Seton Hall, Marquette
Key Losses: n-Virginia Tech, @St. John’s

8. Alabama (-3)

Apart from a brutal road loss to Missouri, the Tide have been dominant in conference play. Alabama pushes a quick tempo while their defense forces turnovers and ranks 1st in the country. This is the best team in the SEC by quite a margin and have real Giant Killer potential when they play in the Big Dance.

Key Wins: Ole Miss, @Tennessee, Florida, Auburn, @Kentucky, Arkansas, @LSU, Mississippi State, Kentucky, LSU, @South Carolina
Key Losses: n-Stanford, n-Clemson, Western Ketucky, @Oklahoma, @Missouri

9. Houston (+1)

After a mysterious loss to a bad ECU team the Cougars are back to dominating teams on both sides of the ball with their physicality. They rank 1st in offensive rebound percentage. The Cougars will not be intimidated by anyone and should be a real threat in tournament play.

Key Wins: n-Texas Tech, @SMU, Wichita State, Tulsa, SMU
Key Losses: @Tulsa, @East Carolina

10.Virginia (-1)

The Cavaliers are about as balanced as a team can be. In true Tony Bennett style, Virginia plays at the slowest tempo in country. This can frustrate teams who are used to playing at a faster pace. The Cavaliers have improved on the offensive end and look to make another deep run this season.

Key Wins: @Clemson, Georgia Tech, Syracuse, @NC State, Pittsburgh, @Georgia Tech
Key Losses: n-San Francisco, n-Gonzaga, @Virginia Tech

11. Tennessee (+3)

12. Wisconsin (–)

13. USC (+7)

14. West Virginia (+5)

15. Florida State (–)

16. Texas Tech (-5)

17. Colorado (+4)

18. Creighton (-2)

19. Texas (-6)

20. Oklahoma (-3)

21. Purdue (+1)

22. San Diego State (+4)

23. Loyola-Chicago (+2)

24. Arkansas (+5)

25. Kansas (-7)

Dropped From Rankings: Missouri & Florida

Clarification on Missouri:

Fact: I hate the University of Missouri.

Fact: They currently hold the largest gap between Avg. Metric Ranking and AP Ranking.

The Tigers are currently number 10 in the AP Poll. This is a testament to the fact that AP voters are not paying attention to advanced metrics. Missouri’s current rankings in a few of the most credited metric systems.

Ken Pom: 40, Sagarin: 40, Massey: 25, NET: 34

I make these rankings mainly based on metrics with a little bit of the eye test if I feel particularly strong about a teams ability. This is the most subjective way I can provide insight into where I think teams rank on a given week. Using this framework Missouri would have been the worst team in the top 25 by a substantial amount had I included them. That doesn’t mean I didn’t have a smile on my face when I added them to the “Dropped From Rankings” section.

Arkansas Update:

Ken Pom: 24, Sagarin: 23, Massey: 26 NET: 26

The Hogs did what they hadn’t done all season. Win a game they weren’t favored to win at the time of tip-off. The Razorback’s took Kentucky’s best shot and stood their ground. From a metrics standpoint the Hogs are a top 25 squad, and they have looked the part over the last few weeks. To this point Arkansas hasn’t shown the ability to beat any great teams, but will have an opportunity to prove themselves with a tough schedule down the stretch.

Jonah’s Top 25 (and Hog ranking)

Excited for the day that the I can remove the “and Hog ranking”, but until then here are my power rankings and an update on the Razorbacks.

Some resources I use to put these rankings together:


  1. Baylor: I have the Bears slightly edging out Gonzaga but they are both in a class of their own. At 16-0 (mainly in blowout fashion) Baylor has given fans no reason to doubt that they could win it all this year.
  2. Gonzaga: There are two certainties in this world: The sun will rise in the morning and Mark Few will have a dominant basketball team. At 18-0 with wins over Kansas, West Virginia, Iowa, and Virginia the Bulldogs aren’t just dominating the WCC. Smart money would see Gonzaga facing off against Baylor in a tossup come early April.
  3. Michigan: The Juwan Howard experiment is officially a success. Apart from a lopsided loss @Minnesota the Wolverines haven’t lost a basketball game. They hold wins over Wisconsin and Purdue. We will see what they’re made of down the stretch with some tough games upcoming.
  4. Ohio State: The Buckeyes high powered offense just went 12 rounds on the road against Iowa and pulled out a decisive victory. I have them a little higher than most statistical rankings and look for them to be a real threat if they can clean things up on defense. Chris Holtmann has things rolling in Columbus.
  5. Alabama: Since conference play has started the Crimson Tide are a perfect 10-0 in blowout fashion in every game other than a 94-90 win @Auburn. They have a dangerous offense and a very underrated defense that comes in at 3rd in the country. The Tide can beat anyone and look to be a threat in the Big Dance.
  6. Iowa: I would argue that the Hawkeyes have underperformed to this point. That being said they are 13-5 in the best conference in America. Their sole bad loss was to Minnesota who has proven to be a Giant Killer. With Garza being surrounded by the highest ranked offense in the country Iowa is a legit danger to anyone they face.
  7. Illinois: A very balanced team that scores the ball efficiently and gets back on defense. Weapons at every position makes them hard to stop on a given night. A big win over Iowa and a road win against Indiana have the Illini moving in the right direction.
  8. Villanova: Another year another great Jay Wright team. The Wildcats have a great win over Texas on the road and only one “bad loss”. There is no shame in losing to a Mike Anderson team that often surprises people in big games, but they were dominated that night in MSG. Look for them to bounce back and be 2 or 3 seed going into the tournament.
  9. Virginia: Slow tempo, half court offense, and a Tony Bennett defense make up a grind it out team in Charlottesville. The Cavaliers are missing a marquee win but have taken care of business since losing to San Francisco in late November. In an easier ACC this year they look to roll through the back half of their schedule.
  10. Houston: Kelvin Sampson’s squad was looking a lot more dangerous before dropping a game to a bad East Carolina team. Still, the Cougars hold the 5th ranked defense in the country and can rebound with anyone. Houston looks to bully teams with their physicality and will be a tough matchup for just about anyone in March.
  11. Texas Tech
  12. Wisconsin
  13. Texas
  14. Tennessee
  15. Florida State
  16. Creighton
  17. Oklahoma
  18. Kansas
  19. West Virginia
  20. USC
  21. Colorado
  22. Purdue
  23. Florida
  24. Missouri
  25. Loyola-Chicago

Arkansas: 29

KenPom: 26, Sagarin: 22, Massey: 33, Net: 30

The Hogs are a difficult team to get a grasp on this season to say the least. Their offense sputters at times and they often give up runs against even bad teams. That being said, the Razorbacks have more depth than they have had in a long time and are still 14-5 looking firmly in the field at the moment. They face @Kentucky, @Missouri, and get the Gators at home in the next three games. If the Hogs win two of the three you could see them crack into some of the top 25 rankings. With a difficult back half of the schedule things could go downhill fast or they could really make a statement. The Razorbacks just need to win the games they should to make the tournament but that is no easy task.

Cinderellas to Look for Before the Big Dance

02/03/21

Predicting an entire March Madness field is a little outside of my current capabilities. For now I am doing to look at 4 teams ranked outside of the top 10 that have real potential to make the Elite8/Final 4.

Texas Tech Red Raiders

The Red Raiders are led by Chris Beard who is quickly becoming a household name in College Basketball. They were fortunate to bring in star transfer Mac McClung to round off a solid lineup that defends very well and scores at a decent rate. Texas Tech plays at one of the slowest tempos in the country and can hang with anyone as long as they are able to control the pace of the game. They have solid wins @Oklahoma, @Texas, @LSU, and again at home over Oklahoma. They don’t have any “bad” losses apart from a home loss to a respectable Oklahoma State squad. This team has high floor around the Sweet 16 and truly has the ability to knock off anyone.

Illinois Fighting Illini

The Illini are looking better and better after a slow start to a highly anticipated season. With elite play at multiple positions they don’t seem to have any big weaknesses. They shoot the 3 ball at 39.7% to earn the 9th best percentage in the country to bolster their top 10 offense and they have a top 20 defense to match. What makes them so dangerous to me is their junior small forward Ayo Dosunmu. His quickness at 6-5 200 pounds is hard to matchup with and Illini make sure he has the ball in his hands (handling it in 85% of possessions). No one wants to see this team in March and we could very well see them in early April.

Virginia Cavaliers

Another year, another solid Tony Bennett squad. The Cavaliers are another team that plays at an extremely slow tempo to break teams down over the course of the game. Not many teams want to be in a half court battle with these guys but this isn’t all the Virginia of old. Unlike years past, Virginia is incredibly efficient on the offensive side of the ball. They have evolved into a team that can knock down the 3 ball (39.5% clip) and get back to set up their half court defense. They are missing a marquee win thus far to put on their resume and have suffered two bad losses to Gonzaga and San Francisco (yes, San Francisco). Still, they are a team everyone should keep an eye on when March comes around.

Loyola Chicago Ramblers

Yes, the same Ramblers who made the Final Four in 2018. The Ramblers rank decently on the offensive end and have put together a tremendous season containing opposing offenses bringing them to 5th in the country in defensive efficiency. They stick to a slow tempo on both sides of the ball and finish 2 point field goals at nearly a 60% clip (4th in the country). If Porter Moser’s Ramblers get the right matchups and play their style of game we could be looking at another run in the Big Dance. If I was Sister Jean I would clear my schedule for mid to late March.

Bracketology: SEC Outlook

02/02/21

The Southeastern Conference has long been known as a football conference. With an influx of respected new coaches the conference is now looking to make a name for itself as a serious contender in NCAA basketball. Beyond Kentucky the SEC is not exactly full of elite basketball schools and often is forgotten by the time March Madness roles around.

This year could be different for a lot of reasons. While the Blue Bloods of college basketball struggle we have seen what may very well be the strongest conference the SEC has put forth in recent history. The conference is ranked 3rd in the NCAA for first time since 2007 according to KenPom’s conference standings and they look poised to send six different schools to the big dance in 2021.

The Prospects

*Seeding is provided from bracketmatrix.com where they have compiled rankings from over 30 leading bracketoligists based on past accuracy*

Alabama Crimson Tide: 14-4 (9-0)

Best Seed: 1

Worst Seed: 4

Consensus: 2

The Crimson Tide must have decided football dominance wasn’t enough. In Nate Oat’s second season they have surged in SEC play boasting an undefeated record. This has bracketmatrix listing them as a solid 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. Three pointers make up over 40% of their points which is the 11th highest clip in the country. Behind a dangerous 3 point attack and the 8th ranked defense the Tide have all but locked up a spot in the Big Dance.

My Projection: 3 Teams are slowly figuring out their offense and living and dying by the 3 ball makes you vulnerable at all times. I imagine we see them drop a couple unexpected games down the stretch (that is relatively easy) to finish 21-6 and enter March Madness as a strong 3 seed and the SEC’s highest ranked team. Don’t be surprised if this team ends up in the Final 4 or if they get bounced by a mid major in the round of 64.

Tennessee Volunteers: 12-3 (5-3)

Best Seed: 2

Worst Seed: 5

Consensus: 3

After an incredibly hot start, Rick Barne’s Volunteers have sputtered in SEC play. It is difficult to pin point what is holding them back right now but they have the benefit of a potential hall of fame coach in Rick Barnes. This squad has found success by shutting down opponents earning them the 2nd highest defensive adjusted efficiency in the country.

My Projection: 4 After a 12-0 start we have seen this team struggle in recent games (other than a blowout win against Kansas). I like the experience and size and they have a top 3 (and he is not 3) coach in the conference. I have this squad finishing at 18-6 and being a high end 4 seed come march. This team will be poised for a sweet 16 run with a high floor (round of 32) but probably a ceiling around the Elite 8.

Missouri Tigers: 11-3 (4-3)

Best Seed: 2

Worst Seed: 7

Consensus: 4

Quick disclaimer: I hate the University of Missouri. I am trying my best to see good in this team but I am not exactly crazy about Cuonzo Martin’s best team in his tenure at Missouri. They have a balanced attack with an offense that ranks slightly higher in efficiency than their defense, and a team that spreads the scoring around. After a good start to the season and a huge win over a solid Illinois squad the Tigers are looking ready to play in the NCAA tournament in 2021.

My Projection: 9 Again, I hate the school so take this with a grain of salt I suppose. This team can be boring to watch but has a nice blend of experience and talent. With good depth and a balanced attack they can break opponents down and stick with some of the best in the country. Between a lackluster start to conference play and an a difficult back slate on their conference schedule I have the Tigers finishing at 15-8 and a high 9 seed in the tournament. Low upside but could potentially sneak their way into the Sweet 16.

Florida Gators: 10-4 (6-3)

Best Seed: 4

Worst Seed: 8

Consensus: 6

Mike White might be putting together his best coaching performance yet as the Gators are heating up coming into the back half of the SEC schedule. They’ve relied on offensive play with a respectable defense to win 7 of their last 10 games including a huge win over West Virginia this past weekend. With a solid offensive attack they can score the ball well and look to continue their recent success into the back half of SEC play.

My Projection: 4 The Gators have a relatively easy back half of the schedule and look poised to get better as the season moves on. I expect them to work their way to a 17-6 record and with a big wins over the likes of @West Virginia, Tennessee, and LSU already I expect them to climb to the 6 seed in March Madness. A team that can hang with the majority of the field but lacks true giant killer capabilities beyond the Sweet 16.

LSU Tigers 11-5 (6-3)

Best Seed: 7

Worst Seed: OUT

Consensus: 10

Will Wade (aka the American Gangster), has his Tiger’s in good form halfway through conference play. This team relies almost solely on offensive efficiency where they rank 6th in the country compared to their underwhelming defense (143rd). They are yet to put together a marquee win this season but will have ample opportunity over the next few weeks after dropping a heart breaker against a solid Texas Tech team.

My Projection: 8 Despite missing that one “big win” the Tigers are formidable opponent for anyone they cross. In college basketball having a high powered offense with a struggling defense is not ideal but it could position you to compete with some of the best teams in the country. I expect LSU to pick up a win against at least one (probably 2) of the following upcoming matchups: @Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, @Arkansas. Winning two of these games would have LSU primed for 16-8 finish and a big upgrade in their resume.

Arkansas Razorbacks: 13-5 (5-4)

Best Seed: 6

Worst Seed: OUT

Consensus: 11

My Razorbacks are one of the more interesting bubble teams in the country and a lot of people cannot get a read on them. Similar to LSU, they are missing any win that would excite the selection committee but are still considered a tournament team at the moment. They struggled through two blowout losses consecutively at the hands of Alabama and LSU (both on the road) but have since bounced back. A heartbreaker in Stillwater robbed the Hogs of their second Quad 1 victory this past weekend.

My Projection: 10

I think the experts have it right on this one and the hogs have been about as predictable as a team could be in the win/loss column this season. Apart from a potential road victory @Missouri I have a have to imagine that the hogs win the games they should win and lose the games they should lose moving forward. Of course the Hogs are returning nearly nothing this season in terms of scoring (apart from Desi Sills) so in theory they should improve as time goes on under the obsessive Eric Musselman. This would have the hogs right around 18-9 to finish the year with the worst strength of schedule in the SEC. I don’t see this team being any sort of Cinderella come March but could work their way past the first round.

Finally, and I hate to say this, but I would be shocked if Kentucky didn’t at least make the semifinals in the conference tournament (assuming there is one but that is another conversation). The Wildcats are loaded with talent and if they somehow get it together down the stretch they have the talent to win the conference tournament and earn an automatic bid. Not likely. But I am not counting them out just yet.