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Bracket Banter: Mid-Major Review



Houston: A team with an SOS inside the top 25, a SOR of 5, and all other metrics averaging top 4 = a one seed…. Right? Right now, it does, but it’s not a 100% lock to stay on the 1 line. What I assume the 1 line will look like come March is Purdue, Alabama, winner of the Big 12, and Houston/Arizona/UCLA, or potentially a second Big 12 team. That’s it, that’s the list. Right now, I favor Houston over Arizona, but it’s extremely close; Houston has a team score of 96.1, whereas Arizona’s is 95.95, which is basically a tie at this point. Texas (93.4) is also close, and UCLA is sitting at 92.1; both of those numbers equate to a tight stretch run with lots of swapping in and out for that final one seed to end the year. Houston’s loss to Temple will weigh heavily as it will not climb up to a Q2 by the end of the year and will stay in Q3. Also, to close the year, Houston only plays one Q1 game (at Memphis, the final day of the year), four Q4 games, and one Q2 game. That means that they have a ton of room to drop a game and fall out of the 1 seed line. Houston has 3 solid Q1 wins at Oregon, neural vs. St. Mary’s, and at Virginia; they also have a sneaky good home win over Oral Roberts, who sits at #36 in the NET. You can’t fault their non-conference resume, which may play favorably into the committee's eyes when comparing teams that are extremely close. I believe they end up on one line.


Memphis: The biggest flaw I have with Memphis this year is the Tulane loss. Other than that, they have 3 Q2 losses and only 1 Q1 win, which is Q1B. From a metrics standpoint, the Tigers are slightly inside the bubble # on average, but the 5-5 record in Q1/2 isn’t good. Their only win over a tournament team is Auburn, and other than that, they beat Texas A&M, who is squarely on the bubble. They do, however, have two matchups with Houston remaining, and I think they need one of the two to get into the bracket. It could be very interesting to see what happens to the Tigers because their record is good, and their SOS isn’t awful, either. I like Memphis in the tournament this year.



Gonzaga: Gonzaga’s bad years are most teams’ solid years, apparently. Their metrics all come in around the 3-4 line #’s, and they are 8-4 in Q1/2, with 1 Q3 loss. They have two wins over protected seeds right now, both neutral site games, one over Alabama (1 seed) and Xavier (4 seed). Gonzaga has one Q1 game left (home vs. SMC), two Q4 games left, and one each of Q3 and Q2 games remaining. To get a 3 seed, they must win out and may still need help. A four-seed is the most likely spot. Their floor is likely the five-line.

St. Mary’s: Saint Mary’s is a very difficult team to seed; I can talk myself into pushing toward the upper 4 line, as well as the 7 line. Their metrics are great and will help push them up in the bracket come March. their Quad records are Q1 2-1, 6-2 Q2, 10-2 Q3, and 3-0 Q4. When teams play a high amount of Q3 games, it really just means more opportunities for bad losses, and unfortunately, SMC has lost twice in those games. SMC is out to a solid lead on the rest of the #WCC and will likely end up winning at least a share of the regular season championship. Remaining games: two Q3’s and one each of Q1 and Q4 games. The final game at Gonzaga in Spokane is going to be MASSIVE come March. I have SMC as the #1 six seed because they lost this week, and teams around them picked up big wins, which happens when you play in the WCC. SMC may end up underseeded come March and be one of those dangerous 6-7 seeds I wouldn’t want my team playing.


Should be in:

SDSU: The Aztecs are rolling right now; winners of 3 in a row, two of those being Q1, and then beating UNLV by 11. Upcoming, they have two Q3 games before two road Q1 games and then a home Q4 game to end the year. to maintain the 5 seed line, they need to go 4-1 to end the year. They’re likely a 6 seed with winning 2 or 3 games to close the year. Anything less and they fall to the seven line. I believe the Aztecs could really pull close to the top of the 5 line come March, especially if they win the MWC tournament. Their metrics support a team who gets toward the five line.

FAU: From a metric standpoint, the Owls are in a rough spot; they average in the mid-40s, with some outliers, which should even out toward the end of the year. They’re 4-2 in Q1/2 and have only two losses, both in Q2. They won’t be a lock until the bracket is released because of the competition they play, but I believe they get in. To end the year, they have one Q2 game, two Q4 games, and two Q3 games. I believe they drop one of these games, but if they drop more than that, it becomes a risky selection Sunday, where they won’t feel comfortable if they don’t win their AQ. Their ceiling is likely the 7 line, and only if they don’t lose again.


Boise State: The Broncos are yet another team that I honestly don’t know if I trust to win a single game come March. They’re 7-4 in Q1/2, but they also have a Q3 and Q4 loss this year. To end the year, they have two Q1 games, three Q2 games and a Q3 game. To get in the tournament, they need to win 4 of these games. If they do lose two or more, it could be a rocky road for a team with only one Q1 win. From a metrics standpoint, Boise State should slide into the bracket, and I believe they could end up as high as a 7 seed if they keep winning.

New Mexico: They’re currently in a first four-game, #45 overall team. It's been a TERRIBLE stretch for the Lobos; they’ve lost three in a row, and have now taken THREE Q3 losses, and have a 5-3 record in Q1/2. To end the year, they have two Q4 games, two Q2 games, and two Q1 games. To make the bracket, they may need to go 5-1. The Lobos 100% cannot take a bad loss, so they must beat Wyoming and Fresno at the Pit. Both Q2 games are on the road and will be tricky. The two Q1 games are obviously difficult, but I think they can get one of them. Looking at their metrics, their numbers are outside of the top 50 on average, and their Out of conference strength of schedule is 241, which could come into play when comparing resumes for the committee. UNM’s going to have a stressful next Month.

Nevada: I’m much higher than Nevada than others; their metrics aren’t great, but their strength of schedule in and out of conference is solid, and they only have losses in the first two quadrants. They’re now 8-6 in Q1/2 and 11-0 in Q3/4. Their next game is in Logan against Utah State, a Q1 game. After that, they close with four Q3 games. I like the WolfPack to figure it out and get into the bracket; if they win out, they could shoot up the bracket, especially if their metrics continue to climb. They’re currently on my 8 line; I think they could sneak up to a 6 seed if they win out. They’re not a lock and won’t be a lock in the regular season for me.

Utah State: I don’t think the Aggies will get into the bracket; let's start with that. However, there was a point during the chaotic day that Saturday was I was considering placing them into the bracket; now that they lost to San Jose State, the road is more difficult to get back. If they won out and had success in the MWC tournament, maybe they have a chance to sneak into the bracket, but that’s not going to be simple. To end the season, they have two each Q2 and Q3 games, along with a single Q1 game. The game in Logan against Boise State could be a de-facto elimination game. Their metrics are very up and down, and they have an average in the 40s. Their ceiling is maybe the 10 line; Obviously, their floor is out. 5 bid MWC is still technically alive.

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