Vegas Bracketology

Seeding the field of 68 is no easy task come March. As we witnessed yesterday, the mock selection committee had all sorts of challenges trying to slot teams accordingly.  Whether it’s building the tournament on best resumes, most true road wins, or RPI, certain weighted metrics get overblown when you realize the primary focus and lone goal is getting the best teams into the dance.  Fortunately for those of us in the desert responsible for proper valuations of college basketball teams every day of the season (not just on one fateful Sunday in early March), figuring out the field of 68 is easier but not without it’s share of “WTF are those guys thinking” type moments coming from college basketball enthusiasts.

I don’t remember a college basketball season with so much parity at the top.  Ok, yes we say this every season but there’s more star power playing for blue blood programs than we’ve seen in recent years and it’s anyone’s guess who will rise to the occasion for a magical 6 game run.  How tight is the top of the field? Our top 12 teams are separated by a grand total of 2 points in power ratings meaning a single result can create a massive ripple effect.   We’ll be updating our Vegas Bracketology every week moving forward so it’s important to explain how we arrive at these numbers.

Power numbers are a quantifiable metric oddsmakers and bettors use to rate teams.  With so much emphasis placed on accuracy in this business, you can’t make wild fluctuations each week. Making massive adjustments after teams play 1 or 2 very good (or bad) games disrupts the betting markets completely.  As you go through the Vegas bracket there will be plenty of surprises staring with Iowa listed as a 1 seed (although my eye test says Michigan St will end up there from the Big Ten), San Diego St as a 5 seed (despite the media pushing for a 2 on the strength of 1 win at Kansas), and Texas surprisingly on the outside looking in as of now whereas ESPN pegs them as a 5 seed.  Also notice Wichita St’s dreams of becoming a number 1 seed wouldn’t be possible if oddsmakers had their say in building the field.  Our bracket rewards the best teams, not the most deserving, minimizing the impact recent hot streaks have on how we view a single team. Oklahoma St is currently a unique example given the 3 game suspension to Marcus Smart. They’ve fallen from the top 10 down to 46 however the Cowboys would see their number adjusted once he’s inserted back into the mix assuming the team isn’t mired in a 7 game slump.  Two other teams that have seen their stock decline recently are UMASS and Florida St while the Vols, to the surprise of many, remain strong in the 30-35 range even after a loss to Florida.  Trust me, we know this bracket will stir controversy and fans will be irate with how we view their team but that’s nothing new.

*Note: When seeding the field for this exercise I didn’t make changes for geography or pod system, conference limitations, or other key factors that the committee has to incorporate before releasing the bracket.

#1 Syracuse vs #16 Southern / Radford
#2 Florida vs #15 Delaware
#3 Michigan St vs #14 Stephen F Austin
#4 Iowa St vs #13 Iona
#5 Wisconsin vs #12 Cleveland St
#6 St Louis vs #11 BYU
#7 Memphis vs #10 Missouri
#8 Kansas St vs #9 Minnesota

#1 Duke vs #16 North Carolina Central / Utah Valley St
#2 Kansas vs #15 Belmont
#3 Villanova vs #14 UC Irvine
#4 UCLA vs #13 North Dakota St
#5 Pittsburgh vs #12 Arkansas / Oklahoma St
#6 North Carolina vs #11 Xavier
#7 SMU vs #10 Southern Miss
#8 Oregon vs #9 UMASS

#1 Iowa vs #16 Weber St
#2 Creighton vs #15 Boston U
#3 Virginia vs #14 Vermont
#4 Wichita St vs #13 Toledo
#5 Michigan vs #12 Utah / Harvard
#6 Cincinnati vs #11 New Mexico
#7 VCU vs #10 Stanford
#8 Tennessee vs #9 Florida St

#1 Louisville vs #16 Robert Morris
#2 Arizona vs #15 Davidson
#3 Kentucky vs #14 Mercer
#4 Ohio St vs #13 Georgia St
#5 San Diego St vs #12 Indiana
#6 UCONN vs #11 Marquette
#7 Gonzaga vs #10 Oklahoma
#8 Arizona St vs #9 California

First 4 Out:


Complete list of power ratings available here

Written by Clay Travis

OutKick founder, host and author. He's presently banned from appearing on both CNN and ESPN because he’s too honest for both.