Vegas’ Bracketology

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Everyone in sports has an agenda. Fans see their teams and programs the way they want to see them. Reporters do whatever it takes to get the story. Major networks showcase franchises they know will get ratings. Seeding the NCAA tournament is no different; it’s an exercise with inherent bias using an imprecise “science” rewarding teams based on a list of arbitrary metrics more convoluted than quantum physics. There are only 2 factions of sports enthusiasts who benefit immensely from remaining impartial; bettors and oddsmakers. While the NCAA denies the existence of both given their strong stance against gambling (legal or otherwise), I’ll trust our power charts to seed the field of 68 over just about anyone associated with college basketball.

First things first: I don’t envy the job of the committee establishing the entire field when they haven’t watched nearly as much basketball as they should to warrant their position. I’d feel more comfortable if picking tournament worthy teams fell on the shoulders of college basketball journalists, bettors, and oddsmakers heavily invested in getting the process right.

After seeing the most prominent journalists in college hoops convene in Indianapolis to go through a mock selection process this past weekend, it prompted me to take my ratings (in collaboration with @Payneinsider ) and put forth our own version of bracketology.  Payne works closely with the sharpest sports bettors in the industry and it only made sense to gather another set of data points before releasing opening round matchups for the NCAA tournament. In building the bracket we didn’t worry about scheduling issues, conference affiliation, or the other nuances the real selection group has to deal with but we did pick the best field we could while including 31 conference champs and the 37 best eligible at large teams.

All lists by region follow the normal S-Curve in seeding the top #1 seed with the worst #2 seed etc on down the line. Make sure you’re sitting down with a stiff drink depending on your level of fanhood because this can be an eye opening experience compared to the mainstream matchuos every other bracketologist will feed you the next few weeks.

#1 Overall Seed: Florida Region

1) Florida vs 16) Robert Morris (NEC Champion) / Charleston Southern (Big South Champion)
2) Kansas vs 15) South Dakota St (Summit League Champion)
3) Michigan St vs 14) Weber St (Big Sky Champion)
4) VCU vs 13) Akron (MAC Champion)
5) Arizona vs 12) Oklahoma
6) Cincinnati vs 11) Stephen F. Austin (Southland Champion)
7) Iowa vs 10) Kentucky
8) Belmont vs 9) Iowa St

#2 Overall Seed: Indiana Region

1) Indiana vs 16) Southern (SWAC Champion) / Norfolk St (MEAC Champion)
2) Syracuse vs 15) Iona (MAAC Champion)
3) Miami vs 14) Stony Brook (America East Champion)
4) Creighton vs 13) BYU
5) Oklahoma St vs 12) North Carolina
6) St Mary’s vs 11) UCLA
7) New Mexico vs 10) UNLV
8) Baylor vs 9) Virginia

#3 Overall Seed: Gonzaga Region

1) Gonzaga vs 16) Long Beach St (Big West Champion)
2) Duke vs 15) Florida Gulf Coast (Atlantic Sun Champion)
3) Wisconsin vs 14) Bucknell (Patriot League Champion)
4) Colorado St vs 13) Notre Dame/Denver (WAC Champion)
5) Ohio St vs 12) St Louis
6) Georgetown vs 11) Oregon
7) San Diego St vs 10) Ole Miss
8) Missouri vs 9) Memphis

#4 Overall Seed: Michigan Region

1) Michigan vs 16) George Mason (Colonial Athletic Champion)
2) Louisville vs 15) Harvard (Ivy League Champion)
3) Pittsburgh vs 14) Davidson (Southern Conference Champion)
4) Minnesota vs 13) Butler/Maryland
5) Middle Tennessee St vs 12) Detroit Mercy (Horizon League Champion)
6) Wichita St vs 11) Colorado
7) Illinois vs 10) North Carolina St
8) Marquette vs 9) Kansas St

If there weren’t stipulations and the tournament was about picking the 68 best teams to compete for the national title, here’s how the teams would look ranked 1-68 by some of the sharpest power numbers you’ll find. There will always be discrepancies between bettors and oddsmakers as to the exact rank of teams.  Instead focus on the general range where a team lands and that gives you a complete look of how we view the best teams in the country.

1 Florida
2 Indiana
3 Gonzaga
4 Michigan
5 Louisville
6 Duke
7 Syracuse
8 Kansas
9 Michigan State
10 Miami
11 Wisconsin
12 Pittsburgh
13 Minnesota
14 Colorado State
15 Creighton
16 VCU
17 Arizona
18 Oklahoma State
19 Ohio State
20 Middle Tennessee State
21 Wichita State
22 Georgetown
23 St. Marys
24 Cincinnati
25 Iowa
26 New Mexico
27 San Diego State
28 Illinois
29 Marquette
30 Missouri
31 Baylor
32 Belmont
33 Iowa State
34 Virginia
35 Memphis
36 Kansas State
37 N.C. State
38 Ole Miss
40 Kentucky
41 Stephen F. Austin
43 Oregon
44 Colorado
45 Detroit Mercy
46 Saint Louis
47 North Carolina
48 Oklahoma
49 Akron
50 BYU
51 Denver
52 North Dakota State
53 Uconn
54 Notre Dame
55 Illinois State
56 Maryland
57 Butler
58 LaSalle
59 Wyoming
60 Stanford
61 Southern Mississippi
62 Arkansas
63 Providence
64 Louisana Tech
65 Boise State
66 Davidson
67 Bucknell
68 Northern Iowa

Teams in bold are schools that wouldn’t make the regular field because they come from one bid leagues (NDSU) or lost their spot to smaller conference champions.

Written by Clay Travis

Clay Travis is the founder of the fastest growing national multimedia platform, OutKick, that produces and distributes engaging content across sports and pop culture to millions of fans across the country. OutKick was created by Travis in 2011 and sold to the Fox Corporation in 2021.

One of the most electrifying and outspoken personalities in the industry, Travis hosts OutKick The Show where he provides his unfiltered opinion on the most compelling headlines throughout sports, culture, and politics. He also makes regular appearances on FOX News Media as a contributor providing analysis on a variety of subjects ranging from sports news to the cultural landscape. Throughout the college football season, Travis is on Big Noon Kickoff for Fox Sports breaking down the game and the latest storylines.

Additionally, Travis serves as a co-host of The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show, a three-hour conservative radio talk program syndicated across Premiere Networks radio stations nationwide.

Previously, he launched OutKick The Coverage on Fox Sports Radio that included interviews and listener interactions and was on Fox Sports Bet for four years. Additionally, Travis started an iHeartRadio Original Podcast called Wins & Losses that featured in-depth conversations with the biggest names in sports.

Travis is a graduate of George Washington University as well as Vanderbilt Law School. Based in Nashville, he is the author of Dixieland Delight, On Rocky Top, and Republicans Buy Sneakers Too.