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Vegas Bracketology 3.0.2014

Sports journalism is meant to inform, educate, and entertain.  The best writers are able to alter your perspective on what you perceive as truth every time you flip on a game to watch your favorite teams.  Fortunately, I’ve never once called myself a sports journalist meaning you’ll be spared from earth shattering vantage points that force you to question the very existence you take for granted. However, I will make you think differently about analyzing college basketball teams, especially when it comes to assembling the most complete field for March Madness that we know the committee won’t actually give us 19 days from now.

Vegas won’t approach sports the same way the media or casual fan does.  Resumes are great when we talk about teams deserving a bid to the tournament but a big win back in November when no one cared about college basketball doesn’t give you a case for a protected seed when you beat up on the sisters of the poor in your conference.  I compared the current situation facing Wichita St’s case for a #1 seed to the plight of the Boise St football program last week on twitter.  We politick for Cinderella in college basketball, hoping they get a seed they’ve supposedly earned, yet we do everything we can to keep undefeated teams from mid-major leagues in college football from gaining relevancy.  Fortunately for Wichita they’ll make the field and if they’re truly an elite team, Shocker nation will forge a path back to the Final Four proving any and all discussion about their merits moot.

Here’s a snapshot of how the top 16 seeds changed week over week.  Notice Syracuse tumbled all the way off the top line to 3 seed territory while the aforementioned Shockers climbed 5 spots from 16 up to 11.  By virtue of a regular season sweep of in-state rival Michigan St, Michigan cracks the top 16 and the red hot Virginia Cavaliers have a very real chance to win the ACC regular season if they can beat Syracuse this Saturday.

  Last Week Today
#1 Florida Florida
#2 Syracuse Duke
#3 Duke Louisville
#4 Creighton Creighton
#5 Louisville Virginia
#6 Iowa Arizona
#7 Arizona Kansas
#8 Villanova Iowa
#9 Virginia Villanova
#10 Kansas Syracuse
#11 Ohio St Wichita St
#12 Wisconsin Wisconsin
#13 UCLA Ohio St
#14 Pittsburgh UCLA
#15 Kentucky Kentucky
#16 Wichita St Michigan

Don’t believe our poll yet? Here’s this week’s top 16 in the Vegas poll compared to Ken Pomeroy, often referred to as the gold standard of college basketball ratings.  I’ve included the AP just for kicks although the next time I pay attention to their valuation of teams would be the first.

  Vegas Pomeroy AP
#1 Florida Arizona Florida
#2 Duke Duke Wichita St
#3 Louisville Louisville Arizona
#4 Creighton Florida Syracuse
#5 Virginia Creighton Kansas
#6 Arizona Virginia Duke
#7 Kansas Kansas Louisville
#8 Iowa Wichita St Villanova
#9 Villanova Villanova Creighton
#10 Syracuse Iowa St. Louis
#11 Wichita St Syracuse Cincinnati
#12 Wisconsin Wisconsin Virginia
#13 Ohio St Ohio St San Diego St
#14 UCLA Michigan Wisconsin
#15 Kentucky UCLA Iowa St
#16 Michigan Michigan St Michigan

All of a sudden the crazy oddsmakers in the desert don’t look so outlandish in the way they see the landscape now do they?.  As for my loyal friends in Aztec nation, don’t fret: our rating of San Diego St at 26 might actually be a tad high compared to KenPom that makes Steve Fisher’s squad 28th best in the land.  However, the best part about all of this still remains the champion will be decided on the floor making all the conjecture and hyperbole meaningless when the teams start playing for keeps.

This bracket is not…

* Meant to mirror a traditional bracket
* Forced to adhere to teams from the same conference being placed on opposite sides of the bracket
* Rewarding teams with so called deserving resumes, it only cares about what team would be favored over another on a neutral floor
* Designed to troll certain fan bases although if that’s a byproduct of the content so be it
* Reflecting anything but the best 33 automatic qualifiers and 35 top at large teams pitted against each other in a bracket format determined only by power rating.

#1 Overall Seed: Florida Region

#1 Florida vs #16 Southern *if eligible (SWAC) / Charleston Southern (Big South)
#2 Iowa vs #15 Ohio (MAC)
#3 Villanova vs #14 Mercer (A-Sun)
#4 Michigan vs #13 North Dakota St (Summit)
#5 Michigan St vs #12 Green Bay (Horizon) / Southern Miss (C-USA)
#6 Iowa St vs #11 BYU
#7 VCU vs #10 Arizona St
#8 Gonzaga vs #9 Florida St

#2 Overall Seed: Duke Region

#1 Duke vs #16 Robert Morris  (NEC) / Weber St (Big Sky)
#2 Arizona vs #15 Belmont (OVC)
#3 Syracuse vs #14 Georgia St (Sun Belt)
#4 Kentucky vs #13 Vermont (America East)
#5 Cincinnati vs #12 Clemson / Maryland
#6 Uconn vs #11 Baylor
#7 San Diego St vs #10 Texas
#8 Oklahoma St vs #9 Oklahoma

#3 Overall Seed: Louisville Region

#1 Louisville vs #16 Davidson (Southern)
#2 Kansas vs #15 Towson (CAA)
#3 Wichita St vs #14 Stephen F Austin (Southland)
#4 UCLA vs #13 New Mexico St (WAC)
#5 North Carolina vs #12 George Washington
#6 SMU vs #11 California
#7 Tennessee vs #10 Oregon
#8 Stanford vs #9 St Johns

#4 Overall Seed: Creighton Region

#1 Creighton vs #16 North Carolina Central (MEAC)
#2 Virginia vs #15 Boston University (Patriot)
#3 Wisconsin vs #14 Santa Barbara (Big West)
#4 Ohio St vs #13 Iona (MAAC)
#5 Pittsburgh vs #12 Kansas St
#6 St Louis vs #11 UMASS
#7 New Mexico vs #10 Utah
#8 Memphis vs #9 Harvard (Ivy)

First 4 Out

Marquette
Minnesota
Arkansas
Xavier

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.