Last year Joe Lunardi correctly picked 67 of the 68 teams that made the NCAA Tournament. This is pretty damn impressive and cements his reputation. However, his dominance has never been challenged. So, even though he has no clue who I am, I am going to challenge him and show him who the REAL bracketologist is. Joe Lunardi, you’ve met your match and his name is Aidanfromworcester.
So Lunardi has been appointed the “guru of bracketology” by pretty much everyone in the sport. For those of you unfamiliar with what that means, a bracketologist is a person that can accurately predict who will make the NCAA Tournament. A total of 68 teams get into the dance, with 31 of the spots reserved for teams who won their conferences. So every year the 14, 15, and 16 seeds are filled with crap-bag teams you’ve never heard of. This year some of those teams will include LIU Brooklyn, Albany, Liberty and the winner of New Mexico State and Texas-Arlington. Last year 2 of those 15 seeds won though (Norfolk State and Lehigh), so anything is possible. Usually however they are there for Kansas and Duke to beat up on before they get a real game.
The real fun comes from picking the at-large teams for the remaining 37 at-large sports. At-large teams are teams that don’t win their conference but have strong enough resumes to make it. Almost always they come from power conferences like the Big East, Pac-12, Big 10, Big 12, SEC, ACC, Atlantic 10, Mountain West, and MVC. Many at-large teams are guaranteed to make the tournament but others are considered “on the bubble”. There are roughly 20 teams considered “on the bubble” right now. Of these teams the only one who still has a chance to win their conference championship is Ole Miss, who can win the SEC with a win over Florida tomorrow.
Here are the 31 automatic bids. In some cases the conference has not had it’s championship game yet. In that case I will just list both teams, and only 1 will get in. However, in conferences like the Atlantic 10 where both teams in the final will get in (St. Louis, VCU), I’ll just list 1 of the teams as the champion and I’ll put the other team as an at-large spot to simplify things.
America East: Albany
Atlantic Sun: Florida Gulf Coast
Atlantic 10: St. Louis
Big 12: Kansas
Big East: Louisville
Big Sky: Montana/Weber State
Big South: Liberty
Big 10: Ohio State
Big West: U.C. Irvine/Pacific
Colonial Athletic: James Madison
Conference USA: Memphis
Metro Atlantic: Iona
Mid-Eastern: North Carolina A&T
Missouri Valley: Creighton
Mountain West: New Mexico
Northeast: LIU Brooklyn
Ohio Valley: Belmont
Pac 12: UCLA
Southland: Northwestern State/SF Austin
Southwestern Athletic: Southern
Summit: South Dakota State
Sun Belt: Western Kentucky
WAC: Texas-Arlington/New Mexico State
West Coast: Gonzaga
Here are the 29 non-conference winners who are shoo-ins to make the Tournament:
North Carolina State
San Diego State
So, Lunardi and I agree on those 60. It’s going to come down to the Final 8 that will make or break this challenge. Realistically the final 8 will come from these 19 teams:
Middle Tennessee State
I can’t stand when teams like Southern Mississippi, St. Mary’s and Middle Tennessee State get in. These teams don’t play ANYONE. For example:
- Middle Tennessee State is 28-5 and easily the best team in their conference. They were upset by Western Kentucky in their tournament though. Wanna get in the tournament? Don’t lose to terrible teams in your terrible conference tournament. Of their 28 wins, 26 have been against really crap-bag teams (teams outside of the RPI top 100).
- St. Mary’s has only 6 losses, but only 3 of those come from teams that will make the tournament (Gonzaga, Gonzaga, Gonzaga). They’ve beaten 2 teams that will be in the tournament (Creighton and Harvard), and Harvard will only get in because they won the Ivy League.
- On the other hand UMass has 11 losses, but 8 of those are against teams that will make the tournament. The other 3 (Charlotte, George Washington, St. Bonaventure’s) are better than almost every team on Middle Tennessee State’s schedule. Additionally, LaSalle is also on the bubble. Both UMass and LaSalle are in the Atlantic 10 and the committee is only likely to pick one as it is highly irregular for 6 Atlantic 10 teams to make it.
Long story short: the committee doesn’t give a s*** what I think, and they’re going to pick some of these garbage teams from garbage conferences.
Here are the 8 bubble teams I truly believe the committee will pick, and the 8 bubble teams that Lunardi thinks will be in…….
- Aidanfromworcester: Iowa State, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Boise State, LaSalle, Tennessee, Ole Miss, UMass.
- Lunardi: Iowa State, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Boise State, LaSalle, Middle Tennesse State, Ole Miss, St. Mary’s.
So Lunardi and I disagree on 2 teams. I have Tennessee and UMass, and he’s got St. Mary’s and Middle Tennessee State.
Yea I’m going out on a limb and saying UMass gets in. They deserve to get in for the same reason that Tennessee does; most of the other bubble teams blew it. Tennessee looked like they were screwed when they lost to Alabama in their conference tournament. However, the Volunteers have beaten Florida, Missouri, Wichita State, UMass, Xavier, and Alabama. They have 12 losses but almost every one of those losses is to a team that is being at least considered for the dance. Here is why UMass and Tennessee got lucky:
Maryland has some terrible losses, and blew their shot against UNC today. Virginia busted out of the ACC tournament too early. Iowa is on the bubble to improve their self-confidence; they have no shot and busted out of the Big 10 tournament too early. Kentucky sucks. If they make the tournament I’ve completely lost faith in the fairness of the committee, since they’d only be getting in based on their name. Arizona State and Baylor were long shots who didn’t do anything in their conference tournaments. Alabama hasn’t beaten a quality team all year and lost their big chance against Florida today. Middle Tennessee State screwed the bubble teams over. Because they didn’t take the automatic spot (Western Kentucky took it), they could take a valuable at-large spot because of their inflated record. St. Mary’s is my first team out. They’re close but ultimately UMass has a stronger resume than them. Southern Mississippi blew their chance when they couldn’t take down Memphis in 2 overtimes.
So who will get it right? Aidanfromworcester or Lunardi? You agree or disagree with my selections? Feel free to share your thoughts and comments. As always shares on Facebook and Twitter are greatly appreciated, especially since I want to show Lunardi who the real bracketologist is.
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