Bracketology: Selection Committee Sheds Clues on How Bracket Will Shake Out

PHOTO BY RICH BARNES


The selection committee isn’t living in complete mystery this year. A reveal of its previous top 10 teams over the weekend sheds clues on how things will shake out next weekend.

A feature not seen since the 2019 season returned during halftime of Saturday’s Michigan-Maryland game: the selection committee’s top 10. The top five were no surprise: North Carolina, Boston College, Maryland, Northwestern and Syracuse.

The bottom five weren’t as predictable. Now remember, this was a snapshot of how the committee viewed things prior to last week’s games (so through April 24): Florida at No. 6, followed by Stony Brook, Duke, Loyola and Rutgers, in that order.

What this tells us is this: the “body of work” mantra is truly at work because the significance of your wins matters as much as your head-to-head results. Case in point: Florida was slotted ahead of Stony Brook. The Seawolves beat the Gators this year, but the Gators took down Syracuse, while Stony Brook lost to the Orange. Significant wins will matter.

That held true for Duke’s inclusion in the top eight over Loyola and Rutgers, along with another factor: RPI jumping. The Blue Devils were 10th on last week’s RPI sheet and were seeded 8th ahead of Denver (RPI No. 7) and Rutgers (RPI No. 8). Duke has a major win over Boston College, but after two straight losses to end the regular season, we have moved the Devils just off the seed line to include 16-1 Loyola. The Greyhounds’ case is bolstered by being 3-1 against the RPI Top 20, while Duke is 3-3. Lastly, Loyola’s only loss is to a team ranked higher than them and the Blue Devils hold a loss to a lower-ranked team (Notre Dame).

Farther down the line, it’s tougher to predict how the selection committee will interpret the bubble squads as it parses those that have beaten each other, lost to non-tournament squads and/or own mediocre RPI and SOS numbers.

Wins by Notre Dame and Virginia kept them tournament eligible and all but assured their inclusion in next week’s bracket reveal. Couple that with the upset championship victory by Saint Joseph’s over UMass, and the bubble became incredibly crowded and confusing.

The loser in this may be the top RPI ranked conference, the Big Ten. Three teams — Michigan, Ohio State and Johns Hopkins — are on the bubble and 1-1 against each other, yet only one of them is participating in this week’s conference tournament (Johns Hopkins).

A Hopkins-Ohio State rematch would have been welcomed by either team to bolster their resume, while Michigan would have reveled in a chance to knock off Rutgers to do the same. Depending on how conference championships shake out, we may see a scenario in which only three of the Big Ten’s seven teams make the tournament despite all of them being in the RPI top 25.

That seems inexplicable, but the Big Ten’s record against the Pac-12 isn’t stellar (2-3). USC was able to knock off Michigan, Arizona State found a way against Rutgers, and Colorado beat Ohio State. The Big Ten was 54-12 against all other non-conference opponents.

And then we have the conundrum of UConn. The Huskies lost badly to Georgetown. Despite an RPI of 14, they don’t have a truly significant victory. UMass (RPI No. 18) was representing the only victory over a tournament team up until Sunday. Now that the Minutewomen are projected out, UConn might join them.

NOTES

  • Records against the top 20, top 21-40, significant wins and significant losses (41st or higher) are based on performance against the current RPI rankings (as of Monday, April 25), not human polls.

  • Results from Monday and Tuesday games are not included.

  • First-place teams are listed as automatic qualifiers.

  • In the event of a tie, the AQ goes to the highest-rated team in the RPI.

  • For the 2022 season, 15 automatic qualifiers will be granted. No play-in games will take place in the 29-team field.

AUTOMATIC QUALIFIERS (15)

North Carolina ACC

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

1

5

9-0

2-0

6-0

Maryland Big Ten

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

2

9

6-1

5-0

6-0

Florida AAC

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

6

14

2-4

3-0

6-0

Loyola Patriot League

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

9

26

3-1

5-0

6-0

Princeton Ivy League

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

11

22

3-3

2-0

5-1

Denver Big East

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

12

36

2-1

4-0

6-0

USC Pac-12

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

15

34

0-1

6-2

5-1

Jacksonville ASUN

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

22

51

0-4

1-0

5-1

Saint Joseph's A-10*

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

27

29

1-3

3-3

5-1

Towson CAA

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

34

32

0-3

2-3

5-1

Mount St. Mary's (54)

Albany America East

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

39

42

0-3

1-2

4-2

Drexel (44), Cornell (52)

Mercer Big South

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

42

93

0-3

0-0

5-1

High Point (51)

Siena MAAC

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

46

80

0-1

1-1

4-2

5 losses of 40+

Mount St. Mary's NEC

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

54

94

0-0

1-2

6-0

Bryant (67), La Salle (93)

Central Michigan MAC

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

82

103

0-1

0-1

5-1

5 losses of 40+

* Automatic bid clinched

North Carolina continues to roll, and a matchup with Boston College is set in the ACC final … Maryland is the Big Ten’s top seed with an eye on the national No. 2 seed …  Florida is in prime position to grab a national seed come Sunday as long as the Gators don’t stumble in the AAC tournament.

Loyola seems poised to run through the Patriot League tournament with Lehigh coming to Baltimore on Thursday … Princeton’s path to the NCAA tournament is likely assured, so a loss in the Ivy League tournament would shrink the bubble further … Denver suffered a tough rivalry loss to Colorado, which will keep the Pios out of the national seed discussion.

USC is the No. 2 seed in the Pac-12 tournament but lands here by virtue of having the higher RPI. The Trojans will likely face host Arizona State in Friday’s semifinal … The ASUN tournament is once again in Jacksonville, as the top-seeded Dolphins look to win their 31st straight game against conference opposition … Saint Joseph’s will make its first appearance in the NCAA tournament after three wins in the Atlantic 10 tournament, which included an upset of top-seeded host UMass in the final.

Towson is the top seed for the CAA tournament and faces off against Delaware on Friday evening in Philadelphia … Albany dropped its first America East contest to departing rival Stony Brook. The Great Danes host UMBC on Thursday … Mercer is the No. 2 seed in the Big South tournament due to its superior RPI over High Point, who is hosting the event as the top seed.

Siena shared MAAC regular-season champion honors with Monmouth with a 6-2 record. This tournament is wide open as evidenced by all six teams finishing within two games of each other and No. 6 seed Manhattan beating third-seeded Niagara in triple OT this past Saturday … Mount St. Mary’s is the No. 2 seed in its final NEC tournament, which is being hosted by fellow future departing foe Bryant … Central Michigan was one of three tied atop the MAC this year, as Robert Morris dropped its final two games to close the regular season and Youngstown State won its final five. CMU will serve as host in the MAC tournament.







AT-LARGE (22 TEAMS/14 SPOTS)

Northwestern Big Ten

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

3

4

5-3

4-0

5-1

Boston College ACC

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

4

7

7-2

3-0

5-1

Syracuse ACC

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

5

2

6-5

3-0

3-3

Stony Brook America East

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

7

19

3-2

4-0

6-0

Rutgers Big Ten

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

8

17

3-2

5-1

4-2

James Madison CAA

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

10

18

3-2

3-2

6-0

Duke ACC

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

13

23

3-3

2-0

4-2

UConn Big East

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

14

47

1-2

3-1

4-2

Johns Hopkins Big Ten

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

16

15

0-5

4-2

4-2

Notre Dame ACC

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

17

3

2-6

2-3

4-2

UMass A-10

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

18

39

0-2

6-1

5-1

Temple AAC

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

19

38

0-4

3-0

4-2

Delaware (64)

Virginia ACC

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

20

1

1-9

3-0

3-3

Michigan Big Ten

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

21

10

2-5

3-1

1-5

Ohio State Big Ten

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

23

16

0-6

2-1

3-3

Yale Ivy League

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

25

37

0-5

2-0

3-3

Arizona State Pac-12

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

26

12

1-5

3-2

5-1

Stanford Pac-12

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

28

19

2-3

3-3

5-1

Bucknell (76)

Vanderbilt AAC

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

29

35

1-4

1-1

3-3

Louisville (41)

Colorado Pac-12

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

30

26

1-2

3-3

3-3

Richmond A-10

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

32

57

0-3

3-1

4-2

Liberty (50)

Virginia Tech ACC

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

35

8

2-6

0-1

1-5

Louisville (41), Liberty (47)

Georgetown Big East

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

38

25

1-5

1-1

3-3

Penn (45), Marquette (61)

Northwestern would climb back into the No. 3 seed if it can win the Big Ten tournament this weekend … Boston College seems as close to a lock as the No. 2 seed regardless of this weekend’s results …  Syracuse will wait and see its national seeding on Sunday. As of now, the Orange hold steady at No. 5.

Stony Brook is idle this weekend and was revealed as the No. 7 seed in last week’s projection by the selection committee. Unless a major dip in the RPI takes place, the Seawolves seem certain to host the opening rounds … Rutgers would move into seeding territory by knocking off Northwestern in the Big Ten semifinals … James Madison likely hasn’t done enough to earn a national seed, but that win over Maryland looks more impressive by the day.

Duke’s RPI fell to 13th after its loss in the ACC quarterfinals to the host Fighting Irish, and with it, a chance of hosting spoiled … UConn might be in trouble. The Huskies’ loss to Georgetown means it might have to knock off Denver in the Big East semifinals if they expect to make the NCAA tournament … Johns Hopkins is up to No. 16 in the RPI having won four of its past six games but might needs a win against Maryland to clinch an at-large bid.

Notre Dame was nearly perfect offensively in its upset of Duke to clinch a .500 regular season and a potential NCAA bid … UMass is in a similar spot to UConn — a good record and a solid RPI but few wins of significance to its name. In fact, UMass’s best victory might be against the team it just lost to — St. Joe’s … Temple, like UConn and UMass, has a good RPI and few wins to show for it. The Owls’ best victory is Saint Joseph’s, and that loss to Delaware lingers.

Virginia’s win in the ACC tournament to secure a .500 season was significant against No. 5 Syracuse. The Cavs also have a victory over Stanford to their credit … Michigan has not done itself any favors having lost five of its past six. Early season wins against Notre Dame and Arizona State are vital, as is a conference victory over Johns Hopkins should head-to-head play a factor … Ohio State’s only significant victory is over Michigan. The Buckeyes are just 2-7 against the RPI Top 40, which is why they’re in our first four out.

Yale enters the Ivy League tournament as the No. 2 seed and needs to get by Cornell to entertain thoughts of the NCAA tournament. Even then, a win in the final is the likeliest path for the Elis … Arizona State has closed the season in fine form having won five of six. If the Devils get by Cal on Wednesday, it will be tough to keep them out of the field of 29 … Stanford has made its profile largely on Pac-12 play, which is a good thing. A potential rematch with Colorado could decide the at-large fate of both teams.

Vanderbilt needs to get past Temple in the AAC semifinals to get back into serious discussion as an at-large … Colorado’s win over Denver gets the Buffaloes into the field as our second-to-last team. Although CU finished fourth in the Pac-12, it holds the No. 4 non-conference RPI, which will be difficult to ignore … Richmond’s season ended in an A-10 semifinal loss to St. Joe’s.

Virginia Tech couldn’t turn another upset in an ACC quarterfinal loss to BC. The Hokies will rue their losses to Liberty and Louisville … Georgetown beating UConn by 10 was a significant upset. The Hoyas will need to do it again this week, first by avenging a loss to Marquette and then by beating either Denver or UConn in the championship game.

PROJECTED BRACKET

Bracketing procedures:

  • The committee seeds the top 8 teams to host first- and second-round games. The top 3 seeds will receive byes into the second round. All other teams are unseeded and will be placed with geographical considerations (e.g., teams will drive vs. fly), while keeping bracket integrity when possible.

  • Schools located more than 400 miles from any host institution will fly to their assigned location.

  • Conference matchups must be avoided in the first round.

  • It’s possible a seeded team may not host due to factors such as facility availability. We anticipate each seed hosting and bracket them accordingly, but the committee may not have that option.

Chapel Hill, N.C.

Virginia vs. Arizona State
Winner plays at (1) North Carolina (ACC)

Baltimore, Md.

Albany (AMERICA EAST) at (8) Loyola (PATRIOT)
Duke vs. Towson (CAA)

Evanston, Ill.

Central Michigan (MAC) at (4) Northwestern
Notre Dame vs. Michigan

Syracuse, N.Y.

Mount St. Mary’s (NEC) at (5) Syracuse
Princeton (IVY) vs. Colorado

Newton, Mass.

USC (PAC-12) vs. UConn
Winner plays at (2) Boston College

Stony Brook, N.Y.

Siena (MAAC) at (7) Stony Brook
Rutgers vs. Saint Joseph’s (A-10)

Gainesville, Fla.

Mercer (BIG SOUTH) at (6) Florida (AMERICAN)
Denver (BIG EAST) vs. Jacksonville (ASUN)

College Park, Md.

James Madison vs. Stanford
Winner plays at (3) Maryland (BIG TEN)

Last Four In: Stanford, Michigan, Colorado, UConn
First Four Out: Johns Hopkins, UMass, Ohio State, Virginia Tech
Next Four Out: Temple, Vanderbilt, Richmond, Yale

Moving In: Saint Joseph’s, Colorado
Moving Out: UMass, Ohio State

Multi-bid Conferences: ACC (6), Big Ten (4), Pac-12 (4), America East (2), Big East (2), CAA (2)

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