Bracketology 12/24/18

As college basketball heads into hibernation for a few days, it's time to take stock of what's transpired in the first 6 weeks of the season. Some teams have greatly surpassed expectations- Michigan has vaulted from a 5 seed in my preseason bracket to the #2 overall seed, Houston has gone from the First Four to a 4 seed, and Buffalo has gone from a 12 seed to a 1-loss team. On the flip side, Kentucky has gone from a 1 seed down to a 6, Villanova has gone from a 2 to an 8 and Oregon and UCLA have gone from the top half of the bracket to obscurity.

The big picture story I'm going to be following most closely this season is the decline in mid-major bids. I started my bracketology back in 2011- a year where the Colonial, Mountain West and CAA got 3 bids, only one fewer than the ACC. Right now outside of the Power Six conferences, I have 3 teams from the American and 2 from the WCC. This opens up a lot of bids for the big conferences- there's 10 Big Ten teams and 8 ACC teams in this seed list. A lot of this is due to the successful mid-major programs (Butler, Xavier, Creighton, Wichita State etc.) moving up, but it also reflects growing inequality in college hoops.

My next update will be on New Years' Eve. That will reflect this weekend's games, where many leagues will kick off conference play.

1: Duke, Michigan, Kansas, Virginia
2: Tennessee, Nevada, Gonzaga, Florida State
3: Michigan State, Virginia Tech, Wisconsin, Texas Tech
4: Houston, North Carolina, Auburn, Marquette
5: Oklahoma, Mississippi State, Arizona State, North Carolina State
6: Ohio State, Indiana, Kentucky, St. John's
7: Nebraska, Cincinnati, Kansas State, Buffalo
8: Villanova, Iowa, TCU, Louisville
9: Seton Hall, Minnesota, Iowa State, Florida
10: Purdue, Butler, Clemson, TCU
11: LSU, San Francisco, Furman, (Maryland/Creighton)
12: (Arizona/UCF), Murray State, Penn, Lipscomb
13: North Texas, VCU, Texas State, Drake
14: Charleston, New Mexico State, Radford, UC Irvine
15: South Dakota State, Montana, Vermont, Lehigh
16: Northern Kentucky, Abilene Christian, (Rider/Central Connecticut), (Texas Southern/North Carolina A&T)

First Four Out: Syracuse, Texas, Notre Dame, Murray State
Next Four Out: Utah State, Belmont, Penn, Oregon
Also Considered: Temple, Fresno State, Lipscomb, West Virginia, Washington, North Texas, Providence


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