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Bracketology: Resume, metrics have Villanova No. 1

St Joseph's v Villanova

VILLANOVA, PA - DECEMBER 03: Josh Hart #3 of the Villanova Wildcats reacts in front of Lamarr Kimble #0 of the Saint Joseph’s Hawks in the first half at The Pavilion on December 3, 2016 in Villanova, Pennsylvania. The Villanova Wildcats defeated the Saint Joseph’s Hawks 88-57. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

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Recently, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Selection Committee made public its intent to evaluate options for integrating additional analytics and metrics into its process for selecting and seeding teams for the NCAA tournament. How that might eventually look we don’t know. What metrics will be included? Will there be any weighting for certain metrics (such as the current Ratings Percentage Index or RPI) over others? It’s an interesting twist, although not necessarily that new. Selection Committee members have had various data points at their fingertips for years. How each chose to use (or not use) ratings such as BPI, KenPom, Sagarin, and others is unknown; none were a part of the “official” process and rarely discussed publicly.

The point today isn’t to have a lengthy discussion about the merits of various analytic tools. Rather, it provides an opportunity to look at how a new system might look. One of the concepts mentioned was the potential for a “composite” ranking that would factor in a given set of analytic metrics. In the interest of today’s bracket update, here’s a look at some rankings and the “composite” for the top six teams on the seed list (data points were through games played on Tuesday).

The metrics included: RPI, NPI (Warren Nolan), ELO Chess, KenPom, Sagarin, and BPI. Composite ranking is in parenthesis, based upon an average of these metrics.


  1. Villanova (2.33)
  2. Kansas (4.83)
  3. Baylor (9.00)
  4. UCLA (11.16)
  5. Kentucky (3.16)
  6. Gonzaga (6.50)

As you can see, the composite score would favor moving Kentucky and Gonzaga into spots two (2) and four (4) on the seed list, making them No. 1 seeds instead of Baylor and UCLA (in today’s bracket). Those are not wrong conclusions. Of course, metrics do not necessarily do an effective job of including actual results. Example: UCLA won at Kentucky. An individual result is only one factor (usually a small one) in a team’s overall resume. But the disparity in numbers (11.16 to 3.16) suggests a notable difference between UK and UCLA. How the Committee might discuss those two teams given the result vs. numbers would be interesting.

The more relevant takeaway here is that Villanova is No. 1 by a significant margin. When you factor in the math, the difference between Villanova and Kentucky is a little larger than it looks. Thus, the Wildcats remain entrenched as the overall No. 1 seed today by almost any measure, resume and otherwise.

In keeping with our theme, we used a similar process, including a metric called Strength of Record (SOR) to help decipher an uninspiring collection of bubble teams. With that in mind, Kansas State and Wake Forest are the final two at-large entries. It’s completely erratic near the bottom of the bracket, so this is far from definitive. History suggests that may not change much.

UPDATED: January 19, 2017

Regarding bracketing principles, can read them for yourself at www.ncaa.com. For example: teams from the same conference may now meet before a Regional final, even if fewer than eight teams are selected. The goal is to keep as many teams as possible on their actual seed line.

FIRST FOUR PAIRINGS - Dayton (First Round)


  • Rhode Island vs. Kansas State | Midwest Region
  • Georgia vs. Wake Forest | East Region
  • NEW ORLEANS vs. WEBER STATE | Midwest Region
  • MT. ST. MARY’S vs. MORGAN STATE | East Region

BRACKET PROJECTION ...

EAST - New YorkMIDWEST - Kansas City
BuffaloTulsa
1) VILLANOVA1) KANSAS
16) M.S. MARY’S / MORGAN ST16) NEW ORLEANS / WEBER ST
8) Northwestern8) Michigan State
9) MID TENNESSEE ST9) Clemson
BuffaloSacramento
5) Florida5) CINCINNATI
12) VERMONT12) Kansas St / Rhode Island
4) Virginia4) OREGON
13) RICHMOND13) NEW MEXICO ST
MilwaukeeGreenville
6) MARYLAND6) South Carolina
11) Georgia / Wake Forest11) NC-WILMINGTON
3) Butler3) North Carolina
14) FLA GULF COAST14) WINTHROP
OrlandoSalt Lake City
7) Indiana7) Saint Mary’s
10) Seton Hall10) TCU
2) FLORIDA STATE2) Creighton
15) GA-SOUTHERN15) BUCKNELL
WEST - San JoseSOUTH - Memphis
SacramentoTulsa
1) UCLA1) Baylor
16) TEXAS-SOUTHERN16) UC-IRVINE
8) Dayton8) USC
9) Virginia Tech9) Arkansas
OrlandoSalt Lake City
5) Purdue5) Duke
12) AKRON12) NEVADA
4) West Virginia4) ARIZONA
13) CHATTANOOGA13) VALPARAISO
MilwaukeeIndianapolis
6) Wisconsin6) Minnesota
11) California11) ILLINOIS STATE
3) Notre Dame3) Louisville
14) MONMOUTH14) BELMONT
Salt Lake CityIndianapolis
7) SMU7) Xavier
10) Texas Tech10) Iowa State
2) GONZAGA2) KENTUCKY
15) NORTH DAKOTA ST15) PRINCETON

NOTES on the BRACKET: Villanova is the No. 1 overall seed, followed by Kansas, Baylor, and UCLA

Last Four Byes (at large): Iowa State, Texas Tech, TCU, California

Last Four IN (at large): Georgia, Kansas State, Wake Forest, Rhode Island

First Four OUT (at large): VCU, Miami-FL, Pittsburgh, Michigan

Next four teams OUT (at large): Marquette, Wichita State, Illinois, Penn State

Breakdown by Conference ...

ACC (9): FLORIDA STATE, North Carolina, Louisville, Notre Dame, Virginia, Duke, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest

Big 10 (7): MARYLAND, Purdue, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana, Michigan State, Northwestern

Big 12 (7): KANSAS, Baylor, West Virginia, Iowa State, Texas Tech, TCU, Kansas State

Big East (5): VILLANOVA, Creighton, Butler, Xavier, Seton Hall

SEC (5): KENTUCKY, Florida, South Carolina, Arkansas, Georgia

Pac 12 (5): ARIZONA, UCLA, Oregon, USC, California

Atlantic 10 (3): RICHMOND, Dayton, Rhode Island

American (2): CINCINNATI, SMU

West Coast (2): GONZAGA, Saint Mary’s

Missouri Valley (1): ILLINOIS STATE

Mountain West (1): BOISE STATE

ONE BID LEAGUES: Monmouth (MAAC), Middle Tennessee State (C-USA), Georgia-Southern (SBELT), Princeton (IVY), Weber State (BSKY), Valparaiso (HORIZON), New Orleans (SLND), Chattanooga (STHN), UC-Irvine (BWEST), Akron (MAC), Florida Gulf Coast (ASUN), Belmont (OVC), UNC-Wilmington (CAA), Winthrop (BSO), Morgan State (MEAC), North Dakota State (SUM), New Mexico State (WAC), Vermont (AEAST), Bucknell (PAT), MT. ST. MARY’S (NEC), Texas-Southern (SWAC)