For a little information on how I did this check out ESPN BracketBuster Introduction
You've seen the methods, you've seen the rankings assuming you read that above link (which of course you did, right)?
Here are the rankings one more time
Creighton, Murray St Cleveland St, Oral Roberts, Iona, Davidson, South Dakota St., Ohio, Weber St, Virginia Commonwealth, George Mason, New Mexico St and Loyola Maryland (Kent St, Coastal Carolina, Missouri St and Wisconsin Milwaukee would be the next 4 in).
St. Mary’s, Wichita St, Nevada, Long Beach St, UNI, Drexel, Akron, Valparaiso, UNC-Asheville, Drake, Texas-Arlington, Buffalo, Old Dominion (The away teams this year are significantly weaker at the top then the home teams so Lamar, and College of Charleston are really the only two who get left out).
#20 St. Mary’s 21-2 (10-0, 1st in West Coast Conference) @ #14 Creighton 20-2 (10-1, 1st in Missouri Valley Conference)
Why Creighton over Murray St? Two reasons I’m not completely sold on Murray St, yes they are undefeated, yes they have 21 wins, but the Strength of Schedule is not there and Creighton’s overall resume is going to look better to the committee. The second reason being Wichita St and Creighton are in the same conference, they can’t play eachother. The Gaels and Bluejays have high RPIs and both boast double digit wining streaks. This will likely be the primetime game on Saturday night.
Wichita St 18-4 (9-2, 2nd in WCC) @ #9 Murray St 21-0 (9-0, 1st in Ohio Valley Conference)
As said before Creighton and Murray St are 1A and 1B for me. So it only makes sense to give the Racers the second best team available. This is the best chance for Murray St to prove me wrong and for the Shockers it is just another away game that will go very well in their bid for an at-large if they can’t win Arch Madness.
Long Beach St 16-6 (9-0, 1st in Big West) @ Oral Roberts 20-4 (12-0, 1st in Summit)
My #4 home vs my #4 away team – undefeated in their conferences, RPIs in the mid 40s and 36 wins between the two teams. Oral Roberts is looking to get back to the tournament for the first time since 2008 the third of three straight trips. Led by Casper Ware, the 49ers were a win away from going back to the Big Dance, after a 3 year self-imposed probation that spanned 2008-2010.
Northern Iowa 14-9 (4-7, 7th in MVC) @ Cleveland State 18-4 (8-2, 1st in Horizon League)
While these two teams don’t have a history against eachother, both bring a level of recognition as they have made their names in the NCAA tourney. CSU with their win against Wake Forest in 2009 and UNI over Kansas is 2010. The Panthers are the only team to make a TV game not ranked in the Top 4 of their conference, however they have the benefit of having played 17 of their 21 games against teams in the RPI, so they have a nice little number next to their name there. Often times the selections have to do with regional travel. While Nevada might be a better match-up the 1600 extra miles aren’t. So with a very small slate of teams worthy from the away side, this match-up makes more sense and would help both teams out.
Akron 14-7 (6-1, 1st in Mid-American Conference) @ Iona 16-5 (8-2, T2nd in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference
I don’t really know what Iona is, ranked high in RPI, ranked high in the mid-major poll and they are the perfect example of how not having any games against really bad teams is better than beating average teams. After the starting the year 2-5 Akron has shot up 100 spots in the RPI over the past month by winning 12 of their last 14 games. They lead the MAC East (and would be the overall 1 seed in the MAC Tourney at this point).
Nevada 18-3 (7-0, 1st in Western Athletic Conference) @ Weber St 16-4 (8-1, 1st in Big Sky)
The Big Sky is not a well known conference, the WAC is a little bit better known but neither one if all that great. In what looks like a regional match-up, the Wolfpack and the Wildcats are both close in RPI, both close in wins but neither one is really looking at an at-large. The winner likely gets the edge when NCAA determines who is the last 14 and who is the first 15.
Valparaiso 15-8 (8-3, 2nd in HL) @ Ohio 17-4 (5-2, T2 in MAC)
If the MAC and the Horizon League would schedule a weekend a la the ACC/Big Ten it would make BracketBuster projections even tougher. It’s impossible to please everyone, Ohio could easily complain about drawing the biggest RPI differential of the TV match-ups. But these teams both have similar Strength of Schedule and this is a good regional match
Drake 13-9 (6-5, T3rd in MVC) @ South Dakota St. 17-6 (9-2, 2nd in Summit)
Drake pulled of a huge Triple OT win Friday night against Wichita St to secure a spot on TV and pull within 4 games of MVC leaders Creighton. Despite being 13-9, a down year for the away teams probably had them in anyway. This match-up helps South Dakota St, a win against a MVC team might give them the confidence to get past Oral Roberts in the Summit Conference tourney, but not enough for an at-large. The MVC is going to get 2 teams in, but Drake isn’t one of them right now. As the committee says “what have you done for me lately,” they need this game as well and need to get the 3 seed in the MVC tourney.
UNC Asheville 16-7 (11-1, 1st in Big South) @ George Mason 18-5 (10-1, 1st in Colonial Athletic Conference)
Newsflash the CAA is not as good as it was last year. But they still have 4 teams making it on TV, that’s because they have 3 teams with 17+ wins. George Mason’s 18 wins are not impressive whatsoever and as they are currently the leader in the conference they are likely looking at a 14 or 15 seed. This out of a conference that put a team in the Final Four last season. The leader in the Big South, UNC-Asheville isn’t exactly the win that will sway the committee but it would be GMU’s 3rd best win on the year (they still play VCU twice though).
Drexel 17-5 (9-2, T2 in CAA) @ Davidson 15-5 (9-1, 1st in Southern)
I really wanted to send UNC Asheville to Davidson, but that would have left Drexel going to GMU, VCU, New Mexico St or Loyola MD. Had I sent them to MD. I would have been stuck with Old Dominion going to New Mex St. That doesn’t work from a regional standpoint. So this is what you get.
Texas-Arlington 15-5 (7-0, in Southland) @ New Mexico St 15-7 (5-2, 2nd in WAC)
I told you the away teams are not very good. Texas-Arlington is undefeated in conference play and by virtue of not making them travel to the East Coast they play the Aggies.
Buffalo 12-6 (5-2, T2 in MAC) @ Virginia Commonwealth 18-5 (9-2, T2nd in CAA)
I actually kicked Kent State out of a home game and moved Buffalo in. The MAC doesn’t deserve 4 teams, not when the Horizon only gets 2. Buffalo’s numbers are just as good as the Golden Flashes if not better (Since their win against WVU, what has Kent State really done)? Plus there aren’t enough good away teams. VCU trails George Mason by 1 game in the CAA (part of a three way tie). The tourney run from last year grabs one of the final home spots (considering Butler is really bad this season).
Old Dominion 14-9 (9-2, T2nd in CAA) @ Loyola Maryland 16-5 (9-2, 1st in MAAC)
Loyola MD replaced Kent State as the last home team. And minutes later replaced Iona at the top of the MAAC Standings (literally happened as I typed) and I will probably be wrong on this. The Greyhounds sports a better record, a better RPI and essentially the same strength of schedule. Kent St might draw more people and interest, but we are looking for the best match-ups. The teams most likely to be in the tournament. Right now Kent State is 4th in their DIVISION not league DIVISION. Loyola Md is in a three-way tie for 1st in the MAAC
Standings are as of 4:15pm on Sunday - there are still some game to be played today. But none that will effect these projections.