Bauertology 1.0 - An Early Look Into March Madness
With every new installment of March Madness comes the yearly tradition of filling out a bracket, comparing it with friends and family, and watching it crumble as the madness ensues. But, what about the bracket itself? How is it formed?
It’s a very complicated process that involves comparing the résumés of teams competing for a spot in the field, ranking the teams that get selected from No. 1 to 68 and placing the teams in various locations for the numerous first-round matchups. This is the job that the selection committee must perform every Selection Sunday. Although this task is kept to a few select names, that hasn’t stopped others from trying to guess what the committee is thinking: a process known as 'Bracketology.' Names like ESPN’s Joe Lunardi and CBS’s Jerry Palm have been doing Bracketology for years, but now CommRadio is throwing its hat into the ring with “Bauertology.”
There’s still plenty of time to go until the bracket is officially revealed and March Madness kicks off, but let’s pretend that the college basketball season ended today. Here’s a glimpse at what the tournament field might look like.
EAST (Washington, D.C.)
1 Virginia vs. 16 Norfolk State / Prairie View A&M
8 Ohio State vs. 9 St. John's
5 Louisville vs. 12 Hofstra
4 Villanova vs. 13 Vermont
6 Kansas State vs. 11 Alabama
3 Purdue vs. 14 Bowling Green
7 Buffalo vs. 10 NC State
2 Kentucky vs. 15 Loyola Chicago
Salt Lake City
1 Gonzaga vs. 16 Rider / Robert Morris
8 Baylor vs. 9 Minnesota
5 Wisconsin vs. 12 New Mexico State
4 Iowa State vs. 13 Old Dominion
6 Maryland vs. 11 Wofford
3 Nevada vs. 14 Jacksonville State
7 Auburn vs. 10 UCF
2 North Carolina vs. 15 Montana
1 Tennessee vs. 16 Sam Houston State
8 TCU vs. 9 Syracuse
5 Texas Tech vs. 12 Indiana / Utah State
4 Virginia Tech vs. 13 Northern Kentucky
Salt Lake City
6 Iowa vs. 11 Lipscomb
3 Kansas vs. 14 Radford
7 Florida State vs. 10 Texas
2 Michigan vs. 15 Princeton
MIDWEST (Kansas City)
1 Duke vs. 16 Bucknell
8 Washington vs. 9 Ole Miss
5 LSU vs. 12 Davidson
4 Marquette vs. 13 South Dakota State
6 Cincinnati vs. 11 VCU / Arizona State
3 Michigan State vs. 14 Georgia State
7 Mississippi State vs. 10 Oklahoma
2 Houston vs. 15 UC Irvine
Last Four Byes: Oklahoma, NC State, Texas, Alabama
Last Four In: VCU, Arizona State, Indiana, Utah State
First Four Out: Temple, Clemson, Florida, Nebraska
Next Four Out: Seton Hall, Butler, Creighton, Arkansas
Although Tennessee is the nation’s top team according to the AP poll, Virginia’s résumé stands above the rest. With only a two-point loss to Duke separating Virginia from perfection, the Cavaliers get the No. 1 overall seed in this projection. Saturday’s rematch with the Blue Devils should be a thriller, and its result will have profound effects on the shape of the bracket.
The Big Ten reigns as the top conference currently, as nine of its 14 teams are projected to earn spots in the tournament. The Big 12 has the most impressive retention rate, however, as eight of its 10 teams are in the conversation. The Pac-12 is easily the weakest of the power conferences, as only three teams - Washington, Arizona State and Arizona - have any argument for an invite. The ACC is the top-heaviest power conference, with Virginia, Duke, North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Louisville all expected to earn five seeds or higher. The SEC has two powerhouses in Tennessee and Kentucky, as well as a handful of other contenders. The Volunteers and Wildcats have yet to play each other this season, but with a pair of showdowns set to occur on Feb. 16 and March 3, there’s plenty of excitement to come.
Life on the bubble is a stressful one, and for fans of teams on the bubble, finding out whether or not the home team earned an invite to the big dance is one of the most dramatic moments of Selection Sunday. In this projection, fans of VCU, Arizona State, Indiana and Utah State should be rejoicing, while those partial to Temple, Clemson, Florida and Nebraska may be feeling disappointed. There’s still plenty of time for this to change, but one thing is for certain: as time passes, the bubble will shrink, and no one wants to be one of the unlucky ones that goes “pop.”
Often, the selection committee will try to create some enticing matchups down the road should the right pieces fall into place. The most exciting potential game from this projection could be the possible Sweet 16 battle between Virginia and Villanova. As the defending champions with a new-look roster, it would be fascinating to see how the Wildcats handle the nation’s top defensive team with a trip to the Elite Eight on the line.
There’s still a whole month’s worth of college basketball left to play, so these projections will undoubtedly be changing as the weeks progress. Every week, a new installment of “Bauertology” will be released, so stay tuned to find out who lands where in each week’s newest edition.
DJ Bauer is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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