Here are my very early NCAA Tournament Bracket Projections for the 2016 Tournament. We maybe have seen about 10% of a team’s relevant resume when it comes to what the committee will consider (unless you are in a non-power conference, in which case, these games can be a lot of your seeding argument).
I am projecting where I think teams will end up on Selection Sunday based on what we know so far. That includes how teams were perceived, injuries and other factors, and how they are rated so far this year, even if they haven’t played their biggest games yet.
I consult ratings such as Ken Pomeroy’s and Jeff Sagarin’s, and also look at the invaluable RPI forecast. We know the committee puts great weight on the RPI, but looking at the current RPI tells you little. Looking at the ranges for a team at the conclusion of their schedule is far better when trying to project how teams will be viewed.
My top seed projections:
Purdue: 10-0. The front line is massive. Top 3 in both Pomeroy and Sagarin. A.J. Hammons, Caleb Swanigan, Isaac Haas, and Kendall Stephens give them such an advantage up front. How many teams can matchup with 6-foot-8 Vince Edwards outside? With all that length, they lead the nation in 2-point field goal percentage defense, at 35.7%. They get Michigan State at home in the only meeting, and the Boilermakers are my pick to win the Big Ten.
Kansas: Finally added Cheick Diallo to a veteran core. They will be better in February than in December. The Big 12 Champ should be in great shape for a #1 seed, and I’m going Kansas over Oklahoma and Iowa State.
North Carolina: Like Kansas, they had a key part out early. Marcus Paige is back now, and this is another team that I expect to win a tight race, against Duke, Louisville, and Virginia. They were the preseason #1. They’ll have plenty of opportunity to build the #1 seed resumé.
Michigan State: Denzel Valentine is the Player of the Year favorite. The Spartans are 10-0 with wins over Kansas, Louisville, and Providence (and a home game against Florida tomorrow). I have Purdue finishing ahead of the Spartans, but the current resumé should be enough to hold off Kentucky, who may not have as many top 25 wins by Selection Sunday. Can the Big Ten get two #1 seeds? We shall see.
Here’s the full list of projected teams. The 10 that just missed, but will be in the mix: Michigan, Colorado, Rhode Island, Arizona State, Oregon State, San Diego State, Boise State, Kansas State, Tulsa, Richmond