2016 NCAA Tournament Projections: Iowa and West Virginia Surging Toward Higher Seeds

By Jason Lisk

The conferences have gotten underway with a few key clashes. Last month, I ran a very early projection with limited non-conference games into early December. Some teams have proven those projections right. Purdue, on the other hand, was cursed by me, slumping and losing three games over the last month.

The biggest movers have been Iowa and West Virginia, teams that should break into the top tier. Iowa has beaten Purdue on the road, and Michigan State twice in dominant fashion in the last few weeks (granted, one of them while the Spartans were without Denzel Valentine). Those are top 20 type wins when the committee sits down and evaluates, and Iowa is 4th in Ken Pomeroy’s rankings. They’ve rebounded nicely since the collapse after having a big lead in Ames.

West Virginia, meanwhile, has only lost the game to Virginia. They just knocked off Kansas at home. While that is their only notable top 20 win so far, they sit at 5th in Pomeroy’s rankings. Can they break through Oklahoma and Kansas. Right now, I have those two as #1 seeds, and West Virginia as the top 3 seed (right behind the team they lost to).

Here’s my reminder that I do these projections a little differently. I’m not looking at current RPI  and just the current results to form my bracket. The committee will decide based on the full schedule. We know that schedule will be played. I am looking at the eventual schedule as well as the “already-in-hand” results to project, and using various power rankings, and the resource that is RPI Forecast, to inform my projection. As we get into March, obviously the two will merge, because more games will have been played.

Here are the first projections of the calendar year. The next set of projections will come out two weeks from this Sunday, and then will be updated weekly on Sunday night, heading into the next week’s games.