I'm ready to take the title of premier bracketologist. This will be my first bracket prediction, so this is new for me. Of course, once you read this, you will forget about Lunardi. C'mon. We all know he is a suckup to the big schools. This will be objective. I guarantee. Well, except for Butler. And Notre Dame. But never mind that. Here's what qualifies for an automatic at-large bid.
Top 40 RPI, Winning Conference Record, Less than 10 losses, 5 wins over RPI Top 100 teams, and a record at .500 or above against the RPI Top 50.
If you fit in all four of those categories, you are in no matter what. I don't care what conference you are in, if you have all of those, there is no way you can miss the tournament. No doubt about it. Here are the teams that are in with automatic at-large. Note: All RPI and stats come from kenpom.com
Tennessee, North Carolina, Memphis, Duke, Texas, UCLA, Vanderbilt, Georgetown, Kansas, Xaiver, Louisville, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Connecticut, Drake, Indiana, Stanford, Butler, Notre Dame, Miami, Kent State, and Purdue.
Those 22 teams have to be in the Tournament. It would be a traveshamockery if they are sent to the NIT. So now the tough part about Bracketology is the seeding and the bubble teams. I'll start at the top.
I agree with Lunardi on all of these. I do not think North Carolina will make the Final Four, but it would be hard to deny them a number one seed. Memphis and Tennessee are the two best teams in the nation, and UCLA is a just a great team.
Here is where Lunardi and me start to disagree. He has Wisconsin as a number two seed and Xaiver as a three seed. I guess Lunardi missed the fact that Wisconsin is 4-4 against the top 50 and has a worse RPI than Xaiver. The A-10 is a tough conference. It should not be looked down upon like it is the Summit League or the SWAC. It is the best mid-major and is almost equal with the Big Ten. Lunardi is wrong. I'm right. Get used to that phrase. You will be reading it a lot.
The difference between me and ESPN's guy is he has Stanford while I have Vandy. To be perfectly honest, I haven't seen a Stanford game this year. I've seen Vandy play, and I like what I saw. If I could stay up until midnight or whenever Stanford games are on, I may be able to judge them. I won't blast Lunardi on his pick. I look at RPI in a better light then Lunardi does. It's how you know a team plays well against good competition. In the NCAA Tournament, you will be facing a good team every game. You have to win against them. Arizona has three losses to teams with RPI between 50-100. That may be good enough for a four or five seed, but not for a three seed. Next!
Another difference. I have Stanford and Lunardi has Purdue. No way Purdue is a top 4 team. Don't give me any of your Big Ten crap, people. You can twist the stats anyway you want, but you cannot change the fact Purdue has lost to two teams with RPIs sub 100 with one against Wofford, who's RPI is below 200. They don't even have a top 30 RPI. They are not a top 4 seed.
The main difference here is seeding. I have Vandy as a three. Lunardi has them as a five seed. I have Purdue as a five. He has them as a four seed. Since Vandy is a three for me, I have Butler as a five. Lunardi has a right to be questioning Butler. They are 1-1 against the RPI Top 50, but they don't lose. They lost two games by less than five and one game that was the worst reffed game in the history of college basketball. Butler is a tough team to beat. They gave Florida their toughest test of the Tournament last year. Butler could surprise some people.
With my qualification process, Kent State and Miami needed to be here. Miami has some great wins over teams like Duke and Mississippi State, but they also have bad losses to teams like Winthrop and Boston College. Nevertheless, they met my standards, and I couldn't drop them lower than a 6. Same goes with Kent State. They did lose to Detroit and Toledo, but they also played a ridiculously tough nonconference schedule against teams like North Carolina, Xaiver, Illinois State, St. Mary's, Cleveland State, and George Mason and made it out with only 3 losses.
Lunardi had Zaga and Mississippi State as a six seed, and I knocked them down a seed. Meh. They are on the border for the six seed. Lunardi has USC as a seven seed, but they have ten losses. Sorry. A ten loss team will never get a top 8 seed in my book.
Okay. I'm done doing commentary after this one. Lunardi has Saint Mary's, South Alabama, Arizona, and Oklahoma. Since I will not give a ten loss team the upper hand, I have Pitt (Lunardi: 7) and UNLV (Lunardi: 10) instead.
UC Santa Barbara
Alabama State v. Morgan State
Stephen F. Austin
San Diego State
Bids by Conference
Big East (7)
Big XII (6)
Big Ten (4)
Atlantic 10 (4)
Mountain West (3)
Missouri Valley (2)
West Coast (2)
Sun Belt (2)
Horizon, MAAC, Southland, SWAC, WAC, C-USA, Big West, Southern, MEAC, Patriot, Summit, American East, Big Sky, OVC, Atlantic Sun, Ivy League, Northeast, Big South, MAC, CAA all have 1 team.