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College Crosse Bracketology 3.0: This is where the chaos begins

T-minus 9 days away from Selection Sunday!

NCAA Basketball: Final Four Preview David Wallace-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to our third edition of College Crosse’s Bracketology series for the 2018 season! Last time we left you, the Bucknell Bison looked like they were inching closer to an at-large spot. Since then, they lost to BU and have put their fate in the hands of the selection committee. That’s not good!

Also, Syracuse lost to Navy, Notre Dame lost to UNC, and Virginia almost lost to Vermont. So nothing is set in stone yet, especially in the ACC.

Here’s all the remaining NCAA teams that are mathematically still eligible for making the NCAA Tournament. Some of these teams have no shot at an at-large bid, but could still win their conference somehow in their conference tournament. Remember, a team has to have at least a .500 record to be eligible for the NCAA Tournament.

Automatic Qualifiers

There are only nine AQs, and you can thank the ACC for the odd number (please find a sixth team). For this, we’ll take the top team in each conference based off of conference record. If there’s a tie, we’ll go by overall record.

2018 Bracketology Automatic Qualifiers 3.0

Team Conference RPI SOS 1-5 Ws 6-10 Ws 11-20 Ws 21+ Ls Significant Ws Significant Ls
Team Conference RPI SOS 1-5 Ws 6-10 Ws 11-20 Ws 21+ Ls Significant Ws Significant Ls
Maryland Big Ten 1 5 0-1 1-0 (Notre Dame) 6-1 (Navy, Penn, Villanova, North Carolina, Penn State, Rutgers) NA NA Albany (2), Ohio State (18)
Albany America East 2 4 1-1 (Maryland) 1-0 (Syracuse) 1-0 (Cornell) UMBC (44) Maryland (1) Yale (4), UMBC (44)
Yale Ivy League 4 11 1-0 (Albany) 0-0 2-2 (Cornell, Penn) NA Albany (2) Villanova (11), Bucknell (16)
Loyola Patriot League 5 8 0-1 1-1 (Johns Hopkins) 1-1 (Navy) NA NA Virginia (9), Bucknell (16)
Denver Big East 7 18 0-1 0-1 3-0 (North Carolina, Ohio State, Villanova) NA NA Notre Dame (8)
UMass CAA 25 41 0-2 0-0 0-0 Army West Point (39), Harvard (28) NA Harvard (28), Army West Point (39)
Richmond SoCon 32 35 0-1 0-2 2-0 (Bucknell, North Carolina) UMBC (44), Furman (59) Bucknell (16), North Carolina (20) UMBC (44), Furman (59)
Saint Joseph's NEC 37 65 0-0 0-0 1-0 (Penn) Fairfield (47), Providence (43), St. John's (42) Penn (14), Drexel (33), Bryant (34) St. John's (42), Providence (43), Fairfield (47)
Quinnipiac MAAC 50 67 0-0 0-0 0-0 UMass Lowell (46), Vermont (21), Fairfield (47), Hartford (57), Holy Cross (45) Brown (30), Detroit Mercy (49) Hartford (57)
Data from Laxpredictions.com

We have a new #1 overall RPI with Maryland jumping in front of Albany, despite both teams losing on Sunday.

There’s also one swap of AQs, with Loyola taking the Patriot League over Navy in this projection, since the Greyhounds won a share of the regular season championship and were awarded the top seed in the PL Tournament.

At-Large Candidates

Eight more teams will be picked to join the nine qualifiers. Since our last update, we have 13 teams on the bubble, and that number appears to stay firm, unless the conference tournaments go crazy in the next two weeks.

2018 Bracketology At-Larges 3.0

Team Conference RPI SOS 1-5 Ws 6-10 Ws 11-20 Ws 21+ Ls Significant Ws Significant Ls
Team Conference RPI SOS 1-5 Ws 6-10 Ws 11-20 Ws 21+ Ls Significant Ws Significant Ls
Duke ACC 3 15 1-0 (Loyola) 3-1 (Denver, Notre Dame, Virginia) 1-1 (North Carolina) NA NA Syracuse (10), Penn (14)
Johns Hopkins Big Ten 6 7 0-1 2-0 (Syracuse, Virginia) 2-2 (Rutgers, Ohio State) NA NA Penn State (17), North Carolina (20)
Notre Dame ACC 8 2 0-2 2-1 (Denver, Virginia) 1-1 (Ohio State) Michigan (24) Denver (7) Syracuse (10), North Carolina (20), Michigan (24)
Virginia ACC 9 23 1-1 (Loyola) 0-3 1-0 (North Carolina) NA Loyola (5) Syracuse (10)
Syracuse ACC 10 3 1-1 (Duke) 2-1 (Virginia, Notre Dame) 1-3 (North Carolina) NA Duke (3), Notre Dame (8), Virginia (9) Rutgers (12), Cornell (13), Navy (15)
Villanova Big East 11 13 1-1 (Yale) 0-1 2-0 (Penn State, Penn) Brown (30), Georgetown (22) Yale (4) Georgetown (22), Brown (30)
Rutgers Big Ten 12 20 0-1 1-1 (Syracuse) 2-0 (Robert Morris, Penn State) Army West Point (39), Princeton (29) Syracuse (10) Princeton (29), Army West Point (39)
Cornell Ivy League 13 27 0-2 1-0 (Syracuse) 2-0 (Penn State, Penn) Colgate (40) Syracuse (10) Colgate (40)
Penn Ivy League 14 1 1-2 (Duke) 0-0 2-3 (Navy, Bucknell) Brown (30), Saint Joseph's (37) Duke (3) Penn State (17), Brown (30), Saint Joseph's (37)
Navy Patriot League 15 17 0-2 1-0 (Syracuse) 1-1 (Bucknell) Jacksonville (35) Syracuse (10) Jacksonville (35)
Bucknell Patriot League 16 24 2-0 (Loyola, Yale) 0-0 0-2 Richmond (32), Boston University (31) Yale (4), Loyola (5) Boston University (31), Richmond (32)
Penn State Big Ten 17 30 0-1 1-0 (Johns Hopkins) 2-4 (Penn, Ohio State) NA Johns Hopkins (6), Penn (14) Robert Morris (19)
Ohio State Big Ten 18 22 1-0 (Maryland) 0-3 0-1 Marquette (23), Towson (26) Maryland (1) Marquette (23), Towson (26)

Right now, Duke and Johns Hopkins are probably the only two teams safe. Last week, I had five teams as safe. Boy was I wrong.

Notre Dame, Virginia, and Syracuse are not safe. Matter of fact, I think they’ll need to win their semifinal matchups to keep their hopes alive. A loss flirts with disaster, as all three teams would have one more game left before Selection Sunday.

Villanova, Rutgers, Cornell, and Navy are definitely on the bubble right now. They all need to take care of their conference tournament or at least win one game in that tournament to stay alive.

Penn, Bucknell, Penn State, and Ohio State are in some trouble. The Bison are in the biggest trouble, as they fell to BU Tuesday night in the Patriot League Quarterfinals. That may have been their season.

Bracketology Prediction 3.0

Before I unveil what I have, here’s the rundown of the bracket, as best described by Patrick Stevens:

  • The committee seeds the top eight teams and then assigns the unseeded teams based on geography in an attempt to limit air travel while trying to maintain bracket integrity.
  • Conference matchups are to be avoided in the first round.
  • If applicable, quarterfinal host schools are funneled into their own site. Hofstra and Navy are this year’s quarterfinal hosts.
  • Of the nine automatic qualifiers, the two with the weakest resumes are assigned to the preliminary round game the Wednesday before the first round. At-large teams are not selected for play-in games.

Here we go:

Last Four In: Cornell, Villanova, Virginia, Rutgers
First Four Out: Navy, Bucknell, Penn State, Penn

Navy and Bucknell are out. Virginia and Rutgers would be in at this point in time.

One question I have is how legit the question of having Notre Dame and/or Syracuse is at this time. Before the ACC Tournament/blatant RPI booster begins, both teams have top 10 RPIs and strength-of-schedule rankings. The aforementioned blatant RPI booster is going to help both of their RPI and SOS marks, and will probably do the same for Virginia for their at-large chances. But they’ll all need to win. I’m having a hard time seeing four ACC teams making the NCAA Tournament.

The safest Last Four In team right now is Villanova. Looking at their numbers, they have an 11 RPI and a 13 SOS. That’s the strongest in that quartet. But they have two significant losses to teams outside the top 20 in RPI.

There’s two Patriot League teams in the First Four Out in Navy and Bucknell. Navy plays Lehigh tonight in the Patriot League semifinals. That won’t be enough to get themselves into the NCAA Tournament. I think they have to win both games this weekend and get that AQ to assure themselves of safety. That could mean Bucknell would be on the outside looking in. At this point, Bucknell’s best hopes are to watch teams like Villanova, Cornell, Virginia, and maybe even Navy to fall completely flat on their faces and lose their remaining games.