It was the least chaotic weekend of college basketball so far this season. The highest ranked team to lose this weekend was AP No. 18 Texas Tech, which lost at home to No. 15 Kentucky. I will get to the Red Raiders shortly.
That means that there was very little movement near the top of the bracket, but quite a bit of shuffling further down.
Today I want to address three teams that are further down the bracket than you might expect based on their rankings in various places. Actually, two of these teams are out entirely. Let’s start with the aforementioned Red Raiders.
Texas Tech: Out
I am not sure why this team is in the rankings. Well, I can guess. Texas Tech was in last year’s Final Four and the Red Raiders have a win over Louisville. The rest of their tournament resume is hardly impressive. after its loss to Kentucky, but 1-7 vs teams in Quadrant 1. So, no bad losses is good, but that’s a pretty poor record against the best competition. After that, it has just three other wins outside of Q4 – Iowa State and Oklahoma State at home, and at Kansas State. That is two Q2 wins and one in Q3. Pickings would have to be really slim for team with these measly credentials to make the field.
It has been tough sledding for the Wolverines in the unforgiving Big Ten since the loss of guard Isaiah Livers to a groin injury. Their only win in the last six games was a double overtime victory over Purdue at home. Livers missed all of those games except for the game at home with Illinois on Saturday. Livers made his return, but only played 20 minutes because he reinjured the groin early in the second half. The Illini were .
This leaves Michigan at 11-8 overall, and regular readers of mine know that record has historically not been good enough to get in the NCAA Tournament. Only one team in the last 25 seasons has received an at-large bid with a record of fewer than four games below .500. That team was Georgia in 1999, which was 16-14. We have not seen a team with as strong of a schedule or anything close since then. Maybe that will change this season, maybe not. If it does, it would definitely be for a Big Ten team because of the depth of the league. One thing going for the Wolverines is that they are the only team to beat Gonzaga so far this season, but that is not enough to put Michigan in the bracket right now. Livers is listed as day-to-day. Michigan needs that to be a very small number of days.
Arizona: No. 8 seed
The Wildcats are No. 22 in the current AP Top 25, although that is likely to change following Arizona State‘s on Saturday. However, they are doing very well in the NET (10th) and other margin-of-victory-based metrics. That is partly because their few good wins, which have all come at home, have been by big margins. The Wildcats beat Colorado by 24 for their only Q1 victory. They also crushed Illinois by 21, Arizona State by 28 and Utah by 16. Those are Arizona’s four Q1 and 2 wins.
The Wildcats have yet to beat anyone of substance away from home and are now 0-4 on the road. If you want a good seed in this tournament, you have to find ways to beat good teams away from home. A gaudy ranking won’t do that for you. It’s not decisive. Ask Wichita State, which was No. 8 in KenPom in 2017 and a No. 10 seed in the bracket. If all you have is a good ranking, you have nothing. Rankings can be fooled. The selection committee rarely is.