Wednesday, March 14, 2012

2012 96-Team NCAA Basketball Field

As I did last year, and the year before I tried to come up with what my projection would be for the NCAA field if it was 96 teams instead of 68. One assumption I make is that they will take no losing teams. Two years ago this was a strong assumption, but this year it probably would not have made a difference. Unlike in last year's projection I will not assume that all of the NIT at-large teams will make it. While there were a lot of automatic bids to the NIT, like in years past, the different thing this year was that there were a lot of automatic bids who would have made the NIT without the automatic bids (Washington, Drexel, Nevada …). What that means is that we cannot assume that all of the NIT at-large bids would have made the NCAA tournament. In particular, it is hard to imagine Iowa making a 96-team NCAA tournament. However, being a large university with a large fan base who could host an NIT game made them a good choice for the NIT. I was also skeptical of Stanford, but they received a 3-seed so maybe my view of them is probably lower than that of the people making the decisions.

Clear additions to a 96-team field: Washington, Tennessee, Arizona, Seton Hall, St. Joe's, Mississippi, Miami, Dayton, Oregon, Drexel, Oral Roberts, Northwestern, Mississippi St., Akron, Nevada, Marshall

Likely additions: La Salle, Middle Tennessee, UMass, Central Florida

Bubble teams: Cleveland St., Northern Iowa, LSU, Valparaiso (The Horizon was a pretty highly rated conference so I think Cleveland St. and Valpo would have been selected)

Last 4 in: UMass, Bucknell, Stanford, Minnesota

Last 4 out: George Mason, Weber St., Princeton, Buffalo

I ended up taking all of the at-large teams from the NIT except Iowa (RPI in the 120s) plus two additional auto bids from the NIT that had 7 or 8 seeds (Valparaiso and Bucknell)

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