The first bracket of the season has been posted now that non-conference play has wrapped up and the conference slate is now in full swing. Here are some important notes from the first projection.
Is there a case for a Gonzaga 1 seed?
Illinois needs to correct itself before it wrecks itself
Creighton is more than a one man show
I've been asked a few times to write a piece on VCU, since that's my alma-mater and the team a decent number of my readership follows. Because this blog is about the national basketball scene and bracketology picture, I try not to focus on the Rams. Any evaluation I give about their potential and style of play would end of up with at least some level of favorable bias. With that being said, I'm going to take an objective stab at potential end of season outcome based on some statistical modeling from other excellent college basketball websites.
Please remember, A) more than anything else, it's fun to look at, and B) with about half the season under our belt, the statistical models have a decent sample size to work with and have some (but not great) level of accuracy.
First, check out this piece in which John Templon of Big Apple Buckets runs 10,000 simulations of the A-10 season:
The Rams won 73% of simulations outright, one of the highest totals we’ve seen this season. They were involved in one way or another in 87% of league titles. Just 16% of the 10,000 sims I ran ended in a tie for first place. Though there were a few fun ones. Three times seven teams tied for the league title.
Now consider that in these simulations, the Rams' average record in conference play was 14-2. This would put them at 26-5 to close the regular season. Next, take a gander at RPIforecast.com. This simulation, which combines current results with the highly respected Sagarin predictor model, also figures the most likely scenario is for the Rams to finish 26-5 and 14-2 in conference play. Some other nuggets from RPIForecast:
Record vs RPI top 50: 4-3
Record vs RPI top 100: 12-4
To try and gauge what seed that might land Shaka's club, the best analog from last year I could find was (surprise) Wichita State. They played in a weaker conference than VCU will be in this year, but they finished 26-6, 14-2 in conference, 2-3 vs RPI top 50 and 8-3 vs RPI top 100, not including post-season play. While they had a signature OOC win against UNLV (VCU doesn't really have that), their OOC losses were to teams not as strong as Duke, Mizzou, and Wichita State of this year.
The Shockers ended up as a 5 seed, but I feel they were slightly under-seeded. A 4 or even a 3 may have been appropriate. It's not unreasonable to think VCU could lose just two more games all season, and it's also not unreasonable to say they could lose five in conference. Depending on how the conference tournament plays out, here's where I think the Rams could end up in the dance:
26-5: 3-4 seed
24-7: 5-6 seed
23-8: 7-8 seed
My prediction: I don't think these forecasts take into account that VCU will have a huge target on their back this season, especially on the road. They'll also come out cold a couple of nights, and will cost them. The Rams will finish 12-4 in conference and 24-7 overall, with a couple of losses to very good teams (SLU/Temple) and a couple of games they shouldn't lose. That would put them at a 5 or 6 seed, depending on how things play out in Brooklyn.
* Photo credit to VCURamnation.com
Growing up outside of Richmond, Virginia in the heart of ACC Country, college hoops was set into the fabric of Rusty Tutton at an early age. A 2008 graduate of VCU, he lives in the Fan District of Richmond and works full-time in higher education.