The 82nd NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament field has been announced!
The Big Ten conference leads the field with 9 berths, including 5 teams seeded #1 through #4. The Big 12 also has 5 teams seeded #1-4 among their 7 total berths.
Two teams make their tournament debuts this season: the Grand Canyon University Antelopes and the University of Hartford Hawks. Grand Canyon (14-6) out of Phoenix, AZ won the Western Athletic Conference Tournament and regular season title. Hartford (15-8) from West Hartford, CT won the America East Conference Tournament.
This season marks UCLA’s 50th NCAA Tournament berth (3rd most) and Villanova’s 40th. Villanova passes Indiana for the 8th most tournament appearances. Kansas extends its streak of consecutive tournament appearances to 31 years. Duke’s consecutive streak ends at 24 seasons.
The COVID-19 pandemic still hovers over these proceedings. Three teams (Duke, Kansas, and Virginia) withdrew from their conference tournament due to positive cases within their programs. The possibility exists that these teams or others may be declared ineligible due to virus issues. The NCAA has documented rules for declaring teams ineligible due to positive tests within seven days of the tournament start. Ineligible teams will be replaced in the field prior to the tournament start, but once underway, a disqualified team will cause their opponent to automatically advance.
I believe the situations of Duke, Kansas, and Virginia demonstrate that conference tournaments should not have been held so close to the start of the national tournament. There are no guarantees about how the virus might spread, but sending eight-plus team entourages to a single site within days of the national tournament shows that “hope” was the containment strategy for the NCAA and its conferences.
The effected teams and tournament organizers can now only hope that their programs remain eligible and that the virus was not spread to their opponents and the other teams sharing the arena and its locker rooms. The fairness and integrity of the national tournament is at stake. The need to cancel a game and advance a team puts the fairness of the tournament at question. Was the ACC Conference Tournament fair? Georgia Tech and Florida State both advanced while playing fewer grueling games because their earlier opponents bowed out. We can only hope that the NCAAs are not tainted by similar forfeits.
The 2020 Basketball Tournament was cancelled, but now you can simulate the championship using Bracket Master! You can simulate a full championship tournament using any season from 1985 to the present. The Simulation uses an exclusive methodology for rating teams and determining their odds to win a particular game. Try to get your favorite team to win the championship!
The BracketMaster simulation is based on our exclusive “Scrutinous Score” methodology. A Scrutinous Score is calculated for each team using advanced metrics from the season’s game results. Using the Scrutinous Scores of a game’s two teams, we utilize a unique calculation to determine the odds for the matchup. We simulate each game in the tournament, team-by-team, round-by-round. Scores of games are produced by the distinct tendencies of the opposing teams.
Better, more highly rated teams will win more simulations than lesser teams, but upsets can, and will, occur. Our extensive study of the tournament has allowed us to develop a mathematic calculation for the circumstances and frequency of these upsets.
For seasons prior to 2002, Scrutinous Scores are determined using a shorthand calculation that heavily weighs the team’s tournament seed. This demarcation is due to the lack of availability of advanced college basketball metrics prior to 2002.
The Bracket Master simulation is available starting with version 1.1.0.0726 of the app. The Scrutinous Score game odds calculations can be viewed on both the Simulation page and the Picks page of the app — Select the “Scrutinous Odds” option from the “Display Mode” drop down menu.
The 2020 NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments have been cancelled due to concerns about the spreading COVID-19 health threat. The NCAA will not release an official 2020 tournament bracket, but Bracket Master has published a projected field that includes: the automatic bids that were decided, the top seeded teams in conferences that did complete their tournament, and a projection of at-large berths.
This result is very disappointing for college basketball fans, but must be incredibly frustrating for several teams that were experiencing historically successful seasons. In particular we will call out the University of Dayton Flyers and the San Diego State Aztecs along with their consensus All-American players Obi Toppin (Dayton) and Malachi Flynn (SD State). It’s a shame we won’t get to see these teams compete for a national title.
Congratulations to the University of Virginia Cavaliers for winning their first men’s basketball national championship. This is the 15th championship for an Atlantic Coast Conference school which ties the total of the Pac-12.
Virginia (35-3) needed to survive a host of pressure-packed tests. The Cavaliers won its six tournament games by an average of 7.5 points. This is the third-smallest margin of victory for the champion since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985. The slim margin trails only 1985 Villanova and 1997 Arizona. Three of Virginia’s six games came down to the final possession of regulation, and they trailed in the second half of five games.
ESPN has published a ranking of every NCAA tournament champion, from 1939 to 2019. I don’t believe the ranking is valuable, but the article does provide a one paragraph overview of each of the 81 champions. The 2019 Cavaliers are slotted in at number 34.
Six teams won a tournament game for the first time in 2019: Belmont, California-Irvine, Central Florida, Liberty, Farleigh Dickinson, and Wofford.
Number 9 seeds went 4-0 against #8s in first round games, with an average margin of victory by 16 points. A sweep by #9s has happened in four other tournaments: 2001, 1999, 1994, 1989.
Number 12 seeds went 3-1 against #5s in first round games, including wins by Murray State, Liberty, and Oregon. New Mexico State just missed making it a clean sweep in losing by one point to Auburn. Historically, Number 12 seeds have won only 32% (50-106) of these matchups.
Number 10 seeds went 3-1 against #7s in first round games, including wins by Florida, Iowa, and Minnesota. Historically, Number 10 seeds have won only 39% (62-98) of these matchups.
The Cal-Irvine Anteaters were the lowest seed (13) to advance to the second round.
Gonzaga had the largest margin of victory in the first round with their 38 point win over Farleigh Dickinson.
The 81st NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Bracket is now official.
Three number 1 seeds were awarded to ACC teams (Virginia, Duke, North Carolina) which ties a record for one conference. In 2009, the Big East earned three number 1s: Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Louisville. Four Big East teams reached the Elite Eight that year.
This season marks North Carolina’s 50th NCAA Tournament berth. They trail only Kentucky (59) for the most appearances.
Two teams make their tournament debuts this season: the Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs and the Abilene Christian Wildcats. Gardner-Webb (23-11) of Boiling Springs, NC won the Big South Conference Tournament. Abilene Christian (27-6) of Abilene, TX won the Southland Conference Tournament.
The first round game I am most looking forward to is Murray State versus Marquette. The matchup features the nation’s #3 scorer, Markus Howard (Marquette), and the #9 scorer, Ja Morant (Murray State).
The 2019 season has seen two players reach an elite NCAA milestone by scoring 3,000 points in a career. Chris Clemons of Campbell University and Mike Daum of South Dakota State join just eight others to have accomplished the lofty feat. BracketMaster projects South Dakota State (23-7/13-2) to receive the automatic bid for the Summit League into the NCAA Tournament, seeded as #13. Campbell (17-11/10-4) is currently projected to miss the field as they sit in 2nd place in the Big South Conference, one game behind Radford, who we have earning the berth with a #13 seed.
It looks unlikely that either the Big South (Conference SRS at 21st of 32) or the Summit League (SRS 25th of 32) will receive a tournament bid outside of their automatic berths, so for the Camels and Jackrabbits it’s going to come down to their respective conference championship tournaments.
South Dakota State has made the NCAA Tournament the last three years, but has never won a tourney game. Campbell has only made the NCAAs once, in 1992. We’d love to see these two electrifying scorers, Daum and Clemons, in the field of 68 on college basketball’s biggest stage.
Both of these Super Scorers missed the tournament for their senior season, despite winning their conference’s regular season title. South Dakota State lost in the Summit Conference Tournament quarterfinals to Western Illinois. Campbell lost the Big South Conference Tournament final to Gardner-Webb. The Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs will make their first-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Campbell and South Dakota State will have their seasons continue in the NIT.
Perhaps the greatest aspect of March Madness is the improbable upset. Here are a few examples for you to investigate from within BracketMaster.
- The 1953 Lebanon Valley College Flying Dutchman reached the Sweet Sixteen. They are the smallest school by enrollment (425 students) to ever advance that far. LVC currently competes in Division III and were the 1994 Division III Men’s Basketball Champions.
- Williams College is another very small school (current enrollment: 2,100) that appeared in the NCAA Tournament just one time. The 1955 Ephs lost in the first round, but have since established themselves as a fine athletics program, winning the 2003 Division III Men’s Basketball Championship.
- A #11 Seed is the lowest seed to ever reach the Final Four, and it has happened four times:
- Still fresh in our memory, last year’s Loyola University of Chicago Ramblers advanced out of a busted-bracket South Region to earn their trip to San Antonio.
- The 2011 Virginia Commonwealth Rams upset #1 seed Kansas to reach the Final Four in Houston.
- The 2006 George Mason Patriots downed #1 Connecticut to emerge from the East Region.
- The 1986 LSU Tigers are the only #11 seed to have beaten their region’s #1, #2, and #3 seeds in the same tournament.
Your continued support of BracketMaster will encourage us toward making it even better. Below are some of the ideas we have for future enhancements.
- “Create your own Bracket” is a much requested feature that we are investigating. The mobile interface makes it a challenge to efficiently enter teams, but we are looking into possibilities.
- Add Conference Record by Round. For example, the Big East is 9-4 in Final Round games. This data can be obtained using the Game Search Page, but it might be useful to provide a dedicated space for it.
- Analysis of winning percentage based on the teams’ distance traveled. Update: As of release 1.2.7, travel distance is considered in the calculation of Scrutinous Odds used for that auto-pick method and for the simulation engine. Game travel distance is displayed on the Team Comparison Page, shown when you tap on a team on the Picks Page.
- Additional team ratings and statistics. Update: In release 1.2.1, all division 1 team seasons since 1998 were added. Previously, we only included team seasons of schools that made the tournament. Additionally, Strength of Schedule (SoS), and the Bart Torvik Power Rating were added to the team pages.
- Separate the Conference Teams Page into sections for current and past members. Update: Added in release 1.2.1. Also added the conference record for all their tournament seasons.
- Present a search function to view a list of games that meet certain criteria. For example, all games between #8 and #9 seeds, games between Big Ten and ACC teams, etc. Update: Added in release 1.2.3. A consolidated results option may be implemented in the future.
- Furnish a dark themed interface and allow users to select their preferred theme.
- Possibly provide a font size adjustment setting.
- Possibly offer a paid ad-free version.
- Possibly support other languages (with assistance from the community).
- Build an app focused on the Women’s National Collegiate Championship.
We’d love to hear your thoughts as well — the best way for you to provide this feedback is on our Request a Feature community forum. If you would like to monetarily support our future development you can contribute through our About page. Thank you!
Look for BracketMaster to be available for download at your digital app storefront the first week of February 2019.