I decided to see what the bracket would look like if invitations and seeding were done according to WAB. I ran the snake by the WAB standings, and gave auto bids to the teams who currently led their conference standings. Some notes: I had to flip some teams in the bracket. They are as follows:
Butler-Virginia swapped spots on the 3-line
Belmont-Seton Hall/Michigan State swapped spots on the 12-line
TCU-Minnesota swapped spots on the 9-line
Kansas State-New Mexico State swapped spots on the 9-10 lines
Northwestern-USC swapped spots on the 7-line
California-Dayton swapped spots on the 11-line
Miami FL-Arkansas swapped spots on the 9-10 lines
The end result is amusing. I may have broken some rules in terms of regional semifinal pairings, but I won’t lose any sleep over that. Some notes by region:
Midwest: Kansas has the brutal path of Wichita State, followed by the UCLA-Kentucky winner. The bottom half is much easier, with Butler battling Notre Dame for the right to face Florida State. The Saint Mary’s-VCU winner would have a real shot of upsetting the bracket and getting to the elite eight.
West: Gonzaga faces an equally brutal path of SMU, followed by a matchup against the Florida-Duke winner. The bottom half is no picnic, with Purdue and Creighton facing off for the right to face the UNC-Oklahoma St. winner. Tough region.
East: Villanova has to deal with Iowa State, and then the Cincinnati-Oregon winner. That’s not easy, but not as tough as what Kansas and Gonzaga have to go through. Poor Arizona has to go through West Virginia and Louisville just to get to the elite eight. Oof!
South: The easiest region by an order of magnitude. Baylor would have the easiest path to the sweet 16 of any 1-seed. Once there, they’d get the Maryland-South Carolina winner, which would again be softer opponent than any other #1 seed would have to face. After that, things would get tougher, against the Wisconsin-Virginia winner. Frankly, if this were the actual bracket, I’d love Virginia’s chances of getting to the Final Four and winning it all.
This exercise made me wonder if taking team quality into account in seeding is necessary. If you do, you punish teams who have won more games than their Pythag would predict, and reward teams which have underperformed. Still, if you ignore Pythag for seeding, as I have here, you get vastly unequal regions. Something to meditate on…
|16||Weber St./UC Davis||N Dakota St./Mt. St. Mary’s||North Carolina Central||Sam Houston St.|
|8||Wichita St.||Iowa St.||Virginia Tech||SMU|
|9||Miami FL||Minnesota||New Mexico St.||TCU|
|12||Seton Hall/Michigan St.||Wake Forest/Marquette||Belmont||Middle Tennessee|
|6||Notre Dame||West Virginia||Xavier||Purdue|
|11||California||Dayton||Illinois St.||UNC Wilmington|
|14||Bucknell||Winthrop||Arkansas St.||Florida Gulf Coast|
|7||Saint Mary’s||Northwestern||USC||Oklahoma St.|
|2||Florida St.||Louisville||Wisconsin||North Carolina|
|15||Boise St.||Princeton||Furman||Texas Southern|