If WAB ruled the world: Bracketology

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…

Seed Midwest East South West
1 Kansas Villanova Baylor Gonzaga
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
4 UCLA Cincinnati Maryland Florida
13 Akron Monmouth Vermont Valparaiso
5 Kentucky Oregon South Carolina Duke
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
3 Butler Arizona Virginia Creighton
14 Bucknell Winthrop Arkansas St. Florida Gulf Coast
7 Saint Mary’s Northwestern USC Oklahoma St.
10 VCU Kansas St. Clemson Arkansas
2 Florida St. Louisville Wisconsin North Carolina
15 Boise St. Princeton Furman Texas Southern



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