I've been saying all along for San Diego State to relinquish its hold on the No. 1 seed in our Bracketology projection, two things would have to happen. First, the Aztecs would have to suffer a truly bad loss (that is, Quad 3 or Quad 4). UNLV took care of that late Saturday at Viejas Arena in San Diego.
The second thing is that another team has to legitimately pass SDSU, as no one among the existing No. 2 seeds had quite enough in our evaluations to immediately replace the Aztecs on the top line. Maryland certainly had a chance Sunday afternoon at Ohio State, but the Terrapins came up short against the Buckeyes and remain a No. 2.
We would currently rank the No. 2 seeds as follows: Duke (fifth overall), Dayton (sixth), Maryland (seventh) and Florida State (eighth). My sense is that the Aztecs are most vulnerable if one of the ACC's "big three" -- Duke, Florida State and Louisville -- wins the regular season and the ACC tournament title or Maryland does the same in the Big Ten. In any of those scenarios, even if SDSU wins out, I believe the Aztecs will be passed despite the fact it hasn't happened yet.
And would that really be a bad thing? If I'm San Diego State and have to choose between a No. 2 seed in the West Region (paired with Gonzaga) or a No. 1 seed in the East (paired with the ACC or Big Ten champion), I'm liking the idea of wearing dark jerseys at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
The prestige of a No. 1 seed is fabulous. Making the Final Four lasts forever.
In the course of any season, we compile a fair amount of data in the Bracket Bunker. Every so often, I like to share some of the numbers that help distinguish Team A from Team B and even Team Z.
No metric is perfect, of course, and no single rating system is without outliers. My job -- and even more so that of the NCAA selection committee -- is to spot those outliers and evaluate accordingly. For me, this involves observation, aggregation and committee precedent from similar circumstances in other seasons.
The closer we get to Selection Sunday, the more I find that a healthy dose of common sense also helps. Sometimes the committee agrees with me in these instances, and sometimes it doesn't. Either way, this is what I mean when you hear me say the entire process is as much art as science.
In case someone calls in sick, here are some of the numbers I'd bring into the committee room:
For years, I've assigned a single number to the wins and losses of all contending teams, based on degree of difficulty and location of the games involved. The current Quad system has made this even more exact -- with +4 points for a Q1 win all the way to down to -4 for a Q4 loss -- and it's a quick way to be sure we are evaluating teams in the proper ranges.
Here's our current top 10 in the "Winning Points" category:
• Baylor (68.0)
• Kansas (65.0)
• Maryland (57.0)
• Gonzaga (55.0)
• Florida State (54.0)
• Dayton (53.0)
• Villanova (53.0)
• Auburn (52.5)
• San Diego State (51.0)
• Seton Hall (50.0)
Partly because of Winning Points, Maryland had been my first choice to move up to the top line if or when San Diego State gives it up. That and the common sense element of the Terps being the outright leader of this season's top conference. In my world, winning something significant -- especially an outright regular-season title or a conference tournament crown -- seems to carry more weight than it does in the committee room.
The Winning Points average for an at-large team is around 40, so the system (and I) are wary of teams that don't win enough -- hence the name! My accounting penalizes losing more than some other metrics, mainly because the year-over-year data strongly suggest teams that lose a lot -- regardless of schedule strength -- typically continue losing in March.
So don't say you haven't been warned about the following current at-large teams, for whom we should probably rename the category "Losing Points":
• Providence (21.0)
• NC State (23.0)
• Oklahoma (23.5)
• Utah State (24.0)
• Florida (24.0)
At some point, the committee might even realize how nondescript the SEC bubble is: South Carolina (8.0 Winning Points), Alabama (10.0), Mississippi State (22.5), Arkansas (22.5). All of these teams have the profile of first-round losers if they make the NCAA field.
You heard it here first.