Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day! In a completely unrelated event, we have a mid-January bracketology update to whet your appetites...
**Conference champs selected based on current conference leaders - tiebreaker was KenPom projected champ, then current KenPom rank
1. It feels wild to have Auburn and Clemson so high up in the rankings, but both Orange Tiger squads have legitimately earned it. The numbers (via warrennolan.com):
Auburn: 16-1 overall, #6 RPI, 5-0 in Column 1 games, 7-1 in Column 1 + 2 games
Clemson: 15-2 overall, #7 RPI, 4-2 in Column 1 games, 8-2 in Column 1 + 2 games (tied with Villanova for 2nd-most Column 1 + 2 wins, behind Purdue's 9).
2. As is customary around this time of year, the bubble is essentially a Rorshach test. Essentially every team has a middling RPI, SOS, 2-3 good wins, and a blah loss. I won't argue adamantly for any of my bubble teams (or against teams that just missed) - that will mostly be sorted out over the next 8 weeks, anyways.
3. One of my largest discrepancies from the Bracket Matrix (bracketmatrix.com) is Alabama - they have seven Column 1 + 2 wins, including 2-2 vs Column 1, more than any other team near the cutline.
4. If this bracket were the real thing, I'd imagine there would be more than a couple pool entrants who would take three or even four 4-seeds to the Final Four. Hell of a (storied) group with Kansas, Xavier, Kentucky, and North Carolina.
5. On the other hand, this group of 12- and 13-seeds looks positively frightening. Of course, most of them will probably lose in their conference tournaments, as is annual custom, and I'll cry softly into a pillow as the auto-bid pool dilutes itself.
6. I still have Notre Dame clinging tenuously to their spot in the bracket - they've maintained enough respectability despite currently missing Matt Farrell and Bonzie Colson (that UNC win would have been sweet, though). Minnesota, on the other hand, has not, having just gotten blitzed by a combined 57 points in their last two games (and they've lost their last three).
That's all for now, we hope to have periodic updates to this in the lead-up to Selection Sunday.