Midseason Projections For The 2018 NCAA Tournament Bracket

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No. 4 Oklahoma Sooners

14-2, RPI: 2, KP: 13, SOS: 7

Per usual, it was a tough call for this final No. 1 seed.

Duke is No. 1 in RPI and No. 4 on KenPom, but horrible defense, a pair of not-great losses and just a 2-1 record in Group 1 games were enough to drop the Blue Devils to the No. 2 line. Auburn (RPI: 6, KP: 18) was also a tempting candidate, but it's hard to justify giving a No. 1 seed to a team that has only played two games against the KenPom top 50.

Not to make it sound like process of elimination, but that leaves Oklahoma as the somewhat obvious choice here. The Sooners have five Group 1 victories, including a road win over Wichita State, a home win over Texas Tech and a season sweep of TCU. Though the Sooners have not yet faced Kansas, they are beginning to look like the team to beat, thanks to shooting star Trae Young.

In five games against what is almost undeniably the best conference in the nation, Young is averaging 33.0 points, 9.0 assists and 6.0 rebounds. He is attempting 12 three-pointers per game and making 40 percent of them. If you were worried about this guy cooling off once he started facing better defenses, you can stop worrying. He's ridiculous, and the freshman is ready to lead Oklahoma to a Final Four.

      

No. 3 Purdue Boilermakers

17-2, RPI: 9, KP: 2, SOS: 26

Purdue has all the makings of a championship team. The Boilermakers start four seniors. They have not one but two shot-blocking big men. They have four guys who can score 20 points on any given night. And they don't have a single glaring weakness, which is probably why they have won 13 consecutive games.

Here's the best part: All five starters shoot at least 79 percent from the free-throw line. Do you know how rare it is for a 7'2" center (Isaac Haas) to lead a team in free-throw attempts and it to work in its favor?

As far as the resume is concerned, Purdue has six wins against the KenPom top 50—two on neutral courts and three in true road games. Were it not for that one loss to Western Kentucky nearly two months ago, Purdue might be the unanimous No. 1 team in the AP poll.

      

No. 2 Virginia Cavaliers

16-1, RPI: 4, KP: 3, SOS: 38

If you're still waiting for proof that Virginia is the real deal, I can't blame you. The Cavaliers only have three RPI top-70 wins this season—a neutral-court game against Rhode Island and a pair of home victories over North Carolina and Syracuse.

But Virginia is top five in both RPI and KenPom and has made life downright miserable for every team it has faced. Even in the road loss to West Virginia, the Mountaineers had to work for every single point in a back-and-forth affair.

Though Virginia hasn't played a murderer's row of a schedule, it hasn't filled up on cupcakes, either. Only two games came against teams currently outside the RPI top 200. That hasn't stopped the Wahoos from collecting 13 of their 16 wins by at least a 12-point margin. They are clearly the class of the ACC at the moment.

One scheduling note, though: They are back-loaded with road games. Eight of the next 12 will be played outside of Charlottesville, including road games against Duke, Louisville, Miami, Syracuse and Florida State. Good thing defense travels, right?

      

No. 1 Villanova Wildcats

16-1, RPI: 3, KP: 1, SOS: 34

Despite some early struggles in Saturday's road win over St. John's, there's no denying that Villanova belongs as the No. 1 overall seed. One can argue a ton of things with projected brackets, but if you happen to find anyone who doesn't currently have Villanova as one of the four No. 1 seeds, feel free to never listen to that person's opinion on college basketball again. That's how far ahead of the pack the Wildcats are right now.

Villanova already has seven wins away from home against the RPI top 85—four on neutral courts, three in true road games. For the sake of comparison, Duke is 4-2 against the RPI top 85 with no true road wins. The other preseason favorite, Michigan State, is 5-3 against the RPI top 85 and likewise has no true road wins.

Things can change in a hurry in this gloriously unpredictable sport, but it's hard to imagine Villanova not being a No. 1 seed when Selection Sunday rolls around.

Source : https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2754030-midseason-projections-for-the-2018-ncaa-tournament-bracket

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