It’s obviously still way too early to start projecting the NCAA tournament or NIT brackets, but… Let’s do it anyways!
I took Drew Cannon’s Easy Bubble Solver and used it to take a look at what the NIT field might look like—assuming all the highest ranked KenPom teams win their conference tournaments. (I’m using projected RPI from RPI Forecast and the current KenPom ranking in case you’re curious.) The tool isn’t necessarily designed for this case—and it’s super early in the season—but it’s still gives a good sense for which power conference teams might be in more trouble than you think early in the season.
The biggest surprise in this bracket for me was just how far down in the pecking order Maryland finds itself. The Terrapins are projected to finish around 95th in RPI, even though they’re currently 7-1 (6-1 against Division I opponents). The discrepancy between Maryland’s record and its status in KenPom (64th, 9th in the Big Ten) is causing some big disagreements with Bracketologists. The Terrapins are a 10 seed in Joe Lunardi’s current bracket, but a six seed in the projected bracket below.
Another major conference team that the NCAA Bracketologists seem to be higher on than the EBS is Colorado. The Buffaloes are currently an 11 seed in Lunardi, but a 5 seed in the NIT here. Colorado’s Pac-12 conferencemate California is also higher in Lunardi’s bracket. The Golden Bears are a 2 seed in the NIT via the EBS, but in the First Four in Lunardi’s.
Also, Shaka Smart is going to have a lot of work to do if Texas wants to make the NCAA tournament, right now even the NIT seems like a bit of a challenge. The Longhorns are 70th in KenPom and have a projected RPI of 126th.
Considering that the final 8-12 spots in the NIT bracket will likely be taken by top seeds that lose in their conference tournament, some big name teams could end up missing the postseason altogether.
Last 16 at-larges: Miami FL, Michigan, Texas A&M, Rhode Island, Dayton, USC, Florida St., Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech, SMU, Marquette, Texas Tech, Oklahoma St., TCU, Minnesota, Clemson
Just missed NIT: Ohio, Georgia St., Washington, Old Dominion, Texas, Auburn, Marshall, Memphis
5. Kansas St.
7. East Tennessee St.
8. New Mexico
4. Seton Hall
8. North Carolina St.
2. Wake Forest
8. Northern Iowa
4. St. Bonaventure
6. Illinois St.