Your handy cheat sheet for Selection Sunday

By Jeff Fogle  (VSiN City newsletter) 

March 11, 2018 12:01 AM
Virginia's Kyle Guy (left) and Devon Hall celebrate after defeating North Carolina in the ACC title game.
© USA Today Sports Images

Estimated “market” Power Ratings for the full NCAA Tournament field will get you ready for Selection Sunday. Plus, stat recaps from major conference championships and the SEC semi’s right now in VSiN City.

NCAA Tournament: Predict point spreads instantly as brackets are announced with our estimated “market” Power Ratings

We know you’re all looking forward to the unveiling of the brackets at 6 p.m. ET on TNT (it’s not on CBS this season, so make sure you’re on the right channel!). You’ve likely heard by now that VSiN has a very special show planned that will run concurrently with the bracket announcement. Join Brent Musburger and special guests for instant analysis from a market perspective. VSiN City will take over the twitter feed to supplement our live coverage, using the list you’re about to see as guidance for projecting likely play-in and first round point spreads. 

Then, once the state of Nevada has assigned rotation numbers to every matchup, Derek Stevens of “The D” casino will be back once again to bet every game on the board at the South Point. Real bets…real money…in real time as it happens. 

We hope you’re with us live at the website or on Sirius channel 204, and on the twitter feed @VSiNLive. 

Here are the latest estimated “market” Power Ratings based on the most recent point spreads for each team. You regulars know we make a good faith effort to capture the essence of the market in these numbers. Not only can they be used for ballpark guesses at first round matchups, but you can also project future lines for later rounds based on projected pairings, assess which powers have the easiest or most difficult pathways to the championship, and find new reasons to yell at the Selection Committee that you hadn’t even thought of!

Here we go. With so many teams, we’re going to break them down into manageable hunks. First, teams most likely seeded in the 1-5 slots…, meaning those well-positioned to advance to the second week. 

Likely Seeds 1-5

87: Villanova, Virginia, Duke

86: Michigan State, Purdue, Kansas (Azubuike back?)

84: Cincinnati, West Virginia

83: North Carolina, Gonzaga, Xavier, Arizona, Wichita State

82: Texas Tech, Auburn, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, Michigan, Ohio State

The 2018 champion is probably in that group. Historically, 85 and up on this scale represents championship caliber. Time for teams at 82-84 to lift their games between now and the end of the month. We’ve seen vulnerability in recent weeks from those currently at 86 or 87. Everyone’s one bad shooting game away from elimination, or one hot shooting game from an opponent. 

Mid-Level Seeds (6-12)

81: TCU

80: Texas A&M, USC, Houston, Rhode Island

79: St. Mary’s, Clemson, Notre Dame, Louisville, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Creighton, Missouri, Kansas State, Oklahoma State (bubble), Oklahoma (bubble), Arizona State (bubble)

78: Nevada, Butler, Arkansas, Baylor (bubble), Texas (bubble), Davidson (A10 finalist)

77: Miami, NC State, Seton Hall, Alabama, UCLA (bubble)

76: Syracuse (bubble)

75: Loyola-Chi, San Diego State, St. Bonaventure, Providence, Middle Tennessee (bubble)

A slew of sleepers and dangerous floaters…but also some late-season disappointments who don’t really belong in the field. The “market” has been over-rating some of those teams lately (particularly Oklahoma and Arizona State). 

It’s believed Davidson must beat Rhode Island Sunday to get into the Dance. You can see that the market already rates the Wildcats as tournament caliber. Davidson was -3 on a neutral court over St. Bonaventure Saturday (Bonnies supposedly on the right side of the bubble), and opened at plus 2.5 in the championship game vs. respected Rhode Island. St. Bonny is a bit of a mystery. The computers we’ve been following this season don’t have them in the top 50 (Ken Pomeroy has them at #69, Jeff Sagarin at #56, ESPN’s BPI at #56). A superficially good record and resume may be hiding a pretender. 

Note that Virginia Tech has wins over Virginia, Duke, and North Carolina in the recent past. Creighton and Seton Hall both beat Villanova. Can you spot which spoiler might get hot and sneak through? 

Now to the auto-bids…

Seeds 13-16 most likely

74: New Mexico State

73: Buffalo 

72: Murray State, Bucknell, South Dakota State

71: Montana, NC Greensboro

69: Coll-of-Charleston, Marshall

68: Stephen F. Austin, (Ivy League Champ?)

67: Iona, Wright State

66: (Sun Belt Champ?)

65: Lipscomb

64: Radford, (Big West Champ?)

63: Maryland-Baltimore County 

61: Texas Southern

57: NC Central

56: LIU-Brooklyn

Sunday additions:

*Cal-Irvine vs. Cal-Fullerton ended late Saturday after publication deadlines. Irvine would go in at 64, Fullerton at 61

*Penn will play Harvard for the Ivy League Championship Sunday. Penn would go in at 68, Harvard at 66

*Texas Arlington will play Georgia State for the Sun Belt Championship Sunday. Georgia State would go in at 66, Texas Arlington at 65

Feel free to print out today’s report so you can have those numbers handy during the selection broadcast. We’ll see you later today on the website and twitter.

ACC Championship: Virginia coasts to conference crown, clear threat to run the Dance table

Virginia didn’t quite make it a clean sweep in Brooklyn because the Cavaliers failed to cover their middle win over Clemson. But, there was no doubt once the buzzer had sounded who the best team in the conference was. 

#1 Virginia (-3.5) 71, #12 North Carolina 63 

Two-point Pct: North Carolina 42%, Virginia 36%

Three Pointers: North Carolina 10/25, Virginia 9/17

Free Throws: North Carolina 13/17, Virginia 20/22

Rebounds: North Carolina 31, Virginia 29

Turnovers: North Carolina 9, Virginia 4

Estimated Possessions: North Carolina 59, Virginia 59

Kenpom-Sagarin-BPI: North Carolina 7-8-7, Virginia 1-3-2

Market Watch: Fairly simple outside of a few outlier books. Virginia opened at -4.5 and was bet down to -3.5. The opening total of 128 (higher in earliest spots) was bet down to 125.5. 

Very slow pace. But, offenses were able to get points on the board by working for good looks on three-pointers. Virginia also exploited the tiring Carolina defense by drawing free throw attempts and avoiding turnovers. That’s VERY clean to go to the line 22 times with only four giveaways. Tough spot for NC off the revenge win over Duke, plus it being the fourth game in four days, as we discussed last night. High quality conference when fresh. Virginia always brings textbook basketball and intensity to big games. 

Big East Championship: Villanova continues to cast doubt on its National Championship potential

As we’ve pointed out often this season, Villanova is a juggernaut when things are clicking. The problem lately has been, they only click about half the time. After winning blowouts in the quarterfinals and semifinals, the Wildcats were one shot away from losing in regulation as 13-point favorites to a team the most respected computers only have ranked in the mid 60’s. 

#2 Villanova (-13) 76, Providence 66 (in overtime) 

Regulation Score: Providence 60, Villanova 60

Two-point Pct: Providence 45%, Villanova 49%

Three Pointers: Providence 6/23, Villanova 9/25

Free Throws: Providence 14/15, Villanova 11/14

Rebounds: Providence 36, Villanova 41

Turnovers: Providence 11, Villanova 10

Estimated Possessions: Providence 66, Villanova 65

Kenpom-Sagarin-BPI: Providence 67-54-67, Villanova 2-1-1

Market Watch: Offshore opener of Villanova -13 was bet up to -13.5…where it sat most of the way until late underdog money brought it back down to the opener. Big move on the total. The offshore opener of 149ish was down to 147 by the time Vegas posted. Even that was hit hard with the number finally finishing around 144. 

Within its last 11 games, Villanova has lost to St. John’s, lost to Providence, lost to Creighton, gone overtime with Seton Hall, and gone overtime with Providence. How are they going to string together six wins beginning next week if they play so many coin flips against teams in the mid 70’s in our estimated rankings? After an easy opener against a #16 seed, Villanova will be playing teams equal to or better than Creighton/Seton Hall/Providence from the second round on. 

Something to think about as you map out your plans. 

Big 12 Championship: Can’t blame free throws this time! Kansas makes it a hat trick over West Virginia

Same teams, same script. West Virginia builds an early lead. Kansas gets its bearings against the press before dominating down the stretch. Even without an important inside force, the Jayhawks found a way to get the job done. 

#9 Kansas (plus 1.5) 81, #18 West Virginia 70 

Two-point Pct: West Virginia 44%, Kansas 57%

Three Pointers: West Virginia 8/24, Kansas 15/27

Free Throws: West Virginia 10/10, Kansas 4/8

Rebounds: West Virginia 37, Kansas 27

Turnovers: West Virginia 11, Kansas 10

Estimated Possessions: West Virginia 64, Kansas 63

Kenpom-Sagarin-BPI: West Virginia 11-9-10, Kansas 10-7-8

Market Watch: Some see-sawing around pick-em until the market finally decided West Virginia “should” be the favorite with double-revenge against the short-handed Jayhawks. Line got as high as Mountaineers -2 before falling back to 1.5. Big drop on the Over/Under from 153 down to 148. 

You can see that this turned from an inside game to an outside game. Kansas was outrebounded badly, and didn’t even earn any free throws until very late in proceedings. But, a stunning 15 of 27 performance from long range against the tiring West Virginia defense put the game out of reach. Easier to get open looks against a unit that’s scampering to cover the whole court instead of just half of it. 

Second Halves

January 15: Kansas 43, West Virginia 25

February 17: Kansas 43, West Virginia 35

Big 12 Championship: Kansas 48, West Virginia 36

The market, the computers, and many pundits, still see these teams as virtually even. They’re not when it’s time to win the game. Kansas has a variety of weapons. West Virginia’s halfcourt offense is fairly stagnant, particularly when it’s not getting cheap points from turnovers. The illusion created by West Virginia really running up the score vs. teams with bad guards continues to loom over the betting marketplace (and too many pundits) when the Mountaineers aren’t playing teams with bad guards. Remember that in the Dance.  

Pac 12 Championship: Arizona overcomes late season drama to claim regular season, tournament titles

Arizona was lucky to get past UCLA in the semifinals. Lucky is the coin of the realm in Las Vegas! No luck needed to close out USC in Saturday night’s finals. 

#15 Arizona (-5) 75, USC 61 

Two-point Pct: USC 56%, Arizona 63%

Three Pointers: USC 5/19, Arizona 4/17

Free Throws: USC 8/16, Arizona 11/13

Rebounds: USC 19, Arizona 42

Turnovers: USC 7, Arizona 14

Estimated Possessions: USC 63, Arizona 66

Kenpom-Sagarin-BPI: USC 36-34-42, Arizona 22-16-22

Market Watch: Arizona opened at -3.5, and was bet up to -4.5 offshore, to -5 or -5.5 in Las Vegas where Wildcat money can come in hard during the Pac 12 tournament. Over/Under hung within arm’s reach of 144 all day. 

If you went to bed early out East, USC led 33-30 at the half. Arizona won the rest of the game 45-28…and it felt more one-sided because the Trojans had to hit a couple desperation treys just to keep it that close. HUGE rebounding advantage for Arizona, which is tougher because the Wildcats hit so many of their two-point shots. Turnovers and internal defense are still an issue for Arizona moving forward. The computers aren’t as high on this team as some in the media are. It’s a down year in the Pac 12. Winning the league tournament may not mean much. 

SEC Championship: Seeing red, then eliminating it…Kentucky and Tennessee crush Alabama and Arkansas to set up title tilt

Great basketball from the Wildcats and Volunteers, posting similar scoreboard results with similar stats.

Kentucky (-4.5) 86, Alabama 63 

Two-point Pct: Alabama 41%, Kentucky 63%

Three Pointers: Alabama 8/24, Kentucky 12/18

Free Throws: Alabama 11/15, Kentucky 20/28

Rebounds: Alabama 31, Kentucky 27

Turnovers: Alabama 11, Kentucky 10

Estimated Possessions: Alabama 64, Kentucky 65

Kenpom-Sagarin-BPI: Alabama 44-45-48, Kentucky 20-15-23

Market Watch: Offshore went up the day before. Kentucky opened at -4.5, and was initially bet down a full point to -3.5. Wildcats money came in later, leading to Vegas mostly opening at Kentucky -4. Public interest pushed it to five until late sharp action on the dog set the closing line at -4.5. Opening total of 144 came all the way down to 139. 

Great tourney for Kentucky so far. The defense has started looking like vintage Calipari. He’s always had a knack for getting his incoming stars to commit to that side of the floor. Often very high in defensive efficiency. Here, they double and triple-teamed Collin Sexton to make him irrelevant. A great three-point shooting performance grabbed some media attention (and also pushed the game Over its total). Kentucky wins easily even without that, shooting 15 of 24 on deuces, and winning scoring on “1’s and 2’s” by a 50-39 count. Wildcats have gone from sideshow to suddenly relevant in a finger snap. Intense defense always gives you a chance in tournament basketball. Kentucky’s a dangerous floater. Alabama will be as well if they draw an opponent that’s not very smart about playing defense. 

#13 Tennessee (-3) 84, Arkansas 66 

Two-point Pct: Arkansas 41%, Tennessee 53%

Three Pointers: Arkansas 6/15, Tennessee 11/17

Free Throws: Arkansas 20/29, Tennessee 17/20

Rebounds: Arkansas 26, Tennessee 29

Turnovers: Arkansas 10, Tennessee 10

Estimated Possessions: Arkansas 61, Tennessee 60

Kenpom-Sagarin-BPI: Arkansas 34-27-34, Tennessee 14-18-15

Market Watch: A solid three here. Any stores drifting off that number were brought right back to it. Total generally opened at 143.5 and moved to 144, with some variance depending on the locale. 

Important to note that this was a very slow game. So, that 84 from Tennessee is a monster. Vols almost matched Kentucky with great long range shooting…and also found it easy to score inside. Pretty much everyone in the Dance falls into the “they really look great when the treys are falling” category. Describes Tennessee here. Scoring on 1’s and 2’s was a more pedestrian 51-48. On the day, Kentucky’s win was more impressive. Next week and beyond, Tennessee could certainly take out any national power it runs into. Can the Vols stay focused until they get that deep in the brackets?

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See you Monday with a first look at official point spreads for the 2018 NCAA Tournament as we gear up for the most exciting week of sports betting on the calendar.

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