As college basketball’s regular season comes to an end, all eyes now turn toward the NCAA Tournament. This season’s has perhaps as much anticipation as any in recent memory given we were all robbed of the enjoyment a season ago as COVID-19 reared its ugly head just ahead of the tournament’s start.
Now, we only a few days remaining in the regular season and some conferences already beginning their conference tournaments, it’s time to start taking a good hard look at who will be in, and out of the NCAA Tournament in 2021. Fortunately for Iowa fans, there is no question - the Hawkeyes are in. The only question now is where they will be seeded. A lot of that depends on their performance, as well as that of those ranked near them, in the coming days.
As things stand heading into the final stretch of games, Iowa is projected as a 2 seed. One thing that is always entertaining this time of year is comparing some blind resumes to see how much of the projected seeding actually makes sense and how much is being driven by emotion. So, let’s dive in with a few resumes, names excluded. One of the below is Iowa (or is it?). The rest are teams currently seeding somewhere around them.
For the sake of keeping this interesting without giving away who is who right away, lets start by simply comparing some basics. We’ll add more details as we progress before revealing full NCAA team sheets.
As a refresher, here’s how the NCAA defines the four quadrants used in their NET rankings:
Q1: home matchups vs. teams ranked in the NET 1-30; neutral site matchups vs. 1-50; road games against 1-75
Q2: home matchups vs. teams ranked in the NET 31-75, neutral site matchups vs. 51-100; road games against 76-135
Q3: home matchups vs. teams ranked in the NET 76-160; neutral site matchups vs. 101-200: road games against 136-240
Q4: home matchups vs. teams ranked in the NET 161-357; neutral site matchups vs. 201-357; road games against 241-357; any non-division 1 opponent
Team 1 appears to have the best resume of all the teams included here upon first glance. They have just two losses all season and have a slew of Q1 wins. Here’s how they stack up by NCAA quadrant.
Team two also has a very impressive resume, boasting the most quadrant 1 wins of any of the teams included here. They have no bad losses, per se, but they do have a total of six losses - four more than Team 1.
Here’s a look at their resume simply considering quadrant wins and losses.
Team 3 shares some similarities with team 2, but has a noticeable drop off. While each team has 6 Q1 losses, team 3 also has a Q2 loss. They also have fewer Q1 wins and more matchups with Q4 opponents. Here’s their full quadrant breakdown.
Here’s where things start to get really interesting. Team 4 and Team 3 have nearly identical resumes when looking only at their quadrant breakdowns. Each has 6 Q1 losses, each has a Q2 loss. Team 4 has played fewer Q4 games and has one more Q1 win.
Time to really start adding wrinkles. Team 5 has fewer Q1 losses than either Team 3 or Team 4. They also have the same number of Q1 wins as Team 4 (one more than Team 3) and more Q2 wins than any of the teams included here. Furthermore, they’ve played the fewest games against Q4 opponents of any of the teams being compared. But they also have a Q2 loss and a Q3 loss.
Here’s they’re full quadrant breakdown.
Team 6 brings with it some really interesting questions. For example, how much do you punish a team for not scheduling more competition? Team 6 played just three Q1 games all year and finished 2-1 against those teams. They also played more games against Q3 and Q4 opponents combined than any other team included here. And they lost one of those Q3 matchups. But, they only have three losses on the season.
Here’s the full breakdown.
Last but not least, Team 7 also has some compelling dynamics. They have the most Q1 losses of the bunch at 7 and are the only team listed here with a losing record to the quadrant. But they don’t have any losses outside Q1 and played just two Q4 opponents all year. Here’s their full quadrant breakdown.
So, knowing only how the above teams performed in the four quadrants as defined by the NCAA, there appear to be some puts and takes, but really 1-2 teams that stand out at the top, one team that seems to have a weaker resume than the rest, and then a group of four teams that appear really close together.
Now, let’s build in some context, again holding back to not make it too obvious who is who (although it’s probably you have some good ideas already)
Best Win: vs #6
Worst Loss: at #69
Best Win: at #3
Worst Loss: at #71
Best Win: at #8
Worst Loss: vs #59
Best Win: at #4
Worst Loss: at #91
Best Win: vs #12
Worst Loss: vs #77
Best Win: vs #13
Worst Loss: at #151
Best Win: vs #10
Worst Loss: vs #30
So, here we start to get some context, but not a ton of separation. Teams 1 and 2 looked to be the best based purely on the quadrant breakdowns and that probably holds true still. However, Team 2 looks a bit closer to Team 3 when you see they have a worse loss and only one more win overall. Same with Teams 3 and 4 when you consider they have the same record while Team 4 has a worse loss. Team 6, despite its strong record overall, sticks out like a sore thumb with by far the worst loss and the lowest ranked best win. And Teams 5 and 7 appear pretty similar at the high end, but Team 7 has a much better worst loss and and fewer low quality losses overall.
Before we reveal exactly who is who, let’s add one more tidbit: Teams 1-6 are all ranked in the KenPom and NET top-8. Team 7 is ranked 19th in KenPom and 14th in NET.
So where are they seeded? Teams 1 and 2 are both currently 1 seeds in most brackets, as you might have guessed. Teams 3-6 are all currently 2 seeds. Team 7 is the low man currently as a 3 seed.
So who is who? Here you go:
There is still time left for teams to make moves with regular season games through the weekend and a week of conference tournaments ahead. But heading into the final stretch, how would you seed the above teams?