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  • Kevin Florenz

Build a Better Bracket with Kevin Florenz

While I am sure this is akin to Captain Obvious, the NCAA, University Members, and Media Partners have been long tenured advocates of mutually beneficial financial wealth enhancement by creating “events” in revenue-generating sports. We have regular season champions, conference tournaments champions (Basketball, Baseball, Softball, Soccer), conference title game champions (Football), etc., all creating more content for media providers and more revenue for institutional conferences and their members. 


Now with increased player movement, NIL compensation, the blurring if not eradicating the line between illegal booster activity and legal payment for services, perhaps it is time we “re-imagine” the NCAA Basketball Tournament. 


First a quick history lesson. The Tournament had 16 teams in 1951, doubled to 32 in 1975 and expanded to 64 in 1985 and some 26 years later expanded to 68 teams. Now consider that the College Football Playoff became 4 teams in 2014 and has expanded to 12 teams in 2024 while also keep in mind that the CFP has expanded to 14 teams in 2026, without EVER PLAYING A GAME in the 12 Team format.


With all due respect to Joe Lunardi, Jerry Palm, and Michael DeCourcy and the boon the bracketology crowd has been to their respective bank accounts, can we FINALLY have a chat about the arbitrary number of 68?? WHY are 64 or 68 sacrosanct numbers to the NCAA?? There are 363 schools playing Division 1 Basketball!!!


As a reminder, there are 32 Automatic Qualifiers in the NCAA tournament, i.e., you win your conference tournament, you are in the Big Dance. Is the Ivy League Tournament the equivalent to winning the Big 12 Tournament, absolutely NOT, but if the NCAA wants to automatically qualify 32 teams from the 363 member schools, fine. The on-going issue of the remaining 36 teams or however many teams is the problem. 


Between Strength of Schedule (SOS), Quad 1, 2, 3, 4 Wins/Records, NET Rankings, the former RPI, etc. determining the remaining teams has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Is the Big 12 the best league in College Basketball in 2024? We think so, but do we really know?? And why does the appearance of playing in a perceived “tough league” bolster your Quad 1 record?? Countless examples of victories/losses counted as Quad 1 when the team defeated is anything but a quality team. And really, shouldn’t the quality of your conference opponent be determined and measured against your out of conference competition?? 


If you’re listening to a FOX Broadcast, there are very few leagues deeper than the Big East. ESPN’s Jimmy Dykes will espouse the greatness of the SEC. Someone still thinks the B10 is deep and worthy of 6 participants….it’s a conjecture, opinion filled, inequitable and admittedly from my vantage point, a completely avoidable train-wreck. Don’t believe me?? Read on…..


As a long-time advocate of the philosophy “if you choose to complain about a situation, you best develop a solution to the complaint” here’s where we are and my solution. 



BIG 12


Team

Quad 1 Record

Quad 1 Record Non-Conference


Quad 1 Non-Conference Wins


Quad 1 Non-Conference Losses

Houston

16-4

4-0

Utah, Dayton, Xavier, Texas A&M

NONE

Iowa St.

10-6

0-1

NONE

Texas A&M

BYU

6-8

1-1

San Diego St.

Utah

Baylor

10-9

2-2

Auburn, Florida

Michigan St., Duke

Kansas

7-9

3-1

Kentucky, Tennessee, UConn

Marquette

Texas Tech

6-9

0-2

NONE

Villanova, Butler

Texas

5-9

0-2

NONE

UConn, Marquette

Cincinnati

4-11

0-2

NONE

Xavier, Dayton

TCU

5-11

0-2

NONE

Clemson, Nevada

Oklahoma

4-12

0-1

NONE

North Carolina

UCF

4-10

0-0

NONE

NONE

Kansas St

5-8

0-0

NONE

NONE

Oklahoma St.

2-12

0-1

NONE

Creighton

West Virginia

2-13

1-0

Ohio St.

NONE


9 of the 14 of the Big 12 member teams have ZERO out of conference Quad 1 Wins…SEE SELF-FULFILLING PROPHECY. The overall non-conference Quad 1 Record is 11-15, but 9 members are projected to be in via Lunardi’s rankings, including a crippled Kansas?? TCU, Texas, Cincinnati, and Oklahoma’s resumes are UNDERWHELMING, so of those four should NOT be in.


SEC

 


Team

Quad 1 Record

Quad 1 Record Non-Conference


Quad 1 Non-Conference Wins


Quad 1 Non-Conference Losses

Auburn

2-7

0-2

NONE

Baylor, Appalachian St.

Tennessee

8-7

2-3

Wisconsin, Illinois

Purdue, Kansas, North Carolina

Alabama

4-10

1-4

Indiana St.

Ohio St., Purdue, Creighton, Arizona

Kentucky

10-9

2-2

Auburn, Florida

Michigan St., Duke

Florida

7-9

3-1

Kentucky, Tennessee, UConn

Marquette

Mississippi St.

4-9

1-0

Washington St.

NONE

Texas A&M

7-7

3-3

Ohio St. SMU, Iowa St

Florida Atlantic, Virginia, Houston

South Carolina

6-5

1-1

Grand Canyon

Clemson

Mississippi

3-8

1-0

UCF

NONE

LSU

4-8

1-2

Wake Forest

Dayton, Texas

Georgia

1-9

0-0

NONE

NONE

Arkansas

2-9

1-2

Duke

North Carolina, Oklahoma

Missouri

1-10

1-2

Pittsburgh

Kansas, Illinois

Vanderbilt

1-12

0-2

NONE

Texas Tech, Memphis


3 of the 14 of the SEC member teams have ZERO out of conference Quad 1 Wins and the overall non-conference Quad 1 Record is 17-24 and 8 members are projected to be in via Lunardi’s rankings, which is probably fair.

 



BIG EAST


Team

Quad 1 Record

Quad 1 Record Non-Conference


Quad 1 Non-Conference Wins


Quad 1 Non-Conference Losses

UConn

13-3

3-1

Texas, North Carolina, Gonzaga

Kansas

Creighton

8-5

2-1

Nebraska, Alabama

Colorado St.

Marquette

9-8

3-2

Illinois, Kansas, Texas

Purdue, Wisconsin

St. John’s

4-10

1-1

Utah

Dayton

Villanova

4-11

2-1

Texas Tech, North Carolina

Kansas St.

Providence

6-9

1-1

Wisconsin

Oklahoma

Xavier

2-13

1-2

Saint Mary’s

Purdue, Houston

Seton Hall

5-8

0-1

NONE

Baylor

Butler

4-11

2-2

Boise St., Texas Tech

Michigan St., Florida Atlantic

Georgetown

0-12

0-0

NONE

NONE

DePaul

0-15

0-2

NONE

Iowa St., Texas A&M


Two teams have ZERO Quad 1 wins, so the league isn’t as deep as others. In fact, Georgetown didn’t schedule a Quad 1 opponent outside of conference. The overall non-conference Quad 1 record 15-15, does make the Big East the clubhouse leader in comparison to other conferences, but remarkably, three teams seem about right….Villanova’s overall record negatively impacts them despite wins over Texas Tech and North Carolina, both tournament teams. If Utah is not a tournament team, how is that a Quad 1 win for St. John’s??


BIG 10





Team


Quad 1 Record

Quad 1 Record Non-Conference



Quad 1 Non-Conference Wins


Quad 1 Non-Conference Losses

Purdue

12-4

5-0

Gonzaga, Tennessee Marquette, Alabama, Arizona

NONE

Illinois

7-6

1-2

Florida Atlantic

Marquette, Tennessee

Wisconsin

5-8

1-3

Marquette

Tenn, Providence, Arizona

Michigan St.

3-9

2-2

Baylor, Indiana St.

Duke, Arizona

Nebraska

4-7

1-1

Kansas St.

Creighton

Ohio St.

3-7

1-0

Alabama

NONE

Northwestern

4-7

1-1

Dayton

Mississippi St.

Iowa

3-9

0-3

NONE

Creighton, Okla., Iowa St.

Maryland

2-9

0-1

NONE

Villanova

Penn St.

2-8

0-1

NONE

Texas A&M

Minnesota

1-9

0-0

NONE

NONE

Indiana

3-9

0-3

NONE

UConn, Auburn, Kansas

Rutgers

2-11

1-2

Seton Hall

Wake Forest, Miss St.

Michigan

3-12

1-3

St. Johns

Texas Tech, Oregon, Florida

 

FIVE teams have ZERO Quad 1 wins, in fact Minnesota did not schedule a Quad 1 opponent outside of conference. The overall non-conference Quad 1 record 14-22, and if you exclude Purdue, it is an anemic 9-22. I am struggling to see 6 worthy teams in 36 non-auto qualifiers???



Solution


Automatic Qualifiers – 32 Teams

  • Self-Explanatory. # decline based on increased conference consolidation. NO INCREASE


Top 16 Teams At Large Teams – “Re-Imagined”

  • Consolidated Power Ratings (5 of 8 services)

  • KenPom

  • Bart Torvik

  • Massey Ratings

  • StatFox

  • Team Rankings

  • BPI

  • TBD

  • TBD

  • Non-Conference Quad 1 and Quad 2 records

  • Deduction for losses (Home Conference Loss, Neutral Loss to Team outside Top 120)

  • Top 16 Non – AQ detailed below



The Next 32 Teams participate in a Regional Play from eight venues. Four venues on Tuesday, 4 Venues on Wednesday, using the following criteria:


  • Auto Qualify 

  • Minimum of twenty-three wins vs Division 1 opponents

  • If not > 23 wins team in Division 1 Games

  • Minimum of 4 Quad 1 Games



2024 Teams – in Field of 48 – i.e., BYE

Teams with Bye

Category A – In Field

Teams at Qualifying Sites

Category B – Play In – Regional Sites


Auto Qualifiers

Top sixteen 

Non- Auto Qualifiers

Wins > 23 vs Division 1 Opponents

Minimum of Quad 1 Games w/Power Ratings

Akron

Houston

Appalachian St.

Boise St.

Auburn

North Carolina

Dayton

Cincinnati

Charleston

Purdue

Gonzaga

Clemson

Colgate

Arizona

High Point

Kansas St.

Drake

Marquette

Indiana St.

Michigan St.

Duquesne

Tennessee

Nevada

Mississippi St.

Grambling St.

Baylor

Quinnipiac

Nebraska

Grand Canyon

Creighton

Richmond

Northwestern

Howard 

Alabama

San Diego St.

Ohio St.

Illinois

Duke

South Florida

Oklahoma

Iowa St.

Kansas

UC Irvine

Pittsburgh

James Madison

Kentucky

Utah St.

Providence

Long Beach St.

BYU

Virginia

St. John’s

Longwood

Florida

Washington St.

Texas

McNeese St.

South Carolina


Texas A&M

Montana St.

Wisconsin


Texas Tech

Morehead St.



Utah

New Mexico



Wake Forest

North Carolina St.




Oakland




Oregon




Saint Mary’s




Samford




South Dakota St.




St. Peter’s 




Stetson




UAB




UConn




Vermont




Wagner




Western Kentucky




Yale





Note – Illinois Chicago and Princeton – Do not qualify with more than 23 wins given wins vs non-Division 1 Competition



East /Midwest Play In – 16 Teams – Four Venues of 4 Games – Tuesday/Wednesday


Richmond vs Virginia

Northwestern vs Kansas St.

St. John’s vs Pittsburgh

Michigan St. vs Indiana St.

Providence vs Quinnipiac

Nebraska vs Oklahoma

Appalachian St. vs Cincinnati

Dayton vs Ohio St.


South / West Play in 16 Teams – Four Venues of 4 – Tuesday/Wednesday


South Florida vs Texas

Washington St. vs Boise St

Mississippi St. vs Texas Tech

Nevada vs Gonzaga

Texas A&M vs Wake Forest

San Diego St. vs Utah

Clemson vs High Point

UC Irvine vs Utah St.



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