We usually do this on Wednesday, but Xavier is playing tomorrow and I've got the spreadsheet primed today, so we're jumping into KenPom Bracketology a day early.
While the pollsters saw fit to drop Xavier after the loss to Villanova, the Pomeroy numbers - which don't even take injuries into account and can't understand the emotion of seeing a friend injured because they're calculated by an unfeeling computer - held fairly steady for X. Oklahoma is another team that picked up its first loss on the road to a very good conference opponent, and you'll notice that Pomeroy didn't drop them significantly for it.
It's worth noting that we give out the auto bids based on who from each conference has the best Pomeroy rating, not who is currently leading the standings. We feel like that gives a more pure picture of what is likely to happen at this stage of the season while still allowing for the craziness of conference tournaments. All that to say that Villanova is in the top spot and retains the Big East's automatic bid, which they've had every week we've done this. Don't call it a comeback, they've been here for years.
Here's your s-curve:
|ARKANSAS LITTLE ROCK
|SOUTH DAKOTA ST.
|SAN DIEGO ST.
|STEPHEN F. AUSTIN
|First 4 out
|Next 4 out
And the bracket:
There are a lot of interesting mid-majors knocking around at the bottom of the s-curve that could make for some interesting scenarios come March. Dayton, Arkansas Little Rock, Monmouth, and Hawai'i all grab automatic bids while in position to take an at-large position, and Akron would be in the next four out if they weren't grabbing their league's invitation. The most interesting of these is Valpo though. Bryce Drew's Crusaders sit 29th in the KenPom right now. While a loss in the conference tournament might be enough to take out a team further down the curve, you have to think Valpo is in position to be part of some bid piracy if things continue this way.
There's no guarantee that they will though. The run from January to Selection Sunday is marked by attrition, and teams that are sitting pretty today might be watching the NIT selection show in 10 weeks. Meanwhile, the Big East is holding strong with 5 teams in line for bids, the ACC has 5 of the top 12, and the Pac-12 and Big 12 each have 6 teams in and two (Big 12) or three (Pac-12) on the bubble. As anyone who stayed up until the wee hours last night can attest, conference season is a rolling feast for people who love good college hoops.