Brack8ology: Pence’s First Draft Has 9 ACC Teams In


Today begins a new series: SC8 has brought in North Carolina resident, data expert, college basketball fan and manager of Jon Pence will be cranking out brackets every week until the NCAA Tournament starts, with multiple updates set for conference championship week. Got complaints, hit him on twitter @scacchoops

by Jon Pence

It’s time to be wrong.  That’s right, I’ll admit I’ll probably be wrong.  Despite what you might think any “bracketologist” isn’t necessarily trying to get it right.  They’re trying to start the discussion, because after all that’s where the fun is.  

My goal with the SportsChannel 8 brackets isn’t really to get the bracket right as much as it is to give you a picture of what it might look like if brackets were selected today.  That’s important to distinguish.  I’m not looking ahead to see a tough schedule down the road for team, but only at what they’ve done to get here.  I’m not trying to project a tournament upset in a 1 bid league like the Big South, I’m just including the favorite as of today.

Injuries are factored in, both for and against a team.  The Notre Dame team that gave UNC a tough game on Saturday will look a bit different with Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell return to the lineup.  A loss without a star playing doesn’t look as bad.  You get the picture.

The process I use mixes both numbers and the eye test.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a numbers guy.  I created and the game simulator that’s become a staple to hardcore college basketball fans.  On the other hand, I was born in Lexington, KY, raised in in Durham, NC and spent my college years 8 miles down the road.  In other words, I’ve seen my fair share of college basketball so the eye test has to be given its due.

This season, both the numbers and the eye test say there’s depth in college basketball.  In the first bracket of the year, Villanova is the top overall seed.  That team may change week-to-week though.  On to the brackets…

Final Four: East vs West & Midwest vs South

ALL CAPS/conference indicates an automatic bid


(1) VILLANOVA/Big East vs. (16) NAVY/Patriot League

(8) Florida vs. (9) Texas

(5) Clemson vs. (12) NEW MEXICO STATE/WAC

(4) Tennessee vs. (13) FURMAN/Southern

(6) Michigan State vs. (11) UC SANTA BARBARA/Big West

(3) Arizona vs. (14) Marquette/Alabama

(7) TCU vs. (10) Maryland

(2) UNC vs. (15) WRIGHT STATE/Horizon

  • – Villanova is the top overall seed.  A loss at Butler is the only mark on their schedule thus far and the Wildcats play unselfishly and an experienced backcourt make this an easy choice.
  • – Florida was on the verge of being a top 4 seed early in the season before losing 4 of 5 games in early December.  The Gators had turned things around before a Saturday loss at Ole Miss.
  • – No team will be seen with more projected seed volatility than Arizona.  The 0-3 trip to Atlantis seems to have been an aberration as the Wildcats have won 11 of 12 since.  I’m expecting more of the same and like Arizona as a 3 seed as result.
  • – UNC finds its place as a 2 seed as the Heels are finally starting to find their identity going with Cameron Johnson at the 4.  The win at Notre Dame might not seem as big of a deal without Colson and Farrell playing, but the Irish have been playing well and an ACC conference road win is never assumed.



(8) Notre Dame vs. (9) Texas A&M

(5) FSU vs. (12) UL LAFAYETTE/Sun Belt

(4) Gonzaga vs. (13) SOUTH DAKOTA STATE/Summit

(6) Oklahoma vs. (11) WILLIAM & MARY/Colonial

(3) Louisville vs. (14) Boise State

(7) Miami vs. (10) Arkansas

(2) TEXAS TECH/Big 12 vs. (15) LIBERTY/Big South

  • – Purdue is the 4th one seed thanks to 13 straight wins.
  • – Notre Dame has a room to move up when healthy while Texas A&M is in a free fall as the Aggies are winless in the SEC.
  • – Gonzaga is once again undefeated in conference play with a matchup against Saint Mary’s coming up.  Could either slide up to a 2 seed with an undefeated conference season?  We shall see.
  • – A tough loss at home to Duke for Miami on Monday night didn’t dissuade me from a 7 seed for the Canes.  Miami is finally healthy and could be a team to watch in March.
  • – Oklahoma is as high as a 1 seed in some brackets, but that might be more due to Trae Young than the Sooners as a team.  I’m more reserved, for now.



(8) Butler vs. (9) Missouri

(5) Michigan vs. (12) OLD DOMINION/Conference USA

(4) CINCINNATI/AAC vs. (13) BUFFALO/Mid-American

(6) Xavier vs. (11) IONA/MAAC

(3) Kentucky vs. (14) SMU/Western Kentucky

(7) Seton Hall vs. (10) RHODE ISLAND/Atlantic 10

(2) West Virginia vs. (15) SFA/Southland

  • – Virginia is the 2nd overall seed.  The Hoos have just one loss on the season to a tough West Virginia team.  
  • – Kentucky gets a 3 seed in large part due to the talent on the roster and less due to how they’ve played this season.  Like Duke this team could be far better in a month.
  • – West Virginia is a tough, physical team, and having already beaten Virginia 68-61 in December, the Hoos wouldn’t be too excited to see them paired up as they are in this bracket.


(1) Duke vs. (16) LIPSCOMB/Atlantic Sun

(8) NEVADA/Mountain West vs. (9) SAINT MARY’S/WCC

(5) ARIZONA STATE/Pac-12 vs. (12) MURRAY STATE/Ohio Valley

(4) Ohio State vs. (13) LOYOLA-CHICAGO/Missouri Valley

(6) Wichita State vs. (11) PENN/Ivy League

(3) AUBURN/SEC vs. (14) Syracuse

(7) Creighton vs. (10) Houston

(2) Kansas vs. (15) MONTANA/Big Sky

  • – Duke is the #3 overall seed.  Duke is likely the most talented team in the nation but defensive questions are a cause for concern.  I’m betting Duke figures things out before March.  
  • – Jim Boeheim and Syracuse sneak in as one of the final at-large teams.  You can bet no 3 seed would want to face Syracuse.
  • – Kansas gets a 2 seed and is another sign just how tough the Big 12 is this season.  
  • – Arizona State is another team that is tough to slot correctly.  They won their first 12 games and then lost 3 of 5 but against solid opponents.  I went with a 5 seed for Hurley’s team.

Last Four In

Western Kentucky

First Four Out

Virginia Tech

Next Four Out

Penn State
Kansas State
San Diego State

Multiple Bid Conferences

Conference Teams
Big 12 6
Big East 6
Big Ten 5
Conference USA 2
Mountain West 2
Pac-12 2


Here’s where the fun begins and where we set the Sports Channel 8 bracketology apart from everyone else.  You can simulate the bracket above using  Enjoy!