BracketBot: January 20, 2020

1. Kansas (13-3, 4-1 Big XII; +1)
2. Duke (15-3, 5-2 ACC; -1)
3. Baylor (15-1, 5-0 Big XII; +2)
4. West Virginia (14-3, 3-2 Big XII; -1)
5. San Diego State (18-0, 8-0 MWC; +2)
6. Gonzaga (20-1, 6-0 WCC; +9)
7. Florida State (16-2, 6-1 ACC; +2)
8. Louisville (15-3, 6-1 ACC; +6)
9. Dayton (16-2, 5-0 A-10; +2)
10. Michigan State (14-4, 6-1 Big Ten; 0)
11. Auburn (15-2, 3-2 SEC; -7)
12. Maryland (14-4, 4-3 Big Ten; -4)
13. Seton Hall (14-4, 6-0 Big East; +5)
14. Oregon (15-4, 4-2 Pac-12; -2)
15. Butler (15-3, 3-2 Big East; -9)
16. Villanova (14-3, 4-1 Big East; +3)
17. Arizona (13-5, 3-2 Pac-12; +7)
18. Arkansas (14-3, 3-2 SEC; -2)
19. Rutgers (13-4, 5-2 Big Ten; +7)
20. Colorado (14-4, 3-2 Pac-12; -3)
21. Memphis (14-3, 3-1 AAC; +4)
22. Kentucky (13-4, 4-1 SEC; -2)
23. Wichita State (15-3, 3-2 AAC; -10)
24. Northern Iowa (14-2, 5-1 MVC; +4)
25. LSU (13-4, 5-0 SEC; +2)
26-30. Florida, Houston, Stanford, Indiana, USC

It was another wild week across college basketball, culminating in a Saturday which was probably the craziest day of the year! West Virginia, Auburn, Wichita State and Ohio State were all ranked teams taking losses to unranked opponents, and the ranked matchups that there were (Duke vs. Louisville, Kentucky vs. Arkansas, Colorado vs. Arizona) all went the way of the team I had ranked lower. Let’s get into it!

#11 AUBURN‘s undefeated season came to an end in a very harsh way, getting smacked around by both rival Alabama and a Florida team that hasn’t played up to potential. Both losses were on the road, which helps perception a little bit, but it also really underscores the fact that Auburn’s résumé is incredibly weak for a top team. If they weren’t one of the final undefeated teams, it’s possible that they would still just be breaking in to the real human polls. A really tough week for a team whose best win is still either #42 Richmond on a neutral floor or #56 Mississippi State on the road.

#2 DUKE also took two losses, but the nature of the quality of their wins keeps them afloat at #2… for now. This week I see #1 Kansas as being far and away ahead of the pack, but last week it was Duke in the top spot and now it’s more like Duke is grouped up with Baylor, WVU and SDSU. No shame in losing to #8 Louisville, really, even at home, and there are teams with losses a lot worse than at #87 Clemson, but it wasn’t a good week for Duke no matter how you slice it. Still #2, though, because wins over Kansas on a neutral floor and at Michigan State are still miles better than almost any team can come up with.

#6 GONZAGA not only survived the week but probably had their best week of the year and this algorithm is finally starting to come around. I’m willing to concede that I might have been too harsh on Gonzaga earlier this year, because what they were able to do this week was impressive. They did have two home games, but both were against teams that will probably finish in the top half of the WCC, and one was BYU who is, at least for now, expected to be an NCAA tournament team. The first, against #88 Santa Clara, was an explosive 50-point demolition, and they beat #41 BYU by 23! These were Gonzaga’s first tests against a top-100 opponent since they beat Arizona on December 14, and both tests were passed with flying colors.

Making their first appearance in this top 25… ever?… is #19 RUTGERS! The Scarlet Knights have an interesting résumé, but one worth recognizing. Rutgers has a number of quality wins – #13 Seton Hall, #38 Wisconsin, #36 Penn State, #29 Indiana – but they’re 12-0 at home and just 1-4 away from home. Still, every loss has been to a team in my top 100 so they get in at #19.

Jumping in for the first time this year, it’s #24 NORTHERN IOWA! UNI emerged as the favorite in the Missouri Valley pretty early on this season, but now getting into a place where we can recognize them. The Panthers are 14-2, with their only two losses coming to #4 West Virginia on a neutral floor and one rougher one, at #230 Illinois State on New Year’s Eve. But that’s a better palate of losses than most teams can claim, and it makes up for a slate of wins that is not super flashy (#20 Colorado by far the best, but also a sweep of #84 Bradley).

And finally, the other new team in the rankings this week is #25 LSU! Ain’t just a football school – LSU has a nice collection of wins (#18 Arkansas, #35 Liberty, #56 Mississippi State at home; #50 Rhode Island, #63 Tennessee away from home) and have only lost to teams I have ranked in the top 67 overall and only once at home, so 4 losses isn’t too bad a figure.

Three teams falling out of the top 25. #28 STANFORD took their third loss of the year at USC on Saturday, and didn’t quite have the quality of wins to remain in, dropping out from #23. #29 INDIANA took their fourth loss at Rutgers, and while they have better wins than Stanford does (every week it gets weirder that they blew out #7 Florida State in December) they also have that one extra loss. They fall out from the #21 position. And finally, it’s been a long, strange trip through the top 25 for #31 OHIO STATE, who you may remember was #2 in the first set of rankings I released this year. Much like Michigan a month before them, tOSU had a meteoric rise to the top, only to throw it all away. The Buckeyes have had some tough injury luck, but this 2-5 Big Ten hole they’ve dug themselves this month hurts quite a bit.

Notable unranked teams include #31 Ohio State, #33 Iowa, #38 Wisconsin, #39 Virginia, #40 Illinois, #41 BYU, #46 Michigan, #51 Washington, #55 Saint Louis, #59 Georgetown, #68 TCU, #76 Arizona State, #99 Missouri, #113 North Carolina, #134 Ole Miss, #144 UCLA, #166 Cal, #169 Murray State, #230 Illinois State, #338 SEMO and #344 SIUE. The full rankings at thebracketbot.com will be updated (almost) every day so check those out to see how your team does as the week goes along!

Games of the Week
Monday: NC State @ Virginia, 7:00 ET on ESPN; UVA 57, NCSU 53
Tuesday: Butler @ Villanova, 7:00 ET on CBSSN; Butler 64, Villanova 63
Wednesday: Rutgers @ Iowa, 9:00 ET on BTN; Iowa 70, Rutgers 67
Thursday: Michigan State @ Indiana, 8:30 ET on FS1; Michigan State 74, Indiana 71
Friday: Wisconsin @ Purdue, 7:00 ET on FS1; Purdue 55, Wisconsin 53
Saturday: Baylor @ Florida, 8:00 ET on ESPN; Baylor 65, Florida 63
Sunday: Michigan State @ Minnesota, 3:00 ET on Fox; Michigan State 73, Minnesota 70

That’s all for this update! I think I’ll have a bracket for you guys this afternoon, but I’m still working on some portions of that process, trying to add some new features that the BracketBot can consider when making its selections. Happy basketball viewing!

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