When I first saw Mississippi State’s bracket, my first reaction was that a path of playing Nebraska, @ Baylor, and @ Louisville seemed like a brutal stretch and comparable to that of a NCAA Tournament stretch. I calculated the average KPI of all 4 regions to determine which region is indeed the toughest:
Notre Dame Region:
Average KPI: 100.5
This region features two KPI teams in the top 31 with Notre Dame and Penn State. Interestingly enough Penn State is the second highest rated team in this entire tournament and is a 4 seed in this region. While it appeared this would be our toughest region on first glance. This region features 3 top 100 KPI teams, by far the most of any region. And the only team ranked over 200 in Hampton. This is the easiest NIT Region by far. Expect the winner of the Notre Dame Penn State Second Round game to be the favorite in this one. I ultimately have Penn State winning this region.
Average KPI: 88.375
The next two brackets listed here are well balanced. Each of them only have one KPI team over 100. This region does however feature a match up of two teams not many projected to make the NIT in Stanford and BYU. Oklahoma State, a team many thought were snubbed from the NCAA Tournament finds their way in this region as well. The Western Kentucky and Boston College game should be a fun one as well. Will be interesting
to see how far Stansbury makes it. Ultimately I have USC winning this region.
Saint Mary’s Region
Average KPI: 86.75
This region is well balanced as well and one where I can see any team ranked 1-5 make it out. One of the main reasons I say that is while the KPI highly values Saint Mary’s, after watching them in the WCC Tournament I can say they simply are not a great team. I expect them to be eliminated in the second round. I am indeed riding the Wade train to Madison Square Garden. They have a solid team and Tremont Water will be their X Factor against Comparable teams. Utah is a sleeper I have on here and I could see them making a run as well.
Average KPI: 72
By far the toughest region, this Baylor bracket is loaded with quality teams. Baylor, Louisville, Mississippi State, Nebraska, and Middle Tennessee were all projeccted as top 3 seeds in a regional and somehow ended up in the same bracket. The balance between the Notre Dame and the Baylor Region is lacking to say the least. Having to host Nebraska is absoulutely Rediculous for State. They were a projected 2 seed and were on the bubble all of last week. They may be the toughest team State has to face in this region. If State does get past Nebraska Wednesday, they will have to go to Waco Texas to face the Baylor Bears. And after that, you might be looking at a road trip to either Louisville or Middle Tennessee State. Kermit Davis, the MTSU coach and former Mississippi State Basketball Player, has been heavily rumored to be the next Ole Miss Basketball Coach. The Louisville players conducted a vote and voted not to participate in the NIT. But the school is in the tournament anyway. These two factors open up the possibility of Vermont making a Cinderella run in this tournament. And this is the team I have State facing in the quarterfinals. I do ultimately have State winning this region. Simply because Baylor faded down the stretch, and while I do believe Nebraska is the toughest challenge for this team, I do think State has improved significantly since the Exhibition loss to them in October and I expect them to win a close one.
So there you have it. My four Final Four Teams are Mississippi State, Penn State, USC, and LSU. I have Mississippi State beating USC in the Title game. Share with us your Final Four predictions in the comment section below.