Sunday, March 17, 2019

Bracket for Dummies as Seton Hall's Powell and Duke's Williamson Surge

This is my morning email for Selection Sunday ...

Yes, today is not only St. Patrick's Day, but also the day you need to fill out your basketball brackets for the office - which also makes it the one day a year most of you get a sports email from me.

Last night after wading through the Madison Square Garden confetti drop blocks from where the Empire State Building was lit up for the Big East tournament, I interviewed Villanova's Phil Booth about defending the second hottest player in the country on the last second shot that decided the Big East title. I then ran the calculations at (which you can click on to sort by teams) to update the rankings on all 4,000 players and put together the grid below of each team from the March Madness basketball brackets, with explanations and details on my interviews below the table to help you use this to to fill out your brackets even if its the only time all year you pay attention to college basketball.

Team in BracketHighest Ranked PlayerTeam RankNBA RankingLost to Injury NBATop 100Top 400
Abilene Christian396, BJ Maxwell73No NBA-0.55   1
Alabama82, Donta Hall54230.00 412
Arizona St.248, Remy Martin5370.00 6 2
Auburn47, Jared Harper14110.00 623
Belmont15, Dylan Windler43450.00 113
Bradley623, Nate Kennell75No NBA0.00    
Buffalo10, CJ Massinburg20No NBA0.00  15
Cincinnati63, Jarron Cumberland34390.00 214
Clemson16, Marcquise Reed28470.00 122
Colgate539, Jordan Burns70No NBA0.00    
Creighton149, Martin Krampelj47400.00 1 3
Duke1, Zion Williamson130.00 737
Fairleigh Dickinson418, Darnell Edge79No NBA0.00    
Florida127, Kevarrius Hayes3031-0.92 3 5
Florida St.85, Mfiondu Kabengele16170.00 423
Furman3, Matt Rafferty52No NBA0.00  12
Gardner Webb300, David Efianayi76No NBA0.00   1
Georgia St.335, Malik Benlevi67410.00 1 2
Gonzaga6, Brandon Clarke320.00 734
Harvard481, Bryce Aiken69530.00 1  
Houston36, Corey Davis12No NBA0.00  13
Indiana30, Juwan Morgan40300.00 222
Iona374, EJ Crawford77No NBA0.00   1
Iowa183, Joe Wieskamp32380.00 2 4
Iowa St.109, Marial Shayok2624-3.54 3 5
Kansas5, Dedric Lawson448-6.15 513
Kansas St.59, Barry Brown19220.00 314
Kentucky34, Tyler Herro91-0.98 725
Liberty97, Scottie James55No NBA0.00  12
Lipscomb147, Garrison Mathews50No NBA0.00   3
Louisville100, Jordan Nwora21280.00 315
LSU45, Skylar Mays15190.00 424
Marquette18, Markus Howard24270.00 322
Maryland29, Bruno Fernando2290.00 513
Michigan48, Jon Teske6140.00 446
Michigan St.2, Cassius Winston426-2.17 335
Minnesota22, Jordan Murphy4525-0.51 413
Mississippi119, Breein Tyree37360.00 2 3
Mississippi St.31, Quinndary Weatherspoon1760.00 713
Montana343, Ahmaad Rorie71No NBA0.00   2
Murray St.14, Ja Morant46370.00 112
Nevada98, Caleb Martin25150.00 415
New Mexico St.294, Eli Chuha49No NBA0.00   2
North Carolina24, Cameron Johnson540.00 726
North Carolina Central682, Raasean Davis82No NBA0.00    
North Carolina St.224, Torin Dorn33330.00 2 4
North Dakota St.505, Vinnie Shahid78No NBA0.00    
Northeastern178, Jordan Roland56No NBA0.00   3
Northern Kentucky144, Drew McDonald64No NBA0.00   2
Ohio St.129, Kaleb Wesson42No NBA0.00   3
Oklahoma120, Christian James38No NBA0.00   3
Old Dominion124, Ahmad Caver65No NBA0.00   2
Oregon102, Payton Pritchard6810-9.94 7 1
Prairie View A&M761, Gary Blackston81No NBA-1.96    
Purdue46, Carsen Edwards10350.00 215
Saint Louis65, Javon Bess74No NBA-0.88  11
Saint Mary's20, Jordan Ford29No NBA0.00  23
Seton Hall8, Myles Powell48510.00 112
St. Bonaventure168, Kyle Lofton66No NBA0.00   2
St. John's21, Shamorie Ponds6020-0.28 312
Syracuse80, Tyus Battle31160.00 414
TCU40, Desmond Bane5148-1.99 113
Temple84, Shizz Alston58420.00 112
Tennessee4, Grant Williams7130.00 415
Texas60, Jaxson Hayes2750.00 813
Texas Southern330, Jeremy Combs80490.00 1 1
Texas Tech26, Jarrett Culver8320.00 234
UC Irvine302, Jonathan Galloway63No NBA0.00   2
UCF101, Aubrey Dawkins39500.00 1 3
UNC Greensboro131, Isaiah Miller61No NBA0.00   1
UT Arlington424, Brian Warren72No NBA0.00    
Utah St.17, Sam Merrill35No NBA0.00  12
VCU64, Marcus Santos-Silva36520.00 114
Vermont33, Anthony Lamb59No NBA0.00  12
Villanova77, Phil Booth23180.00 415
Virginia7, Kyle Guy2120.00 435
Virginia Tech39, Nickeil Alexander-Walker11290.00 225
Washington74, Matisse Thybulle41210.00 323
Wisconsin13, Ethan Happ13460.00 114
Wofford42, Fletcher Magee18440.00 123
Xavier150, Zach Hankins57340.00 3 3
Yale327, Miye Oni62430.00 1 2
As an example of how to use the table when you pick, let's take the top team Abilene Christian against Duke going through each item from left to right. Abilene's top player BJ Maxwell is the 396th most valuable player (of more than 4,000) based on our ratings, while Duke's Zion Williamson shot way ahead of everyone else again since returning from injury to rank No. 1. The "Team Rank" indicates Duke also has the highest team rating at Value Add of healthy players (we do not count any players injured) while Abilene is ranked 73rd. Next is the NBA ranking, which ranks every NBA prospect on a team from 150 points (Zion gets this as the top ranked prospect) down to 51 for players at least good enough to be considered. Duke ranks third in overall NBA talent behind Kentucky and Gonzaga, while Abilene has no NBA prospects.

Third and perhaps most important is the injury report. A negative numbers shows how much of a team's Value Add is with players they lost for the season, so the bigger the negative number the worse - and Kansas,Oregon and Michigan State are among the teams who lost major players. Finally we list the number of NBA prospects on the team (7 for Duke, none for Abilene), Top 100 players (three for Duke and none for Abilene) and and top 400 players (in the top 10% of all players) which includes seven Duke players and just Maxwell for Abilene. I'm comparing Duke to Abilene party because the Abilene fans were waving signs last night in jest saying Zion was scared of Abilene, but in other cases you might see a match-up that makes you think upset.
For example, Seton Hall is just 48th based on their team Value Add link, and only 51st in NBA talent based on one prospect Myles Powell. However, Powell is the second hottest player in the country behind Williamson, rising almost 20 spots in the rankings during the Big East tournament and is now the 8th best player in the country, and if you couple on unstoppable player like that on a team that started the year by beating Kentucky and finished by beating Marquette twice and falling just short of beating Villanova for a second time to claim the Big East title.
After meeting with Powell and doing a story on him a few days ago (see Western Journal story here), I tracked down Villanova's two-time national champion Phil Booth in the locker room last night to ask about the perfect defense he played when Powell got the ball with a few seconds left to try a game-winning shot.
"We practice contesting and not fouling in those situations for hours and hours. Powell can make ANY shot so you just need to get as tight on him as you can to try to make it as hard as you can," Booth told me, before I asked what he honestly thought would happen when Powell let go of the shot, and he continued. "Man, it looked like it was going in when I turned around." It hit centimeters too deep on the rim and bounced out, the difference between a 75-74 Seton Hall championship and the actual 74-72 Villanova win.
I will update brackets at or just email back if you want to be added to my normal sports update list or just call 404.606.3163 with any questions.

Have fun with your bracket! - John Pudner

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