Our 2012 men’s projections

Illinois Wesleyan battles
Illinois Wesleyan is playing the waiting game, but we think they are safer than the conventional wisdom might suggest.
IWU photo by Jeff Findley

It’s a late night, as always, but our full projection is up, with the bracket.

Having a third Texas team make the tournament, as Trinity (Texas) did by winning the SCAC on Sunday afternoon, actually helped part of the bracketing process. That made it possible to bring Claremont-Mudd-Scripps into Texas to be the fourth team (well, really, the second team) of a four-team pod. Whitworth then gets a first-round bye, based mostly on geography, and awaits the winner of two other West Region teams.

In our projection, Amherst gets the other bye, based on their high seeding. Remember, with 62 teams in the tournament this season, there are only two first-round byes instead of three. Hope was also a candidate. If the NCAA is looking to spend a lot on gas, it could send Westminster to Hope and Rose-Hulman to Wash U., but we think our bracket works out just fine for seeding purposes without sending Westminster an extra 350 miles.

Here are the Pool C teams. (Pool B is Maryville.) In order of selection:

Rhode Island College
Wheaton (Ill.)
Western Connecticut
UW-Stevens Point
Mary Hardin-Baylor
Gustavus Adolphus
Ohio Wesleyan
Illinois Wesleyan
Keene State
St. Mary’s (Md.)

Transylvania dropping into the at-large pool actually helps Gustavus Adolphus. It’s a non-regional result, but Gustavus defeated Transylvania at the D3hoops.com Classic, and by the time we get this deep into the selection process, we have to consider the NCAA’s secondary criteria.

When doing so, Illinois Wesleyan scored better, picking up wins against regionally ranked opponents Bethany and Staten Island. I took the committee’s penchant for SOS this year to mean that when push comes to shove, they would take the teams with the better SOS, so I ranked Illinois Wesleyan ahead of Lake Forest and Randolph-Macon ahead of Birmingham-Southern.

Left on the table: St. Joseph’s (L.I.) 21-3, .470 SOS, 1-0 vs. regionally ranked opponents; Nazareth (18-7, .552, 0-4); John Carroll (15-7, .491); Keystone (21-6, .505, 0-3); Lake Forest (19-4, .516, 0-1); Wesleyan (20-5, .513, 3-3); Puget Sound (15-7, .513, 4-3). Emory was next in the South.

Take a look at the full bracket.

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