As the holidays approach, we've decided to celebrate by giving you a look at what a bracket might look like if the season ended today. Good thing it doesn't, because a lot of teams that we think are good still have yet to really prove it.
I should preface all this by saying that if you want to dispute any of this, that's always welcome, but keep in mind that it's mid-December. If your argument involves RPI in any way, shape or form, it's invalid. December RPI numbers are for entertainment purposes only. This bracket is a combination of what I think of these teams and what they have accomplished. For some teams, that is quite disparate.
Take Michigan, for instance. The Wolverines have much of last year's national runner-up back (minus the very important Trey Burke), but have struggled to beat better teams. They have an RPI of 130, which won't get you a sniff of the NIT, let along the NCAA tournament in March, but you know this team is better than it's record would indicate. Still, they are among the last four in. Indiana, which is also probably better than its record, doesn't have a win better than Washington, and is out. Yet, when those two play for the first time on Feb. 2, it'll probably be one of the biggest games of the day.
Duke's best win? Michigan. Next best win: Alabama, which is its only win away from home.
Louisville's best win is Southern Miss and the defending champs' only win away from home came against Fairfield. Both Duke and Louisville have yet to play on the road.
The top seeds are Arizona, Syracuse, Wisconsin and Michigan State. There are 13 undefeated teams left, all of which are in the bracket, most of them as conference leaders. That is 13 more than you can expect three months from now. For bracket purposes, the conference leader (and automatic bid designee) is the team with the fewest conference losses, with ties broken by RPI. That was the only role RPI played in this bracket.