Bids By Conference:
The 2016 NCAA Tournament has just ended, which means Selection Sunday is a mere 343 days away!
I've been studying recruiting classes, keeping with players declaring for the draft, and studying rosters of returning players on teams to make this bracket.
I am high on a couple of teams due to their returning depth, this includes teams like Dayton, San Diego State, Virginia Tech, Rhode Island, and Marquette (even without Henry Ellenson.)
There are a few teams that have dominant recruiting classes that find themselves at the top like Duke, Kentucky, and UCLA.
If you are looking for a team that has great transfers coming in, Gonzaga fits that bill.
I also think the Big Ten might be the most dominant conference next year. If Nigel Hayes returns to Eisconsin, they will return a full lineup that went to the Sweet 16 this season with a coach that took over the program midstream.
Indiana will lose Yogi Ferrell, but return a bunch of other players. Purdue is so loaded that Basil Smotherman decided to redshirt this year, and I think Tom Izzo will return with a vengeance.
I do not have Northwestern currently in the field, but Chris Collins has built a solid team and they were completely decimated by injuries last season; those guys will be back.
Maryland will lose a lot of their starting five but they have two top-75 recruits coming in, Robert Carter returning, and Dion Wiley back from injury.
Michigan learned how to play late in the year without Caris LeVert and there is no conceivable way Illinois and Minnesota will be as horrendous as they were this year.
With that said, there are teams that will be taking a step back.
Miami's starting five had an average of over four years experience. While Jim Larranaga is good at find transfers and getting recruits, this will likely be a rough year.
Iowa State is losing so much leadership as well from a team that was not very deep to start with. On top of that, can Steve Prohm continue to build on the success Fred Houberg had in landing big recruits and notable transfers?
Staying in the Big XII, Baylor is losing a lot too and with Baylor and Iowa State taking a step back, it could hurt the whole conference.
Notre Dame has made two straight Elite Eights, but with Demetrius ajackson gone and a thin team to start with, I think they will have a rough season.
Of course I have not forgotten about Oklahoma, who is losing buddy Hield as well as two of the team's three assistant coaches.
I think Mississippi State and Alabama both turn the corner in the SEC and make the conference a five bid league with Florida also rejoining the dance.
The American also seems to have established itself as a fine basketball conference, as I think Houston and Memphis crash the dance.
Mid-majors to look out for next year include UT-Alrington, Monmouth, Nevada (if you call the Mountain West a mid-major), Middle Tennessee State, Grand Canyon, the Colonial Conference all-together, Harvard (and the rest of the Ivy League), and UC Irvine.
I think Oregon has established itself as a great college basketball school and will run the Pac-12 while USC, UCLA, and Arizona make the conference the third-best in the nation behind the Big Ten and ACC.
Duke, Virginia, and North Carolina will have the ACC loaded at the top, but the falloff is massive. The next best teams are Louisville and Syracuse while Virginia Tech and Florida State also claw their way into the field.