ESPN Labels Penn State A 10-Seed In Hypothetical Football Bracket
The only thing with a larger gap between fun and significance than a March Madness bracket is a silly alternate bracket that won’t be played out.
For a perfect example, look no further than ESPN’s 68-team college football bracket for 2016. Based on its Way-Too-Early Top 25, the Football Power Index, and a one-man selection committee, the nation’s projected 68 best teams were organized into a bracket. Penn State is given a 10-seed in the bracket and is ranked No. 36 in the Power Index.
Penn State ended last season 7-6 and No. 49 in the FPI, but there’s enough optimism in the program for the 13-spot jump. If seeds are given directly corresponding to the FPI, Penn State would’ve been a 12 or 13 last postseason.
The current bracket sits the Nittany Lions at No. 10 in the same bracket as No. 7 Utah. Utah is actually lower in the FPI, but subjectivity gave it the higher seed. The winner of this matchup would move on to play No. 2 Oklahoma or No. 15 South Carolina. Penn State’s quarter of the bracket features 1-seed Alabama and two Big Ten foes, No. 5 Iowa and No. 14 Minnesota.
Sharon Katz wrote in ESPN’s blog post, “The closest projected game of the opening round is the 7-10 matchup between Utah and Penn State. FPI would give Penn State (36th in FPI) a 51.5 percent chance to beat Utah (37th in FPI) on a neutral field. That result is certainly surprising, given each team’s 2015 season, but FPI expects the Nittany Lions’ offense to take a major step forward (even without Christian Hackenberg) with nine returning starters.”
The hypothetical bracket’s 1-seeds are Alabama, Florida State, Michigan (boooo), and Baylor. Other notable teams are 3-seed Ohio State, 4-seed Michigan State, 8-seeds Wisconsin and Pitt, 12-seed Northwestern, and 14-seeds Temple and Indiana. Penn State’s fellow 10s are Mississippi State, West Virginia, and Arizona.
What do you think? Is Penn State too high, too low, or just right? Is Michigan going to be a top-four team in 2016? And among all the alternative brackets online this March, where exactly does this one fall among the least important?