Sunday, March 11, 2007

Bracket Reaction

No more "Bubble Watch." No more "Bracket Projection." The real thing is here. That's right, folks, the NCAA Tournament is finally upon us. For most of us, it's a very exciting, yet nervous, time of the year as we are all going to be filling out brackets over the next few days. In other words, Happy Holidays.

However, before we get there, I have some comments on the bracket. Last year, the committee did a horrendous job with the bracket, in terms of seedings and the teams they chose to round out the field. While this year was better than last year, there are still some things that I question. Moreover, usually there is somewhat of an explanation for why the committee did the things they did. This year? Not so much.

Anyway, onto the issues:

Q: What teams had the biggest beefs about not getting into the Tournament?
A: Drexel and Syracuse. What more did Drexel need to do to get into the Big Dance? They went out and played road games. They went out and played tough teams. They went and scheduled big games in the non-conference. Look at their resume. The Dragons were 14-5 away from home, they had the 8th-ranked non-conference SOS, and oh yeah, they had wins at Creighton, at Villanova, and at Syracuse (we’ll get to the Orange in a second). One could say that the CAA didn’t deserve three teams, but the committee is supposed to look at individual teams—not conference. What about the Orange? They finished 10-6 in the Big East, had a strong stretch run, and beat Villanova, Marquette, and Georgetown. ‘Cuse finished 5th in the Big East and didn’t make it, while Villanova—who finished ninth—made it. I think Villanova deserved to make it, but I still don’t see how Syracuse got left out.

Q: If Drexel and Syracuse should be in, what two teams should have been left out?
A: Arkansas and Stanford. Exactly what did Arkansas do to garner a bid? Made a run to the SEC title game and got blown out by Florida? Sure, that looks impressive on paper, but look at who they played. They beat South Carolina in the first round, an inconsistent Vanderbilt team in the quarterfinals, and NIT-bound Mississippi State in the semifinals. That’s not overly impressive. Look at the rest of their resume, also. They went 7-9 in the weak SEC West, and lost to seven teams ranked 58 or below in the RPI. Also, the Razorbacks beat only three NCAA teams all season: Southern Illinois, Oral Roberts, and Vanderbilt. Let’s move onto Stanford. What is impressive about an 18-12 record? Or an RPI of 65? The Cardinal are 4-6 in their last ten, went 4-8 against the Top 50, and have a below .500 record away from home. Yes, they have a good group of wins, but I don’t think a team that can’t win more than sixty percent of their games should be in the Dance.

Q: Do you have any problems with the top seeds?
A: Yes. Florida as the overall #1 seed? The Gators played the 159th-ranked non-conference schedule, and lost three of their final five regular-season games. They might be the best overall team in the country, but the committee is supposed to look at resumes when seeding teams. If the committee did that, I don’t see how Florida should have been the overall #1 seed. Ohio State clearly had the best resume in the country. They had lost three games all year—all on the road against teams on the top two seed lines. Another thing I have a problem with on the top-seed line is the lack of UCLA. The Bruins lost their final two games, but they were 17-5 against the Top 100, and played the 8th-ranked schedule in the country.

Q: What about seedings? What teams got significantly overseeded?
A: Butler was way overseeded at the #5 position. The Bulldogs had a host of good wins early in the season, but they struggled significantly down the stretch, and didn’t win either the regular-season or conference tournament championship of the Horizon League. They had three losses outside of the Top 100, and played the 108th-ranked schedule in the country. How do they a 5, and the team that won both of the Horizon championships, Wright State, gets a 14? It doesn’t make sense. What did Purdue and Indiana do to get a 9 seed and 7 seed, respectively? Purdue was a bubble team heading into the day, and I’m not sure they had anywhere near the resume to get a 9 seed. Creighton, the MVC Tournament champion, got a 10, but Purdue got a 9? And Indiana, they should have been a couple spots lower than a 7. They were 7-10 against the Top 100, and lost five of their last eight games.

Q: Who was underseeded?
A: The ones that jump out at me are UNLV, BYU, Creighton, and Marquette. Clearly, the committee didn’t think too highly of the Mountain West Conference. Air Force got left out, and UNLV and BYU were underseeded by a few seed lines. The Runnin’ Rebels had the #10 RPI in the country, and won the MWC Tournament. They have won 9 in a row and 14 of 16. BYU won the regular-season title, and had won 12 of 13 before falling to UNLV in the MWC title game. Creighton is another team that got shafted. The Bluejays had the #20 RPI, won 7 games against the Top 50, and went 13-5 in the MVC. They should have been higher in the bracket. Moving onto the big conferences, Marquette was unlucky to get a #8. The Golden Eagles beat Pittsburgh twice, Louisville, Duke, Texas Tech, and Villanova. They were also very good on the road. I think they deserved to be higher.


  1. Very amatuerish pick of Butler as the most "significantly overseeded", when most experts had then only 1 or 2 seeds lower. Not to mention they have Neutral Court wins over a 5th, a 6th, a 7th, a 9th and a 10th seed. And that 5 point ROAD LOSS in the HL championship game was an incredibly competitive game, apparently to a significantly underseeded (by your standards) 23-9 Wright St team that most experts had two seeds higher at a 12.

    Way to not make an educated analysis. Keep up the great work.

  2. Most "experts" had them several spots lower, and their average seed in 30 "expert" bracket was an 8 seed.

    And, yes, Wright State was underseeded, considering the teams seeded ahead of them.

    I'll continue to make sense in my analysis--hopefully you'll catch on.

  3. The selection committee for both the NCAA and NIT tournaments all had their collective heads up their butts! Arkansas? Stanford? (Boy, have they been HOT!) A play-in game for Niagara? (absurd - they deserved better) Besides the obvious in Drexel, a lot of other good mid-major teams got the shaft, even from the NIT. Look at the impressive NIT field (MVSU, Miss. St., DePaul, N.C. State, and Holy Toledo) - what a joke. You get a great Cinderella team from the last 2 years, Bucknell, with a 22-9 record, playing only 12 home games, beating Xavier and Geo. Mason on the road, playing tough at Texas Tech, having a 14 game winning streak (4th longest of the year before losing a close one to Holy Cross on the road in their league tourney) with an RPI better than most of the NIT field, and they don't even get consideration. I guess you have to be a big school, with a lot of political power and players who can even spell their names, let alone come even close to graduating from college, in order to be considered for a bid. How sad, not just for Bucknell, but for many other deserving teams. And don't shed a tear for Syracuse - they got what they deserved, playing an easy OOC schedule in the comfort of the Carrier Dome, losing easy home games they should have won. Stop whining, Boeheim - you made your bed, so lie in it!

    All things considered, this could prove to be the most boring and predicable NCAA field ever.