Key Thoughts Heading into Selection Sunday
1) UPDATE: I agree with Joe Lunardi, the Big XII champion will be a #1 seed in the Midwest. The loser gets the #2 in the South.
We saw last year that the Big XII Final has essentially no impact on the seeding of the final bracket, given that the game finished about 11 minutes prior to the start of the Selection Show. The exception is when Kansas and Texas are so close to the #1 line–Kansas only if the Jayhawks win. We saw an undeserving Florida get the #1 over a deserving UCLA last year…the same thing is probably going to happen this year with the Jayhawks as the ‘perceived’ better team than Tennessee. If Texas wins the Big XII Final, there’s a clear argument to place the Longhorns ahead of Tennessee, and I’d have absolutely no problem with that.
2) Bracket History 101:
Gonzaga (2002) – RPI 20, 28-3, WCC Reg. Season & Tournament Champion, N-Texas (22), N-St John’s (38), N-St Joe’s (73)
Result: #6 seed
Butler (2008) - RPI 16, 29-3, Horizon Reg. Season & Tournament Champion, N-VaTech (53), N-Texas Tech (66), Ohio State (46), Southern Illinois (61)
Result: predicted #6 seed, and certainly no higher than a 5.
3) The Play-in Game will likely feature the two worst teams, even though both of their conferences are almost always placed there.
Coppin State and Mississippi Valley State are SO much lower-rated in the RPI than Mt St Mary’s that it would be a pure tragedy for The Mount if they were relegated.
4) The Bubble: Comparing “Apples to Apples”
Hopefully this is an informative comparison of what I feel are the most difficult Bubble decisions. Ignoring “power numbers,” and only looking at games won and lost, how would you rank the following teams?
BUSHEL #1: .500 POWER CONFERENCE TEAMS
Arizona: 9-11 in de facto #1 league, 8-8 away from Tucson, 4-8 in its last 12 games, with significant injury to Nic Wise for several games
Best wins: @USC, @WSU, WSU, @UNLV, Texas A&M, San Diego State, @Houston
Bad losses: none.
Ohio State: 10-9 in #6 league, 5-10 away from Columbus, 4-8 in its last 12 games
Best wins: N-Syracuse, @Cleveland St, Florida, MD-BalCo, Purdue, Michigan State
Bad losses: @Iowa, @Michigan (both in last 12 games)
Villanova: 10-10 in de facto #2 league, 8-9 away from home, 7-5 in its last 12 games
Best wins: N-George Mason, @Temple, Pittsburgh, @Syracuse, N-Syracuse, West Virginia, Connecticut
Bad losses: @DePaul, @Rutgers
Arizona State: 9-10 in de facto #1 league, 6-8 away from Tempe, 5-7 in its last 12 games
Best wins: Xavier, Oregon, Arizona, @Arizona, Stanford, USC
Bad losses: none
Oregon: 9-10 in de facto #1 league, 6-10 away from Eugene, 6-6 in its last 1 games
Best wins: @Kansas State, @Arizona, Stanford, Arizona State, Arizona
Bad losses: @Oakland-Michigan
Virginia Tech: 7-10 in de facto #3 league, 7-11 away from Blacksburg, 6-6 in last 12 games
Best wins: N-Miami
Bad losses: @Old Dominion, @Penn State
MY RANKINGS FOR BUSHEL #1:
A) Villanova – Villanova’s best wins (UConn and Pittsburgh) compare favorably with Stanford and USC. They closed the season much better, and have four wins against NCAA level or Bubble competition away from home. Their loss to Georgetown was on a questionable call.
B) Arizona - The Wildcats did some great winning away from home, and despite a .500 record and a struggle to the finish, UA was hurt by an injury to Nic Wise, who’s now healthy. Their loss to UCLA was on a questionable call.
C) Arizona State – The Sun Devils’ good wins are as good as Villanova’s, including an “extra” win over Xavier. They also swept the Wildcats head-to-head, and lost to a good USC team on a questionable call. Stanford’s #318 non-conference SOS isn’t being questioned for their seeding…why should ASU’s count more?
D) Oregon – The Ducks are the hardest call for me. They have a nice win out of conference in Manhattan, KS, which is thoroughly offset by the loss to Oakland. Also, now that K-State has slipped into the 9-10 seeding range, that win doesn’t look quite as good. Nor does an overall 6-10 R/N record. The sweep of Arizona looks great, and having seen the Ducks in person on four occasions this year, they certainly pass the “eye test.” But are they better than some of the mid-majors below? I’m not sure…
E) Ohio State – A poor finish and so-so good wins (both at home) place the Buckeyes pretty far down the pecking order, in my opinion.
F) Virginia Tech – No bubble team has fewer true quality wins than VaTech, with the exception of VCU. I don’t think this team is all that close.
BUSHEL #2: The Atlantic-10
Saint Joseph’s: 12-8 (if they lose the auto bid) in #7 conference, 12-6 away from Hawk Hill, 6-6 in last 12 games
Best wins: @Siena, @UMass, @Temple, UMass, Villanova, Xavier, N-Xavier
Bad losses: Holy Cross, LaSalle, Saint Louis
Temple: 13-6 in #7 conference, 10-8 away from home, 9-3 in last 12 games
Best wins: Xavier, UMass, @Saint Joseph’s, Charlotte, N-Charlotte
Bad losses: N-College of Charleston, Fordham
UMass: 10-7 in #7 conference, 10-7 away from Amherst, 8-4 in last 12 games
Best wins: @Syracuse, @Dayton, Charlotte
Bad losses: @Northern Iowa, @Saint Louis, Fordham
THOUGHTS ABOUT BUSHEL #2:
UMass is clearly third in this pecking order, not having beaten Xavier. Saint Joe’s has nice wins away from home @Siena and over Xavier in the tournament, and also swept the Minutemen. Temple might be more vulnerable if they lose the final because their wins aren’t really all that great. But their record down the stretch is, and they have an outright 2nd place finish in conference play.
BUSHEL #3: QUALITY MID-MAJORS:
South Alabama: 17-3 in #15 conference, 9-5 away from home, 9-3 in last 12 games.
Best wins: N-San Diego, Mississippi State, Western Kentucky, @Western Kentucky
Bad losses: @North Texas
VCU: 16-4 in #13 conference, 12-6 away from home, 9-3 in last 12 games.
Best wins: N-Houston, N-Maryland, @Akron
Bad losses: @Hampton, @James Madison, Old Dominion, N-William & Mary
Illinois State: 15-6 in #8 conference, 9-8 away from home, 9-3 in last 12 games.
Best wins: @Creighton, Southern Illinois, Creighton, @Southern Illinois
Bad losses: @Eastern Michigan, @Northern Iowa
Stephen F. Austin: 14-4 in #19 conference, 12-4 away from home, 10-2 in last 12 games.
Best wins: @Oklahoma, @San Diego
Bad losses: @Nicholls State, @UT-Arlington, N-Northwestern State
THOUGHTS ABOUT BUSHEL #3:
South Alabama has an awfully good resume. If the win over Mississippi State hadn’t been at home, I’d say there’d be no question about their resume. I’ve gotta think the Committee will give them a free pass on North Texas, which also won @Oklahoma State earlier in the year. Both VCU and Stephen F. Austin have a lot of bad losses. The fact that VCU won its bracketbuster matchup on the road and the fact that they won the CAA, historically a well-respected league, by a full three games works in their favor. But are they better than Oregon or Arizona State? Better than Temple or UMass? I’m just not sure.
Illinois State is a very tough call. The Valley is a really good league, and other than the Eastern Michigan loss, none of their losses is all that bad. But none of their wins is all that impressive either. Virginia Tech’s resume looks pretty similar, and they’re in the ACC…I think it’ll be tough for the Redbirds to get much love from the Committee.