NCAA Tournament Bubble Watch: 2/6/08

by David Mihm | February 6th, 2008

First, a review of last week’s Bubble teams:

Big Ten – Ohio State Buckeyes. Ugh. Bucks had a chance to solidify their profile last week, but lost at a scrappy Iowa. We’re now starting the all-important “Last 10 games,” and as bad as the Big Ten is this year, Ohio State’s schedule is pretty rough. If they can get to 11-7 in conference play, that should be enough, but 12-6 would be even better.

Pac-10 – Oregon Ducks. Yawn. An easy home win over a lackluster Oregon State team doesn’t exactly reinvigorate the Ducks, but an all-important return date with Stanford looms Thursday night. Cooling off the Pac-10′s hottest team would go a LONG way towards an at-large bid. (Note to Ernie Kent: if the game is close, FOUL MITCH JOHNSON. He might be the worst clutch free throw shooter in the Pac-10.)

SEC – Mississippi State Bulldogs. Not a good week for the Starkville faithful, whiffing on winnable games at Arkansas and at home to Tennessee. The losses dropped MSU to 2-7 against the RPI Top 100: not good enough for an at-large.

Big XII – Texas A&M Aggies. Any questions? Now on an impressive four-game win streak, A&M seems to be back among the Big XII’s elite. A date in Columbia with surprising Missouri will tell us if the Aggies have learned to take their show on the road.

Big East – Villanova Wildcats. Looks like Joe Lunardi may have been right after all (about this team, anyway). ‘Nova hasn’t won since January 23rd, and things don’t get any easier with Seton Hall and Georgetown upcoming. It’s now or never for Jay Wright’s team.

ACC – Miami Hurricanes. The ‘Canes didn’t look like a Tournament team against Duke, but my opinion of the Devils is rising rapidly, too. The middle of the ACC is weak enough this year that Miami could still get to 9-7, but they’ve also got to get a true quality win somewhere along the line.

Atlantic-10 – St Joseph’s Hawks. An impressive game in the Big Five matchup with Villanova, but as of this writing, the Hawks are laying an egg (if you’ll forgive the pun) at Duquesne tonight. A much bigger game will take place in Cincinnati on Sunday, however…

Wild Card – MAC – Kent State Golden Flashes. Well, KSU got my wish, anyway, granted a trip to St Mary’s by the BracketBuster Committee. The bad news is that the Flashes lost to RPI #187 Toledo this week. The next real challenge is Ohio on the 16th, and if Kent can beat the Bobcats AND Gaels, I’d put their at-large chances at 60-40.

Now, onto this week, taking a look at some of your suggested Bubble teams!

Big 10: Indiana Hoosiers. Before you spit your morning coffee all over your laptop, consider these facts about IU:
- # of Top 100 RPI wins since December 1: 1 (Minnesota)
- RPI: 39 (10+ slots behind true bubble-dwellers Massachusetts, UNLV, and Clemson)
- Upcoming schedule (@Illinois in a HUGE rivalry game for Illini fans, @Ohio State, H-Wisconsin, H-Michigan State, H-Purdue).

IU hasn’t been tested the entire season, and could very easily lose the next five games. I’m not saying it’ll definitely happen, just don’t be shocked if it does.

Pac 10: California Golden Bears. Count me among those who had counted the Golden Bears out of the NCAA discussion before their trip to the Evergreen State last week. Now, with a near-guaranteed home win against the Beavers on Thursday night, they’re back at .500 in Pac-10 play. Yours truly will be at the Oregon game on Saturday for one more first-hand analysis of both teams…the question is, will any Committee members?

SEC: Arkansas Razorbacks. Few teams had a better week than Arkansas to start February. At 5-2 in the SEC West, John Pelphrey’s team is just about off the Bubble. In a good way. Tournament-quality wins include N-VCU, H-Oral Roberts, N-Baylor, H-Mississippi State, H-Florida. If Arkansas can go 2-1 in its next three (H-Ole Miss, @Tennessee, @MSU), I don’t see many scenarios in which it fails to make the NCAAs.

Big XII: Baylor Bears. Again, a bit of a stretch to consider the Bears a Bubble team, but the Big XII is beginning to sort itself out pretty evenly. We covered Oklahoma in an earlier edition of the Bubble Watch, and A&M last week, so BU is here by default. Scott Drew HAS to be the favorite for National Coach of the Year at this point, but there are still plenty of tough games in the next five (@Kansas, @OSU, H-Texas, @Oklahoma, H-Kansas State). Baylor’s gotta get to 10-6 to feel completely comfortable on Selection Sunday, though their Neutral win over Notre Dame at the Virgin Islands Tournament should carry a lot of weight.

Big East: Seton Hall Pirates. Maybe the second-biggest surprise in the Big East this year (UConn’s gotta be the biggest, right?), Seton Hall has gone .500 against a tough Big East schedule. Road games at Villanova and at West Virginia in the next two weeks will be key to the Pirates’ postseason hopes, since the last five games offer only one opportunity for a statement win (H-Syracuse).

ACC: Clemson Tigers. I wrote last week that Miami is looking like this year’s Clemson. Well, Clemson might be this year’s Clemson also. The jury’s still out on Oliver Purnell’s team. Good wins at Mississippi State and at home against Purdue give some beef to the Tigers’ non-conference resume, now the trick is to stay above .500 in conference. Clemson still has to go to Chapel Hill, College Park, and Raleigh, as part of a schedule that includes only three home games the rest of the way.

A-10: Duquesne. By popular demand, we take a look at the Dukes! Fresh off a major win over Saint Joseph’s Wednesday night, DU still has games at Dayton, Xavier, and Charlotte to prove itself to the Selection Committee. But there’s nothing to speak of on Duquesne’s non-conference profile beyond close losses to Drake and Pittsburgh, so I’d advise the Dukes to win the A-10 Tournament if they want to be Dancing.

Other: UNLV. Do NOT forget about Lon Kruger’s team on Selection Sunday. The Rebels are 6-1 in an underrated Mountain West Conference and have exactly zero losses to teams outside the RPI’s Top 100. A regular-season sweep of BYU might be good enough on Selection Sunday; to complete that feat, UNLV will need to win in Provo on Saturday the 16th. Even without a sweep, a 14-2 conference record and a trip to the MWC Final would be tough to deny.

That’s it for this week; I look forward to more of your comments!

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37 Responses to “NCAA Tournament Bubble Watch: 2/6/08”  

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  1. Joe Says:

    That Cal-Oregon game will be huge determining a bubble team and/or possible tournament birth. Even though the Pac-10 will probably lose a team to an undeserving conference come tournament time. It’s not like the Pac-10 needs an additional 6 teams to make the conference competitive.

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  2. Jon Says:

    Wow, that’s really giving Miami some credit. If they can make 9-7 in ACC? They are currently 2-6, this means losing only one of their remaining eight games which include: @Virginia Tech, @GA Tech, Duke, MD, @Clemson, UVA, Boston College, @FSU.

    I’d be suprised if they win half of these games. Duke is playing outstanding hoops, MD has been showing some late season fire, Clemson has not “pulled the Clemson” yet and are ooking for revenge from the last nail biter against Miami, the other teams will be playing scrappy to get to the top of the middle just like Miami.

    I don’t see the ‘Canes putting together an impressive string of wins against these teams to have an impressive ACC record, nor do I see them taking the ACC tournament.

    Going from the bottom to consideration is difficult, especially in the ACC, and I just don’t see how the ‘Canes can do it.

    Virginia Tech and Maryland…those are two ACC teams to watch down this stretch……

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  3. David Mihm Says:

    @Joe: Couldn’t agree more. The Pac-10 is maybe the best it’s EVER been this year, and things look just as bright next year with Arizona State and Oregon continuing to rise. Arizona seems to be returning to form as well.

    @Jon: I agree it’s going to be tough for Miami to get to 9-7, but the home game to Duke is really the only game they SHOULD lose if they’re a Tournament-quality team. The game at Clemson is probably the ultimate Bubble-buster.

    I still contend that the middle of the ACC is incredibly overrated when compared to the middle of the Big East, Big XII, and particularly the Pac-10. Legitimately eight teams have a chance to beat UCLA on any given night; in the ACC there *might* be three teams that could beat either Duke or North Carolina.

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  4. John Says:

    @ David Mihm. Damaging losses last night for Seton Hall and Miami-Fla. You CANNOT lose at home by 26, no matter how well Notre Dame is playing(even though I think they are the 2nd best team in the Big East.) Miami basically finished themselves off with that loss to Florida State.

    Everybody loves Saint Joseph’s…………….well they lost to Duquense(badly) last night. I think perhaps it’s time we seriously consider putting the Dukes in the field if they keep this up.

    I admire the job Scott Drew has done at Baylor, and I was one of the first people to bring up the Bears candidacy for the NCAA Tournament, but considering the preseason expectations, the talent level, etc. it is a no-brainer that Keno Davis is the National Coach of The Year. At some point we expected Baylor to play like this, given the talent at the guard spot. No one could have foreseen what Drake is doing right now.

    And of course, finally the BracketBusters: Drake-Butler has the potential to be the best BracketBusters game ever. A true hoops fans’ delight. You got your wish for Kent State, but now that Saint Mary’s is firmly established as the team to beat in the WCC, the Golden Flashes will have a tough time winning in Moraga. Rider-Cal State Northridge and UC Santa Barbara-Utah State could be very interesting games, Wright State-Illinois State could be for a bid provided the winner of this game makes their conference championship game and finally George Mason-Ohio is for a bid.

    Your thoughts on these subjects would be much appreciated.

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  5. David Mihm Says:

    @John, I think the Dukes have a long way to go because their non-conference resume is so poor.

    Agree with you about Miami; they are just headed in the wrong direction.

    I’d vote for Drew simply because the program was left in such shambles by his predecessor. Keno was taking over for a near-HOF-level coach. But I agree, going from being picked last in The Valley to a near-certain at-large bid (if they lose the MVC Tournament) is incredible.

    Other than SMC-KSU, the BracketBuster game I’m most looking forward to is Rider-CSUN. I know you’re a MAAC guy; I saw some of the Rider-Siena game last weekend and was very impressed. I also think that Northridge could upset Stanford / Washington State / USC as a 13 or 14 seed in Anaheim or Denver.

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  6. Joe Says:


    I agree with you on that on the Pac-10. The Pac-10 will be a lot stronger next year. The only team that doesn’t stand a chance next year is Oregon State. Hopefully they can get better soon. It would be great if every team was competitive.

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  7. Dex Says:

    I’m a big IU fan so maybe that’s why I’m so defensive, but I don’t think their anywhere near a bubble team. It’s true that they don’t really have any great wins, but there’s no way that they won’t make the tournament. They’ve been beaten by good teams and Gordon hasn’t been at full strength for a while. They’ll win at home against Wisconsin and Purdue, and hopefully vs. Michigan St. I think that they have a good chance at being seeded as a 4 or 5, but probably not any better.

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  8. Christopher Mackinder Says:

    @ David: I’m glad someone finally took an honest look at the Hoosiers. Will they make the NCAA Tournament? Barring some crazy event in which D.J. White and Eric Gordon disappear, yes. But the 19-3 record, as impressive as it looks, lacks substance.

    Also, while people seem to love the depth of the Pac-10, saying that it goes 8-9 deep, where is the love for the Big Ten? I know, overall, it isn’t as strong as the Pac-10, but when the top four teams have a combined 5 conference losses (NO OTHER CONFERENCE CAN SAY THAT), why is it still looked at as the weakest BCS Conference? Do Northwestern and Michigan and this year’s down Illinois team really hurt the conference THAT much?

    @ Dex: Every marquee game (at Xavier, vs. UConn, at Wisconsin) Indiana has played has been a loss. The best win? Try at Minnesota, the Big Ten’s 6th best team. Unfortunately, the early-season win at So. Illinois is now as valuable, in the eyes of the committee, as the win against Georgia Tech in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The next three games (at Ohio State, vs Wisconsin and vs. Michigan State) will say a lot about the Hoosiers. To hope the Hoosiers will win home games against Purdue and Wisconsin is nice but to assume it will happen is ignorant. A surging but injury-plagued UConn team marched into Assembly Hall and dominated that game. To assume that the Big Ten’s big boys couldn’t do the same is drinking a little too much Optimism.

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  9. Dex Says:

    IU will atleast win one of their games at home against Purdue or Wisconsin for sure, probably both. It’s not ignorance. Indiana has won 30 out of their last 31 at home. Did you forget about the 19 point win against Kentucky, who has beaten Tennessee and Vanderbilt. They haven’t had great wins, but they’ve had a number of good wins against teams such as Illinois St., Kentucky, Georgia Tech, and at Southern Illinois (even though they are struggling it has been proven that it’s hard to win in Carbondale). I agree that IU is not as good as everyone thought they were, but they will be in the tournament, whether they’re on the bubble or not.

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  10. Christopher Mackinder Says:

    @ Dex: Trust me, if i was a betting man, I would take Indiana to beat both Wisconsin and Purdue at home. But I don’t feel confident they’ll win both of those games. I would hope the Hoosiers win at least one, but there are NO GIMMES a top the Big Ten.

    And, while winning 30 of 31 games at home is impressive, that feat is accomplished by doing the following: Playing 10 home games against mostly garbage nonconference opponents one year and going undefeated at home in the conference season (using last year’s Big Ten schedule as an example, that would be 18 straight home wins). Then, carry that over a year and schedule another 10 cupcakes and you have 28 straight home wins. I’m NOT saying Indiana did this, but to get near 30 straight wins, you really just have to have ONE CONFERENCE season where you go undefeated at home and bookend that with two undefeated nonconference seasons at home.

    Here’s a good note: Bradley had the second longest home winning streak in the nation coming into this year. That is why, when Michigan State went there this season, it was a risky game but one that had a lot of reward. Of course, MSU ended the home win streak and Bradley has turned out to be an average team (14-10 as of Friday while riding a 6-game winning streak). For the record, Bradley has lost FIVE total games at home this season.

    For all the talk about “how tough it is to play” at certain arena, the fact remains the arena doesn’t win games. Teams win games. Illinois’ Assembly Hall is one of the toughest places to play in my mind, with the crowd literally on the floor. But, Illinois is struggling this year (2-9 in the Big Ten) and guess what, Illinois has lost SIX home games this season after winning something like 35 out of 36. So, that home-court winning streak will only get you so far.

    Now that I’m through “bashing” IU, here’s my truthful feelings on the Hoosiers. I like Indiana and Sampson’s emphasis on defense will carry IU a long way. This is a bonafied Sweet 16 team since it has a major post presence (D.J. White), a scorer who can create his own shot (Eric Gordon) and other pieces that fill in the cracks. It also helps that IU is a solid free throw shooting team. Depending on the matchups, the Hoosiers have the look of one of those 4-5 seeds that sneak into the Final Four… or one that puts up a good fight against a No. 1 seed in the Elite 8 round. Either way, there isn’t too much to complain about there.

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  11. David Mihm Says:

    @ Dex / Chris – I don’t think IU is a Bubble team based on their current stature. In fact, I seeded them on the #6 line this week, hardly a seed commensurate with a team in danger of missing the Tournament.

    But the fact remains, if the Hoosiers were to go on a four-game losing streak (won’t be five, after an important win in Champaign last night), I’d have to take a very hard look at their overall resume.

    I’d guess IU will go some combination of 2-2 in the next four, and end up in the 6/7 seed range at the end of the month. They could still play their way into a protected seed with a good run in the BTT, however.

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  12. Dex Says:

    @ Chris, I wasn’t saying that the arena wins the games, I was saying that S. Illinois is hard to beat at home. They beat St. Mary’s at home by 15 and had Butler if not for a last second 30 footer by A.J. Graves. Some teams play entirely different at home than they do on the road. Bradley and Illinois are not good teams, so that’s probably why they’ve struggled this year.

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  13. John Says:

    @ Christopher, Dex and everyone else involved with this whole Indiana talk, here is my opinion: With the right matchups the Hoosiers could easily make the Final Four simply because they have one of the 5 best big men in the country after Beasley, Love and so forth. They have an elite guard who I rate as #2 behind only Rose for freshman. They do not have that spectacular win out of conference, but unlike other top level Big Ten teams(Michigan State and Ohio State) they WON at Iowa. i applaud Dex for his passion towards his beloved Hoosiers(kind of the way I feel about the Mighty Gators.) As for Mr. Mackinder, you have the right to say whatever you want, but it did seem like you did ”pile on” a little. What other Big Ten team has the combo of players like White and Gordon? These schedules are made up years in advance, so no one knows who’ll be good(see Drake as an unexpected good win, for example.) I would be curious to know what team you root for(sounds like another Big Ten school.) And while the building does not win games, it can help.

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  14. Dex Says:

    I just wanted to throw this out there about the home court advantage thing. I tend to root for most teams from Indiana (excluding the Boilers) so I keep up on the little guys too. Indiana State over the past two years has gone 19-5 at home and 4-23 on the road, up to this point in the season. While being a mediocre team at best overall, they’ve beaten teams such as Creighton, S. Illinois, Purdue, and #14 Butler (last year) at home. Their best road win: at Evansville. So while the building doesn’t win the games, it can turn poor teams into good teams, and good teams into great teams.

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  15. David Mihm Says:

    Dex, your point is well-taken. That’s exactly why the Selection Committee places such a tremendous weight on road & neutral victories.

    One of the many reasons Arizona traditionally receives such a high seed, for example, despite a mediocre record is that they play (and beat) a number of high-caliber opponents away from the McKale Center, both in conference and out of conference.

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  16. John Says:

    @ David Mihm. If that is the case, then perhaps Arizona’s seed will be lower considering their two best road wins are at UNLV and Houston while losing at Kansas, Memphis and getting embarassed at UCLA.

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  17. Christopher Mackinder Says:

    @ John: While it might have sounded like I “piled on” the Hoosiers, I want to make it clear that was not my intent. I was just trying to find statistics to support my side. While I am a Michigan State grad and my wife is a Michigan alum, I tend to root for all Big Ten teams, especially since it seems the Big Ten has been down since 2003.

    For all my negativity toward the Hoosiers in this chat, I actually find Indiana to be a very dangerous team. Gordon-White is THE best inside-outside combo in the Big Ten. And while the Hoosiers have lost three games, they’ve lost to Xavier (A-10′s best team), Wisconsin (tied atop Big Ten) and UConn (near top of Big East and one of nation’s hottest teams not named Memphis or Stanford). And the win at Iowa seems like a great win now (seeing that MSU and OSU went down and Wisconsin had to eek out a victory).

    I won’t make crazy predictions now, but I would NOT be shocked if two Big Ten teams – Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan State – reach the Final Four this season. It just seems like one of those years.

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  18. John Says:

    @ Christopher Mackinder. Your explanation on your position clarifies things. I guess while I did think you were piling on Indiana that is gone now. It is perhaps a knee-jerk reaction, but clearly the wrong one.

    And an update on South Alabama: they are 35 in the latest CollegeRPI data(which is the closeest thing to the real RPI.) and if they can get to between 20 and 25 by the Sun Belt final and lose a close game, they will get an at-large bid. I think they get penalized because they don’t get credit for some Sun Belt victories(although UALR, WKU, North Texas and New Orleans are strong.) I always go back to the old adage ”you only play who’s on the schedule” and these games are mandatory because they are conference games.

    Finally: Are you a believer in one player can carry a team, because if that is the case, then I think Bo McCalebb could propel New Orleans to the tournament.

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  19. Dex Says:

    What about Stephen F. Austin or Sam Houston St. as possible bubble teams. Austin is 19-3 and have won at Oklahoma and at San Diego (who’s beaten Kentucky and St. Mary’s). Sam Houston St. has beaten Texas Tech, won at St. Louis, beat Stephen F. Austin, and is currently 18-4. Neither teams have great non-conference wins but I think that they should get some credit for their records.

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  20. John Says:

    @ Dex. You are right and I agree with you, but that win at Oklahoma doesn’t look so good after the Sooners lost at COLORADO. The only chance either team has is if they play in the conference final, stage a classic game, and hope the commitee has an out of body experience and doesn’t take 10 teams from the Big East(OK, that last part was a joke, but the rest wasn’t.)

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  21. Dex Says:

    @ John, I agree that neither really has a chance but I like to think that little schools can snag an at-large bid (just wishful thinking I guess). I think that the big conferences are all too strong this year and that there are only a few mid-majors who even have a chance at an at-large. Going back to an earlier comment I posted, Davidson is continuing to impress me. They are a team that probably has no chance at an at-large, but I think that if they win the conference tournament, they could be a sweet 16 team or better. 15-0 in conference play and 17-6 overall and Stephen Curry averaging 25 a game. Maybe I’m the only believer, but watch out for Davidson.

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  22. Christopher Mackinder Says:

    I don’t care if Davidson loses in the first round of its conference tournament, Davidson is one of the 34 best at-large teams in the country. Just because it plays in a horrid conference doesn’t mean it should be penalized. Teams like Cal, Arizona State, Syracuse and Virginia Tech get plenty of chances in season to notch “marquee” wins while Davidson doesn’t have that opportunity.

    While I don’t believe that playing and losing games to big-name schools means you should make the tournament, HOW YOU PLAY against those schools has to say something. I don’t have the stats in front of me but didn’t Davidson lose to UNC, Duke and UCLA by a combined 10 points or something? When you assume those teams will be either 1 or 2 seeds, the thought of a team like Davidson being left out of the field for a middle-of-the-road major conference school is very disheartning.

    Here’s one vote for Davidson.

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  23. Dex Says:

    Davidson lost to Duke and UNC by a combined 10 points and lost to UCLA by 12. What impresses me the most is that every one of those games was on the road. I guarantee that if they’s won one of those games they’d be a lock for the tournament and they’d probably be ranked in the top 25. Also, if you look at the conference games the Wildcats have played, only one team has even come close to beating them. I believe that they won’t lose a conference game and won’t have any problems in the SoCon tourney, and I agree Chris, they should definitely be looked at as an at-large contender.

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  24. John Says:

    @ Dex. You are right and much like another selection process(one that has nothing to do with sports.) it is not fair that one portion of teams from BCS conferences get most of the attention come the time for the commitee to enter the selection room, the little guys do not get a fair shot. The committee only is concerned with TV ratings and filling up arenas rather tham once in a while giving the little guy a break. They proved this by going to the pod system, which I find horrible. They also claim that conference affiliation has nothing to do with the selection process, and I simply do not believe them. How else can you explain Arkansas making last year’s field over Drexel. Yes the Razorbacks made the SEC Championship Game, but one run in the conference tournament should not get you into the field of 65. Drexel won AT Syracuse, AT Creighton and 11 other true road games, yet got snubbed. Finally, it would be nice for bracket projectors(yes, even including the fine and esteemed creator of this site.) to include the somewhat deserving mid-major(South Alabama, Kent State, etc.) over borderline BCS teams. A lot of it has to do with conferences expanding, but that is another point for another day. After all, isn’t the reason it’s called March Madness is because of George Mason circa 2006, Gonzaga 1999, Richmond circa 1991?

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  25. John Says:

    @ Dex. Actually Davidson WAS ranked in the Top 25 after losing to North Carolina(which was not a road game, neutral at Bobcats Arena in Charlotte, also the same venue for the Duke game.), but they lost their next game at Western Michigan and subsequently fell out of the Top 25.

    @ Christopher Mackinder. I applaud you for championing the cause of the mid-major and your point about the opportunities for the bigger schools as compared to the little schools is exactly what I have been trying to say all along.

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  26. David Mihm Says:

    In response to the discussion of deserving mid-majors, readers of this site KNOW that I have long been a proponent of giving the little guys more of a chance. Commentators like Jay Bilas are way out of line when they try to speculate how a mid-major powerhouse would fare in the Big East or ACC…the fact is that for the most part those schools refuse to schedule quality mid-majors in a home-and-home.

    Is there another independent site on the web, other than perhaps Mid-Majority, that devotes as much coverage to the BracketBuster as this one? (Speaking of which, look for our preview of the 2008 event to launch next weekend.)

    But as I said on KXNO radio this week, conference tournaments are a tremendous advantage for teams from the power conferences (like Arkansas) to pick up major scalps at the end of the year, whereas they only provide opportunities for bad losses for dominant lower-conference teams. That’s simply the way the system is set up. If the smaller conferences would do away with their tournaments, it would actually ensure that most of these deserving teams made the field with their league’s at-large bids. But everyone loves the opportunity to compete for an NCAA berth, so I doubt that’ll change anytime soon.

    As much as I’d like to see Davidson, Kent State, and South Alabama get the benefit of the doubt, should they lose their conference tournaments, my job is to predict what the Committee is going to do on Selection Sunday. And as many of you have pointed out, the Committee TENDS to favor power conference teams. I learned that lesson the hard way last year by INCLUDING Drexel in my final field and leaving Arkansas out.

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  27. John Says:

    @ David Mihm. I know you were responding to what I said and I understand your job is to predict what the committee is going to do, BUT if you feel differently, you should predict that way. I understand there is a system in place, but I do not think conference tournaments should be done away with. Richmond in 1991 and Southern in 1993 both finished 2nd in their conferences that year and if there were no conference tournaments, they would not have made the NCAA Tournament and pulled off their upsets. Ditto for Santa Clara in 1993 as they finished 3rd in the WCC. Those games along with a couple before it and a couple since are credited with expanding the popularity of the NCAA Tournament in the modern era. I agree with the fact that the mid-majors don’t get a shot at the big boys because the power conference teams are afraid of losing to them, but maybe the NCAA should mandate one home-and-home series(just a suggestion.) I know the kind of coverage you give mid-majors and I applaud it(why else would I keep coming back to this site?), but because of what we have discussed, maybe you could be the ”trend-breaker” and give a South Alabama or a Kent State an at-large. You do have a ”Meet The Committee” section here. Perhaps the committee will not do what you say, but they obviously look at this site, and if they see the leading bracket projection site giving the little guy a break, maybe they will start to wake up about it. I am not singling you out as I did not see your final bracket last year, but kudos for doing the right thing with Drexel and Arkansas. It is just the frustration of knowing that the mid-majors still don’t get a fair shot. One final note: as much as we were all rooting for George Mason in 2006, the one fact that often gets overlooked is that they probably did not deserve that bid. Hofstra should have gotten it, seeing as how they beat the Patriots twice, including in the CAA Tournament. Your thoughts on this would be much appreciated.

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  28. David Mihm Says:

    John, as much as I appreciate the credit you give this site, I doubt very much that any Committee members have found their way here. If I try to prove a subjective point by projecting more mid-majors than anyone, I lose credibility as a leading objective analyst.

    I think that the positive coverage we give mid-majors throughout the rest of the site does enough to convey our sensibilities here (see Chris Mackinder’s unsolicited comment earlier in the discussion as proof!).

    I also agree that GMU didn’t deserve to get into the field ahead of Hofstra (although I projected both teams out; note the order of Last Four Out, however).

    The entire 2006 Tournament is tainted for me. Tony Skinn should have been suspended for a minimum of three games & was allowed to play a critical role on Mason’s miracle run after they made it past the Spartans in the first round. Jim Larranaga is a media darling for a lot of good reasons, but I feel strongly he should have been a much stronger disciplinarian in that instance.

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  29. Dex Says:

    I think most people agree that they would like to see mid-majors given more credit. But since the purpose of this website is to predict what probably will happen instead of what should happen, I don’t think that you could include teams just to break the trend. As much as an influence this site may have on readers and other analysts, I really doubt that it is going to make any difference to a member of the committee that you place a South Alabama in your bracket instead of a Providence, for example.

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  30. John Says:

    @ David Mihm. I understand the purpose of this site and I understand the reason you don’t put more mid-majors in your projected field, but it becomes frustrating to know that a team that finishes 26-5 at worst and loses in the conference final gets snubbed in favor of a team that goes 18-11, 19-10 etc. I know that it is extremely unlikely committee members find their way to this site, but if they did, maybe they could do what is right. I don’t know if you know who Chris Russo and Mike Francesa are, but they were the most outspoken on the whole George Mason/Hofstra issue.

    @ Dex. South Alabama/Providence was a bad example because USA probably deserves to make it over the Friars.

    @ either one. I tend to root for the team that has gone longer between NCAA appearences provided my team is not it or I have no rooting interest in the game. A example is if Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston State play in the Southland final, I would root for SFA for that reason. Have you ever found yourself doing that?

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  31. Dex Says:

    I realize South Alabama/Providence was a bad example but I was just picking a mid-major and a major team. I wasn’t saying either was more deserving. My bad.

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  32. Brett Says:

    I just wanted to give you alittle more insite on the NEC. You have Sacred Heart as the team from this conferance, and I understand they have an extra win then Robert Morris however. Robert Morris is still the class of the conference this year. Robert Morris has Beaten an A10 school this year (Fordam), and an ACC team this year (Boston College). They also took Seton Hall to overtime. If you look at the Kenpom.com and look at his rankings they are ranked. 137 over all and the next closest is C. Conn. St at 189. And if you check the RPI they are ranked 154 with Sacred heart ranked 169.

    Just some more thought for your smaller conference picks.

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  33. David Mihm Says:

    Brett, the important thing for the projection at this time of the year is that Sacred Heart has a half-game lead in the NEC, as you point out, and also beat RMC at their place last month. Thanks for your comment.

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  34. Ryan Burrows Says:

    @ John

    Saint Joseph’s just lost another nail biter to Xavier. I think this season they might just be the team that was good enough to take ranked teams to the last minute but no better. Then add in a loss to the Dukes (who just lost to St. Bon). With 3 competitive games left, @ URI, Xavier, and @Dayton, do you think theres a bid for SJU without winning all three?

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  35. John Says:

    @ Ryan Burrows. The only way they can win 2 of the 3 games and make it is if it is in convincing fashion, otherwise the Atlantic 10(not the A-10 a many people have called it.) will send Xavier, Rhode Island, Dayton and Massachusetts.

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  36. Dex Says:

    I disagree. I think if St. Joe’s wins 2 out of 3 (convincingly or barely) then they have a good chance at making the tournament as an at-large. And if they were to beat Xavier, and it came down to either UMass or St. Joe’s, I believe St. Joe’s would get the bid. One reason is that they’ve beaten the Minutemen twice. Another is that they’d have more quality wins in conference, although UMass has a better non-conference resume. But that all depends on whether or not they beat Xavier and either Rhode Island or Dayton, otherwise, I think UMass would get the bid. And what’s wrong with calling it the A 10?

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  37. John Says:

    @ Dex. It’s about BOTH the non-conference and conference play. UMass has a better overall profile, despite the fact St. Joseph’s defeated them twice. And call me old fashioned, but it’s the full name, not just an abbreviation(much like the Southern Conference is called the SoCon.) It’s not that long of a name, is it?

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