Thoughts on the 2008 NCAA Tournament Bracket

by David Mihm | March 16th, 2008

First off, let me say that Tom O’Connor’s Selection Committee did an absolutely fabulous job at both selecting and seeding the teams for the 2008 NCAA Tournament.  In my opinion, breaking down the Bubble has never been harder than it was this year, even before the SEC Tournament Tornado, and Georgia and Illinois’ terrific runs to their respective Finals.

As you can see from the final stats posted on our homepage, this was my best year at projecting the field, as I missed only on my last teams in and out (Arizona State and South Alabama).  Frequent readers probably know that I had the order flip-flopped right down until the very end until Georgia won the SEC Tournament.  Guess I should have stuck with my first instinct!

I projected 58/65 teams within one line of their exact seed, which should compare favorably to most other analysts.  Congrats to Bracketology 101, however, whom I believe had 60.

Now, onto my VERY minor gripes:

1) There’s simply no way that Oregon should be a #9 seed.  This might make my local Portland & Eugene readers a little peeved, but I think even true Ducks’ fans will admit that this team hasn’t played up to that line this year.  The Ducks got a great draw, in my opinion the most vulnerable #1 seed in Memphis’ pod, and could certainly pull the upset if they can get past Mississippi State in the first round.

2) Saint Joseph’s should not have been seeded ahead of Temple.  The Owls beat St Joe’s on a neutral floor, after the two teams had traded victories on each other’s home floors.  They finished two games ahead of the Hawks in the regular-season standings, and also beat Xavier at home (they didn’t get the chance to do so in the A-10 Tournament, on the opposite side of the bracket).  I also think that Michigan State is a far tougher draw than Oklahoma, as I had the Sooners at the bottom of the #7 line.

3) I think Arizona State was slightly more deserving than South Alabama.  I can certainly understand the argument for including the Jaguars over the Sun Devils, but having seen ASU in person once this year, and numerous times on television, I truly felt that the Sun Devils were a Tournament-caliber team, RPI notwithstanding.  As Herb Sendek pointed out, the Maui Invitational matchups didn’t break in ASU’s favor, and the Big XII Challenge matchup wasn’t very favorable with Nebraska either.  If ever the Committee were to select a team with an RPI in the 80′s, this would have been the one.  No disrespect to South Alabama, Saint Joe’s, Villanova, or any other Bubble team, but I think ASU was a deserving participant.

4) In terms of geography, it’s puzzling that Kansas State (11) and Davidson (10) were seeded within a two-hour drive of their campuses.  As a small school, I’m not sure Davidson will have any real advantage over the Hoyas in Raleigh.  But K-State is sure to send plenty of fans to Omaha for their matchups with USC and/or Wisconsin.

5) A couple of regular-season / previous Tournament rematches are possible, and the Committee probably could have avoided them fairly easily.  Winthrop-Notre Dame is possible if the Eagles upset Wazzu in the first round.  Texas vs. Saint Mary’s is perhaps more likely, if the Gaels get past Miami in their first round. Am I missing any others?

All of these are relatively small nit-picks, however, and Tom O’Connor and the entire Committee are to be absolutely commended for putting together one of the best, if not the best, brackets ever.  It should be yet another exciting Tournament!

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21 Responses to “Thoughts on the 2008 NCAA Tournament Bracket”  

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  1. Jon Says:

    Poor Virginia Tech, they should be in.

    UCLA has an easy road until matching up with Duke, and even that shouldn’t bee too hard for the Bruins. Lucky.

    I think this is the year that All the number 1 seeds make it to the Final Four. The only potential hicups that I see would be Memphis vs. Texas in the Elite 8 and Georgetown vs. Kansas. You never know which Hoya team is going to show up, so I gotta go with Kansas winning that one.

    Keep up the great work team. It’s here. A few more days of pondering that important upset and tipoff will be underway. This is the best time of the year…….

    Best of luck everyone….

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  2. kelly kreitlow Says:

    The ACC got totally jobbed by this committee; how can the no. 1 RPI conference only get 4 teams in the tourney? There is absolutely no way the Pac 10 & SEC deserved to have 6 teams in. Oregon? Please. Where are there ‘quality wins’? Arizona I guess. Well maybe Arizona isn’t a tourney team and shouldn’t count as a quality win. Clearly, there is too much bias here. It’s not only about who a team has beat, it should also be about bad losses and good losses. Where is the human factor without the bias? If this is the case then maybe we don’t need a committee, let’s just use a computer ranking like the RPI. In excess of 70% of VT minutes are from true freshman this year and they start 3; they did have some bad losses at the beginning of the year, but they clearly are one of the best 34 teams lately. Both Miami & Clemson got very difficult draws and deserved higher seeds. Just explain to me why these people can’t get over their bias and be fair.

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  3. erik Says:

    i dont know. i think that if clemson plays the way they’ve been playing against both nc and duke, they have a good shot at beating vandy and kansas. their first game against nova will be like taking candy from a baby. if they do get the chance at playing georgetown, they’ll be done.

    another team i’d watch out for is kansas state. i think they were seeded a bit too low. they should have been at least 8 or 9. i think they’ll beat usc and wisconsin (they are way over rated) but lose to georgetown.

    i got nc, georgetown, stanford, and ucla in the final four and then georgetown winning the championship over stanford. GO HOYAS!!!

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  4. Rick Says:

    Georgetown will lose to Davidson

    Kansas State will lose to USC

    what was the committee thinking putting UNC and Tennessee in the same region?

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  5. Jim Hawkins Says:

    I disagree that the committee did a “fabulous” job. You make no mention of the Big 10 seeding debacle. Indiana, an 8 seed? This team should be rewarded for the entire SEASON, not just the past couple of games. Michigan St a 5 seed? Last I saw, they finished fourth in the Big 10 behind Purdue and Indiana, and yet they rank a 5? And what about Wisconsin not getting a 2 seed? Overall, I would say the committee is down on the Big 10 overall – I was extremely disappointed in the selection committee’s collective snub-nosing of the teams of the Big 10. They deserve better!

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  6. Rick Says:

    I agree, it was far from fabulous in my opinion – but it certainly was decent. A lot better than it usually is, I’ll admit that.

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  7. steve w Says:

    Va Tech if they want to use one game to judge, the 95-56 game earlier in the year might be a good judge. They won exactly one meaningful game all year (Miami), with OT loss to Butler and a couple of close calls in ACC play. A team with mid-50 computer ratings has no case. Arizona St clearly has the best argument of anyone not in the field (outside of meaningless RPI, they’re in the low 40s).

    As usual, the question should not be who got robbed, but rather who blew it. (in this case possibly the Pac-10 refs).

    Anyone who’s been following basketball this year knows the ACC is not the top conference (maybe 3rd or 4th), and even if it was, that does not logically follow that its teams are all tournament quality. Pac-10 on the other hand was loaded with middling teams who beat each other to death. This mythology that the committee cares how many teams get in from a given conference must be killed. There’s a self-limiting effect as a conference beats itself up. But there’s not enough time to worry about “how many teams do we have from the big east?” and trying to balance that with ACC or Pac-10. It’s a waste of time.

    K-St will need the home support, they absolutely stink on the road.

    Neither Temple or StJ have a compelling argument. I suspect the extra Xavier win and that StJ hammered Nova while Temple lost was the decisive factor, not the head to head (which were all very close games). StJ is generally better rated on every metric if that’s not enough.

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  8. Billy Clyde Says:

    I wanna LMAO. What a bunch of ACC crybabies. Kelly and Billy Packer should both use the same crying towel. Go Wildcats!

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  9. steve w Says:

    Indiana scores an 8 because they never won a compelling road game. Best road win was SIU. Outside of MSU at home, they really don’t have anything at all on their resume.

    Michigan St beat Texas at home, destroyed Indiana at home, beat BYU, and played UCLA and Wisconsin tough. Indiana’s road/neutral games with real opponents were disasters. I would have moved them up to a 7 at best, 6 if I was feeling generous.

    As for Wisconsin, I have no explanation. They could have easily switched them with Georgetown. If that’s the best complaint I have, this is a pretty solid bracket. (I get to complain every year about Vanderbilt it seems)

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  10. Wildcat Says:

    Davidson will have plenty of fans at that game. It may be a small school but you obvisouly have no idea how big of a fan base they have

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  11. David Mihm Says:

    A few quick thoughts:

    1) I agree that VaTech was a deserving team, but I’m not sure they were more deserving than any of the teams in the field, or Arizona State.
    2) Disagree that K-State was underseeded…they can hang their hat on the win over KU, but the rest of the resume looks pretty average.
    3) The Big Ten was bad this year. No way around the truth. Indiana has not played well down the stretch, and played its way right out of a protected seed.
    4) Re: Davidson, I know there will be plenty of fans in Raleigh. But Georgetown is surely going to have more. Regardless, the Hoyas are a much better team on the court.

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  12. Bill Says:

    K State caught a break playing so close to home, but my Trojans will beat them. Wisconsin plays that deliberate, slow down style, so if SC & UW hook up the final could be in the 40′s. USC has beaten more high caliber teams than K State: UCLA, Stanford, Oregon 2x, Arizona, ASU, Oklahoma. After Kansas, K State’s next best win was Oklahoma.

    The guy bagging on the Pac 10 is clueless. There was only 1 bad team in the league. Oregon State. The rest were all solid. Oregon? They beat K State @K State.

    UCLA got a better seeding than UNC. No question with Tennessee being placed in there. The committee basically said we think the Bruins are the true #1. Don’t go by the polls, or first team released in the Brackets. Go by who are the 2,3 & 4 seeds in the #1′s region. UCLA if they get good guard play, is the favorite. No question. Shooting is an issue for them.

    The vulnerable #1 is Memphis. My Trojans badly outplayed them in the Garden. Only a missed free throw at the end of regulation prevented SC from beating them. Watch out for that Pitt team, good momentum coming out of the Big East Tourney. Clemson too has some nice size, and could make some noise.

    Stanford’s twins are formidable. If they can get out of the early rounds, they could go deep this year.

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  13. Brian Says:

    Is this jon guy that posted the same fool that thought flordia was good enough to get in … then I got to personal my bad b/c I said girls

    I got 100% of my picks right me and joe from espn hang out a lot… so close dave so close… only if this was horseshoes

    Go Badgers!

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  14. Mike Says:

    “The Big Ten was bad this year, no way around the truth.”

    Are you kidding me? Wisconsin is one of the best teams in the nation. They have a win over Georgia (SEC tournament champion), Texas (beat UCLA, Kansas, and Tennessee). They are ranked #4 on the Pomeroy ranking structure with the #1 Defensive Efficiency in the nation. Their only weakness is their offensive efficiency but even that’s #23 in the nation. They are 6-4 against RPI top 50 (same as Georgetown) and haven’t lost a single game to anyone that’s not in the RPI top 50. They’ve only allowed their opponents to shoot over 50% 5 times this entire season, the average RPI ranking of the teams that have beat them is 29.3, better than Kansas, UCLA, UNC, Duke, and Texas.
    There are 5 teams in the Big Ten that are top 50 RPI and one of them got passed over for teams like Arizona who’s 10-12 in their last 22 games and Kentucky who lost to Vanderbilt by 41 points and lost to #98 Georgia this weekend. What “at large” team has lost to anyone by 41 points before? That’s crazy.
    The conferences that got too many were the SEC (stole 2 spots that teams like (32) Dayton (21-10 and 4-4 against RPI top 50) deserved) and the Pac-10 (Arizona’s schedule strength was only high because of who they played and they lost the games that were to the highly ranked teams (5-8 vs RPI top 50, 10-12 against RPI top 100).
    If you want to bash an overrated/weak conference, pick one of them.

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  15. Mike Says:

    and Bill, they populate the #2 seeds on an S-curve but Duke couldn’t be with UNC and Texas couldn’t be with Kansas. If you think that Duke and UCLA or UNC and Tennessee were trying to make some “subtle” statement that they think UCLA is the best, you’re crazy. Especially when the best team in the Pac 10 has allowed their opponents to shoot over 50% 12 times this season and over 60% 3 times . . . that’s worse than Kansas, Memphis, Wisconsin, Georgetown, Louisville and Stanford. The Bruins have shot under 50% themselves 9 times and under 40% 3 times. That’s worse than Kansas, Duke, and Georgetown. They’re the only one of the top 8 seeds who’s lost to teams that’s RPI average isn’t even in the top 50 (51.7) with a loss margin of 7.7 points. That’s worse than Kansas, Memphis, Wisconsin, UNC, Duke, Texas, Georgetown, Louisville, Stanford, and Tennessee. UCLA would have 2 more loses if not for officiating calls that went in their favor in the final seconds of both games. You can say “a win is a win” but a #1 team should have already been up on a #92 RPI team by double digits and that call should have been a non-issue. UCLA is NOT the best of the #1 seeds, they are the worst. You can “read” whatever you want into the bracket placement but you’re wasting your time. They will be the 1st #1 to go out and it could happen easily in the 3rd round.

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  16. ryan Says:

    butler being a top 15 team, getting a 7 seed, and opening in birmingham against south alabama, follow that with tennessee, that seems a bit hard on them don’t you think? i think’s that’s probably 2 to 3 seeds to low.

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  17. Tom Says:

    I think the com. did a pretty good job putting togeather this years bracket (much better than last year). However, I they did make a couple flaws. First, Wisconsin should have been a #2 taking Dukes place. Also, Ariaona State should have taken Arizonas spot and VT should have had S. Alabama’s spot. Besides that nice job im looking forward to a great tourney

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  18. Phil Cooper Says:

    Butler took an abolute screwing and you know it. The only team to give Florida a game last year and come back with a better team and they get a #7. Xavier a # 3. Come on, Must be all Catholics on the committee. Xavier gets beat by St. Joes twice and Miami of Ohio. Ask St. Joes coach who had the better team when they were beat by 25 points by Butler in preseason. This is all about money and politics and to heck with the kids who play their hearts out and get screwed. Last year Butler had an at large with a #5. This year a better record ,win their conference and win their tournament and get a #7. The committee ought to be absolutely ashamed of themselves even though I know they won’t since all they care about is them selves. What a joke!!!!!

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  19. David Mihm Says:

    Re: Butler, I disagree entirely. As I pointed out in my “Key Thoughts” article over the weekend, a 7 seed is entirely consistent with what the Committee has done in previous years. I happen to think Butler is a really good team, much better than a 7, but the fact is their resume did not warrant anything higher than a 6. I would not be at all surprised to see them upset Tennessee in the second round.

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  20. John Smith Says:

    Ohio State as an 8 seed? Having to play the number 1 overall in the second round assuming they both advance? OSU by far showed they can hang as they beat Michigan State in the Big Ten Tournament. At the very least they deserved a 6 or 7 seed. Especially being that Marquette draws a 6 seed playing without their star player, James. That should have set them back and allowed OSU the move up in the bracket.

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  21. Allen Says:

    Great job on 65 of 65. I have to agree slightly on your #3 gripe. The Sun Devils were (being the key word) a deserving team. But the last 6 games in my opinion added not to it. You just can’t lose that many games at that time of year and be considered. Not sure how many years you go back with the stats but as a Memphis fan I remember watching Darius Washington miss 2 free thows that would have put us in the Dance. I believe if you look at the numbers they were a lot better ASU have. They had 11 losses that year and eveyone said that was too many and they probably were correct. But belive me nobody was playing as well as they were. I think Louisville went to the Final Four that year. Anyway enough of the soap box 2 years in a row now. At least they didn’t give Kentucky another shot at it. Great Job again.

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