Thoughts on the 2008 NCAA Tournament Bracket
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!