Thoughts on the 2009 NCAA Tournament Bracket

by David Mihm | March 15th, 2009

This is one of the better brackets in recent memory (of course I would say that, given my projection). But top-to-bottom, Mike Slive’s Committee did a fantastic job of selection and seeding.


Boston College: A 7-seed seems a bit high for a team that lost to Harvard and Saint Louis in the non-conference portion of its schedule, and finished with an RPI of 60! To me, their resume looks a lot closer to Arizona’s than it does to Texas’…The Committee obviously gave plenty of weight to that road win at North Carolina.

Tennessee: Wow. LSU seeded ahead of Tennessee? Really? The Vols made it further in their conference tournament, won great non-conference games against Siena and a healthy Marquette, and had an RPI 20 slots ahead of the Tigers.

Arizona: Even though I predicted it, I didn’t think it would have–or should have–happened. In the end, UA just had too many great wins over top four seeds (Kansas, Gonzaga, Washington), even though they didn’t win on the road.

A few final thoughts:

  • Many will probably gripe that Ohio State got a raw deal by being given an 8 seed after a run to the Big Ten final. But look at WHERE they’re playing: Dayton. At barely an hour from Columbus, that’s as good a second-round draw, against Louisville, as they could possibly have expected.
  • REALLY glad to see VCU got the respect of an 11-seed so close to home in Philadelphia. Eric Maynor is a terrific player to watch and the CAA is a consistently underrated league.
  • St. Mary’s was absolutely given a fair deal. They were blown out by Gonzaga in their Tournament final, and their best win with Mills in the lineup was, in the end, against a team that was not included in the field (San Diego State). I LOVE watching Patty Mills play (I saw his breakout game against Oregon last year LIVE), but the fact is the team just wasn’t competitive enough in Vegas with him in the lineup.

Now, if I had a vote on the Committee, I would have voted for St. Mary’s and Creighton ahead of Wisconsin and Arizona.

But the fact remains, this Committee was entirely consistent with what it’s done in years past by selecting Arizona ahead of teams like St. Mary’s, Creighton, and San Diego State.

Would love to hear your comments below.

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20 Responses to “Thoughts on the 2009 NCAA Tournament Bracket”  

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  1. washington Says:

    What can I say…. 65/65 correct. There’s a reason I come here and it’s been reaffirmed. Great job.

    Kind of a dangerous draw for my Huskies. MSU is a hot team.

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  2. John Says:

    Love your site. But LSU won at Tennessee and finished three games ahead in SEC play. From January on, LSU was clearly the class of a down league.

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  3. moto tanner Says:

    wake forest looks to have gotten the short end of the stick- a few bad wins (Georgia Tech, NC State) but some great wins (UNC, Duke, Clemson) for the year and at one point was ranked #1, but i guess the committee overweights conference tourney results. Overall, doesn’t seem right WFU got a 4 seed, and the lowest of the 4 seeds at that, but i guess that’s what happens when you lose first round in the conf tourney.

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  4. Will Says:

    What does Creighton need to do to gain a little respect? They have just as many wins as anyone in the nation. And they currently and have had as many wins against top 50 teams when compared to most 7-16 seeded big conference teams. I don’t understand what more they need to do.

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  5. your mans Says:

    First off all Arizona in..how can you be included in the field without a win on the road..or atleast a quality win on the road…Virginia Tech really got snubbed …again thanx to the Bo Ryan and the Boring Badgers,Cleveland State.etc.Glad for Maryland maybe they can take out fluke Memphis outta of the most uncompetitive Conference USA…Overall we cant complain it should be a very good tournament…LETS GO HEELS!!!

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  6. John Gittings Says:

    Explain why St. Mary’s and Creighton go ahead of Arizona and Wisconsin. Those two teams played buttersoft schedules and the two that got in played good teams and had better bodies of work.

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  7. Mr. Gator Says:

    Here are a few of my thoughts:

    I think that Saint Mary’s should have been in the field ahead of Arizona. I understand what the Wildcats did, but you have to have some semblance of a quality road win to be included. Saint Mary’s did beat a 30-win Utah State(yes, at home, I know.) in the BracketBusters WITHOUT Mills. It’s just a shame that the
    Gaels were given a raw deal.

    USC was not a bid stealer. The Trojans being seeded 10 tells me that their semifinal win over UCLA would have gotten them into the field without a win in the final over Arizona State.

    Butler always seems to be seeded lower than they should be and this year is no exception.

    Clemson-Michigan is the best first-round game.

    It’s easy to pick teams like Siena and VCU to pull off upsets(I think they’ll both win.), but if you want a real upset, i’ll take Stephen F. Austin over Syracuse. Remember, this is a team that has won 50 games the past 2 years, 2 straight Southland Conference regular-season titles, a conference tournament championship this year, but most importantly, they won at Oklahoma last year with most of these same players on this year’s squad. It’s rare to have what the Lumberjacks do, and that’s back-to-back conference players of the year(Josh Alexander last year, Matt Kingsley this year). Syracuse will be rested, but still might be feeling some remnants of their run at the Big East Tournament, and they have to prove they can shoot free throws like that on a consistent basis. Also, take North Dakota State to upset Kansas. The Jayhawks are talented, but young, and are facing a team with 5 5th-year players, so they won’t be in awe of the defending National Champions. Watch Ben Woodside. He went off for 60 against the aforementioned Lumberjacks of Stephen F. Austin(the game went to 3OT.)Also, Brett Winkleman, and Lucas Moorman are solid contributors. Those 3 plus 2 others gave up(voluntarily) their first of year of eligiblity so they could play in their conference tournament for one night in the Summit League Championship Game. Woodside took that year to add some range and strength to his game, and it all paid off when he hit the game winner in the Summit League final against Oakland to send NDSU to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history. How can you not root for a team and story like that? Also, here is a strange fact: In 2006, Bucknell as a 14 seed upset Kansas. They were, of course the Bison. North Dakota State is a 14 seed and also called…………………….the Bison.

    Watch Chief Kickingstallionsims of Alabama State and Kenneth Faried of Morehead State battle it out in the paint on Tuesday night in the Opening Round Game. Should be a terrific matchup.

    I think USC will get to the Final Four. If Demar DeRozan plays up to the level he did in the Pac-10 Tournament, this is a very scary team. Also, with an experienced(and successful) coach, plus a veteran team, this is not who you want to play.

    Ultimately, i think North Carolina will prevail as National Champions. They arethe most talented team in the country and will give Ol’ Roy his 2nd National Championship and send Tyler Hansbrough out on the highest note possible.

    David, Chris, Andrew, Matt and anyone else, i’d love to hear what you think of what I had to say.

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  8. Marc Says:

    I wasted hours on end going to ESPN and looking at Lunardi’s projections when I should have been coming here. I now have your site bookmarked; phenomenal job. Cleveland State in the Sweet 16!

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  9. Mark Says:

    @ Mr. Gator:

    No, SC was on the bubble (and almost certainly the wrong side) before the win over ASU. That win secured a bid for SC and pushed their seed up to a 10. Bubble teams that win their conference tourney tend to end up as around 10 seeds. In contrast, non-bubble teams that win their BCS conference tourneys end up as 12-13 seeds (e.g. Georgia which actually ended up as a 14 last season and Miss St. which got a 13 this season).

    @ David:

    Tremendous job this season! Congrats!

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  10. David Mihm Says:

    @Moto – Agreed on WF; I had ‘em as a 3. I was also surprised that FSU got a 5…seemed like an inconsistent application of the importance of the ACC Tournament to me.

    @John – Point taken. But LSU’s non-conference resume wasn’t even close to the Vols. We could debate this all night–there’s no right answer. :)

    @Will @John Gittings – It really hurt Creighton that the MVC didn’t have even one viable at-large candidate this year. The Bluejays’ best win was over a #11 seed; Arizona and Wisconsin both had multiple wins against teams seeded higher than that.

    @Mr Gator – Love your enthusiasm and analysis. Had NDSU drawn Mizzou instead of KU, I might have taken them in the first round. USC is a great story but their lack of depth concerns me against a bruising team like MSU. Gibson and DeRozan could be in foul trouble pretty quickly. Carolina will be my national champion as well–let’s hope Lawson is healthy.

    @Marc and @Mark – Thanks for the compliments, guys!

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  11. Mark Says:

    Forgot to add, the 65/65 is nice, but the stat that says it all:

    Teams w/in One Seed Line: 62/65 (95.4%)

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  12. nic Says:

    i was suprised by how many teams from the big ten conference made it, i looked up the games they played and their schedule was no better than some of the midmajors and many of those teams from the big ten did not have any impressive wins. some lost more than fifty percent of their last 16 games.they should have gave couple a of more bids to the midmajors like saintmarys and creighton or san diego state. i also dont’t understand how a struggling team like arizona could have gotten an at large bid.

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  13. Lukas Says:

    Congrats on an absolutely fantastic projection. We placed 3rd in the Bracket Project Matrix this year out of the 61 expert brackets, but you guys were head and shoulders the best out there. It’s nice to see someone stick to their guns with Arizona, even when less than 15% of the brackets out there had them in.

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  14. Cyclone Batch Says:

    I couldn’t agree more w/ David Mihm. I would have left out Arizona and Wisconsin, if you don’t win 20 games you don’t get in. I think that they absolutely be replaced w/ Creighton & St. Mary’s what makes the tourney fun. Those Mid-Major #12 seeds putting their lives on the line against overrated “BCS” schools who finished in the middle of the pack in their conference. Arizona and Wisconsin as #12 seeds takes the fun out of double digit upsets. I think if you implement a rule that major conference teams have to have 20 wins and mid-majors have to have 25 wins to be considered for an at large this is why you should remove Arizona and Wisconsin and put in St. Mary’s and Creighton. I think this year’s tournament will be full of upsets and crazy close games, no one is good like the UConn women who is dominating everyone they play. Let the March Madness begin!

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  15. Mark Says:

    @ Cyclone Batch:

    ” if you don’t win 20 games you don’t get in. ” This would be a terrible rule to have in place — it would essentially result in Arizona (and every other BCS school) scheduling all cupcakes and never playing even each other during non-conference just to guarantee 20 wins.

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  16. Atticus Funch Says:

    LSU losing 3 of 4 down the stretch should have been enough to force them below UT.

    Personally, I like MSU to pull the upset of Washington. I think the Pac-10 in general is overrated. I also think MSU has the components necessary for the upset: phenomenal defense, dominant big man (at least defensively), and good (albeit streaky) 3-point shooting. The venue will be tough for them, as Washington is close to home.

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  17. Biggus Piggus Says:

    I use a simple method to review seedings. Rank on 1) games vs. RPI top 100; 2) number of wins vs. top 100; 3) fewest number of sub-100 losses; 4) fewest number of sub-200 losses.

    It’s the committee’s job to compensate for unsolvable scheduling discrepancies, getting creative to imagine how good the best mid-majors could be given the chance. Nevertheless, it’s my assumption that playing more games vs. good competition makes a team better.

    Vs. my method, here are the most overseeded teams (excluding lower auto bids):

    Gonzaga, a 4 seed, only had 12 games vs. the top 100 and went 8-4. Twenty-one teams had no losses vs. sub-100 teams, unlike Gonzaga. This isn’t a classically good Gonzaga team and deserves more like a 10.

    Boston College, a 7 seed, barely makes it in my top 60. Forty-seven teams had more top 100 wins; 51 teams had more top 100 games; and 56 teams had fewer sub-100 losses. They look like a juicy target for USC.

    Clemson, a 7 seed, and Siena, a 9, had a lot of mediocre wins and a couple of not-so-good losses. Siena’s in trouble against Ohio State. Clemson probably squeaks by Michigan.

    Wake Forest, a 4 seed, had a relatively low 16 games vs. the top 100 plus two sub-100 losses.

    Xavier, a 4 seed, was 23rd in top 100 wins, 52nd in top 100 games, and had two sub-100 losses when 41 other teams had fewer.

    Of the top seeds, least deserving based on my method was North Carolina. Fourteen top 100 wins ranked eighth. Eighteen top 100 games rated 26th. No bad losses compensates somewhat, but several other teams accomplished more against better opposition.

    By my view, the Big Ten was most consistently underrated. Purdue had a fine record: Tenth in top 100 wins, second-most top 100 games, no bad losses. The Boilermakers got seeded a 5 when they may have deserved a 2. Ohio State, Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin were four slots below where my method says they stack up. Michigan State would have been a 1 seed for me with UConn a 2.

    Tennessee really got bent over for the SEC’s overall weakness. The Vols had the toughest nonleague schedule of anyone in the field and played 22 games vs. the top 100, tied with several for second most. No bad losses whatsoever. They could have been a 5 or 6 seed instead of a 9, lower than an LSU team with a miserable nonconference schedule.

    Don’t you think Washington, arguably overseeded at a 4, got no favors drawing Mississippi State? The Huskies are one of the shortest teams in college hoop but score little from outside, instead relying heavily on offensive rebounding and getting fouled. MSU has Varnado in there owning the lane, while the perimeter guys rain threes and play shot-denial man without fouling a lot.

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  18. washington Says:

    I don’t know if the MSU post kid has had to guard a guy like John Brockman. I can see foul trouble for his with the little guards slashing in the lane and JB being his usual self.

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  19. Feel the Flow Says:

    It was clear that last year the selection committee made an effort to protect the big conferences at the expense of the mid-majors. If you remember, every mid major team was scheduled against another mid-major team in the first round last year. It was an obvious attempt by the committe to avoid the potential of embarassing first round losses by the big conferences. Couldn’t you just hear those suits scheming to each other, “will put six of them in, get rid of three right away and sit back and watch the remaining three get beat by winners in the second round”. When that somewhat backfired on them (thank you Davidson) they corrected their mistake by simply keeping the qualified mid-majors (St. Mary’s, Creighton, San Diego St) out of the tourney this year.

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  20. R. Orlando Says:

    Penn State wasn’t good enough for the NCAA yet they win the NIT and knocked off MSU at Michigan. Something even UCONN couldn’t do. PSU got the shaft and the selection committee should be ashamed by their exclusion of the Lions!

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