Monday, March 17, 2008


Let's Review

Last year at this time I wrote, "This season gave the NCAA Men's Basketball Committee a selection and seeding process that involved more challenges than ever before. Unbalanced scheduling in the major conferences produced convoluted conference races and logjams everywhere."

It seems that in the span of one year, little has changed. The names may be a bit different (Arizona State instead of Syracuse, for example), and some conference tournament results ultimately shrunk the bubble. However, the selection committee's inconsistencies again leave basketball fans with a lot of questions.

Had Georgia not won the SEC tournament late Sunday afternoon, I would've had Arizona State as my last team in. Why did I drop them and not Villanova or Oregon? Well, I didn't like the Sun Devils 5-10 record to end the season. The committee's official reasons for leaving them out - their high RPI and strength of schedule. However, teams like St. Mary's and South Alabama got at-large bids with worse SOS numbers and the committee's dedication to the RPI didn't extend to tomorrow night's opening round matchup.

The committee also decided to have the mid-majors cannibalize each other yet again. There are four first round matchups between mid-major teams that all would've had a good chance to defeat major conference teams (UNLV-Kent State, Drake-Western Kentucky, Gonzaga-Davidson, Butler-South Alabama). Gonzaga and Butler will have to try to win in their opponents' backyards. Remember though, the last time the tournament was in Birmingham, Butler advanced to the Sweet Sixteen out of that site.

More about matchups when I make my picks Wednesday, I'll now review the seeds line by line.

1 seeds: North Carolina, Memphis, UCLA, Kansas I seriously spent most of Sunday with Tennessee in Kansas's spot. I changed my mind after watching the first half of the Big 12 championship game. My thought was there was no way the winner of that highly competitive game was going to be on the 2 line. Turns out I was correct.
My picks: North Carolina, Memphis, UCLA, Kansas

2 seeds: Georgetown, Duke, Texas, Tennessee I had Wisconsin here instead of the Hoyas, figuring that even in a down year, winning both the regular season and tournament Big Ten titles would carry some weight for the Badgers. I don't understand why Georgetown isn't the 2 in the East instead of Tennessee. Again, this is an example of the committee being inconsistent with the RPI. Why reward the top RPI and SOS team with not only a 2 seed, but the worst two seed, and the potential of a matchup with Carolina in their backyard that goes with it?
My picks: Tennessee, Texas, Duke, Wisconsin

3 seeds: Louisville, Stanford
, Xavier, Wisconsin Other than flipping Wisconsin and Georgetown, the committee did a good job with the 3 line. Xavier could've moved down to the 4 line after dropping two games to St. Joe's in a week and a half, but their season's worth of work kept them here. However, if Indiana is going to drop precipitously based on their late season performance, I was a bit surprised the Musketeers' play with an injured Drew Lavender didn't cost them.
My picks: Georgetown, Stanford, Louisville, Xavier

4 seeds: Vanderbilt
, Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Washington State I thought Vandy wasn't good enough away from home to get a protected seed. I also thought that Washington State had underachieved at an almost Michigan State-like level this season. Pitt's really starting to roll since Levance Fields' return, so this seeding is completely deserved after winning the Big East tournament the hard way.
My picks: Pittsburgh, Drake, Connecticut, Notre Dame

5 seeds: Notre Dame, Michigan State, Drake
, Clemson The Tigers were the only team here that I had spot on, but the other three were within a line. Remember that 5 seeds are also technically protected, so I was stunned to see an inconsistent Michigan State team this high. Notre Dame's spotty road/neutral record and Drake's non-conference schedule probably played a role with why they're here instead of line 5. However, neither team is at a huge geographic disadvantage in their pods (especially the Irish, with their huge national following).
My picks: Butler, Clemson, Indiana, Vanderbilt

6 seeds: Southern Cal, Purdue, Marquette, Oklahoma The only team I have a beef with here is Oklahoma, another team who is terribly inconsistent. I really thought they'd be at least a line lower after getting shellacked by Texas twice in their last 7, along with that 27-point loss at home to Texas A&M a couple of weeks back. (I had them as an 8.) Purdue would have been higher had they not dropped their Big Ten quarterfinal to Illinois.
My picks: Southern Cal, Marquette, Michigan State, Purdue

7 seeds: Butler, Miami, West Virginia, Gonzaga Butler is probably here because their non-conference wins didn't really pan out as really good wins. Still, they should be seeded ahead of Oklahoma based on their finishing kick. As for Miami, 9-9 in ACC games and one non-conference win against a tourney team is worthy of a 7 seed? West Virginia's record away from Morgantown should've kept them lower.
My picks: Washington State, Gonzaga, UNLV, Texas A&M

8 seeds: Indiana, Mississippi State, BYU, UNLV Indiana is another headscratcher. Sure they've struggled under Dan Dakich, but this team's overall body of work is worthy of more than this. The others are all close to where they should be.
My picks: Oklahoma, West Virginia, BYU, Arkansas

9 seeds: Kent State, Texas A&M, Oregon, Arkansas Even though I had A&M higher, the 8/9 game is probably the best place for them. Kent State and Arkansas are pretty much spot on. It's apparent that Oregon wasn't the committee's last team in since they're this high. I just cannot figure out why. Again, 18-13 and 9-10 in the Pac-10 seems like a 12 seed to me.
My picks: Davidson, Kansas State, Mississippi State, Kent State

10 seeds: Davidson, Arizona, St. Mary's, South Alabama This is the most dangerous collection of 10 seeds I've seen in awhile. Davidson and Arizona were both within a line, so I have no real arguments with the committee here.
My picks: St. Mary's, Kentucky, Miami, South Alabama

11 seeds: St. Joseph's, Kentucky, Baylor, Kansas State I figured K-State would be higher, but with the way they finished, an 11 seed is understandable. I also thought Temple would be higher than St. Joe's based on winning the season series (since there isn't too much difference in their resumes, other than the Hawks getting wins over Villanova and two over Xavier). In the case of these two teams, the seeding switch gave them the matchups they needed to succeed.
My picks: Villanova, Arizona, Temple, Baylor

12 seeds: Villanova, Western Kentucky, Temple, George Mason I had the Hilltoppers as a 13 until Georgia won. I thought Nova would be a line higher and I've already discussed the other two Philly teams in the field.
My picks: George Mason, Western Kentucky, St. Joseph's, Oregon

13 seeds: Winthrop, Oral Roberts, San Diego, Siena I thought Georgia would be here because no major conference team had ever been seeded lower than 14. I also thought Winthrop would be a line lower, since this team isn't quite as good as the last two. I figured Cornell would be here since went unbeaten in the Ivy League, beat Siena, and played Duke close for 30 minutes. In hindsight, this was probably a better landing spot for USD.
My picks: Siena, Georgia, Cornell, Oral Roberts

14 seeds: Cal State-Fullerton, Georgia, Cornell, Boise State Other than thinking the Bulldogs and Big Red would be higher, I can't argue with this group.
My picks: San Diego, Winthrop, Cal State-Fullerton, Boise State

15 seeds: American, Austin Peay, Belmont, Maryland-Baltimore County I had Portland State here instead of American, but I have to assume the committee was rewarding the Eagles for the relative strength of the Patriot League this season.
My picks: Portland State, Maryland-Baltimore County, Belmont, Austin Peay

16 seeds: Portland State, Mississippi Valley State, Texas-Arlington, Mount St. Mary's, Coppin State Political correctness aside, the opening round game should be Mississippi Valley State-Coppin State. Why? Well, if the committee is valuing the RPI all of a sudden, and the two lowest-rated teams are supposed to play in Dayton, logic dicates that the teams ranked 227 and 228 should be there. (Coppin State is 14-20, but is one spot higher than the Delta Devils.) Mount St. Mary's is 69 spots higher than the Devils. The Mountaineers had better hope they play like Niagara did when placed in this game last season.
My picks: American, Mount Saint Mary's, Texas-Arlington, Mississippi Valley State, Coppin State

I'll post more tomorrow and post my picks on Wednesday.

This is very impressive Dobber! Someone from ESPN, please hire this man! Chris Dobbertean has a talent and gift for this and deserves to be amongst those "experts".
One problem. You claim unbalanced schedules are to blame but then point to Arizona St and mentioned Oregon. The Pac-10 is one of the few conferences that maintains a balanced schedule.
That's true, Mario. And the Pac-10 should be commended for that. However, my comment was more of a general one directed at the other power conferences.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?