Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tourney thoughts...

The NCAA tournament selection committee just doesn’t make sense sometimes. I think they did a good job with getting the right teams in the tournament, but the teams that are grouped together in individual regions makes no sense.

First, I have no problem with putting Utah St in as the last team over Miss St, VT , and Illinois . Those three have similar resumes and Utah St is a 27 win team that won their conference regular season championship. Florida got in due to a solid non-conference schedule with 21 wins including Florida State , Michigan State, NC State, and Rutgers . They also had non-conference losses to Xavier, Richmond , and Syracuse – certainly nothing to be ashamed of.

On the other hand, Illinois scheduled well, but simply didn’t win enough games. The Illini had some good wins down the stretch, but a 19-14 record with losses to Utah , Bradley , Georgia , and Northwestern kept them out. Mississippi State , if you really study their season, doesn’t have much of an argument besides “We almost beat Kentucky twice.” Their best non-conference wins were UCLA, Old Dominion, and Houston. They had bad losses to Rider and Western Kentucky and also were beat by Richmond . Throw in that most of their SEC wins came against LSU, Auburn , Arkansas , and Alabama and their case drops even more. They lost regular season SEC games to Vandy, UF, Kentucky , and Tennessee .

Seth Greenberg basically said after the brackets were released that he didn’t schedule as if he was going to have a good team this year. They weren’t projected to finish very high in the ACC and caught a lot of people off guard by going 10-6. However, Greenberg’s failure to play anyone decent outside of Temple and Seton Hall (double digit loss and OT win); cost his team in the end. You can’t schedule thinking that your team won’t be very good, then use that as an excuse as to why your non-conference schedule was so weak.

The problem the 2010 NCAA committee made was when they placed certain teams into their regions. The numbers that teams were seeded were fine; it was which region they were placed in that failed to make sense. Kansas got as royally screwed as any team I can remember. Not so much because I think the teams in their region will beat them, but the caliber of team in their region was not what you would expect from a #1 overall seed.

First, they were given the better of the #2 seeds in Ohio State . The weakest #2 (Nova) should have been placed with the best #1 (KU). The best #2 ( Ohio State ) should have been placed with the weakest #1 (Duke). Georgetown is arguably the best and hottest #3 seed and is as big and talented as anyone. Granted Kansas won’t have to beat both, but it is still worth noting. The #4 and #5 seeds were the co-champions of the ACC and Big 10 respectively. The #6 seed and #7 seeds are the only 2 teams that beat Kansas this year.

Interesting to say the least…If you swap Ohio St with Nova, I would have Ohio St in the Final Four out of the South regional. If you swap Georgetown with New Mexico , I would have Georgetown advancing to the Final Four out of the East regional. I think in the end, the committee cared too much about where teams were being sent more than who they were being placed in a regional with.

This begs the question, “Why is the committee made up of mostly Athletic Directors?” Should some former coaches be in there to say “Hey, if I am the #1 overall seed, I want the weakest #2 seed in my regional.” Or, “If I am Ohio St and the top #2 seed, I don’t care so much about being in the Mid West regional as I do being placed in a regional away from Kansas .”

Bobby Knight questioned the panel being mostly AD’s Sunday night due to their lack of pure basketball knowledge. I see his point here too because it is difficult to trust a group to pick the best teams if they are not basketball guys.

Alas, the tournament starts once again this week and will surely bring some good games. A few 2010 NCAA tourney predictions before action gets underway Thursday:

1) At least two of the #11 seeds will beat a #6

2) Kentucky is the first #1 seed to be eliminated

3) For the 2nd time since the tourney went to 64 teams in 1985, no #12 seeds win

4) The Big 12 will have a strong presence in the Sweet 16

5) Kansas wins it all, despite their stacked regional


William Satterwhite said...

I have to disagree on Va Tech, while their non-conference schedule was weak, they at least performed well against that schedule only losing to a very good Temple squad. I would argue that fact plus their 10 ACC wins are proof enough that they are one of the top 34 at large teams. I think the non-conference schedule argument is off-base when the comparison is to a mid-major like Utah State or UTEP, we should look at the full schedule and compare the results- line Utah State's full body of work up against Va Tech's and see who grades out higher.

Jeff said...

I still don't see enough when looking at VT's full schedule that warrants putting them in...only wins over tournament teams were Clemson, GT, and Wake.

The 339 ranked schedule thing is hard to get past. Winning 10 in a down year for the ACC just isn't enough without quality non-conference wins.

William Satterwhite said...

We'll have to agree to disagree (and like Jay Bilas said Sunday, arguing over the last team in/first out are kind of pointless all things considered) but I just don't see how the Aggies full body of work trumps Va Tech's. As far as I can tell Utah St only beat one legit tournament team in BYU while going 1-2 against New Mexico St.

I'm not sure how the numbers really work but it seems Utah St actually gets credit for scheduling schools like Utah, Saint Mary's and Northeastern and losing while Va Tech is penalized for scheduling schools like Penn St (last year's NIT winner), Iowa and UGA and winning. I understand that non-conference SoS should be part of the equation but it appears the committee used it here as their final criteria considering that VT's resume was superior in just about every other way.

I've got Duke winning it all, partly based on the unbalanced bracketing- I think they'll be able to breeze through their region, take advantage of Kentucky's youth in the Final Four and then run into a Kansas squad that will have gone through a much rougher path and be worse for wear for it. Of course, it might also be a bit of my ACC bias as well.