Sunday, March 16, 2008

March Madness: Projecting the Field

Here is the field of 65 as I would choose it:


American Patriot; Arkansas or Georgia SEC; Austin Peay OVC; Belmont Atlantic Sun; Boise State WAC; Butler Horizon; Cal State Fullerton Big West; Clemson or North Carolina ACC; Coppin State MEAC; Cornell Ivy; Davidson Southern; Drake MVC; George Mason CAA; Illinois or Wisconsin Big 10; Kansas or Texas Big 12; Kent State MAC; Maryland Baltimore County America East; Memphis CUSA; Mississippi Valley State SWAC; Mt. Saint Mary’s NEC; Northwestern State or Texas Arlington Southland; Oral Roberts Summit; Pittsburgh Big East; Portland State Big Sky; San Diego WCC; Siena Mid-American; Temple A10; UCLA Pac 10; UNLV MWC; Western Kentucky Sun Belt; Winthrop Big South.

At-Large Bids:

Marginal teams not included in the Bubble Breakdown below are discussed, as are the implications of today’s games.

(Arkansas SEC) – Arkansas will take this spot only if they lose today in the finals of the SEC tournament.
Baylor Big 12 – Baylor was a mediocre 9-7 in conference, and had only a 3-8 record versus the top 50, but picked up only one bad loss and had a solid 9-6 RD/NT record.
BYU MWC – Brigham Young only has two top 50 wins, but was the regular season champion of a top-ten RPI conference, and reached its conference finals.
Clemson or North Carolina ACC – One of these teams will take the ACC auto-bid, the other is a safe at-large candidate.
Connecticut Big East
Dayton A10
Duke ACC
Georgetown Big East
Gonzaga WCC
Illinois State MVC – The explicit rationale for including Air Force in 2006 was that it was ‘The #2 team in the #8 RPI conference.” This describes Illinois State this year, which compared to Air Force in 2006, also has two more top 50 wins, an RPI 17 spots better, and a non-conference Strength of Schedule 156 spots better. Illinois State also reached the finals of its tournament, unlike Air Force, which crashed out in the first round.
Indiana Big 10
Kansas or Texas Big 12 – One of these teams will take the ACC auto-bid, the other is a safe at-large candidate.
Kansas State Big 12
Kentucky Big 12 - There might be a question if the bubble were stronger this year, but the 12-5 conference record coupled with 9-3 down the stretch clearly gets Kentucky in.
Louisville Big East
Marquette Big East
Miami ACC – Miami was mediocre 8-8 in conference after an 11-0 start, including three bad losses, but did pick up quality wins against Duke and Clemson.
Michigan State Big 10
Mississippi State SEC – Mississippi State went only 2-7 versus the RPI top 50, and had one bad loss, but did top the SEC West.
Notre Dame Big East
Oklahoma Big 12
Purdue Big 10 – A bubble candidate? No given the 2nd placed finish in the Big 10 and a 5-4 record versus the top 50. But Purdue’s 4 bad losses will not likely be overlooked when it comes to seeding.
Saint Joseph’s A10 – Entering the A10 tournament, St. Joseph’s looked like a dead duck after losing 6 of their previous 9 games. The run to the finals, including a win against Xavier probable puts them in given the 5-6 record versus the top 50.
South Alabama Sun Belt – Granted, two of South Alabama’s top 50 wins were against in-conference Western Kentucky, and they picked up some bad losses. The crucial thing is that South Alabama showed they could defeat tough opposition out of conference when they took down Mississippi State. It should also be noted that South Alabama stretched Vanderbilt to two overtimes on the road.
Stanford Pac 10
St. Mary’s WCC
Tennessee SEC
Texas A&M Big 12 – Despite the mediocre 8-8 conference record, Texas A&M went 5-7 versus the RPI top 50, and picked up no bad losses.
USC Pac 10
Vanderbilt SEC
Washington State Pac 10
West Virginia Big East
(Wisconsin Big 10) Wisconsin will take this spot only if they lose in the finals of the Big 10 tournament
Xavier A10

Multiple Bid Conferences:

Big East: 7 or 8
Big 12: 6
SEC: 5 or 6
Pac 10: 4 or 5
Big 10: 4 or 5
ACC: 4
Atlantic 10: 4
West Coast: 3
Missouri Valley: 2
Mountain West: 2
Sun Belt: 2

Bubble Discussion

Kansas State Big 12 (19-11; RPI 49; SOS 33; 3-6 1-50; 5-7 last 12; 10-7 in conference; 1 bad loss; 5-9 RD/NT)
The fact that a resume like this puts you on the right side of the bubble this year illustrates the mediocrity of this years' bubble teams. It is also a wonderful illustration of why there is no need to expand the number of teams in the tournament field. The top 50 wins and the 10-7 conference record trump the awful 5-7 record down the stretch.

Dayton A10 (21-10; RPI 32; SOS 34; 4-4 1-50; 6-6 last 12; 9-9 in conference; 4 bad losses; 7-7 RD/NT)
Once again, these numbers are mediocre. But Dayton will probably benefit from the fact that they were missing key personnel during the mid-season slump which saw them fall from 14-1 to 17-9.

----------------------------- Cut Line #1 (Valid with losses by Arkansas and Wisconsin)
Villanova Big East (20-12; RPI 51; SOS 48; 4-7 1-50; 7-5 last 12; 10-10 in conference; 4 bad losses; 8-9 RD/NT)
Why does Villanova beat out the following teams? Principally because it was not AS hopeless as the other teams discussed here going down the stretch.

----------------------------- Cut Line #2 (Valid with a loss by Arkansas or Wisconsin)
Arizona State Pac 10 (19-12; RPI 83; SOS 77; 6-7 1-50; 5-7 last 12; 9-10 in conference; 2 bad losses; 6-8 RD/NT)
I hate seeing teams with negative records in conference and down the stretch, especially when they shopped around for the #296 non-conference SOS in the country. But Arizona State is more deserving than any of the teams which follow it. I have them in over Oregon barely (they split the head to head match ups this season) on the strength of quality wins and RD/NT record.

----------------------------- Cut Line #3 (Valid with wins by Arkansas and Wisconsin)
Oregon Pac 10 (18-13; RPI 58; SOS 37; 3-6 1-50; 6-6 last 12; 9-10 in conference; 2 bad losses; 6-10 RD/NT)
Syracuse Big East (19-13; RPI 55; SOS 9; 3-8 1-50; 6-6 last 12; 9-10 in conference; 2 bad losses; 5-8 RD/NT)
The RD/NT record and the more mediocre top 50 record keep Syracuse out.
Mississippi SEC (21-10; RPI 46; SOS 64; 5-3 1-50; 5-7 last 12; 7-10 in conference; 6 bad losses; 7-8 RD/NT)
Mississippi has a 5-3 record versus the top 50, but their bad losses and a conference record 3 games short of .500 should keep them out.
Florida State ACC (19-14; RPI 59; SOS 15; 3-6 1-50; 6-6 last 12; 8-10 in conference; 3 bad losses; 6-10 RD/NT)
Out as a result of their negative conference and RD/NT records, and the bad losses.
Arizona Pac 10 (18-14; RPI 38; SOS 2; 5-8 1-50; 4-8 last 12; 9-11 in conference; 2 bad losses; 8-8 RD/NT)
This one is painful. But a team that goes 4-8 in its last 12 does not deserve to be in.


Charlotte A10 – 5 bad losses
Creighton MVC – 1-7 versus the top 50
Massachusetts A10 – 1-5 versus the top 50
New Mexico MWC – 1-4 versus the top 50
Ohio State Big 10 – 2-10 versus the top 50
Southern Illinois MVC – 6 bad losses, 5-10 RD/NT record
UAB CUSA – 0-2 versus the top 50
Virginia Commonwealth CAA – 0-2 versus the top 50
Virginia Tech ACC – 1-7 versus the top 50. To Seth Greenburg: I have immense respect for you. You are one of the good guys in College Basketball. But leaving out a team that failed to take all but one of its chances to defeat a top 50 team does not make one certifiable.


Texas Arlington has defeated Northwestern State 82-79 in the Southland Conference finals to make the field.

Projected play in game:
Mississippi Valley State (SWAC) v. Mount Saint Mary's (NEC)

With North Carolina defeating Clemson 86-81 in the ACC finals, I can now project the top eight seeds:

#1 Seeds:
1. North Carolina ACC
2. Memphis CUSA
3. UCLA P10
4. Texas/Kansas winner B12

#2 Seeds:
1. Texas/Kansas loser B12
2. Tennessee SEC
3. Georgetown Big East
4. Wisconsin Big 10


The play in game has been announced:
Coppin State (MEAC) v. Mount Saint Mary's (NEC)


has defeated Texas 84-74 and has probably earned themselves a #1 seed.

Illinois has fallen to Wisconsin 61-48 and fails to steal a bid.

Georgia 66
Arkansas 57

Congratulations to Georgia on stealing a bid. Given that coach Dennis Felton has been under fire for doing things right, it could not have happened to a more deserving team.

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