Sunday, March 11, 2007

Initial Thoughts

We can talk more about the brackets as the day goes on, but just some momentary reactions:

63 out of 65 ain't bad, I'll take it. I can easily see Purdue over Air Force, as that was a really close one. But Stanford over Syracuse is inexplicable. No way did Stanford deserve a bid, and they actually got an 11? They could have expanded the bracket to 75 teams and they wouldn't deserve a bid in my mind. And Syracuse pretty much got hosed. But someone had to make room for Stanford, I suppose.

Overall, the most overrated teams in my mind:
5. Butler
6. Vanderbilt
11. Stanford
12. Long Beach State

And the most underrated teams:
8. Marquette
8. BYU
10. Creighton
(not in bracket) Syracuse

What does everyone else think? Any other inexplicable selections?


DMoore said...

The Syracuse omission is surprising, but I don't see it as an enormous error. Their profile says "bubble" to me, and a lot of deserving bubble teams didn't get in.

RPI 51
Top 25 3-2
Top 50 0-5 (3-7)
Top 100 5-1 (8-8)
Bad Losses - Connecticut (111), St John's (133)
Road/Neutral Record 6-6
Top 50 R/N Wins - Marquette (22, away)
Non Conf Record 11-3, SOS 123
Top 25 Wins - Georgetown (9), Villanova (19), Marquette (22)
Final Record 22-10

RPI 65
Top 25 2-4
Top 50 2-4 (4-8)
Top 100 5-4 (9-12)
Bad Losses - None (worst is Santa Clara, 99)
Road/Neutral Record 6-7
Top 50 R/N Wins - None
Non Conf Record 8-3, SOS 115
Top 25 Wins - UCLA (2, home), Oregon (21, home)
Final Record 18-12

Neither of these look impressive to me. It's hard to see just what the committee was valuing this year. The bubble teams that got in weren't the ones that played the toughest out of conference schedules. They weren't the ones that did very well on the road. They're not even the ones with the best marquee wins.

But I do see a strong preference for teams with no bad losses, and that won at least one significant game in their conference tourney.

If that's accurate, that's an incredibly difficult environment for mid major teams. They play many more "bad" teams, so any loss they have is a bad one. Expecting a team to go undefeated in conference isn't realistic. For a good mid major team, there usually isn't a game of significance until the conference finals, so any loss that leaves them on the bubble is a disqualifier.

Evilmonkeycma said...

LBSU a 12? I don't see it.

Stanford over Syracuse I can see. What I don't see is Purdue over Drexel and Syracuse. Purdue had a horrible resume IMO.

Anonymous said...

You had Arkansas, so congrats on that one. Personally, I would have had Syracuse and Drexel probably over Illinois and Arkansas.

Jeff said...

DMoore, I see what you're saying about the mid-majors. I felt myself wanting to scream it at the screen every time Jay Bilas went on one of his rants this past week. He kept talking about the "bad losses" that teams like Old Dominion had. Well, they played a ton of teams that would qualify as bad losses. You're bound to lose some. If Georgia Tech or Florida State had to play a dozen "bad losses" from the Colonial, they'd lose a couple also.

Bilas accidently undermined his own point when he was arguing why Syracuse deserved in over a team like Xavier (I don't remember if it was Xavier, or another similar team). He conceded that Xavier had a higher RPI, but then argued that Syracuse had a tougher schedule and just as many Top-50 wins. But Syracuse was 3-6 against the RPI Top 50, and Xavier was 3-2. To me, that's a HUGE advantage for Xavier. If they had 9 shots at Top 50 teams then they'd have won more than 3.

Besides, you have to see whether that higher strength of schedule is due to the conference or not. In this case, Xavier's out-of-conference strength of schedule was actually better than that of Syracuse. They just had all those conference games that dragged down their conference RPI.

I still think Syracuse deserved to get in. But it's a mistake to penalize mid-majors for losing a couple bad games when they play so many. I'd much prefer to see the percentage of games they win against the Top 50 and Top 100. See how they perform in their chances to play tough teams. Make sure they schedule tough games out of conference, though.

Memphis, for example, should be penalized for playing only three teams from inside the RPI Top 50. I really think you need more than one win against the RPI Top 50 to earn a #2 seed.

DMoore said...

First a disclaimer -- I'm a Duke fan. But I'm still amazed that they got a 6 seed. How can you be seeded 7th in your conference tourney, lose to a lower seed in the first round, and end up with a higher seed in the NCAAs?

Anonymous said...

Colorado State fan here: I didn't think Air Force would get in, so not upset there. However, UNLV and BYU both got screwed. How does Butler get a 5 and UNLV get a 7? Please?

UNLV 27-6 RPI: 10 SOS: 37

2 wins against Brigham Young (RPI 19), win over Air Force (RPI 29), win AT Nevada (RPI 23), and several more wins against RPI top 100. Oh, and they won the conference tournament, which the committee was supposedly emphasizing. And if they watched any of the tourney games, they would have seen complete blowouts of the lower teams in the conference (Utah, Colorado State) and a convincing win against BYU...

Butler did not win the conference tournament. They had less wins 25 vs. 27 for UNLV. They have stinkers like Ball State (RPI 275) in conference, while Mountain West's worst team is (RPI 177). They lost the conference to a 14 seed Wright State while BYU is obviously a dangerous team unlike the Raiders. Sure Butler had a lot of nice wins, but they didn't win a bad conference.

Am I the only one who thinks the Mountain West got screwed? (BYU also got too low a seed but I want to quit ranting soon.) But how does an RPI 10 team with only 6 losses get a 7 seed?

Also, I lived within an hour of Bloomington and am a big Indiana fan, but a 7? Indiana will be lucky to lose by 20 to UCLA. We weren't even going to make the 2nd round, but they gave us the talent-poor Gonzaga team that should have been a 13.

Finally, Stanford over Syracuse? What did Stanford do better? RPI? No. Top 25 wins no? Top 50 wins, yes, but syracuses top 100 wins were way better. So RPI and big wins favor Syracuse. Syracuse had 4 more total wins and 2 fewer losses. Syracuse's bad losses aren't very bad. (Connecticut being a rival and having played them 3 times in the year.) Syracuse's non-conf was equivalent to Stanford's. In all, I see zero reasons to include Stanford.

DMoore said...

I suspect Syracuse was being punished for a weak non-conference schedule, losing all of the few decent non-conference games they played, and a refusal to play any non-conference road games. Yes, I'm aware they played Canisius in Buffalo and Oklahoma State in NYC. I think those examples kinda make my point.

The committee has been emphasizing the importance of a strong non-conference schedule for years, but this is the first time I recall their actually dropping the hammer on a name team that ignored their guidance. Although Syracuse probably deserved to get in, I wouldn't mind if the committee continued this approach to strong arm teams into playing better non-conference schedules with more road games.

Although I agree with you that UNLV deserved a higher seed than Butler, the mid major seedings this year weren't AS biased as in past years. The higher mid major seedings were:
Southern Illinois -- 4th
Butler -- 5th
Nevada -- 7th
UNLV -- 7th
BYU -- 8th

I think that's actually a lot better than in past years (not that it shouldn't be better still). If anyone has any details to really compare this year versus previous years, I'd be very curious. I don't count teams like Memphis and Gonzaga, as those are national programs more than mid majors.