Thursday, January 10, 2008

Rhode Island & Ole Miss Settle Some Issues

A lot of important basketball went down last night, although you might not have known it from the media coverage. Everything is all about the NFL playoffs now, and the most college basketball coverage that I saw centered on Psycho T dunking on Kenny George. Don't get me wrong, it looked really cool - Hansbrough looked about 5 feet tall next to the 7'6" George. But it's not like that game had any Tournament implications whatsoever. However, considering how much I've talked about anticipating the Rhode Island/Dayton game on this blog, I figured I had to talk about how it actually turned out:

#22 Dayton 92, #23 Rhode Island 83
I've spent a lot of time debating Rhode Island in the comments here and here. And I've said consistently that I'd move Rhode Island into the bracket if they won this game at Dayton, because that would put them firmly in the top two in the Atlantic Ten. I think the A-10 will only end up with two seeds, unless something really weird goes in the rest of the country. Now this game actually improved my view towards Rhode Island. They were on the road, and got down a few points early and just couldn't cut into the deficit. If they had played this game at home, they probably would have won it. Meanwhile, Dayton really played very well. They hit a remarkable 11-for-21 from behind the arc, a ratio that I doubt they'd replicate with unfamiliar rims. If the season ended now, I'm not quite sure if Rhode Island would get in. But in the end, I think they really need to finish ahead of Dayton or Xavier in the standings. Dayton, meanwhile, is in great shape. They can even lose their game at Rhode Island in February and still be on the right path to an at-large bid. With their out-of-conference resume, and the outstanding numbers (the RPI right now is 6th in the country - that's not a typo), a top-two finish in the Atlantic Ten should lock up a bid.

#9 Tennessee 85, #15 Mississippi 83

A great game, and a very impressive performance for the Rebs. I've been talking about Florida and Vandy being in a battle for the second best team in the SEC, but this game proves that this Mississippi team is for real. Ole Miss did a good job in this one of handling the Tennessee pressure (only 10 turnovers), and actually won the battle for the boards (43 to 36). Mississippi really struggled to hit their threes (8 for 25) and still had this game as basically a toss-up in the final minute. And this game was in Knoxville. Homecourt advantage, especially at a school ike Tennessee, is worth a good four or five points. So that means that Mississippi would have won this game on a neutral floor, the way that they played. Those who read this blog often know how much I talk about the way that people mis-rank teams. And I can assure you that this loss will cause Ole Miss to drop in the rankings, even though they should move up. If they were exactly equivalent to Tennessee, a Top Ten team, they'd have lost by more than 2 points here in Knoxville. Too bad rankings are done of the form "They lost, therefore they must drop in the polls" - an irrational system. Sagarin's rankings noticed, though, moving Ole Miss up to 11th in the country. I think I'm under-ranking this team as a #8 seed, especially as the chances rise that this ends up the second best team in the SEC.

Arizona State 64, Arizona 59, OT
Last week I mentioned how Arizona State was sneaking up on everybody, under the radar. Well no more. They're now 13-2, including 3-0 in the Pac-10. The RPI is up to 62nd, and their Sagarin rating is up to 41st. If the season ended now, they would be very, very borderline. But they're in a great position to make the Tournament. They don't have any big wins, and the schedule is weak, so they'll have to win a lot of conference games. But who's to say that they won't do that? I've long talked about how underrated Herb Sendek has been as a coach. And this is probably the most talented team he's ever had, at any school. It's got to be exciting in Tempe right now, as they're not used to elite basketball. Remember, this is a program that has been to the NCAA Tournament once in the last dozen years.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

You still think the Big Ten certainly will get five bids while the A-10 gets two. Brilliant!

Jeff said...

Please type out an actual argument so that I have something to respond to. Sarcastic one-liners are unacceptable. Thanks.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jeff said...

Personal attack has been deleted, as per blog policy.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jameson said...

The A-14 has been good enough to get three bids, didn't the MVC get four last year or the year before? A conference like the A-14 definitely has the potential to get three. If Rhode Island can win enough games to keep their RPI below 40-45 which they should, they'll be in.

Jeff said...

Actually, Jameson, last year's Missouri Valley is a great model for what is very likely to happen to the A-10 this year. Last year the Missouri Valley was outstanding (generally higher ranked than the Big 12 in the computers). Yet they only received TWO bids to the Tournament.

Bradley finished with an RPI of 38, and Missouri State had a 36, and both were denied. And remember the year before, when Missouri State had an RPI of 21 and still got denied a Tournament bid because they didn't finish high enough in the Valley.

And that is the model for Rhode Island - if they finish third in the conference with an RPI near 40, they're not getting into the Tournament.

Evilmonkeycma said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeff said...

Actually, it's just one guy being an idiot. He is calling himself "anonymous", but I can see IP addresses... so it's not quite anonymous to me. The same thing happened last season when some deranged Pitt fan was furious that I wouldn't give Pitt a #1 seed and started littering my blog with foul language. In that case I actually had to temporarily change the settings so that I had to approve all comments before they would show up on the blog - but that was a really extreme case that I hopefully will never have to go through again.



Anyway, to get to your point: I definitely agree that the A-10 is going to get at least as many bids as the Valley will this year. You are right that the fact that the A-10 is so spread out means it will most likely get more bids than a bunched up conference like the Valley that has an identical RPI.


But the only way that the A-10 gets three bids this year will be if three teams separate from the pack and basically run over everybody else. So, if Xavier, Dayton and Rhode Island all finish within a game or two of each other. And if those three teams basically go undefeated against everybody else in conference. If that's the case, then I think all three get in. But the Tournament committee is going to be loathe to give out three bids to that conference if they can differentiate between the teams. If Xavier and Dayton end up with RPIs of around 15 or 20, and Rhode Island is back at 35 - Rhode Island is getting left out.

Jeff said...

Note to readers: my last comment was in reference to a post that has since been removed by the author... but you can pretty much figure out what was said by how I chose to reply.

Evilmonkeycma said...

I disagree with your assertion that the MVC of last year is a model for the A-10 of last year. To make it into to the tournament, your team needs to be one of the top 45 or so teams (there are usually 10 or 11 teams that would have reached the tournament without winning their conference). Last year the Missouri Valley had one team that was clearly in (SIU), and 3 teams hovering around that 45th team mark. This year, the A-10 has 3 teams clearly in, and another 2 hovering around the 45th team mark. Unless one of those three teams (Dayton, Xavier, Rhode Island) starts losing to bad teams (which is a horrible assumption to make), there is no reason why they would move out of that "clearly in" status.

Jeff said...

Well, right now the A-10 does have three teams with great, great computer numbers. And if the season ended now, they'd get three teams in. I'm in agreement with you there. Like I said, if all three teams blow through the rest of the conference, they'll all end up with RPIs in the Top 20. And they won't get denied.


But let's say Rhode Island loses a couple of games to other teams in the A-10, and ends up with an RPI of around 35. This was the example brought up. In that case, I'm pretty sure they will get denied.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious as to what "foul language" I have used. I guess asking questions equates to launching jihads over the internets.

Jeff said...

You didn't use foul language. Foul language is not the only type of posting that I will delete. I also delete personal attacks.


If you want to post here, please make a reasoned argument. Sarcastic one-liners will be deleted, as I stated when I deleted your posts earlier.

Jameson said...

I'm wondering on this, when was the last time a team with an RPI better than 35 or 40 missed the tournament? At least teams in the A-10 will finish better than 40, with probably one or two more better than 55. That will be enough to get three maybe four teams in.

Jeff said...

It's not rare at all. Every year, in fact, several mid-majors with an RPI better than 40 miss the Tournament. Last year it was Air Force (30), Missouri State (36) and Bradley (38).

The previous year it was even worse, with top 40 RPI teams that missed the Tournament being Missouri State (21), Hofstra (30), Creighton (39) and Cincinnati (40).

Jameson said...

Air Force was 26-9, Mizzou St was 22-10, Bradley 21-12 in 2007.

In 2006, Mizzou St. was 20-8, Creighton was 19-9, Hofstra was 24-6, but from a weaker conference, and Cinci was 19-12.

Not very good records. To stay under RPI of 40, Rhode Island would need to finish with five or six losses which would get them in the tournament at that point.