Sunday, March 15, 2009

Initial Thoughts On the Bracket

I just wanted to post a few initial thoughts on the bracket. I'll get to actual predictions of Tournament performance later tonight or tomorrow morning, but at the moment I just want to talk about who got in, who got left out, and who got seeded where:

Did we have the right 65 teams? I actually didn't have a big problem with this, even though I missed two teams this year. I talked about how I felt I left out three legitimate Tournament teams: Arizona, Florida and Maryland. The two teams that I missed both came from those three. I would have had a much bigger problem if a team like Penn State or Providence got in. I do feel that Maryland should have gotten in over Arizona, and I think Arizona benefited from some bias (I forgot one of my cardinal rules, which is that a glamor school like Kentucky or Arizona or North Carolina will never be the last team left out). I did have a problem with Maryland getting a 10 seed, but most likely they got an 11 and got bumped up a line because the ACC had 7 teams. As for the two teams left out, I did talk about how Saint Mary's didn't deserve to get in on resume alone, but I guessed (incorrectly, apparently) that the Committee would give them a break on the Patty Mills injury. I'm actually going to talk more about this in a moment (look at the bottom of this post), so hang on. One last thing I wanted to mention here is the issue of mid-majors vs BCS teams on at-large bids. I hate that graphic that always gets thrown up about how many fewer mid-majors have gotten at-large bids over the last few years. First of all, it's skewed because of how Conference USA gave all of its best teams (besides Memphis) to the Big East. Second of all, you're comparing apples to oranges. Each year is different. Nobody can argue that the mid-majors deserved ten at-larges this year. You just can't argue it, so arguing the mid-majors got shafted because they didn't get 14 teams is disingenuous. But it is suspicious that the two last two teams in were glamor teams (Maryland, Arizona), and the two first teams out were mid-majors without a lot of history (Saint Mary's, San Diego State). Personally, I'd have preferred to have seen Saint Mary's and San Diego State in.

Who got a ton of love? The Big East. I'm not shocked that the Big East got a little bit of bias, since it's hard not to be somewhat influenced by the propaganda from ESPN and the other major sports analysts. But I assumed that the Selection Committee would at least be a little bit better when it came to judging teams on the numbers and the facts rather than silly comments about the Big East being the best conference. First of all, giving three #1 seeds to them was preposterous. UConn should not have gotten in over Memphis. Also, across the board the Big East schools all got the best seed they could have. What I mean by that is that I often talk about how a team could get a 5 or a 6 seed, or maybe I say they could be an 8-10 seed. In all cases, the Big East team got the high end of that range. From Syracuse to UConn to Marquette, to even Lousville being the preposterous #1 overall (when UNC is clearly better).

Who got screwed? The Big Ten. Not a shocker, for the same reasons as the Big East getting a ton of love. I was shocked to see the Selection Committee so influenced by the mainstream media. Just as the way that the Big East teams all got the highest seeds in the expected range, the Big Ten teams all seemed to get the worst seeds you could have imagined, from Purdue to Ohio State to Wisconsin. The one exception was Michigan - they are overrated as a 10. I know that it's hard to pigeonhole teams when you're taking seven teams from the same conference and have to make sure that they can't play each before the Elite 8, but I would have flipped Michigan and Wisconsin.

Coming up soon... Why the Selection Committee should ease the bracket rules with regards to conference teams, and why they are completely wrong with how they judge injuries to key players.

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