Monday, March 09, 2009

What Happens to Davidson and Saint Mary's?

Charleston 59, Davidson 52
Davidson will probably be one of the more original cases in Selection Sunday history. Let's look at the numbers first: They finish 26-7 and 10-2 in true road games, but they only finished 1-4 against the RPI Top 100. They did get those wins over West Virginia and North Carolina State, and they played Oklahoma close, but they also lost to Citadel and Charleston (twice). Bob McKillop has argued that "26 wins is 26 wins", but that's not an argument. First of all, it's really only 25 wins since a win over a DIII team shouldn't help you. Creighton had 26 wins over D-I teams, against a much tougher schedule, and they're probably missing out on the Tournament also. Charleston also has 26 wins, and nobody is even talking about them as a bubble team. The fact is that Davidson went 14-0 against the RPI 200+. Part of it is just that the SoCon has a lot of bad teams, but Davidson did get 18 of their 25 Division I wins there. They went only 7-5 in their out of conference slate, and as tough as it was (Pomeroy rated it 25th toughest), you've got to do better than 7-5. Sagarin has them 67th, Pomeroy has them 70th and their RPI is 69th. They can't make the Tournament on their merits, and can only get there because the Selection Commitee wants to see Stephen Curry, and that would be a shame. Rewarding a team for something they did last year is something college football does, and college basketball is supposed to be above that. So Davidson is still a viable bubble team because of the Curry factor, but the numbers are so bad that I still don't think they're going to make the Tournament. The Committee has a history of a small bias towards glamor teams, but they're not going to do something so drastic just for higher tv ratings.

#12 Gonzaga 83, Saint Mary's 58

Saint Mary's is going to be another interesting case for the Selection Committee. They finish 25-6, and 10-4 in the WCC. They went 3-3 against the RPI Top 100 with wins over Utah State, Providence and San Diego State. Their bad losses were against Santa Clara and Portland, although both came with Patty Mills hurt. Their Sagarin and RPI ratings will all be just inside the Top 50, so just barely good enough. Now, one thing to keep in mind is that the Selection Committee is not supposed to take into account injuries - a team's resume speaks for itself. They don't punish teams if their stars get injured just before the Tournament, and by that logic they should not reward a team because they were missing a player for a few games during the season. But in reality, the Selection Commitee is made of humans, and they're going to keep that Patty Mills injury in mind. And let's be honest, if Mills stayed healthy all year, there's almost no doubt that Saint Mary's would have had an extra win or two and been pretty safe for a Tournament bid. The fact that the members of the Selection Committee know this will be a huge benefit for Saint Mary's. In the end, however, Saint Mary's fans are just going to have to hope for some help the rest of this week. They need the other bubble teams to lose, and they need to root against a repeat of last year's Georgia miracle. They are still a very viable at-large team, but their destiny is now out of their hands.

Siena 77, Niagara 70
Siena is going to be a scary, scary first round opponent for somebody in the NCAA Tournament, especially if Kenny Hasbrouck can get completely healthy. The losses by Davidson and Creighton pretty much assure Siena of nothing worse than a 12 seed (since it's fairly safe to say that Chattanooga and Northern will get lower seeds than Siena). They could potentially get an 11 or even a 10, but only if they get a little bit of help. But even as a 12 they'll be very dangerous. Looking at the 5 seeds in my most recent BP65, none of them look unbeatable to me. Siena will be a sexy upset pick to be sure. As for Niagara, you can actually argue that their resume is better than Davidson's. They finish 26-8, with a 3-2 record against the RPI Top 100. They have wins over Illinois State and Siena, although they also have losses to Marist, Iona, Rider and Chattanooga. Sagarin had them 73rd and they had an RPI of 51st entering this game. I can't see any scenario where Niagara actually makes the NCAA Tournament, but they could be a dangerous NIT team if they are motivated. Niagara is one of the best teams in the country that you haven't heard of, and with Hasbrouck graduating, Niagara could be Dancing next season.


Anonymous said...

"They need the other bubble teams to lose"

You mean, like Cleveland State? Pop!

Anonymous said...

Oh, one interesting note -- Saint Marys has added a game with Eastern Washington to be played AFTER their conference championship (3/13). So, Patrick Mills will get one more chance to show that he can play well after the injury.