Sunday, March 13, 2011

Final Spot: Who Ya Got?

I'll tell you what, staring at these last few teams I can really see the case for Harvard. And if I was on the Selection Committee I'd push for them in, because in a tie I'd much rather see a Harvard/Butler/Belmont in the Tournament than another team that went .500 in a major conference.

The way I see it, I've got the following teams clearly IN the bracket: Penn State, Illinois, Florida State And Colorado.

I've got the following teams clearly OUT of the bracket: Boston College and Alabama.

I'll be shocked if Virginia Tech gets left out, which leaves three spots available for UAB, Georgia, Clemson, Harvard, Saint Mary's, USC and VCU.

I'm moving Georgia and Clemson into my bracket, and I'm taking USC out. I don't care how good USC has looked the last few weeks - look at their full body of work. They would be by far the worst overall resume ever selected. I know that most of those bad losses came before Jio Fontan became eligible, but historically the Selection Committee hasn't cared. Does Georgetown get bumped up to a 3 seed because they lost most of their games without Chris Wright? Does Florida State get bumped up to a 7 or 8 seed since Chris Singleton is going to play in the Tournament? Do we make Duke #1 overall since that's where they'd probably be if Kyrie Irving hadn't gotten hurt? So no, I've got USC out.

That leaves UAB, Harvard, Saint Mary's and VCU for one spot. And honestly, this again comes down to just how people weigh their options. Do we discount that Saint Mary's win over St. John's since it came in the first game of the season when St. John's wasn't nearly as good as they are now? If we discount it at all then Saint Mary's is out, because they're hanging their hat on that win. VCU looks formidable, but that Sagarin ELO_CHESS of 61 scares me to death. No team with an ELO_CHESS that bad has gotten in since I've been studying brackets. UAB looks softest until you realize that if we arbitrarily chose the RPI Top 70 to care about instead of the Top 50 they'd look much better. It's not their fault that so many teams in their conference ended up with an RPI between 50 and 70. And again, just look at Harvard. They beat BC, Princeton and Colorado, and only lost one bad game. And their one bad loss wasn't as bad as the bad loss that a team like Saint Mary's has.

So if I was on the Selection Committee I'd vote for Harvard. But the dismissive way that the top analysts in the media have given to a Harvard big the last 24 hours gives me a look into how the elites in the sport view Harvard basketball. I just don't think they'll give Harvard the nod. So... UAB, Saint Mary's and VCU for one spot. Who do I take?

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