28 February 2011

weekly ncaa update

1) Ohio St.
2) Kansas
2) Duke
I'm getting the impression nobody really wants to be up top, but these three are still a pretty fair margin ahead of the rest. I am not seeing Ohio St as a potential champ, though if their offense picks up the pace a bit, maybe (it is very efficient, but they're not scoring at a high enough clip to make me confident they could still win against another efficient team, see the only team more efficient: Wisconsin).

Right now it's still Kansas and Duke, and then the rest. Just like last year.

4) BYU. Probably earned a #1 seed.
5) Texas. Probably lost a #1 seed. (update, definitely lost a #1 seed, Purdue moves pretty solidly past them after getting blown out at home by K State).
6) Purdue
7) Pitt. I'm convinced now that the Big East will not and should not get a #1 seed.

8) Wisconsin
9) San Diego St
10) Kentucky

11) North Carolina
12) Syracuse. Seems to have righted the ship.
13) Washington. I don't quite get these guys, but they're still a dangerous sleeper in my book.
14) Louisville.

15) Georgetown. Dropping. Injuries at a bad time.
16) Notre Dame
17) West Virginia
18) Villanova. Dropping REALLY Fast (update: Loss from Notre Dame drops them almost out of the top 25)
19) Belmont. Good luck to these guys in their conference tournament this week. If they don't win, they're not getting in the dance. ETSU is not bad either in their conference, but Belmont could actually drop somebody in the real show, maybe even win a couple games. ETSU won't get a good enough seed to do much of anything.
20) Utah St

21) Arizona
22) Illinois
23) Vanderbilt
24) Connecticut
25) Missouri

Maryland is still at #27 on my list. I'm very doubtful they will get in as of right now. But other than a home loss to Duke and a road loss to Virginia Tech, they've lost all their games by less than 10. And other than being swept by Boston College, all of those are quality losses, usually top 30 teams (Duke, Pitt, Illinois, Temple, Villanova). The real problem is that they've got nothing on the win ledger other than Florida St and Clemson at home, a thumping of Penn St on the road, and squeaking by Charleston. And none of those stands out as a wow win. The difference between them and Marquette is pretty minimal (lots of close losses to good teams, none as bad as Boston College, Duke, Wisconsin, Vanderbilt and Gonzaga out of conference), except that Marquette has wins over Syracuse, West Virginia, Notre Dame (by 22), and a road win over Connecticut, plus another win over a probable NCAA team (Bucknell) for good measure. That's enough to put you in this year.

I am very annoyed at the "Big East is getting 11 teams!, this is terrible" talk. I've had these same 11 teams high on the list since mid-January. St Johns has moved up nicely (I have them #31, they were in the mid 40s), and Marquette and Cincinnati looked a little shaky where they were in the mid 20s/low 30s, to be fair to this argument. But really, there aren't that many teams to take their places if they weren't included. The actual bubble includes one team I think is actually decent (Maryland), and MANY, many teams who are putting up legitimately weak tournament resumes. Fine, in an average year, Marquette would be looking at a 11 seed at best on my list and would be on the bubble. They're like an 7-8 this year. The reason is that the bubble teams I have like Alabama, Clemson, Michigan (rising fast), Richmond, Minnesota (fading fast), Georgia, etc have done nothing to distinguish themselves. They all have maybe one or two wins to their credit, Michigan at least played a brutal schedule (but didn't get many wins on it, the way a Tennessee, the team closest to them on my list, did). Other bubble teams like virtually anybody from Conference USA, also mediocre. Memphis looks like a 15 seed even in this field, and wouldn't be even in the conversation in an ordinary year. Yet they're listed as "safely" in on ESPN's bracketology because they've got a few top 100 wins (I have them at 9-5).

So please, do not complain about the Big East. Complain instead, as usual, that there's a lot of undeserving teams who will not get into the tournament, each of which will look roughly indistinguishable from a couple teams who will get in. This will lead to predictable complaints that the field should be expanded. The truth is that about 30 teams get in every year who probably aren't very good. Many of these are auto-bids from mediocre conferences or surprise auto-bid upsets from better conferences, and a few are power conference or mid-major representatives who got in at-large but still aren't very good. This year will have about a dozen of such teams.

Here's a snapshot:
Florida St will get in basically because they beat Duke. Clemson won't because they didn't. They're otherwise tied. They even split the season series.
Texas AM will get in because they beat Washington (by 1 at home) and Temple. This is despite losing to Baylor twice, being blown out by Texas twice, and barely beating teams like Arkansas (OT at home). Washington St probably won't get in despite sweeping Washington and blowing out Gonzaga, mostly because they lost to Oregon and Arizona St on the road and Stanford at home. But again, not much difference here.
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