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BRACKET REACTION: WHO GOT HOSED, WHO GOT LUCKY
March 12, 2007

SCS.com No more "Bubble Watch." No more "Bracket Projection." The real thing is here. That's right, folks, the NCAA Tournament is finally upon us. For most of us, it's a very exciting, yet nervous, time of the year as we are all going to be filling out brackets over the next few days. In other words, Happy Holidays.

However, before we get there, I have some comments on the bracket. Last year, the committee did a horrendous job with the bracket, in terms of seedings and the teams they chose to round out the field. While this year was better than last year, there are still some things that I question. Moreover, usually there is somewhat of an explanation for why the committee did the things they did. This year? Not so much.

Anyway, onto the issues:

Q: What teams had the biggest beefs about not getting into the Tournament?

A: Drexel and Syracuse. What more did Drexel need to do to get into the Big Dance? They went out and played road games. They went out and played tough teams. They went and scheduled big games in the non-conference. Look at their resume. The Dragons were 14-5 away from home, they had the 8th-ranked non-conference SOS, and oh yeah, they had wins at Creighton, at Villanova, and at Syracuse (weíll get to the Orange in a second). One could say that the CAA didnít deserve three teams, but the committee is supposed to look at individual teams ó not conference affiliation. What about the Orange? They finished 10-6 in the Big East, had a strong stretch run, and beat Villanova, Marquette, and Georgetown. ĎCuse finished 5th in the Big East and didnít make it, while Villanova ó who finished ninth ó did make it. I think Villanova deserved to make it, but I still donít see how Syracuse got left out.

Q: If Drexel and Syracuse should be in, what two teams should have been left out?

A: Arkansas and Stanford. Exactly what did Arkansas do to garner a bid? Made a run to the SEC title game and got blown out by Florida? Sure, that looks impressive on paper, but look at who they played. They beat South Carolina in the first round, an inconsistent Vanderbilt team in the quarterfinals, and NIT-bound Mississippi State in the semifinals. Thatís not overly impressive. Look at the rest of their resume also. They went 7-9 in the weak SEC West, and lost to seven teams ranked 58 or below in the RPI. Also, the Razorbacks beat only three NCAA teams all season: Southern Illinois, Oral Roberts, and Vanderbilt. Letís move onto Stanford. What is impressive about an 18-12 record? Or an RPI of 65? The Cardinal are 4-6 in their last ten, went 4-8 against the Top 50, and have a below-.500 record away from home. Yes, they have a good group of wins, but I donít think a team that canít win more than sixty percent of their games should be in the Dance.

Q: Do you have any problems with the top seeds?

A: Yes. Florida as the overall #1 seed? The Gators played the 159th-ranked non-conference schedule, and lost three of their final five regular-season games. They might be the best overall team in the country, but the committee is supposed to look at resumes when seeding teams. If the committee did that, I donít see how Florida should have been the overall #1 seed. Ohio State clearly had the best resume in the country. They had lost three games all year, all on the road against teams on the top two seed lines. Another thing I have a problem with on the top seed line is the lack of UCLA. The Bruins lost their final two games, but they were 17-5 against the Top 100, and played the 8th-ranked schedule in the country.

Q: What about seedings? What teams got significantly overseeded?

A: Butler was way overseeded at the #5 position. The Bulldogs had a host of good wins early in the season, but they struggled significantly down the stretch, and didnít win either the regular season or conference tournament championship of the Horizon League. They had three losses outside of the Top 100, and played the 108th-ranked schedule in the country. How do they get a 5, and the team that won both of the Horizon championships, Wright State, gets a 14? It doesnít make sense. What did Purdue and Indiana do to get a 9 seed and 7 seed, respectively? Purdue was a bubble team heading into the day, and Iím not sure they had anywhere near the resume to get a 9 seed. Creighton, the MVC Tournament champion, got a 10, but Purdue got a 9? And Indiana, they should have been a couple spots lower than a 7. They were 7-10 against the Top 100, and lost five of their last eight games.

Q: Who was underseeded?

A: The ones that jump out at me are UNLV, BYU, Creighton, and Marquette. Clearly, the committee didnít think too highly of the Mountain West Conference. Air Force got left out, and UNLV and BYU were underseeded by a few seed lines. The Runniní Rebels had the #10 RPI in the country, and won the MWC Tournament. They have won 9 in a row and 14 of 16. BYU won the regular season title, and had won 12 of 13 before falling to UNLV in the MWC title game. Creighton is another team that got shafted. The Bluejays had the #20 RPI, won 7 games against the Top 50, and went 13-5 in the MVC. They should have been higher in the bracket. Moving onto the big conferences, Marquette was unlucky to get a #8. The Golden Eagles beat Pittsburgh twice, Louisville, Duke, Texas Tech, and Villanova. They were also very good on the road. I think they deserved to be higher.

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