Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Calm After the Storm

-After a Friday when projections everywhere had to be dismantled, my field remains constant on Saturday. Despite the loss, Illinois remains one of the last teams in the field, as all of the bubble teams with a chance to steal an at-large bid lost. Since I already have Arkansas in the field, the only team with a chance to crash the party Sunday is NC State.

-At this point, I will be pretty surprised if Florida St. gets an at large bid. Both the 4-6 in the last 10 and 6-9 road/neutral record point towards a team that will be left out of the field. The main question is whether or not the committee with take into consideration the injury to Toney Douglas. Now, if there had not been a number of mid-major upsets (See A10, WAC, Horizon), the committee might have the luxury of considering a team like Florida St. But given the current field where teams with solid resumes are not receiving bids, I do not think this will be possible. Moreover, the committee has indicated in the past that not only does a player have to return, that player has to return and have a demonstrable impact on their team. Douglas has played in 3 games since his return to the Seminoles. In those games Florida St. beat Miami in overtime, Clemson by 1, and lost by 15 to North Carolina in a game in which Douglas was 2-12 from the field. While Douglas is clearly important to his team, I don’t think the committee has enough evidence that the team is playing at a different level after his return. Expect Seth Davis to say at some point tomorrow that the committee has a contingency plan where if NC State wins, they get the last bid, and if NC State loses, Florida St. gets the last bid. I agree that they will have a contingency plan, just not for Florida St.

-While I would be surprised to see Florida St., I would be less surprised to see Purdue when the brackets are announced Sunday because Purdue does have a few more quality wins than Illinois. The stark contrast in road/neutral gives Illinois the edge in my formula. Illinois is also going to pick up another top 100 win overnight because of Miami (OH) winning the MAC championship. Personally, having watched the Big Ten quarterfinals and semifinals, I think that Purdue is better poised to win a game in the NCAA tournament than Illinois. They just seem to have more energy. You also never know if Teague is going to have one of those un-guardable nights (although to be fair they all seem to come at home.) But while I think Purdue is in better shape to make a tournament run, I also believe that this season has been Bruce Webber’s best coaching job. While Webber cannot turn poor shooters into good shooters in the middle of the season, he’s convinced his team to go all out on defense. In a season where everything has gone wrong, the team has still gone 9-7 in the Big Ten and won 23 games. If I’m correct and Illinois makes the NCAA tournament field, I think that is a tremendous accomplishment.

-During the Illinois - Wisconsin yawner, Billy Packer went on a never-ending rant about how other conferences had games that were actually fun to watch. I hate to say this, but he was right. I hope my fellow Big Ten fans switched the channel occasionally so that they got to see some exciting basketball. Georgetown vs Notre Dame was an absolute joy Friday as Notre Dame couldn’t miss from 3 point range early, before Georgetown staged a ferocious comeback. As Big East regular season and tournament champions, does Georgetown now deserve a 1 seed? Who are the 1 seeds? That is all you are going to hear about Sunday.

Sunday Express Preview

ACC Championship - North Carolina vs NC State: Does North Carolina earn a 1-seed? And does NC State spoil another at-large team’s day?

SEC Championship - Arkansas vs Florida: Does Florida earn a 1-seed?

Big 12 Championship – Kansas vs Texas: Can this possibly top the earlier game? Does Kansas earn a 1-seed?

Big 10 Championship – Ohio St. vs Wisconsin: Who gets a 1-seed here?

After years of shaking my head at last minute seeding decisions, I no longer think there is great value in speculation about seeding. (Sometimes the Big 10 final matters, sometimes it doesn’t.) I’m also too biased towards Georgetown to give a fair assessment here. But as a fan I ask this? If Kansas is a 1-seed because of the 10 game winning streak, then why isn’t Georgetown? Georgetown has won 15 of 16. Kansas is 11-4 against the top 100, with 5 top 50 wins. Georgetown is 13-6 against the top 100, with 9 top 50 wins. Tune in to the selection special to find out.

I may not post again before the selection special, so here are a few final thoughts:

Do Washington St. and Notre Dame get punished for poor non-conference schedules?

Does the 2-7 record against the RPI top 50 hurt Louisville’s seed?

Does Appalachian St. shock the world?