Monday, January 14, 2008

Early Projections

It is obviously idiotic to do bracket projections this early in the season, but I see them everywhere. I’ve run my formula as well, but rather than point out the absurdity of the current rankings, let me point out a few teams that may be a surprise.

Despite a #9 RPI ranking and strong non-conference SOS, Arizona’s profile is a little weaker than you might expect. At 3-5 against the RPI Top 100 and 3-3 on the road, Arizona looks a lot more like a bubble team than a strong contender at this point.

Despite a #109 RPI ranking, Charlotte is actually in contention for an at-large bid thanks to a tough out of conference schedule. But who is the real Charlotte? The team that is 5-0 against the RPI top 100, or the team with 5 bad losses. Two of those “bad” losses were to ACC teams (Georgia Tech and Maryland). The two head-scratchers are to #275 Hofstra and #300 Monmouth. At least Monmouth occurred in the third game of a holiday tournament where the team can blame tired legs. If Charlotte can finish near the top of the A10, they should be in discussion. That’s not a bad position to be in given that Coach Lutz almost quit in the off-season in disgust over the lack of rivalries in the 14-team A10.

Despite being a trendy pick for a second bid out of the MVC, Creighton started conference play with two disappointing losses, and is going to have to win their way back into the discussion. The early wins against DePaul and Nebraska don’t look very impressive right now.

Despite Tubby Smith bringing an increase in excitement to Minnesota (they actually beat Northwestern this year), and despite an RPI that sounds solid at #51, Minnesota still hasn’t worked their way onto the bubble yet. At 0-3 against the RPI top 100, Minnesota has zero quality wins. The Gophers have two huge home games this week, hosting Indiana and Michigan St. If they want to have any legitimate shot at an at-large bid, they need to get at least one win here.