Sunday, March 16, 2008

Saturday Wrapup

Did you see:
-20 loss Coppin St. win with a tip in at the buzzer?
-Boise St. win in triple OT against New Mexico St?
-Georgia win two SEC games in one day, (when they only won 4 in the regular season)?
-Clemson breaking a 22 game losing streak against Duke and reaching their first ACC final since 1962?
-Michael Flowers steal to give Wisconsin the lead in the final minute?
-Tyler Hansbrough’s buzzer beater to end Virginia Tech’s dream, while making a lot of other bubble team’s happy.
-Pittsburgh finally shedding its runner-up status, winning only their second Big East tournament title in 8 appearances?

Did you see Kevin Love’s miraculous comeback? After Mbah a Moute was injured yesterday, 20 million UCLA Bruin fans had a heart attack when they saw Love get injured. But all he did was hit a three pointer and have an amazing over his head lay-up at the end of the game.

Did you see Mississippi Valley St. defeat Jackson St. by getting the offensive rebound on a missed second free throw? Millions of people are now about to make superfluous Jerry Rice comments when sitting around on Thursday.

Did you see Tim Welsh was let go by Providence? I’m not actually thrilled about this one, but you could definitely see it coming after the lack of execution in the final minutes against West Virginia. Whoever takes over at Providence should have a chance to win next year with the players that are coming back.

I’m definitely going to need three days (Monday-Wednesday) to recover from all this. A few more comments on the tournament field before I call it a day:

The One Seeds

There seems to be quite a bit of consensus on North Carolina, Memphis, and UCLA as the top line. The only real question is whether Tennessee’s loss opened the door for the Kansas – Texas winner.

In the case of Kansas, I don’t think so. There is no question that if Kansas played Tennessee on a neutral floor today, that Kansas would be favored. But if the committee focuses on the numbers, I don’t see it happening. Let’s look at the numbers:

-Tennessee has two top 10 wins (at Memphis and at Xavier) and 11 top 50 wins. Kansas currently has zero top 10 wins, and only 7 wins against the top 50. These include USC, Texas A&M (twice), Kansas St., Oklahoma, Baylor, and Arizona (in OT). These are certainly solid, but none are spectacular.

-Kansas also has a loss at #72 Oklahoma St., while Tennessee has not lost to a single team outside the RPI top 50.

-Even if Kansas beats Texas, to earn their first top 10 win, both Kansas and Tennessee will be 10-2 in the final 12.

Now, sometimes factors outside the normal criteria matter. Remember last year how Florida got moved to the top overall seed when they didn’t have the numbers to earn it? This is my way of saying that Kansas could earn a one seed tomorrow based on other factors (margin of victory influencing perception). But I suspect the committee has already made up their mind that Kansas is a two.

Texas on the other hand has a slightly better case. If they beat Kansas, they will have defeated Tennessee head-to-head on a neutral floor, swept Kansas, and won at UCLA.

The Bubble

Outside of the top line, I don’t project seeds. I just think it is a waste of energy.

But I do like to project who is “in” and “out”. If you scroll down to my post from Saturday, you can see my projections before Saturday’s action.

Since then Temple and UNLV have taken the auto-bids and are now in regardless. St. Joe’s is now seriously on the edge. (You can argue that they have the tie-breaker over Villanova by the head-to-head win, but they also lost to Syracuse.) St. Joe’s finished 6-6 in the final 12, but thanks to the tournament run, and two wins over Xavier in the last few weeks, I’ll let them stay in, but barely. And Virginia Tech came very close, but fell just short in my opinion. So essentially nothing changed on Saturday.

Two things can change on Sunday. If Georgia and Illinois win, they knock out Villanova first, and then New Mexico in my model.

The nice thing is that my formula (and my projections) are independent of what the Bracket Project numbers say. Let’s compare to some other experts:

Relative to Stewart Mandel (who I usually agree with the most):
I have New Mexico and Villanova in and Arizona and Virginia Tech out.

Relative to Joe Lunardi’s update on Saturday morning:
I have New Mexico and Villanova in and Arizona and Ohio St. out.
(Joe has another update scheduled for Sunday.)

Relative to Gary Parrish of CBS Sportsline:
I have New Mexico, Oregon, and Temple in, and Arizona, Ohio St., and Arizona St. out.
(We can surmise from Gary’s exclusion of Temple that these are not his final projections.)

Everyone else has New Mexico out and Arizona in, and when I look closely, I can see why. New Mexico lost early in the conference tournament, and the NCSOS of 266 is disturbing. But the more I think about it, the more I really don’t like Arizona right now. Not only did they go 4-8 down the stretch, but two of those wins were over Oregon St.

The fact that no one else has New Mexico in probably tells me that I’m wrong, but I’d rather be wrong (on my own), than wrong (with the group), so that’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.