Search This Blog

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

On Fire & Misfire: Breaking Down the Field (Sort of a Compliment on Memphis)

Andrew Skwara College Basketball Senior Writer

Sick of all the talk of about NCAA Tournament snubs?
How about switching gears a bit and dissecting the job the selection committee did when it came to seeding the field of 65? That's exactly what we asked staff writer Andrew Skwara to do.

He'll break down the best and worst moves - from halftime adjustments to player performances and all the coaching X's and O's in between.

But, first he offers his thoughts on the seeds.

On Fire: The No. 1 seeds. Critics can cry all they want about UCLA's stellar résumé, but each of the top seeds won its conference tournament. The Bruins couldn't get out of the quarterfinals of a Pac-10 Tournament held in their own back yard. The Bruins are coming off losses to a pair of teams (Washington and California) that didn't reach the NCAA Tournament.

Misfire: Creighton as a No. 10 seed and Nevada as a No. 7. These two mid-majors should have a chance to meet in the second or third round, not the first. Heading into Selection Sunday many were predicting the Bluejays would land a No. 6 seed, and rightfully so. They finished second in the Missouri Valley Conference, a league which was ranked tougher than the Big 12 (a league that landed four bids). Creighton won the conference tournament, beating No. 4 seed Southern Illinois in the final. The Wolf Pack lost a total of four games, three coming to teams in the top 50 of the RPI.

On Fire: Giving Memphis a No. 2 seed. The Tigers play in a weak conference and had a horrible strength of schedule, but how many teams are capable of winning 22 in a row? I don't care who the opponents are, it's very tough to go out and beat all the teams you are supposed to beat for 2½ months.

Misfire: Sending Texas A&M to Lexington, Ky. Why is sixth-seeded Louisville playing 70 miles away from home? Nobody is more mystified by that question than the third-seeded Aggies, who are slated for a second-round matchup with the Cardinals in front of 20,000-plus Red-and-White clad fans (as long as Kentucky fans don't gobble up the tickets out of spite). Shouldn't the higher-seeded squad be given the advantages? The Cardinals may have deserved a slightly higher seed, but that was no reason to punish the Aggies.

Misfire: Putting Purdue three seeds higher than Illinois. Take a look at the résumés of these two Big Ten schools. Twelfth-seeded Illinois has a significantly better RPI (No. 29 to No. 44) and strength of schedule (No. 24 to 44). They were much better on the road and at neutral sites, going 9-8 to Purdue's 5-10. Plus, they beat an NCAA Tournament team (Indiana) in the Big Ten tournament. Purdue's lone win in the league tourney came against an Iowa squad that was left out of the NIT. The Boilermakers did beat the Illini in their only head-to-head matchup, but does that trump everything else? Apparently, the selection committee made the mistake of thinking so.

Misfire: UNLV as a No. 7 seed. The Mountain West had a strong year, getting two teams in the Big Dance and nearly landing a third. But, its best team wasn't given much respect. The Rebels were ranked No. 10 in the RPI, just three spots lower than fourth-seeded Southern Illinois and higher than Kansas, Texas A&M, Oregon and Washington State. They won 28 games (27 against Division I schools), beat NCAA Tournament teams Nevada and Texas Tech on the road and got past Mountain West champ BYU a second time to capture the league's tournament title. The Rebels deserved better.

No comments: