Monday Night Quarterbacking: Reviewing the Bracket

Interesting bracket, don’t you think?  This was a year where you could argue 8-10 teams deserved the final four spots in the field, but almost no one was including Tulsa in that discussion.  The committee chair seemed to contradict himself in his explanations, and again the little guys are the ones that are left out.  Since we’re not going to delve into podcasts (yet), the following chat is our discussion of all aspects of the decisions made by the committee.

On Our Biggest Bracket Complaints

Mike: I’m interested in your biggest objections to the bracket.  Here I’m thinking more globally than in terms of specific seeds.
Nate:  I think we both agree on the first…how the Committee gave undue credit to the American conference.
Mike:  That was extremely strange to me.  I just don’t know what that conference did to deserve such deference.
Nate:  UConn was a dumpster fire in February until winning the conference tournament…good for them.
Mike:  Sure, but Temple?  I’m still not convinced Cincy is all that good no matter how many talking heads tell me they can beat Oregon (they can’t).
Nate:  This is what’s absurd about the whole thing. Temple and Tulsa got in because of that shot in triple OT by Adams.
Mike:  Temple and Tulsa would have finished no better than 4th in the A10 which leads me to…..
Nate:  If Adams misses that shot, UConn is out of the Top 50, and since the Committee chair specifically referenced Top 50 as the factor that separated Tulsa, that’s one less Top 50 win on their resume and two less on Temple’s.
Plus, Tulsa lost to Memphis by 22 points.
22 points…to Memphis
Mike:  Funny enough he made the same point against St. Mary’s being in the field because they wouldn’t have any T50 wins if they had beaten Gonzaga at the end of the season.
Apparently that logic only occasionally applies.
Nate:  Exactly! And I think he mentioned that the win over Wichita was impressive.
Well, Van Vleet played that game completely hobbled with his ankle/hamstring injuries…so much so that he sat the next four games out.
Mike:  I’m very interested to see how Wichita State does in the First Four.  Honestly, just because I think the Committee did such an embarrassing job this year, I would love to see them get just waxed.  Or win the first one and lose to Arizona by 40.
Nate:  They may. Their frontcourt is pretty bad…and Vandy’s is very good.
Regarding the First Four, the Committee completely contradicted themselves.
Mike:  Interesting – how so?
Nate:  We all heard the chair talk about Top 50 wins.
Well it looks like that applied to two teams, and didn’t to the other two.
Vandy – 2-7 vs the Top 50, Wichita – 1-3 vs the Top 50
So obviously that didn’t apply to them, but you know what those two have in common?
Mike:  Similar colors?
Nate:  Extremely high KenPom rankings. Wichita was 12 and Vandy was 26, even though their RPIs were 50 and 60, respectively.  So it looks like they used metrics for those two, but then just the arbitrary Top 50 wins for the others.
Mike:  This was a big night for KenPom rankings.
Nate:  It sure was. But any rankings that has Wichita #12 has to be seriously questioned.

Mike:  No doubt.  I’m all for using all of the information out there in order to make a decision but picking and choosing criteria doesn’t make for a great process.  Not to mention that schools base their scheduling around which teams make/don’t make the tournament and the “messages” that are sent by the committee when there doesn’t appear to be any coherent message sent.  At least not one I can decipher besides “be in a football conference.”

Nate:  No kidding. It really has changed from the early to mid 2000s when they were putting mid-majors in all the time.

On Monmouth

Monmouth Sad

Nate:  Should we get to Monmouth?
Mike: Let’s.
Nate:  What did you think of the omission?
Mike:  I’m admittedly a little biased here but my first reaction was that St. Bonaventure being left out was worse.  My second reaction is that there’s really nothing else a school like Monmouth can do that’s within their control.  It’s just more evidence that small schools really don’t have any clear path to being taken seriously by the committee.
Nate:  I totally agree on both…and I want to hear your rant on how the committee views the A10. With Monmouth, they won 13 true road games. They played one non-conference game at home. Not only did they pick up the big wins over ND and USC at the Advocare, but they won at UCLA and at Georgetown. Sure, both those teams ended up sucking, but those are really good road wins for a mid-major.
The chair said the three losses to the sub-200 hurt them…and yeah those are bad. But they were all on the road. You know who lost twice to Memphis, and at home to Oral Roberts?
Mike:  I’m not sure but guessing Tulsa.
Nate:  Tulsa.
Mike:  We’ll get to the A10, which the committee clearly dislikes, but if you’re expecting a mid-major team to schedule basically nothing but road/neutral games during the non-conference and then never lose to the teams in its conference under any circumstances ever that’s really just setting them up to have no chance at all.
Nate:  I just think that dissing the little guy is not what this tournament is about. 27 wins, compared to 20 for Tulsa. 5-3 in road/neutral games against the Top 100 (Tulsa was 2-6, Vandy was 1-8, Michigan was 2-8)
Mid-majors just cannot have bad nights, no matter what they do in the non-conference. You think it is time for mid-majors to seriously band together and start playing each other more. Maybe bring back the mid-February cross-conference games?
Mike:  I don’t think either of us wants to see a flood of mid-majors at the expense of bigger teams that deserve it but does anyone really want to see Michigan over Monmouth?  Both teams have a .00008 chance of winning it anyway.

On Michigan

Michigan Big10 Tourney 3

Nate:  Let’s talk Michigan for a second
I had them really close after their win over IU, but out. Why? The Committee talks non-conference strength of schedule. It was why S. Carolina was left out because of the 300th rated schedule.
Michigan’s was 203. Other than Texas, they had no other non-conference wins over the Top 100.
Mike:  Plus they won than game with LeVert.
Nate:  Did you know Temple does not have a win over a top 200 team in the non-conference?
Maybe that’s why they are 7.5 point underdogs against a 7 seed, which is easily the highest spread for a 7/10 game I have seen. And Iowa is playing awful.
Mike:  I just don’t really see why they should get the benefit of the doubt when they didn’t challenge themselves in the non-conference, didn’t really do anything of note in-conference besides get blown out a few times at home, and then beat a team with absolutely nothing to play for in the tournament.
And Temple really has no business being in the tournament.  They might beat Iowa only because something broke with Iowa a month or so ago, but that doesn’t mean they deserve to be here.  Especially not more than St. Bonaventure, St. Mary’s, or Monmouth.
Nate:  They got in because they had 4 Top 50 wins…simple as that.
Iowa wins that game by 18.
St. Mary’s got skewered by the chair because of their non-conference schedule…which was better than Michigan’s
Mike:  So once again we’re back to rewarding teams for having football programs.
Nate:  Incredible, isn’t it?
Mike:  Only if you haven’t been a fan of an A10 team for your whole life.

On the A10 and St. Bonaventure Getting Hosed

Marcus Posley Sad.jpeg

Nate:  And….GO!
Mike:  I’m very proud of the A10 commissioner for issuing a press release over how terrible St. Bonaventure not being included was. They finished first in the regular season in a top-8 conference.  How many other teams that did that aren’t in the tournament?  The only argument for not including them is that you don’t consider the conference to be any good.  The committee reinforced that by underfeeding every single team that made it by at least one line (with the possible exception of UD which probably deserved to be a 7 although they could have been a 6).
VCU is a 10?  Please.

Nate:  The Bonnies not being in the field is wrong on so many levels.

Mike:  I understand the bottom of the conference is bad but so is the bottom of the B1G.  A lot of conferences have skeletons.
Nate:  Of course (What’s a Rutger?). But you’re right, the Bonnies shared the regular season title. They beat Stupid Flapping Hawk twice. They won at Dayton. I really wanted to compare them to Temple, Tulsa and Michigan.
So Temple…both had solid wins in conference play and didn’t do much in the non-conference. SOS is identical (88 vs 87). Both lost to a Top 200 team.
Why are the Bonnies more deserving then? 1) Eye test. Anyone that watches both teams would conclude that the Bonnies are better. 2) Temple lost to SFH, while Bonnies beat them twice. 3) They didn’t get housed in their conference tournament game. Losing to Davidson in OT should not have been a devastating loss. Temple got run out of the gym by UConn, who was coming off playing 4 OTs less than 24 hours earlier.
Mike:  Yes.  All of this, yes.  We don’t even need to address Tulsa.  I guess now I’m confused about why the A10 seems to be in the committee’s doghouse.  Thoughts?  It seems like nearly every year now they have a team snubbed or (UD last year) VERY nearly so.
Nate:  Maybe the bottom of the conference like you said? I really have no idea. Anyone watching that team knows they belonged in.
You would think the addition of VCU would have strengthened the conference in the eyes of the committee.
Mike:  They seemed to really like Jerry Palm this year and he has the A10 with a higher RPI than the AAC.  Hell, they were as close to the SEC as they were to the AAC.

On Seeding/Placement Objections

Nate:  Get into the seeding/placements briefly?
Mike:  I have some questions about that for you.  These are somewhat related to the conference rankings as well so now is a good time.  I saw several Big 10 teams as under seeded and several Pac 12 teams as over seeded.
Nate:  You are correct. Oregon State is the one that jumps out the most. I had them fluctuating from an 8 to eventually a 10…but a 7 for a team that doesn’t even have 20 wins?
And why did the committee say they had four contingency brackets based on the results of the final two games on Sunday? Were they contemplating giving Sparty a 3 seed?
Mike:  That was baffling.  I was just looking over the full committee rankings and it’s conceivable that if they would have lost they would have dropped them behind Oklahoma, Villanova and Xavier…which would have made them the first #3 seed.
That would have been completely unfair mind you since they seemed to overlook the losses Syracuse had and WSU had without their coach/key players.
But not MSU’s without Valentine.
Nate:  Yeah I was shocked when they didn’t get the 1 seed. The Oregon placement on the 1 line didn’t surprise me, and I actually liked that they rewarded them for winning both the regular season and the tournament.
IU and Purdue should have been 4s, and Cal should have been a 5. But those aren’t too egregious.
Mike:  IU got hosed, in my opinion.
Nate:  How about A&M getting a 3, and Kentucky a 4? With almost the exact same resume.
Oh they definitely did. That bracket is completely loaded.
Mike:  I mean, I certainly don’t really care, because I don’t love them and I want to see the Kentucky/IU game in the second round.
But their season deserved better than a probable second-round exit.
Nate:  I think the committee was just lazy on a lot of fronts.
Like making the winner of Southern/Holy Cross go from Dayton to Spokane? I thought they were supposed to keep them relatively close?
Mike:  The A&M and UK thing was weird.
What about giving Yale almost a home game?
Nate:  They almost always put the automatic qualifiers as close to home as possible.

On Unfavorable Draws and Potential Upsets

Mike:  Anyone you see get burned based on matchup?
Nate:  Which is why Duke West gets to play in Denver against Seton Hall. Why does Seton Hall get disadvantaged? That one irked me.
Any that stick out to you?
Mike:  Everyone’s talking about this one but Iowa State drawing Iona isn’t ideal.
Nate:  Especially given the fact that Iowa State has a really hard time making it to the 2nd weekend.
Mike:  I also don’t really understand why Kansas and Virginia weren’t flipped.
Nate:  I heard the chair called Self and asked him where KU wanted to play. Self said Chicago. The committee then thought that Chicago was in the South, because that would be consistent with putting Tulsa in the field.
Mike:  I also think Oregon State got a raw deal with VCU, especially if you really believe they were a 7.
Wait…what???
Nate:  That was a bad, bad joke
Mike:  Whew.  Otherwise I thought you were just giving my “they were drinking all weekend for St. Patrick’s day” theory more juice.
valpo-game-winner-bryce-drew
Nate:  Now to preview our additional content this week…who is your 12+ seed that you think could do some damage?
Mike:  Only going with teams I think could make a second weekend mainly because it’s not all that hard to win one game.  I think either SDSU or Hawaii could win 2 games.  Maryland and Cal are very inconsistent.
Outside of that I’m not seeing many.  For some reason I’m seeing a ton of chalk this year.
Nate:  I could certainly see both of those happening. UALR, Stone Cold, Iona all intrigue me as potential upset picks.
Maybe Fresno State over Utah too.
Mike:  Re: Iona, I just don’t see them winning 2 games.  Beating ISU seems very unlikely.  Beating ISU and Purdue?  Nope.
Same objection to UALR, obviously.
Nate:  But what if UALR and Iona both win…HAHA
Mike:  That’s always a risk.  You’re going to hate this but there is one #11 I could see making a sweet 16….
Duke West!
Nate:  They are favored to beat Hall. Damn it Vegas.

On Dayton’s and Notre Dame’s Draws

Mike:  Your thoughts on ND’s draw?
Nate:  ND’s draw? Does it matter?
Mike:  Well I assume it does.
I mean for the tournament, not for the first team.  I’m looking forward to them demolishing whichever undeserving team they get.
Nate:  They have played 2 good halves of basketball in the last month. If they get past the 1st round…I think they lose to either WVU or SF Austin.
Mike:  I know you love Stone Cold, but…no.  Just no.
Nate:  But…the draw is favorable if they can somehow figure out what the hell is going on. WVU and Xavier are good…but beatable.
Mike:  Silver lining – pressing teams have a shaky tournament history, although the subsequent zone could be problematic.
Well, they still have a better chance of a second weekend than UD does.  Thanks for nothing there, committee.
Nate:  And ND now likes to turn the ball over. I’m sure you don’t like seeing Sparty hanging out there if the Flyers get past Cuse.
Dayton over Syracuse 2014

Dayton > Syracuse in the 2014 tournament

Mike:  I am pretty confident the Flyers can get past Syracuse, especially with a full week of rest.  I’ve been trying to come up with some plausible way they can beat Sparty.  So far all I’ve come up with is Middle Tennessee beating them first.
Nate:  Ha!
Mike:  If they played this game back in early February I’d have reasons.  Sadly, something went wrong with Dayton around the same time Iowa fell apart. Some of it’s injury related but not all.  I can’t figure it out.
Nate:  Hey man, ND is in the same boat. All I can think of are injuries. Known in Dayton’s case, unknown in ND’s.
Mike:  All we can hope is that good coaching and relative health (over the next week) will help.  Not sure it’ll matter either way for UD but it might for ND.
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One response to “Monday Night Quarterbacking: Reviewing the Bracket

  1. Pingback: The Elite 8 (Best Games of the First Round) | HEAD VS GUT·

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