We’ve got a little bit extra today as we begin by pointing out a couple of things that we think a lot of “Bracketolgists” will miss and why we think they’ll miss it. We then look back at what was an eventful night last night, and look ahead to the notable action tonight.
-For the latest Under the Radar Video Podcast – CLICK HERE
-For John Stalica’s Throwback Thursday, which focuses on the historic 1990-1991 season where Duke won their first national championship, and UNLV finished the regular season undefeated just a year after winning it all – CLICK HERE
-For Chad Sherwood’s Under the Radar Game of the Day between UC Irvine and Hawai’i – CLICK HERE
-Okay, so we at Hoops HD have our own staff that annually serves as a selection committee. We go through the same process (pretty much) as the actual committee to select and seed the teams. But, unlike what a lot of other major media sites do, we generally aren’t too concerned about trying to guess the real committee, but rather create what WE think the bracket should look like. That has changed this year with the addition of Jon Teitel, who works on guessing the actual committee, and is among the most accurate in the nation, so we now put together two sets of brackets (I mention this as an aside, now back to the original point).
For our staff committee, we have a couple of rules/guidelines, and one of them is to NEVER evaluate a team categorically. In other words, this is not an acceptable evaluation; “Well, Team A has a top fifty RPI, and they’re from a power conference, and power conference teams with top fifty RPIs almost always get in.” That’s making a pick for a categorical reason. That’s not making an argument that the team is actually any good.
Now, having said that, I’m about to point out some categorical things that I think other “bracketologists” who do try and guess the real committee are not picking up on. For starters, I can think of only one example where a team finished in the RPI top 50, and was an outright first place finisher in the conference standings, who missed the field and was not inside the bubble. I cannot think of a single example of an outright first place finisher with a top 40 RPI missing the field. This means that, categorically speaking, Monmouth and Chattanooga would be selected for the field if today were Selection Sunday even if they failed to win the conference tournament. William & Mary, who is a game out of first place but in the RPI top forty, would make it as well if they could end up finishing in first place. Valparaiso and Little Rock currently have profiles that are almost always selected, and are on the cusp of having the kinds of profiles that are never not selected.
Another thing that bracketolists love to look at are top 50 wins and top 100 wins. Well, that’s a lot of different kinds of wins. If you win a home game against a top 50 team that’s 3-7 on the road, then yeah it’s a top 50 win, but the actual selection committee isn’t going to necessarily look at that as a high quality win. On the flip side, if a team wins a road game against an opponent who is outside the top 100, but only has one or two home losses, then chances are the committee will give them some credit for winning that game. That’s why when you look at a team like Monmouth and see that they won at Siena, you have to think that the real committee will give them more credit than most bracketologists would. Siena is not in the top 100, but they only have one home loss. So, that will likely score some points with the committee even if the bracketologists ignore it as not being noteworthy. Another example of this is Chattanooga’s recent win at Mercer. Mercer is not in the top 100, but it is their only home loss, so the Mocs will probably get some credit for it.
Furthermore, when you look at the schools that have athletic directors on the committee, and look at how those teams scheduled, you start to notice something. Oklahoma went to Memphis and Hawai’i, LSU went to College of Charleston and Houston, Michigan State went to Oakland and to Northeastern, Stanford went to Saint Mary’s, and BYU went to Long Beach State. All those schools have ADs on the committee, and all those schools scheduled at least one road game against a team from outside the power conferences. That leads me to believe that this year’s committee is going to HEAVILY value road wins, even if those road wins came against teams that are outside the top 50/100, and came against teams from outside the power conferences.
Now, none of that is going to change what the Hoops HD staff committee does, but I do think it’s worth pointing out because this may be one of those years where the committee’s bracket looks a lot different than what most bracketologists were predicting. We’ve certainly seen that happen before.
OTHER NEWS AND NOTES
-Lot’s of bad things happened to teams with otherwise good profiles last night. Texas Tech, who is the definition of a home court hero, took down Iowa State in overtime. Iowa State is still healthy, and they still have a much better chance of ending up as a protected seed than not ending up as one, but it’s still a setback.
-Texas A&M, after being discussed as a potential #1 seed by some people, has now lost four of their last five. They fell at Alabama last night, which is a team with some good wins, but still not a tournament team and still the kind of team you would expect a protected seed to be able to beat on the road.
-Tulsa downed SMU. SMU is ineligible for the NCAA Tournament due to violations, and it’s nice to see a program like Tulsa that isn’t on probation, and a coach like Frank Haith who…….ummm……nevermind.
-Providence lost another game that you would expect them to win when they fell at Marquette last night in overtime. Providence has a game coming up at Xavier. Chances are they’ll win that one since it’s a game they’re not supposed to win. Providence is very schizophrenic this year, so they’re always worth watching. Some days they’ll beat the #1 team on the road, which they’ve done, and other days they’ll lose to DePaul, which they’ve done.
-Baylor picked up a nice road win at Kansas State, who appeared to be getting closer to the bubble, but now has a ton of work to do just to get into the discussion.
-Butler got a huge win at Seton Hall that they desperately needed. This evens their conference record and gives them a road win against a tournament caliber team, which are two things that they desperately needed to happen.
-Saint Joseph’s picked up what I think is easily their biggest win of the year with a road win at George Washington. I think this pushes Joe’s a little further inside the bubble, and perhaps pushes GW a little further outside of it. This followed a huge GW win at VCU over the weekend, so they may still be okay.
-Last, and least, San Diego State fell at Fresno State last night 58-57. This followed a game where they needed to sweat out New Mexico, as well as get the benefit of a really bad call in order to force overtime. If SDSU wins out from here on out they may still be okay, but they would be well advised to not lose any more games. Otherwise they’ll likely need the auto bid.
Speaking of least, the Mountain West can be credited for two of the worst calls I’ve seen all season. Last night Boise State hit a shot at the buzzer at Colorado State that clearly should have counted and won them the game, but it was waived off. The Broncos went on to lose in overtime.
-HOFSTRA AT WILLIAM & MARY (Colonial). William & Mary can still end up inside the bubble if they finish strong and end up as an outright first place finisher. They’re a game behind Wilmington, who’s also been playing really well. Their paper is strong enough to get them there, though.
-CONNECTICUT AT TEMPLE (American). Temple is outside our bubble, but despite having a weak resume they are actually within reach of it and can get there with a very strong finish. UConn is currently in our field, but they are hardly safe and could really use a notable road win like this.
-FLORIDA STATE AT SYRACUSE (ACC). Both teams are in our field, but both are also closer to being out than they are to being protected seeds, so this is a big game for both of them to add yet another quality win to their profile, and deny a quality win to a team that they’re competing against for a spot.
-VCU AT UMASS (Atlantic Ten). VCU is coming off a somewhat surprising loss from last weekend that wasn’t really damaging in and of itself, but if they follow that up with a loss to a UMass team that’s been awful this year, then their profile would take a rather significant plunge.
-ELON AT UNC WILMINGTON (Colonial). I don’t think Wilmington will have a strong enough case to make the NCAAs even if they win out, but they are currently the first place team in the Colonial, and a couple of the teams that are behind them, William & Mary in particular, could get inside the bubble if they’re able to pass Wilmington.
-CHATTANOOGA AT WESTERN CAROLINA (SoCon). We say it for just about every Mocs game, and we’ll say it again. Chattanooga should be safely inside the bubble if they win out. If they were to lose a game like this it would be very damaging.
-LITTLE ROCK AT LOUISIANA MONROE (Sun Belt). Little Rock continues to look like the best team that absolutely no one is talking about. I think they’re certainly deserving of being in the field if they win out through the regular season regardless of what happens in the SBC Tournament. This is the first of four road games for them. If they can win all four then hopefully someone in the media will notice (besides us), but probably won’t.
-NORTHERN KENTUCKY AT VALPARAISO (Horizon League). I think Valpo will be safe for a bid if they win out through the regular season. Anything short of that and they’ll probably need to win the conference tournament and get the automatic bid. Truthfully, Valpo is good enough to where they should be able to both win out and win the conference tourney.
-IOWA AT INDIANA (Big Ten). Indiana is solidly in the field and has a very bloated record, but for the most part it has been against decent but not great teams. Iowa, on the other hand, has several big wins away from home and is in the hunt for a #1 seed. This is the kind of game that #1 seeds are expected to win most of the time, so it will be another example of how they belong on the #1 line if the Hawkeyes pull it off.
-OREGON AT CALIFORNIA (Pac Twelve). Oregon looks to be the class of the Pac Twelve, and it wouldn’t shock me if they ended up as high as the #2 line. Cal has struggled on the road and still has work to do, but at home they’ve been solid. This should be a fun match up.
-WASHINGTON STATE AT COLORADO (Pac Twelve). Colorado appears to be safe right now, and they’ll remain that way so long as they don’t slip up in games like this.
-PEPPERDINE AT SAINT MARY’S (West Coast). I have Saint Mary’s outside the bubble, but I realize that the real committee will likely value them more than that. They’ve played a bunch of cupcakes when compared to the rest of the field. Tonight is yet another example of that, and they cannot afford to lose it.
-GONZAGA AT PORTLAND (West Coast). I think the Zags are fine for a bid so long as they win out.
-OREGON STATE AT STANFORD (Pac Twelve). Oregon State is on the outside looking in, and the one thing that they desperately need is road wins. If they can pick up some wins in games like this then they have a really good chance.