Monday, January 30, 2006

NCAA Tournament projections (week of Jan 30)

The last week has shed quite a bit of light on the college basketball season. Teams like Seton Hall and Temple had big weeks while other teams like Louisville and Wake Forest played their way out of the "projected" tournament field. I made a few changes to my "projected" automatic bids for the weaker conferences. I also added Seton Hall, S. Illinois, Arkansas and California to the at-large teams. They replaced Louisville, Wake Forest, Iowa St., and Missouri St.

Here are the changes I made to the projected automatic bid winners:

MAAC Iona replaces Manhattan
Atl. Sun Lipscomb replaces E. Tenn St.
Northeast C. Connecticut St. replaces Sacred Heart
MCC IUPUI replaces Oral Roberts
MAC Akron replaces Kent St.


Here is how I view the field right now (in no particular order):

1 ACC Duke
2 SEC Florida
3 Big East UCONN
4 Big 12 Texas
5 Big Ten Illinois
6 Pac-10 Washington
7 MVC N. Iowa
8 MWC Air Force
9 WAC Nevada
10 A-10 Xavier
11 Colonial George Mason
12 MAC Akron
13 WCC Gonzaga
14 C-USA Memphis
15 Sun Belt W. Kentucky
16 Horizon Wisconsin-Mil.
17 MAAC Iona
18 Big Sky Montana
19 MCC IUPUI
20 Big West UC-Irvine
21 OVC Samford
22 Ivy Penn
23 Southern Davidson
24 Patriot Bucknell
25 Southland Northwestern St.
26 Northeast C. Connecticut St.
27 AEC Albany
28 Big South Winthrop
29 Atl. Sun Lipscomb
30 SWAC Southern
31 MEAC Delaware St.
32 At-Large Seton Hall
33 At-Large Syracuse
34 At-Large Villanova
35 At-Large Pittsburgh
36 At-Large W. Virginia
37 At-Large Cincinnati
38 At-Large Marquette
39 At-Large Georgetown
40 At-Large NC State
41 At-Large Boston College
42 At-Large N. Carolina
43 At-Large Maryland
44 At-Large California
45 At-Large MSU
46 At-Large Indiana
47 At-Large Michigan
48 At-Large Ohio St.
49 At-Large Wisconsin
50 At-Large Iowa
51 At-Large Kentucky
52 At-Large Tennessee
53 At-Large LSU
54 At-Large Vanderbilt
55 At-Large Oklahoma
56 At-Large Kansas
57 At-Large Colorado
58 At-Large Arkansas
59 At-Large Arizona
60 At-Large UCLA
61 At-Large UAB
62 At-Large GW
63 At-Large Wichita St.
64 At-Large Creighton
65 At-Large S. Illinois

I haven't listed the 65 teams in order yet. I'll start doing that in a few weeks. The field that I have "projected" now assumes that there are no upsets in the conference tournaments. There could be anywhere from 5-10 teams that make the tournament who wouldn't have otherwise made it just from the conference tournaments alone. That would push five of my "projected" teams out of the field. Come conference tournament time, the last two or three teams that I have in the tourney will probably get pushed out by upsets.

The last five teams in the tourney right now:

1. California

The Bears are easily the worst team that I have in the tournament field right now. Nonetheless, their 6-3 conference record could easily reach 9-3 with three easy conference games in a row. The Pac-10 will almost certainly get four bids to the tournament. UCLA, Washington, and Arizona will be three of those teams. Cal or Stanford will be the fourth. Both will likely finish with a +.500 record in the conference but only one will make it. As average as Cal's resume is, Stanford's is even worse.

RPI rating: 72
Pomeroy rating: 56

Quality wins: UCLA, Washington, Akron, San Diego St.

Bad losses: @ Eastern Michigan, Oregon St.

2. Seton Hall

I didn't even have Seton Hall on my "waiting in the wings" list last week. The Pirates were 10-6 with no marquee wins. They were 1-3 in a loaded conference. Throw in the fact that they lost by 53 to Duke and Seton Hall seemed out of luck. That was before this week. No team has made a bigger one-week jump in terms of tournament chances than Seton Hall. They beat N. Carolina St. and Syracuse on the road to improve to 12-6 (3-3). If Seton Hall can just beat the bad teams left on the schedule, they should make the tournament.

RPI rating: 39
Pomeroy rating: 40

Quality wins: @ NC State, @ Syracuse, Manhattan, Iona

Bad losses: @ Richmond, Northwestern


3. Arkansas

Arkansas pulled the choke-job of all choke-jobs yesterday at Kentucky. A win would've pretty much sealed the Razorback's tourney fate. They were up by 18 before falling apart in the second half. It would've been such a disappointment to watch had I not known it was coming. Despite its best efforts to ruin its tourney hopes, I think Arkansas had done enough to date to merit a selection. Arkansas has beaten an impressive array of teams while limiting "bad losses" to just one. How the rest of the season plays out remains to be seen but if Arkansas can finish 9-7 in the SEC, they will probably get in.

RPI rating: 58
Pomeroy rating: 41

Quality wins: Kansas (neutral site), Missouri St., Vanderbilt

Bad losses: Mississippi St.


4. Colorado

The Buffaloes are quite possibly the luckiest team in college basketball this season. They are the antithesis of Notre Dame which is by far the unluckiest team. Check the bottom of the post for more on Notre Dame's unlucky season. Colorado has exactly zero impressive wins. They've played two "good" teams this year and lost by more than ten in both games. Fortunately for Colorado, they play in the weak Big XII conference where they get a healthy dose of Nebraska, Baylor, Texas A & M, Texas Tech, and Kansas St. among others. That's why the Buffaloes are 15-3 with an RPI lower than St. Joseph's which stands at 9-8. Barring a major disaster, Colorado will make the tournament.

RPI rating: 47
Pomeroy rating: 18

Quality wins: None

Bad losses: @ Colorado St.

5. Wichita St.

I think it's time people start arguing on behalf of the Missouri Valley Conference in a more vocal manner. This conference is definitely making a run at being considered a "major" in college basketball. The MVC has six teams in the RPI top 55. The conference has wins over Iowa, Indiana, LSU, and Xavier just to name a few. The MVC rates ahead of the Pac-10 and just percentage points behind the Big XII in the RPI. Of the top four teams in the MVC, Wichita St. probably has the least impressive resume. They don't have any marquee victories but they've beaten quality opponents without suffering any bad losses. Wichita St. should manage to rack up enough wins to make the tournament assuming the MVC gets the proper respect from the selection committee.

RPI rating: 23
Pomeroy rating:26

Quality wins:@ Bradley, @ Missouri St., Bradley, Missouri St., Northwestern St., Providence, Miami (OH)


Bad losses: none


The teams waiting in the wings:


1. Iowa St.

It would be unfortunate to see Iowa St's impressive wins over N. Iowa and Iowa go to waste but it appears as though that could be the case. Iowa St. stands at 3-4 in the Big XII with bad conference losses to Texas Tech and Texas A & M. If the Cyclones can't beat those teams, then they don't have much of a chance at finishing above .500 in the conference. They have a relatively easy stretch of games coming up. If they can get to .500 in conference, they might get a bid since the Big XII is short on tournament-deserving teams.

RPI rating: 57
Pomeroy rating: 65

Quality wins: N. Iowa, Iowa, Northwestern St. (neutral site)

Bad losses: Fresno St., Texas Tech, Texas A & M

2. Missouri St.

Missouri St. has the computer ratings to get into the tournament but they don't have the quality wins to merit a selection. They have one win in the RPI top 100 which is a very low number. This team is good enough to win the MVC conference tournament but an at-large bid is probably out of reach unless Missouri St. finishes on a big winning streak.

RPI rating: 41
Pomeroy rating: 48

Quality wins: S. Illinois

Bad losses: none

3. Temple

Temple did its best Seton Hall impersonation this week by catapulting onto the tournament bubble. The Owls were left for dead with a terrible loss to Auburn. However, Don Chaney's crew has won two straight over top 50 teams in Maryland and Xavier. If the Owls can finish 11-5 in the A-10, I think they'll get a bid. However, that means they'll have to go 7-2 in their last nine conference games. I'm not holding my breath.

RPI rating: 38
Pomeroy rating: 76

Quality wins: Miami (FL), Alabama, Xavier, Maryland

Bad losses: Auburn, Massachusetts

4. Bradley

Bradley doesn't have Missouri St's combination of computer rating and record, but I would argue that Bradley has a better set of wins. Bradley could easily win its next four games which would put them among the best bubble teams. If Bradley can finish 18-8, they might just make the tournament.

RPI rating: 55
Pomeroy rating: 43

Quality wins: @ DePaul, W. Kentucky, N. Iowa, Creighton, Missouri St.

Bad losses: @ Loyola Chicago, @ Butler, @ Drake


5. Louisville

The Cardinals are finding out why it was crazy to leave Conference USA. What were they thinking? They would have easily made the tournament with a #5 seed this season if they had just stayed in Conference USA. Memphis certainly isn't griping about anything. Louisville has the players to make a run but the Big East is just too difficult. S. Florida is the only easy out on the schedule and even they have been playing teams tough lately. It would take a miracle for Louisville to turn the season around.

RPI rating: 65
Pomeroy rating: 46

Quality wins: Akron, Miami (FL) (neutral site), @ Providence, Cincinnati

Bad losses: @ St. John's



6 Old Dominion
7 NC Wilmington
8 Stanford
9 Rutgers
10 Miami (FL)
11 Utah St.
12 FSU
13 USC
14 St. Joe's
15 Alabama
16 Kent St.
17 Manhattan


My guess is that Stanford or California will make the tournament. I'm also guessing that the Big XII would get a fifth team as long as that team finishes at .500 in conference. Iowa St. is really the only team that could grab the fifth spot. Alabama and Arkansas look to be battling for the last SEC spot. St. Joseph's and Temple have such high computer ratings that if either goes on a big winning streak, they could easily get an at-large bid despite their current records. Old Dominion has good computer ratings but they don't have a very impressive resume. As inconsistent as Seton Hall has been, it will be hard for them to stay afloat in the Big East. At this point, I'm guessing that either Seton Hall, Rutgers or Louisville will make the tournament. That would give the Big East nine teams.

Here is a breakdown of conferences with multiple bids (in no particular order):

ACC (5)
Duke
NC State
Boston College
N. Carolina
Maryland


SEC (6)
Florida
Kentucky
LSU
Tennessee
Vanderbilt
Arkansas

Big East (9)
UCONN
Syracuse
Villanova
Pittsburgh
W. Virginia
Cincinnati
Marquette
Georgetown
Seton Hall

Big 12 (4)
Texas
Oklahoma
Kansas
Colorado


Big Ten (7)
Illinois
MSU
Indiana
Michigan
Ohio St.
Wisconsin
Iowa

Pac-10 (4)
Washington
Arizona
UCLA
California

C-USA (2)
Memphis
UAB

A-10 (2)
Xavier
GW

MVC (4)
N. Iowa
Creighton
Wichita St.
S. Illinois


Poor Notre Dame

Notre Dame is a solid team. You wouldn't know it from its record but the Irish can play with anyone. The problem is that they can't beat anyone. Notre Dame is 10-8 on the season. Seven of those losses have come to teams in the RPI top 32. Here is how some of those games turned out:

Michigan 71 Notre Dame 67
Pittsburgh 100 Notre Dame 97 (2 OT)
DePaul 73 Notre Dame 67
Syracuse 88 Notre Dame 82
Marquette 67 Notre Dame 65
Georgetown 85 Notre Dame 82 (2 OT)
Villanova 82 Notre Dame 80

The question now is, since Notre Dame didn't manage to beat anyone, will any of these teams be able to claim Notre Dame as a "quality win" in the eyes of the selection committee? Notre Dame's RPI is a paltry 99. Unfortunately for these teams, Notre Dame's season was so unlucky that even the teams that beat them will get nothing for their efforts.

1 comment:

Lombaowski said...

Football season is still going for some of us. I'll get into college basketball more after but nice info here. GO SEAHAWKS!

 

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