Blog Entry

Mar. 1 Bracket - Welcome to the Madness

Posted on: March 1, 2011 12:51 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2011 6:09 pm
by Jerry Palm

There has been another change at the top of the bracket this week as the top of the field continues to play its way backwards.  BYU takes over for San Diego State on the top line for now, but may have to win out to keep it.

Of course, other contenders continue to fall away.  Texas once looked like a strong candidate for a top seed, but has lost twice since Friday's bracket.  They blew a 22-point lead at Colorado on Saturday, then Kansas State came back on them at home Monday night (although from not nearly as large a hole).  Combine that with the loss at Nebraska the previous week and it looks like the Longhorns are trying to play the whole middle of the Big 12 into the field.  That's good news for Baylor, who plays them this weekend.

The result is that the Longhorns find themselves as a 3-seed today, while Notre Dame moves up to the second line.  Both the Irish and red-hot Purdue have chances to challenge for top seeds, but probably need to win out and get help.

Meanwhile, Kansas State has won five in a row, including it's three biggest wins of the year, and has played itself right off the bubble.

Virginia Tech also picked up its biggest win so far when it beat Duke on Saturday.  Despite the screaming of the TV commentators that the Hokies are now a lock, that's not true.  They can't go on a three-game losing streak from here and expect to get in.

Arizona had a rough week in LA, losing to both USC and UCLA, and dropping into a tie with the Bruins for first place in the Pac 10.  The Wildcats have done little of substance away from home.  Their only top 50 RPI wins came over UCLA and Washington, both in Tucson.  Poll voters still love them for their gaudy record, but they look like a middle of the bracket team.

I get a lot of question about team's selection or seeding that go something like this "My team is ahead of this other team in the conference standings, so why are they seeded lower?"

The answer is that conference standings (and conference record by itself) are not at all relevant to the selection and seeding process.  Conference standings don't matter in part because so many leagues play unbalanced schedules.  Seriously -- is there anything less meaningful than the Big East standings?  And the other thing about conference performance is that it is only about two-thirds of a team's entire profile, and teams are judged on their entire body of work, not just conference play.

So, I have Old Dominion ahead of George Mason in the bracket because the Monarchs' non-conference performance makes up for a two-game deficit in the Colonial standings.  They have a non-conference wins over Xavier, Richmond, Clemson and Cleveland State.   Mason's only non-conference win of any substance came over Harvard at home.  In fact, Mason's best away-from-home win of the season came at VCU.   ODU beat both Xavier and Clemson on neutral courts.  So, I see a slight overall edge to ODU.

The extreme case of this is Alabama, which is 11-3 in the SEC at the moment and has clinched the West division title, but still isn't close to an at-large bid.  Their non-conference performance was so bad that a gaudy league record hasn't been able to wipe it away.  Of course, it doesn't help that the rest of the West stinks and that accounts for most of the Tide's conference schedule.

I'll have more in the Bubble Watch later today.

See complete Bracketology coverage here.


Since: Mar 11, 2008
Posted on: March 2, 2011 9:16 pm

Mar. 1 Bracket - Welcome to the Madness

What if Syracuse wins the Big East Tournament. They would have a 29-6 record and have more good wins then anyone in the country with 9 wins over top 25 teams. I dont think its to out of the question

Since: Oct 29, 2009
Posted on: March 2, 2011 6:13 pm

Mar. 1 Bracket - Welcome to the Madness

Willing to put your money(if you have any)where your mouth is???...I didn't think so!!!!.....

Since: Apr 4, 2008
Posted on: March 2, 2011 5:20 pm

Mar. 1 Bracket - Welcome to the Madness

%uckeyes will be the first #1 seed to ever lose in the tourney. OVERRATED

Since: Nov 10, 2006
Posted on: March 2, 2011 2:43 pm

Mar. 1 Bracket - Welcome to the Madness

"The answer is that conference standings (and conference record by itself) are not at all relevant to the selection and seeding process.  Conference standings don't matter in part because so many leagues play unbalanced schedules."

You know you're not very credible, don't you?  If "Bracket projections are always based on 'as if the tournament started today'", then conference standings are very relevant to your process.  It represents a team's most recent production and, as you noted, two-thirds of their total schedule.  The only factor that may be more relevant to the selection process is a team's showing in their conference tournament which a) you can't predict and b) is usually related to their conference standing which, in turn, determines conference tournament seeding.  

"I am not predicting how teams will finish the season."  If you want to be honest, then you'd agree that, by the first of March, conference standings are more relevant than a team's production in some tournament in Kansas City or Alaska back in November. 

"Seriously -- is there anything less meaningful than the Big East standings?"  Oh, now you're talking about The Conference with the teams that won most of those tournaments back in November.  Well, let's see how the BE standings compare to your "seeding process":

1 Pitt (Palm #1); 2 ND (#2); 3 'Ville (#5); 4 SJU (#4); 5 Orange (#3); 6 Georgetown (#4); 7 Cincy (#7), UConn (#3), WVU (#6), Marquette (#10); 11 'Nova (#7)

It appears to me that, except for the fact that you have the 3rd place team seeded below the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th place teams, the BE standings stand for a lot to you.  Regardless, do you follow basketball enough to know that Louisville beat St. John's (by 25) and Syracuse and only lost at Georgetown by 3 (without three injured key players)?  Is it "at all relevant" that you have Louisville two seeds below UConn despite the fact the Cards swept UConn (although they had to go to OT to win at UConn two days before losing by a basket to the Hoyas- but hey, no one's perfect).

This is not at all intended to bash any of the other teams from the BE; you're the one who asked the question, however.  Besides,  I know UConn is good (beat Mich St and UK on neutral sites and won @Texas).  But what exactly does San Diego State have to show for their 28-2 record?!?!?!?  

Your seed for Louisville is a glaring error and you have no plausible explanation for it- except for the fact that none of this matters.

Since: Mar 2, 2011
Posted on: March 2, 2011 11:22 am

Mar. 1 Bracket - Welcome to the Madness

I know One "Great Team"... They have the National player of the year on it. His name is Jared Sullinger and his team is "THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY.."

Since: Oct 6, 2006
Posted on: March 2, 2011 11:18 am

Mar. 1 Bracket - Welcome to the Madness

"Is there anything more meaningless than the Big East standings?"

Yes. Why do we even have weekly polls in college basketball? They have NO bearing on the tournament selection (at least as far as I know) and seem to only serve as eye-candy week in and week out.

Remember Texas last year? Ranked No. 1 and 17-0? How'd that work out?

At least in the BCS system in college football, the polls have an effect on the standings. I've yet to understand why we continue to have the AP and coaches' poll. Keep the RPI, but ditch the polls.

Since: Jul 24, 2007
Posted on: March 1, 2011 9:18 pm

Mar. 1 Bracket - Welcome to the Madness

Nueron, I have news for you, if any team goes cold, they will get beat. It's the way it works. BYU is a good team and deserve the respect they are getting right now. If you've got issues with that, you've got issues. The Big 10 and Least play very physical ball, but if the zebra's don't allow them to bully their opponents around, they'll stand a better chance at advancing in the tourney. If the game is called tight, those teams with shooters and play with finesse, will win. It's a pretty simple formula. However, if your team or any other team shoots 30% or lower, they will get beat.  It doesn't matter what conference they are from.
Another point I'm curious about, who are these "great" teams you mentioned? I don't know of a team in the NCAA's that is great this year.

Since: Mar 8, 2008
Posted on: March 1, 2011 7:41 pm

Mar. 1 Bracket - Welcome to the Madness

You are totally clueless

Since: Nov 6, 2006
Posted on: March 1, 2011 7:02 pm

Mar. 1 Bracket - Welcome to the Madness

I'm a BYU fan but the eyeball test tells me BYU shouldn't get a 1 seed. The paper numbers look strong but BYU's schedule is constructed perfectly for a good RPI. They played a lot of good teams but very few great teams. It works out with their resume that BYU won't lose to a team that isn't good but how would they do consistently against great competition? The UCLA game really showed that if BYU goes cold from the outside that they can really be muscled by athletic teams. A lot of Big East and Big 12 teams can't shoot (Cincy I'm especially talking about you... damn I picked them to beat Uconn and they shot nothing but bricks), but the size and physicality of those teams would wear on BYU if they were having an off night shooting. Simply put you won't shoot well every night and if BYU was in the Big East I'm sure they would have a handful of losses (at least). I think BYU will probably get a two seed if they win out and if they stay in the West region that's all they can ask for. I think it's better psychologically for them to get a 2 seed anyway. A 1 seed and an early exit would certainly hang over the program for a while.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or