Blog Entry

Committee faces hard task with this year's bubble

Posted on: March 9, 2012 2:07 am
Edited on: March 9, 2012 12:46 pm
The NCAA tournament selection committee has a tough task ahead when evaluating this year's bubble teams. (

By Jeff Borzello

Selection Sunday is always unpredictable, but this year will see even more questionable choices and inconsistency among the selections. This season, though, it might not be the committee’s fault – there’s just no easy way to sort through this season’s bubble teams.

Aside from the fact the majority of them are playing themselves out of the field and have mediocre resumes when compared to past groups, there are so many bubble teams that have nothing in common. There is no singular way to stack up this group of resumes and get a consistent pecking order. Everyone will have a different way to stack up the teams this year, and everyone will focus on a different variable. What makes this season so difficult? Let’s take a look at the biggest issues facing the committee this season.

Middling majors vs. non-BCS champs: This is going to be one that is debated by everyone until the moment the selections are made – and then for the following 24 hours after the show. Championship week turned several of the top mid-major champions into tournament casualties, specifically Oral Roberts, Iona, Drexel and Middle Tennessee. All four have exceptional records and solid overall resumes, but they will all be sweating on Selection Sunday. On the other side, we have a long list of power-conference teams that struggled throughout conference play but picked up a good win here and there. That list includes Miami (Fl.), Northwestern, North Carolina State, Seton Hall, West Virginia, Texas, Mississippi State and others. Which will the committee value more? Consistency throughout the season but no marquee wins? Or a few top-50 victories but inconsistency overall?

Injuries/Missed games: It seems that there are more injuries, suspensions or other special circumstances involving key players on bubble teams that will complicate selection than ever before. Here’s a small sampling:

  • Miami (Fl.): Reggie Johnson, Garrius Adams, DeQuan Jones
  • North Carolina State: C.J. Leslie
  • Xavier: Tu Holloway, Dezmine Wells, Mark Lyons
  • Ole Miss: Murphy Holloway
  • Drexel: Chris Fouch, Derrick Thomas
  • Tennessee: Jarnell Stokes
  • Long Beach State: Larry Anderson
  • Washington: C.J. Wilcox
  • BYU: Matt Carlino, Noah Hartsock, Stephen Rogers
  • Northwestern: Jershon Cobb
  • South Florida: Anthony Collins, Augustus Gilchrist, Jawanza Poland
  • Oregon: Devoe Joseph
  • Arizona: Kevin Parrom
  • Dayton: Josh Benson

Which injuries will the committee weigh more than others? Are big wins when key players were out still viewed the same way? There are plenty of interesting considerations when looking at these injuries.

Pac-12: The Pac-12 has been its own complication this season. It had arguably the worst season any major conference has had in decades, and therefore is going to be difficult for the committee to evaluate. Moreover, for the first time, the Pac-12 had an unbalanced schedule, meaning Washington’s 14-4 record isn’t the same as the 13-5 record with which California or Oregon finished. If the committee views the Pac-12 as the ninth or 10th best conference in the country, a gaudy record won’t matter much. If it views the league as a “big six” conference, a regular-season title would carry plenty of weight. Moreover, would the committee really only give the Pac-12 one bid if California wins the tournament? That’s the way things seem to be headed.

Washington: The Huskies can be grouped with the Pac-12 category, as they will be the main beneficiary of the committee viewing the conference as a “big six” league. Washington has yet to beat an NCAA tournament team, but it won the outright regular-season title at 14-4. Would the selection committee really turn down the winner of a traditional power conference that boasts so much talent?

Tennessee: The Volunteers are going to be an interesting test for the committee, due to the fact they finished with the No. 2 seed in the SEC tournament and have beat some quality teams. Moreover, the availability of Jarnell Stokes will have a major effect on Tennessee’s resume. The Volunteers were 10-5 with him in the lineup, and just 8-8 without him. However, the overall profile still isn’t good and Tennessee’s two wins over Florida came with Stokes playing a combined 11 minutes.

South Florida: If the Bulls get into the field, the committee will point to its 12 Big East wins and quarterfinal appearance in the conference tournament. If the Bulls are left out, they can point to the one top-50 win and terrible non-conference season. Either way, the committee is right (and wrong, depending on what you were hoping for). With the Big East having an unbalanced schedule, South Florida didn’t have to go through a murderers’ row to reach 12 wins. With that said, 12 wins in the Big East is still 12 wins in the Big East. Except when it’s not. How will the committee see it?

Xavier: The Musketeers have a decent resume overall, but it’s clear the various suspensions of Tu Holloway, Mark Lyons and Dezmine Wells played a major part in the midseason slump. Xavier was 0-1 without Holloway, 0-2 without Lyons and 1-3 without Wells. Take away that stretch in the Musketeers’ resume, and it’s likely an at-large profile. Will the committee completely remove those few games, though?

Drexel: The Dragons won 19 games in a row, won the CAA regular-season title outright and were playing some of the best basketball in the country late in the season. With that said, they lost to VCU in the CAA title game and don’t have the profile that would historically get an at-large bid. Of course, this season is nothing like past seasons. This profile could go back to the mid-major champs vs. middling majors argument. The Dragons will be a great test case.

Dayton: The Flyers are not getting the same at-large attention as some other teams, but that would change with a quarterfinal win over Xavier on Friday night. The computer profile is terrible, with an RPI in the 70s, and there are four sub-100 losses on the resume. On the plus side, Dayton has wins over Temple, Saint Louis, Alabama, Xavier and Ole Miss. They are 8-7 against the top 100. Then there was the season-ending injury to Josh Benson in late December. Lots of good, lots of bad. Which will the committee weigh more?

Lack of similar resumes: This could be the biggest problem the committee faces this season. There’s simply no way to compare the resumes of say, Iona and Seton Hall. One took advantage of the plethora of top-50 chances and scalped a few key wins, while the other beat nearly everyone in front of them but suffered bad losses in conference play. How can the committee look at Northwestern and its 1-10 top-50 record and say without a doubt that it’s better or worse than Oral Roberts’ 1-2 slate vs. the top 50? There are teams with no bad losses, and teams with four bad losses. There are teams with bad RPIs but good wins, and others with good RPIs but no good wins.

Each committee member will value one or two categories more than the others; collecting so many different opinions with this year’s batch of bubble teams is going to be make it completely unpredictable. 

Category: NCAAB

Since: Oct 7, 2008
Posted on: March 9, 2012 1:35 pm

Committee faces hard task with this year's bubble

The Big Six bubble teams this year are exceptionally weak. The PAC-None should be exactly that that, AQ only, and the number of bubble teams in the Big Six with losing conferences records is very large. A large part of the excitement of the Big Dance is the competition between the Mid-Majors and the so-called power conferences. The more of these contests that are on offer, the better. Since 2006 George Mason, VCU, and Butler, two years in a row, have reached the Final 4 with Butler reaching the finals in both of their appearances. There is no logical or legitimate reason to take mediocre teams from the power conferences over the Mid-Majors with far superior records but in the big money world of corrupt college athletics nobody ever said logic, or even honesty, was a part of the power conferences thinking.

Since: May 17, 2007
Posted on: March 9, 2012 1:31 pm

Committee faces hard task with this year's bubble

I lean a little toward the argument that says injury should be low on the criteria to judge team talent.
The problem with that is ... a university program doesn't exactly have a farm system (one wonders at Duke) ... so if a top player is out for any reason, depending on the player, it's a big deal. There's only so much a team/coach can do when the bench gets tested, essentially, down 2 more spots.

Suspensions: Depends on the offense.  Don't reward teams because they have players with bad attitudes.


Since: May 17, 2007
Posted on: March 9, 2012 1:23 pm

Committee faces hard task with this year's bubble

Like 'em or don't, UConn's reputation will soil the underwear of the selection committee, whose job is partially to make sure that the East Coast television viewers have a reason to tune in. Clue this: Most people in New England do not want to see Creighton or South Dakota State.

The Huskies are also defending champion, so they should get a chance to defend -- if they earned it somewhere along the way. Debatably, they are still as good as George Mason ever was and would probably beat Creighton 2 out of 4.

There is "fair" in all this and there is "reality" in all this. UConn falls somewhere in a gray area.

Since: Aug 19, 2006
Posted on: March 9, 2012 1:15 pm

Committee faces hard task with this year's bubble

If UCONN is an 8 or 9 seed, I wouldn't want to be the #1 that has to play them in the second round.
If they get in, they won't be an 8 or 9 seed. They're the quintessential "last in" 12-seed, and will be in a play-in game if they're selected.

Since: Aug 19, 2006
Posted on: March 9, 2012 1:12 pm

Committee faces hard task with this year's bubble

I'm going to go against my instincts and agree with MikeSyr for the second time this week - UConn is not a tourney team. That said, I think they'll get in because they're UConn, but they've not beaten a team of note in months, and they've had plenty of chances. I don't think Northwestern should get in either, though I'd like to see it (always like to see teams make their first tourney appearance).

Of the rest, Drexel for sure should be in, as they lost their conference final to another great team that was in last year's Final 4. So should Xavier, esp. if Cincinnati is in. South Florida is the luckiest team of the field, with BE affiliation while playing mostly the bottom half of the league with is no better than any mid-major. Pac-12 should be a 1-bid league, but my guess is they get 3 in.

Since: Oct 9, 2008
Posted on: March 9, 2012 12:57 pm

Committee faces hard task with this year's bubble

Xavier was 0-1 without Holloway, 0-2 without Lyons and 1-3 without Wells. Take away that stretch in the Musketeers’ resume, and it’s likely an at-large profile
Sorry but Cincinnati had suspensions to more players and for longer and won! No way can they take away those games for their involvement since they have to be responsible for their own actions.

Cincinnati was missing a starter for the X game and the two previous losses. Should they take away those too and seed them lower? Maybe...but from every bracket I've noticed they haven't and are seeding them extremely high!   


Since: Dec 1, 2006
Posted on: March 9, 2012 12:55 pm

Committee faces hard task with this year's bubble

I will say this.. and someone on the radio (don't know who) agreed with me.. if the selection committee considers an "injury" or "Suspension" of a player when regarding a team... that's a bad selection criteria.  

But what would have happened if that suspended/injured player were NOT hurt and they just had a Bad game??   in effect, the injury/suspension consideration is POTENTIALLY (Not likely, but potentially) rewarding a team because the player didn't have that POSSIBILITY of that occurring, not because of what did happen.

Since: May 17, 2007
Posted on: March 9, 2012 12:51 pm

Committee faces hard task with this year's bubble

I tend to not call people names just because they have an opinion.
Seeing as how they haven't played the NCAAs yet and the discussion is about who actually gets in, maybe just say you don't agree with him. You probably don't agree with me either, which is OK, but I don't think you are a dumbass because of it.

Since: Sep 28, 2008
Posted on: March 9, 2012 12:45 pm

Committee faces hard task with this year's bubble

Would you honestly not call somebody a dumbass for making such a stupid statement?

Since: May 17, 2007
Posted on: March 9, 2012 12:42 pm

Committee faces hard task with this year's bubble

You are easily the biggest dumbass on this board. 

So, again, we can't discuss this like real people. What a shame.

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