Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Bubble Look: Kentucky vs. Cincinnati

I am still of the belief that Cincinnati makes the tournament if they can win their last two games and make the quarterfinals of the Big East (they'd have to likely beat Depaul and either Providence, Syracuse or WVU to do that...the Providence game if that happens would likely be an elimination game). I am still a little baffled by how anyone can distinguish between the resume of say Kentucky and Cincinnati and put UK on top. The obvious answer is right now Kentucky beat 4 teams in most projected tournament brackets while Cincinnati only beat two... But let’s look closer and the wins are not very different.

For both teams their best win is WVU, though it is a better win for UK because it is on a neutral site.

They both have sweeps against two fading teams who have played great schedules and have strong RPI numbers in Georgetown for UC and Tennessee for UK (I know Georgetown and Tennessee are on opposite sides of the bubble, but their profiles do not differ too much)
The Bearcats win over UNLV on the road is a better win that Kentucky's home win over Florida.
The main difference in the teams is who the have lost to. Kentucky's worse losses are VMI, Ole Miss, Mississippi State (whom UC smoked), Vandy and twice to a South Carolina team with one top 50 RPI win (Kentucky was smoked by South Carolina in their second meeting).
The Bearcats two worse losses are getting swept by Providence which is comparable to the sweep of UK by South Carolina. Other than that their losses are to top 25 teams. (And for the most part top 15)... UCONN, Pitt, Louisville, Villanova, Marquette, Syracuse, Xavier, Memphis and Florida State. That is a murders row of games.
So UK and Cincinnati essentially have the same wins, but Kentucky has way worse losses... The quality of teams it has taken to beat Cincinnati this year is infinitely better than the teams it has taken to beat UK.
I know this is just one example...One side by side comparison, but to me it is a good one. In the end every single Cincinnati loss could be to an NCAA team. How many bubble teams in the country can make that claim?

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