Sunday, March 14, 2010

Final Bracket Selection Sunday

It's time to take a look at my final bracket which unfortunately I have to put out before all the games have been played. As of right now my four 1 seeds are (in this order):


The top three will stay exactly as is no matter what happens today. WVU will certainly be the 4th 1 seed if Duke loses, but I think they should be if Duke wins. WVU has 5 top 25 RPI wins to Duke's 1. WVU is 7-4 in true road games, Duke is 5-5. Their numbers against the top 50 are similar but again WVU's games against the top 50 came against better teams than Duke's. To me WVU clearly has the strong resume.

My number 2 seeds are as follows (in this order):

Ohio State
Kansas State

There is a big dropoff between Kansas State and Villanova. There are a bunch of teams with very similar resumes Villanova that could very well get the last 2 seed instead. The forth 2 seed will be a difficult decision (Pitt would be a likely candidate to take their spot).

I will say this has been a very difficult year to find tournament caliber at large teams. I have Minnesota and Illinois in where I have seen many of them either on the edge or out. These teams actually have quality wins over tournament teams...something really lacking from the resumes of UTEP, Cal, Mississippi State and Utah State... and something Florida, VT, and Seton Hall do not have to that level. Judging by who they beat I don't really understand how there is any question that Illinois and Minnesota should be in over all of those teams. (but if I was shown to be wrong...well I wouldn't be shocked)

So that being said I have three spots open... and they will come down to these eight teams:

Virginia Tech
Mississippi State
Utah State
Seton Hall
William and Mary

Yes I have UTEP at the bottom of that list. UTEP did not beat a tournament team all season long. Their best wins are over Memphis and UAB... to me that is not an NCAA tournament team. I would not be surprised if I am wrong. I would not be surprised if they got in, but to me they have not demonstrated they are an NCAA team.

I will tell you right now... I will be very proud of the committee if they reward Seton Hall and William and Mary over Cal and Mississippi State. Seton Hall's losses nearly all came against top notch teams and has 4 wins over tournament teams. William and Mary has true road wins over Wake Forest and Minnesota (in their limited opportunities). That is strong. In a normal year they would not stand a chance. I think it would be cool if they were rewarded over mediocre teams like Cal and Mississippi State. Cal has 1 win over a tournament team this year. Mississippi State has not been much better.

I feel like I could be wrong on any of my last three and still be fine with the job the committee did. If they do not put Minnesota or Illinois in the tournament I think they will be going against their stated criteria of playing and beating tournament teams. That's why I am fairly confident those teams will get in.

Anyways..this is the least sure I have ever been when predicting the bracket and it is definitely because of the relative weakness at the end of the bracket.

A few procedural things before I show my final bracket. I had to swap Texas and Florida State on the S curve so that Texas could not draw Kansas in the second round and so that Florida State would not play Clemson in round 1. I swapped Texas A&M and Wake Forest to avoid multiple bracket issues. In my bracket today ND was the last 9 seed and Georgia Tech was the top 10 seed. I swapped them to avoid ND getting WVU in the second round and Georgia Tech drawing Duke in round 2. Lastly I swapped Pitt and New Mexico to avoid a Pitt/Villanova sweet 16 match-up. This is not a mandatory change by bracketing rules, but the committee does its best to avoid having high seeds from the same conference on the same side of a region. It was an easy switch so I made it.

That being said here is my final bracket (again Conference Champions in BOLD):

Midwest Regional (St Louis)

1. Kansas
16. Winthrop

8. Marquette
9. Florida State

4. Purdue
13. Houston

5. Tennessee
12. Murray State

2. Villanova
15. North Texas

7. Gonzaga
10. Illinois

3. New Mexico
14. Montana

6. Richmond
11. Illinois

West Regional (Salt Lake City)

1. West Virginia
16. Vermont

9. Georgia Tech

4. Temple
13. Ohio

5. Michigan State
12. Virginia Tech

2. Duke
15. East Tennessee State

7. Texas A&M
10. Notre Dame

3. Vanderbilt
14. Oakland

6. Oklahoma State
11. Old Dominion

South Regional (Houston)

1. Syracuse
16. Lehigh/Arkansas Pine-Bluff (Play in Game)

8. Missouri
9. St Mary's

4. Baylor
13. New Mexico State

5. BYU
12. Mississippi State

2. Ohio State
15. UCSB

7. Wake Forest
10. San Diego State

3. Georgetown
14. Wofford

6. Maryland
11. Cal

East Regional (Syracuse)

1. Kentucky
16. Robert Morris

8. Clemson
9. Texas

4. Butler
13. Siena

5. Xavier
12. Cornell

2. Kansas State
15. Morgan State

7. Northern Iowa
10. Louisville

3. Pitt
14. Sam Houston State

6. Wisconsin
11. Washington

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