Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Bracketolology: 4th No. 1 seed is only one 'up for grabs'

I might be in the minority but I firmly believe I'm right when I say the following: Duke, Indiana and Gonzaga have locked up No. 1 seeds.

While the Zags won the WCC Tournament last night it would be shocking to see Duke and Indiana lose in the quarterfinals in their respective ACC and Big Ten Tournaments; it would be even more shocking if that cost either team a No. 1 seed. We throw around "body of work" an awful lot and then we put so much emphasis on a 4-day, neutral-site conference tournament that becomes nothing more than a foot in the entire body of work.

Hypothetically, let's say Duke and Indiana lose in the quarterfinals while Kansas, Michigan State (or Michigan), Louisville and Miami win their respective tournaments. All the winners, in my eyes, are fighting for the final No. 1 seed. (Yes, it might not end up being the fourth No. 1 seed, but there is only one "up for grabs.")

The point is, Kansas, MSU, Michigan, Louisville and Miami have all had nice seasons, but they are still a rung below Duke and Indiana. I suppose it's possible a few teams could pass Gonzaga, but it seems criminal that a 31-2 Gonzaga team with the schedule it played in the nonconference coupled with WCC dominance wouldn't get a No. 1 seed. Worst case for the Zags seems to be the final No. 1 seed if a team like Louisville - our projected fourth No. 1 seed today, wins the Big East Tournament and passes Gonzaga no the S-Curve. I don't believe Kansas, MSU, Michigan or Miami can pass the Zags at this point. (Michigan might have the best shot with a chance to run through a Wisconsin-Indiana-MSU/OSU gauntlet to the Big Ten Tournament title, but it's still unlikely that would be enough).

Here's are updated projections following last night's punched tickets (Gonzaga and Iona):


"Last Four In" update: I struggle to see where a team like Middle Tennessee State doesn't get in. At 28-4 the Blue Raiders would have the most wins of any team not in the field. Of course, MTSU doesn't own a Top 50 win and only two Top-100 wins. Either way the Blue Raiders will be the "first" in one category. I think the committee does the right thing and rewards MTSU for its season rather than taking a middle-of-the-road BCS school (I'm talking to you, Kentucky and Mississippi). Obviously, the kicker here is the "big boys" have more time to notch  big wins and the recency effect is always in play. Still, I think the First Four will end up having two mid-majors and two major schools - the way it should be.

"First Four Out" update: It's like a SEC Tournament on this line. The SEC doesn't deserve three bids but it might get it if one of these teams can knock off Florida or Missouri this week. Beating up on each other doesn't add much to an already mundane resume. The SEC Tournament, in terms of NCAA Tournament implications, might be the most fun to watch. (The Big Ten, obviously, will be the battle of the heavyweights and should be uber-entertaining).

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