It’s another day in the books and it’s another day in which I do not buy Memphis as a #1 seed. Even without Jerome Dyson, UConn is the better team using the “Eye Test” (which lazy pundits love to use as ammo) because they are stronger at every position on the floor, except for perhaps shooting guard. They are obviously the better team on paper, but of course … games aren’t played on paper … they are played inside TV sets.
Staying on the 1 line, Louisville EARNED the Big East double, which easily undoes the unsightly losses that invaded their resume in 2008. While they still go through shooting slumps, this is a different team because they play defense for 40 minutes. On December 27, 2008, I placed Louisville as high as I could (a #2 seed) without being forced into an insane asylum. The average seed according to the Bracket Matrix Tracker for the week of December 29, 2008 was 6. My rationale in 2008 was as follows:
“One is Louisville as the last #2 seed. The Cardinals have struggled out of the gate with losses to Western Kentucky and Minnesota, but Pitino’s Louisville teams generally do what they do now and then gel in late January to early March. I just think they’re getting to used to life without David Padgett.”
Moving to the 2 line, it was a tough choice at the tail end between Syracuse, Kansas and Villanova. The run by Syracuse legitimized earlier wins against Kansas, Memphis and Florida. Coupled with neutral court wins against UConn and WVU (and a trip to the Big East Tournament Final), the Orange trumps any set of wins by Kansas (best win: @ Oklahoma sans Blake Griffin) and Villanova (v. Pitt).
While today was not a big moving day, two teams capitalized on their opportunities. USC completed the improbable and defeated its 3rd straight tournament team in succession and claimed the automatic bid from the PAC 10. The result was moving from the 4th team out to a #9 seed. Ohio State manhandled Michigan State, who looked awful in Indianapolis and went up from a 10 to a low #7 seed.
Throughout the course of the day, the 62nd and 63rd teams in the field became clear to me. First, Texas A&M had built enough good will to overcome one very bad half against Texas Tech. Despite the loss, A&M was buoyed by Missouri’s championship run, because the Aggies only defeated them a week ago in College Station. Second, at the end of the day, Penn State just has too many quality, even if all of them happen to be against Big Ten teams. Penn State had a 4-3 record with two away wins against the three teams who scored 11 or more conference wins in the regular season. That was the deal maker for Penn State, who of course tried to schedule the Xenon Int’l School of Hair Design Fightin’ Barbers. Based on a determination made last night, I had rated St. Mary’s above Arizona and Creighton, which granted them the 64th spot. Unfortunately, the determination for the 65th slot was not as simple. For now, San Diego State is the 65th team by a slim margin over Arizona followed by Auburn (who lost today) and Wisconsin (who has a strong SOS, but no really strong wins) with Creighton trailing further back. The ultimate decision came down to how these teams played in the face of urgency. While Arizona lost 5 of 6 down the stretch (4 to clear tournament teams), San Diego State won their last three regular season games, defeated the tournament host in Round 1, avenged a regular season sweep by the #1 seed in Round 2, and fought to within one basket of taking down a very good Utah team. At the end of the day, if Arizona wins one of those five games, there is no conversation whatsoever about whether they are in. They did not.
Assumed Winners for Sunday’s Games
Duke, Tennessee, Stephen F. Austin, Purdue
If the Underdog Wins …
ACC Final: Duke v. Florida State. Duke will stay on the 2 line, but will likely fall 1-2 spots. If Florida State pulls off the upset, they will force their way onto the 3 line, likely forcing Oklahoma to the 4 line.
SEC Final: Tennessee v. Mississippi State. Tennessee would fall at least a seed line and Mississippi State would claim a spot on the 12 or 13 line. Good luck to the 4 or 5 seed who would have to face Jarvis Varnado.
Southland Final: Stephen F. Austin v. UT-San Antonio. If UT-San Antonio punches the surprise ticket, then they will be a 16 seed who may have the honor of being in the play-in game, likely against Chattanooga, who has the most losses in the field and made the most of an unearned homecourt advantage during the Southern Conference Tournament.
Big Ten Final: Purdue v. Ohio State. If this game did not end 20 seconds before the pairings are announced, then it might have a real impact on seedings. Depending on how Ohio State, they may rise as high as the final 5 seed or fall to an 8. This may also have an effect on the 7th Big Ten team.
Who Slid One Seed Line Due to Seeding Conflicts?
Boston College, Maryland, Texas A&M, Penn State
Who Benefited by One Seed Line Due to Seeding Conflicts?
USC, Michigan, Cleveland State, St. Mary’s
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1: North Carolina, LOUISVILLE (Big East), Pittsburgh, UConn
2: Duke (ACC), MEMPHIS (C-USA), Michigan State, Syracuse
3: Kansas, Villanova, Missouri, Oklahoma
4: Washington, Wake Forest, Florida State, GONZAGA (WCC)
5: Purdue (Big Ten), Xavier, Arizona State, Clemson
6: West Virginia, Tennessee (SEC), UCLA, UTAH (MWC)
7: Illinois, Texas, Marquette, Ohio State
8: Butler, BYU, LSU, California
9: SIENA (Metro Atlantic), USC (PAC 10), Oklahoma State, Michigan
10: Dayton, Minnesota, Boston College, Maryland
11: TEMPLE (A-10), UTAH STATE (WAC), CLEVELAND STATE (Horizon), St. Mary’s
12: Texas A&M, Penn State, San Diego State, VCU (CAA)
13: NORTHERN IOWA (MVC), AMERICAN (Patriot), WESTERN KENTUCKY (Sun Belt), Stephen F. Austin (Southland)
14: NORTH DAKOTA STATE (Summit), BINGHAMTON (America East), PORTLAND STATE (Big Sky), AKRON (MAC)
15: ROBERT MORRIS (Northeast), E. TENNESSEE STATE (Atlantic Sun), CORNELL (Ivy), RADFORD(Big South)
16: MORGAN STATE (MEAC), MOREHEAD STATE (Ohio Valley), CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE (Big West), ALABAMA STATE (SWAC), CHATTANOOGA (Southern)
IN: USC, Akron, Cal State Northridge
OUT: Auburn, Buffalo, Pacific
Last Four In: Texas A&M, Penn State, St. Mary’s, San Diego State
Last Four Out: Arizona, Auburn, Wisconsin, Creighton
Next Four Out: Mississippi State, Tulsa, Virginia Tech, Niagara
Seeding Summary (Multi-Bid Conferences Only in Order of Percentage)
Big Ten: 7/11
Big XII: 6/12
Big East: 7/16
Mountain West: 3/9
West Coast: 2/9