Hello, college basketball fans!
Time for me to compare the NCAA bracket to my last bracket: http://www.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/
The Selection Committee differed on four NCAA teams. I had Harvard, Colorado, Alabama, and Missouri State instead of Georgia, USC, VCU, and Clemson. I have records since 1997 and this is the first time the NCAA differed on four teams (the last two seasons we only differed on one). Now you can say I "did worse", but that assumes the NCAA is "right" and I beg to differ. Actually, I like to compare my bracket to the Bracket Matrix (http://bracketproject.50webs.com/ma
trix.htm) as to what is right. There are only ten members on the Committtee, the Bracket Matrix has 87 brackets.
Another thing I thought about the differences between my bracket and the NCAA's. Of the four teams I put in that the NCAA left out, three were in the First Four. Harvard was the only team that was not in the First Four that the NCAA chose and Harvard was the last team in before the First Four teams. Of the four teams the NCAA put in that I missed, three were in their First Four (the only team was Georgia). Had this been a 64 team field, we would have differed on just one team (and the team I would have missed would have been the last team I put in). My #65 would have been Colorado. I'm not sure who their #65 was. Clearly those next four created the huge gap between our brackets. If you have to choose more teams (or more at large teams), you are likely to get more differences. That's my story and I'm sticking with it.
I am very big on "head to head" and I have a problem that Alabama beat Georgia twice (this month, including a victory in the SEC Tournament) but Georgia got in over Alabama (and got in as a 10 seed). Alabama finished three full games (although in a weaker division) than Georgia. I can see Alabama not getting in but then you shouldn't put Georgia in either.
I am not a fan of USC getting in. Their RPI, conference RPI, and non conference RPI were all over 60. The Trojans had five Top 50 wins but so did Colorado. Alabama had four Top 50 wins. I consider a bad loss any home loss to a team with an RPI over 100 and any loss to a team with an RPI over 200. USC had FOUR bad losses, they lost to Oregon at home and lost to TCU, Oregon State, and Bradley, all teams with RPI's worse than 200. No team that I considered a bubble team had more than two. Those three horrible losses should have cancelled out USC's good wins.
This was a down year for the ACC. The Big East had 10 teams in the Top 50 RPI. The Big 10 had six and Michigan at 51. The ACC had only Duke and North Carolina in the Top 50. Clemson had no top 50 wins this season. I can understand an Alabama or a Colorado with a high RPI getting in over a Missouri State that has no top 50 wins. But if Clemson and Missouri State both have no top 50 wins, how is Clemson a better team than Missouri State (or Harvard, who did beat Princeton)? The ACC is no doubt a stronger conference than the MVC but Missouri State won the MVC outright and Clemson was just 9-7 in the regular season.
The last team I did not have was VCU. They finished third in the Colonial Athletic Association and lost six games in the league. They beat Old Dominion during the regular season and George Mason in the CAA semifinals and that probably got them in. I don't think wins over ODU and GMU are what should put you in the NCAA's. VCU also lost five of their last ten games.
I mentioned Missouri State and Harvard and I realized they were longshots.
I really feel bad for Harvard as they lost on the buzzer yesterday vs. Princeton. I was actually worried with Illinois on the bubble that Princeton's win could have cost someone else a bid. It turned out that was not the case. I'm sure most people were cheering for Old Dominion last week in the CAA final afraid that VCU would steal a bid. It turns out the final was irrelevant and VCU actually did steal a bid.
As for Missouri State, a lot of people feel for Virginia Tech's Seth Greenberg but to be fair it's hard to justify an NCAA bid with an RPI over 60. If you want to feel bad for someone, consider that Missouri State is the first regular season MVC champion to miss the NCAA Tournament since 1993. Five years ago, these same Missouri State Bears were the highest RPI ever to be left out of the NCAA's (21). If you are going to feel for Virginia Tech, you got to feel for Missouri State who continue to fall short of the NCAA's. Virginia Tech last made the NCAA's in 2007. Missouri State? 1999.
One team that quite a few people on another four letter network that I don't think I'm allowed to mention that I do agree with is UAB. Their RPI was 31 and they were the regular season champion of Conference USA. According to the RPI, Conference USA had eight teams in the top 100 RPI so why not reward their champion? I think Memphis's last second win probably put UAB in. Memphis probably had a better profile if you had to compare the two (Memphis swept UAB). Then again, if the Committee put in Georgia head of Alabama, they probably could have put UAB over Memphis too (although there was less of a difference in RPI). Both the NCAA and I did have UAB in the First Four so we both were skeptical about the Blazers.
I'm not happy about the four teams the NCAA put in that I didn't but then again I'm not too thrilled with the First Four teams I had in either. I think the tournament would have been better with 64 teams. I actually think there would be less disagreement had there been only 64 teams instead of 68.
In Part 2, I will discuss seeding and bracketing disagreements.