Wednesday, March 12, 2008

2008 NCAA Projections - March 12, 2008

Last night, the committee arrived in Indianapolis. Tomorrow, they will submit their list of “lock teams”. As of the end of play on Tuesday night, we estimate that the teams listed in seed lines #1-7 are considered to be “locks” for the NCAA Tournament. While I love what Kentucky has done, they are truly one injury away from being on the outside looking in despite an impressive 12-4 record in the SEC and having crushed the subjective eye test since the Vanderbilt debacle.

That leaves 18 bids for the taking. What does that mean? In brief, the next four days of basketball will go a long way in determining who is in and out (Sunday is not a big moving day for tournament seedings, unless your name is Joe Lunardi and the clock has just struck 5:50pm ET). In other words, no team beyond Mississippi State excluding automatic bids are safe.

Here are Paymon’s early thoughts …

  • If teams are considered by team and not WCC #3, it will be hard to unseat St. Mary’s.
  • Davidson deserves a massive jump in the seedings because they took care of business. Because some bubble teams will win unexpectedly, they will likely become a #10 seed.
  • The fate of VCU and South Alabama from here on out may be determined by their opponents who have games yet to play. The decider is multifactorial. First, VCU won its conference by 3 games. Second, they won three neutral/away games in non-conference play.
  • I’m having a difficult time understanding why Arizona State is out of Joe Lunardi’s bracket. They earned the #5 seed in the nation’s best conference; a conference which uses a round-robin scheduling mechanism. In doing so, they defeated the conference’s #2, #4, #6 and #7 (sweep) teams in addition to the A-14’s #1 team. In a field with such a dearth of good wins, the Sun Devils don’t have enough bad losses to counteract their good wins.
  • If Florida and Ole Miss BOTH make the SEC semifinals, it will be a play-in/elimination game.
  • While results are important, scorelines on the neutral court play a role as well. If a team such as Ohio State loses badly against Michigan State, then their recent home resume-padders are diluted. This may result in an invitation to the Not Important Tournament.

Looking ahead to Wednesday, which is highlighted by over ten hours of opening round coverage of the Big East Tournament, Clement tackles four games that are on his mind. To no one’s surprise who reads this blog religiously, we start with …

1) Big East Tournament: Syracuse vs. Villanova
-Far from fans of South Alabama and Gonzaga after Monday Night, the Orange and the Wildcats both sit at 9-9 in the Big East. Both own a win on the other’s homecourt, both have underachieved quite a bit this season and both are in just about every media pundits “last four out”. This game obviously appears to be an elimination game. The loser stands little to no chance of securing anything but a 2-seed in the NIT. In fact, the winner may simply be the Big East team first left out. A win over Georgetown would be vital for either to stake a truly legitimate claim. The problem is: if all these at-large bids keep closing up, is a semi-final appearance truly enough for either Big East .500 squad?

2) Big East Tournament Opening Round: West Virginia vs. Providence
-A home win against Pitt this past week almost assuredly locked the Mountaineers into the last “safe bid” in the Big East. Right? Not so fast, especially when you consider how strong the media has been pushing them onto the bubble and their somewhat hidden #5 seed in the Big East Tournament. Not to mention that 10+-win in the Big East is nice, but not as nice considering they now play an 18 game schedule (thank you, Doug Gottlieb). Providence knocked off UCONN within recent memory and is a rather dangerous #12 seed. Providence knocked off UCONN within recent memory and is a rather dangerous #12 seed. If WVU loses, and perhaps Syracuse, Villanova or a surprise team makes a Big East run, could WVU be entrenched in bubble fever come 6pm on Sunday night? My inside sources tell me yes (thank you, Peter Vecsey).

3) Pac-10 Tournament Opening Round: Arizona vs. Oregon State
-Typically, there wouldn’t be any consideration given to a team as terrible as the Beavers this season. However, with their loss to Oregon this past Saturday night, #2 SOS Wildcats (come on, that’s their motto these days), opened the door for potentially two Pac-10 teams with losing conference records getting in (it’s never happened to one Pac-10 team before). The one thing Arizona can do to help itself most is crush OSU and take out the “are-they-struggling” Cardinal. The worst: lose to Oregon State and any SOS may have to go straight out the window.

4) A-10 Tournament Opening Round: Charlotte vs. Rhode Island
-In A-10 play, Xavier is easily a sure-fire tournament team. However, the rest of the conference appears much murkier than it did only six weeks ago. In fact, this matchup of #6 Charlotte vs. #11 Rhode Island may lead to an interesting quarterfinal matchup against #3 UMass. The Minutemen appear the safest bet to acquire an at-large bid, for now. In truth, eyes will be focused intently on potential upsets that could prevent a tricky A-10 final four: Xavier/St. Joe’s & UMass/Temple could. A nightmarish scenario unfolds if Dayton upsets top-seed Xavier in the quarterfinals. Don’t even get me started on that…

That’s all for now. If you have any questions, comments, or just wish to send a shout, shoot me a line at

The Seedings
1: North Carolina (ACC), Tennessee (SEC), Memphis (C-USA), UCLA (PAC-10)
2: Kansas (Big XII), Texas, Duke, Georgetown (Big East)
3: Wisconsin (Big Ten), Louisville, Xavier (A-10), Stanford
4: UConn, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Drake (MVC)
5: Purdue, USC, Vanderbilt, Butler (Horizon)
6: Washington State, Indiana, Pittsburgh, Marquette
7: Clemson, Kansas State, Gonzaga, Mississippi State
8: Kentucky, BYU, Kent State (MAC), Miami-FL
9: Arizona State, Oklahoma, Davidson (Southern), Arkansas
10: Baylor, Arizona, UNLV (MWC), St. Mary’s
11: Texas A&M, Villanova, West Virginia, Illinois State
12: Ohio State, Temple, VCU, George Mason (CAA)
13: Western Kentucky (Sun Belt), Stephen F. Austin (Southland), Oral Roberts (Summit), Siena (Metro Atlantic)

14: Cornell (Ivy), San Diego (WCC), UC Santa Barbara (Big West), New Mexico State (WAC)
15: American (Patriot), UM-Baltimore County (America East), Belmont (Atlantic Sun), Winthrop (Big South)
16: Portland State (Big Sky), Austin Peay (Ohio Valley), Sacred Heart (Northeast), Morgan State (MEAC), Alabama State (SWAC)

Last Four In: Illinois State, Ohio State, Temple, VCU
Last Four Out: South Alabama, Oregon, St. Joseph’s, UMass
Next Four Out: Syracuse, Dayton, UAB, Ole Miss
On The Radar: Maryland, New Mexico, Florida

IN: Western Kentucky, San Diego, VCU
OUT: South Alabama, Oregon, St. Joseph’s

Seeding Summary (Multi-Bid Conferences Only in Order of Percentage)
Pac-10: 6/10
Big East: 8/16
Big XII: 6/12
SEC: 5/12
West Coast: 3/8
Big Ten: 5/11
ACC: 4/12
Mountain West: 2/9
Missouri Valley: 2/10
Colonial: 2/12
A-10: 2/14


Sum said...

As much as I'd love the CAA to get two bids, I just don't see it happening. No top-50 wins is a bit hard to overcome, no?

Clement said...

Unless VCU can pull a Utah State of a few years back...I lament alongside Sum for multiple-bids for the CAA.

Anonymous said...

I wish IUPUI had pulled out a win over Oral Roberts, then Indiana would really be represented in the tournament.

Paymon said...

Sum brings up a good point. History is not on the side of teams seeking at-large bids with 0 wins against the RPI Top 50.

Here are the teams who have made it with that criteria. The record in parentheses represents the team's record against the Top 50. All data from

2007 - none
2006 - Air Force (0-1; travesty of justice which I'm still salty about)
2005 - UAB (0-5)
2004 - Southern Illinois (0-1)
2003 - none
2002 - Tulsa (0-4)
2001 - none
2000 - none
1999 - George Washington (0-5)

As you can see, this is rare, but it's not breaking with precedent, which is what would take place if the 14th-ranked conference was permitted to have 3 teams in.

As an aside, the argument against WVU continues to build (mind you, they remain in the field). I hope Huggins can communicate to his team that his team's 12 wins in the Big East are among the most useless wins in recent memory. Not to mention, Providence lost that game rather than the other way around.