Monday, March 03, 2008

2008 NCAA Projections - March 3, 2008

Eldridge: Why the Redbirds won in Carbondale and hold the keys to an at-large bid
Credit: Pantagraph

For the first of hopefully many occasions, Clement and I worked together to project/predict the field of 65.

With our overall #1 seed losing to Vanderbilt earlier this week and stumbling towards a victory against depleted (yet resilient) Kentucky, you had to drop them from the top spot, right? Wrong. Until UNC scores their first signature victory on March 8 (and perhaps again on March 16), we don’t feel comfortable placing UNC - who themselves struggled mightily against Boston College – in the top spot. That said, UCLA leaps over UNC and Memphis with impressive showings against Arizona and Arizona State.

On the second seed line, as Clement indicated on Saturday evening, I was vindicated by Texas’s surprising defeat to Texas Tech. As a result, they are tied again with Kansas, who I expect to win the Big XII tournament. Nevertheless, in a season ends today format, Texas would be a sure-fire #1 seed because they have three signature wins.

With the top-tier talk out of the way, let’s hit some talking points …

If Kansas State played Arizona in the 1st round as we’ve projected, how many pro scouts would be at that game? It’s fun to imagine.

It’s amazing what Florida (v. Tennessee, @ Kentucky) and Ohio State (v. Purdue, v. Michigan State) can do between now and the start of their respective conference tournaments. For that reason, we had to include the resume-deprived Gators who pass the eye test (barely). Because we think the Buckeyes will not go empty-handed heading into the Big Ten Tournament, which should consider reducing itself to a two-day, four-team tournament, they are included in our last four out.

Despite their 8-6 record in what many consider (neither of us do) the nation’s toughest conference, it’s very difficult to take Virginia Tech too seriously considering that they will have faced the league’s top three teams (Duke, UNC, Clemson) a grand total of three times in the regular season. If they win 10 games, then it's almost impossible to count them out.

Why Dayton? We project them to win out in the A-14 regular season. With two victories in the A-14 conference tournament, Dayton makes a strong case for a bid. If the Flyers can resurrect their early season form, the committee has had the tendency in years past to forgive ugly losses in January and February for a stellar non-conference resume coupled with a few wins in March.

Thank you, Terrapins. We had this baby projected with you comfortably clinging to a double-digit lead against Clemson … and then you lost. They remain in the bracket on the strength of their winning record in the ACC (a win @ JPJ will do the trick), solid true road record (5-3) … and that win at the Smith Center.

Three from the Valley? NO …. YES! With a win at Southern Illinois behind the shooting and mohawk of Osiris Eldridge, Illinois State upped its record to 13-5 in the Valley and that’s good enough for us so long as they can avoid a shock defeat at Arch Madness. Moreover, the likely semifinal between these teams will be an unannounced tournament play-in game.

On the injury front, we are concerned about how Patrick Patterson’s season-ending injury will affect the Wildcats. If today is any indication of how they will play, the #10 seed may be considered disrespectful. Additionally, Oklahoma will be without the services of one Blake Griffin for its final two games, which may jeopardize Oklahoma’s seeding in the Big XII tournament and NCAA at-large bid prospects.

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: Tennessee (SEC), UCLA (PAC-10), North Carolina (ACC), Memphis (C-USA)
2: Kansas (Big XII), Texas, Xavier (A-10), Duke
3: Georgetown (Big East), Louisville, Wisconsin (Big Ten), Stanford
4: UConn, Michigan State, Vanderbilt, Purdue
5: Indiana, Marquette, Notre Dame, Drake (MVC)
6: Washington State, Gonzaga (WCC), Butler (Horizon), USC
7: Clemson, Pittsburgh, Mississippi State, Miami-FL
8: Arkansas, Arizona State, St. Mary’s, Kansas State
9: Arizona, Oklahoma, BYU, Baylor
10: Kent State (MAC), Kentucky, South Alabama (Sun Belt), UNLV (MWC)
11: West Virginia, VCU (CAA), Illinois State, Maryland
12: Texas A&M, UMass, Davidson (Southern), Southern Illinois
13: Dayton, Florida, Stephen F. Austin (Southland), Oral Roberts (Summit)
14: Cornell (Ivy), Siena (Metro Atlantic), Cal State Northridge (Big West), New Mexico State (WAC)
15: American (Patriot), UM-Baltimore County (America East), Belmont (Atlantic Sun), Portland State (Big Sky)
16: Austin Peay (Ohio Valley), Robert Morris (Northeast), Morgan State (MEAC), UNC-Asheville (Big South), Alabama State (SWAC)

Last Four In: UMass, Southern Illinois, Dayton, Florida
Last Four Out: Villanova, Virginia Tech, Ohio State, UAB
Next Four Out: Oregon, Creighton, Rhode Island, Texas Tech

IN: Illinois State, Dayton, Florida, Cal State Northridge, UNC-Asheville
OUT: Villanova, St. Joseph’s, Wake Forest, Winthrop, Cal State Fullerton

Seeding Summary (Multi-Bid Conferences Only in Order of Percentage)
Pac-10: 6/10
Big XII: 6/12
SEC: 6/12
Big East: 7/16
ACC: 5/12
Big Ten: 4/11
Missouri Valley: 3/10
West Coast: 2/8
Mountain West: 2/9
A-10: 3/14


Anonymous said...

Even with a 8-8 record and a considerable run through the Atlantic 10 tournament, Dayton won't make the Big Dance.

I see though how your job in projecting is hard with Va Tech being a fraud at 8-6 in the ACC and Villanova losing a must-win game last Monday.

Among Kent State, VCU, South Alabama and Davidson, which of the four are IN if they do not get the automatic bid?

Clement said...

It was a lot of fun to compile the brackets.

A few questions still ring true:

1) Dayton may catch us a lot of flack. What is so impressive about their early non-conference schedule?

2) Which teams, outside of Syracuse, do you see needing to win their conference tournament (or at best reach the finals and lose in the closing seconds). Oregon?

3) If BYU runs the table...where could they be seeded?

4) Could Maryland become this year's Syracuse. Imagine the scenario: Maryland loses 2 of their next 3 (including the ACC Tourney opener) and VCU doesn't win the CAA Tournament. Could it be Drexel and the Cuse all over again? Or is the Smith Center win too good?

Paymon said...

1) If I had to take 2 from the four (I know that's not the question) and all four teams made it to the finals of their respective tournaments, I'd take Kent State and VCU.

2) Dayton's non-conference resume speaks for itself (@ Louisville, handing Pitt their 1st loss, Akron). Of course, they did that damage with Chris Wright. Without him, the Flyers have difficulty getting off the air. They're in because the rest of the field has not seized the day. When they do, the bracket will be changed accordingly.

3) Actually, Oregon can make the dance without making the finals of their conference. To answer your question, I'd add Rhode Island and St. Joe's to that list. With a week of conference play left in the majors, the question is slightly premature (see Ohio State).

4) IF they run the table, BYU is good for a 7 or 8.

5) Assuming Maryland wins at UVa, they are still rolling the dice if they do win in the opening round of the ACC Tournament. That said, I love their 5-3 true road record. Of course, I just turned a blind eye to blowing a 20-point lead on senior night. This isn't Cuse/Drexel, because Cuse couldn't win on the road to save their lives. Drexel was not included because they were the third team (VCU would be second) from the #13 conference.

Also, the committee loves The Dagger.

Anonymous said...

If VCU doesn't win the CAA they deserve the bid. The CAA is a very strong conference and has been ever since George Mason shocked the country two years ago, making it all the way to the Final Four. Also, keep in mind that this VCU team is the same one that beat Duke in last year's NCAA. Bring on another ACC team!

Anonymous said...

To whoever runs this, you do a good job. Joe Lunardi and Jerry Palm are tops but you guys are right behind them. There are whispers Chris Wright is going to make a 10-12 minute apperance on saturday for UD and hopefuuly he will be at 75% for the start of the A-10 tourney. As a 4 seed would you be happy to face Brian Roberts,Marchus Johnson,Charles Little and Chris Wright healthy? Ask Louisville and Pitt.........

Paymon said...

Thanks! It's a collaborative effort between four guys who do this as a hobby and all of you who add to the marketplace of ideas.

Though the most visible, Lunardi is the not the best in the business of bracketology. In fact, he finished last among 30 bracket projectionists (Clement coined the phrase) in projecting field (see Gary Parrish's article from 3/13/07 in the "Bracketologists" section) and has been known in the community to make changes as soon as 10 minutes before the NCAA Tournament selections are made public (e.g. George Mason in 2006 and Arkansas in 2007 not being in the last 8 out and suddenly being in the field at 5:50pm ET).

As for Palm, I can only imagine how much coin he's made from the RPI.

Onto the bball, if Chris Wright can come back and show that he's serviceable, that immediately elevates Dayton's profile (14-1 with him ... let's not go there without him). I've read that he may be available for the A-14 tournament and will be following the box scores this weekend to see if he plays.