Sunday, March 11, 2012

Schmolik's Comments on 2012 NCAA Field

Hello, college basketball fans!

Being from the Philadelphia area, I am upset that Drexel did not receive an NCAA bid although I am not surprised. Their last RPI (according to CBS was 66. Their RPI and SOS numbers were terrible. The head of the committee had mentioned non conference schedule as a reason why they were not chosen for the NCAA field. Had it not been for all of the noise that Virginia Commonwealth made in last year's tournament, Drexel probably doesn't even get considered. The CAA was very far down (15th ranked conference by RPI) this year.

In my final Schmolik 64, the NCAA and I agreed with 35 of 37 possible at large teams. The two teams the NCAA did not have were in my "First Four" and the two I didn't have were in the NCAA's First Four so we were pretty close.

Brigham Young was the team that lost a bid in the Schmolik 64 because of St. Bonaventure. I have no idea who the NCAA would have chosen if St. Bonaventure didn't win. I think Drexel fans really dislike St. Bonaventure right now.

The other team I had in the NCAA rejected was Marshall. I thought of them as this year's VCU. They were a middle of the pack team from a middle of the pack conference. They pulled an upset in its conference semifinals and advanced to the conference final. SI/CBS Sports's Seth Davis actually listed Marshall as a team that may have surprised us with getting in.

I would like to dispute Jeff Hathaway (head of this year's Selection Committee). He praised Iona's non conference schedule. CBS Sports has them at 43rd (Drexel's was 223rd). However, the same Marshall team's non conference schedule was ranked 9th. In fact, they beat Iona head to head. Marshall had four top 50 wins compared to none for Iona (and one for Drexel). Iona also had two losses to teams with an RPI below 200. If you want to select Iona over Drexel because of non conference schedule (or RPI, which Iona's is 41 to 66), I will accept that. But Marshall's non conference schedule was ranked way ahead of Iona's and is either close or superior to Iona's in every other category. You can argue Marshall had more of a beef with Iona getting in over them than Drexel did.

As for seeding, we agreed on all four #1 seeds (I think this year was pretty obvious though). In fact, we agreed on all four #2 seeds. I don't think we've ever agreed with all four #1 AND all four #2 seeds in a given year. In fact, we also matched all Sweet 16 seeds. I had Michigan as a #3 seed instead of Florida State. I had Michigan above Marquette and Georgetown because of their shared Big Ten regular season title with Michigan State (#1 seed) and Ohio State (#2).

I considered moving Florida State to the 3 seed line as well but thought they had fewer top 25/50 wins than Michigan and the Big East schools (along with Louisville). I will say that Florida State did the unheard of this year. They beat Duke and North Carolina back to back to win their first ACC Tournament. Florida State may have caught UNC without John Henson but they did beat the Tar Heels badly during the regular season. They also beat Duke at Duke. So this season they beat both North Carolina and Duke TWICE! Sometimes it's quality over quantity. Four wins over UNC and Duke sound a lot better than ten top 25 wins over teams like Southern Mississippi.

Another team that surprised me with their seed was VCU. They were seeded "higher" last season when many people thought they didn't deserve to be in the field. Their RPI this year was better and they won a lot more games this year. So this year they are a 12 seed. Too bad they couldn't have drawn Vanderbilt, who lost their first game the last two seasons as a 4 seed and a 5 seed.

Other than VCU, I'm not sure if there was any other team that I dropped my jaw about (seeing BYU and Iona playing for a 14 seed surprised me as well). So I think they did a great job outside of Iona.

I wasn't able to see the bracket special that ranked all the teams (I taped it) but Hathaway did rank the #2 seeds (Kansas, Duke, Ohio State, Missouri last). I had Missouri at the top of the list but if Missouri as a #2 was paired with the weakest #1 seed, is that really bad? They said geography was the big determining factor with placing the 2 seeds (which explained Duke/UK in the regional final). Another thing to come out of this: there aren't enough good teams out west, especially this year with the Pac-12. Maybe they should have all four regional sites in the Eastern and Central time zones one year until the Pac-12 comes back.

Speaking of the Pac-12, this year proves how bad things got. The regular season champ, Washington, did not get an at large bid. Then again, Washington lost four Pac-12 games (including a home game to California Berkeley, who did gain an at large bid over Washington), lost its first round Pac-12 tournament game to Oregon State, and has an RPI of 70. I think the NCAA has been biased towards the Pac-12 in recent years (several undeserving teams have gotten bids) so I like the fact that they finally gave the Pac-12 the respect they deserve.

I looked at this year's regional top four seeds and to be honest I couldn't see one region much weaker or much stronger than the other at the top of my head. Kentucky and Duke are the top two South seeds and that of course brings back memories of 1992. That is also a credit to the Selection Committee.

Finally, no to Northwestern. I feel sorry for them but I don't really like Northwestern as a school and I'm not sure the students at Northwestern really care if they got in or not. Why is a snotty rich private school in the same conference as all other large state universities? They are historically one of the worst teams in college football and college basketball in the Big Ten and are basically taking 1/12 of the Big Ten profits while contributing little. I think the Big Ten would be much better off if Northwestern wasn't in it and they were forming the Big Ten today, Northwestern wouldn't be in it.

So overall I think the committee did a good job. I think they are like the 2010 committee. They left out a school I have ties to and that hurt (in 2010 it was my alma mater Illinois) but they did very well in my opinion.

As soon as Brian of Bracket Project updates the Bracket Matrix, I may comment some more.

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