Tag:Alabama
Posted on: March 4, 2012 10:04 am
Edited on: March 4, 2012 10:07 am
 

Carolina back on top

Today's bracket is up and shows North Carolina on the top line, replacing Duke after the Heels whipped the Blue Devils at Cameron. 

That's not final by any means.  Michigan State and Ohio State could jump in.  They play Sunday, plus possibly again next Sunday.  Duke could take it back with an ACC tournament win.  Missouri could get in there with a win over Kansas in the Big 12 tournament.  There's still a long way to go.

Washington's loss to UCLA knocked the Huskies out of sole possession of first place in the Pac-12, and out of the bracket.  They were replaced by Miami.

My twitter feed blows up after every game -- sometimes during games -- with "we should in now" after someone wins or "they should be out" after some bubble team loses.  Fans tend to overreact to one game, but the committee does not.  It's just one of the 30ish games on your schedule.

So, yeah, Seton Hall got embarrassed today at DePaul, and yeah, that may eventually help cost them a spot in the field, but not quite yet.

South Florida lost, but they aren't out...yet.  Northwestern won, but they aren't a lock and probably never will be. 

Cincinnati
isn't a lock either.  The Bearcats have some historically bad negatives on their resume, but they may eventually become a lock.  They are this year's Alabama, which last year went 12-4 in the SEC, but was so poor out of conference that they were left out anyway.  The Bearcats' non-conference performance isn't quite as bad as Bama's, and the Big East is much better than the SEC West was last year, so they are in better shape than Alabama was last year.

But this team is an example that you can't just look at you conference record/performance.  A team's entire season counts.  Cincinnati had to post 12 conference wins to have a chance to overcome the non-conference part of its season.  Same thing for USF, which only went 6-6 and took three bad losses in non-conference play.

Even more extreme is Tennessee.  Cuonzo Martin's sqaud went 7-7 in non-conference play with four bad losses, but came back to finish 10-6 in the SEC and will be the second seed in the conference tournament if Kentucky beats Florida today.  The addition of Jarnell Stokes has helped, to be sure, but the committee can't ignore what happened before he joined the team.  Either their credentials will be good enough to get in or not.  Right now, they're not, and they might have to win the conference tournament before they are.

BYU became the first bubble team to lose in its conference tournament.  Gonzaga handled the Cougars easily last night in the WCC semifinals.  All they can do now is sit back and hope what they have done is enough.

Wichita State is the first team top seed to lose in its conference tournament.  The Shockers lost to Illinois State in the MVC semifinals.  If the Redbirds beat Creighton today, some potential at-large team will be headed to the NIT.

We also had a near-bid stealer with Murray State.  The Racers needed a last-second layup to beat Tennessee State and win the Ohio Valley Conference title.  Sighs of relief we heard everywhere.

Finally, we have to say goodbye to Butler, the two-time national runner-up.  I was at the ARC at Valparaiso last night when the top-seeded Crusaders ended the Bulldogs season 65-46, and the career of senior Ronald Nored, who was a key contributor on those two Final Four teams.




Posted on: February 26, 2012 9:48 am
Edited on: February 26, 2012 12:17 pm
 

Bracket notes; Purdue, ISU get big wins

Purdue and Iowa State picked up huge, resume building wins on Saturday in what was a very busy day.

The Boilermakers got their biggest win of the season at Michigan.  The win for Purdue is just its second over a team that is sure to make the tournament.  It was Michigan's first loss at home all season.

Iowa State picked up its first away-from-home win of any significance when it completed the season sweep of Kansas State.  The Cyclones now have four top 100 RPI wins (despite a gaudy 11-5 conference record), and should be safe if they can get one more.  Teams with just four top 100 wins have received 13 at-large bids in the last 18 years, but that's out of 250 teams.

It was a tough day to be a conference leader.  Temple, Harvard, New Mexico, Long Island, and Middle Tennessee all lost.  Duke, Syracuse, Kansas, Belmont, Drexel, Murray State, Oral Roberts, Nevada and St. Mary's all were pushed to the brink.

Alabama put another nail into Mississippi State's coffin with a win in Tuscaloosa.  The Bulldogs have lost five straight and travel to South Carolina next.  They are only 2-6 on the road.

Northwestern kept its hopes alive with a one-point win at Penn State.  The Wildcats don't have many good wins (just six top 100), but none of their 11 losses have come to non-contenders.  They have a chance to make a statement next when Ohio State visits.

Saint Louis took its worst loss of the season at Rhode Island on Saturday.  For a team with few good wins, that's not a good sign.  Also in the A-10,  Saint Joseph's played their way back onto the bubble with a win over Temple.

Notre Dame lost at St. John's, which is the fourth bad loss of the season for the Irish.  It's also the first loss of any kind since January 16th.

Kansas clinched at least a tie for the Big 12 title with an overtime win over Missouri.  The Jayhawks are continuing their push for a No. 1 seed.

St. Mary's won the West Coast title outright, ending an 11-year streak during which Gonzaga either won or shared the regular season title.

Mostly irrelevant fact of the day: The Ivy League has half its teams in the top 100 of the RPI.  Conference USA, the Colonial, Missouri Valley, Pac-12 and West Coast conferences can't say that.

The bubble watch will be updated this morning.


Posted on: February 17, 2012 10:16 am
Edited on: February 17, 2012 10:53 am
 

Feb. 17 bracket

Today's bracket is posted.  There are virtually no changes at the top, thanks to Duke's comeback over North Carolina State last night.
There is some shuffling at the bottom though.  The First Four provides a post-season version of the Big Ten-ACC Challenge.  Miami and Northwestern are bracketed for one game, and the Wolfpack faces Minnesota in the other.

There are still nine Big Ten teams in the bracket, but obviously, two are in serious trouble.

A second Pac 12 team (Arizona) is in for now and Washington is among the first four out.

Iowa State is out, not because they lost, but because the Cyclones haven't beaten anyone of any significance away from home.  That is an important thing for the committee.  It's also the problem for fellow conference mate Texas.

I will write in more detail about the bottom and off-the-bracket teams in Bubble Watch in a little bit.

However, here's a few helpful hints for those of you commenting on your teams.

Conference record is just a number.  Teams are evaluated on their entire seasons, not just the conference portion, which is only about 2/3 of a team's full schedule (and less than that with three weeks to go).  If all you have is conference record and/or position in the conference standings, you have nothing.

Head to head results are not decisive.  Teams are judged on their entire seasons, not one or two games.  Alabama fans know that well, after beating Georgia twice in the final week of the season last year, only to see the Bulldogs be selected ahead of them.

How teams finish the season has been deemphasized by the committee.  It has no bearing on how you do in the tournament.  VCU lost four of its last five last year.

Speaking of the Colonial league, people are asking if there is an at-large team in the trio atop the league (Drexel, VCU, George Mason).  They ask because the league usually has at-large quaity teams at the top of the league and has performed well in the tournament.  However, this is a down year.  Those three are rated betewen 80-100 in the RPI, or a good 50-60 spots below where the league's best team usually rates.    Those three teams have combined for three non-conference wins against top 100 teams.   There just isn't enough there to compete for at-large bids, so the Colonial will be a one-bid league.

I will be headed to the Murray State-St. Mary's game on Saturday, followed by the Michigan State-Purdue game on Sunday.  The SMC-Murray game is part of the bracket buster, which rarely, if ever, busts a bracket, but Murray can really help itself with a win over the Gaels in the event the Racers get upset in the OVC tournament and need an at-large big.

Another team that can boost its potential at-large hopes with a win is Long Beach, which travels to Creighton.  It would be their best win of the year.



Posted on: February 14, 2012 1:16 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2012 1:20 pm
 

Feb.14 bracket

Ohio State didn't last very long as a No. 1 seed.  The loss to Michigan State has knocked them back to the two line in today's bracket, replaced by Duke.  The biggest difference is that Duke has shown it can win away from home (Columbus excluded).  Its top four wins are all away from Cameron.

That said, I'm not optimistic for Duke long term unless they get their defense fixed.

Kansas is also pushing for the top line, but at the moment, the loss to Davidson separates them.

North Carolina and Michigan State could still get there as well.  It's a very competitive top of the bracket still for this late in the season.

Baylor is not likely to find itself as a one-seed again this season.  I have the Bears down to a three this week after they got smoked at Missouri over the weekend.

The SEC is a muddle.  Florida has now been swept by Tennessee and has only one of its eight top 100 RPI wins away from home.  The Gators are 2-5 in road games and have four of their next five on the road.

The first of those games is at Alabama.  Alabama's roster issues could give the committee fits.  With four starters suspended, the Tide lost at LSU over the weekend.  Two of those starters will return for the Florida game tonight, but leading scorer JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell are still out.

The committee does consider missing players when doing selections and (moreso) seeding.  A team has to have the credentials to get picked regardless of your roster situation during the season.  They won't take a 17-15 team that was missing its leading scorer for 10 games, even if they lost all 10.  The committee cannot assume a result would have been different if the roster was at full strength.  A team might get seeded a little higher in that situation if it is at full strength going into the tournament.

The opposite is also true.  A team losing a key player for the season might get seeded lower if it doesn't play as well without him, but still merits selection.  There are numerous examples of this in the past.   The most recent would be when Purdue was docked a little after Robbie Hummel's (first) knee injury in 2010.

The bottom of the Big Ten is still muddled as well.  Purdue picked up a key win over Northwestern over the weekend, completing the regular season sweep of the Cats.  Illinois continues to fade, now having lost six of seven after dropping a game at Michigan.  The Illini host Purdue tomorrow in what has to be considered a must win.  Illinois goes to Nebraska and Ohio St after that.

It would make sense that at some point, one of those Big Ten teams will fall off the bracket.  Maybe two.  Right now, nobody is really stepping up to take their spots.

The Pac 12 looks for all the world like a one-bid league this year.  That may or may not happen, but it's hard to build an at-large case when nobody can pick up a top 50 RPI win without beating league-leader Cal.  The league has five RPI top 100 teams, and none of them has a non-conference win over a team in the top 50 of the RPI, or over an at-large quality team in the bracket. 

Today's fun fact: All nine Big Ten teams in the bracket rate higher in the RPI than every Pac 12 team except Cal.


Posted on: February 13, 2012 7:47 am
 

Baylor bombs and other bracket notes

I think we can safely say, without fear of contradiction, that Baylor is the third banana in the Big 12.  The Bears got blown out at Missouri, dropping them to 0-4 against the Tigers and Kansas.  Only one of those four losses was competitive.

For Baylor, a profile that looked worthy of a top seed a week ago now looks closer to a 3-seed than a one.

The Bears figure to get at least one more shot at the top two in the conference tournament.

I had been reluctant to put Ohio State on the top line of the bracket because they have been the No. 1 seed version of a home court hero.  The Buckeyes had been nothing short of invincible in Columbus, but struggled to beat decent teams on the road.  Finally, last weekend, they got the road monkey off their backs with a win at Wisconsin, but suddenly this week, they looked mortal at home.  Purdue put a real scare in them Wednesday night, and then Michigan State took their lunch money on Saturday.  Ohio State's stay on the top line may be short.

The Spartans pulled into a tie for first in the Big Ten with the win.  The league may end up with a four-loss champion and without a No. 1 seed, but is still likely to put the most teams in the bracket in March.  Well, among conferences with fewer than 16 teams.

It looks like Florida may have let Kentucky beat them twice.  The Gators seemed a bit hungover from their trip to Lexington in a home loss to Tennessee.  They have now been swept by the Vols and play four of their next five on the road.

The first of those is against what's left of Alabama.  Three more of the Tide have been suspended indefintiely, including leading scorer JaMychal Green.  Bama is without four of its starters and its tournament hopes are in serious doubt.

It was a rough weekend for some of the better non-majors too.

Creighton got blown up at home by Wichita State and has now lost three in a row.

Iona lost a battle for first place at Loyola in the Metro Atlantic on Friday, but the Greyhounds gave it back by losing at home to Fairfield on Sunday.

In the Horizon, Cleveland State lost at home to Valparaiso on Thursday, putting the Crusaders a half-game up in the league standings.  On Saturday, Valpo lost to Youngstown State for the first time in 16 games, but Butler won at CSU, so the Crusaders are still up for now.
Posted on: January 11, 2012 5:52 pm
 

Final 1-120

The final 1-120 ranking is posted.  Guess someone forgot to tell the computer that they gave away a crystal football Monday night.  Oklahoma State is the top rated team in the final rankings.  Maybe we can send them a football made of computer chips.

The rankings don't care about trophies.  It's based on strength of schedule and a how a team performed against that schedule.  Bowl games get no special weighting.  In fact, bowl games are so much like exhibition games that if anything, they should be weighed less.

The Cowboys benefitted from a schedule that only had three opponents not play in the post season.  It also helped that they often won big, because margin of victory is a factor (to a point).  They also didn't play any FCS teams.

LSU stays ahead of Alabama, and that is also based on a stronger schedule over the full season than Alabama did.  Head-to-head gets no special treatment in the ratings, although they split two games, with LSU winning on the road and Bama winning on a neutralish field.

I'm sure Alabama will shed no tears after finishing third in these ratings.  They went home with the trophy.  So, Roll Tide, y'all.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: December 7, 2011 4:59 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2011 6:37 pm
 

December Bracket

There is a new bracket up and, as you might expect, there have been some changes from the preseason bracket I did back in October.

North Carolina, the overall No. 1 back then, is now a 2-seed.  I have a feeling the Heels will be back on the top line in short order, and may eventually become the overall No. 1 again.

The Big Ten has nine of its 12 teams in this bracket.  Realistically, that's a couple more than the league can expect in March.  That's a function of not having begun conference play yet.  The league is the top-rated by a pretty wide margin at this point.

I put this together using a combination of RPI, poll rankings and just my own subjectiveness.  RPI data can be pretty comical still at this time of year.  Texas A&M, which is in the top 25, has an RPI of 163.  If the Aggies are still in the 160s in March, they won't be worrying about playing in the postseason.

St. Mary's is the top team in the RPI currently.  They are in this bracket, but they have only played four games that count, so the Gaels are still hard to judge.

So, there are some teams in here that we probably won't see again (TCU, Seton Hall, Minnesota, which lost its best player to injury).  I would caution Virginia Tech fans against false hope though.  You are likely to have your noses pressed against the glass door again.

Indiana and North Carolina are in the same pod.  One of them is undefeated.

Hey, Alabama fans!  I think we'll be on the same page this year.  Barring injury, your team should spend the season comfortably in the top half of the field.



Posted on: December 5, 2011 12:06 am
Edited on: December 5, 2011 8:30 am
 

Close, but no Cowboys

It was close, relatively speaking.  Oklahoma State came up .0086 short of catching Alabama. That is the closest No. 2 and No. 3 have been since the BCS formula was changed for the 2004 season. In 2006, Florida beat out Michigan by .0101, which was coincidentally the last time we debated the merits of a rematch.

OSU ended up 74 points short of what it needed in the Harris poll to finish ahead of the Tide. That's still a decent sized number. So, it's not like we were in a position where one or two voters could have impacted the outcome.

I can almost always explain why a team got picked for a bowl (it's my job, after all), but I am stunned by the selection of Virginia Tech for the Sugar Bowl.  There were, of course, higher rated teams available, but we all know that rankings don't really mean much.  It's about selling tickets and creating an attractive matchup.

The Hokies haven't traveled especially well to the Orange Bowl in recent years. They aren't necessarily a great TV draw. They lost their conference championship game, which is usually perceived as a big negative by the BCS bowls. I can't think of anything they have over Kansas State.

Boise State might have traveled well too, although they are considerably farther away. Even Baylor, which was eligible to get picked, would have at least given us Denard vs RG3.

Virginia Tech's selection seemed to be a last minute change too. The Sugar appeared to be committed to Kansas State initially.

TCU didn't make it. The Horned Frogs finished 18th, same as they were last week. I felt that three of the teams ahead of them that lost this week had to fall behind them, and that they couldn't get jumped by Clemson or Baylor in the polls. They got the first part. Houston, Georgia and Oklahoma did drop behind the Frogs, but Clemson jumped them. If TCU and Clemson switched point totals in the polls, TCU would have finished 16th and qualified for the BCS.

Houston dropped like a rock after losing to Southern Miss.  The Cougars fell from sixth to 19th.

 
 
 
 
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