Tag:George Mason
Posted on: March 5, 2012 10:05 am
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Upsetting day

Sunday was a day of upsets that altered the bracket, but not to the point that any bids were stolen.

That almost happened though.  Creighton needed overtime to dispatch Illinois State in the Missouri Valley final.  ISU would have stolen a bid from someone with a win.

Top seeded Iona and Middle Tennessee State lost in their conference tournaments, but their at-large prospects are not very good.  Both teams too bad losses relatively early in their tournaments, and it's hard to see either one getting in now.

In fact, the second seed in the Sun Belt lost also, so Denver shows up as the league rep in today's bracket.

Further up the bracket, Ohio State won at Michigan State to create a three-way tie for the Big Ten title with Michigan.  It's the first Big Ten regular season title for the Wolverines since 1986.  The Fab Five and the 1989 National Champs didn't win the league.

The game wasn't the only loss for the Spartans.  Star freshman Brandon Dawson was lost for the year with a torn ACL.  It remains to be seen how much of an impact that will have on MSU.

Both the Buckeyes and Spartans are two-seeds in the bracket today, but still in the hunt for a one.

The Pac-12 disaster keeps chugging along.  Cal, Washington and Arizona all took bad losses on the road this weekend.  Washington is back in the bracket as the conference leader today after relinquishing that on Saturday.  Cal remains an at-large for now, but in a first four game.  Texas fell out of the bracket to make room for the Huskies.

Four more bids will be clinched tonight, including the Colonial, which has the top two seeds, Drexel and VCU, facing off.  Many are championing the idea that both teams should be in win or lose, but those people are living in the past.  The committee doesn't care that VCU was in the Final Four last year or that George Mason was in 2006.  The league is way down this year.  Drexel did next to nothing out of conference.  VCU has a win at home over the lesser version of South Florida.  That's pretty much it.  If these teams played in the Pac-12, the same media people be fuming over them even being considered.  Actually, that's pretty much happening anyway -- the people who think both these teams should be in are repulsed by the idea that a Pac-12 team could be an at-large.  The reality is that neither league has a good at-large candidate.  That doesn't mean a team or two won't get in -- there is a 68-team bracket to fill -- but nobody in either league will be able to complain about being left out.

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 7, 2012 12:38 pm
Edited on: February 7, 2012 12:45 pm
 

Feb. 7 bracket

Today's bracket is up with very little change at the top.  The top two lines are the same, and only 3-seed Georgetown moved more than one-line up to join the top 16.  The Hoyas were a five-seed last week.  Florida also moved up one spot to a four-seed.  The Gators have a big opportunity to make a splash tonight at overall No. 1 Kentucky.

Ohio State continues to push for a spot on the top line.  The Buckeyes have some good wins, over a little better quality teams than Baylor, but has losses to Illinois and Indiana and just picked up their first win of any significance outside of Columbus last weekend when they beat Wisconsin.  Almost all of Baylor's best wins have come away from home, and the Bears worst loss came at Kansas.  That's Ohio State's best loss.  So, Baylor still holds on for now.

Marquette dropped a couple spots after getting blown out at Notre Dame.  The Irish continue their climb in the bracket.  They moved up to an 11-seed after being slotted in a First Four game last week.

I can't get Seton Hall out of the bracket yet, despite the Pirates' best effort to fall out.  Their six-game losing streak is troublesome, but they do not have a loss to a triple-digit RPI team yet (Villanova is close though).  The Hall needs to right the ship against Rutgers tomorrow.

Northwestern is also still in the bracket after a bounce-back week that included a win over Nebraska and also at Illinois.  That pick got a lot of criticism last week because at the time, the Cats were 2-6 in the league.  Keep in mind though that conference record and conference standings are not relevant to the selection process.  Teams are judged on their entire seasons, not just the conference part, and it doesn't get any special weight.  Conference record is just a number.  And with the unbalanced schedules most leagues play (ridiculously so in the Big East), standings aren't very useful.

I've been talking most of the last month or so about how if a team in the Big Ten is going to drop out of tournament contention, it would likely come from the group of Northwestern, Purdue or Minnesota, but keep an eye on the Fading Illini.  Illinois has lost four of its last five, including two at home, but get a load of their next five games: at Indiana, at Michigan, home vs Purdue, at Nebraska, which has beaten IU at home already, and at Ohio State.  ouchie.  The Illini have picked a bad time to slump.

Oklahoma's stay in the bracket was short lived after home losses to Iowa State and MissouriOle Miss is also gone.  Those two were replaced in the at-large pool by Miami, which won at Duke, and BYU, who crawls back in after beating Gonzaga.

Washington has taken over Cal's spot as the Pac 12 leader, and Drexel is in from the Colonial, in place of George Mason.

We're used to seeing the CAA produce at-large quality champions, and occasionally, multiple bids, but this is a down year for the league.  Only VCU and Drexel are in the RPI top 100, and just barely (86 and 85 respectively).  It's arguably the league's worse season since 1999-2000.  I have the Dragons as a 15-seed today.

The Pac 12 has only one time in the RPI top 50 -- for now.  Cal fell to 48th after losing at home to Arizona this week.  The league has struggled the last two years, but still ranked 7th.  This year, it's down to 10th, and is a miserable 1-31 vs the RPI top 50 (Stanford over Colorado State on Nov. 15).  It's hard to build a case for an at-large bid for anyone based on that performance.  The top three teams in the league are all on the road for two games this weekend, so we could have another mess come next week.


Posted on: March 1, 2011 12:51 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2011 6:09 pm
 

Mar. 1 Bracket - Welcome to the Madness

by Jerry Palm

There has been another change at the top of the bracket this week as the top of the field continues to play its way backwards.  BYU takes over for San Diego State on the top line for now, but may have to win out to keep it.

Of course, other contenders continue to fall away.  Texas once looked like a strong candidate for a top seed, but has lost twice since Friday's bracket.  They blew a 22-point lead at Colorado on Saturday, then Kansas State came back on them at home Monday night (although from not nearly as large a hole).  Combine that with the loss at Nebraska the previous week and it looks like the Longhorns are trying to play the whole middle of the Big 12 into the field.  That's good news for Baylor, who plays them this weekend.

The result is that the Longhorns find themselves as a 3-seed today, while Notre Dame moves up to the second line.  Both the Irish and red-hot Purdue have chances to challenge for top seeds, but probably need to win out and get help.

Meanwhile, Kansas State has won five in a row, including it's three biggest wins of the year, and has played itself right off the bubble.

Virginia Tech also picked up its biggest win so far when it beat Duke on Saturday.  Despite the screaming of the TV commentators that the Hokies are now a lock, that's not true.  They can't go on a three-game losing streak from here and expect to get in.

Arizona had a rough week in LA, losing to both USC and UCLA, and dropping into a tie with the Bruins for first place in the Pac 10.  The Wildcats have done little of substance away from home.  Their only top 50 RPI wins came over UCLA and Washington, both in Tucson.  Poll voters still love them for their gaudy record, but they look like a middle of the bracket team.

I get a lot of question about team's selection or seeding that go something like this "My team is ahead of this other team in the conference standings, so why are they seeded lower?"

The answer is that conference standings (and conference record by itself) are not at all relevant to the selection and seeding process.  Conference standings don't matter in part because so many leagues play unbalanced schedules.  Seriously -- is there anything less meaningful than the Big East standings?  And the other thing about conference performance is that it is only about two-thirds of a team's entire profile, and teams are judged on their entire body of work, not just conference play.

So, I have Old Dominion ahead of George Mason in the bracket because the Monarchs' non-conference performance makes up for a two-game deficit in the Colonial standings.  They have a non-conference wins over Xavier, Richmond, Clemson and Cleveland State.   Mason's only non-conference win of any substance came over Harvard at home.  In fact, Mason's best away-from-home win of the season came at VCU.   ODU beat both Xavier and Clemson on neutral courts.  So, I see a slight overall edge to ODU.

The extreme case of this is Alabama, which is 11-3 in the SEC at the moment and has clinched the West division title, but still isn't close to an at-large bid.  Their non-conference performance was so bad that a gaudy league record hasn't been able to wipe it away.  Of course, it doesn't help that the rest of the West stinks and that accounts for most of the Tide's conference schedule.

I'll have more in the Bubble Watch later today.

See complete Bracketology coverage here.



Posted on: February 25, 2011 6:19 pm
 

Weekend Bubble Watch - Feb. 26 and 27

by Jerry Palm

There are great opportunities ahead for some teams on the bubble to make a strong statement that they belong in the NCAA.

Virginia Tech will try to play their way off the Seth Greenberg Memorial Bubble when they host Duke on Saturday.  The Hokies could really use a quality win, but unfortunately, the ACC doesn't provide a lot of chances for those.  You have to take advantage of the ones that present themselves.

Baylor's hopes are fading fast, but they can resurrect them with a win over Texas A&M, which would complete the season sweep of the Aggies.  The Bears are coming off a home loss to Texas Tech, so perhaps that is asking too much.

Kansas State
hopes to continue its run of good play when it hosts Missouri.   The Wildcats have breathed some life into their tournament hopes by winning five of six, including that blowout of Kansas.   A win over the Tigers would be its second over a top 50 RPI opponent.

Michigan visits Minnesota in a crucial game for both teams.  Michigan needs to beat quality teams, or at least other contenders, to pump up its tournament profile.  The Gophers just need to stop the bleeding.  They have lost six of eight since the injury to star Al Nolen.

UCLA not only has a chance to pick up a quality win when it hosts Arizona on Saturday, but the Bruins can also pull within a game of first place in the Pac 10.  UCLA's tournament resume is missing quality wins away from home.  That can't be fixed on Saturday, but every good win helps.

Alabama travels to Ole Miss, the only other top 100 RPI team in the SEC West.  The Tide cannot afford to be caught looking ahead to Tuesday night's battle at Florida.   The Rebels tournament at-large hopes appear to be dashed, but they can still play spoiler here.

Also on Saturday, St. Mary's hosts Portland.   The last time they met was also right after the Gaels played Gonzaga, and St. Mary's had a let down after a big win and got beat.   Now, they have to keep from hanging their heads after a tough loss and letting Gonzaga beat them twice.  If St. Mary's is going to hold out hope for an at-large bid, they cannot afford to lose to Portland.

Dayton has a chance to add a little zip to an otherwise bland tournament profile when they host rival Xavier in the A-10.  So far, the Flyers biggest win is over George Mason at home, and if that's all they have on selection weekend, that probably won't be enough.

And finally, Michigan State can all but punch its ticket when it hosts Purdue on Sunday.  They can also make a statement that they are back to being the Spartans we are used to seeing.


Posted on: February 5, 2011 9:04 am
Edited on: February 5, 2011 1:27 pm
 

Busted Brackets

by Jerry Palm

Earlier this week, the bracket buster matchups were announced.  The bracket buster is a decent concept in many ways.  Several smaller schools can get some late season TV exposure they would have never received before.  It also helps with scheduling because part of the deal is that each year's games are the front end of a home-and-home for the participants.

However, despite the name, no bracket is actually harmed, let alone busted, in the playing of these games.

The only team that may -- may -- have made the NCAA tournament in part because of a win in the bracket buster was George Mason in 2006.  Mason won at Wichita State and looked to be one of the last few teams in the field that year.  Of course, that team was the ultimate bracket buster.  The Patriots went all the way to the Final Four.

The reason we can't say for certain that Mason made the tournament because of the bracket buster win is that if the Patrios hadn't played that game, they would have played someone else of unknown quality and with an unknown result.

Nevertheless, if there is a list of teams that benefitted from the bracket buster, Mason is the only team on it.

This year's games don't appear to even have the cache of some other years.  Butler and Gonzaga are sitting it out (Gonzaga hasn't participated in a long time), although, given how those teams are doing, it probably wouldn't matter if they did.

The most intriguing game of the set is Utah State at St. Mary's .  The Aggies have crept into the bottom of the top 25 without a single win over a top 100 RPI team and in only two attempts.  They lost a competitive game at in-state rival BYU and were easily dispatched at Georgetown .  They have 21 wins, but 17 of them have come against teams ranked outside the top 150.  Those other four all came on their home floor, where they rarely lose.  Why this team is getting votes in a poll is beyond me, but this game is a much-needed opportunity for them to show they are worthy of the voters' respect.

Other than that, you have Cleveland State at Old Dominion , Mason at Northern Iowa and Missouri State at Valpo .  Fun games, but other than maybe ODU, there isn't really a decent at-large candidate in the bunch, and those games won't change that.

See complete Bracketology coverage here .




 
 
 
 
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