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Tag:Iowa State
Posted on: February 28, 2012 2:28 pm
 

Bracket steady at the top

Today's bracket and bubble watch are posted.  The top three seeds are still the same, although some shuffling among regions has occurred.

One of the biggest myths of bracketing is that the committee "snakes" the field, but that isn't true.  No effort is made to match the overall No. 1 with the worst of the two seeds, or the 16 seeds or the 8s or any seed.  Geography plays a big role in where teams get placed.  There is some effort at balance among the top four seeds in each region, and in the bracket overall, but that's it.

Geography plays a much bigger role in bracketing than most people realize.  That's because the feedback the NCAA gets from schools and coaches is that they would rather be in a tougher region close to home than travel far for an easier draw.

So, no Kansas is not the lowest No. 2 seed just because it is paired with overall No. 1 Kentucky.

Texas and Arizona are out of the bracket, replaced by UCF and Miami.  Miami actually picked up a big win over the weekend against Florida State.  The other teams didn't lose, but got shuffled after re-evaulation.

Iowa State was the biggest mover up the bracket after filling a big hole in its resume with a win at Kansas State.  It was only the Cyclones fourth top 100 win, but their first away from home.

Wisconsin moved up a couple spots as well after winning at Ohio StateNotre Dame had its nine-game winning streak broken at St. John's, then lost again to Georgetown last night.

Conference tournaments are underway, which has those teams near the bottom of the bracket sweating out potential bid-stealers.  If Murray State were to go down in the OVC tournament, somebody's bubble would burst as Murray is clearly at-large quality.

The same would happen if a team other than Creighton or Wichita State wins the Missouri Valley.

It's a little dicier after that.  Harvard might be an at-large if it somehow loses the Ivy League.  The Ivy does not have a tournament, so the Crimson would have to lose in the regular season.  They are currently tied with Penn in the loss column.  If the two teams finish tied, the Ivy would have a one-game, neutral court playoff.

Teams like Long Beach, Oral Roberts, Drexel and Iona have slim at-large hopes should they lose their conference tournaments as well.

I will update the bracket and bubble watch pages daily from now on, as events dictate.

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 24, 2012 9:47 am
 

A new top seed and a feeble bubble

The new bracket and bubble watch are posted.  There is a new no.1 seed.  Michigan State takes over a spot on the top line, bumping Missouri, which lost for the second time this season to Kansas State.

Expect to see some jumbling of the top eight teams in the bracket as the three conference pairs in that group play each other.  Each pair has a regular season game left, as well as a possible conference tournament game.

Cincinnati finally joins the bracket despite its putrid non-conference schedule.  Their non-conference schedule ranking of 320 would be the second-worst ever to get an at-large bid.  The record is 323, which is held by the 2006 George Washington team, which finished its season 26-2.  The worst ranking for a team that was close to the bottom of the at-large pool was Air Force in 2004, which ranked 315th.

It's only the quality of its wins that has the Bearcats in at all, but before Cinci fans get too comfortable, teams with 5 top 50 RPI wins get left out routinely, so the Bearcats are not comfortably in the field at all.

As it stands right now, Cincinnati would also tie the record for the lowest RPI ever for an at-large team.  New Mexico was also 74th back in 1999.

The committee very rarely rewards teams that only have three top 100 RPI wins.  In the 18 years that I've been tracking the data, it's only happened five times, and not at all since 2003.  Iowa State has a spot in this field though, despite just three top 100 wins, and all at home.  VCU is in the same boat and also pushing for a spot. 
Colorado State is barely in the bracket, despite a top 30 RPI.  I doubt the Rams will set the record for the highest rated team left out (21, Missouri State in 2006), but they have a chance to be in the team picture.  The next highest ranked team left out was 30th.

Teams without at least one top 50 RPI win don't get picked very often.  Clemson was chosen last year despite and 0-5 record against that group, but the Tigers were the first team picked since 2006 without a top 50 win.  This bracket has two such teams (Saint Louis and Washington).

Looks like the NIT is going to be missing more than a few teams this year.
Posted on: February 21, 2012 4:36 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2012 5:10 pm
 

Feb. 21 bracket: Big Ten loses some ground

Today's bracket is posted.  The top two lines remain the same.  A lot of shuffling happened below that.

The biggest news, I guess, is that I finally have a bracket with less than nine Big Ten teams in it.  Minnesota's most recent loss has the Gophers on the outside looking in.  Illinois is just a train wreck.  Nobody has looked less like an NCAA tournament team than the Illini in the last few weeks.

They were replaced by Iowa State and Washington.  Both teams are lacking in quality wins.  They each have only three RPI top 100 wins.  It's been nine years since the last time the committee took such a team, but of course, the season isn't over yet.  They have never taken a team with just three top 100 wins and none in the top 50, but that's Washington at the moment.  The field is bigger now.  They have to take somebody.

The team making the biggest move up the bracket lately has been New Mexico. The Lobos had a great week last week, beating San Diego State on the road and UNLV at home.  They now lead the Mountain West by two games.

Notre Dame continues its climb up the bracket as well.  The Irish extened their winning streak to eight games with an overtime win at Villanova.

It was a rough weekend in Conference USA as both Southern Miss and Memphis suffered their worst losses of the season.  The Golden Eagles fell at Houston, while the Tigers blew a big lead at home to UTEP.

Mississippi State is also falling apart at the wrong time.  The Bulldogs lost three in a row, including games to non-tournament teams Georgia and Auburn.  Those are their worst losses of the season.

The bracket buster took place last weekend, and as usual, no brackets were actually busted.  Murray State picked up an impressive win over St. Mary's, which will give the Racers a bit of a cushion should it need an at-large bid.  Long Beach State could have done the same, but couldn't hold on at Creighton.


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: February 6, 2012 11:18 am
Edited on: February 6, 2012 11:53 am
 

Weekend winners and losers

Here is a look at the teams that helped and hurt themselves significantly this weekend. 

Winners:

Missouri -- The big win over Kansas will be a big help in the battle to be a No. 1 seed.  Of course, those two will play again.  Maybe twice more.

Ohio State and Indiana -- Both teams picked up their first significant road wins of the season.  The Buckeyes won at Wisconsin and IU beat Purdue at Mackey.

Notre Dame -- The Irish continued their resurgance with a 76-59 pounding of Marquette, which had won seven straight.  Notre Dame's winning streak is up to four, and all four are quality wins.

Memphis -- After struggling against better non-conference foes, the Tigers picked up a big comeback win over Xavier.  That is arguably their best non-conference win.  However, the Tigers also won at Miami, a win that looks a lot better today...

Miami -- The Hurricanes won at Duke for their fourth straight win, and easily their best of the season.  It puts Miami squarely in the tournament chase.

Northwestern -- Just when you thought they were dead after losing at home to Purdue last weekend, they went to Champaign and beat Illinois yesterday.

Losers:

Seton Hall -- The freefall continues.  A 23-point loss at Connecticut is the Pirates sixth straight defeat.

Dayton -- Speaking of freefalling, it's an annual ritual for the Flyers.  Their loss to Saint Louis over the weekend was their fourth in a row.

Purdue -- Losing at home to Indiana is never good for the Boilers, but their inabilitly to defend the home floor against tournament quality opposition may send them to the NIT.

Arkansas -- Lost at LSU and still looking for its first win outside Fayetteville.

Xavier -- The Muskies lost an opportunity at Memphis and have now lost three of five with a difficult stretch of the schedule coming up soon.

Oklahoma -- The Sooners have been on thin ice at best, but a home loss to Iowa State means the climb back to tournament contention may be too big a task.

Nevada -- The Wolf Pack still leads the WAC, but a home loss to Idaho may mean they have to beat Iona in the bracket buster to resuscitate any at-large chances they may have had.



Posted on: January 25, 2012 10:54 am
Edited on: January 25, 2012 3:26 pm
 

Jan. 25 Bracket

Today's bracket is posted.  Kentucky is the new overall top seed, followed by Missouri, which is the only newcomer to the top line, replacing Duke.

Syracuse and Baylor remain No. 1 seeds despite losses last week.  Kansas is pushing hard, and beat Baylor recently, but the Jayhawks have done most of their damage at home, and still have that extra loss - to Davidson.

Ohio State has also rejoined the fight, but is another team that has struggled away from home.  All three of the Buckeyes' losses have come on the road, to their three best opponents away from home.  They are mighty in Columbus, and the tournament is played there, but Ohio St will be shipped out.

The Big Ten still sports nine teams, but Purdue is hanging on for dear life.  The Boilers have struggled recently, losing at home to Wisconsin and just on Tueday, to Michigan.  They are the only Big Ten team still looking for a win over a ranked opponent.  If the field were more accomplished, Purdue would definitely be on the outside looking in.

Illinois also took a beating this week in the bracket.  The Illini fell from second to seventh after losing at Penn State and at home to Wisconsin.  They are a true six-seed that was moved to seven to help with bracketing considerations, but that is still a sizeable drop.  Also hurting them is that the loss to Purdue looks worse than it did last week.

Cincinnati, despite a 1-2 week, is getting closer to the bracket despite a non-conference schedule rankng 329th out of 344.  That's going to be an albatross around the Bearcats' neck all season long.  The committee, even in an expanded field, still takes a very dim view of that and will eliminate teams for no other reason.

Cinci is also a strange team in that it is better on the road than at home.  The Bearcats are 6-2 in games away from home, but only 9-4 on their home floor, including losses to St. John's and Presbyterian.  That 92 RPI ranking is due to their weak non-conference schedule and their difficulty defending the home floor.

Cincinnati has nothing on Loyola Marymount though.  The Lions are 7-2 on the road, but only 3-6 at home.

And from the Teams Get Bids, Not Conferences departement: Conference USA has four teams in the bracket, but all are 10-seeds or lower.

New to the bracket this week: Ole Miss, Iowa State, Texas and UCF.
Leaving us, for now: Stanford, Northern Iowa, Denver and Colorado State, which is the highest rated RPI team left out.



 
 
 
 
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