Sunday, March 11, 2007

Field of 65--version 10

(about 1 week has passed since last version)
Ohio State (30-3); UCLA (26-5); Florida (29-5); Kansas (30-4)
*Ohio State is my overall number 1. UCLA was the best team in the nation during the regular season, and that has to count for something.
North Carolina (28-6); Wisconsin (29-5); Georgetown (26-6); Memphis (30-3)
*Memphis jumps to a 2 seed on the strength of a 22-game winning streak. It doesn’t hurt the Tigers that I just found out that Chris Douglas-Roberts considers Jalen Rose his mentor.
Texas A&M (25-6); Pittsburgh (27-7); Oregon (26-7); Washington State (25-7)
*After a little bit of a slide in conference play, Oregon finishes the season with an impressive Pac-10 tournament run, which included a 24-point win over USC in the championship game. Somehow the Ducks are winning in spite of the incompetence of Ernie Kent.
Texas (24-9); Southern Illinois (27-6); UNLV (28-6); Notre Dame (24-7)
*Texas proves they deserve a 4 seed after making it to the Big 12 championship game. Now, it’s just a question of how far Kid Nut Raven can carry them in the Big Dance.
Nevada (28-4); Virginia Tech (21-11); Virginia (20-10); Louisville (23-9)
*Nevada falls from a 3 seed after not even making it to the WAC championship. Despite an early loss in the ACC tourney, UVA holds on to a 5 seed based on the Cavaliers’ share of the ACC regular season title.
Maryland (24-8); USC (23-11); BYU (25-8); Tennessee (22-10)
*After a strong end to their regular season, the Terrapins drop to a 6 seed after getting beat in the first round of the ACC tourney by 12th seeded Miami. USC would have jumped more spots, but the Trojans got absolutely dominated by Oregon in the Pac-10 championship game.
Marquette (24-9); Boston College (20-11); Vanderbilt (20-11); Butler (27-6)
*Back-to-back losses to Arkansas keep the Commodores out of a top 6 seed.
Winthrop (28-4); VCU (27-6); Villanova (22-10); Creighton (22-10)
*OK, I’m guessing you don’t see why I have 3 mid-majors seeded ahead of the next line of traditional powers. Well, Winthrop took care of business in the Big South Conference tourney after going undefeated in conference play, capping a regular season in which they only lost 4 games—to North Carolina (by 7), Maryland (by 11), Wisconsin (by 3), and Texas A&M (the only blowout, by 20). Oh, and the Eagles have an 18-game winning streak. VCU won the regular season title in a very strong Colonial Athletic Association and then won the CAA tourney. Only one of their 6 losses was by more than 9 points, and none of them were to bad teams. Creighton, who I’ve been down on all year, had the second best record in an overrated (but still competitive) Missouri Valley and won the MVC tourney, picking up a win against Southern Illinois in the championship game. I have more respect for mid-majors surging into the field than traditional powers stumbling to the finish.
Kentucky (21-11); Duke (22-10); Indiana (20-10); Arizona (20-10)
*The one interesting thing about having these traditional powers in the 8/9 game: the prospect of seeing them take on and possibly upset the 1 seeds in the second round of the tourney. Runs with Two Horses is especially excited about a potential match-up between Randolph Morris and Greg Oden. Just when I thought Arizona might be turning the corner, they put together an altogether uninspiring performance against Oregon in the first round of the Pac-10 tourney.
Davidson (29-4); Purdue (21-11); Kansas State (22-11); West Virginia (22-9)
Purdue had a strong Big 10 tourney, dominating Iowa and giving Ohio State a decent challenge in the semifinals. I also think K-State answered some questions with their conference tourney play, dominating Texas Tech and losing to Kansas by 6. West Virginia also had a solid Big East tourney, beating Providence and playing Louisville tough. These are the 3 bubble teams I feel strongest about, and they happen to be the 3 I can see the selection committee screwing.
Texas Tech (21-12); Xavier (24-8); Syracuse (22-10); Michigan State (22-11)
*I’m really not as high on Xavier as the media seems to be. I know they finished first in the A-10, but the A-10 is really weak this year. I think they should be in, but I also think the Musketeers are squarely on the bubble. I’m also kind of confused why no one is talking about Michigan State being on the bubble. I know they beat Wisconsin, but anybody can anybody on a given night. One game does not a season make. I think they deserve to get in, but an 8-8 Big Ten record isn’t exactly overwhelming.
Illinois (23-11); Stanford (18-12); George Washington (23-8); Holy Cross (25-8)
Michigan State, Illinois, and Stanford are my last 3 in. They are my only selections that I’m not completely confident about. A few comments about teams I left out: I know everyone seems to love Drexel, but give me a break. You don’t get an invite for being 4th in the Colonial Athletic Association (no matter how strong that conference is this year). Speaking of the CAA, Old Dominion got a look (more like a glance), but I just couldn’t justify the Monarchs displacing Illinois or Stanford. I know no one gave them a second thought after they lost to Albany in the America East tourney, but Vermont was a solid bubble team. Akron, runner-up in the MAC was an even more compelling bubble team that no one was talking about after they lost to Miami OH. I honestly don’t understand why anyone is talking about Florida State being a bubble team. I love Al Thornton, and, yes, we’re all being deprived by not getting a chance to watch him in the tourney. However, the Seminoles were 7-9 in the ACC. If you can’t finish at least .500 in your conference, you don’t get an at-large in my book. That takes care of Arkansas, 7-9 in the SEC for the regular season. If Air Force gets in, a terrible mistake has been made. The Falcons have lost their last 4 games and didn’t even get out of the first round of the Mountain West tourney. In case you were wondering, my first team out was Georgia Tech. I really think I may have made a mistake not putting Georgia Tech in the field.
Gonzaga (23-10); New Mexico State (25-8); Long Beach State (24-7); Albany (23-9)
*Does anyone doubt that Gonzaga will get a higher seed than they deserve? If they get a higher seed than Winthrop or VCU, the selection committee should be disbanded. New Mexico State has a lot of talent and could be a dangerous first round opponent. I’ve watched Long Beach State twice this year, and they have a right to be angry if they get lower than a 14 seed.
Texas A&M Corpus Christie (26-6); Oral Roberts (22-10); Wright State (23-9); Miami OH (18-14)
*I hate it that Miami OH beat Akron in the MAC championship. Akron deserved to dance.
Eastern Kentucky (21-11); Niagara (22-11); Belmont (23-9); Weber State (20-11)
*Niagara is riding an 11-game winning streak heading into the tournament.
Pennsylvania (22-8); Central Connecticut State (22-11); Florida A&M (21-13); Jackson State (21-13); North Texas (23-10)
*Jackson State against North Texas in the play-in game.

IN: Albany; Florida A&M; George Washington; Gonzaga; Miami OH; New Mexico State; North Texas; Wright State
OUT: Air Force; Akron; Delaware State; Georgia Tech; Massachusetts; Santa Clara; Vermont; Western Kentucky


Blogger Codename Curveball said...

Syracuse, West Virginia, Kansas State...I nominate Mr. Bumpo for the committee so he can hopefully bring some reason back to the bracket formation. These snubs and Arkansas' jump into the dance should not have happened.

March 11, 2007 at 9:23 PM  
Blogger Natty Bumpo said...

Thanks for the support, Curveball. I honestly thought the selection committee did a pretty good job. I do think Kansas State, West Virginia, and Syracuse deserved bids. However, I can get past these omissions. The K-State snub is the one I have the most trouble with. I really don't even have any gripes about the committee's inclusion of Georgia Tech and Old Dominion. Both are deserving teams. Unfortunately, the selection committee made one huge mistake. How does Arkansas get an invite. Yes, they got to the SEC championship game after knocking off powerhouses South Carolina, Vanderbilt, and Mississippi State. However, once there, Florida beat the Razorbacks by 21. They couldn't beat Florida or Kentucky this year. Both Ole Miss and Mississippi State finished ahead of them in the SEC standings. And most importantly, they had a losing conference record, going 7-9 despite playing in the lowly SEC West. Even with their conference tourney run, they only ended up 10-10 in SEC play. Kansas State was 10-6 in the Big 12. Syracuse went 10-6 in Big East play, and West Virginia was 9-7 in conference play. Go Razorbacks!

March 11, 2007 at 10:10 PM  

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