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Committee faces hard task with this year's bubble

Posted on: March 9, 2012 2:07 am
Edited on: March 9, 2012 12:46 pm
 
The NCAA tournament selection committee has a tough task ahead when evaluating this year's bubble teams. (NCAA.com)

By Jeff Borzello

Selection Sunday is always unpredictable, but this year will see even more questionable choices and inconsistency among the selections. This season, though, it might not be the committee’s fault – there’s just no easy way to sort through this season’s bubble teams.

Aside from the fact the majority of them are playing themselves out of the field and have mediocre resumes when compared to past groups, there are so many bubble teams that have nothing in common. There is no singular way to stack up this group of resumes and get a consistent pecking order. Everyone will have a different way to stack up the teams this year, and everyone will focus on a different variable. What makes this season so difficult? Let’s take a look at the biggest issues facing the committee this season.

Middling majors vs. non-BCS champs: This is going to be one that is debated by everyone until the moment the selections are made – and then for the following 24 hours after the show. Championship week turned several of the top mid-major champions into tournament casualties, specifically Oral Roberts, Iona, Drexel and Middle Tennessee. All four have exceptional records and solid overall resumes, but they will all be sweating on Selection Sunday. On the other side, we have a long list of power-conference teams that struggled throughout conference play but picked up a good win here and there. That list includes Miami (Fl.), Northwestern, North Carolina State, Seton Hall, West Virginia, Texas, Mississippi State and others. Which will the committee value more? Consistency throughout the season but no marquee wins? Or a few top-50 victories but inconsistency overall?

Injuries/Missed games: It seems that there are more injuries, suspensions or other special circumstances involving key players on bubble teams that will complicate selection than ever before. Here’s a small sampling:

  • Miami (Fl.): Reggie Johnson, Garrius Adams, DeQuan Jones
  • North Carolina State: C.J. Leslie
  • Xavier: Tu Holloway, Dezmine Wells, Mark Lyons
  • Ole Miss: Murphy Holloway
  • Drexel: Chris Fouch, Derrick Thomas
  • Tennessee: Jarnell Stokes
  • Long Beach State: Larry Anderson
  • Washington: C.J. Wilcox
  • BYU: Matt Carlino, Noah Hartsock, Stephen Rogers
  • Northwestern: Jershon Cobb
  • South Florida: Anthony Collins, Augustus Gilchrist, Jawanza Poland
  • Oregon: Devoe Joseph
  • Arizona: Kevin Parrom
  • Dayton: Josh Benson

Which injuries will the committee weigh more than others? Are big wins when key players were out still viewed the same way? There are plenty of interesting considerations when looking at these injuries.

Pac-12: The Pac-12 has been its own complication this season. It had arguably the worst season any major conference has had in decades, and therefore is going to be difficult for the committee to evaluate. Moreover, for the first time, the Pac-12 had an unbalanced schedule, meaning Washington’s 14-4 record isn’t the same as the 13-5 record with which California or Oregon finished. If the committee views the Pac-12 as the ninth or 10th best conference in the country, a gaudy record won’t matter much. If it views the league as a “big six” conference, a regular-season title would carry plenty of weight. Moreover, would the committee really only give the Pac-12 one bid if California wins the tournament? That’s the way things seem to be headed.

Washington: The Huskies can be grouped with the Pac-12 category, as they will be the main beneficiary of the committee viewing the conference as a “big six” league. Washington has yet to beat an NCAA tournament team, but it won the outright regular-season title at 14-4. Would the selection committee really turn down the winner of a traditional power conference that boasts so much talent?

Tennessee: The Volunteers are going to be an interesting test for the committee, due to the fact they finished with the No. 2 seed in the SEC tournament and have beat some quality teams. Moreover, the availability of Jarnell Stokes will have a major effect on Tennessee’s resume. The Volunteers were 10-5 with him in the lineup, and just 8-8 without him. However, the overall profile still isn’t good and Tennessee’s two wins over Florida came with Stokes playing a combined 11 minutes.

South Florida: If the Bulls get into the field, the committee will point to its 12 Big East wins and quarterfinal appearance in the conference tournament. If the Bulls are left out, they can point to the one top-50 win and terrible non-conference season. Either way, the committee is right (and wrong, depending on what you were hoping for). With the Big East having an unbalanced schedule, South Florida didn’t have to go through a murderers’ row to reach 12 wins. With that said, 12 wins in the Big East is still 12 wins in the Big East. Except when it’s not. How will the committee see it?

Xavier: The Musketeers have a decent resume overall, but it’s clear the various suspensions of Tu Holloway, Mark Lyons and Dezmine Wells played a major part in the midseason slump. Xavier was 0-1 without Holloway, 0-2 without Lyons and 1-3 without Wells. Take away that stretch in the Musketeers’ resume, and it’s likely an at-large profile. Will the committee completely remove those few games, though?

Drexel: The Dragons won 19 games in a row, won the CAA regular-season title outright and were playing some of the best basketball in the country late in the season. With that said, they lost to VCU in the CAA title game and don’t have the profile that would historically get an at-large bid. Of course, this season is nothing like past seasons. This profile could go back to the mid-major champs vs. middling majors argument. The Dragons will be a great test case.

Dayton: The Flyers are not getting the same at-large attention as some other teams, but that would change with a quarterfinal win over Xavier on Friday night. The computer profile is terrible, with an RPI in the 70s, and there are four sub-100 losses on the resume. On the plus side, Dayton has wins over Temple, Saint Louis, Alabama, Xavier and Ole Miss. They are 8-7 against the top 100. Then there was the season-ending injury to Josh Benson in late December. Lots of good, lots of bad. Which will the committee weigh more?

Lack of similar resumes: This could be the biggest problem the committee faces this season. There’s simply no way to compare the resumes of say, Iona and Seton Hall. One took advantage of the plethora of top-50 chances and scalped a few key wins, while the other beat nearly everyone in front of them but suffered bad losses in conference play. How can the committee look at Northwestern and its 1-10 top-50 record and say without a doubt that it’s better or worse than Oral Roberts’ 1-2 slate vs. the top 50? There are teams with no bad losses, and teams with four bad losses. There are teams with bad RPIs but good wins, and others with good RPIs but no good wins.

Each committee member will value one or two categories more than the others; collecting so many different opinions with this year’s batch of bubble teams is going to be make it completely unpredictable. 

Category: NCAAB
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Since: Apr 10, 2012
Posted on: April 10, 2012 3:07 am
 

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wailian22
Since: Mar 21, 2012
Posted on: March 21, 2012 6:00 am
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Since: Mar 3, 2009
Posted on: March 10, 2012 12:02 am
 

Committee faces hard task with this year's bubble

Miami closed the ACC at 10-5 their last 15 going into tonite, has better quality wins than any other bubble team [road @ Duke], NO bad losses, and was missing 3 key players to injury early in the season plus Malcom Grant missed 2 weeks due to a death in the family.

Drexel also deserves to be in.

Incredibly weak sisters with no good wins/1-10 vs top teams like NW, Seton Hall, Oregon don't deserve to get in. The Ionas/MTSUs simply didn't do enough to get in, they are the definition of good NIT teams. NCSU went winless vs the top 3 in the ACC.

Sagarin has Miami as better than NCSU, Seton, SDSU, Xavier, Drexel, Wash, Tenn, Oregon, right behind Murray St and Notre Dame.



Since: Mar 30, 2008
Posted on: March 9, 2012 10:29 pm
 

Committee faces hard task with this year's bubble

I got 2 words for you.  VCU and Butler.  Two of the 4 teams in the final 4 last year were from Mid-Major Conferences.  Conference history should count for something.  Before VCU, there was George Mason.  Drexel should get n for several reasons.  First place in the regular season with an UNDEFEATED season.  Lost the conference final on a gym that favored VCU (blocks from their campus).  A strong road record.  And finally, Drexel lost their game after playing 2 games the previous 2 days.  In the NCAA, no one ever plays back to back games, let alone 3 games in 48 hours.  They get either 2 or 5 days off between games.  So losing their final (by a point), should not cost Drexel a bid.  If anything, the Colonial Athletic Conference deserves a bid over any other team out of the PAC-12.  Miami FL should not get in because that whole program is ready to blow up and the ACC was not a strong conference this year.   



Since: Mar 7, 2012
Posted on: March 9, 2012 9:29 pm
 

Committee faces hard task with this year's bubble

It will be interesting to see how it plays out.



Since: Jan 25, 2012
Posted on: March 9, 2012 6:54 pm
 

Committee faces hard task with this year's bubble

First, the RPI is a joke, and it corrupts the whole process since it is used not only to assign a team a number, but it determines how many top-50 wins, bad losses, etc. If the RPI is a bad index, which it undoubtedly is, then the whole process is broken.

Agreed the RPI is a joke, but my take on it is probably much different than others. I like to use the example of Colorado who currently has an RPI of 76 and counts as a top 100 RPI  victory if a team defeated them this year. They (Colorado) play in a crappy conference. If you substituted Colorado for Texas Tech (i.e had the Buffs play the Raiders conference schedule) this year, Colorado would have been lucky to pull a 4-14 conference record since in the Big 12 you play everyone twice---there is no unbalanced schedule to hide behind. With a 4-14 conference mark, Colorado's RPI would have been closer to 200 than 100

So the fact that the Buffs play in a pathetic conference allows an inflated RPI which further inflates the RPI of teams they play in their crappy conference. To say that the Pac-12 is the 10th best conference by RPI is vastly overestimated by the reasons discussed previously.



Since: Aug 19, 2006
Posted on: March 9, 2012 5:51 pm
 

Committee faces hard task with this year's bubble

Who are those 9 top 100 wins, Al? Because they've beaten absolutely NO ONE of note since, well, the beginning of the year. Their best win is either home against West Virginia or at South Florida, both also bubble teams. Granted, they've lost to quite a few good teams, but so has Long Beach State.



Since: May 17, 2007
Posted on: March 9, 2012 2:35 pm
 

Committee faces hard task with this year's bubble

Maybe the one question we ought to ask, if these people would (ouch) challenge their brains:

Are these teams any good?

Maybe we just need a "sniff test." Look up from your computer, fellows ... and actually watch the teams play.

If Northwestern sucks, somebody should be able to tell. Just ... watch them.





Since: Mar 23, 2007
Posted on: March 9, 2012 2:17 pm
 

Committee faces hard task with this year's bubble

A team with a 31 RPI and 9 top 100 wins is not a quintessential "last in" team.



Since: Dec 16, 2008
Posted on: March 9, 2012 1:46 pm
 

Committee faces hard task with this year's bubble

Very well-stated article.


If Oral Roberts, Iona, MTSU, or Drexel were in a "Power Conference" I have absolutely no doubt that they could generate as much or more wins against the top 50 then these mediocre teams like USF, Seton Hall, Tennesee, and NC State did.


Basically you're punishing the mid-major regular season champs for losing 1 game. While your not punishing the mediocre power conference teams for losing several. Why? Just because they played in a power conference and had countless more oppurtunites to get a few top 50 wins? That's ridiculous.  


And another thing. SOS plays too big of a role in inflating RPI. Norwestern's RPI is heavily inflated because of their SOS, but against that SOS they  only went 1-10 vs the RPI top 50.  At some point, you should be punished, regardless of who you lose to. Not rewarded.


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com