Sunday, February 27, 2005


Practicing Punditry

Today's question is How do you maximize your chances at getting into the NCAA tournament as an at-large? Well there's only one way to find out. If you're a fan of a bubble team you've come to the right place. Here's how to give your team the best chance. I also did this to find out how in the world people still had Virginia Tech in the tournament. I may be missing a team here or there or I may have a team in a spot you dont think they should be in, but this is for research purposes more than who gets in per say.

There are 65 spots in the Tournament field. 31 Automatic bids and 34 at-large selections. This year there are 15 definite one bid conferences. These conferences wont get more than one team in the tournament no matter what. They are the Atlantic Sun, Big Sky, Big South, Horizon, Ivy, MAAC, MCC, MEAC, NEC, OVC, Patriot, Southern, Southland, SWAC, and Sun Belt conferences. That leaves 16 automatics available to go with the 34 at-larges. Some conferences could possibly get two teams if their conference leader loses in the tournament, but is strong enough for consideration as an at-large. Those conferences are the Atlantic 10 (George Washington), Big West (Pacific), America East (Vermont), CAA (Old Dominion),and MAC (Miami,OH). Notable omissions are the MVC, WCC, WAC and MWC. The reason is that those conferences will DEFINITELY get two teams in the tournament if their leader loses in the conference tourney and may get two anyway. So if we take those 9 conferences and say their current leader wins the conference tournament, that will leave 7 automatic bids with the 34 at- larges. A point to consider is that this is maximizing the at-large pool. It is very concievable that Gonzaga or Southern Illinois could get knocked off and take away 2 at-large bids. But lets have fun and maximize the pool. So that leaves 7 definite multi bid conferences. They are the ACC, Big East, Big 12, SEC, Pac-10, Big Ten, and Conference USA.

What does it all mean?
Well if you're a bubble team and they know who they are; they are rooting for every conference leader from a possible two bid conference. Every bubble team will be pulling for the 5 teams that lead those conferences. So here is who the bubble teams need to win in this order and a reason for each.
1. George Washington (beat Maryland and Michigan State- good resume)
2. Pacific (Nations's second longest winning streak and getting national attention)
3. Vermont (high RPI ranking)
4. Miami, OH (favorable RPI and beat Wichita State)
5. Old Dominion (25 wins,good RPI, but may not have enough qualty wins)
and here's the list of the other teams they will be pulling for out of the other conferences.
ACC- Duke, UNC, Wake Forest
Big East- Syracuse, UConn, BC, Villanova
Big 12- Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas
Big 10- Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan State
Conference USA- Cincinatti, Louisville, Charlotte
Pac 10- Arizona, Washington
SEC- Kentucky, Alabama
WAC- Nevada
MWC- Utah
WCC- Gonzaga
MVC- Southern Illinois

So lets say that the winner of all those conference tournaments comes from each respective group. So that leaves us 34 bids to fill. The following is a list of the teams I believe are in, very close to being in, on the bubble, or trying to play onto the bubble. (in no particular order, I promise). After the list we'll break it down further.

Stone Cold Locks (teams that are in even if they lose their remaining games)
1. Duke
2. BC*
3. Syracuse
4. UConn
5. Nova
6. UNC*
7. Wake Forest
8. Arizona*
9. Washington
10. Illinois*
11. Wisconsin
12. Michigan State
13. Kentucky*
14. Alabama
15. Gonzaga*
16. Oklahoma State
17. Kansas*
18. Oklahoma
19. Louisville*
20. Charlotte
21. Cincy
22. Utah*
23. Nevada*

Oh So Close (one or two wins and becomes a lock)
24. Notre Dame
25. Pitt
26. Georgia Tech
27. Maryland
28. Pacific*
29. Depaul
30. Southern Illinois*
31. UCLA
32. LSU
33. George Washington*
34. Mississippi State
35. Florida
36. St. Mary’s
37. Texas Tech
38. Texas
39. Stanford

Bubble bouncing (can make the tourney but cant become a lock)
40. New Mexico
41. Miami
42. Iowa State
43. Georgetown
44. West Virginia
45. Minnesota
46. Northern Iowa
47. Wichita State
48. Miami, OH*
49. Vermont*
50. Old Dominion*

Let me in, please? (needs a win or two to just get on the bubble)
51. Virginia Tech
52. Indiana
53. North Carolina State
54. Texas A&M
55. Memphis
56. Houston
(* depicts conference leader)

Ok so thats leaves 56 teams for 34 spots. Thats a problem. But it doesnt have to be 56 teams. Out of the 23 "locked" teams 10 lead their conference and could get an automatic spot. So lets say those ten teams do win their tournament. So take those 10 teams out plus the other six conference leaders, (ODU, Vermont, GW, Southern Illinois, Miami (OH) and Pacific) and lets say that they also win their conference tournaments. So that leaves 40 teams (56 minus 16)for 34 spots. But its not really 34 spots because I have 13 teams, that don't lead their conference, locked into the Tourney. So now we have 27 teams (40 minus 13) for 21 spots (34 minus 13). This is the reason why so called "bracketologists" have sub par teams in the tournament. Look at the list. The last 6 teams are all teams I say aren't even on the bubble yet. Those are also the only 6 teams I even found worthy of putting there. So that means the 21 teams in front of them that aren't conference leaders all get in!!

Bottom Line
People who call themselves "bracketologists" or whatever they are called fall into this trap. They are saying that every conference leader will win their tournament. We know the liklehood of that happening is not very good. What happens if Gonzaga or Utah lose in their tourney? Or a bottom feeder from a "power" conference wins their tourney? Well then an at-large spot is gone and one more team gets bumped. Dont listen to a "pundit" today, wait to see what they say at the end of conference tournament time. So if you think you're team isnt in the tournament at this point, think again. You're team is probably in right now, it's when the conference tournaments start that your team may be out.
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