Sunday, February 10, 2008

If today were Selection Sunday

A weekly feature of the The Fan Blog, from here on out, If Today were Selection Sunday...does just that. It looks at the 34 at-large spaces available in the field and and determines who are the best candidates for those spots as of right now. It does not attempt to project or predict what will happen in the future and whether or not these teams will actually appear in March when the real committee makes its selections. But it does base this on the 65 team field and will only include that many teams each week.

5 Weeks until I am no longer important and the committee let's us know exactly who will be in tournament. Not the teams that I think should be included.

But since it's five weeks away, let's look at who I think should be included. These are the teams that I think would get in if we picked the teams today. One thing I am noticing is that there seems to be more seperation of teams, so I'll focus more on the final teams fighting for the last spots today than I have in past weeks. Right now, I have 40 teams that I feel can't be ignored on Selection Day. They represent 13 conferences, so assuming they win the automatic bids from their conferences, then those 40 teams take up only 27 of the 34 at-large bids.

The first group of teams are those that I don't think need any explanation for inclusion....

Duke, Kansas, Memphis, UCLA, North Carolina, Georgetown, Tennessee, Stanford, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Drake, Texas, Xavier, Connecticut, Indiana, Marquette, Washington State, Arizona, Butler, Texas A&M, Kansas State, Notre Dame, Louisville, Gonzaga, Pitt and St. Mary's

Then I've got this group of teams that might be debated but ultimately have to be included

Vanderbilt - RPI is too high to ignore; good thing they won at South Carolina though

Clemson - A win at Duke tonight wouldn't hurt things

Davidson - A perfect regular season in the Southern conference should be a guarantee

Dayton - Another one of those high RPI's that is struggling

West Virginia - Seem to be playing their way onto the bubble.

Virginia Commonwealth - Commodores might not have to win CAA tournament

Massachusetts - Big win over URI this week secured status

Mississippi - Rebels aren't headed in the right direction, but they are in

Oklahoma - Sooners doing just enough

Arkansas - Hogs are fairly dangerous in the SEC

USC - Split in Washington keeps them included

Rhode Island - Had they not rallied in second half versus Fordham, they might not be here

St. Joseph's - The Hawk will never die, but they better beat Temple this week

Ohio State - Buckeyes are highly mediocre, but highly rated enough

So that leaves us with seven slots. I've found a pretty big pool for those slots, teams that are deserving of the consideration.

Here is my bubble today: Oregon, Syracuse, Baylor, Maryland, BYU, UNLV, Purdue, Florida, Creighton, California, Kent State, Charlotte, UNC Asheville, South Alabama, Seton Hall, NC State, Mississippi State.

Let's shrink the bubble a little bit, let's give automatic bids to either BYU or UNLV, Kent State, UNC Asheville and South Alabama. Then let's go ahead and include BYU or UNLV as one of the final teams in.

So we are left with six slots and 12 bubble teams.

Oregon - The Ducks are 14-9. That's 14-9. It is a pretty difficult schedule they've played, but it's 14-9. A lot of questionable losses to mediocre teams. I can't include them.

Syracuse - The Orange doesn't have a real good record versus tournament teams. But they don't have the bad losses they suffered last year. At least they don't have home losses to non-tournament teams. I think that is the difference. They are one of the last teams in.

Baylor - At 17-5 the Bears seem to be a lock record wise. But they don't have that major signature win. They do own a good win over Notre Dame early, and the 5 OT thriller with A&M. Among this group we're picking from they are easy to put in.

Maryland - I'm not sure to do with the Terps. They are hot. They've won 10 of 12, including the upset of North Carolina. However, the total picture shows 5 losses to non-NCAA teams, and only two wins among them. They are on the bubble, but certainly rising, and my final team in or out.

Purdue - The Boilermakers are the Big Ten leader. So the Boilers can't possibly be on the bubble can they? Well???? The problem is there is only one win against a Top 100 conference foe, and there are two losses to teams outside of the top 100. From this group, they were my first team off of the bubble and in.

Florida - The two-time defending champ doesn't have a lot of marquee stuff on the resume. Not a lot of substance that the committee is looking for. But at 19-5, we'll give them a chance for a third straight title.

Creighton - Blue Jays are worthy of consderation at this point. But five conference losses in the MVC is too much to overcome right now.

California - For me the Bears are a cheaper version of Oregon. So I've got them out.

Charlotte - The 49ers have some good wins within the A-10. But they are going to need a few more in the conference tournament for me to include them.

Seton Hall - Pirates poor display against Notre Dame cost them a bid. They had some momentum up until then. Let's see if they can regain it.

NC State - Despite the loss to Maryland yesterday, the Wolfpack still has the numbers to get in. The RPI is getting dangerous at 45, but the SOS helps at 31

Mississippi State - My dilemmna is this Bulldog team or the aforementioned Terrapins. The teams have similar paths to this point. Struggled early and have gotten hot lately, during conference play. I'm not sure I agree with it, but the ACC conference RPI is much higher than the SEC, so the bid has to goto Maryland.

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