by Ken Pomeroy on Monday, March 3, 2014
I’m using my ratings and Bill James’ log5 formula to estimate the chances of each participating team advancing to a particular round of its conference tournament.
Location: All games at higher seed
Dates: March 4, 6, 9
Chance of bid thief: zero
Current kPOY: Langston Hall, Mercer
Semis Final Champ 2 Mercer 93.4 75.4 47.9 1 FGCU 92.8 71.8 36.6 3 USC Upstate 81.8 21.0 10.4 4 E Tenn St 69.6 19.7 3.2 5 Lipscomb 30.4 7.6 1.1 6 N. Florida 18.2 2.6 0.6 7 Jacksonville 6.6 0.9 0.2 8 Stetson 7.2 0.9 0.04
The A-Sun has adopted the Patriot League bracket of playing all games at the higher seed. Mercer went a disappointing 14-4 considering their non-conference performance. They won at Mississippi and Seton Hall, and took Texas to the wire in Austin. Just two of their conference wins were by single digits and they led the conference in both points scored and allowed per possession, suggesting they shouldn’t have lost four times in conference play.
But a stunning overtime loss to North Florida in the penultimate game of the regular season and the vagaries of archaic conference tiebreaker rules mean Mercer will have to win the championship on the road if CGNU is the opponent. The Dumples, er, Eagles won at Mercer to get the auto-bid last season, so perhaps there’s some justice in those randomly-generated tiebreakers.
Two seasons ago, USC Upstate went 13-5 with a bunch of freshman and sophomores. Those kids have all grown up but they only have seasons of 9-9 and 11-7 to show for that maturity since then. You might think that the conference just got tougher, but actually it’s the opposite. The A-Sun ranked 16th two years ago, but dropped to 25th and 26th in the post-Belmont era. So that 2011 season was unusual. Maybe the Spartans just got everyone’s worst shot that season or they’ve gotten everyone’s best shot since. Regardless, this will be the swan song for Torrey Craig who will make his 121st start tomorrow. Barring some bracket hijinks, it will be his last at the 881-seat Hodge Center.