Some random thoughts on the brackets…
– One of the first games to be announced was Oklahoma State/SE Louisiana. My first reaction was "81-29." SE Louisiana is to Cajun Country what Washington State is to the Palouse. Billy Kennedy’s team wins the same way Dick Bennett’s does. Nine times this year the Lions have held their opponents to 20 points or less in the first half, including 13 on two occasions. You may remember that Oklahoma State and Washington State hooked up in one of the biggest mismatches of the season in December, with the Cowboys winning 81-29.
– After Northern Iowa made the field, was there anyone rooting for Indiana to show up in the field more than Rick Hartzell?
– New Mexico came in as a 12 seed. The last at-larges all got 11 seeds. So it’s safe to assume that had UNM not won the MWC tourney, they were NIT-bound. Give Lobos coach Ritchie McKay credit for his successful PR campaign to convince a few prognosticators that they deserved a bid, but the committee gave the Lobos mid-major treatment based on the lack of quality competition.
– Vermont got a 13 seed, and obviously would not have been an at-large with a loss in the America East championship.
– BC got sent to Cleveland as a four seed and Syracuse went to Worcester as a four seed. It would have saved travel time to flip them, but the five seeds are protected from home-court disadvantage situations. So that’s why BC has to travel.
– Best first round game: Villanova-New Mexico. Hopefully I’ll have some time to dive into this one with both hands before Friday.
– Team most screwed by the committee in the first round: Arizona. Not because of their seed – they deserved a three and got one – but because of their opponent. They better be prepared to play some defense against Utah State, who leads the nation in field goal percentage. Snooze a little, and Jaycee Carroll will light you up for 25 without any trouble.
– I have updated the stats page with final regular season numbers. I went with the ever-popular three point production as the extra stat. Eight of the 16 teams least dependent on the three got at-large bids. Only two (Louisville, WVU) of the top 30 did. I had to double-check Nevada’s numbers on this because of all the teams in the nation, they are far and away the least interested in shooting the three. In doing so, I found out that they have played only ten guys all year. Come on Mark Fox, give the walk-ons a chance.
– I posted before the selection show that Washington deserved a number one more than Duke. They both got number ones with Wake Forest getting left out. It’s just an odd decision with Wake finishing two games ahead of Duke in the ACC. But I’m in the minority on this one.
– Of all the regions, the Austin region is where brackets will get wrecked. It’s also the region where the committee continued their longstanding inside joke. Since 1990, Kentucky and Utah have been in the tournament together eleven times. On eight of those occasions, the two schools that are 1500 miles apart have been put in the same region. One of the times this didn’t happen was 1998, when they met in the national championship game.
– In terms of the RPI, if you had picked at-larges in order of RPI ranking, you would have missed three teams (NC State, Iowa State, UAB). RPI deviations in past seasons: 2004 – 2, 2003 – 2, 2002- 5, 2001 – 2, 2000 – 5.