So our bracket debate is finally up. We decided to summarize it this week, just in case you don’t want to take the time sorting our arguments. The bracket debate is time-stamped, so if you want to read what was actually said, we have provided the times when each area was discussed. Highlights are Nova/Purdue, Duke/Pitt, the merits of Florida, and the overwhelming suckage at the bottom of the at-large teams.
10:10:58-10:25:18: Debating Villanova vs. Purdue for the final one seed. CJ questions Villanova’s numerous losses to elite teams; Bryce focuses on Purdue’s lack of wins. We conclude that if Nova finishes 14-4 in the Big East, they’ll get the one seed; and if they lose two games, they’ll be a two seed. Since we disagree on how many they will win, we decide to move on to the two line and revisit this debate later.
10:33:06-10:35:40 (Is Pitt a 2?) : After agreeing upon Kansas St. as the second two seed, we get stuck with three candidates for two spots: Duke, Pitt, and West Virginia. CJ wants Duke and West Virginia; Bryce wants West Virginia and Pitt. Bryce argues that Pitt has winning road records over teams in top 50 and top 100 RPI, and shows how their overall categories match up with West Virginia. CJ focuses on their loss to IU and their blowout loss to Notre Dame, saying that “by that logic, Notre Dame would have to be in the field. And they’re not.” Bryce counters with Louisville’s one seed despite a similar loss last year.
10:37:03- 10:47:25 (Is Duke a 2?): Trying a different tack, Bryce argues that Duke is not on the two-line because they haven’t beaten anyone who will be in the top 5 lines. CJ believes that the sheer quantity of wins over tournament teams (8) and the lack of bad losses pushes Duke over Pitt. Bryce talks about Duke’s minimal road wins. CJ refuses to keep Duke off the two line, and offers to allow West Virginia onto the three line if Purdue gets to be the final one. We agree, thus finishing the top two lines… or so we think.
--In Defense of Texas--
10:47:49-10:56:52 (The 3 Line Defense): Bryce’s attempts to defend Texas as a three seed are mostly unsuccessful. He notes that Texas has 6 wins against the RPI top 50, 11 against the top 100. CJ keys on their potential 4-8 record in the last 12; Bryce thinks that will be closer to 6-6. Bryce counters he has evidence that last 12 record has no correlation to seed. CJ pulls out the “eye test”, claiming that Texas is a 5. Bryce concedes Ohio State and Wisconsin over Texas. He then notes that in all relevant areas, Texas and Baylor are identical. We put Baylor as the last 3, although this is contingent on the soon to end Texas and Baylor games.
11:12:58-11:20:00 (Oops…): At this point, we make two crucial discoveries: Hummel is out for the season, and we forgot Georgetown. We decide that, although the committee will reward Purdue for their season, the loss of Hummel is enough to drop them below Villanova. Georgetown is put on the two-line over Pitt on the strength of better wins and no bad losses. Bryce is happy—Pitt and West Virginia are so similar, he believes they ought to be on the same line.
11:20:31-11:49:29 (The 4 Line Defense): The Georgetown discovery has bumped Baylor to the 4 line. Bryce concedes that New Mexico and BYU ought to be ahead of Texas. CJ has one more spot to go. Bryce argues that Vanderbilt is the only other team with a claim to the 4 line, but CJ puts up Tennessee as his candidate. It is clear that Kansas, Kentucky and Syracuse are the elite teams; we believe that Tennessee will beat Kentucky this weekend, and own wins over two of those. Moreover, many of their losses occurred while Wayne Chism was injured. Bryce weakly offers their lack of good road wins, but concedes after briefly considering Temple. Texas drops to the five.
--The Middle Seeds--
11:57:38-12:00:38 (The 7 Seeds): From there, things progressed rather smoothly through the next 2.5 lines. When we got to the end of the 7 line, however, we were confronted with four candidates for two spots: Butler, Florida St, Marquette, and Connecticut. Connecticut went quickly, with surprisingly little discussion. Marquette was ruled out just as quickly, leaving Butler and Florida St. While Florida St. has 5 RPI top 50 wins, we decided that their horrible loss at Ohio St, combined with Butler’s defeat of the same, meant that Butler had to be the last 7.
12:02:42-12:23:55 (The 8 Seeds): So, at this point we considered Michigan St , who is going to finish with a ridiculous 2-6 against the RPI top 50. Despite how good we think they actually are, their resume is that of someone close to the bubble; besides, their UNC loss points to them being overrated. They’ll be a dangerous 8/9. We also considered UNLV, Xavier and Marquette for this line. With only 3 spots for those four, we had an argument. UNLV came out of the group first. Bryce argued against Xavier because their best win is against Richmond, a 6 seed, and talked up how well Marquette compares to Michigan St. CJ mentioned the selection committee make-up – the UConn, Ohio St, and Xavier Athletic Directors are on it, and made that the focus of his pro-Xavier argument. Right after we decided to kick Michigan St down a level, CJ remembered Northern Iowa and refused to have them as lower than an 8. We couldn’t come to an agreement on a second team to drop, so we decided that UNLV and Marquette would get screwed over by not having favorable committee members. Not the best solution, but really, this was the toughest decision we made.
--The Bubble, or, is Florida in--
12:31:07-1:17:00 (FLORIDA): The Florida debate would color the rest of the discussion; we managed to fill the next line without deciding on them. CJ started by championing Clemson as the first 10 seed. Bryce mentioned Florida, and CJ scoffed at the idea of even putting them in the bracket. Bryce argued that at 22-9 and holding wins over Tennessee, Vandy, Florida State, and Michigan St, that was enough to get Florida in. CJ discounted the win over Chism-less Tennessee, and over 8-seeds Michigan St and Florida, before attacking their weak non-conference. Bryce attempted to compare Clemson and Florida in the non-conference, and made the claim that a team can’t just schedule good teams, they have to beat some. CJ responded by pointing out Florida’s loss to South Alabama, and mentioned that Florida’s best wins came as splits in season series. Bryce responded that Clemson’s best wins came as splits in season series (Georgia Tech, Maryland), and showed that Florida had played the same number of top 50 RPI games (11) as Clemson, winning one more. At this point Bryce allowed that Clemson could be as much as four spots above Florida, due to the South Alabama loss. CJ returned to trashing the Florida non-conference, and showed Bryce Florida’s 220th ranked non-con SOS. Bryce checked in on Clemson’s non-con SOS, and triumphantly reported that Clemson’s non-conference ranked 250th, and revised his prior positioning statement to 3 spots. In disbelief, CJ listed off all of Florida’s crappy non-conference games; Bryce listed off the same number (7) of crappy Clemson non-conference games. CJ responded by listing off the good Clemson non-conference games; Bryce listed off the same number (4) of good Florida non-conference games. CJ finally conceded Florida on the 12 line.
Other teams mentioned in the course of the Florida debate were Illinois (Briefly at 12:36), William & Mary (Briefly at 12:37), Rhode Island (Briefly at 12:40), Old Dominion (Briefly at 12:59), Cal (1:04), Charlotte (1:07:04-1:11:09). Illinois was placed in because of their win at Clemson; William and Mary was discarded because of the Towson lost (but revisited later); Rhode Island was discarded because of their lack of wins (but revisited later and placed on the 10); Old Dominion was placed in at first mention; Cal was discarded because they have 0 top 50 wins; Charlotte was debated, and thrown into the disagreement pile – CJ thought they’d end the season 3-1, Bryce thought they’d end 1-3. Our 10 line ended as Old Dominion, Louisville, Clemson, URI, and Florida, USF, and Charlotte are on our “disagreement line”.
1:18:10-1:29:28 sees the South Florida debate. 1:30:10-1:38:35 sees CJ successfully argue for Notre Dame over South Florida, Seton Hall, and Virginia Tech, putting them in the bracket on the strength of their 2 wins over teams in the top 3 lines. While this seems weak, the quest to fill the final bracket shows just how strong that looks. When the committee is looking at the bubble, they are looking for reasons why a team should be in the bracket—and Notre Dame, South Florida, Florida, and Charlotte have them. We conclude by placing William and Mary in on the strength of two strong road wins, and then have to decide on St. Mary’s vs. San Diego St. While SDSU has the better resume, SMC beat them by 22, and makes it as the last team in the bracket.