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Monday, March 15, 2010

Why even rank the 1-seeds?

Kansas is the top overall seed for the NCAA Tournament. Kentucky is second, Duke is third, and Syracuse is fourth. Aside from the fact that Syracuse is better than Duke, we'll accept these rankings for the sake of argument.

If Kansas is the best team in the tournament, then why does Duke get to play the winner of the play-in game? The teams in the play-in game are the two worst teams in the tournament; otherwise, they wouldn't have to play an extra game. This means that Duke, admittedly worse than Kansas, already has an advantage over the top-ranked team in the tournament. The committee does it almost every year: the top-ranked seed rarely gets the winner of the play-in game. Yes, a 16-seed has never won, but once it happens, I doubt it will be the winner of the two worst teams in the field.

The top-ranked team in the tournament should be matched in the same bracket as the worst number-2 seed. Ohio State is the 2-seed in Kansas' bracket, and it is definitely between Ohio State and Villanova as the worst 2-seed. Kansas can't complain about that. However, Kentucky, the second ranked team, is matched in the same bracket as number-2 seed West Virginia. Duke, in addition to getting the play-in winner, plays in the same bracket as Villanova. This is bad. The tournament committee is asserting that they ranked West Virginia higher than Villanova. Aside from winning the toughest college basketball tournament in the country, WVU has a higher RPI than Nova, split the season series with them, and has a better record (27-6 to 24-7) with a much better strength of schedule (3 to 22). It is indefensible to rank WVU behind Nova. Duke and Nova get off easy, while Kentucky and WVU - two better teams - have legitimate complaints.

What is the point of ranking the 1-seeds if you're going to give the top two teams a distinct disadvantage compared to the 3rd rank? Oh wait, the third team is Duke, so of course the committee wouldn't even risk putting them at a disadvantage. It is bewildering to me that the best team isn't afforded the advantage of playing the worst team in the field.

Also, 5-seeded Temple (8th in the RPI, three spots ahead of the 2-seed they beat by 10) has to play Cornell, a 27-4 team. Two of those four losses have come against Syracuse and Kansas, and another against bubble-team Seton Hall. It is absurd to put Cornell at a 12, absurd to seed Temple 5, and just a joke to match them against each other.

It is clear that the tourney committee ranks the top 4 teams in order, but not the rest of the 61 teams. They already admit to avoiding matchups in the second round between teams from the same conference (which really makes no sense). Rank the teams 1-65 and make it a true bracket. If Syracuse has to play Louisville in the second round, then maybe 'Cuse should've figured out a way to avoid the sweep in the season series.


Anonymous said...


Pretty cool assessment.

Who does Andy Musser have winning the whole thing?

Will D Cat said...


Andy Musser said...

Kansas. They're going all the way.