Monday, March 16, 2009

Every Time I Think I'm Out...

...he pulls me back in!

Joy mixed with anger at Purdue

Apparently, the Big Ten Tournament result doesn't matter. They might as well have played the Purdue-Ohio State final next Thursday on the moon for all it impacted the NCAA selection committee's decision.

On the moon...with Steve?

Little Bobby Kravitz is probably right, the Big Ten Tournament Final didn't matter as to where Purdue was seeded in the NCAA Tournament--or to where Ohio State went, either. And why should it? It's one game--shouldn't the "overall body of work" (i.e. the whole season) matter more than one game?

Riddle me this: How does Purdue tie for second place during the regular season and then win the Big Ten Tournament title -- win the tournament in a conference ranked second in the nation -- and earn nothing better than a No. 5 seed?

Nice up-to-date "Riddle me this" reference, Bob. How about a KAPOW!! in the article, too?

Now to his question--perhaps it's because the Tournament Selection Committee looks at the whole season, and not just one game? Yes, the Big Ten was the second-rated conference this season. Purdue finished tied for 2nd in the conference and ended the season with an RPI of 20 or 21 depending on who you look at. If the Committee uses RPI as its guide--which it says it does--the Boilermakers are exactly where they should be. You could even make the argument that they could have ended up with a 6-seed.

But I'm using logic and reason in my analysis. Bob is using...well, nothing.
Then, if the Boilers beat Northern Iowa in the first round, they would likely play Washington in semi-nearby Portland, Ore.

It could be worse. You could have to play a 1-seed about an hour away from its campus.

Here's how unimportant conference tournaments are:

Among the four No. 4 seeds (Wake Forest, Washington, Xavier and Gonzaga), only Gonzaga won its conference tournament.

Among the four No. 5s (Purdue, Utah, Florida State and Illinois), Purdue and Utah won conference tournaments. And Purdue wiped out Illinois in the conference semifinal.

Wow--one more 5-seed won its conference tournament than the 4-seeds! Stop the presses!!

Of the 4-seeds, only Gonzaga had an RPI higher than 20 (26). Of the 5-seeds, Purdue: RPI 21, Illinois: 22, Florida State: 14, and Utah: 9. If anyone should be bitching, it's Utah--why aren't the Utes a 3-seed?

I agree with Kravitz in that it seems clear that conference tournaments didn't matter to the committee. Where we disagree is that Kravitz thinks they should matter--I prefer to look at the entire season.

(And yes, I know the committee uses a variety of factors for selection to the tournament, including records over the last 10 games, which means that winning a conference tournament should help you in terms of being a "hot team." But I don't think winning a conference tournament should count more than going 8-2 or 9-1 over the last 10 games).

Look at the very top of the brackets, where Pittsburgh, Connecticut and North Carolina lost in their conference tournaments and still maintained their No. 1 seeds.

Unless you're a bubble team making a miracle run to a conference tournament crown -- or Syracuse -- this week was utterly meaningless.

Yeah--Maryland (RPI-52, 10-seed in tournament) didn't benefit at all from its conference tournament...I'm sure the 2-1 record Maryland had in the ACC tournament meant nothing.
Profitable, good for TV and the host cities and the winners who get to wear cool new hats, but ultimately meaningless.

I agree with Kravitz on this point. In fact, I'd like to see the NCAA give the automatic berth from each conference to the regular season winner, instead of whoever wins the conference tournament. But I know that will never happen.

Purdue should have been at least a No. 4 seed. That's not only based on the fact they had a marvelous weekend here in Indianapolis and won the tournament of one of the nation's deepest conferences, but the fact that when their team has been healthy, they are one of the 10 or 15 best teams in the nation.

So, using that logic, shouldn't St. Mary's have gotten in to the tournament? They lost Patty Mills for 5 weeks, and you could definitely make the argument that the Gaels are one of the best 32 teams "when they are healthy." Same with Davidson--Stephen Curry was hurt for a few games, but when he is healthy, Davidson is a deserving team.

See how stupid an argument that is? I know the committee can do what it wants in its selection process, but seeding teams based on what they "might be" compared to how they actually performed is a ridiculous idea.

And Purdue got a 5-seed...and Kravitz is acting like the Boilers should be pissed off about not getting a 4-seed. I mean, it's not like it was a top 2 RPI team that got screwed down to a 9-seed (keep reading...)

Does one seeding spot make that much difference? Not really. If form holds, the Nos. 4 and 5 seeds will play each other in the second round, anyway. And even given the geographic disadvantage of possibly playing Washington in Portland, there's a lot to like about Purdue right now against anybody.

So now you're saying a 5-seed is okay? Do you always write stream-of-consciousness style?

Sure, one seed makes little difference between a #4 and #5. But I'd say there's a tremendous difference between #7 and #8...

Big picture, the Big Ten really can't complain. Seven teams was exactly the right number, with four teams in the top half of the bracket (Michigan State, Purdue, Illinois, Ohio State) and three as double-digit seeds (Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin).

I disagree. For the third year in a row, the NCAA selection committee has made a concerted effort to reward the big conferences and eliminate the at-large selections for mid-majors. The Big Ten did not deserve seven teams. Creighton (RPI-40), St. Mary's (46), and UAB (41) should have been considered before Michigan and Wisconsin.

As for Penn State, consider this equation: If your RPI is within 20 of Joe Paterno's age, you don't get the NCAA bid. So no whining.

Joe Paterno=82 years old. Arizona's RPI=62. Arizona is the #12 seed in the Midwest.

It's funny, pathetic, and sad all at once that the only time Kravitz uses RPI in his article, he fucks it up.

As for the other in-state team, Butler, the selection committee got it right. The Bulldogs could have been an 8 or a 9, which makes absolutely no difference. Sorry, but if you fall short in the Horizon League Tournament final and lose at home to Loyola, an 8 or a 9 is as high as you're going to rate.

Purdue lost at home to Northwestern. Now I'm not suggesting that Purdue be seeded lower than Butler (though their RPIs are very similar), but citing one loss as a basis for a seeding is stupid at best.

Butler has been in the Top 20 or 25 RPI all season--currently 22. How this warranted a 9-seed--who the fuck knows? Yes, Butler lost in the Horizon League championship game and went 7-3 over the final 10 games. So does that one tournament loss hurt you that much, especially when it's to a good Cleveland State team that has played well all season?

I know that Butler's strength of schedule isn't much--ranked 96th--but the Bulldogs had a great non-conference schedule, which included a road win over Xavier.

Let's compare Butler to a wildly successful mid-major: Gonzaga. Both Gonzaga and Butler have been ranked in the Top 25 all season--not that polls matter--but they've both been consistently good all year. Both teams are 25-5. Gonzaga won its conference tournament and went 9-1 over its last 10 games, and the one loss was against Memphis. However, Gonzaga's RPI is 29--seven spots worse than Butler.

What about strength of schedule? I mentioned already that Butler's is 96, but Gonzaga's is only marginally better: ranked 92nd! Somehow, Gonzaga is a 4-seed while Butler only got a 9-seed. Evidently, playing well at the end of the season is worth a whopping five spots in seeding. And for Butler, not only does the 9-seed give Butler a tough first round game against LSU, but it also means that if Butler wins, it gets 1-seed North Carolina in the second round.

As we've mentioned before on Lom, many of us are Butler fans, myself included. Of course I'd like to see them seeded higher. But the NCAA has clearly been punishing the mid-majors over the last three seasons. At this point, I don't think Gonzaga qualifies as a mid-major anymore, despite the fact that it plays in a weak conference.

Back to Kravitz--the question he should be asking here regarding Butler and Purdue is why Purdue's conference tournament win didn't seem to be a factor in the selection committee's seeding, yet Butler's conference tournament loss did seem to be a factor. Shouldn't he notice and inquire about the inconsistency?

If they can beat LSU in an interesting first-round matchup, they'd have to face North Carolina in Greensboro, N.C. Apparently, the Dean Dome was booked at the time. Good luck with that, gentlemen.

That's it. That's all the analysis Kravitz has regarding Butler: "if you can win your first round game, forget about the next one." With North Carolina looming in the second round, isn't it more important Butler have gotten a higher seed? Maybe at least humor the Butler faithful a little by saying that it's too bad they got a 9-seed for that reason? Something? It's obvious during the season that Kravitz couldn't find Hinkle Fieldhouse if he ran into it with his tractor, but I'd think that Butler deserves a bit of coverage based on what they've done over the past few seasons. Not to mention that Butler is located in Indianapolis, after all, which is the same city of Kravitz's employer...

But no, we just get the same amount of meaningful analysis we've come to expect from Kravitz, which is none at all. At least he's consistent.

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Blogger Zinglebert Bembledack said...

I apologize, this is a long comment. Slut beat me to this article since I have been too busy to do anything but work it seems (bastard). Great article though, Slut!

Thanks to Bob Kravitz for giving us something to write about. We were in need of some Kravitz-fodder around here.

Didn’t the NCAA come out a few years ago and state that they were going to be more proactive in selecting mid-major teams? It seemed to work for a few years in that the mid-major conferences like the Missouri Valley, Western Athletic and Mid-American Conferences were able to get multiple bids. Granted Gonzaga and Butler have been in the spotlight for most of this decade and have deserved the at-large bids they’ve received, but it seems that beyond the “elite” mid-majors, if you lose your conference tournament, you’re fucked.

Over the past couple of years, I’m not sure if it is due to turnover on the selection committee, greed or stupidity, the mid-majors are being slighted again and the BCS conferences are getting more than their fair share of bids. I don’t think that the SEC can really gripe at getting only three bids. The SEC had a down year. LSU can gripe at their seeding if they want, but then again, so can about a dozen other teams, including their first round opponent, Butler. The SEC should gripe that the Big Ten received seven bids or that the Pac-10 got six bids. I do get ticked off that teams like Creighton, St. Mary’s and UAB get relegated to the NIT, err, CBI, while teams like Wisconsin, Arizona and Michigan get bids. Yes, those teams play in bigger conferences, but I don’t know if I can necessarily say tougher conferences.

I have been perplexed at why there is such a disconnect between the NCAA tournament seedings, RPI indexes and ESPN/USA Today and AP polls. Butler was ranked 22nd or 23rd in the polls, had an RPI of 22, yet is a No. 9 seed. Based on their various rankings, shouldn’t they have been a No. 6 or at worst a No. 7? Gonzaga finished the season ranked 10th in both polls, but had an RPI of 26 and was rewarded with a No. 4 seed. Yes, Butler finished the season 7-3, had a home loss to Loyola and lost in the tournament final while Gonzaga finished 9-1, with the lone loss to Memphis and won their tournament. Butler won its conference with a 16-4 record while Gonzaga went undefeated (16-0) in the weaker West Coast Conference. Evidently, that makes a world of difference to the selection committee.

Does one seeding spot really a difference? It depends on the seed. Is there really much of a difference between a No. 1 and a No. 2 or a No. 4 or No. 5? No, not really. Is there a difference between a No. 7 and No. 8 seeds? You better fucking believe it!

I know that the committee is supposed to look at the entire season, but based on Butler’s entire season, are you telling me that if they had won their tournament, they would have only been probably a No. 8 seed? Not when all of the bracketology pundits had them as a No. 6 or No. 7 is many of brackets I looked at (prior to the conference tournament final). So when many of the No. 1 seeds in the conference tournaments lost, don’t you think if Butler had won, they probably would have been a No. 5 or at worst a No. 7 seed? This is just another example of the bias towards the mid-majors. Win out and you are rewarded, but lose and you are hosed.

And as always, Kravitz is a fucktard and Butler is relatively ignored/disregarded in the article (and the Star). If Purdue should be angry at not getting a No. 4 seed, shouldn’t Butler be proclaiming a jihad against the NCAA selection committee for their slight?

March 17, 2009 at 10:46 AM  
Blogger Zinglebert Bembledack said...

And you need to add the "really long posts" tag.

March 17, 2009 at 10:47 AM  

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