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Thursday, May 19, 2022

Major decisions facing the selection committee

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Sometime before 6 pm ET on Sunday, the NCAA tournament selection committee will email a full support to CBS for disclosure on their selection schedule.

Here’s a look at the biggest decisions the committee will have to make going forward:

1. Who will join Gonzaga and Arizona as the No. 1 seeds?

The chaos in the SEC tournament this week worked in favor of the Big 12. With Auburn and Kentucky not even making it to the SEC title game, Kansas and Baylor now look almost certain to join Gonzaga (26-3) and Arizona (31-3) in the top seeding row of the tournament. the NCAA.

Kansas enters Selection Sunday with 12 Quadrant 1 wins, the most of any team in college basketball. The Big 12 tournament champion Jayhawks boast a 20-6 record in the first two quadrants, three combined wins over Baylor and Texas Tech and just one loss against a team unsure of making it to the NCAA tournament.

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Baylor fell behind Kansas in the pecking order when it fell out of the Big 12 tournament in the quarterfinals on Thursday, but the Bears still have a strong enough résumé to fend off all other challengers. While the Bears are just 1-3 against Kansas and Texas Tech in the league, they are 18-6 against the top two quadrants, including marquee non-conference wins over Villanova and Michigan State.

Kansas (28-6, 14-4, NET: 7, KenPom: 6)

Q1 record: 12-5

Q2 record: 8-1

Q3 or Q4 losses: 0

Best wins: Baylor, Texas Tech (2), Texas, Michigan State

Losses: Dayton, at Texas Tech, Kentucky, at Texas, at Baylor, at TCU

Baylor (26-6, 14-4, NET: 5, KenPom: 4)

Q1 record: 10-5

Q2 record: 8-1

Q3 or Q4 losses: 0

Best wins: Kansas, Villanova, Michigan State, Texas (2)

Losses: in Kansas, in Alabama, Texas Tech (2), Oklahoma, Oklahoma State

Had Kentucky or Auburn won the SEC tournament, they likely would have overtaken Baylor to claim the final top seed. The Tigers fell in the quarterfinals to Texas A&M and the Wildcats lost a semifinal to Tennessee, plunging both into a six-team group vying for four spots in the No. 2 seed line.

Kentucky’s win over Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse probably won’t come into play because the Wildcats never closed the résumé gap between them and the Jayhawks. It’s the same with Auburn, which fell behind Kansas and Baylor in fading to the finish line with four losses and one overtime win in its last nine games.

Kentucky (26-7, 14-4, NET: 5, KenPom: 3)

Q1 record: 9-7

Q2 record: 5-0

Q3 or Q4 losses: 0

Best wins: at Kansas, Tennessee, Alabama (2), LSU

Losses: Duke, at Notre Dame, at Auburn, at LSU, Tennessee (2), at Arkansas

Auburn (27-5, 15-3, NET: 12, KenPom: 10)

Q1 record: 8-4

Q2 record: 7-1

Q3 or Q4 losses: 0

Best wins: Kentucky, Alabama (2), LSU, Murray State

Losses: at UConn, in Arkansas, in Florida, in Tennessee, Texas A&M

2. Where will Duke start Mike Krzyzewski’s final NCAA tournament?

Only once in Mike Krzyzewski’s illustrious career has Duke secured an NCAA tournament seed of No. 3 or lower and still reached the Final Four.

The Blue Devils may have to repeat that feat this year to give Krzyzewski the retirement gift he covets.

Virginia Tech’s 82-67 win over Duke in Saturday night’s ACC title game hurt the Blue Devils’ hopes of clinching a No. 2 seed. Duke looks more likely to drop to the No. 3 after Villanova won the Big East tournament and Tennessee and Purdue advanced to their respective conference title games.

While Duke has beaten Gonzaga and Kentucky in non-league games this season, the rest of the Blue Devils’ résumé is uninspiring. A downed ACC provided few opportunities for standout victories and freshman-laden Duke didn’t make the most of it.

Duke (28-6, 16-4, NET: 11, KenPom: 9)

Q1 record: 6-2

Q2 record: 6-3

Q3 or Q4 losses: 1 (Virginia)

Best wins: Gonzaga, Kentucky, at North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest (2)

Losses: In the state of Ohio, Miami, in the state of Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Virginia Tech

Compare Duke’s résumé to the teams he competes against to join Kentucky and Auburn in the No. 2 seeding line. You’ll find that Tennessee has the most notable wins and no losses outside the top quadrant. And you’ll find that Duke’s resume is also a bit weaker than Villanova and Purdue’s.

Tennessee (25-7, 14-4, NET: 8, KenPom: 10)

Q1 record: 10-7

Q2 record: 5-0

Q3 or Q4 losses: 0

Best wins: Arizona, Kentucky (2), Auburn, LSU, Arkansas

Losses: in Kentucky, Villanova, Texas Tech, in Texas, in LSU, in Arkansas, in Alabama

Villanova (26-7, 16-4, NET: 6, KenPom: 12)

Q1 record: 7-6

Q2 record: 10-1

Q3 or Q4 losses: 0

Best wins: Tennessee, Connecticut (2), Providence (2), Creighton (2)

Losses: at Baylor, at UCLA, Purdue, at UConn, at Creighton, Marquette (2)

Purdue (27-6, 14-6, NET: 13, KenPom: 14)

Q1 record: 8-5

Q2 record: 6-1

Q3 or Q4 losses: 0

Best wins: Villanova, Iowa (2), Illinois (2), Ohio State, North Carolina, Michigan State

Losses: Wisconsin (2), at Indiana, at Michigan, at Michigan State, at Rutgers

Tennessee and Purdue will get one more chance to add to their resumes on Sunday in their respective conference tournament title games. The Vols meet Texas A&M and the Boilermakers take on red-hot Iowa.

3. Which ACC bubble teams will enter the field?

Although the ACC boasts many of the biggest brands in college basketball, this season’s conference could be the worst it’s ever been. Syracuse endured its worst season under Jim Boeheim, Louisville is in shambles, Florida State and Virginia have taken huge steps backwards and even North Carolina was pretty much normal in Hubert Davis’ debut season as head coach.

The result is that teams with flashy ACC records aren’t as safe as they would be going into Selection Sunday. While Duke is on track to be the No. 2 seed, with North Carolina and Miami likely to enter the field and Virginia Tech having the automatic bid, the other two ACC NCAA tournament contenders have reason to worry. in case you will hear their names. called.

The most intriguing case is Notre Dame, which stunned Kentucky in December and then went 15-5 in the ACC but has a strangely empty resume. The Irish (22-10) are a meager 4-9 in Q1 or Q2 games, meaning they have less than half as many wins in the top two quadrants as many bubble teams. Eighteen of his 22 wins this season have come in Quadrant 3 or 4.

Wake Forest won 23 games and went 13-7 in ACC play this season, but the Demon Deacons’ case is as flimsy as Notre Dame’s. They have fewer wins in Quadrant 1 (1) than they have losses in Quadrant 3 (2). Their 338-ranked non-conference schedule also gives the committee an easy excuse to exclude them.

If the selection committee stays true to its word that it doesn’t consider the conference record, then Notre Dame could be Sunday’s surprise exclusion a la Louisville a year ago. Wake Forest also seems likely to fall within a few points of the selection committee’s cutoff line.

4. Who does a bubble team beat matter more than their bad losses?

Earlier this week, Tom Burnett was asked if he valued big wins or bad losses more when evaluating teams. The committee chairman said the Quad 3 and 4 losses “certainly cannot be ignored,” but acknowledged that who teams beat is the “predominant factor in selection for the tournament.”

Burnett’s judgment seems encouraging for this year’s bubble team with the most bizarre resume. Rutgers (18-13) has as many Quadrant 1 wins as probably No. 1 seed Arizona, but the Scarlet Knights have a collection of horrible early-season losses that weigh on their profile as an anchor.

In November, Rutgers lost three in a row to DePaul, Lafayette and UMass, each of which is outside the NET top 100. Lafayette’s loss was especially damaging as it came at home against a 20-loss team that is ranked 300 or below in most major metrics.

Throw in a Quadrant 3 home loss to Maryland, and it’s easy to see why Rutgers ranks a dismal 78th in the NET rating and 53rd or worse in every metric that appears on the team sheets the selection committee receives. And yet, the Scarlet Knights remain a threat to land one of the last overall bids thanks to wins over every potential Big Ten NCAA tournament team: Purdue, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Michigan State, Indiana. and Michigan.

Can a team with 12 wins in one of the best college basketball conferences be excluded from the NCAA tournament? Yes. Can a bubble team that lost to Lafayette and four other teams that finished ninth or worse in their respective leagues make it to the NCAA tournament? Also if. Ultimately, it’s a close call, so Rutgers is a good bet to be one of four bubble teams sent to the First Four to work their way into the main field.

Rutgers isn’t the only bubble team with a harrowing combination of big wins and bad losses. Dayton (23-10) has an impressive 8-6 record in Quadrant 1 and 2 games, including a neutral-court win over Kansas, but the Flyers also have four Losses in Quadrants 3 and 4 to LaSalle, Lipscomb, UMass Lowell and Austin Peay.

5. Where should Houston be planted?

The toughest seeding decision the committee has to make might be where Houston belongs in the pack. The Cougars are ranked in the top six in the country in major predictive metrics, but they have a less-than-great résumé.

While Houston enters Sunday’s American Athletic Conference title game with a glittering 28-5 record, the Cougars still have just one win in Quadrant 1. They went 0-for-3 against league powers Memphis. and SMU, and did not beat a single NCAA tournament-caliber team in non-conference play.

Houston got its only win in Quadrant 1 in December at Fort Worth against a 15-loss Oklahoma State team that is ineligible for this year’s NCAA tournament. A neutral-site opponent must rank in the top 50 to count as a Quadrant 1 game. The Cowboys’ NET ranking is exactly No. 50.

How is it that Houston ranks third in NET and fifth in KenPom despite a lack of standout wins? The answer is that the Cougars are 27-1 in non-Quadrant 1 games and have eliminated some respectable opponents, from Oregon to Virginia to Butler to Cincinnati.

Houston did not receive a top-four seed three weeks ago in the NCAA selection committee’s reveal of the season’s selection pool. That likely won’t change even if the Cougars beat Memphis in Sunday’s conference tournament title game. Look for Kelvin Sampson’s squad to be a No. 5 or No. 6 seed when the group is revealed.

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