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Saturday brought the end of the regular season for all of the conference that weren’t already playing their tournaments except for the American and Big Ten, which will finish play on Sunday.
Jerry Palm’s projected bracket One of the common misconceptions about the tournament process is that conference standings matter. The most important thing to remember is that teams are judged on their entire season, not just what they did in conference play. Non-conference performance matters too, and every bit as much as conference performance. Also, with so many leagues playing unbalanced schedules, conference standings can be deceptive.
For instance, North Carolina and Indiana won outright regular season titles (yes, I know the ACC does not recognize a regular season champion), but each did so with relatively weak conference schedules. Each has 14 conference wins, but the Tar Heels only have two RPI top 50 wins among them. Of the other five top 50 teams in the ACC, North Carolina only had one home-and-home (Duke). The lack of higher quality wins, both inside and outside the league, is what is holding down the Tar Heels’ seed.
Indiana’s league schedule was a little better. It has four top 50 wins among is 14 conference wins, with a chance to get another on Sunday against Maryland at home. That is the only meeting between the Hoosiers and Terrapins this year. They also played Purdue only once at home, and Michigan State only once on the road. Only Illinois played a weaker conference schedule than Indiana.
That doesn’t mean those aren’t good teams. Obviously, they are. But finishing first in their leagues doesn’t necessarily mean they will be the highest seeded team from their leagues.
Wichita State became the first conference tournament top seed to lose and become a potential bid-stealer. They are the third team out in the bracket today, but the Shockers can’t do anything to better themselves at the moment. All Wichita State has is a win over Utah at home. That is unlikely to be enough to put the Shockers into the field.
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