Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Bilas Invitational Tournament: March 6 Bracket Watch

Championship Week giveth, and Championship Week taketh away. Before we get to the updated S-Curve and bracket, let's examine the week's big movers:

The Newly Eligible (*= moved into field):
West Virginia (9-9 in Big East)*
Mississippi State (8-8 in SEC)*
Ole Miss (8-8 in SEC)

On the Come-Up:
+8: NC State, Oregon
+7: VCU
+5: Creighton, Murray State, Nevada
+4: Drexel, Akron
+3: Marquette, Indiana, Gonzaga, Florida State, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Washington, Tennessee, LaSalle

Crashing Like It's 2:30 (*= fell out of field):
-11: Northern Iowa*
-10: Middle Tennessee State (UNI and MTSU remind us that it certainly doesn't pay to be one-and-done in your conference tournament.)
-6: Alabama, BYU, Oral Roberts
-5: Vanderbilt, South Florida
-4: Wichita State, Iona, St. Joseph's, St. Bonaventure*
-3: Louisville, Virginia, Arizona

The addition of Mississippi State and West Virginia, plus drops by Minnesota and Illinois that would have left them out even if they were eligible, left us with only UConn, Seton Hall, and Northwestern kept out of the S-Curve by losing conference records. UConn and Seton Hall will need to make the Big East semifinals to ensure themselves eligibility, while Northwestern will have to stomp all the way to the Big Ten final.

Remember, we're operating under three ground rules:
1) The Numbers: Teams are ranked by the average of their bids in nine college basketball metrics, including three different RPI's and advanced ratings like those from Ken Pomeroy and Jeff Sagarin. Plus, there's also the Bilas Index, or as Mr. Trillas himself would call it, The Only One That Matters.
2) The Bilas Rule: No automatic bids, just the straight-up 68 best teams in the land.
3) The Lunardi Rule: Teams with losing conference records are ineligible.

Refer to this post for further details.

The updated S-Curve:

East South Midwest West
Kentucky Syracuse N. Carolina Kansas
Missouri Duke Michigan St. Ohio St.
Marquette Indiana Baylor Wichita St.
Michigan Memphis Wisconsin Georgetown
Florida St. Louis Gonzaga Creighton
Louisville Temple Vanderbilt UNLV
New Mexico Florida St. Kansas St. Murray St.
Alabama St. Mary's California Iowa St.
Virginia Purdue San Diego St. Long Beach St.
Notre Dame Southern Miss Harvard Texas
Belmont West Virginia VCU BYU
NC State Iona Cincinnati Miami (FL)
Washington Arizona Oregon Drexel
Colorado St. South Florida MTSU Xavier
S. Dakota St. St. Joseph's Oral Roberts Mississippi St.
Dayton/Ohio Akron/Nevada LaSalle/N. Mexico St. Davidson/Tennessee

And here's the link to the updated bracket.

As noted before, Northern Iowa and St. Bonaventure fell out, replaced by West Virginia and Mississippi State. Sorry, Mid-Majority.

For the record, our Next Five Out: Marshall, Stanford, Ole Miss, Denver and UCF. They're really the only ones with a serious chance to catch the field in the limited time remaining.

The new league breakdown:
Big East: 8
Atlantic 10, Big 12, Big Ten, ACC, SEC: 6 each
Pac-12, Mountain West: 4 each
West Coast: 3
Missouri Valley, Conference USA, Colonial, MAC, Summit, WAC: 2 each
Atlantic Sun, Big West, Ivy, MAAC, OVC, Southern, Sun Belt: 1 each

That's 36 for the majors, 32 for the rest.

While I realize that this tournament is a work of sheer fantasy, it can also have a very practical application as relates to the Selection Committee's work this weekend. The ranking averages that comprise this S-Curve attempt to strike a balance between which teams are propped up by scheduling (the RPI darlings) and those who work efficiently on the court (the favorites of Massey, Pomeroy, et al.).

By attempting to give us an objective representation of the best 68 teams in the country, we can determine which teams should be truly deserving of at-large bids to the real NCAA Tournament.

Eamonn Brennan's been playing around with blind resumes at ESPN.com to determine who should get at-large spots. While it may be mean, I don't care. I'm going to spoil the suspense for you right now.

His first group: Southern Miss (#40 on the BIT curve), Northwestern (#49), Oregon (#53), and Colorado State (#59)
Group 2: UConn (#38, but ineligible w/ losing Big East record), Drexel (#55), Texas (#37), BYU (#45)
Group 3: South Florida (#58), Xavier (#56), NC State (#50), Tennessee (#65)

While we leave UConn out on the Lunardi Rule, the entirety of their profile dictates that, outside of Texas, they may be the most deserving team from that bunch.

Southern Miss is propped up by RPI figures (17 in all three RPI's I use), but they still should be in no danger.

Lunardi's current Bracketology has Texas, Tennessee, Oregon and NC State as the First Four Out, the only ones of the 12 not in his 68. Our curve shows that while Tennessee may be a fair omission, the other three should be in at the expense of Colorado State, South Florida and Xavier.

Lunardi's Next Four Out are Miami (#46), Iona (#48), Arizona (#52) and St. Joseph's (#61).

If we can only take eight of the 16, they should be: Texas, UConn, Southern Miss, BYU, Miami, Iona, Northwestern and NC State. We already know that by virtue of their loss in the MAAC semifinal, Iona's not going dancing. It still doesn't mean that they shouldn't.

Further problems will arise if teams like Long Beach State and Harvard don't get their auto bids. Both are firmly ranked in the BIT top 40, and should be considered for at-large spots right alongside the likes of Notre Dame and San Diego State.

Check back Thursday for the next update, and we'll see if it gets strange.

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