JR Swift’s Blog

What I’m Thinking About Today

Thought on the Final Selections

Posted by jrswift on March 16, 2008

Well, I did pretty well this year with 64 teams out of 65 correctly predicted. I missed on Kentucky as I had Illinois St. in the field instead. I’m not at all surprised that this happened. The consensus seemed to have Kentucky in but I thought the committee might do the hard thing and exclude them. Why? First off, the committee claims to place a great deal of weight on the nonconference schedule and Kentucky did nothing positive in the nonconference portion of theirs. They went 6-7 and all 6 wins were against teams with an RPI rated over 200. If we take the committee at its word that conference records are meaningless, then the fact the Kentucky went 12-4 should not have been a consideration. They did have several very nice victories in their league and no really bad losses but all of those good wins took place with star Freshman Patrick Patterson in the lineup. He will not play any more this year so they must be judged based on what they’ve done since he went out with injury. They had two pretty decent wins beating South Carolina on the road and Florida at home. They also played well but lost against Tennessee on the road but also lost to Georgia during its improbable run to the SEC tournament title. It is obviously tough to judge a team based on four games but is that the profile of a tournament team? It may but not by much. Kentucky also had the lowest RPI of any at-large selection at #59, one spot worse than Oregon. It appears both were placed in the field at the expense of Illinois St. which, at #32, is the highest ranked team that did not get in. Now I’m not going to argue that Illinois St. is or isn’t better than Kentucky. I have no idea how a game between the two would turn out. I am also not going to argue that Illinois St. has a significantly better profile than Kentucky as I think the two are very close. It would appear that two games played a huge role in Kentucky making it over Illinois St. One was Kentucky’s very close loss to a very good Tennessee team on the road and the other was Illinois St. being crushed by 30 in the Missouri Valley conference finals. Those two games make Kentucky appear to be a much better team and I think that is what the committee decided. Overall I thought they did a good job.

I will take some pleasure in having picked Georgia to win today and Illinois to lose. Those games went much as I would have expected. I am pleasantly surprised that Kansas received a #1 seed. I really didn’t think they had as strong an overall profile as Tennessee but I’ll take it as a Kansas fan. Clearly the selection committee felt that winning a conference tournament was a big plus. At first glance, I like Tennessee, Kansas, Texas and UCLA to make the final four but more on that later.

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