Got gripes? Draw seems fair to ACC
Posted March 18, 2013
Middle Tennessee State????
Who in the name of Mouse McFadden did they beat to get a bid? What's a "Blue Raider?" What conference are they from? And, couldn't they get a little more specific than "middle?" Why not just say, "from somewhere over that hill" Tennessee State?
Oh, and isn't that the school that gave NC State fans Lee Fowler?
Well, yes. Though I'm not sure what that has to do with anything. I'm with you however, the Sun Belt Conference regular season champions didn't really beat anyone significant this year.
Well, that's not entirely true. They did beat Mississippi – three and a half months ago – and they beat Western Kentucky twice, the team that ended up winning the Sun Belt after the Blue Raiders were upset in the conference tournament.
Those three victories make this team the least accomplished, in terms of quality wins, to ever receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament in the history of the expanded field.
But, 28 wins are 28 wins and they're in, so stop whining about it unless you have a better team in mind.
That's what this tournament does. It creates anger. Anger from those who are left out: Virginia, Tennessee or Kentucky – talk about a bang-up coaching job this year, John Calipari. And it even creates anger from those who made the field.
So, here's a look at our Triangle schools, their complaints and the road that lies ahead.
Duke Blue Devils (27-5); seeded 2nd in the Midwest Region
Let me get this straight, the No. 1 team in the RPI all year long, with more quality non-conference wins than anyone else in the country, with wins over teams seeded one, two, two and five, with all but four of the teams on non-conference schedule – against whom they went undefeated – ranked in the top 100, and they not only don't get one of the top seeds, but they get the worst of the number twos?
Apparently all of the good will towards "Blue" teams was wasted on Middle Tennessee.
In all honesty, I have no problem with Duke failing to be on the top line. Losing to an NIT team in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament left it up in the air, and we all knew that the race for those four coveted spots was competitive and close to begin with.
If Louisville is the overall top seed, then Duke has to be the eighth team on the list and that's frankly a bit of a surprise. After all, Duke did go 3-1 against teams seeded ahead of them during the regular season. But, do you know what each of those seven teams have in common? They all won something more than the Battle for Atlantis. Louisville won the Big East Tournament after sharing the regular season championship with second-seeded Georgetown. Kansas, Gonzaga and Miami swept both the regular season and tournament titles in the Big 12, West Coast Conference and the ACC, respectively. And, Ohio State just beat Wisconsin for the Big Ten title.
Duke, great resume notwithstanding, has no banner to show for 2013. And, even though they're 18-1 with Ryan Kelly in the line up, the '1' came Friday night against a team that isn't in the NCAA Tournament. In a year when the committee was going to be asked to split hairs, that was the knot they couldn't untangle.
So, the Devils will be forced to negotiate a difficult road to Atlanta. Assuming they can handle the 3-guard attack of America East champion Albany, they'll either see No. 7 Creighton, starring the 23 points per game of Doug McDermott, the nation's second leading scorer, or No. 10 Cincinnati which uses stifling defense and tenacious offensive rebounding to wear teams down.
After that, say hello to the always-fun-to-play-against Michigan State Spartans.
Anyway you look at it, the committee didn't do the Blue Devils any favors, but then again that isn't their job. They're supposed to, as best they can, fairly seed and bracket the field. In this case, I'm not sure they pass that test.
North Carolina Tar Heels (24-10); seeded 8th in the South Region
Wasn't anyone watching the last month and a half? Didn't anyone in the committee room see that the Tar Heels won 8 of their last 10 games, and, in the 11 games since inserting P.J. Hairston into the lineup, the only teams Carolina lost to are seeded 2nd in the tournament? I guess the number 16 RPI also doesn't mean anything?
It was a bit of a surprise to see UNC in one of those dreaded "8 vs. 9" games. Not only will beating Villanova be tough enough, but last year's runner up, the Kansas Jayhawks would likely be the next hurdle for the Heels, and that's no bargain. For the record, the disparity in the RPI between the Heels (16) and 'Nova (51) is far greater than the combined difference between other schools in other 8-9 games. I'm not sure that means anything, but it's a cool stat and I thought I'd throw it out there.
However, North Carolina has just two wins against teams that made the field – TWO. Or, as many as they have losses against teams that didn't. Even though the Heels were right there with Miami the entire way Sunday afternoon and could have beaten the Hurricanes to win the conference championship, the end result was a loss, and they're probably seeded right where they deserve.
North Carolina State Wolfpack (24-10); seeded 8th in the East Region
I think we all saw this coming. The only real difference between N.C. State and UNC was that the Wolfpack's one extra good win, against Connecticut in Madison Square Garden, was offset by a terrible loss, on the road at Wake Forest. Once the Tar Heels showed up on the 8 line, I'm not sure anyone was shocked that the Pack ended up in the same neighborhood.
So, how good is Temple? Good enough to win 11 games in the Atlantic 10. Good enough to beat Syracuse, Saint Louis and VCU, teams seeded 5th and above. And, good enough to take the bus from the inner city up to hoity toity Main Line and whip Villanova. The Owls are pretty good on offense, not so good on defense, sound familiar?
Assuming State can regain their edge after a disappointing loss to Miami on Saturday, how much fun would it be to watch the Pack and the Hoosiers run up and down the court on Sunday? I'm not saying I think State is going to pull off the shocking upset and send one of the tournament favorites home early. But, if you were picking a team against whom NC State might be able to get their running game cranked up, you're not going to find a better choice than Indiana. I-U wants to run, and even though they're better than the Wolfpack on both ends of the floor, a loss is not a foregone conclusion at all.
If we see that match up, I'll guarantee one thing: fun.
Miami Hurricanes (26-6); ACC champions, seeded 2nd in the East Region
For the first time since seeding the field began in 1979, the team that swept both the regular season and tournament titles in the ACC did NOT receive a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Think that happens if the uniforms were blue? It certainly wasn't because their resume was lacking. The Hurricanes were 4th in the RPI, they had seven wins over teams in the at-large pool including Michigan State, Duke, N.C. State twice and North Carolina, against whom they finished off a three-game sweep yesterday.
So, how did a top seed elude the Canes?
Don't lose at Wake Forest, or at home to Georgia Tech, or Indiana State or Florida Gulf Coast. I can't imagine a No. 1 seed has ever been saddled with losses of that nature. That Miami was ahead of Duke on the 2nd-line pecking order is a bit of a surprise, since I'm sure Duke would have preferred Washington, DC, to Indianapolis, Indiana. With that said, the team that went through a bit of an early March funk seems to have a very nice path to the second weekend.
In all, the Atlantic Coast Conference got what it deserved this year. Four teams in the field, two seeded among the top eight, two more in the middle of the bracket and three others in the NIT. Other than a slight level of disrespect to Duke, it's really hard to find fault with how the final chapter of the college basketball season has been constructed. Now, it's just up to the teams to fashion an ending worthy of a storybook.