Bracketology update: Cougs reaching uncharted waters

Just a brief update on Joe Lunardi's Bracketology over at ESPN.com. Coming off the road sweep of the Oregon schools, Lunardi has moved Washington State up to a No. 4 seed in his latest NCAA Tournament projection.

Why is that significant? Two reasons:

  1. Reaching that No. 4 line usually guarantees a pretty inferior opponent. Of course, there still are upsets, but there's a pretty significant difference in terms of the number of upsets that happen to No. 4 seeds vs. No. 5 or 6 seeds. (I'll see if I can dig up the stats at some point. For now, you'll just have to trust me.)
  2. Seeds that are No. 4 and above are what are considered "protected seeds" and are usually sent to a site that's geographically favorable to the school. In this case, Lunardi has the Cougs off to Sacramento, Calif. (Yes, I'm aware there's a regional in Spokane; for an explanation of why the Cougs can't play there, read this.)
For what it's worth, Lunardi has the Cougs facing Holy Cross -- the champion of the Patriot League -- in the first round. In a year when it was considered crazy to even think about the Tournament, these Cougars ought to now be thinking about staying in that top 16 of the Tournament. It does make a big difference.

I'd like to give a special shout-out to the Zags, who went out and made me look really dumb the day after I said it appeared they finally had gotten their act together by losing at Loyola-Marymount, 67-61. Nonetheless, Lunardi still has the Bulldogs in the tournament as an at-large team, albeit as one of his "last four" in. I'm really not sure how these guys are still an at-large bid at 17-8 with two awful, awful losses on their resume (at CollegeRPI.com No. 149 St. Mary's and the No. 182 Lions). Whether they belong in or not, the Zags are walking a dangerous line if they don't win their conference tournament.

Speaking of teams with bad losses ... how 'bout them Huskies? A colleague of mine mentioned that he heard UW forward Jon Brockman on the radio today saying the Huskies were in great position to make a run and get in the tournament. Uh, earth to Jon -- you might still have a chance to sneak in, but I'd hardly call it great positioning.

Don't believe me? Think I'm a Husky hater? Check out this story from Bob Condotta, the UW writer at the Seattle Times. It includes interviews with the two prominent bracket projectors whose sites I cite often here (Joe Lunardi and Jerry Palm). Some snippets:

"They are not even on my board or anything," said Jerry Palm, who runs CollegeRPI.com. "When I do brackets, I'm not even thinking about them."

"Washington has done just enough in the last two weeks [beating Oregon, winning at Arizona State] to stay on the edge of the at-large conversation," Lunardi said. "But it is the far edge."
So, what do they need to do? All agreed that getting to 20 victories with some big wins in the mix would be necessary.

"They have to win at Pitt, and probably win at Oregon, too," said Ken Pomeroy,
who manages kenpom.com. "And then maybe one more in the Pac-10 tournament."
None are optimistic.

"There is nothing in their track record to date which suggests this will happen," said Lunardi. "The Huskies have some of the worst defensive metrics [ratings based on stats] in the country. I can't think of a team in their position which has turned it around as suddenly as Washington needs to."

1 comment:

Nuss said...