Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I Have Seen the Light - End the BracketBusters

So, if you're a mid major college basketball fan, unless you have been hiding under a rock, you should know by now the BracketBuster Pairings.

St Mary's vs. Murray State
Long Beach State vs. Creighton
Nevada vs. Iona
Wichita State vs. Davidson
Drexel vs. Cleveland State
Akron vs. Oral Roberts
Valparaiso vs. Loyola Marymount
Northern Iowa vs. VCU
Buffalo vs. South Dakota State
Drake vs. New Mexico State
ODU vs. Missouri State
UNC Asheville vs. Weber State

After seeing the pairings, I am considering hiding under a rock.  And here's why (you will see I added three non televised BracketBuster teams for comparison.  Also you can click on the image for a full sized image);

As far as the televised game team selections, I had most of the teams from my predictions yesterday; ten of the thirteen home teams and eleven of the thirteen road teams.  I completely missed out on New Mexico State, since they deserved a spot (I did say yesterday though that I had an open home team).  What I didn't figure on was Missouri State and Loyola Marymount getting televised home games.

As for road teams, I had Drake in the discussion, so I am OK with that. As I noted in my article yesterday, the road teams were much weaker than the home teams and the statistics above prove that.  You have three road teams with nine losses, one with eight losses and another three teams with seven losses.  Compare that with the home teams where only three teams had seven losses or more.

You can see the wonderful, brilliant folks (once again, sarcasm by the author) selected their teams in most part by RPI.  It's the only explanation for Missouri State, only one of two home teams lower than second place in conference and the only home team with ten losses.  I could understand that if they had a record like ODU in conference, but they are only 6-5 in conference with an equal number of non conference losses.

As for the explanation of Loyola Marymount, I simply have none. Their numbers are worse across the board compared with both George Mason and Loyola Maryland.  To not have the first place CAA team in a televised BracketBuster game is criminal. Equally as criminal is not having Loyola Maryland, tied for first place in the MAAC, in a televised game.  Missouri State and Loyola Marymount stick out like sore thumbs in the home team comparisons and should not have got televised home games.

But the most serious transgression is giving Northern Iowa a televised game.  They are 4-7 in conference. Four and freakin seven and tied for seventh in the Missouri Valley!  Yes, they have good RPI and KenPom numbers.  But to quote Dennis Green, when you are 4-7 in conference, "They are what we thought they were". Meanwhile that leaves Stony Brook the only other BracketBuster eligible first place team besides George Mason without a televised game.  ESPN has just told the mid major basketball world what it thinks of the America East.

The pairings are not the greatest either. Based on region and RPI, I would have given St Mary's to Creighton, Wichita State to Murray State, Long Beach State to Iona and Nevada to Oral Roberts.   Yes, I know Davidson won at Kansas, but if you are going to base things on RPI, then Wichita State deserved the second best game.  If you are going to give Iona a west coast team, Long Beach State is somewhat better than Nevada based on numbers.

But again to not have the first place teams in the CAA or America East have televised games and instead have three teams that have at least nine losses and are not at least tied for second place in their conference have televised games; Northern Iowa, Missouri State and Loyola Marymount is criminal.   And if you are not going to reward a team like Stony Brook that's 7-1 in conference and in first place, why include the America East at all in the Bracketbusters?

Basically what ESPN said with yesterday's pairings is that a) the third place team in the Missouri Valley, a team with equal number of losses in conference and non conference is better than the first place team in the CAA that has only one loss in conference and half the losses overall, b) the seventh best team in the Missouri Valley that is 4-7 in conference is more rewarding of a televised game then the one loss first place team in the America East and c) Loyola Marymount is the best Loyola named school in the BracketBusters despite not being in first place and having four more losses than their Maryland counterpart.

If I was a George Mason, Stony Brook or Loyola Maryland fan this morning, I would be quite upset.

I have long been the defender of the BracketBusters.  But after yesterday's pairings, the decisions were as bad as some past NCAA Selection Committees.  For all the hassle with the home and road requirements, at least if you had selected teams based on merit and pairings that made sense, I could see it being worth the trouble.  But you didn't have that yesterday. I see only three games that can really help teams as far as at large bids; St Mary's vs. Murray State; Long Beach State vs. Creighton and believe it or not, Drexel vs. Cleveland State (a road win could definitely help the Dragons' numbers).  Otherwise, ESPN didn't do anybody any favors.

I have seen the light.  It's time to end the BracketBusters.

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