Welcome to the initial posting of Tuesdays With Mitch. This will be a little different than the old blog. New name, new format and a new commitment with a post each Tuesday. Enough about that, we have a lot to get to. Let’s jump in.
Colorado State fans were pretty darn upset on Selection Sunday for a variety of reasons. Here’s why:
Let’s start at the beginning. Once the selection committee has determined who will be in the field, they rank each of the teams from 1-68. That list is here. We’ll leave it at that for now.
The Rams came in at number 30 on the committee’s list, giving them an 8-seed. Here’s a link to the bracket, which you’ll probably want to reference. That #30 means that the committee felt CSU was the second best of the four 8-seeds.
Should they have been ranked higher? Let’s take a look. Here’s the list of the teams that make up seeds 7-9:
I’ll quickly breakdown each of the 5 teams ranked ahead of CSU. Keep in mind the things the committee looks at most closely are good wins, bad losses and RPI. Feel free to skim over some of the specifics if you’re not particularly interested in the details. I’ll start with CSU’s numbers for reference:
Colorado State — RPI: 18. Versus RPI top 100 11-7. Sub-100 losses: 1.
Creighton — RPI: 25. Versus RPI top 100: 10-5. Sub-100 losses: 2.
They Jays have a couple top 50 neutral-court wins, something the Rams do not have. The RPI is pretty close. Their worst loss is to Drake (RPI 144). The Rams worst loss is to UIC (169). Overall, having Creighton ranked ahead of CSU is reasonable.
San Diego State — RPI: 32. Versus RPI top 100: 8-10. Sub-100 losses: 0.
This one is going to take up a bit more space, as it has CSU fans the most upset, mainly because the Aztecs went 9-7 in the Mountain West, where the Rams went 11-5. Indeed, this is the most egregious/puzzling/enraging of the seeding scenarios.
A quote from Andy Glockner, who does a bracket projection and just about everything else college basketball for si.com. From his Monday column:
“The good thing about the Mountain West is it played a double round-robin schedule, so it’s pretty easy to see who was better in league play. Colorado State finished 11-5, a game ahead of UNLV and two games ahead of San Diego State, yet the Rams ended up 30th on the seed curve, somehow four spots behind the Aztecs and a crazy 12 spots behind UNLV. I know nonconference play matters, too, but what did UNLV and San Diego State do that was so great to overcome the league performance by such a significant magnitude? That made no sense.”
Well put, Andy. When asked for some explanation by Fort Collins Coloradoan beat writer Matt Stephens, committee chair Mike Bobinski mentioned the nonconference play of the two teams. From that report:
“Our conversations at the end of the day about those two teams were that San Diego State had a nice neutral-court win over UCLA, beat Indiana State, which is a pretty good team and did just enough things for us to put them slightly ahead of Colorado State,” Bobinski said. “Colorado State’s non-conference wins didn’t really feature anything over teams in the tournament, where as San Diego State at least had that.”
In other words, “Ummm I really have no idea how that happened. Sometimes we just screw up and there’s no reasonable explanation for that at all.” I have so many issues with Bobinski’s stupid explanation I don’t know where to start. He apparently forgot that CSU did, in fact, have a nonconference win over Montana, a 13-seed in this year’s tourney. He gives credence to the Aztecs’ neutral court win over Indiana State (RPI 72). Apparently CSU’s nonconference road win over Denver (RPI 65) doesn’t count as much as that one. So a neutral court win over a decent-but-mostly-mediocre UCLA team (RPI 26) gets SDSU ranked four spots ahead of CSU, despite 3 fewer top 100 wins, a 14-spot differential in the teams’ own RPI rankings, and a 2-game difference in the conference standings with a perfectly balanced schedule? Just lunacy.
Notre Dame — RPI: 35. Versus RPI top 100: 9-9. Sub-100 losses: 0.
The Irish have two fewer top 100 wins, but they have two top 13 wins. CSU’s best is 22. ND’s worst loss is 94. Their RPI, however, is almost twice as high as the Rams’, so I’d call this one a coin flip, or a slight nudge in CSU’s favor. Crazy to think a brand name like Notre Dame would win a close call over a brand name like Colorado State.
Illinois — RPI: 40. Versus RPI top 100: 7-10. Sub-100 losses: 2.
Apparently the committee can just brush aside the supposedly important RPI factor when it feels like it. The Illini have a bit of a different profile. Good wins– 3 in top 10– clearly carried them to a 7-seed. There’s four fewer top 100 wins and one more bad loss. Oh, and that enormous RPI discrepancy. I’d call this one pretty much a coin flip again. The profile depends on what kind of criteria one puts the most stock into.
North Carolina — RPI: 17. Versus RPI top 100: 9-9. Sub-100 losses: 1.
These profiles are incredibly similar. Both teams’ best wins are home to UNLV. Both played 10 games vs. top 50 teams (CSU went 3-7; UNC went 2-8). Both played 8 games vs. 51-100 teams (CSU went 8-0; UNC went 7-1). The RPI is a virtual tie (.6185 to .6182). And both teams have one sub-100 loss. I would guess the committee gave the nod to UNC because they’re playing better in recent games. That is, of course, assuming that brand names and conference affiliations and traditions don’t come into play.
So of the five teams ranked immediately ahead of Colorado State, my scorecard reads one correct, one outrageously ridiculous and horrible, and three 50/50 calls, all three of which went against the Rams to tradition-rich programs with huge fan bases.
If I’m coming off sounding like a whiney fan, I apologize, but facts are facts. Another national writer, Jason Lisk, who does great work on The Big Lead gave me a little ammo Monday as well.
Discussing teams that were seeded lower than their RPI would have indicated he said, “Colorado State is probably the only one with a complaint if we view it from a ‘RPI, adjusted slightly for who you beat scenario’. They dropped below (UNLV) and were seeded four spots lower than (San Diego State).”
Hopefully I’ve made it clear that the boys from Fort Collins simply deserved a better seed than the one they received.
You still with me? Good, because I’m not done.
Now let’s look at the match up. Because this has me equally befuddled.
The Rams are heading across the country to play in Lexington. Should they get past a very good Missouri team, they face Louisville, the tournament’s number one overall seed. In theory, this should be designated for the fourth (or worst) 8-seed. Remember, the Rams are the second 8-seed. Since that was a tough draw, hopefully the committee made up for it by giving CSU a favorable location, right? Nope.
The other 8-9 locations are Dayton, Salt Lake City and Kansas City. Lexington and Dayton are about an 18 hour drive from Fort Collins (according to Google Maps). SLC is 7; KC is 9.
This is where things get complicated, and I’m no Joe Lunardi. But looking at the bracket, it would appear to make much more sense to simply swap out Colorado State and the team immediately behind them in the seed list, Pittsburgh. This would send the Panthers to play Missouri in Lexington and CSU to Salt Lake to play Wichita State. These games obviously make more sense because of location, but it also makes sense based on the seed list.
For some reason Colorado State plays the first 9-seed in Missouri (33 on the list) in the round of 64 even though they’re the second 8-seed. If you’re wondering, Columbia, Missouri is about a seven hour drive to Lexington, or 11 hours shorter than from Fort Collins. Oh yeah, if they get past that game they have the tourney’s number one overall seed waiting for them in a home game.
None of this makes any sense.
Unless I’m missing something, and I don’t see any conference or rematch conflicts, going to Salt Lake to play Wichita State with Gonzaga awaiting the winner makes infinitely more sense than what CSU is stuck with. And, based on the (incorrect) seed list, the Rams have earned as much.
So your Colorado State Rams got a tough draw based on the seeding, the location, the opponent, and the potential second round opponent. That’s all.
It’s really a shame, because these seniors have worked so hard for the past four (or five) years to get to this moment, and this year they’ve earned much better than this scenario. Hopefully all this puts a chip on the Rams’ shoulder, and I’m one guy thinking it would not be particularly wise to count this team out now.
Off the court, these dudes just can’t win. Here’s to hoping things are different on the court.
OTHER STUFF FROM AROUND THE WEB
Here’s JaVale McGee doing something ridiculous on a basketball court:
This could be a weekly installment. And no, I don’t know what to call that play either. And yes, the Nuggets are pretty darn good. So are the Heat though, so what’s the point?
What are your thoughts on Dick Vitale? The Wall Street Journal had an interesting profile of the polarizing broadcaster last week. It’s recommended reading. Personally, I love Dickie V. His passion for college basketball is unrivaled and I think his goofy mannerisms and dumb catch phrases have become as much a part of the sport as reviewing clock issues in the last minute of games. I literally laugh out loud every time he says, “How do you miss that? I ONLY GOT ONE EYE AND I COULD SEE IT!” Dick is a surprisingly good follow on twitter, but only if you– and I’m serious about this– read each tweet in your best Dickie V voice. And really, he’s just a great dude who absolutely loves people. That’s a quality characteristic. His passionate work in raising money for the Jimmy V foundation is also very important. What do you think? Are you hitting the mute button or laughing along with me?
March Madness kinda-sorta starts tonight, so why not?
Gus is the best. It’s a travesty he no longer calls the tournament.
Throw it down big man! (Found that on Jimmy Traina’s twitter. @JimmyTraina)
Apparently there’s like 20 different versions of these commercials. After much deliberation I’ve decided they’re pretty funny.
Able. Bodied. Athleticism. They may or may not be attempting to appeal to rednecks with these.
I really enjoyed the latest 30 for 30, “Survive and Advance” about Jim Valvano and the unlikely tournament run of the 1983 North Carolina State team. It was a well done look at a truly incredible man and a truly incredible season. I’d probably rank it as one of the best three or four films in the documentary series. You feel something special when you watch a bunch of teammates sitting around a table reminiscing about such historic developments 30 years later. Search for it in your DVR and set aside a couple hours, you’ll thank me later. If you don’t tear-up you’re more of a man than me.
Here’s a fascinating non-sports feature from the New York Times Magazine. This dude’s a world renowned physicist, but he makes Manti Te’o look like a genius.
This is what Marshall Henderson looked like after winning the SEC Tournament Championship:
And finally, only one bracket please. I could write a whole post about this, but if you fill out more than one bracket you’re doing it wrong. If you called that sweet 13 over 4 upset in “your other bracket” I do not want to hear about it. It doesn’t count. When you fill out a bracket, you should be making a confident attempt at perfection. There’s only one perfect bracket.
Comment below, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with post ideas, videos or other media I should know about. Follow me on Twitter @MitchDHahn
Happy Tuesday everybody.