Making Sense Out of Number One Seeds

Selection Sunday is, well, Sunday.  And yet, the sports talkers are all about some college basketball in terms of who should be a number one seed.

First off, I am already tired of this garbage.  It has been going on for weeks, but for obvious reasons has picked up since the “major” conferences completed their regular seasons.  I wanted to write about it earlier, but other things popped up first.  Nevertheless, it seems illogical to name (and that is what they are doing more so than predicting) number one seeds before all games have been played.  The fact that two of the perceived number one seeds lost yesterday speaks to how moronic it is to name number one seeds so early.  Yes, it is all speculative and it is for debate at bars and the water cooler.  But it has seemed more ridiculous this season than in previous years.

What has disturbed me the most is some attempting to make a valid argument that the Big East deserves THREE of the four number one seeds.  Huh!?  Granted, the Big East is certainly the best basketball conference in the country (at least in terms of its top teams).  But three?  And this is before what happened yesterday.  How do you figure?  Essentially, Pittsburgh won the right to a number one seed by defeating Connecticut twice!  Louisville earned the right by winning the Big East.  UConn’s two losses to Pitt should eliminate them from the discussion.  SO, at best, the Big East deserves two top seeds…

Youre not really that stupid, are ya?

"You're not really that stupid, are ya?"

…well, at least before what happened on Thursday.  Even though I like the fact that a bottom feeder can rise up in the conference tourney and make it to the “Big Dance,” I do think that such tourneys punish some teams that were consistent throughout the season (see Davidson, Vermont and Weber State).  Nevertheless, UConn’s loss meant that they lost their last two.  Furthermore, they finished third in conference and lost in their first game at MSG.  If a conference championship loss can knock you out of the BCS title game in football, then an early conference tourney exit should knock you out of a number one seed.  Way to earn your number two seed, Huskies!  As for Pitt, I am more inclined to still give them a number one seed if only by the fact that I would have given them the number one overall (had they won the Big East, or just based on regular season).  So, maybe they still get the number four overall (still a number one seed).  Louisville is still on their way to earning their seed.

So, how should the number one seedings be handed out.  For quite some time, I have felt that it should be based on the Top 25 poll.  What is the point of having such a poll if it really has no bearing on the seedings.  I made a similar argument in 2006 that George Washington was an eighth seed despite being 14th in the AP poll (should have been somewhere in the four or five seeds) and having one regular season loss.  They were punished for losing in their conference tournament (hmm……).  So, if GW was an eighth seed, why have them ranked so high?  The polls are irrelevent.

So, why not use the polls.  Yes, if you use the polls from the end of the regular season and ignore the conference tourneys, UConn would be a number one seed.  But it still gets you only two number one seeds from the Big East — Pitt and UConn.  The other two would be North Carolina and Memphis.  I could live with that.

Ah…but Memphis?  Memphis gets the George Washington treatment.  They received it last year.  Many wondered if they deserved a number one seed because of the weakness of C-USA (they were the only C-USA member in the NCAA tourney last season).  Well, they should have dispelled the myth that their weak conference puffed their record by making it to the title game.  But apparently that has not happened.  Keep in mind, it is not as though Memphis is playing in a historically weak conference.  They did not suddenly rise up and dominate in the same way a Gonzaga has done with the West Coast Conference.  The mighty Big East raided C-USA of a few of its top basketball programs, namely Louisville, Cincinnati and Marquette.  So, you cannot hold that against the Tigers.  Besides, considering that they have not lost a conference game since the 2005-06 season is amazing no matter what conference they play in.

I agree with Seth Davis, who said that we should not look at conferences when number one seeds are debated.  While he was making the argument for three teams from the Big East, I think that should be applied to Memphis as well.  All three of the Tigers losses are quality losses — Xavier, Syracuse and Georgetown (at least as the time was “quality”).  If we are going to be “conference blind” and not attempt to be geographically equal (i.e., ensure a west coast team will be the number one in the West bracket), then Memphis deserves one of the four.

So, which teams do I think should take the number one seeds.  Simple: North Carolina, Memphis, Louisville and Michigan State.  A-ha!!!  Even though I hate that the conference tourney injured Pittsburgh, the fact remains that they still lost.  Michigan State is facing a similar situation to Memphis in that the Spartans are playing in a down Big Ten; not their fault.  Granted, had I written this on Wednesday it would be Pitt instead of MSU.  But as it is, Spartans get the number one.  Twos would be UConn, Pitt, Duke, Oklahoma and threes would likely be Gonzaga, Missouri, Wake and Washington.  I am not going to venture any further.

Of course, that could all change tomorrow if Florida State, Tulsa, Syracuse or Ohio State have anything to say about it.

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One thought on “Making Sense Out of Number One Seeds

  1. Pingback: Big Ups to FSU and OSU « Uncle Popov’s Drunken Sports Rant

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