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February 22, 2008 Columns No Comments




NCAA Tournament Crystal Ball

by Dan Hauptman and Michael Protos

Feb. 22, 2008

At this time last season, Dan Hauptman and Michael Protos applied the Law of Syllogism to the college basketball RPI rankings to prove that the last would be first — RPI-worst Northern Colorado could defeat RPI-best UCLA. However, for the manipulation of statistics to work, the worst team must win at least one game and the best team must lose at least one game. As of Feb. 22, neither is true.

Memphis, the consensus No. 1 seed for Hauptman and Protos, will strive to clear its last major hurdle to an undefeated regular season against Tennessee. Meanwhile, New Jersey IT is one game away from finishing 0-29. A trip to Utah Valley State in coach Jim Casciano’s final game is the Highlanders’ last stand. Both feats are astounding, in equal and opposite styles.

Of course, last season’s NCAA Tournament demonstrated that the best teams did come first. The worst seed in the Elite Eight was No. 3 Oregon. Every team seeded Nos. 1-5 won in the first round. The only two noteworthy first-round upsets were delivered by hot teams that won their automatic bids from mid-major conferences. No. 11 Winthrop took out No. 6 Notre Dame, while No. 11 VCU stunned coach Mike Krzyzewski and No. 6 Duke. The lack of a single victory by bubble teams seeded No. 11 or 12 demonstrated their weakness. We are heading toward a similar scenario this season.

Hauptman and Protos vary significantly on the bubble teams that make the field. And the differences extend as high as the No. 8 line. Hauptman has Mississippi State and Florida as No. 8 seeds, but Protos puts both teams outside the field. Meanwhile, Protos gives Arizona State the nod as a No. 10 seed, while Hauptman relegates the Sun Devils to the NIT. In addition to those contrasts, Hauptman picks Illinois State, Cincinnati, Wake Forest and Southern Illinois; Protos takes Saint Joseph’s, West Virginia, Syracuse, Dayton and Mississippi.

One of the impending discussions on Selection Sunday is the competition between the Atlantic 10 and Missouri Valley for bids. Hauptman likes the MVC to put three teams in the field to the A-10’s two. Protos disagrees, with the A-10 getting four bids to the MVC’s one. The Atlantic 10 holds a slight edge in overall RPI at No. 7 compared with the Missouri Valley’s No. 8 rank. Illinois State has more wins than Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Saint Joseph’s and Dayton but has not beat an RPI top 50 opponent. However, those four A-10 teams have collectively beat 12 top 50 teams. Meanwhile, Southern Illinois has three more losses than any of the A-10 bubble teams, but the Salukis have the No. 17 toughest schedule and three top 50 victories. If the selection committee members debate those six teams as much as Hauptman and Protos did, they will have their hands full — without even considering the major conference bubble squads.

Here’s the rest of the field, according to Hauptman and Protos. Check next Friday to see how their picks continue to evolve.

Hauptman’s Hoops Horoscope Protos’ Prognostications

Memphis
Tennessee
North Carolina
Kansas

Memphis
Tennessee
Kansas
North Carolina

Duke
UCLA
Texas
Georgetown

Duke
Texas
UCLA
Louisville

Wisconsin
Connecticut
Stanford
Xavier

Xavier
Connecticut
Georgetown
Wisconsin

Vanderbilt
Indiana
Louisville
Michigan State

Butler
Stanford
Notre Dame
Indiana

Notre Dame
Washington State
Kansas State
Drake

Purdue
Marquette
St. Mary’s
Washington State

Pittsburgh
Clemson
Purdue
Butler

Kansas State
Michigan State
Vanderbilt
BYU

BYU
Marquette
Texas A&M
Arizona

Pittsburgh
Clemson
Drake
Gonzaga

USC
Mississippi State
St. Mary’s
Florida

Texas A&M
Oklahoma
Arkansas
USC

Oklahoma
Maryland
Arkansas
UNLV

Ohio State
Arizona
Maryland
Davidson

Gonzaga
Baylor
Ohio State
Miami

UNLV
Baylor
Arizona State
Miami

Massachusetts
Illinois State
Cincinnati
Wake Forest

Saint Joseph’s
Oregon
West Virginia
Syracuse

Kent State
Southern Illinois
Oregon
Davidson

Massachusetts
Dayton
Mississippi
South Alabama

VCU
South Alabama
Oral Roberts
Winthrop

VCU
Kent State
Oral Roberts
Boise State

Boise State
Cal State Northridge
Stephen F. Austin
Cornell

Cornell
American
UMBC
Cal State Northridge

Portland State
UMBC
Siena
Austin Peay

Niagara
Winthrop
Belmont
Lamar

American
Belmont
Wagner
Hampton
Alabama State

Austin Peay
Portland State
Robert Morris
Morgan State
Alabama State
Last 4 In:
Cincinnati
Wake Forest
Southern Illinois
Oregon
Last 4 In:
Syracuse
Massachusetts
Dayton
Mississippi
Last 4 Out:
West Virginia
Mississippi
Dayton
Rhode Island
Last 4 Out:
Rhode Island
Wake Forest
Mississippi State
Southern Illinois
Shooting Stars:
Connecticut
Texas
Wake Forest
BYU
Shooting Stars:
Louisville
BYU
Indiana
Texas
Sinking Ships:
Duke
Pittsburgh
Arizona
Michigan State
Sinking Ships:
Florida
Rhode Island
Dayton
Mississippi
Conference Breakdown:
Big East: 7
ACC: 6
Big 12: 6
Pac-10: 6
Big Ten: 5
SEC: 5
Missouri Valley: 3
Atlantic 10: 2
Mountain West: 2
West Coast: 2
21 one-bid conferences
Conference Breakdown:
Big East: 8
Pac-10: 7
Big 12: 6
ACC: 5
Big Ten: 5
Atlantic 10: 4
SEC: 4
Mountain West: 2
West Coast: 2
22 one-bid conferences

Whose field looks more accurate to you? Or are both Hauptman and Protos off target? E-mail us your comments on the Crystal Basketball or give us your own NCAA Tournament prognostications. Then check back throughout the next month, as Hauptman’s and Protos’ visions for the Big Dance become clearer as the days until Selection Sunday count down. Get ready to flip your calendar to March. The Madness starts.

     

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