Sunday, March 11, 2007

Selection Sunday Early Returns

A few thoughts on the selection committee's choices before tomorrow's in-depth analysis.

I don't know if anyone is more shocked that Arizona, Stanford, Arkansas, Purdue, Illinois, Villanova and Texas Tech got in while teams such as Syracuse, Mississippi State and Akron did not.

The Big Ten is definitely over-represented, as is the PAC-10. It should be pointed out to the committee that there are 10 teams in the PAC-10, 11 in the Big 10, but 16 in the Big East. Just by virtue of sheer size, the Big East should have more than any other major conference.

On what criteria were Arizona and Stanford chosen? The conference didn't even merit a #1 seed, and Stanford finished 6th overall, with home losses to Air Force, Cal, Santa Clara, Gonzaga and Arizona. Their road losses included USC, UCLA, Oregon, Washington, Washington St. and Arizona. Basically, they lost every road game against better teams in the conference. And while they did beat both USC and UCLA at home, their 18-12 overall record is not impressive.

Arizona was 8-9 over their last 17 games and lost by 19 points to Oregon in the opening round of the PAC-10 tournament. An early exit by both Stanford and the Wildcats wouldn't surprise anyone.

Illinois and Michigan State are two of the worst at-large seeds I've ever seen. The Illini beat exactly one ranked team all season, Indiana, then #23, and they did it at home. Not very impressive. Their losses to Maryland, Arizona, Ohio State and Wisconsin (twice) were by a combined 65 points. Michigan was 5-7 over their last 12. Not exactly a contender for a championship.

That's all I'm going to say about it, except that one game I surely won't want to watch is the sensational Arizona-Purdue 8 vs. 9 game on Thursday.

Four conferences did wrap up tournaments on Sunday. Quick recap:

North Carolina 89 NC State 80 - The Tar Heels captured the ACC title by wearing down the valiant Wolfpack, who feel just short of a remarkable tourney run. North Carolina had five players in double figures.

Florida 77 Arkansas 56 - The Gators pulled away in the 2nd half as their superior size inside took control for their 3rd straight SEC championship. Al Horford scored 18 points and 12 boards. Joakim Noah had 17.

Kansas 88 Texas 84 - Kansas wins its second consecutive Big 12 title. The Longhorns' Kevin Durant had 37 points and 10 rebounds. Texas may be the best #4 seed ever.

Ohio St. 66 Wisconsin 49 - Greg Oden got his double-double (12 points and 10 rebounds) in just 20 minutes of playing time and the Buckeyes' 2-3 zone was impenetrable. Wisconsin hit only 37% from the field including a dismal 4-23 from beyond the arc.

Coming up:
Monday: Bracket breakdowns, West and Midwest
Tuesday: Bracket breakdowns, South and East
Wednesday: Final Four and championship predictions
Thursday and Friday: Game picks, recaps, more.

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