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Archive for May, 2010

Regional Projections

Given the weight geography plays, I give myself about the same chance of getting remotely close with these projections as Super Saver has of winning the Preakness. And the race was over hours ago.

But it’s a fun puzzle to try and piece together, so what the heck. I can only be wrong 64 times, right?

One caveat; I was at Missouri last year for a game but can’t for the life of me remember if the field had stadium has lights or not. If anyone wants to clue me in, much obliged.

Projected host team denoted by *

1- Washington*, BYU, Texas Tech, Saint Mary’s
2- Alabama*, Louisville, UAB, Alcorn State
3- Michigan*, DePaul, Ball State, Wright State
4- Florida*, Florida State, FIU, Bethune Cookman
5- UCLA*, San Diego State, Notre Dame, Iona
6- Arizona*, Virginia, East Carolina, Cornell
7- Georgia Tech*, Oregon, Auburn, Syracuse
8- LSU*, ULL, UCF, McNeese State
9- Oklahoma*, Stanford, Tulsa, Creighton
10- Georgia*, North Carolina, Radford, Elon
11-Texas, Fordham, Maryland*, Long Island
12- California, Oklahoma State, Fresno*, UC Davis
13- Arizona State, UMass*, Hofstra, Boston University
14- Missouri*, Illinois, Illinois State, North Dakota State
15- Hawaii, Ohio State*, Kentucky, Bucknell
16- Tennessee*, Texas A&M, Lipscomb, Jacksonville State,

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It’s that time of year again — softball bracketology time! What? I’m the only one who feels the need to use an exclamation point with that?

Starting with the basics, I see the 18 conferences below as definite one-bid leagues.

America East: Boston University
Atlantic Sun: Lipscomb
Big South: Radford
Big West: UC Davis
Colonial: Hofstra
Horizon: Wright State
Ivy: Cornell
MAAC: Iona
MAC: Ball State
MEAC: Bethune Cookman
Northeast: Long Island
Ohio Valley: Jacksonville State
Patriot: Bucknell
PCSC: Saint Mary’s
Southern: Elon
Southland: TBD
Summit: North Dakota State
SWAC: Alcorn State

That Radford, Hofstra and Lipscomb are in that group is good news for bubble teams because they would have been at least strong at-large contenders had they fallen in their respective conference tournaments. But I digress. That leaves 46 more spots, including 12 more automatic bids. The teams below, listed by conference, I consider locks, whether they need at-large bids or are still in contention for automatic bids.

SEC: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Tennessee
ACC: Florida State, Georgia Tech, North Carolina , Virginia
Big Ten: Illinois, Michigan, Ohio State
Big 12: Missouri, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas A&M
Pac-10: Arizona, Arizona State, California, Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, Washington
Big East: Syracuse, DePaul, Louisville, Notre Dame
A-10: Fordham, Massachusetts
MWC: BYU, San Diego State

And these four teams round out the automatic bids.
Conference USA: East Carolina
Missouri Valley: Creighton
Sun Belt: Louisiana-Lafayette
WAC: Hawaii

So if you waded through all of that, it covers 55 of 64 spots in the NCAA tournament. And as always, it’s those final spots that get interesting. As of Saturday night, here’s my take on the final nine at-large spots, ranked in order of probability, and the next five teams.

56. Auburn
57. Illinois State
58. Maryland
59. Central Florida
60. UAB
61. Texas Tech
62. Fresno State
63. Tulsa
64. Florida International

First Six Out
65. Northwestern
66. Nebraska
67. Houston
68. NC State
69. Southern Illinois
70. Baylor

Thoughts: The toughest call for me is the final two at-large spots. Florida International is 16-14 against RPI top 100 teams but only 4-6 against RPI top 50. If it does get in, the win it had against Florida last month has to rank as the win that saved the season (it was supposed to be the first game of a doubleheader, but the second game was rained out).

I had Northwestern in the final spot until this weekend, but two more decisive losses (one the Wildcats made a little closer late) against Ohio State only seem to add the the aura of a team that just doesn’t have the bona fides to make it. The 2-15 record against RPI top 50 isn’t as bad as it looks, given that 13 of the losses are against RPI top 25 teams (and the other two came against No. 26 Ohio State), but the positives just aren’t there.

Houston, Nebraska and NC State have very similar profiles. NC State has the most top-50 wins (8), but it didn’t do much against the top half of those teams and closes without much momentum (3-7 in its last 10 games). Houston and Nebraska both beat Georgia Tech as signature wins and own similar profiles against top-50 opponents (5-16 for Nebraska and 6-16 for Houston).

Conference tournament hard-luck teams? UT-Martin, for sure. The OVC got two teams in last season, but Martin doesn’t have anywhere close to as strong an at-large profile as Jacksonville State did last season. Also Southern Illinois, which is going to be ticked off, and understandably so, if two MVC teams get in but the conference regular-season champ doesn’t. But Creighton maintained a great late-season run by claiming the auto bid and Illinois State has a stronger resume than Southern Illinois. In the end, three top-50 wins (one of which was in a 2-1 series loss to Illinois State) don’t do it.

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