Rock-M-Tology, February 18

RPT

So I tried something a little different this week: I took a look at the NCAA Mock Selection from Friday and calibrated the weights of the things I measure -- RPI, non-conference, good wins, bad losses, a little bit of Pomeroy, etc. -- to most closely match this mock committee's thought process.

First, here's the mock draw, via Twitter.

Notes about this:

  • To most closely align my numbers with this, I had to triple the weight of big wins (represented by wins over the RPI Top 50) and halve the weight of bad losses (to RPI 101+). I also had to quadruple the weight of the RPI, which is a little depressing. And Road Wins are very, very much minimized. Not saying this is definitely what the committee was thinking -- I wasn't in the room; but that's how I got my numbers to more closely (but not too closely) correlate.
  • Because of these adjustments (and the games that took place this week), here are some of the teams whose spot in my hierarchy changed pretty drastically from last week to this week:

    Going Up: Charlotte, Tennessee, Arkansas, Maryland, Illinois, Air Force, Oklahoma, UCLA, Georgetown, Marquette, Missouri

    Going Down: Stanford, Kentucky, Middle Tennessee, St. Mary's, Ohio State, Creighton, Belmont, Ole Miss, BYU
  • So yeah, Missouri is probably safer than I thought last week.

Who's overrated?

St. John's (15-10) - The Johnnies were a 10-seed in the Mock Selection. I'm ... not sure why. They beat Cincinnati, UConn and Notre Dame, and a good number of their losses have been to good teams (Louisville, Syracuse, Georgetown twice, Baylor). But they also lost to Murray State, San Francisco and UNC Asheville in non-conference play, and last week they lost to Syracuse and Louisville by a combined 33 points. They are 87th in Pomeroy's rankings. I don't get this one at all.

Temple (17-8) - The Owls, 82nd in Pomeroy's rankings, were also a 10-seed. (Yes, I realize the committee doesn't use Pomeroy's numbers; they are still the best substitute imaginable for the eyeball test, so I still refer to them.) The day before the mock selection, they lost at home to Duquesne. They also lost to Canisuis at home. By 10. And to St. Bonaventure at home. Their resume is far from strong. But it bears mentioning that I still have them in the top "First Few Out" spot below. This should assuage your worries about Missouri a bit. Mizzou is closer to the cut-off than we would like, but its resume is still much, much better than Temple's, which basically consists of an upset win over Syracuse and ... that's it.

Alabama (16-8) - Alabama was a 12 in the Mock Selection, but the Tide are my fifth team out. To be sure, they are trending in the right direction -- they're 9-2 since losing to Missouri to open SEC play. But most of the wins were against subpar teams (best wins: Kentucky, Texas A&M, Arkansas and Tennessee, all at home; best road win: Georgia), and one of the two losses was absolutely abhorrent (Auburn 49, Alabama 37). Best non-conference win: Villanova. This is not a tourney team to me.

Southern Miss (18-6) - The Golden Eagles were a nine, and I have them in the First Four. Their best win was against Denver, and they have lost at mediocre UCF and New Mexico State teams. They are 9-2 in a horrid Conference USA, but they lost by 13 at home to Memphis and haven't played anybody else worth a damn since conference play began.

Who's underrated?

Colorado State (19-4) and San Diego State (16-7) - That these teams got 7- and 11-seeds in the mock selection shows that the committee might not be taking the Mountain West seriously enough. Colorado State is 15th in Pomeroy's rankings, ahead of Arizona and Georgetown, among others. The Rams are paying for a weak non-conference schedule (best opponents: Colorado, Denver and Washington, and they lost to Colorado and UI-Chicago), but they are 8-2 in a rugged MWC and now have six wins over MWC Top 100 teams. I originally had them as a 4 but bumped them to a 5 because of the non-conference slate. Still, that's quite a bit better than a 7. SDSU, meanwhil, is just 6-5 in conference, but the Aztecs' only loss to a team not at least sniffing an NCAA Tourney bid is their three-point road loss to an improving Air Force squad. Tight losses have been deadly for them -- their last three losses were by a combined 11 points, and they lost by one to Arizona -- but I still like them a lot better than an 11.

Memphis (22-3) - Yes, the Tigers are beating the tar out of an awful Conference USA. Yes, they have lost all three games they have played against KenPom's Top 50. But if Southern Miss is a 9, I can't for the life of me figure out how the committee had Memphis an 11. They are killing the teams they are supposed to kill -- only one CUSA win has been by fewer than seven points -- and their worst loss was to VCU, which is currently 18th in Pomeroy's rankings. They're damn good.

North Carolina (16-8) - That's right. I just called North Carolina underrated. I ... don't know what to do with myself now. Let's just move on.

Last Few In

Names in italics would be among the last in without their conference's automatic bid.

Missouri (18-7)
Middle Tennessee (23-4)
Notre Dame (20-6)
Belmont (18-6)
North Carolina (16-8)
Iowa State (17-8)
Ole Miss (19-6)
Akron (20-4)
Maryland (18-7)
Louisiana Tech (23-3)
St. Mary's (21-5)
Southern Miss (18-6)
California (16-9)
Baylor (15-9)
Virginia (18-7)

First Few Out

Temple (17-8)
Iowa (17-9)
Arkansas (16-9)
Kentucky (17-8)
Alabama (16-8)
St. John's (15-10)
Boise State (14-8)
Villanova (15-10)
Indiana State (15-10)
Wyoming (16-7)
Arizona State (19-7)
Charlotte (18-7)

By Conference

7 - Big East, Big 10
6 - ACC, Big 12
5 - Pac-12
4 - Atlantic 10, Mountain West
3 - SEC
2 - Conference USA, Missouri Valley, WCC

The Bracket

FIRST FOUR (in Dayton)

Southern Miss (18-6) vs. Virginia (18-7)
California (16-9) vs. Baylor (15-9)

N.C. Central (14-8) vs. Charleston Southern (11-9)
Northeastern (17-10) vs. Southern (15-8)

EAST REGIONAL (in Washington, DC)

1 Duke (22-3) vs. 16 Robert Morris (18-9)
8 Wichita State (22-5) vs. 9 Memphis (22-3)
in Lexington

5 Colorado State (19-4) vs. 12 St. Mary's (21-5)
4 Minnesota (18-8) vs. 13 Louisiana Tech (23-3)
in Salt Lake City

6 Wisconsin (18-8) vs. 11 North Carolina (16-8)
3 Kansas (21-4) vs. 14 South Dakota State (18-7)
in Kansas City

7 San Diego State (16-7) vs. 10 Belmont (18-6)
2 Louisville (21-5) vs. 15 Florida Gulf Coast (17-9)
in Lexington

WEST REGIONAL (in Los Angeles)

1 Florida (21-3) vs. 16 Long Beat State (14-9)
8 N.C. State (18-7) vs. 9 UCLA (19-7)
in Austin

5 Butler (20-5) vs. 12 Akron (20-4)
4 New Mexico (22-4) vs. 13 California / Baylor
in Austin

6 Illinois (18-8) vs. 11 Maryland (18-7)
3 Georgetown (19-4) vs. 14 Davidson (18-7)
in Dayton

7 Oregon (21-5) vs. 10 La Salle (18-6)
2 Michigan State (21-4) vs. 15 Harvard (14-7)
in Auburn Hills

SOUTH REGIONAL (in Arlington)

1 Miami (21-3) vs. 16 N.C. Central / Charleston Southern
8 Oklahoma (16-8) vs. 9 St. Louis (19-5)
in Philadelphia

5 Marquette (18-6) vs. 12 Southern Miss / Virginia
4 Oklahoma State (19-5) vs. 13 Bucknell (20-5)
in Kansas City

6 UNLV (18-7) vs. 11 Notre Dame (20-6)
3 Arizona (21-4) vs. 14 Detroit (16-9)
in Salt Lake City

7 Cincinnati (19-7) vs. 10 Missouri (18-7)
2 Michigan (21-4) vs. Canisius (17-10)
in Auburn Hills


MIDWEST REGIONAL (in Indianapolis)

1 Indiana (23-3) vs. 16 Northeastern / Southern
8 Colorado (17-8) vs. 9 Creighton (21-6)
in Dayton

5 Pittsburgh (20-6) vs. 12 Ole Miss (19-6)
4 Kansas State (19-5) vs. Stephen F. Austin (17-3)
in San Jose

6 Ohio State (18-7) vs. 11 Iowa State (17-8)
3 Syracuse (21-4) vs. 14 Stony Brook (18-6)
in Philadelphia

7 VCU (21-5) vs. 10 Middle Tennessee (23-4)
2 Gonzaga (24-2) vs. 15 Weber State (17-5)
in San Jose

My At-First-Glance Final Four

Louisville-Florida-Michigan-Indiana.

Second glance: Duke-Michigan State-Arizona-Syracuse.

Missouri's inevitable path to destiny (ahem)

Cincinnati-Michigan-Arizona-Miami-Indiana-Florida.

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