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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Are We There Yet?

I am already sick of people breaking down the seedings. None of it matters; teams executing what they do better than the opponent is the only thing of consequence in the upcoming games. Turnovers, free throws, execution ... these things matter now more than ever. Not even playing close to home makes much of a difference in my opinion. Sticking to a routine and being rested is important, but that can be done away from home if a team is well-prepared. Will Wisconsin perform better in Omaha than it would a few more states away? Doubtful. I want the games to get here as fast as possible, so that the actual stories of competition are the topics of discussion again.

As it is, even those far more intelligent than I are breaking down bracket winners and losers and bemoaning this year's lousy matchups. What I find more interesting is actual statistical analysis in regards to seeding, like the Performance Above Seeding Expectations (PASE) values calculated by Peter Tiernan. Tiernan used PASE stats to identify the top indicators of overachievement in the tournament. It's useful for the brackets that award bonus points for picking upsets I suppose.

I plan on releasing my official picks tomorrow night. Just remember that when picking your national champ this week, choose a team ranked in the RPI top 10 with a winning percentage of at least .850 which has played 10 or more games against the RPI top 50 (and won). And try not to get distracted by those piddly graduation rates.

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Bucky was ranked fifth in the final regular season ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. While only sixth in the AP Poll, I think talk of getting no respect should all but disappear at this point. The ranking is actually an honor considering Duke, which embarrassed the Badgers, is ranked three spots behind them in both polls.

Wisconsin simply is not as battle-tested as it needs to be at this point. The Badgers have only played one decent team (Michigan State) in their past five games. You can only beat the teams you play, but that can mean very little once you reach the final 65. Let's hope Wisconsin can stay healthy then and avoid last year's results, when a 30-win team wound up 11th in the final postseason coaches poll, behind luminaries such as Pittsburgh and Southern Illinois.

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Two more conference teams, Ohio State and Minnesota, continued their seasons via NIT invites. To emphasize how poor the bottom of the Big Ten was this year (as if the committee didn't do enough of that), no additional conference teams were invited to the awful CBI tournament.

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