I only descended from the skies about an hour ago so I'm just now sorting through the bracket, but as I begin doing legwork for preview writing here and elsewhere, I went ahead and compiled the Ken Pomeroy rating for each team in the tournament, grouped by regional:
Ratings via Ken Pomeroy.
After the jump, a few initial thoughts.
BAD SCHEDULING, GONE GOOD
For Texas fans, 2010 as a giant slap in the face continues. Colt goes down, injuries plague the hoops team, Rick Barnes falls on his face, Baylor toys with us like an amused cat... and now this? Look, no one's more aware that Texas has faded -- a lot -- from where they were and appeared to be headed, but an 8 seed in this field is pretty harsh.
With so many falling over themselves to look meager down in the final weeks, resulting in what many think to be the weakest field of 65 in recent memory, it seems clear the Committee decided to disproportionately reward those few teams who got into the tournament with strong play down the stretch. I missed the post-bracket interview with the Committee chair on television, but that's the only thing I can come up with to explain how Texas winds up an 8 while: (A) Oklahoma State nets a slotting on the No. 7 line and (B) Notre Dame winds up a No. 6.
Both are very difficult to understand. Start with the Pokes: Though they went 6-3 over their final 9 games, including a pair of impressive wins at home over Baylor and Kansas -- one of those 3 losses was to Texas. Which of course gave the 'Horns a season sweep over the Cowboys. Not only did Texas sweep OSU and finish ahead of them in the Big 12, but the Longhorns' non-conference strength of schedule (#151) was decidedly better than the Cowboys' pathetic slate (#240). OSU played three KenPom Top 100 team out of conference, losing to #79 Tulsa and #73 Rhode Island, while defeating #99 Stanford. Texas played three KenPom Top 100 squads, picking up wins over #24 Michigan State and #30 Pitt, while losing to #55 Connecticut.
Meanwhile, Notre Dame managed an even more embarrassing non-conference schedule (#261), featuring exactly one contest with a Ken Pom Top 100 team -- a loss, to #77 Northwestern. Worse, the Irish lost to #175 Loyola Marymount. At home! Among their 8 Big East losses were duds against Rutgers and St. John's.
Again, Texas made its own bed, so there's not much sense in losing our minds about this kind of nonsense, but let us call it what it is. For me, personally, I'm just disgusted that the Committee decided to reward two of the most despicable bits of non-conference scheduling imaginable. It creates the wrong incentives, and let me tell you that after three years in South Bend staring at a basketball schedule that could't even get me -- a completely hopeless hoops junkie -- to the Joyce Center, I'm disgusted that Mike Brey got so disproportionately rewarded for finishing strong.
A few quick thoughts on the bracket as a whole:
- Staying with Texas' East Regional, I wasn't surprised to find that both the median rating and average rating of the Top 10 seeds are the highest of any of the four regions. My initial reaction after my first glance of the bracket was that the East and South stood out as markedly deeper, more challenging groupings.
- With that said, that is one nasty, nasty top four atop the Midwest region. St. Louis will be a very interesting place to be should Kansas, Ohio State, Georgetown, and Maryland all make the Sweet 16.
- Syracuse fans should be giggling right now. The two seed in their bracket (K-State) is not a team that's well-geared to giving them trouble, the 3-seed (Pitt) seems to me seeded far too high, and the Orangemen's toughest challenge might prove be the winner of Butler-UTEP-Vandy.
- Hey, look! That John Wall-Avery Bradley NCAA Tournament showdown may just happen after all. Just like I said it might... only four rounds too soon.
- Hook 'em?
- Hook 'em. It's still March.