We all love brackets and seeding, and especially when the seeds, you know, make sense. That didn't happen with the NCAA Tournament this year, but our lovely sponsor for this post has achieved that with the Allstate "BFF Brackets" game, which takes your top 64 Facebook friends (culled with an actual algorithm based on interaction) and seeds them in four regions, just like with the real tourney. From there your friends advance through the brackets with the corresponding seeds in the real tournament, until one is left standing. At which point you and that friend are entered in a sweepstakes to win a trip to New Orleans. Huzzah. If you're a Facebook user, you can check it out here.
No. 4 Texas will play No. 13 Oakland in Tulsa, OK on Friday morning, tip time at 11:15 a.m. The game will be televised on CBS.
As I said before the brackets were announced, seeding doesn't matter all that much, but match ups do. Unfortunately, Texas got hosed with its seed, and in the process fell into terribly challenging match ups. The Longhorns will open the NCAA Tournament in Tulsa playing the No. 13 Oakland Grizzlies, with a potential second round match up with Pac 10 champion Arizona.
Oakland just finished brutalizing the Summit League, both during a 17-1 regular season and the conference tournament, which they dominated with three wins by a combined 50 points. They check in at No. 69 on Ken Pomeroy's ratings, they are the 12th tallest team in the entire country, feature an enormous NBA prospect, and shoot the ball exceptionally well. Scipio thinks they're the best No. 12-16 seed in the tournament, and except for Utah State, I agree. If Texas isn't sharp, they'll lose, which isn't the case for, oh I don't know, say, Florida, who could play like absolute garbage and beat UC Santa Barbara by 20.
Our potential second round match up with Arizona is no picnic, either. They don't have consistent enough guard play, but Derrick Williams is absolutely phenomenal, they're as athletic as we are, and well coached. Of course, the NCAA Selection Committee did such a piss poor job seeding the entire field that there's no guarantee Texas would have gotten an appropriate second round match up as a No. 2 seed, anyway.
Still, since we've spent the last four months living and dying with all this stuff, allow me a few words on how badly Texas got jobbed. Using the most objective standard we have at our disposal, the Ken Pomeroy advanced ratings, Texas rates No. 4 in the country, well ahead of both Florida (No. 19) and North Carolina (No. 14). Ditto with the Sagarin ratings, which have Texas at No. 4, well ahead of Florida (21) and UNC (15).
The Longhorns went 27-7 overall, 13-3 in conference, while Florida went 26-7, 13-3 and UNC went 26-7, 14-2. The difference? The Big 12 was the third best conference in the country, while the ACC was comfortably behind in 4th and the SEC was the seventh.
Losses? Texas dropped games to USC, Pitt, UConn, Nebraska, Colorado, K-State, and Kansas. Florida lost games to Jacksonville, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Central Florida, Ohio State and Kentucky (twice). North Carolina stumbled against Minnesota, Illinois, Georgia Tech, Vanderbilt, Duke (twice), and... oh yeah: Texas. In Greensboro.
Now, if Texas was a No. 3 seed, I suppose you could construct a reasonable enough argument for putting those two ahead of the Horns. I'd disagree with it, but hey, it's close. But Texas at No. 4? What on Earth could possibly explain that? A subjective "they didn't look very good down the stretch" argument is completely unsupportable given so many of the other decisions made by the Committee (including, notably, leaving Colorado out). The only thing that really sheds a bit of light on the decision is the RPI, where Florida rates 10th, North Carolina 6th, and Texas 14th. Unfortunately, the RPI is an absolutely terrible way to rank teams.
Frankly, Texas as a No. 4 seed is unjustifiable. It's objectively wrong, and it's stupid from a subjective perspective, as well. The only thing that I'll add is that this Committee did such a terrible job across the bracket that we just got a little unlucky that the darts they threw happened to land as they did.
In any event, Texas will be challenged in its first match up, and again in the second should they win. After that it's really not such a big deal. You expect to have to beat two top-tier teams to make the Final Four. It would have been nice to have been properly seeded and to have an easier path to Anaheim, but you know what, we're in the tournament and what still matters is whether or not we're going to play good basketball. With a better draw we might have been able to get to Anaheim without playing well, but we wouldn't have had a shot at Houston, anyway.
The Madness is here. Here's to another fun, unforgettable month.