Will Marsha Sharp coach Texas Tech in at least one more NCAA Tournament game? Why isn't Arizona State seeded in Tucson? And why isn't Oklahoma at least a No. 2 seed, if not higher?
We tackle those questions and more in this week's mailbag.
How in the world can you set OU as a No. 3 seed? There is no one in the country playing better than the Sooners right now. Do you really watch any games, or do you just listen to your East Coast-biased brethren?
Mike, I watch more games than you can imagine. In fact, I'm watching one right now while I answer your e-mail. (And by the way, I don't live on the East Coast.)
Although the Sooners are currently playing great basketball, it's not accurate to say that no one is playing better than Oklahoma right now. It wouldn't be hard to argue that Rutgers (12-game winning streak) or Ohio State (16-game winning streak) or North Carolina (lone loss was in overtime) or Maryland (won 12 of 13 in the toughest conference in the country) aren't also playing at least as well.
Debating whether Ohio State or Oklahoma gets the final No. 2 seed has probably become the hottest topic in my e-mail inbox the last two weeks. Right now, they are 8 and 9, respectively, on my S-curve. Regardless of which is which, it makes one a No. 2-seed and the other a 3-seed, but in the same region. You know what that means, folks? It means that it doesn't matter. Whichever is the No. 3-seed would play a 14-seed in the first round and a 7- or 10-seed in the second round. If your team can't beat those teams, then it didn't belong in the Sweet 16 anyway. It merely comes down to which uniform to wear. It certainly is a fun debate, but the bottom line is that it really isn't at all important. Save the spit and vinegar for something else.
Hey Charlie!! You do a great job with this and I enjoy it very much. Finally with a road win at Texas yesterday, the Lady Raiders won on the road. They have OU in Marsha [Sharp]'s last home game on Wednesday. You don't have them even as the "next four out," and I can't blame you. What do you think it will take for them to get in? Also, do you think the Marsha Sharp resignation will weigh in at all for the committee to sneak us in the tourney because of that? Thanks again and great job!
Thanks for the props, Kolby. As much as I would love to see Marsha Sharp in the tournament in her swan song, it doesn't look good for the Lady Raiders. A 14-12 record needs a much better RPI than one in the 50s to get serious consideration. Perhaps a run to the Big 12 tournament finals would give Texas Tech a stronger case, but right now there just isn't much justification.
Charlie, while Tennessee may have lost this week, the Lady Vols will still receive a No. 1 seed. Neither Oklahoma nor Maryland nor Ohio State have combined to defeat as many Top-20 teams as Tennessee has this year, and none of these teams has a stronger schedule. While I don't want to take anything away from Oklahoma, Maryland or Ohio State, their records this year don't match up. Make no mistake -- Tennessee has some glaring holes to plug before March Madness begins, namely playing consistent defense and protecting the ball. But come tournament time, I wouldn't want to play against the Lady Vols.
I hate to break it to you Chris, but one of the measurements the committee (and I) use is Top-25 RPI wins and, in fact, Tennessee does not have more than Oklahoma, Maryland and Ohio State combined. The Lady Vols do have more Top-25 wins than any of those schools individually, but that isn't all that goes into this.
Remember, "last 10 games" is also a criteria, and the Lady Vols are far short of the others there. That is probably the biggest factor -- how they are playing now. If you read my story two weeks ago about how Alexis Hornbuckle's injury gets thrown into the equation, you'd also understand that what happened earlier in the season for Tennessee is now measured differently because that is not the same team (with Hornbuckle sidelined) that will be going to the NCAA Tournament.
I see that you have Arizona State predicted as a No. 3-seed as before. Why are they now in Nashville and not Tucson? Shouldn't the Sun Devils be rewarded and be put close to home? Do you think if they win the Pac-10 Tournament they will be put back in Tucson? I don't think they should be put in Vandy's home court and have to play the Commodores in the second round.
The bottom line is that as long the rule exists that host schools have to be placed in their home arena, then some higher seed is going to be at a disadvantage. It just so happened to be ASU this time around. Honestly, I think it would be the committee's preference to be able to put ASU in Tucson, but as I wrote this week, I don't think they will manipulate the S-curve and thus, break up the integrity and balance of the bracket to do so. If it wasn't Arizona State this week, I'd be getting an e-mail on the same subject from someone in another part of the country.
I'm a big Old Dominion fan and suffered through the 2-7 start to the 2005-06 season. The Lady Monarchs have stepped up their game, winning 16 straight, and have only lost once in 2006 -- against Tennessee. They have had some "quality losses" against highly ranked teams such as Vanderbilt (lost by five), North Carolina (lost by eight in OT) and Virginia Tech (lost by seven). Their nonconference strength of schedule (SOS) is top-10 in the nation. And this team is still not ranked. I have seen the ODU Lady Monarchs play a number of CAA games in person, and I am wondering why they are not ranked in the Top 25 (or really anywhere close, even mid- to upper-30s or 40s in the polls). You have them as a No. 11 seed in your bracket. They had been a No. 8 or No. 9. How does a team on a tear like this lose two or three seeds in the NCAA bracket when they win two games every week in conference play? I do understand that the CAA is a very weak conference, but the Lady Monarchs have won 13 straight conference titles and are well on their way to their 14th straight.
Virginia Beach, Va.
My first advice, Matt, would be to not worry so much about the polls. They are a nice discussion reference, but they don't matter and are often a joke. You do bring up an interesting topic otherwise. Though I actually have never had the Lady Monarchs as an 8- or a 9-seed, one could argue that they might be worthy of such a seed. However, if they are placed in the 8 or 9 slot, and because ODU is a host school, that means that a No. 1-seed would be playing a second-round game on the road. The committee has never done that, and frankly, it shouldn't. No way should a team that earned a No. 1-seed be placed in that situation. It's bad enough that it occasionally happens to a 2-seed.
That may sound contradictory based on what I wrote this week about the committee keeping the integrity of the bracket as its top priority, but the rules do allow a team to be moved one seed line to accommodate certain situations, like avoiding conference teams from playing before the regional finals or to make the travel circumstances better. I think this is one of those situations where a team could be moved. I actually had ODU as a 10-seed and slid them one seed line for this very reason.
How can the Charlotte 49ers drop out of the bracket when they tied for first in the division? Yes, they lost to Temple and GW, but those two lost to very weak opponents and the bottom end of the A-10. Two weeks ago, Temple lost and gained two positions in the AP and ESPN polls, and Bracketology. That does not make sense. Charlotte lost to teams at the top and dropped off the map.
Anthony, you should really read more carefully. Charlotte did not fall off the map. The 49ers were listed among the "last four out." In fact they were the last team out. The reason for that is, despite a fine conference record, Charlotte's credentials are sketchy. It doesn't help the 49ers that the A-10 is relatively weak this season, so that conference record doesn't carry as much significance. More important, Charlotte played a very poor nonconference schedule and did not beat a single team currently in the field. When one of your best wins is against Xavier, the résumé is flimsy. The committee likes teams that play people. Charlotte did not, and it could really be costly.
Charlie Creme can be reached at email@example.com.