Editor's note: Charlie Creme will project the 2007 NCAA Tournament bracket right up to Selection Monday in March. Click here for his most recent Women's Bracketology and Charlie's team-by-team analysis. The following questions were submitted after he announced his field of 64 on Monday.
Please look past just the RPI numbers. If you look at New Mexico's schedule side by side with Western Kentucky (like the committee will do), there's no way the Hilltoppers get in before the Lobos. Their best win is against No. 47 South Dakota St.! The Lobos have beaten Texas, UCLA, Arizona, BYU and Utah. Please stop looking at just RPI numbers and use Jimmy Dykes' CSI (common sense index). And you call yourself an expert? Please try researching something other than an RPI list. It makes you look like a fool. The Mountain West is the seventh-best conference this year and you've only got one team in. Why is it that you put multiple teams that dominate lousy conferences over teams that do well in tough conferences (the MWC gets one team but the ninth-rated Sun Belt gets two and the 10th-ranked Atlantic 10 gets three teams). Guess it's no different than the committee giving New Mexico a 12-seed last year when the Lobos spent the entire season ranked.
Now that the Lobos have beaten every team in the conference that had previously beaten them, are on an eight-game winning streak, and have gotten to 20 wins, will you give them some respect? This was a team that started 0-3 in the conference and has rebounded to contend for the title. They are a former Sweet 16 team, from a conference that went undefeated last year in the first round and sent a team to the Elite Eight. If this was an East Coast conference, you'd have three of its teams in your bracket. I know the conference is down this year, but one team?
I included both of these e-mails because they tend to illustrate many of the points so many readers brought up about New Mexico. Lobo fans stuffed the mailbox this week.
Let's hit a few of George's topics first. Frankly, George, I can't get behind your logic. First, you criticize me for being too focused on the RPI (which I'm not), but then use that very same RPI to try to make your case. Isn't your assertion that the MWC is the seventh-best conference taken directly from the RPI? I think it is. You can't have it both ways. Not to mention -- like I've said all season -- teams make the NCAA Tournament, not conferences. Nowhere does it say a conference should "get" a certain number of teams in. The fact is, the Mountain West hasn't been that tough of a league this year. I'll go a step further. Utah is not really a good win. Neither is Arizona nor UCLA. I think you are basing your analysis of those wins on reputation (something that I'm often accused of doing). The Utes are only 7-6 in the nonconference and five of those wins were against teams outside the top-150. Frankly, that's terrible. So let's not trumpet that as a good win.
You want to label the A-10 a lousy conference? It might be at the bottom, but George Washington, Temple and Xavier all have better résumés than New Mexico. That's hard to dispute. You have a better argument with Western Kentucky and your comparison there is valid. New Mexico and the Hilltoppers have very similar résumés. The difference for me was overall schedule strength, which was the one noticeable advantage for WKU.
George's last point about New Mexico being ranked all year last season but getting a 12-seed helps my argument and further shows how little the polls matter. The committee's not looking at that and neither do I. I'm trying to do the best job I can to mimic what the committee might do. And that illustrates that I might not be too far off after all.
With regard to Dan's e-mail, I'll simply say every season is different. It has no barring that MWC teams went undefeated in the first round last year. It has nothing to do with respect for a team or a conference. It has to do with what is happening, right here, right now. And, although it had no barring on the projections in this discussion, New Mexico's loss to UNLV is not going to help, either.
I just hope I someday get the checks you must be receiving from the Big 12. Putting Texas in the tourney is a bit of a stretch. When the Longhorns lost Erika Arriaran, they were 11-4 and had just beaten Purdue. Their only other losses were to New Mexico, Tennessee, Duke and Nebraska. Since the injury, they have no consistent outside shooting and are only 6-8. They have lost five of the last six, including a home loss to Kansas! Their only win in the last six games was over a mediocre Texas Tech team that is also struggling, losing 6-of-7 and only beating Nebraska by one for that lone win -- and Nebraska has lost four straight. Well, when you put two struggling teams on the court, one has to win, right? The only time any of these three teams has gotten a win recently is when they have played each other. Please justify how you think Texas is a worthy NCAA candidate and New Mexico, which has just stomped TCU, a top-65 RPI team, by 21. The Lobos are tied for second place in the MWC. If my memory serves me correctly, TCU ousted Texas A&M in last year's NCAA, while New Mexico was kicking Florida to the curb by 20-plus. Even if New Mexico wins its last two games on the road, its RPI will drop and according to you, the RPI is almost gospel and not much else matters?
Mark's e-mail is the next generation of the previous discussion. Why Texas over New Mexico? Texas is by no means a super solid member of the field, but without question, the Longhorns have more good wins than the Lobos. Mark is right about Texas without Arriaran, but he conveniently left out that the Longhorns also beat Oklahoma and Texas A&M without her. I also am at a loss for the math classes Mark may or may not have attended when he says that Texas and New Mexico have similar RPIs. On Sunday when the projections were done, New Mexico wasn't within 30 spots of Texas' RPI number. And it still isn't. That's not to say RPI is all we are talking about here, but the numbers aren't close. And, again, it doesn't matter what happened in the tournament last year. These are new teams and it's a new season.
I am wondering why you would put the A&M womens' team so far away from home as a No. 3 seed but allow Texas to stay in Austin as a very poor 11th seed? Texas, last time I looked, doesn't even have a winning record in the Big 12.
By rule, as a host institution, Texas has to be placed in Austin. That's all there is to it. Texas A&M was the lowest-rated of the 3-seeds on my s-curve. As a result, the Aggies get last priority on geography, so they had to go the furthest.
What is the deal with UConn always getting to play in Hartford? Does the NCAA realize that UConn has always played in Hartford in the early rounds and it is like some preordained thing? It seems maybe some other team should receive the No. 1 seed and move UConn out to the West or something and break up this early-round "bias" of UConn getting to play in Hartford. Either that or let's just go back to early-round games at host campuses with No. 1 seeds always getting early round games.
Yes, UConn does often get games in the state of Connecticut. In the case of 2007, the Huskies serve as a host school so they have to be placed in Hartford. But the answer to the question on a more global scale really isn't that much more difficult. Cities in Connecticut like Hartford, Storrs and Bridgeport, are often chosen for sub-regional and regional sites because they do nice job of hosting and draw a crowd. Anyone who likes women's college basketball would agree they like to see the arena filled as much as possible. Part of the seeding process is that the higher-seeded teams get geographical preference over teams lower on the S-curve -- and UConn is often a higher-rated team. In other words, the Huskies have earned it. Based on the rules in place as long as Connecticut stays elite, more often than not, it will get placed in a sub-regional as close to home as possible. It works the same way on the men's side. But I find it odd that you didn't notice that UConn was also in the Fresno Regional. That is because the Huskies were the fourth-rated No. 1 seed on my board and thus, were last in the pecking order for a regional destination.
How can George Washington even compete with teams like LSU and Georgia for a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament or have a higher RPI? The Colonials play nobody teams for the majority of their season. LSU is getting screwed on the RPI and your predictions. The Lady Tigers lost by one point to top-four teams. Their only crime is being inconsistent while playing one of the toughest schedules in the country with Georgia, Tennessee, UConn and Vandy.
George Washington has lost only to two top teams -- then-No. 6 Tennessee and then-No. 1 Maryland. How is it that LSU, Ohio State and Stanford can be in front of them when you look at who they have lost to, some of which are nonranked teams! I will never understand! Please try to enlighten me!
These two e-mails show how two people can look at the same thing and see it in a completely different way. Or more accurately, see things as they want to see them. For the record, Patty, George Washington was not behind LSU. And, Joan, it's pretty clear how George Washington can compete with the likes of the teams you mentioned when one of them -- Georgia -- actually lost to GW.
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