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Never Mind RPI: Behind The Logic of The Bracket 3

Posted on March 05, 2015 by Ashley Andrews
There is no doubt that Kentucky will be at the top of the bracket when the NCAA Tournament bids are announced on March 15tth.

There is no doubt that Kentucky will be at the top of the bracket when the NCAA Tournament bids are announced on March 15tth.

The schedule says that the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament starts on St. Patrick’s Day, but the ongoing action up until that day can be the real March Madness. The migration from locks, bubbles, and outsiders continues right up until the last whistle of the last conference tournament, and the tiny window in which the committee assimilates all that information into a bracket is arguably the maddest time of March.

Teams like Kentucky, Virginia, and Wisconsin are unlikely to get a surprise come Selection Sunday, regardless of how their final couple of games turn out. But there is much more that goes into settling the field for play, especially starting with the two and three seeds. Before the men’s NCAA basketball tournament hits the airwaves, the committee is hitting the books to set it up. Here’s what (might) be going through their minds:

Peaking At The Right Time
Coaches use this term all the time. They just mean they’re hoping their team is playing their best basketball of the season when March arrives.

The committee wants these teams. They are likely to provide clemency to early sputters. Kansas can write off its early mugging by Kentucky, for example, because their recent results have been far more in line with what’s expected from a premiere team. And early season rankings are disproved annually. Strong play at the end of the regular season and in the conference tournament carries considerably more weight that early-season jitter games. The reason is obvious: Teams that come into March like a lion will provide the most exciting games and the best chance at a deep tournament run.

Losses, Yes. But To Whom?
Herein lies the debate over relative strength of conferences. Gonzaga has been dinged repeatedly for being dominant only because the West Coast Conference is not exactly viewed as hoops heaven, a criticism verified by BYU’s defeat of Mark Few’s squad.

Meanwhile, a different ocean laps against the shores of many of the ACC’s home states, the arena where Duke, UNC, Louisville, and their mates (including Syracuse, which is taking a mulligan on postseason play this year as self-imposed sanctions for compliance no-no’s) have locked up like combative rams in arguably one of the most brutal conferences in the country. Coming out of that fray with four losses will likely shine more brightly from the bracket than only a couple of blemishes in other locales.

But what of the SEC? Georgia head coach Mark Fox insists that the league is being downgraded because Kentucky is clobbering all of them, but that after the Wildcats there’s a high level of parity and quality in the league. Meanwhile there are thousands of fans screaming about the legitimacy of smaller leagues, the home of Cinderella.

Tickets, Please. Tickets. And Ratings, Too.
When it all shakes out, we have to face the reality that the NCAA–non-profit organization or not–is looking to make money. Venues cost money. Officials cost money. Security, staff, hotels, everything involved in the tournament is expensive, and the only way to cover these costs is to make sure that fans are in the seats. A no-friction road to the Final Four, especially in a distant regional arena, could spur many fans to skip early rounds and wait on their favorite to get to Indianapolis. The NCAA doesn’t want that. They want interest in those early games. So the committee may choose to set up a challenge for high seeds that fans may feel is unwarranted, strictly to ensure that those fans come to the games. This could be how seedings mysteriously drift downward for favorites and/or upward for dark horses. A 4/13 game is considerably more worrisome to fans of the favorite than the 1/16 arrangement, which since its 1985 inception has never seen an upset.

The same thing that sells tickets also turns on televisions, and viewership pays the broadcasters’ hefty bills–including those to the NCAA itself. The selection committee must make sure there’s intriguing TV to be had.

These are matters that aren’t settled on the court but in the conference room. While some fans may feel that the bracket should be established with nothing but hard basketball facts, the reality is that the committee must take some of these factors into consideration to keep the tournament accurate and, perhaps most important, financially sound.

The History of Wichita St. Basketball 1

Posted on March 11, 2014 by Scott Huntington

As one of the stories of the year, the Wichita State Shockers have gone undefeated in the regular season of their college basketball season. After making it to the Final Four the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament last year and earning a record of 34-0 this season, the Wichita St. basketball team is now where they have rarely been—in the limelight of sports prominence. For the casual sports fan, the Shockers have not often come to mind when it comes to choosing a winner for their March Madness brackets. However, Wichita St. basketball has come a long way since its beginning, starting under the name Fairmount College.

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The Beginning of Shockers Basketball

Under the original name of the “Wheatshockers”, the Fairmount College basketball team competed in its first season in 1906. Head coach Willis Bates and his six players finished the season 2-4. You don’t need medical translation to know that going 2-4 isn’t the best start to a program, but Fairmount College would eventually make strides forward, including the development of the full-court zone press under Coach Gene Johnson.

How Far Will Wichita State Go in the NCAA Tournament?

  • Lose the first weekend (27%, 3 Votes)
  • Winning the NCAA Title (27%, 3 Votes)
  • Lose in the Elite 8 (18%, 2 Votes)
  • Lose in the Round of 16 (9%, 1 Votes)
  • Lose in the Final Four (9%, 1 Votes)
  • Lose the NCAA Championship Game (10%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 11

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Start of Success

The Shockers would begin to see success after joining the Missouri Valley Conference, when the school hired Ralph Miller from East High in 1951. Miller convinced his star player in high school, Cleo Littleton, to come with him to the college. Littleton became one of the first African-American players in the Missouri Valley Conference. He was also the first to score 19 points per game as a freshman—a school record that stands today. Under Miller in the 1964, Dave Stallworth would become the Shockers’ first consensus all-American, scoring a career average 24.2 points per game. Miller would later be inducted into Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame after building the Shockers’ basketball program.

Wichita State’s First Great Season

In the season following the school’s induction into the state university system as Wichita State University, the Shockers would go 19-7 and win the Missouri Valley Conference in the 1964-65 season under Gary Thompson. In the NCAA tournament of that season, Wichita St. would defeat SMU and Oklahoma St. in order to earn a berth into the Final Four—an accomplishment tied for the school’s deepest-ever run in the tournament. In their Final Four matchup, Wichita St. would lose to defending national champs UCLA Bruins by a score of 108-89.

One More Run Before Insignificance

11 years after Wichita St.’s greatest season at that point, the Shockers would win their next Missouri Valley Conference title. With one of the school’s best-assembled teams, including freshman-phenom Cheese Johnson, the 1975-76 Shockers returned to the NCAA tournament. A heart-breaking loss by one point to Michigan—the eventual runners-up—in the first game of the tournament would then be followed by the Shockers’ Elite 8 season in 1981 in which Wichita St. defeated Kansas. The Shockers would subsequently go through a period of mediocrity through the 1990s.

Return of the Shockers

Under new Athletic Director Jim Schaus, Wichita St. would begin to see success again in the 2000s. The hiring of coach Mark Turgeon would prove advantageous as he brought the team to three consecutive 20-win seasons and the school’s first conference championship in 23 years. The program has continued to gain momentum as the Shockers won the NIT tournament in 2011 and reached the Final Four of the NCAA tournament last season. Now, Wichita St. is poised to make a deep run in the tournament with the likelihood of a one seed and the confidence that only an undefeated season can give you.

Memorable NCAA Tournament Runs – Part 2, 25-11 2

Posted on March 16, 2011 by A.J. Foss

The 1979 Penn Quakers defeated North Carolina and Duke to reach the Final Four.

Welcome to Part 2 of the 50 most memorable NCAA tournament runs since 1979.

This installment features tournament runs 25 through 11 since the tournament began to seed teams back in 1979.

We start with #25:

25. 2002 Kent State
The Golden Flashes entered the 2002 tournament with the longest winning streak in the country, at 18 games, but were given only a #10 seed in the South Regional.

Led by future San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates, Kent State knocked off Oklahoma State in the first round, then easily defeated SEC champion Alabama in the second round to make it out of the first weekend.

In the Sweet 16, the Flashes pulled off a 76-73 overtime victory over #3 seed Pittsburgh to become the first Mid-American Conference team to reach the Elite Eight since Ohio back in 1964.

However, Kent could not get past Indiana in the regional final as they lost 81-69, denying the Flashes a trip to the Final Four.

24.  1979 St. John’s
St. John’s was the 40th and last team to make it to the 1979 NCAA tournament, by winning nine of its last 11 games in the regular season.

The Redmen continued their hot streak into the tournament as they defeated Temple in the first round, then stunned 2nd seeded Duke 80-78 as part of “Black Sunday”, where the Blue Devils and North Carolina both lost their games in the state of North Carolina.

St. John’s held off Rutgers 67-65 in their Sweet 16 match-up to advance to the East Regional Final, where they faced off Pennsylvania, the team who knocked off North Carolina.

The Redmen’s memorable run ended just short off the Final Four as they lost to Penn 64-62.

23. 1987 LSU
One year after making the Final Four as a #11 seed, the Tigers almost pulled off another Final Four run as a double digit seed.

LSU actually had a worse record in 1987 than they did the previous season as they finished the season with a 21-14 record, 8-10 in the SEC, but earned berth as a #10 seed.

The Tigers defeated Georgia Tech in the first round, followed by a win over second-seeded Temple in the second round to move onto to the second weekend of the tournament where they defeated #3 seed DePaul to face where they faced top seed Indiana in the Midwest Regional Final.

LSU was on the brink of a second consecutive Final Four as they lead the Hoosiers 75-66 with 4:38 left in the second half, but Indiana outscored the Tigers 12-1 with forward Rick Calloway scoring the winning basket with seven seconds remaining to give Indiana a 77-76 win and denying the Tigers a return trip to the Final Four. Read the rest of this entry →

2011 NCAA Tournament: Let the Madness Begin 5

Posted on March 13, 2011 by Dean Hybl

It is that time of year again with brackets being completed and the debate heating up in preparation for the most enjoyable three weeks of the college basketball season, the NCAA Tournament.

In the first year of the 68 team tournament it has been proven that even adding three additional at-large teams doesn’t ensure happiness with the system.

In a year that college basketball experts say is filled with mediocre teams, there continues to be disappointment with some of the selections into the NCAA tournament field. Most specifically, the inclusion of Alabama-Birmingham and Virginia Commonwealth has some experts scratching their head and calling foul.

While both teams certainly have warts, the difference between them and some of the power conference teams that just missed the tournament isn’t significant.

What the NCAA Tournament committee seems to be saying is that conference success isn’t enough to get into the dance. Both UAB and VCU play in solid conferences and had a number of quality victories. Read the rest of this entry →

Ultimate March Madness: The 20 Greatest Moments in NCAA Tournament History 10

Posted on March 17, 2010 by A.J. Foss
Christian Laettner's game-winning shot ended one of the great games in NCAA Tournament history.

Christian Laettner's game-winning shot ended one of the great games in NCAA Tournament history.

Welcome to the third and final part of the Ultimate March Madness List.
This installment features the top 20 moments in the history of the NCAA Tournament.

20. 1998 Valparaiso-Ole Miss

With 2.5 seconds left and trailing 69-67, Valpo’s Jaime Skyes throws a 60-foot pass down the length of the court that is caught by Bill Jenkins, who then passes it over to Bryce Drew (the head coach’s son), who then proceeds to drill a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give #13 seed Valparaiso an improbable 70-69 victory over the #4 seed Ole Miss Rebels in their first round game.

19. 1990 Connecticut-Clemson
With exactly one second left, Uconn guard Tate George catches a full-court pass from Scott Burrell, lands, then squares up to shoots a jumper that goes in the basket at the buzzer to give the Huskies a miraculous 71-70 win over the Clemson Tigers and send Connecticut to their first ever Elite Eight.

18. 1991 Duke-UNLV
One year after losing to UNLV 103-73 in the championship game, Duke avenges that humiliating by knocking off the undefeated and defending national champion Runnin’ Rebels 79-77 as Christian Lattener hits two free throws with 12.7 seconds left.

Duke would win the national championship two nights later as they defeated Kansas 72-65 to give coach Mike Krzyzewski his first national title after five trips to the Final Four. Read the rest of this entry →

Ultimate March Madness: Great Moments 40-21 4

Posted on March 16, 2010 by A.J. Foss
Danny Ainge made a magical shot to defeat Notre Dame in the 1981 NCAA Tournament.

Danny Ainge made a magical shot to defeat Notre Dame in the 1981 NCAA Tournament.

Welcome to Part 2 of the Ultimate March Madness List. Today, we explore moments 40-21.

40. 2003 Syracuse-Kansas
Syracuse’s Hakim Warrick blocks a potential tying 3-point shot by Kansas’s Michael Lee with 0.7 seconds left to preserve the 81-78 win and securing the first national championship for Syracuse and coach Jim Boeheim.

39. 1998 Washington-Connecticut
On the third shot attempt in the final eight seconds of the game, UConn’s Richard Hamilton hits a short fade away jumper at the buzzer that wins the game for the Huskies 75-74 in their Sweet Sixteen game with Washington and sends UConn to the Elite Eight.

38. 2008 Davidson
Stephen Curry, son of former NBA player Del Curry, becomes the star of the 2008 Tournament as he leads his Davidson Wildcats on a memorable run to the elite eight.

Curry scores 40 points in Davidson’s first round matchup with Gonzaga, followed by a 30-point performance in the second round against Georgetown as he outscored the Hoyas 25-22 in the final 14:24 of the second half to lead the Wildcats back from a 17-point deficit, then scored 33 in a rout of Wisconsin in the Sweet Sixteen, and then 25 in a two-point loss to Kansas in the Midwest Regional Final. Read the rest of this entry →

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