Monday, March 17, 2008

Arizona State in the NIT

Hey Arizona State. Shut up. You didn't get screwed, jobbed, cheated ripped off, et al. They played a weak schedule and that's what happens when you play a weak schedule. Unfortunately for them, when they planned the schedule it wasn't that weak, but with the way the NCAA is both football and basketball you can only go as far as the teams you play. If they turn out to be soft, it's an unfortunate turn of events. Now could the cips have fallen differently yes.

Arizona State scheduled Illinois in what swould have been a tough non-conference game. Unfortunately for them they lost and Illinois turned out to be towards the bottom of a very weak Big Eleven Conference. Then they beat LSU in OT in a statement game for the Sun Devils. Once again though that team was another that was supposed to be a lot better than they were.

They didn't think far enough a head it would seem. They didn't go above and beyond and they relied on Pac-10 play to be enough to get them over the top. The fact that their non-conference schedule was heavy on teams like St. Francis, Florida Gulf Coast, Cal Poly, Princeton, etc and light on the Xaviers of the world didn't bode well for them come Selection Sunday. Also, they only played 31 games. 1 less than USC and Wazzu, 2 less than Arizona and Stanford. Look at (by comparison) the non-conference schedules of the rest of the Pac-10 schools ahead of them.

UCLA: 31-3,16-2 in Pac10 Play, played 4 non-conference tourney teams (Portland State, Michigan State, Texas, Davidson)
Stanford: 26-7, 13-5 in Pac10 Play, played 1 non-conference tourney team (Siena)
Washington State: 24-8, 11-7 in Pac10 Play, played 4 non-conference tourney teams (Boise State, Baylor, Gonzaga, Portland State)
USC: 21-11, 11-7 in Pac10 Play, played 3 non-conference Tourney teams (Oklahoma, Kansas, Memphis)

Now you get down to UA, Oregon, and Arizona State. All 3 fighting for 2 spots.

Arizona: 19-14, 8-10 in Pac10 Play, played 5 non-conference Tourney teams
(Kansas, Cal-State Fullerton, UNLV, Texas A&M, Memphis) plus they beat Wazzu twice and USC once. (16-6 with a complete line-up, 3-8 without one or both of their starting guards)
Oregon: 18-13, 9-9 in Pac10 Play, played 1 non-conference Tourney Team (Kansas State). Beat ASU once, Stanford once, and Arizona twice.
Arizona State: 19-12, 9-9 in Pac10 Play, played 1.5 non-conference Tourney Teams (Xavier and maybe Coppin State the play-in team). Beat Arizona twice, USC once, and Stanford once.

All three have viable reasons. Both Oregon and Arizona State beat Arizona twice, and Arizona beat themselves plenty, but neither had more overall wins and neither played more than one tourney team out of conference. Add that to Arizona's two victories over Wazzu and the one against USC and they get the edge on the other two . In reality, ASU was 2-7 vs. the top of the Pac-10, which isn't that great. It comes down to RPI and ASU had one of the highest of All-time for a tournament bubble team (83) and it would have been the highest of a tournament team. Also the selection committee takes into acount the fact that the Wildcats were missing their only real 2 guards for a portion of the season and it is responsible for at least 8 of their losses, 6 of their Pac losses. So with that said Arizona goes in and Oregon's tough big road wins puts them slightly ahead of ASU. Which gets me to my next point.

The Pac should have logically sent seven teams to the Tournament. But the selection committee couldn't fathom sending 70% of a conference to the tournament no matter how deserving.

Arizona State should have gotten a second look and is probablybetter than some of the other at-large teams who are dancing, but oh well they didn't try hard enough. They had Coach K schedule their season but weren't able to go 12-1 in non-conference play like Duke. They also didn't have the luxury of a weak (ACC) conference to pile up another 10/12 guaranteed wins (Duke) heading into the tournament. Which is why Duke coudl easily fall to West Virginia or AZ in the 2nd round, and definitely won't make it past the Sweet 16. But that's another post for another time.