The NCAA Tournament Field Is Set! We Have All The Selection Sunday News & Notes

A 20-7-1 Run Sets The Stage For The NCAA! 


By Jim Hurley:

Is everybody happy?

Okay, so we know the answer to that one as we can hear the mutterings from Blacksburg, Starkville and Champaign - did we leave anyone out? - but the proverbial "bottom line" is that none of those teams (Virginia Tech, Mississippi State and Illinois) was gonna win this whole 2010  NCAA Tournament anyway in a year in which there are probably only about 8-to-10 legit teams that can hoist the title trophy on the evening of April 5th.

If you want to be real here, then consider that the teams sitting on the #1 and #2 seed lines all, obviously, can win it all but go ahead and find us a team seeded #3 or lower that you really, really believe can six win games in a row in this year's "Big Dance".

All we are saying is that the sport's heavyweights appear to be far-and-away better than the rest of the field and we'll be absolutely shocked if at least three teams in this year's Final Four in Indianapolis don't come from the #1 or #2 seed line - obviously, that doesn't mean that underdogs can't cash a batch of bets.

Heck, just look at this just-completed "Championship Week" of all the conference tournaments and get a load of the following:

  • Duke won the ACC Tournament but didn't cover any of its three games;
  • West Virginia captured the thrilling Big East Tournament and yet the Mountaineers failed to cover all three of their mini-tourney games;
  • Ohio State copped the Big 10 Tournament crown but didn't cover two-of-three games in that event;
  • And Kentucky squeezed out the SEC Tournament title despite the fact the mighty Wildcats dropped two-of-three versus the vig.

In short, you can count on some (many?) first-round upsets this Thursday/Friday and maybe even one of those bracket-buster games this weekend (you know, where a #12 seed plays a #13 seed in one of the second-round games) but anyone looking for a 1985 Villanova to come along some 25 years later better not hold his/her breath. The super-powers this year in College Basketball were head-and-shoulders better than most teams and, yes, we agree that the overall 34-team at-large field is the weakest in some time - or how else to explain the fact Minnesota (21-13) or Florida (21-12) or Notre Dame (23-11) is in this field with all these losses and with some higher-than-you-would-think seeds to boot ... the Fighting Irish is a #6 seed?

There is a lot more to say about the NCAA Tournament and the pros and cons of what this year's committee did and we shall get to those matters shortly but first this ultra-important reminder:

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will be all over the NCAA Tournament (and the NIT and CBI and College Insider Tournament, too) right through the NCAA Tournament Championship Game on the night of April 5th and you can snap up all the Game Day Winners when you sign up today. Don't delay!Just call us at the toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 or check us out right here online -- get in on the fun-and-profits it right from the start of the thrilling College Basketball Post-Season.

Hey, Jim's been bashing the books on a daily basis for weeks now this 2009-10 College Basketball Season and it's not about to stop now!

Since March 8th, Jim's cranked out an 20-7-1 (74.1%) against-the-spread record in College Hoops and among the big-time "W's" was Washington's 79-75 win over 2-point favorite California in the Pac-10 Championship Game and Houston's 66-65 triumph over 6½-point fav Memphis in Conference USA Tournament play.

On both occasions, Jim rightfully believed that better-coach-plus-points theories would hold up (they did) plus the fact that Washington and Houston both were comfortable whether speeding up the tempo of a game or slowing it down -- you have to know your teams at this late stage of the season and Jim Hurley knew there was great value in these sides along with lots of his other March Madness winners.

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Okay, so we're gonna break things down right here into two categories - what the NCAA Tournament Committee did right and just what it did wrong.

Folks, we won't go crazy with the specific seedings - for the most part we believe this whole bit is overblown - but we do wish to go on record to state that the South Region's #2 seed Villanova and #3 seed Baylor are a touch overrated here while both Missouri (#10 in the East) and Tennessee (#6 in the Midwest) both were penalized too much for their pre-championship game losses in the Big 12 and SEC Tournaments, respectively.

No big deal that Duke is the "third #1 seed" over Syracuse or that West Virginia didn't get a #1 seed - the tourney folks did just fine here, thank you.


Fair is fair and the NCAA Tournament Committee folks made overall "body of work" their major theme here and no problem with that because teams should get punished for losing games in December and not just losing back-to-backers in March. Also, this committee made it painfully clear that strength of schedule was vitally important - thus the rightful omission of Virginia Tech who played the 334th-toughest sked in the land this year ... good thing Hokies head coach Seth Greenberg didn't moan-and-groan on ESPN's "Bracketology" show on Sunday night!

Also, we liked the fact that the committee granted favorable geographical sites to the likes of Midwest #1 seed Kansas (first two games in Oklahoma City), Midwest #2 seed Ohio State (playing in Milwaukee which is Big 10 country, for the most part) and West #1 seed Syracuse (first two rounds in Buffalo).

Plus, one look at the opening Las Vegas pointspreads on first-round games showed the committee has a slew of on-paper competitive matchups. Consider that half of the 32 opening-round games this Thursday/Friday sport current spreads of 4 points or less and note that a dozen of these tilts are rated as "one-possession" games. Good stuff.

Mississippi State.

Okay, so we said we wouldn't cry over a "bubble team" not getting into the field of 65 but how can the Bulldogs not get a bid after that sensational showing in the SEC Tournament that included rub-out wins against Florida and Vanderbilt - both of whom are in this NCAA Tourney field - and that heart-stopping 75-74 overtime loss to 7-point fav Kentucky in Sunday's title game?

We know that M-State is only 24-11 with an RPI of 55 but whenever you hear folks talking about the "eye test" - where you watch a team up close - how can the committee believe there are 34 at-large squads better than these Dawgs. Shame, shame.

Secondly, how did Kansas - the overall #1 seed in this year's tournament - get an apparently tougher path to the Final Four than the other #1 seeds Kentucky, Duke and Syracuse?

After all, the top team in the land should get the easiest road and yet for the Jayhawks to reach this year's Final Four they could well have to beat the likes of Michigan State/Maryland and perhaps Ohio State, Georgetown or Tennessee.

Not fair at all.

Finally, if we're gonna praise the committee folks for some geographical edges, than we must take 'em to task regarding the following:

Gonzaga was a Top 15 team for much of the year and played some "name" out-of-conference teams but a West Coast Conference Tournament loss in the finals to St. Mary's got the Zags shuffling off to Buffalo - why not get a game west of the Mississippi, like in San Jose?

Meanwhile, aforementioned St. Mary's didn't get to "stay home" either as the Gaels' reward was a round-trip ticket to Providence. Say what?

In fact, while there were eight "mid-major" teams that were granted at-large bids - that's UNLV, Utah State, Richmond, New Mexico, Gonzaga, UTEP, BYU and Xavier - and while that's a whole lot better than the four mid-majors that received at-large invitations last year, if you read between the lines you see that most of these eight teams were given low seedings and real tough first-round matchups.

Quick ... you tell us who's better if they were to play head to head:

#8 seed Gonzaga vs. #4 seed Vandy; or #7 Richmond vs. #6 Notre Dame? See what we mean.


Count us among the folks who wish the NCAA Tournament Committee wouldn't so much pair up non-power conference teams against one anyone as we would have loved to see how #5 Temple and #12 Cornell fared against Big 10 or Big 12 teams here instead of getting a first-round head-to-head matchup. Now, that being said either Temple or Cornell has the goods to get into the Sweet 16 although it won't matter in the big picture because Kentucky's king of this side of the bracket even if the 'Cats are forced to play different style games the first three rounds.

Meanwhile, don't be shocked if #2 West Virginia struggles this first weekend after that emotional Big East Tourney ringer as often times good, well-rested teams are able to navigate their way through first- and second-round games. Are you listening #3 New Mexico?

Everyone we listened to on the Sunday night shows seemed to think #6 Marquette was a "sleeper" here but we say watch out for #10 Mizzou who has the manpower to beat both Clemson and West Virginia this week/weekend.

Maybe everyone is selling the #1 Duke Blue Devils short because this club - as head coach Mike Krzyzewski said in the ACC Championship Game press conference - is getting better with every game and the fact the Dookies haven't been to a Final Four since 2004 could have this veteran squad ultra-motivated this month of March. Throw in the fact that, as stated earlier, #2 Villanova has slumped too much to deserve that high seed plus #3 Baylor and #4 Purdue are relatively soft as such high seeds.

Might Duke's toughest game come in Round when/if athletic Louisville is the opponent? Stay tuned.

No doubt that #5 Texas A&M and #7 Richmond are rock-solid teams with excellent game coaches in Mark Turgeon and Chris Mooney, respectively, and both #11 Old Dominion and #13 Siena could get overlooked when you're filling out your brackets - one or both of 'em could cash a couple of bets this week. Just watch.

Tough to find a real "sleeper" in this region but let's go with the A&M Aggies who play hard at all times and did ring up an 11-5 regular-season mark in the tough Big 12.


No question that #1 Kansas doesn't have a walkover region but - if Bill Self's guys play their "B+" game every time they're in action here, who's gonna beat 'em?

You do wonder how much #3 Georgetown and #10 Georgia Tech have in their respective tanks following four games-in-four-days stuff in the mini-tournies although both are getting plenty of respect in the Las Vegas lines (check 'em out) while it's possible there are a couple of lying-in-the-weeds teams here in this region including #7 Oklahoma State and #9 Northern Iowa. Again, both of these clubs could wind up cashing a couple of plays apiece this first week of tournament play.

If you dig a little bit here you can find the teams that will be getting the neutral crowd support - see #11 San Diego State over #6 Tennessee and #2 Ohio State over #15 UC-Santa Barbara - and so that may play into the overall equation here should the crowd favorite go on a scoring spree.

We've heard Tennessee and #5 Michigan State as potential "sleepers" here but aforementioned San Diego State could be bracket buster - Steve Fisher's club plays lockdown defense and that's always super-important at tourney time.

If you're a firm believe in recent tournament history than #1 Syracuse won't win it all this year as teams bounced in their opening mini-tourney game never wind up holding aloft the trophy at year's end but than the $64,000 question would be what next-best team gets you excited the most:

Is it #2 Kansas State? Or maybe #3 Pitt or #4 Vanderbilt? Or perhaps mid-major stars #5 Butler or #6 Xavier?

Something tells us that if there is a "long-shot" team to crack this year's Final Four it will come from this region where Butler, Xavier, BYU and Gonzaga all have a veteran flavor to their hoop teams and could finally be rewarded for playing tougher non-league schedules in 2009-10.

The real "sleeper" here could be defensive-minded Florida State - the best field-goal percentage defense in the land, gang - but can the Seminoles win while scoring 60 points or less?

P.S., everyone's hyping #12 UTEP but how could you have liked what you saw late in that C-USA title loss to Houston? Ugh!

NOTE: Catch our NCAA Tournament First-Round Previews in the next edition of Jim Sez.


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