Sunday, March 11, 2007

A Solid Six?

As much as I'd like to do an analysis of the job the Selection Committee did, the futility of their work exceeds the scope of this blog. So I'll limit myself to their treatment of the Fighting Irish.

Is ND a "solid six"? Yes and no.

If you're looking at the outcome of the season in a vacuum, six is probably where they deserved to be. A quality finish to the season, no doubt about it. But there's still the matter of the head-scratching losses away from home to SJU, USF (who just fired their coach) and DePaul, none of whom made the tournament and two of whom didn't even make the NIT. Throw in possible complaints about the excess cupcake-edness of the out of conference slate, and it shouldn't be a surprise ND ended up where they did.

Then again, one must look at the other teams seeded at or immediately above ND's level.

The other sixes: Vanderbilt, Louisville, Duke
The fives: Butler, VaTech, Tennessee, USC

Assuming as we must ND was the lowest six on the board (since they got the toughest 11), this means all seven of these teams were considered of higher tourney quality than Notre Dame. Butler, given their head-to-head win against ND, is defensible to an extent. But ND spanked Louisville more recently. Duke has been playing "how not to win" for more than half a season now. SC just got demolished in its home town in the conference tournament and somehow managed to lose to Arizona State. And Vanderbilt, while they have the FL win to their credit, have some head-scratchers against Furman and Auburn, not to mention a two-game sweep by Arkansas to end their season. I try to be an open-minded guy, but you can't convince me any of those seven teams are more deserving of their tournament bids than Notre Dame.

One must also look at location. With proximate first-round locations like Chicago, Columbus, Lexington, and Buffalo, ND had at least a 50-50 chance of a short trip to their tournament opener. Instead, the committee sent them the longest possible distance to that Mecca of human culture, Spokane, WA. Even the trains try to sneak through there at night so as not to be noticed. My manta in pool picking is to always bet against the team that has to travel through the most time zones, which does not bode well for Mike Brey and his squad.

Now the coaches and players have a decision to make: What will the story be? Hoops history is filled with tales of teams that felt they got screwed in their post-season assignments, and more often than not, those teams end up getting their doors blown off by someone who shouldn't be blowing anything. Granted, it happens more in the NIT than the NCAA ... which is why I wouldn't spend any money betting on the Syracuse Orange to go too far, although they certainly got the lubeless treatment this year ... but it's still a danger if the team is thinking more about what could/should have been rather than what is.

Yes, once again, they were subtly screwed (quelle suprise). But the more time they spend thinking about it, the better the chance Winthrop will sneak in and make hay on ND's sunshine. So it's time to forget about it and get the job done, which is why this is the last mention of the subject you'll hear from me either here or on the Pit until the tourney is done.

Onward and upward.

Labels: ,


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice writeup, EK. I think all ND fans thought that our 1978 team was screwed when we were sent to Tulsa (I think) to play the University of Houston in the opening round of the NCAA's. Houston was very highly regarded and EVERYONE picked Houston to upset ND in that game. We blew them out before the first couple of TV timeouts, and then went on to the final four.

People are worried about seeding and location, but we should be concerned about our own play and what kind of officiating we'll be dealing with in Spokane.

3/11/2007 11:27:00 PM  
Blogger Mike Squyres said...

Irish fan consensus six months ago: we're an 11th seed in the BE; we'll need a coaching change to get above this less-than-mediocre status. What does it say about us when we rush beyond our new-found wealth to complain about team travel time? I'm glad we won't be completely satisfied until we are champions, and I hope to state my gratitude at every step along the way.

3/12/2007 07:50:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Great comments. I agree that ND needs to very quickly get rid of any hard feelings about their rank and placement, but I think you left our Maryland in the discussion of teams strangely given a better seed. ND was 24-7, 4th seed in the BE, and took Georgetown to the wire in their conference tourney, while Maryland was 24-8, a 5 seed in their conference tourney and bowed out to lowly Miami in the first round. Not to mention ND's head to head win. ND deserved better, but lets hope they forget this and get a couple of big wins in Spokane. Go Irish!

3/12/2007 08:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last year I thought we needed a coaching change, but I was wrong. Our recruiting is suffice but not great. We need to have better consistency to recruit better, but I think the problem is that we are in the Big East and consistency may be impossible in the Big East. Look at UCONN and Syracuse for example. I feel the Big East is highly underrated this year. Every team has had big losses to other teams in the Big East and we will find out how good the Big East is in the tournament. Brey has two jobs. One is to make the team plays as a team. This year I would say he earned an A. The other job is recruiting. I say he has earned a B- in that department. If ND plays like they did in the Big East Tournament we should have no problem with Oregon in the NCAA Tournament. Please don’t mention the fact Oregon beat Georgetown because so did Syracuse and we beat Syracuse. If you look at the history of Basketball the way you begin the regular season and end the regular season is usually a good indicator of how you are going to do in the tournament. ND began well and finished well. This would put us in the Sweet Sixteen which isn't bad with a young team. I say give Mike Brey more time. If in two years our program is in trouble then fire Brey. That doesn’t mean give him the axe if we don’t make the tournament in two years. If our program is moving in a positive direction then Brey is doing his job. Syracuse didn’t make the tournament this year and I would say their program seems to be in good condition. The Big East is just extremely competitive and no one has been consistent, yet.

3/12/2007 10:12:00 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home