There is a new bracket available for March 13.
This weekend kicked off March Madness for real and the madness started in the mid-major conference tournaments. The NIT now includes six teams using automatic bids because they were a regular season champion that was upset during their conference tournament.
This of course gives sportswriters (even the really smart ones) the opportunity to complain about the institution of the conference tournament. When three No. 1 seeds (Vermont, Florida Gulf Coast and Davidson) go down on the same day the arguments introduced by ESPN’s Eamonn Brennan and CBS’ Matt Norlander – for Sports On Earth – seem to gain even more traction.
But the fact is that these the regular season doesn’t do that much better than the a conference tournament in figuring out which team deserves to go to the NCAA tournament. Two teams that have been given automatic bids to the NIT – High Point and Florida Gulf Coast – won their regular season titles without being the best team this season according to Ken Pomeroy. Coastal Carolina and Mercer have the potential to do a better job representing the Big South and Atlantic Sun better in the NCAA tournament. In fact, Pomeroy wrote that conference tournaments produce the wrong automatic bid team about two or three more times than regular season champions each season.
Why do then do conferences do it? For the entertainment value. There is nothing better than single elimination basketball with a true prize at the end. Ask anyone who watched one of the closely contested games scattered throughout the weekend. There was edge-of-your-seat drama everywhere. (Green Bay and Davidson both lost in overtime.) Also, if these conference tournaments didn’t have the automatic bid associated with them would they be shown on the ESPN networks? No way. Those two plus hours on TV are great exposure for the leagues.
Personally, I think that conferences should reward the regular season by concocting a conference tournament format that rewards regular season success. Don’t do what the America East did the past two seasons and force the No. 1 seed to play on the road in the semifinals. Give double-byes, and/or home court advantage to the top seeds. Reward winning. But this is March. It should be entertaining.
That said, onto the NIT bracketology! The most surprising thing in the bracket projection for the final Monday before Selection Sunday is that the Manhattan Jaspers are included. This makes me look like a huge homer, but I just have a feeling about this one. If the Jaspers lose in the MAAC finals tonight they won’t get an NCAA at-large, but I could see an NIT bid in their future. (If Iona loses the rubber match they’ll get an automatic invite.) Unfortunately, Oregon State was kicked out of this bracket to make room for the Jaspers. In almost every season before this the Beavers would’ve done enough to get a bid. But the bubble is strong and OSU lost out to a few stronger candidates.
As always you can stay up to date on other postseason tournaments by checking out our Postseason Tracking Page. Information about which teams the CBI and CIT are talking to is starting to leak out and can be valuable if your team isn’t in the bracket below.
Last 9 teams into NCAA tournament: Nebraska, Saint Joseph’s, Dayton, Pittsburgh, Xavier, Tennessee, Stanford, BYU, California
NIT Bracketology (auto bids bold and IN CAPS):
8. FLORIDA GULF COAST
3. West Virginia
2. Florida St.
8. HIGH POINT
4. Illinois %
8. ROBERT MORRIS
4. Marquette %%
5. GREEN BAY***
6. Saint Mary’s*
1. St. John’s
4. N.C. State
3. Southern Miss
7. Middle Tennessee
Lots of notes:
*Saint Mary’s was dropped one seed line to set up a convenient game at Washington in the first round.
**Washington was moved up a little more than one seed line to set up the game. This is really a 4-5, not a 3-6.
***Green Bay is an edge 3/4 seed, they were dropped down here because this game makes way too much sense.
% Illinois is a 4 seed, but can’t host. This game would be played at Toledo.
%% Marquette can’t host Rd. 1 at the Bradley Center, because they’re hosting the NCAA tournament, so this game would have to be moved.
Teams On The Outside: Oregon State, Akron, Texas A&M, UNLV, Indiana St., San Francisco, Buffalo, Ole Miss, Towson, Wake Forest, Penn State, Vanderbilt
Update 9:30 p.m. 3/10: Manhattan has won the MAAC’s automatic bid. Iona actually slots really easy into the Jaspers’ slot with its automatic bid. That’s what I’ve done for now.
Update 9:10 p.m. 3/11: Robert Morris was just eliminated by Mount St. Mary’s. The NEC’s No. 1 seed will play in the NIT. UTEP is now on the wrong side of the bubble. In order to make room I just sent RMU to Utah, but I’ll probably need to think about the best way to handle it when I put out a new bracket later this week.