"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tourney prospects - MU needs to win 3 of 7 swing games to go 9-9, 18-12, make NCAA

This year I expected to simply cheer Marquette through a rebuilding season. I hoped MU could simply stay out of the bottom four in the Big East and have a good showing in the NIT while waiting for Junior and Vander to lead us back to NCAA Tourney wins next year.

However, not only has MU shown flashes of potential to possibly make the tournament THIS year, but there are also indications that the top half of the Big East is a possibility.

Based on Pomeroy (www.kenpom.com) MU should rank as the 6th best team in the Big East tomorrow behind only Syracuse, West Virginia, Georgetown, UConn and Nova. Certainly Seton Hall, Pitt and St. John’s are right behind MU and could push us out of the top half, but Cincinnati’s loss today to an Xavier team that MU handled easily and Louisville’s three losses despite not playing a top 80 team yet indicate MU could finish in the top half of the Big East once again.

Can MU make the NCAA THIS year?

Basically MU likely makes the NCAA if we finish in the top half of the Big East AND are considered one of the top 50 teams in the country at year end. Right now, Pomeroy ranks MU as the 47th best team in the country, right on the bubble.

Obviously the downside is that is largely due to the 6-0 start, and we are heading in the wrong direction after losing three of the first four.

Which performances so far point to an NCAA bid, an NIT or other bid, or staying home after the Big East tournament? The basic rule of thumb I’ve discovered in studying Pomeroy’s rankings (which predicted both the Temple win over Nova and the Xavier win over Cincy today) is that much of the Top 10 is way ahead of everyone else, but after that if you compare two teams’ rankings there is about a 2 point difference for every 15 spots. So if you beat the 100th best team in the country by 2 points, that would indicate you were about the 85th best team that day. Beat them by 4 points, and you were as good as the 70th best team in the country that night, etc., to where if you beat the 100th best team by 12 points then you played like a Top 10 team that night.

So, let’s look at the season so far to see how impressive MU was, based on their margin of victory defeat and the ranking of the opponent so far this season:

MU 1-night national rank based on each game this year

Centenary: 85-62 minus 4 for home court = +19 vs. 276th best team which calculates MU as 134th best team that night

Maryland Eastern Shore: 86-60 minus 4 = +22 vs. 318th best team calculates MU as 153rd best

Grambling: 87-41 minus 4 = +42 vs. 341st best team calculates MU as 26th best

South Dakota: 93-68 minus 4 = +21 vs. 268th best team calculates MU as 111th best

Xavier: 71-61 = +10 vs. 31st best team calculates MU as Top 10 team

Michigan: 79-65 = +14 vs. 152nd best team calculates MU as 47th best

Florida St.: 56-57 plus 2 = +1 vs. 28th best team calculates MU as 21st beat

North Carolina St.: 73-77 minus 4 = -8 vs. 73rd best team calculates MU as 133rd best

UWM: 71-51 minus 4 = +16 vs. 209th best team calculates MU as 89th best

Wisconsin: 63-72 plus 4 = -5 vs. 39th best team calculates MU as 77th best

So to sum up, if MUs post season bid was based only on one game this year, their fate would be:

NCAA tournament based on – Gambling, Xavier, Michigan or Florida State

NIT or other bid – UWM or Wisconsin

No bid at all – Centenary, MD-Eastern Shore, South Dakota or NC State.

The glass half empty is that the last three games have not indicated we are an NCAA team. However, the good news is that an inexperienced team typically improves throughout the season, and the three impressive performances on a neutral court give MU a couple of early season resume builders. With only two creampuffs left before Big East play I believe the path is clear.

Barring any big upsets, MU needs to win just three of the following seven games - Nova, at Providence, Pitt, at Cincy, at St. John's, at Seton Hall and Louisville - to finish 9-9, 18-12 and I believe that makes the tournament by making MU a top 50 team in the top half of the Big East.

This assumes MU takes care of business against N. Florida, Presbyterian, Providence, at DePaul, Rutgers, DePaul, S. Florida, Notre Dame, and does not pull a stunning upset at West Virginia, at Nova, Gtown, at Syracuse or at UConn.

1 comment:

wisblue said...

With their lack of size, depth, and experience, there is no way MU wins half of its Big East games. I was saying that before Maymon left, and the situation is only worse now. MU will lose some games that people are considering likely wins: if they can lose at home to an awful NC State team, they can lose to DePaul, USF, or Rutgers at home too. I am expecting 6 or 7 conference wins.