"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

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Seton Hall’s improvement with Hazell really pushes MU projected finish to 9-9

Both Pomeroy and Sagarin now project MU, West Virginia and Cincinnati to finish 10-8 in the Big East, and with MU projected to win at home against Cincy, that would give MU 8th place due to having wins over both (WVU also beat Cincy, so would take 9th). MU could certainly do even better with four other teams projected to do just one game better, but basically at 10-8 we are a lock for the tournament.

However, while I am the Pollyanna of the Cracked Sidewalks team, I do see one glitch in the projections that create a nightmare scenario.

The problem is that this is based on MU being an 85 in Sagarin and Seton Hall being six points worst at a 79 – so even for the road game MU is a couple of points better. However, the one thing neither computer ranking calculates is injuries, and in the eight games since Jeremy Hazell returned to Seton Hall, they have actually been an 84 (only 1 point worse than MU), and they have actually been a 90 the past four games due to blowing out Syracuse.

If the computer rankings had ratings for “Seton Hall with Jeremy Hazell,” then MU probably projects at 9-9 and slips to 10th. The revised Sagarin projections if we give Seton Hall the 5 additional points they have earned since having Hazell back are:

Wins: at S. Florida +7, home vs. St. John’s +8, Seton Hall +5, Providence +10, Cincy +4

Losses (all on road): Georgetown -6, UConn -5, Seton Hall -3

Still favored in five of eight, but the assumption in both projections was that we were actually favored in 6 of 8 with a win to close at Seton Hall and that we would be upset in one of those six.

With Hazel back, it puts the pressure on MU tonight and in the other four games in which we are favored, because we no longer have a mulligan. An offnight in any of the five favored games starting tonight and then lose the three road games after tonight and MU is 9-9 and likely no higher than 10th place.

That creates the scary possibility of opening the Big East tournament at 9-9 and facing a South Florida team that is not in the Top 100 and could provide an embarrassing loss in our last game before Selection Sunday.

As noted in my column yesterday, we are clearly a better team than USF, but they do have the one thing (offensive rebounding) that can kill us, so we need to take care of business tonight and in the rest of our home games to make sure we don’t face them again in a potential bid-buster in Madison Square Garden.

Take care of business tonight and at the Bradley Center the rest of the year and MU is a lock for the NCAA. A stumble tonight or in any of the home games and MU could have to pull an upset on the road or go into the tournament with a bid back in doubt despite the weak bubble.

Best 9-loss team, by 20 spots
For those of you still having trouble believing that MU controls it's own destiny for a bid despite nine losses already, Pomeroy says we are way, way better than any other team with nine losses. Through last night's game he now says MU is the 26th best team in the country, and the next best nine-loss team is Tennessee at 46th. What may be even more amazing is that when I ran the best 10 "nine-loss teams," Seton Hall actually is the 10th best team on the list, coming in 63rd overall despite playing two-thirds of its games without Hazell en route to a 10-14 mark:

26. Marquette 14-9
46. Tennessee 15-9
50. USC 12-11
51. Michigan State 13-10
52. Colorado 15-9
53. St. John’s 13-9
56. Michigan 14-10
57. Penn State 12-10
58. Gonzaga 15-9
63. Seton Hall 10-14

1 comment:

Andrew said...

Does an improved Seton Hall change the w-l record for other teams around us? We might slip to 9-9, but does that necessarily translate into 10th place?