Thinking About NCAA At-Large & Brooklyn
As many Bonnies fans wake up this Monday morning there’s a different feeling in the air. When was the last time the Brown and White woke up on the week heading into the Atlantic 10 Tournament on the NCAA bubble? Likely it was during the 1999-2000 season. Whenever it was, it was a long time ago.
Never before under Mark Schmidt have these Bonnies and their fans had to endure the tension and emotional rollercoaster that is living on the bubble for weeks on end. It’s awesome and terrifying all at once. While the Bonnies picked up a share of the Atlantic 10 Title this weekend (their first ever) and notched yet another road win (their eight of the year), and continued to pad their NCAA Resume it appears that SBU is still, by no means a lock for the dance. Some writers like Matt Norlander of CBS are clearly on the Bonnies’ bandwagon and feel they’ve done enough…
But others, including The Bona Bandwagon’s favorite Bracketologist Joe Lunardi isn’t as convinced. Just this morning Lunardi posted his latest bracket and still has the Bonnies in a play-in game in Dayton as a 12 seed and lists SBU as the last team in the field. Meanwhile, his St. Joseph’s Hawks are seeded eight in the east region. Lots of Bonnies fans think there’s some home cooking going on, and as JH from the ‘Wagon shows via stats- the numbers don’t lie in terms of the similarities.
Here’s some more from ESPN.com…
Like most Bonnies fans I’ve been trying to wrap my head around this logic as well. SBU has a better winning percentage in A10 play. A better RPI. A near identical SOS. A better win percentage vs. the top 50. A better win percentage vs. the top 100…And they beat the Hawks, not once, but twice, and neither game was in Olean! They finished ahead of SJU after an 18 game schedule in the league. Additionally, SJU lost their last two games to choke away the A10 title including a home loss to Duquesne on senior day.
Yes, the Hawks played a much better non-conference schedule (SOS 87 to our 155), but only beat Temple and VT; not Kansas and Michigan State. Martell’s team lost to Florida and Villanova who boosted their RPI. Who are their best non-conference wins? Princeton (60 Kenpom), Temple (86), and Virginia Tech (67). So yes, they have better non-conference wins than Bonas (Buffalo, Ohio) but I’d call SJU’s wins good wins, not great ones.
If you want to tell me that the Hawks and Bonnies are both in as similar seeds I’d be fully on board. But to say SJU is an eight seed (Lunardi, and many others believe this) and we are “last in” just doesn’t add up. It’s almost as if having beating the Hawks twice, and convincingly in both games, means nothing to those projecting brackets. We’ll see where the chips fall after Brooklyn but for now it certainly seems like the Bonnies are not getting the respect they’ve earned from some bracket experts.
To play Devil’s advocate though, BracketMatrix, which compiles the average of dozens and dozens of brackets has the Hawks as an eight seed. They have the Bonnies down right now as an 11. So maybe we’re all missing something in the difference between the two. Matrix also lists VCU as an 11 seed with us, which seems fair given our resumes. Everyone’s favorite DanceCard believes the Bonnies and Hawks are nearly the same team and lists us as the 33rd and 32nd ranked teams.
In thinking about Brooklyn the Bonnies will face either La Salle, Duquesne or Davidson. While many fans will pull for an upset of the Wildcats on Thursday night I think it’s wise to pull for the Wildcats and Jack Gibbs. Sure, they’re a better team, and a dangerous one. But, they also have a very solid RPI (62) and if the Bonnies lost, it could only be categorized as an “indifferent loss” on a neutral floor…nothing damming. But, if the sky fell and SBU lost to La Salle (237) and Duquesne (144) it would be a resume crippling loss 48 hours from selection Sunday. I’d rather take my chances with Davidson and keep our metrics in order right before turning our paperwork into the committee. Plus, I’m confident our guys will get a win.
As good as I feel right now about the Bonnies’ NCAA chances, I’d feel a hell of a lot better if they won just one game in Brooklyn. I think it would be nearly impossible for Schmidt’s bunch to be kept out should they reach the league semifinals after earning a share of the league title and posting an RPI in the 20s…but you never know…that’s why the safe bet is to just win the whole damn thing in Brooklyn. And judging by this poll, it looks like the rest of the league thinks we’re the favorite…Man, it’s unreal that our Bonnies have become the hunted instead of the hunter…What a season…