ESPN Bottomline 2.0

Friday, March 13, 2009

A Little Love for VCU

I cannot help but wonder where the NCAA Selection Committee will put my Virginia Commonwealth Rams in their seeding hierarchy on Sunday. Here are my thoughts.

Based on RPI, VCU is # 51 in the country. If the tournament worked on the basis that RPI is where you are supposed to be slotted in the tournament, that would make VCU the third ranked of four # 13 seeds. Think of it, 65 teams, 14 spots between 51 and 65. Four numbered seeds per bracket. So, RPI 65-61 (with the play-in game) are #16 seeds and so on.

But, with conference automatic bids, RPI in seeding gets thrown out the window because teams with much lower RPIs than 65 get into the tournament. Hence, the top mid-major conferences, such as the Colonial (CAA) where VCU comes out of, should be considered at the top of the list of the automatic mid-major qualifiers, thus moving them up the seeding list. If we figure an eight to ten team bump up it puts them around the early forties, in terms of strength of seeding. Using the formula from before, we eliminate another two sets of numbered seeds and come up with a probable number: 11.

There are other things to consider when thinking about seeding mid-majors.. Prestige of schools that do make it, star power and potential attendance draw. VCU does well in all of these aspects, with Eric Maynor adding star power and prestige (given his recent history in his sophomore season as the dagger that killed Duke in the first round). Same thing when thinking about Stephen Curry at Davidson, who should still probably make the tournament as an at-large and take a #12 seed.

If VCU is kept in a semblance of local on the east coast or the south, then their fans will come, no doubt about it.

Now, let's think in reverse. If it is proper to claim that VCU will be around the third ranked # 11 seed, then they should play the second ranked # 6 seed. If we go purely by RPI that would mean VCU would be looking at, right now, a first round matchup with Dayton, who currently sit at 22 in the RPI.

Since Dayton is another mid-major, albeit a very good one, I do not see the selection committee putting them together in the first round. Look for a sexier matchup in the general RPI vicinity, for instance, Illinois, Clemson or Tennessee.

Still a couple days to go and these numbers could jump all over the place, but if VCU ends up playing one of those four teams in the first round, remember who told you so first.

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