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Basketball: Brackets, computers and polls

Lots going on today, so I’m a little late with this. But here goes . . .

BRACKETOLOGY: ESPN.com’s Joe Lunardi still has Cal as the only Pac-10 team in the NCAA field. He projects the Bears as a No. 9 seed, matched against No. 8 Texas (Jamal Boykin, meet Damion James) at Jacksonville, Fla. This scenario would have the winner facing No. 1 Duke in the second round. A tough arrangement all around.

(My personal theory is most teams are better off being seeded No. 10 than No. 8. A No. 10 is probably only marginally inferior — if at all – -to the No. 7 team it will play. The No. 7 team beat No.10 in three of four matchups last year, although No. 7 was 15-5 the previous four years. Either way, the 7-10 winner isn’t rewarded by a matchup with No. 1, as the No. 8-9 winner is.)

Lunardi also has Saint Mary’s in the field, seeded No. 11 against No. 6 Baylor in Buffalo.

Here’s the full ESPN.com bracket.

Far less love for the Bears from Jerry Palm of CollegeRPI.com. He has Cal seeded No. 12, facing No. 5 Wisconsin in Spokane, Wash. The winner there would face either Georgetown or Cornell.

And just for fun, here’s a bracket projection from Chris Dobbertean at bloggingthebracket.com. He has Cal at No. 8 against No. 9 Marquette in Jacksonville, with Duke waiting in the second round. 

 THE COMPUTERS: Cal is No. 21 in the RPI ratings according to the official NCAA site. For those you wondering why this matters after Cal clinched the Pac-10 regular-season title, it matters. It impacts seeding in the NCAAs, although Cal’s failure to beat anyone else rated in the top-50 likely means you cannot deduce the Bears’ NCAA seeding simply through its RPI. Otherwise, they’d a No. 6. And they’re not. Not even close.

Cal is No. 30 in the Sagarin computer rankings. ASU has climbed to No. 48 and Washington to No. 52. So the Bears are 3-5 against the top-52 of the Sagarin.

THE POLLS: Both the AP and ESPN/USA Today coaches polls are Syracuse, Kansas, Kentucky, Duke and Kansas State as their top five teams. No Pac-10 teams in either (again), although the coaches gave Cal two votes. Don’t get excited, it’s usually an assistant coach or director of operations or sports information director who actually does the voting. Here’s a link to both polls.

STATS: Jerome Randle is No. 2 nationally in free-throw accuracy at 92.3 percent (108–for-117). No. 1 is Appalachian State junior Donald Sims, who is converting a cool 95.0 percent (151-for-159).

Jeff Faraudo

  • Jan K Oski

    On my way home, I heard Tom Tolbert fearlessly declare that ASU is in, and uDub has a shot.

  • Will

    Tom Tolbert actually knows what he’s talking about, so I’d count on it happening.

  • TakeOffThatRedShirt

    it’s interesting that St. Mary’s is predicted as ‘in’ by most experts. they have had more marquee wins and a similar record in other seasons.and not made it.

    last year they had 6 losses going into selection sunday, with wins over Fresno St, Providence, Oregon, Southern Ill, Utah St, San Diego St and they didn’t get in.

    maybe there are fewer worthy teams this year.

  • TakeOffThatRedShirt

    after some reading, it appears last year was the only year in recent memory they were left our with a good record.

    they were given an at-large bid in 2004/05 with 8 losses, and in 2007/2008 with 6 losses.

  • Tommy

    It’s March, and according to bracket projections, Cal ranges anywhere from a 7 seed to a 13 seed.

    That’s the difference between “should be in” and “no chance for at-large bid”.

    The reason for such a disparity in opinion is that Cal has an impressive RPI but no impressive wins. (Cal has managed this by playing only one team with an RPI worse than 200.)

    More on Cal’s historically unique NCAA tournament resume:
    • Pac-10 champion (at least a split title). The Pac-10 is #8 in conference RPI.
    • 20-9 overall
    • 12-5 in conference
    • 5-8 in non-home games
    • RPI: 21
    Only one eligible team in the RPI top 25 has missed the tournament since 1994
    • SOS: 11
    • W-L vs RPI top 50: 0-4
    • W-L vs RPI 51-100: 5-2
    • Cal has zero wins against the RPI top 50 and has 3 losses to RPI 100+ teams (at USC, at Oregon St, UCLA)
    Only eight teams have earned at-large bids the past 16 seasons without beating at least one top-50 opponent, and none of those bids came with the current selection committee
    • Cal has beaten every team in the Pac-10 at least once.

    The selection committee probably won’t do this, but drilling down further:

    Opponent RPI
    Cal’s Record
    1-10 0-3
    11-20 0-0
    21-30 0-0
    31-40 0-1
    41-50 0-0
    51-60 3-1
    61-70 1-0
    71-80 0-0
    81-90 1-1
    91-100 0-0

    • Cal has played only one game against an RPI top 11-50 team the entire year (Ohio St).
    • Cal had injury issues against Syracuse, Ohio St, and New Mexico.
    • The only game that a healthy Cal team has played against a RPI top 50 team was at #1 Kansas.
    • #53 Washington and #54 Arizona St are just outside the RPI top 50.

    There are even more considerations:
    • Does the “eye-test” help or hurt Cal, a senior-laden team with good outside shooting, but a lack of inside depth?
    • No major conference regular season champion has missed the NCAA tournament.
    • The UCLA athletic director is this year’s committee chairman and is allowed to make a case for Cal.

    If Cal loses at Stanford (rivalry game/letdown effect) and in the first round of the Pac-10 tournament (very possible if Cal’s opponent is Oregon St), then Cal probably won’t make the NCAA tournament.
    Win out until the Pac-10 tournament final, and Cal is probably in.
    Anything in the middle of those 2 outcomes becomes extremely hard to predict.

    I hope I’m not being too much of a paranoid Cal fan. More than anything, the historical uniqueness is fascinating.

  • rollonubears

    i think we just need to beat stanfurd.

  • Mountain Jim

    Re No. 3, yeah the drop in Pac-10 teams worthy of a bid alone might account for St. Mary’s getting in. Which, by the way, is no certainty. Most of these so-called experts are wrong year after year.

  • Stapes

    It would really help if ASU and UW sneak into the top RPI top 50 to give us 3 wins. Joe Lundardi is pretty accurate but even he admits he is in the minority on Cal with a 9 seed.

    Two other things:
    -By all accounts, the bubble is soft this year
    -the injury crutch is huge for the November losses.

    I think a win on Saturday gets us in.

  • Johnny

    Ken Pomeroy’s ratings are strongly considered by the committee. Not sure what JF is talking about because I’m sure we’re seen as a 7 seed or so right now. Lunardi had us as a 10-seed last year too IIRC (7-seed against Maryland)

    Oh, and we’re definitely in the tourney. It may be much more helpful to the conference if we don’t win the whole thing @ Staples. No need for paranoia.

  • Davidson

    CAL is in. Even if we lose to Stanford and then lose 1st round in Pac-10 Tourney (worst case scenarios)…We are in.

    You can wonder and wonder all you want and look at things from a worst-case scenario, but all you have to know is that we are in.

  • Phil Laak

    I guess no one got the memo, Wilner says that Cal is not in yet. And what Wilner says is ALWAYS correct. I will not hear otherwise.