I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
We solemnly swear not to be productive today. Work? What work? It is the basketball day of basketballing, and since we don't want to work today either we shall discuss all of this basketballing.
We shall also play games. Liveblog sponsor Draft Street is hosting a FREEROLL game on their site, with a prize of $$$ to the top finishers. For those who haven't played before, it's just building a team out of the available pool of players. You can pick any player from tomorrow's tournament teams and we'll have the winners by the end of the day. I encourage you to sign up when there's a break in the action—it takes only a minute to make team and hey, free money.
Who's this sponsor? Draft Street, our fantasy sports partner. They host a ton of various fantasy games you play against other users over weekly or daily scoring periods. I like it because I don't have time anymore for long-term fantasy leagues but when I have an off week it's fun to have a few bucks down on something. For those interested in doing more than our freerolls, they're offering 20% on top of your deposits right now.
Prevent Chaos. Before you enter, remember your friendly neighborhood Liveblog Chaos Mitigation Post.
If you didn't do it above, take a second to draft your team.
If you are filling in your brackets today there are a few good sites out there to help get you un-stuck. WSJ's blind bracket separates you from your biases and just gives you a 5-point scale for hotness, experience, size, offense, defense, and 3-point shooting, plus seed range, RPI and conference profile (HT Skiptoomylou22). Also from the board, user "entirely reasonable" linked Steve Czaban's all-everything pdf bracket. Considering most of these games are 60-40 anyway, choosing teams with pretty looking colors is also a tried and true method of winning your bracket. Just ask my friend's wife. #notbitter
My own device is an excel doc I have to rebuild every year that spits out a confidence % based on KenPom, next to supplementary information on injuries and site for that game. Here's that file if you want to use it. Put in the names of the teams to compare and which round (Round 1 is that which begins Thursday; we don't count play-ins) and it should spit out a confidence level and a site for that game. 100% is a 1-seed over a 16-seed, 50% is a pick-'em, and less than that means you're predicting an upset. You're responsible for adjusting your confidence based on injuries and site.
Here's that formula with the first round:
|High Seed||Low Seed||Difference||Confidence||Site|
|1 Kentucky||16 W. Kentucky||0.55||100.00%||Louisville, Ky.|
|2 Duke||15 Lehigh||0.18||83.50%||Greensboro, N.C.|
|3 Baylor||14 SD State||0.13||73.43%||Albuquerque, N.M.|
|4 Indiana||13 New Mexico St||0.15||78.06%||Portland, Ore.|
|5 Wichita State||12 VCU||0.12||73.23%||Portland, Ore.|
|6 UNLV||11 Colorado||0.10||69.40%||Albuquerque, N.M.|
|7 Notre Dame||10 Xavier||0.04||56.93%||Greensboro, N.C.|
|8 Iowa State||9 Connecticut||0.03||54.80%||Louisville, Ky.|
|1 Michigan State||16 Long Island||0.47||100.00%||Columbus, Ohio|
|2 Missouri||15 Norfolk State||0.56||100.00%||Omaha, Neb.|
|3 Marquette||14 Brigham Young||0.10||67.76%||Louisville, Ky.|
|4 Louisville||13 Davidson||0.13||73.34%||Portland, Ore.|
|5 New Mexico||12 Long Beach St||0.08||64.92%||Portland, Ore.|
|6 Murray State||11 Colorado State||0.07||62.43%||Louisville, Ky.|
|7 Florida||10 Virginia||0.02||53.92%||Omaha, Neb.|
|8 Memphis||9 St. Louis||0.03||54.74%||Columbus, Ohio|
|1 Syracuse||16 NC Asheville||0.32||100.00%||Pittsburgh, Pa.|
|2 Ohio State||15 Loyola MD||0.37||100.00%||Pittsburgh, Pa.|
|3 Florida State||14 St. Bonaventure||0.09||66.49%||Nashville, Tenn.|
|4 Wisconsin||13 Montana||0.24||94.96%||Albuquerque, N.M.|
|5 Vanderbilt||12 Harvard||0.08||64.45%||Albuquerque, N.M.|
|6 Cincinnati||11 Texas||-0.01||47.63%||Nashville, Tenn.|
|7 Gonzaga||10 West Virginia||0.04||56.68%||Pittsburgh, Pa.|
|8 Kansas State||9 Southern Miss||0.14||75.82%||Pittsburgh, Pa.|
|St. Louis Regional|
|1 North Carolina||16 Vermont||0.32||100.00%||Greensboro, N.C.|
|--or--||16 Lamar||0.27||100.00%||Greensboro, N.C.|
|2 Kansas||15 Detroit||0.32||100.00%||Omaha, Neb.|
|3 Georgetown||14 Belmont||0.04||56.67%||Columbus, Ohio|
|4 Michigan||13 Ohio||0.13||73.54%||Nashville, Tenn.|
|5 Temple||12 South Florida||0.07||62.70%||Nashville, Tenn.|
|--or--||12 California||-0.03||43.63%||Nashville, Tenn.|
|6 San Diego St||11 NC State||-0.02||45.54%||Columbus, Ohio|
|7 St. Mary's||10 Purdue||-0.06||38.80%||Omaha, Neb.|
|8 Creighton||9 Alabama||-0.02||45.74%||Greensboro, N.C.|
I am so happy Michigan missed a 3 seed and thus the most terrifying set of 14s since we put new tires on my grandpa's Cadillac: SD State, BYU, St Bon's, Belmont. Do not want. You've been warned previously of the weird KenPom-Wisconsin love affair; use with caution.
All it really does is convert KenPom differential into a prettier number and sticks that next to other useful info. I figure since a 16-seed has never beaten a 1-seed, I could create a constant from the difference between the worst 1 and the best 16 (so a hypothetical matchup of Syracuse and Lamar is 100%). Divide the KenPom difference in the game you're calculating by the constant, multiply that by .5, and add another .5.
The first time I used this thing I won a big pot of gold. Last year I finished behind two of my friends' wives. If you win something you can pledge to the Hail to the Victors Preview fund or something.
Pro Tips: If you're going against only a few people, play it safe; if you're in a large pool, I recommend filling out several brackets each with a major upset and a big run for a middling seed you like. This is because it's easier to win a big pool by getting big points from one team nobody else in the winners circle has than hoping a lot of good early picks can carry you through an end game with 20 other Kentucky-OSU people. Picking a lot of upsets is a bad gamble.
|WHAT||Michigan vs Ohio|
7:20 PM Eastern
Friday, March 16
|LINE||M –5 (Kenpom)|
"Who are you guys playing in the NCAA tournament?"
"No, I mean Ohio Ohio. You know, the Bobcats, from the MAC."
"OH LOL SO FUNNY BECAUSE BRADY HOKE OHIO BLAH BLAH BLAH."
I'm not saying Michigan dodged a bullet or anything when they slid down to a four-seed, but they dodged a bullet when they slid down to a four-seed. The three seed in the Midwest region, Georgetown, drew KenPom's #23-ranked team, trendy upset pick Belmont. By falling one seed line, Michigan will play their first-round game against #72 Ohio, easing fears of a first-round* upset while simultaneously filling my Twitter timeline with approximately 4,327 terrible Brady Hoke jokes.
Sure, man. Do your thing.
The Bobcats have a pretty balanced offense; eight players average at least 30% of available minutes and six break the 20% usage mark. The go-to guy is 5'11" junior point guard D.J. Cooper, who has the 17th-best assist rate in the country, an average turnover rate (not bad considering his high usage), and some ugly shooting numbers: 39% on twos and 31% on threes. Cooper does get to the line fairly often and hits at 74% from the stripe; the obvious key here is to keep him on the outside shooting jumpers. He appears willing to pull from just about anywhere, and that's perfectly fine if you're Michigan.
6'8", 263-pound center Reggie Keely comes off the bench, but he plays a little over half the team's minutes and is a high-usage guy when he's out there. Keely does most of his work on the offensive boards, where he reels in 12.1% of misses, and he gets to the line with regularity, drawing 4.8 fouls per 40 minutes. Keely isn't an outstanding shooter, connecting on 53% of his twos and 67% of his free throws, and he turns it over with regularity, but Jordan Morgan will have to make sure to keep him off the offensive glass while staying out of foul trouble.
Continuing the trend of guys who get to the line often is 6'3" wing Walter Offutt, who also draws 4.8 fouls/40 minutes but isn't very remarkable in any other statistical category. Offutt hits 35% of his three-pointers while shooting 49% from inside the arc, making him one of the more efficient scorers on the team.
The other two main contributors are a high-usage guy with a terrible ORtg—6'8" forward Ivo Baltic, a strong defensive rebounder who can't shoot free throws and hits under 50% of his twos—and a low-usage guy with a great ORtg in guard Nick Kellogg, a 42% three-point shooter whose statistical profile suggests he's a (very effective) spot-up shooter and not much else. I'm guessing Kellogg draws Hardaway when Michigan is on defense, assuming that Burke and Douglass take the two guards who dominate the ball more, and THJ had better do a good job of closing out.
The rest of the rotation is, well, there. 6'7" forward Jon Smith barely touches the ball while starting and playing nearly half the team's minutes, but he is a plus offensive rebounder and boasts an impressive 8.2 block percentage. Tiny freshman backup point guard Stevie Taylor is nearly as bad a shooter as Cooper and doesn't have the gaudy assist numbers to salvage his efficiency. 6'6" sophomore T.J. Hall actually is a worse shooter than Cooper. I can't find anything worth noting about Ohio's other two bench players save the fact that one is named TyQuane Goard.
*I refuse to use the NCAA nomenclature in which the Thursday/Friday games are "second round" games and Saturday/Sunday marks the "third round." This is stupid. Play-in games are play-in games. GET OFF MY LAWN.
Ohio's resume is severely lacking in the signature win department despite the Bobcats finishing 27-7: according to KenPom, their best victory is a two-point road win against #74 Marshall back in November. Their only other wins over top-100 KenPom teams came in the form of a 17-point road win over #95 Northern Iowa and two defeats of #79 Akron (one a home blowout and the other a one-point squeaker in the MAC title game; the Bobcats also lost by five to the Zips on the road). They do have a victory against the one common opponent shared with Michigan, a two-point win at Oakland, whom the Wolverines beat by ten at the Palace.
The Bobcats lost their only game against a powerhouse program, though falling short by five at #20 Louisville is actually rather impressive. Other losses are the aforementioned Akron road game, a three-point home loss to #141 Robert Morris, and road losses to #123 Bowling Green, #200 Toledo, #279 Eastern Michigan, and #122 Kent State.
|Factor||Offense (Rk)||Defense (Rk)||Avg|
|Effective FG%:||49.0 171||47.2 94||49|
|Turnover %:||19.7 141||26.7 2||20.3|
|Off. Reb. %:||35.2 64||33.9 246||32.1|
|FTA/FGA:||36.6 168||43.5 301||36.4|
The Bobcat offense relies largely on their solid offensive rebounding to make up for the fact that only one player can really shoot. Just over 38% of the team's shots come from beyond the arc, a distribution which shouldn't cause problems as long as Cooper and Offutt are the ones shooting and not Kellogg.
Defensively, Ohio plays a high-pressure man-to-man look, going all-out for turnovers. While they've amassed the fourth-best steal rate and second overall turnover % in the country, the Bobcats foul a lot in order to do so—opposing teams produce just under a quarter of their points against Ohio from the free-throw line. They do defend the three rather well, sitting at 19th in the country in opponent 3P% (30.3).
Make sure Trey Burke doesn't play 45 minutes the night before the game. Check.
Make sure Trey Burke can play 45 minutes if necessary. This is not a concern about his gas tank as much as it is D.J. Cooper. Namely, D.J. Cooper's ability to draw an absurd 5.6 fouls per 40 minutes. Burke will guard Cooper, and it's obviously obvious that Michigan needs Burke to not foul that much. He's done a great job this season of avoiding foul issues, and if things get hairy Beilein should be able to switch Douglass onto Cooper without creating a major matchup problem elsewhere, but I'd rather not spend large portions of the game tearing my hair out because Beilein refuses to leave anyone in the game who can remotely be described as being in foul trouble.
Okay, now work the pick-and-roll. An aggressive man defense like Ohio's means Michigan isn't going to create open jumpers simply by working the ball around the perimeter, so successfully taking advantage of defensive pressure via the screen is imperative. We'll see if the Bobcats comes out and hedge hard—I'd guess yes—and if they do, Jordan Morgan could be the key to this game. Ohio only has one decent shot-blocking presence and he's 6'7", 190 pounds; let Morgan slip the pick and see if anyone can stop him on the roll.
Good Hardaway. Please show up. Ohio's main perimeter players all check in at 6'3" or shorter, meaning Timmy should be able to shoot/jump right over these guys. The problem will be the temptation to shoot over them while standing still 25 feet away from the basket. With Ohio's propensity for steals and Hardaway's tendency to cough the ball up in traffic, it would be best if Michigan tried to work him off the ball and free him up that way instead of letting him try to create on his own.
Let Ohio's chuckers chuck. As long as it isn't coming from right next to the basket, any D.J. Cooper shot seems like a good one for Michigan. Offutt isn't a whole lot more efficient while the backup guards are simply not good at putting the ball through the basket. Meanwhile, Kellogg is rather deadly from beyond the arc and the Bobcats crash the boards well. The Wolverines would be best served denying Kellogg the ball while sagging off the other shooters, encouraging Ohio to settle for shooting from deep—Cooper seems to have no issue with that—and making sure they don't get killed on the glass.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by five.
Basketball: really as good as all that?
Now, it doesn't matter for the Big Ten regular season...it is what it is, we went 13-5, and earned a share of the title. But what does it mean for the Big Ten Tournament and the NCAA?
Ask yourself this question when it comes to evaluating the Michigan season...was it a solid 13-5 or a weak 13-5? Was it a 13-5 that with a few breaks was 15-3? Or was it a 13-5 with a bunch of breaks that could have easily been 10-8? Which of those is more representative of the basketball we saw this year? Death from above in the two tournaments?
Northwestern looms. Twice we played them. Twice we went overtime with them. Could have lost both. Didn't. Positives to be sure. But who shows up come Friday? …
To me, happy we share the title. Not convinced at this point we are as good as either of those other two teams. Proud of the heart, proud of the overall result. Concerned about the two tourneys.
Bluntly, Michigan was not as good as either of the two teams they tied with. You can see that in the efficiency margins:
W-L Pace PPP Opp. PPP EM 1. Ohio St. 13-5 65.4 1.10 0.93 +0.17 2. Michigan St. 13-5 62.5 1.08 0.92 +0.16 3. Wisconsin 12-6 58.0 1.03 0.97 +0.06 4. Michigan 13-5 58.9 1.06 1.01 +0.05 5. Indiana 11-7 65.4 1.11 1.06 +0.05 6. Purdue 10-8 64.0 1.10 1.09 +0.01 7. Northwestern 8-10 61.0 1.08 1.12 -0.04 8. Minnesota 6-12 62.6 1.00 1.04 -0.04 9. Iowa 8-10 65.8 1.03 1.09 -0.06 10. Illinois 6-12 63.7 0.97 1.05 -0.08 11. Penn St. 4-14 62.3 0.97 1.10 -0.13 12. Nebraska 4-14 61.9 0.93 1.09 -0.16
Kenpom will confirm that for you: it has MSU and OSU #2 and #3 behind Kentucky with Michigan idling at 20.
Meanwhile, going 13-5 would not have netted Michigan a title in any other year since the Big Ten went back to 18 games. Most years they wouldn't even be within a game. There's no denying they were fortunate to end up where they are now. Michigan lost one close Big Ten game (@ Indiana, 73-71) and won four to six (NW x 2, MSU, Purdue, maybe Minnesota and OSU depending on how you feel about five-point games). You can grub grub grub about will to win and finding ways to win and winning is for winners; I don't buy that stuff.
In terms of efficiency margin and Kenpom rankings, Michigan is about where we'd hoped they'd be before the season: slightly improved despite the loss of Darius Morris, short of truly contending for a conference title. In terms of wins they're a three seed and a Big Ten champ.
I don't say this to bring anyone down. It's wonderful. For this team to accomplish what they have is fantastic, and at this point anything after winning a 3-14 matchup in the first round is gravy.
I do think they'll be a particularly vulnerable three, though, and won't be surprised to see them flame out in the second round*. I also won't let that damage the wonderful run they went on to erase a lot of bad streaks. From a logical perspective I get the "concern"; from an emotional perspective it went from 90% house money to 110% as soon as Buford hit that shot. The worst that happens is Michigan State fans say "see you weren't really a Big Ten champ." This will not prevent the banner from going up.
*[I'm not predicting that by any means. Michigan gave Duke all they wanted last year and a hypothetical second-round opponent will be much worse than the Blue Devils were last year. Beilein is a consistent outperformer when he reaches the tourney.
HOWEVA, I do loathe the prospect of drawing a couple of the current six-seeds in Jerry Palm's bracket. They are all dangerous mid-majors: UNLV, New Mexico, Wichita State, and St. Mary's. In Kenpom's eyes that's two teams better than Michigan (Wichita, New Mexico) and two who are a dozen or so spots worse (UNLV, St. Mary's).
You may remember the Dohrmann UCLA article mentioning the success of a couple transfers out of the program: that's basically UNLV. Chace Stanback is a 6'8" guy hitting 47% from three; Mike Moser is a 6'8" guy in the top ten in defensive rebounding with high usage and an inside-out game.
I find Palm's fives a lot more palatable: Louisville (#30 Kenpom), FSU (#28), SDSU (#51), and Creighton(#35). No matter what I expect a second-round nailbiter.]
The golden child's effect on the OL.
Brian or Ace or Anybody;
I am confused, when talking about o-line prospects in the 2012 or 2013 class, some say "Fox makes an ideal RT" or "LT-T is the prototype Left Tackle.". Is the fact that Shane "Obama circa 2008" Morris is a southpaw baked into the projections as to who plays where on the OL? Wouldn't the proto LT be moved to RT for a lefty QB, or no?
Are you and your Bloggy ilk keeping this in mind, does it make a difference for a lefty qb?
I don't think it matters much. Many players at Michigan and elsewhere have flipped from right to left tackle without a problem; when Morris becomes the starter Michigan will put their best pass protector at right tackle and he'll adjust over the course of an offseason. Jake Long switched from right to left after his first year as a starter; Mike Schofield was pressed into service as a left guard after practicing mostly at tackle and did fine.
There might be some slight issues if Morris is either in (because of Gardner injury) or out (because of a Morris injury) of the lineup unexpectedly. In that case you probably wouldn't want to screw up the line's performance by flipping them mid-game and will be exposing either Morris's or his backup's blind side to slightly worse protection. That's life.
Even if that happens it doesn't look like there's going to be a huge difference between the starting tackles at any point in the near future. Whoever the #2 guy is will have beaten out an array of 6'5"-6'7" blue chips. This is not going to be Jake Long opposite Rueben Riley. It's going to be Almost Jake Long opposite Decent Approximation Of Jake Long.
MANBALL concerns revisited.
I WANT YOU TO JOIN UP
ALL OF YOU
THAT WAS EASIER THAN I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE
You have argued over the past several years that you think Michigan will be at a talent disadvantage compared to teams like Ohio and SEC oversigners like Alabama, so long as the status quo persists. You've also argued that, schematically, the best way to deal with this deficit is the spread offense. I am curious if you think Hoke (and Borges) can build an offense in their mold that can truly compete on the national stage. What do you think it will take in terms of recruiting and scheme to be a legitimate contender for the national championship? Do you think that we have the ability to recruit the offensive talent we need to contend for a national title? Or is it perhaps too early to tell?
Obviously an elite defense, which I think we are building, mitigates the need for an elite offense, but recent BCS title games have demonstrated that you can't rely on just defense to win that game. Ultimately I am asking what combination of scheme and talent you think we need to achieve in order to win the national championship.
All the best,
My concerns about Michigan's ceiling have been blown away by Hoke's early recruiting returns. If Michigan is bringing in top five classes consistently—Hoke's already two for two a month into his second class—and is approaching games with the controlled aggression that Hoke, Mattison, and Borges displayed in their first year, there is no reason they can't run a conventional offense and compete for national titles.
When you have a huge talent advantage or are Wisconsin you can line up and beat heads in: top ten FEI offenses* this year include Wisconsin, Stanford, and USC. Alabama was #11. All you need to replicate that is a ton of NFL guys on the line, an NFL quarterback, and some NFL skill guys. Check, check, well… we'll see.
I get the vibe from your email that you're a bit skeptical of Michigan's skill position recruiting. I think that's premature. Shane Morris is a Henne-level QB recruit. Michigan did pick up a consensus four-star in Amara Darboh at WR and came close to flipping Brionte Dunn; this year they've got a top 100 tight end (for now, anyway—Butt will probably fall into the 100-200 range as the year progresses) and seem to lead for a couple five-star types in Ty Isaac and LaQuon Treadwell. If Hoke lands those guys Michigan's weak spot in the 2012 and 2013 classes is…
…uh… cornerback? For now, anyway.
Even if one of those two guys escapes we're still 11 months from Signing Day; more targets will emerge. It seems like Michigan's going to be able to focus a lot of attention on any holes they have in the class come, oh, May.
My main concern with Michigan's scheme going forward is a potential over-reliance on a fullback. It seems like most pro-styles have moved to double TE sets. See this Chris Brown article on Alabama's very MANBALL, very NC-worthy offense. I hope that's where Michigan's going, too. Tight ends threaten defenses vertically in a way that fullbacks do not; they're better athletes, generally, and better targets for downfield passes. Fullbacks… eh.
I think this is also where Michigan's going. Their TE recruiting is massive—they're looking for a fifth in two years—and there's clear distinction between guys like Jake Butt and Khalid Hill, a 6'2", 230 pound guy designated a "U-back" or "move tight end" according to TomVH.
So, like, whatever. My beefs 14 months into the Hoke era are "that one punt against Illinois" and "taking a scholarship fullback." Oh, and the complete implosion of the offense in a couple games. But that's not a long term issue.
Hoke has dumped game-changer after game-changer on us since his hire to the point where the internet is making memes like this…
Ben Gedeon's visiting, you say?
…if we're feeling for a ceiling it's a bit hard to find right now. One will probably come, but there's no reason to go looking for it just yet.
*[I know FEI put up some weird results this year what with Navy and Miami in the top ten as well but it at least tries to account for strength of schedule and pace of play; FWIW, Stanford was 8th in total yardage, Wisconsin 14th, USC 21st, 'Bama 31st.
Also, as long as you're down here, how about Paul Chryst? I predict Wisconsin has a noticeable dropoff in his absence.]
I'm not even going to check before I make this assertion: Get The Picture* has seized on last night's national championship game-type substance as an opportunity to tweak college football playoff advocates. Come on, baby…
Rainey on Charlie Weis’ excitement working with Florida’s pool of talent: “The first thing he said when he got here was that this is the most athletes he’s ever been around, so we felt good about that.”
Rainey on what to expect from the offense: “Fans are going to be happy again."
Well, if he's not going to do it I will: yeah, last night's game was a fiasco that resulted in a deeply unsatisfying champion. March Madness was too mad this year, leaving us with a 9-9 Big East team and a 13-5 Horizon team playing like DePaul and anyone else in the Horizon not named Cleveland State. I think we can say without qualification that the best team did not win this year. Whoever they were they didn't make the Final Four. At some point haters hating on a college football playoff will bring up whatever that was and say "QED."
That's a cost of a playoff, granted. But the NCAA tournament usually doesn't let it get that far. Over the past decade championship game participants have been almost universally great teams:
- 2009: Butler versus Duke. Butler was a Cinderella of sorts. They were also undefeated in the Horizon and had wins over
GeorgetownXavier and OSU; they were really good. They were 12th on Kenpom; this year's edition finished 41st. If having this year's Butler team make the final is a ding against playoffs, last year's Butler team making it shows a way in which basketball's system is vastly superior.
- 2008: UNC-Michigan State. UNC was a juggernaut that finished 34-4. Michigan State was 31-7 (with two of those losses to UNC) and won the Big Ten easily.
- 2007: Kansas-Memphis. Both one seeds from the chalk Final Four.
- 2006: Florida-OSU. OSU was 35-2 against teams not named Florida (like State they lost in the regular season to the eventual champion). Florida was 35-5. This was a very Kenpom final, as the teams were 2nd and 4th.
- 2005: Florida-UCLA. Florida was a three seed but finished the year #1 in Kenpom after their crushing tourney run. They ended up 33-6. UCLA was a two seed; they finished third.
- 2004: UNC-Illinois. Two dominant outfits, one seeds who finished 1-2 in Kenpom.
- 2003: Syracuse-Kansas. Kansas was a two seed that finished the year first in Kenpom. Champ Syracuse was a three that finished 7th. Their seeding was a little weird: they only lost five games before the tourney and had a couple of good nonconference wins to go with a very tough Big East schedule. It seems like they got dropped unfairly because they lost in their conference tourney.
- 2002: Maryland-Indiana. Kenpom ceases. Maryland was 32-4 and 15-1 in the ACC; Indiana was probably the most meh championship game participant in the last decade other than this year's duo, a 25-12 team that played a 12, a 13, Duke, and a 10 to reach the Final Four.
- 2001: Duke-Arizona. One-seed Duke ended up 35-4; Arizona was a two that beat one seeds consecutively to reach the final.
In the last decade three teams who shouldn't have been there reached the championship game, and one lost by 12 to a very deserving champion. The system has worked—found a more satisfying conclusion to the season than just having a poll—90% of the time over the past ten years. The BCS's strike rate… not so much.
Teams like Butler (last year), 2005 Florida, and 2003 Kansas who finished the year at or near the top of performance-based* computer rankings were given the opportunity to prove they were worthy of a title game appearance and did so; in football they'd have been shuffled off to some dork's personal fiefdom of waste and corruption. Fundamentally, the NCAA tournament works. It's not a system that makes sense for college football but it's the farthest thing from a failed playoff system in American sports.
*[I like Get the Picture a lot, FWIW, I just disagree with him wholly on playoffs. I poke because I respect. Disclaimers uber alles.]
**[As opposed to result-based. Margin of victory-ignorant systems like RPI and the BCS computers only consider results, not scores.]