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Bracketology: What to make of limited resumes?

February 2, 2021 Leave a comment

Dave2015Unless something unexpected happens, we figure to see Gonzaga and Baylor as No. 1 seeds when the 2021 NCAA tournament bracket is revealed on Selection Sunday.  So let’s move further down the seed list and take a quick peek at what appears to be a slim and uneven bubble.

Bracketology
Seed List

To be honest, the current list of bubble teams is quite short.  While there are multiple reasons for this, one of the biggest is the ongoing pandemic.  Between shutdowns, restarts and a variety of missed games due to cancellations and postponements, many teams have limited resumes.

Take a team like Penn State.  The Nittany Lions enter today with a NET rating of 29.  It’s a strong number and PSU benefits from its inclusion in a deep Big Ten.  At the same time, PSU stands at 6-7 overall, at least partly due to a shortened non-conference slate.  In four non-conference games, the Nittany Lions defeated VCU, Virginia Tech and VMI.  They lost in overtime to Seton Hall.  During a traditional campaign, Penn State would probably have played an additional four or five games, many at home against winnable foes.  So instead of being 6-7 right now, they might be 10-7 or 11-7.  We’ll never know.  Regardless, if PSU was 10-7 right now, with its additional B10 wins over Rutgers and Wisconsin, the Nittany Lions would almost certainly be “in the mix” as a bubble team.

Which brings us to what we don’t know.  How will the Selection Committee handle these types of profiles? Will a team with an even or sub-.500 record be considered?  In most years, the answer would be no.  At-large teams typically have to be at least two games over .500 to be serious contenders.  Anyway, it’s an interesting debate we’ll have to watch in the weeks ahead.