Portland v Gonzaga

Selection committee makes right choices atop the bracket


One of the biggest points of conversation in the days and hours leading up to the selection show was which teams would receive the top seeds in each region. The answer the selection committee provided: Louisville, Kansas, Indiana and Gonzaga.

But did the committee get it right?

Obviously the first team questioned by many will be Gonzaga, due in large part to the fact that they ran the table in a conference considered by many to be inferior to “power” leagues. According to realtimerpi.com the WCC ranks tenth in conference RPI, while the other leagues represented on the one line rank no worse than fifth (Big 12).

With a record of 31-2 (19-0 against WCC opposition including the conference tournament) the Bulldogs have an overall strength of schedule of 75, but their non-conference strength of schedule is ranked 33rd according to warrennolan.com. In total 17 of their wins came against teams outside of the Top 100, and the Bulldogs have 13 Top 100 victories, which is actually one more than fellow one-seed Indiana.

But as the fourth one-seed the question is whether or not a team such as Miami or Duke has a better case than the Bulldogs when it comes to landing on the top line.

As regular season and tournament champions of the ACC the Hurricanes rank in the top five nationally in both overall and non-conference strength of schedule, and they have 15 Top 100 wins to their credit. But Miami also has two losses to teams outside of the Top 100, and it could be argued that their home loss to Georgia Tech is the line of the Hurricanes’ resume that resulted in them receiving a two-seed.

The Blue Devils have an interesting argument as well, as they’ve lost just one game with their full rotation intact. With the top strength of schedule, both overall and non-conference, as well as being number one in the RPI Duke can make a solid argument as well. But they finished second in the ACC, and losing their first ACC tournament game also didn’t help matters.

As for the other three top seeds Louisville and Kansas entered the weekend with a share of their respective regular season titles and went on to win their respective conference tournaments. Both won 15 games against Top 100 opponents, with the biggest blemish on either resume being Kansas’ stunning loss at TCU.

As for Indiana, with just 12 Top 100 victories some may argue that their spot on the top line shouldn’t have essentially been a lock following a loss to Wisconsin in the Big Ten semifinals. But as outright champions of the Big Ten and with a 7-2 record away from home (wins at Michigan and Michigan State being two of those), it’s difficult to find much to be upset about there.

Essentially the committee got it right, giving the final one-seed to a program that steamrolled many of the opponents placed in front of them. Gonzaga put together a solid non-conference schedule and didn’t slip up in conference play against teams they’re expected to beat.

RPI figures from warrennolan.com

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej

Syracuse receives mixed news on sanctions appeals

Jim Boeheim
Associated Press
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Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.

On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.

One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.

As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).

And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.

While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.

And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.

St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe cleared by NCAA

Chris Mullin
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.

Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.

St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.

The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?