Wednesday, March 13, 2013

'Bracketologists' Differ on Where UConn Would Be if Tourney-Eligible

It’s fun -- yet really impossible -- to speculate where UConn would be right now if it was postseason-eligible. After all, if the Huskies had been postseason-eligible this season, would Alex Oriakhi and Roscoe Smith still be on the team?

Still, it’s an intriguing question: based on what the Huskies did this year, would they be solidly in the NCAA tournament field at this point, or on the bubble, with work to do this week at the Big East tournament (if, of course, they were allowed to play in that tourney).

We asked a couple of noted “bracketologists” – ESPN’s Joe Lunardi and Yahoo Sports’ Brad Evans – and their opinions were surprisingly varied. Lunardi has the Huskies as a No. 10 or 11 seed, probably needing a win this week in New York to assure themselves of a Big Dance ticket, while Evans has UConn as a 6 or 7 seed – with the potential to climb as high as a 5 or fall as low as 8.

Here’s what they had to say:


“For the record, you’re the first person that’s asked me today, but I’ve been asked every day, all season about UConn. I’ve been evaluating them as if they were eligible, and right now they’d be around the cut line, between a 10 and an 11. Kind of where Villanova and Cincinnati are. I’ve got Villanova at 40, Cincinnati at 41. They’d be in the field. Not by a lot, but by enough to feel comfortable.”


“Right now … I’d have them on a 6 or 7 seed line, probably a back-end 6 seed. Their record isn’t gaudy by any stretch, but they’ve got RPI wins, quality wins akin to a Wisconsin or an Illinois. They’ve got 10 losses, but enough accrued quality victories worthy of a 6 seed, or at worst a 7 seed.

“Now, if they lost the opening game of the Big East tournament, they may slide to an 8 seed. But that’s rock-bottom for them. Conversely, if they won three in a row or took the Big East tournament title, they have a ceiling of a 5 seed.”

So why the discrepancy between Lunardi and Evans?

“I usually weigh strength of schedule (they’re top 30), quality wins, but (if you) look at is other metrics – UConn’s KenPom ranking is 53, they’re Sagarin is around 55," said Evans. "Every committee’s different. If you look at secondary metrics and cling to those, they could be a 10 seed. But if you use traditional measurements like RPI, quality wins, strength of schedule, which I’m endeared to, they’d be higher.”

Of course, if Alex Oriakhi or Roscoe Smith (or Andre Drummond) were here … and if they were eligible for the Big East tourney … etc., etc.

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