Tar Heel Fan

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Tar Heels Seeded #3 in the East*

*I refuse to use the city names for the regionals so I will refer to all regions by their traditional regional names. I am not particularly upset at UNC being made a #3 seed, since that is where I thought they would be at. I still had hope for the #2 seed especially watching other teams lose today but alas that did not materialize. The two issues I took notice of, as it related to UNC's situation, were the location of the 1st round game and the fact the committee seeded Tennessee #2 ahead of UNC. The Tar Heels will be opening in Dayton, OH instead of in Greensboro which every expert thought was a mortal lock. Obviously playing an hour from your school has major advantages from ease of travel to greater crowd support during games. The Heels' bracket opens with a game against Murray State and then is looking at the possibility of a rematch from last season's Final Four game against Michigan State, in the middle of Big 10 country and four hours from East Lansing. This is particularly perplexing when you consider that Tennessee is the same distance from either site so whether it was Knoxville or Greensboro, it was going to be the same trip for the Vols. And not that I thought UNC was a #2 seed, I know for a fact that UT is anything but a #2 seed. Boston College, who was seeded #4 and who beat UNC Saturday and almost beat Duke probably deserved the #2 seed more than UT. However since UNC and UT are #3 and #2 respectivly let us compare them. UNC is 22-7 and UT is 21-7. There RPI's are close and UT had a better strength of schedule. However, every expert I have heard says that the committee values the way a team finishes and looks heavily at how a school is playing at present. NC State and Syracuse are great examples of this theory. State has lost four in a row and drops down to a #10 seed. Syracuse goes from bubble team to a #5 seed by winning the Big East Tournament. For the sake of this comparison both UNC and UT were 12-5 at the beginning of February. UNC is 10-2 since February began with losses to Duke and Boston College in the ACC Semifinals. UNC also beat Duke at Duke and boasts a 7-1 conference road record with five of those wins coming during the last six weeks. On the other side UT is 7-4 in the last six weeks with losses to Arkansas, Alabama, Kentucky, and South Carolina in the SEC Quarterfinals. Now, the first three losses came against NCAA Tournament teams albeit low seeded ones(8,10,8). South Carolina finished the season 18-15 and would have needed to beat Florida today in the SEC title game to get into the field. UT also had a win against Florida on the road, but two of the aforementioned losses came at home. So how does it translate that UT gets a #2 seed over UNC, BC, or Gonzaga for that matter when they have played so poorly down the stretch? The only reasonable answer is that the committee put a lot of stock in the the quality of the SEC and must have concluded that UT's 7-4 was better than UNC's 10-2. Of course all of this angst we create over location, seeding and potential opponents usually ends up meaning nothing. Last year UNC faced only one team they were supposed to face according to seeding and that was Illinois in the Championship. Illinois was the overall #1 seed, UNC was #2. The first round team Oakland should have lost the play in game, Iowa State was a #9 seed, Villanova was a #10, Wisconsin was a #6, and Michigan State was a #4. According to the seeds UNC played, they received an easy road to the title simply because upsets shook up the whole bracket. In essence national championships get decided based not on who you are supposed to play, but rather who you are not supposed to play. The first job is to beat the team in front of you and let the pieces fall were they may.

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