Posted on: January 30, 2010 8:42 am
Edited on: January 30, 2010 12:09 pm

Beer Goggles: Who's In? Who's Out?

We’re just days away from February (the only thing keeping us from March Madness)!  To get everyone up to speed on the latest developments in the world of bracketology, three of the (self-proclaimed) resident experts have decided to let you follow along as they debate the pressing issues with their current brackets.  In this blog, your favorite writers (Beer, Dantheman4250, & Lobofan2003) will review each other’s brackets (found here: Beer, Dan, Lobo) and call each other out to find out why they have a difference of opinions.  However, we’re not talking about minor details… it’s like the other guys are seeing through “Beer Goggles ”.  You know what I’m talking about… limited discretion, pretending the unattractive teams are actually good (or at least good enough!)  Basically, they must have their “Beer Goggles” on because they’re seeing something that I’m not seeing…

Here’s how it works:  Each of us gets to call out the other “bracketologists” on 2 major points so they can explain their rationale (i.e. selecting Team A over Team B, seeding a team too high, placing a team in a certain region, selecting “x” teams from 1 conference, etc.).  When we update our brackets, we’ll sanity check each other to find out who is for real and who is wearing their “beer goggles”.  Let the fun begin:

12. Dan has Baylor as a # 13 seed in his bracket.  Lobo and Beer have Baylor seeded 7 & 8 respectively… Beer wants to know: “Are we talking about the same Baylor team that had a double digit win over Oklahoma State (a #6 seed in your bracket) just two weeks ago?  These guys only have 4 close losses (all 7 points or less) and you’ve got Siena (who’s best win was by 6 points at home over Northeastern in mid-November) seeded ahead of them.  What gives?”

Dan : Baylor's RPI is 33 but it's 2-3 in Big 12 play and has only played the 62nd hardest schedule nationally. They've lost three of five games (including one to Colorado, who loses to Colorado?) and have yet to win a game against a sure tournament team. Xavier's computer numbers are good, but neither the Musketeers or Oklahoma State (Baylor's best Ws) are sure locks for the big dance. Right now I think the Bears' nice record has people fooled right now. We will find out more against Kansas State.

11. Lobofan is not buying what Beer is trying to sell when it comes to Miss. St: “I know you made the bracket before their loss to Arkansas, but I didn't even have Mississippi State in before that loss. Prior to the loss to Arkansas the Bulldogs had an RPI of 54 and a SOS of 136. Yes they have wins over Mississippi and Old Dominion, but they also have bad losses to Western Kentucky and Rider.”

Beer : Yes – The Bulldogs were 15-4 (3-1 in SEC) when they lost last night.  How can you bring up Western Kentucky and then put Vanderbilt as a #3 seed (sorry… I’m on the defensive)?  The Rider loss on the other hand is completely unacceptable.  After the Arkansas loss, the Bulldogs will likely be on the outside looking in next time.  Maybe I was fooled because they had won nearly 80% of their games including Ole Miss and Ole Dominion.  Ultimately, their last minute loss to Richmond back in November may keep them “Ole” the way out of the tournament (see what I did there?).

10.  Dan wants answers… and Lobofan is ready: “Not to be repetitive (and I realize your bracket was updated before the Wake-GT game) but I don't see Wake as a 5 or Seton Hall in at all right now. For more on those things, see my argument to Beer below. I think I value how teams are playing at this point a little more than you guys do in your evaluations. To add in a little bit more, Seton Hall has 12 wins on the year and 8 of those have come against teams ranked 100 or higher in the RPI. That means their beating teams that aren't very good. The Pirates non conference SOS is 180.”

Lobo : I know Beer is going to reply to the Wake and Seton Hall questions as well, but I'll just give a short response. Compare Wake's resume to my other 5 seeds and I think you'll see their fairly similar.

Wake Forest
RPI 24, SOS 17, Record: 14-5, Conference Record: 4-3
Vs. RPI Top 25: 2-2, RPI Top 50: 4-3, RPI Top 100: 6-5, Last 12: 9-3
NO Losses outside of Top 100

Georgia Tech
RPI 28, SOS 23, Record: 15-5, Conference Record: 4-3
Vs. RPI Top 25: 2-0, RPI Top 50: 5-3, RPI Top 100: 7-4, Last 12: 8-4
Bad loss to Virginia (RPI 109)

RPI 25, SOS 24, Record: 15-4, Conference Record: 3-2
Vs. RPI Top 25: 1-2, RPI Top 50: 3-2, RPI Top 100: 6-4, Last 12: 9-3
NO Losses outside of Top 100

New Mexico
RPI 11, SOS 36, Record: 19-3, Conference Record: 5-2
Vs. RPI Top 25: 2-0, RPI Top 50: 5-2, RPI Top 100: 6-2, Last 12: 9-3
Bad loss to Oral Roberts (RPI 139)

As far as Seton Hall goes the loss to South Florida hurts them that is for sure, but they do have 4 Top 50 wins which is better than other bubble teams.

9.  Lobofan goes in for the kill: “Dan- I'm going to call out some conference leaders.  What has California done to earn a 7 seed? I know they have lofty computer numbers but they have yet to a beat an RPI Top 50 team (0-4). They have no opportunities left to get a Top 50 win either (although Arizona is close). I know they are the presumptive winner of the Pac-10, but that doesn't carry much weight this year considering they look like a 1-bid League?”

Dan : Last season Tennessee was a 8 seed after winning the weak SEC. California has great computer numbers that compare very nicely to the Vols from last season. Both played in very weak conferences compared to the average season in their conference. California has a RPI of 19 and has played a SOS ranked #3. Last season Tennessee ended the year with a RPI of 25 and played a SOS ranked #3. I think the computer numbers will get the Bears a higher seed than most think. Even in a down Pac 10, it appears as if California is a safe bet to make the tournament.

8. Beer asks Lobofan… why Louisville? “They have 1 top 50 win (over the Bearcats), got thumped by Charlotte at home (see point 6 below), and couldn’t get past the Western Carolina Catamounts (owners of 2 losses outside of the RPI Top 225).  How do they deserve an at large bid over teams such as Dayton or St. Mary’s, for example?  I do like their draw in San Jose with Wake Forest in the first round (who somehow grabbed a 5 seed in your bracket) and Temple in the second round.  I also have them playing an ACC team in the first round... but it's NC State as a #1 seed in the NIT.  Thoughts???”

Lobo : First off you only called me out on my last two teams in the bracket so I must be doing something right (Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in this sentence are strictly those of Lobofan2003 and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Beer.) Louisville has an RPI of 47 and a SOS of 9 so the computer numbers (specifically SOS) are high compared to some other bubble teams. Louisville is 4-3 in the Big East, an above .500 record in the Big East will likely get you in, especially in a down year for another power conference (the Pac-10). Yes, their record against the Top 50 is poor, but they can compete with anybody. They had a big lead at home against Villanova before blowing that lead in the 2nd half. (Editor’s note #2: Go Nova!)

7.  Dan’s a straight shooter… “Beer: I've got to ask how Wake Forest, a team that has lost to Duke & Georgia Tech by a combined 41 points in two of their last four games, is a 6 seed in your bracket. The selection committee doesn't usually give teams that are playing poorly high seeds going into the tournament, and if the season ended today the Demon Deacons would be 3-3 in their last six games.”

Beer : Let me consult the experts on this one (from Dantheman4250)…”Georgia Tech’s dismantling of Wake Forest caused the Yellow Jackets to rise two seeds (from 7 to 5) and forced me to move Wake down a seed (from 6 to 7).”  You may see a huge difference between a #6 and #7 seed but I consider it negligible.  Looking at my #7seeds (Miss, Baylor, UAB, and Xavier), I couldn’t justify moving them any lower.  Wake (RPI = 23, SOS = 17, Top 50 = 4-3) beat Xavier and here are the profiles for those other teams:

- Miss (RPI = 30, SOS =73, Top 25 = 1-3)
- Baylor (RPI = 34, SOS = 62, Top 50 = 2-2)
- UAB (RPI = 21, SOS = 108, 25-50 = 2-0)

Sure, a #7 seed would be reasonable for Wake but I don’t see any suitable replacement in the #6 spot.

6. What was Dan thinking with Charlotte seeded as a #9?  Beer’s opinion: “I have them as one of my last 4 in.  You’ve put them way ahead of that same Baylor team.  Baylor beat Xavier earlier this year.  What happened when Charlotte played Xavier a few weeks ago???  In addition to that loss, Charlotte had a 30 point loss at Old Dominion and a 40 point loss at Duke.  Do you know something that we don’t about the 49ers?”

Dan : This one is a hard one to answer because when I think of the 49ers all I can picture is Duke running them off the floor. Look at Charlotte's losses: Duke, Xavier, Old Dominion, Tennessee, Georgia Tech. None of those are bad losses and all of them have come to likely NCAA Tournament teams. How many teams can say that 20 games into their season? Remember, this team also has victories against Temple, Richmond, and Louisville. A lot of the seeding towards the bottom of my bracket is done based on who can play where (due to conference issues mainly) and Charlotte drew a 9 seed due to that. Honestly, they're probably more of a 10 right now in my mind, although I don't feel as if a 9 is out of the realm of possibility with their current resume.

5.  Beer has some serious explaining to do if you ask Lobofan: “You and I have Vanderbilt and Tennessee flipped as far as their seeds go. I have Vanderbilt as a 3 seed and Tennessee as a 5, you have Tennessee as a 3 and Vanderbilt as a 5. How can you justify having Tennessee seeded over Vanderbilt when Vanderbilt has the higher RPI, better record, a head-to-head win and is leading the SEC?”

Beer : OK… let’s talk about Vandy, a #12 seed in my bracket as of 01/11 (just over two weeks ago).  What have they done since then: Won at home over Auburn and won at Alabama, at South Carolina, and at UT.  That’s 3 teams in the 70 – 150 range for RPI and 1 top 25 team.  Did I mention that the Vols beat Kansas?  Let me change the subject… Did you notice that we had the same exact #4 seeds (stats provided by CBS):

- Wisconsin (RPI = 11, SOS =11, 4-4 Top 50 including 2 Top 25 wins)
- Pitt (RPI = 17, SOS =12, 5-2 Top 50 including 1 Top 25 win)
- Temple (RPI = 16, SOS = 27, 4-3 Top 50 including 3 Top 25 wins)
- Gonzaga (RPI = 24, SOS = 53, 3-3 Top 50, including 1 Top 25 win)

Vandy (RPI = 18, SOS = 43, 3-1 Top 50, including 1 Top 25 win)
Tenn (RPI = 25, SOS = 23, 3-2 Top 50, including 1 Top 25 win)

Everything else being equal, Pitt looks more like a 3 seed and Gonzaga looks more like a 5 seed.  That makes Vandy and Tenn 4 seeds… just like we said!

4.  Lobofan is crying to his mom right now as Dan takes no prisoners: “Missouri as a 7 seed seems iffy to me with losses to Oklahoma and Oral Roberts and only two wins versus teams in my field (Old Dominion and Kansas State), with neither of those wins coming on the road. The Tigers RPI is 45 and their SOS is 80, not exactly the computer numbers of a highly seeded bubble at large team. 7 of Missouri's 15 wins have come against teams that aren't ranked in the Top 100 of the RPI (and only wins versus the top 50). Their non conference SOS is 220! The Tigers have just one road win all year.”

Lobo : As far as Missouri goes they are 15-5 overall and 3-2 in conference. The Tigers are 10-2 over their last 12. They are 3-3 against the RPI Top 50 (ok, but not great). Compare that though to the teams on the 8 seed line: Xavier is 4-5 against the Top 50 (who I originally had as a 7 seed but swapped with Rhode Island to avoid a rematch), UNLV is 3-2, Baylor is 2-2 and UCONN is 1-5 (ouch!). In the end I didn't feel any of these teams were worthy of jumping over Missouri (except Xavier as already noted).

3. Lobofan’s mom tells him to go for the jugular… he wants blood as he rips into Dan: ”You have Maryland as a 9-seed, yet you don't even have them listed as the Auto Bid. Maryland would be a borderline bubble team without the ACC Auto Bid. They are 1-4 against the RPI Top 50 with their best win being against Florida St. RPI of 50 and SOS of 45 are OK, but not good enough to be seeded ahead of teams like UCONN, Cincinnati and Texas A&M.”

Dan : Lobo, I think we can all agree that Duke is the best team in the ACC, but I bet if we asked 11 people to rank the other 11 teams in the ACC (based on resume), we'd get 11 different rankings in return. That's how crazy the ACC is this year. Look at Maryland's five losses: Cincinnati, Wisconsin, William & Mary, Wake Forest, Villanova. Again (like I said with Charlotte), none of those are bad losses. The problem for the Terps (as you stated) is that they only have one good win and that was against fellow ACC bubbler Florida State. To me Maryland's status leading the ACC, coupled with the fact it has no bad losses and it's decent RPI and SOS ranks, leaves me thinking the Terps are in the 9-11 range. Once again (as I said in my Charlotte argument), towards the bottom of the bracket you really have to fit teams in where they can go. I know we all deal with this when making a bracket, but sometimes teams can be seeded a spot higher than we want them to be due to conflicts.

2. Lobo and the crowd disagree on their “Mary’s” this week.  Beer lays his cards on the table (and takes a swig of his beer): “Dan & I have St. Mary’s in our brackets while you have William & Mary in with an at large bid.  One of them is 18-3 with a 5-1 conference record (RPI in the 30’s) and the other is 14-6 with a 6-4 conference record (RPI in the 50’s).  One of them has won 3 in a row and the other has lost 3 in a row (clue: it's not St. Mary's).  Talk to me…”

Lobo : Now for the Mary's: I'm going to defend William & Mary, but I'm also going to call out St. Mary's. I know this was after your brackets came out, but St. Mary's RPI and SOS went down despite winning last night. Their RPI and SOS was 32 and 84 respectively and went down to 39 and 95. As conference play continues they still have 5 games with sub-200 RPI teams left and the RPI and SOS will continue to go down, so don't take too much stock in their computer numbers. One RPI Top 50 win in the non-conference against San Diego St. at home is not going to get them into the Tournament (see last season). Unless the Gaels beat the Zags in Spokane or win the WCC tournament they are not going to get into the NCAA Tournament.

William & Mary has 3 RPI Top 50 wins; @Wake Forest (a 5 seed in my bracket), @Maryland (ACC leader) and against fellow bubble team Richmond. Yes they have a couple of bad losses, but despite a 3 game losing streak they are still 8-4 in their last 12. Two wins over tournament teams compared to none for St. Mary's, it should really be no comparison between the two who gets in.

1.  Last shot fired by Dan at an unarmed Beer: “I also have to ask why Seton Hall is in. I had the Pirates in before their loss to South Florida, but that loss (along with a RPI of 57 and a 12-7 overall record) have them out of my bracket for now. They've lost 7 of their last 11 games and would have a hard time getting in with an under .500 conference record. Seton Hall's next two against Villanova and Pittsburgh are going to tell us a lot more about the Pirates.”

Beer : I thought someone would ask about the “Beer Goggles” I was wearing when I picked up Seton Hall during last call.  4 Top 50 wins doesn’t looks so bad does it?  No losses outside of the Top 75.  Their sheer volume of recent losses makes them look pretty ugly.  I’m willing to overlook USF (that was before my bracket was posted).  Here’s who beat the Hall in their last 11: Cuse (#1 seed), WV (Top 3 seed), Georgetown (Top 4 seed), Temple (Top 4 seed unless you’re Dan) & UConn (Top 8 seed unless you’re Dan).  So, does 4 Top 50 wins negate 5 Top 30 losses?  Let’s put it this way… Uconn (1 Top 50 win vs. 5 Top 50 losses), Cincy (3 Top 50 wins vs. 5 Top 50 losses), and Louisville (1 Top 50 win vs. 5 Top 50 losses) are in both of your brackets.

As expected, there were some “minor” disagreements.  What do you think (besides the fact that Beer rules)?

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com