Tourney shockers


– No Air Force. This makes absolutely no sense to any of us, and SLAM as a whole had a pretty heavy hankering for seeing this team make it. Cub’s knockout feature in 107 does a pretty good job of explaining how this team is so easy to root for. But why do they get in?

Wins against tourney teams GW, UNLV, Long Beach State and Stanford. Two of these teams, in any combination, are expected to make it to the second round of the tournament (two in my bracket, too, but we’ll get to that in a second). They started off the year 17-1 and those aforementioned good wins were then unheralded; no one knew that this was a 28-6 UNLV team or a 23-8, A-10 tourney-winning George Washington.

Let’s compare this to a Xavier team who has two real quality wins, one against an Illinois team who is 23-11 (and somehow still riding a 2005 Final Four appearance to a 12-seed and a good draw against Virginia Tech) and one against that same George Washington team. The Eagles have a better RPI and are filled with seniors.

Air Force is a better team on-and-off-paper. There is no real excuse for this.

– Equally puzzling is the lack of Drexel and, especially, Syracuse. I rode Syracuse mighty hard last week, but that was under the assumption that the Orange were definitely in. In one of the three best conferences, top-to-bottom, in the country: 22-10. They were the only team to find out Roy Hibbert and Georgetown at the end of the year with a double-digit win, plus wins against ‘Nova and at Marquette. This isn’t even really a bubble team to me. Old Dominion and no ‘Cuse? This is what we get for complaining about too many mid-majors last year.
I’d tell you about Drexel, but just poke Dick Vitale.

– Winthrop seeded 11, where I didn’t think they could go any lower than seven, looks like a rash midmajor recoil. They drew a Maryland team (good catch Matty — they drew Notre Dame, who had the same type of stellar second half but with the Big East) who is really hitting its stride, tearing through the ACC before reaching the conference tournament (annnnd good luck to you, Davidson!). I have a feature coming up about them with the help of some Winthrop campus folk, but I better get it up quick because they could be gone by the weekend.

– Nevada is far too low. How does a team finish the season #10 in the country and get a #7 seed? At best, you’re #28 in the country? No one wants New Mexico State in the tournament (unless you’re an Aggie fan, curdled up by your arthritis medication and air conditioner), but that doesn’t merit an 18-step drop. Now they might lose to Creighton. And I had them going to the Final Four on the back of Nick Fazekas.

And, now, so does Dick Vitale. Give me voice emodulation disorder, and I’m turning into him.

– Quick sleeper team that nobody is talking about: Albany. I’m a secret America(‘s L)East follower and was pulling for Vermont in their one-point loss Tuesday. They’re the deeper team, but Albany guard Jamar Wilson scores 18.6 a game and can (and will) take over games. I saw him destroy UNH this year and he’s not just a mid-major talent.
– Lastly: Duke. 6 seed. Keep me away from sharp objects.