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Where will the Cougs end up?

Posted by Jeff Nusser on March 15, 2008

Jo-Jo should be along later today for his take on last night’s game — I was relegated to following it on autorefresh on my phone’s Web browser thanks to traveling over the mountains — but I figured as we wait for that, now’s obviously a great time to take a look at how our resume stacks up for potential seeding.

The short answer? Your guess is as good as mine — or Joe Lunardi’s, or Jerry Palm’s.

The NCAA Tournament selection committee is meeting and hashing out scenarios as I write this, and the members have probably as difficult a task this year as they’ve ever had in the past, what with all the mediocre teams trying to be the last few least bad teams in the tournament. But the muddled nature of this tournament isn’t just at the bottom; anything outside the top two lines of seeds is up for some serious debate as well.

Now that the Cougs’ have played out what I pegged as the most likely end-of-season scenario, what exactly that means for the Cougs still is up for a good amount of debate.

As I’ve written before, though, where a team ends up seeded (especially in these last few days) has as much to do with how the teams around them finish up as it does with how they finish up themselves. Also remember that unless you’re in one of those top four seeds, the committee can move teams up or down a line to “make things work.” So take any of these seeding projections with a little bit of a grain of salt.

The Cougs have pretty much been as much the definition of solid as a Tournament candidate gets over the past month. They’ve beaten who they were “supposed” to beat, and lost to teams they were “supposed” to lose to, so there hasn’t been a lot of variation up or down in terms of bracket projections. However, how the committee will ultimately view this team isn’t so clear.

Lunardi and Palm are the two most respected bracket projection guys around. Lunardi is of course the most famous, what with the power of ESPN behind him and a cool, catchy name like Bracketology. But savvy college hoops fans know what Palm does over at collegerpi.com, and know that even though he doesn’t have a fancy name or flashy site, he’s one of the best bracket projectors around.

And they disagree on the Cougs.

Lunardi has the Cougs currently slotted as a No. 6 seed, and that’s pretty much where he’s had them in the past month or so. He’s moved them up to a No. 5 and down to a No. 7 periodically, but it’s always been right around that No. 6, so it’s pretty clear how he feels about WSU. Palm, though, has the Cougs slotted as a No. 4, and that’s more or less where he has had them for a while, too.

What I think it’s going to come down to is how the committee views the difficulty of the Pac-10, because I think that’s the fundamental difference between Lunardi and Palm. They agree on the strength of UCLA and Stanford, but it appears Palm thinks the committee will take the strength of the Pac-10 into account more than Lunardi does. Here are their seeding projections each for the Pac-10 teams:

  • UCLA: Lunardi 1, Palm 1
  • Stanford: Lunardi 3, Palm 3
  • WSU: Lunardi 6, Palm 4
  • USC: Lunardi 7, Palm 5
  • Arizona: Lunardi 11, Palm 10
  • Oregon: Lunardi 12, Palm 11
  • Arizona State: Both have the Sun Devils out. Lunardi has them as one of his last four out.

Honestly, I think a No. 4 seed for the Cougs is best case scenario. I’d have a hard time seeing UCLA as a No. 1, Stanford as a No. 2 and WSU as a No. 3, but then again, I thought a No. 3 was just wishful thinking last year — and we all know how that turned out. In the end, I think a No. 5 is probably where it’s at.

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6 Responses to “Where will the Cougs end up?”

  1. Christian said

    I think you are right – our seeding is directly related to the overall conference rating. This lines up with our lack of media exposure too. Most of our exposure comes when we play California schools (especially LA teams) and then we are judged on a handful of games and our ranking in the Pac-10 standings. The lack of media exposure may be a blessing as our weak non-conference schedule will likely be ignored.

    Anyone else happy to see Harmeling come around on the offensive end? If we can drop in threes with Low, Harmeling and Rochestie then our lack of inside scoring may not matter for a couple rounds in the tourney. Weaver is a life preserver on the offensive end too.

    I’d also like to come to the defense of Baynes – at least on the defensive end of the ball. He stayed in for a long time with four fouls last night after getting the ghost foul call reversed and he’s been a workhorse on the defensive side of the ball. Granted he got outplayed by B Lopez, but doesn’t everybody. Also, there are a lot of phantom foul calls against him, which would make almost anyone irate. It must be due to his size and/or lack of respect from the refs.

  2. drpezz said

    I think a win against Stanford would’ve locked up a #4 seed, but the Cougs look to be a #5. I’d be surprised to see them drop to #6.

    If they end up a #4 this could mean playing someone like Syracuse, Baylor, Kansas State, or Ohio State, all of whom can be a tough opponent; these would be tough but winnable games. Also, I think this type of match-up would be a blast to watch!

  3. drpezz said

    P.S. I’d lay odds that ASU is out, though I think it’s a school which could put a real scare into a top seeded squad.

  4. drpezz said

    OK. Correction: Syracuse won’t make it. I just saw what they did the last week. They’re out, but WSU could still play one of the others.

  5. Longball said

    Gawd i really want to see ASU make it. I think they could put a real scare on someone. I really think UO is just a waste of space and a sure fire one and done. Oh well, the RPI says diffrently.

  6. drpezz said

    Winthrop is an interesting match-up for WSU. It’s what I believe will be a +/- 5 game, meaning the Cougs will either win by 5 or Winthrop will. However, on each of my brackets I picked the Cougs to win the first round game. Winthrop has a good history in the tournament, but I think WSU is a much better team even if the ending score score doesn’t reflect it.

    My scenario: the Cougs are up 10-12 with 2:30 left, and Winthrop gets a small flurry at the end to make the score look closer than it actually was.

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