Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Are the Cinderella’s really wolves in sheep clothing?

As we approach the Sweet 16 this weekend much of the banter focuses on the number of high seeds still dancin’ and how exciting this is and good for the tournament. Even the Wall St. Journal is getting into the mix with an article Tuesday commenting on how the UK/Cornell matchup as “extremes at work”. Is this really the case or was the selection committee too enamored by the names on the front of some jerseys and the pedigree that accompanies them? Let’s look at the four teams that are considered the Cinderella party crashers more closely, and see if they’re peaking at the right time or if have just done a good job of slipping under the radar.

St. Mary’s (28-5 seeded 10th) may be the only true Cindy as they’re most impressive victory just happened last weekend over Villanova, prior to that their biggest win was a 2-point loss against Vanderbilt at home back in November. I realize they did beat Gonzaga in the conference tournament but they had lost to them twice prior and possibly would have been shut out of the dance for a second straight year had they not won it. This year’s performance certainly bolsters their argument from last year. They say you can’t expect a team to win the tournament if they haven’t won six in a row all season, well that’s what makes the Gaels so dangerous is, after the afore mentioned loss to Vandy, they have gone on win streaks of 8, 5, 6, and 7(current streak). When they go on runs their as good as anyone and most importantly, believe they can win.

Cornell (29-4) Playing in the Ivy League comes with many stereotypes both positive and negative. On the positive side no one would ever doubt your Basketball IQ, won’t expect you to ‘beat yourself”, bet that you’ll shoot free-throws well, and lastly will circle the schedule as a W in advance. That presumption cost many teams dearly this year as the Big-Red compiled 29 wins, and the mistake the selection committee made when they made them a 12 seed. But don’t forget this is also the team that pushed Kansas to the limit in THEIR building, and while on the subject of winning streaks has won 10, 8, and 9(current) in a row this season. This is what’s known in forensic accounting as a gross mis-representation as 12 seed equates to being at BEST the 48th best team in the nation, and Cornell was ranked in the top 25 during the year and received votes at the end of the year. We’re not doing triangular arbitrage here guys, we’re playing hoop and their body of work spoke for itself. I just wish I would have put my money where my mouth is because those were some healthy money lines on the Red during the first two games.

UNI (30-4 seeded 9) Ya know the committee gets what they deserve on this one. THIS SCHOOL WON 30 GAMES! If the dance has shown us one thing year in and year out it’s how tough it is to win 6 in a row on a neutral court, and how exposed some teams are that never travel for a tough non-conference game and insist that anyone that wants to play must come to their gym. I don’t care if they played in division II 30 wins is impressive and should be considered a formidable opponent. What this team does have that might go unseen is their senior leadership which is necessary to run the gauntlet of the NCAA tournament. I’m not saying that an upset of top-seeded Kansas was foreseeable, but it shouldn’t have been a question in the second round.

Washington (26-9) Don’t say a word, I know under section 12.B.1 in the Fairly Tail Code a team from a “power conference” can’t be a Cinderella, but I didn’t make them an 11 seed, so they go into the lot with the others and therefore eligible for my argument. That said, what ever they were partying with in the committee room, it must have been strong for them to put UW, winners of the Pac-10 tourney, down at an 11, 44th best in the nation, despite winning 26 games. It’s a bad draw for West Virginia as you get lucky to play a #11 in the Sweet 16 and you gotta’ figure they’re gonna be a dear in headlights, but the Huskies have been there before and will not get stage fright.

How many of the “Cindy’s” do you expect to move on if any? Let us know here, and in any of the quick links:

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