Is Memphis Really Worthy of a No. 1 Seed?
Memphis plays in Conference USA.
C-USA is just barely one of the top 10 conferences in America, by whichever measure you choose to judge such things.
Memphis has not played anyone of particular note since dismantling Gonzaga on Feb. 7, 68-50, in Spokane, Washington.
Memphis lost games to Xavier, Georgetown, and Syracuse when they played them in November and December.
Okay, I get it.
The Memphis Tigers have still amassed a fairly decent case to be named a No. 1 seed somewhere during the NCAA Tournament. It may not be perfect, but everyone has warts this year.
2007-'08 is done, folks; we have to deal with the realities of ’08-'09.
What are some of the things the Selection Committee looks for, and how well does Memphis stand up?
Well, record is always the first thing that comes up. Memphis is 31-3. There is something to be said for winning 10 of every 11 games that a team plays. 31-3 is certainly the type of record that a No. 1 seed should have.
Next, the Committee consults the team’s RPI. Though a team’s RPI cannot be considered in a vacuum, it is considered as a relative comparison of teams that appear to have proximate accomplishments.
Memphis has an RPI of No. 7, and I believe this explains why so many “experts” feel that the Tigers should be no better than a low No. 2 seed. They go strictly by the RPI.
That is a misguided (and dare I say lazy) way of making an argument.
A team with an RPI of 20 certainly should be expressly removed from the discussion of No. 1 seeds; a team with an RPI of seven belongs in conversation.
The Memphis schedule is ranked No. 50, which is borderline for a top seed. It is far from unprecedented, however; there have been far worse SOS figures for a No. 1.
Memphis is 4-2 against the RPI top-50. That is a very slender sample size, and the largest reason for it is that there are so few top teams in C-USA.
Finally, Memphis is 12-0 in their last 12 contests. In fact, the Tigers have the longest current winning streak in the country, 25 games.
The Committee also considers good victories on the road, and bad losses anywhere. Memphis had impressive wins on the road, at Gonzaga (26-5, RPI 26) and at Tennessee (21-11, RPI 18). The Tigers held both the Bulldogs (50) and the Vols (52) to season lows in points scored.
There was a decent road win over UAB, a team with a 22-11 record and an RPI of 46. Memphis also beat Tulsa on the road; the Hurricanes are 23-10 with an RPI of 53.
The Tigers have no bad losses, as their only home loss came to Syracuse (25-9, RPI 12).
The accomplishments of the current edition of the Tigers compares quite well to last year’s juggernaut that garnered a No. 1 spot.
See for yourself:
Overall Record: 31-3 33-1
RPI: 7 3
Strength of schedule: 50 59
Record vs RPI Top 50: 4-2 6-1
Record in last 12: 12-0 11-1
That does it for me. Last year’s team was an overwhelming choice as a No. 1 seed, being highly regarded enough to be slotted as the overall No. 2. The competition was much stronger, too, but that is “eye test” and so I won’t proffer that as evidence.
I don’t feel the need to tear down anything that any other team in the country has done. If it were up to me, I would anoint North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Connecticut, and Memphis as the top seeds. However, if that does not happen, I feel Oklahoma would be a solid choice, assuming that Blake Griffin is healthy.
I will not scream bloody murder if Memphis is awarded a No. 2 seed somewhere. Of course, I would feel that the team should be the first No. 2, or fifth overall.
As for the talk that Memphis is a three or four seed? That is insanity. That is ignorance. That is not going to happen.
Enjoy the rest of your Selection Sunday!
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