Marshall Was Screwed

We hear it every year the night and day following Selection Sunday: “Tech was hosed! State was screwed!”

Sometimes the arguments are iffy-at-best, sometimes they suck. This year, its clear as night and day that a team was screwed: Marshall.

Twitter erupted like Mount St. Helens after Iona was selected as one of the last four teams in the NCAA tournament last night, and for good reason. Sure, Iona played a tough non-conference schedule. I’ll give you that they beat  some tough RPI 51-100 teams. But so did Marshall, and  then some. Lets compare.

(Click to enlarge.)


  • Marshall has a significantly better non-conference and overall strength of schedule rating, something Jeff Hathaway (NCAA committee chairman) said the committee liked about Iona.
  • Marshall’s RPI is 3 points lower than Iona overall and 32 points lower in the non-conference schedule.
  • Marshall is 4-6 against the Top 50, Iona is 0-2.
  • Iona is 5-3 against the Top 100, Marshall is 6-10.
  • Iona has 4 bad losses, Marshall has 3.
  • Iona bowed out in the semi-finals of the MAAC tournament, Marshall made the finals in a significantly better conference (10 vs. 20 in KenPom rating.)
  • Wins against NCAA teams: Iona (3: none of which are at-larges, RPIs: 78, 80, @135) – Marshall (5: vs 21, 21, 40, @42, 58)
  • Perhaps the most damning evidence is that Marshall beat Iona by 19 in December.

For comedic purposes, Marshall wasn’t even in the last four out. Translation: they didn’t just miss the tournament.

Hey, but what do I know about resumes, I’m not on the NCAA selection  committee. What I do know is that a team with significantly more Top 50 wins, more wins against NCAA caliber teams and better strength of schedule numbers was thrown to the curb for a team with less of the aforementioned NCAA at-large criteria.

Oh yeah, lets not forget that Marshall beat Iona by 19 points like the selection committee apparently did.

Marshall was hosed. Marshall was screwed.

Field of 68, my prediction

I won’t waste our time by posting all 31 of the conference winning auto-bids. All we have to know is that leaves 37 at-large bids. Only the bubble teams are listed in order.

At-large (37):


ACC: Duke, UNC
B10: Indiana, Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Purdue
B12: Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State
Big East: Georgetown, Syracuse, Cincinnati, Marquette, Notre Dame, UConn, WVU
MVC: Wichita State
MWC: San Diego State, UNLV, Colorado State
SEC: Florida, Vanderbilt, Alabama
WCC: Gonzaga
C-USA: Southern Miss
A-10: Temple, Xavier, St. Louis

Bubble-IN (7):
Seton Hall
Mississippi State
NC State
Ole Miss
Oral Roberts

I believe Marshall should Dance but I don't think the committee will agree.

Bubble-OUT that I wouldn’t be surprised if they made it: Marshall – 4-6 vs Top 50, RPI of 46 and an SOS of 26 with a non-conference SOS of 7 is quite impressive. If it were up to me, I’d probably have them in over Miss. State or BYU but I’m trying to predict what the committee will do.

Bubble-IN that I wouldn’t be surprised if they missed: California/BYU – Neither resume has impressed me at all. 1 combined Top 50 win. I have California in slightly better shape than BYU because an RPI of 38 is hard to deny and they have 9 wins vs RPI 50-100, FWIW.

Stony Brook won’t dance but the program is on the rise

If you told Bryan Dougher, Danny Carter, Tommy Brenton & Dallis Joyner in 2008 that  they would win 75 games at Stony Brook, nearly make the NCAA tournament twice, win two regular season America East titles and participate in the NIT two times, they would have probably laughed at you, thinking it was a joke. In the four years since Stony Brook’s Class of 2008 arrived at the struggling America East school, they have accomplished all of the above.

The coach that recruited these four high schoolers to Stony Brook, Steve Pikiell, took over a basketball program that was in the midst of a school-wide academic probation issue which accompanied the school’s rise from D-III to D-I athletics. The Seawolves finished a combined 20-67 from 2005-2008, finishing no higher than ninth in the America East conference. Things weren’t quite Binghamton, NJIT or Towson bad, but things certainly weren’t good.

That all changed  with the Class of 2008.

Joining the aforementioned freshmen was JuCo transfer Muhammad El-Amin, a Lansing (MI) native who attended Lansing CC for two seasons. El-Amin immediately became Stony Brook’s go-to-guy, scoring 15.7PPG as a junior. Freshman guard Bryan Dougher, a

Despite never Dancing, Stony Brook has taken great strides.

Scotch Plains (NJ) native chipped in with a healthy 11.2PPG, good enough to make the America East All-Rookie team. Stony Brook finished 16-14, more than doubling the previous season’s win total, before bowing out to New Hampshire in the America East tournament. The Seawolves finished 4th in the America East. The program looked like it was headed in the right direction.

2009-10 was an even better season. Stony Brook went from finishing 9th in 2007 to winning the America East regular season title with a  22-10 (13-3) record. The Seawolves looked poised to reach their first ever NCAA tournament but surprisingly lost in the second round of the America East tournament to fifth seeded Hartford and then lost in the first round of the NIT to Illinois. Leading scorer Muhammed El-Amin was graduating, it looked like it was back to the drawing board for Pikiell’s program.

Steve Pikiell added two important pieces to his Seawolves puzzle in the Class of 2010: David Coley and Al Rapier. Coley, a freshman and Rapier, a JuCo transfer, would add 10.6PPG, filling some of the void that El-Amin left behind.

From November to mid-February, Stony Brook actually had a poor season. They were 11-16 with two games remaining, it was unlikely they would see any post-season basketball beyond the America East tournament – they were just another mid-tier low-major program. It didn’t help that leading rebounder Tommy Brenton missed the entire season with a knee injury he suffered during the off-season.

Despite the odds, Stony Brook rolled into the America East tournament on a two-game winning streak. The Seawolves slipped by Albany in the first round and shocked the region with a 22-point drubbing of number one seeded Vermont in the semi-finals. They would travel to Boston University to play the two seed Terriers with an NCAA auto-bid on the line. A most improbable run.

It looked as if Stony Brook was going to cruise. They held BU’s leading scorer John Holland scoreless for the first 17 minutes and the Seawolves led by 15 early in the second half. Holland took over in the second half, making it a one or two possession game down the stretch before he made two game winning free throws with 2.4 seconds on the clock. Here is the foul. Not only was it arguably not a foul, but Holland might have traveled on the play. Junior guard Bryan Dougher missed a half court heave at the buzzer by inches and Stony Brook’s season was over just like that. It was heartbreak again for the Seawolves, a type they weren’t used to.

This season was the last hurrah for seniors Al Rapier, Bryan Dougher, Dallis Joyner and Danny Carter. The latter three had been instrumental in the program’s 180-degree turnaround and Rapier provided valuable experience off the bench as a junior. After coming so close the season before, the team knew they could Dance — the program was no longer a perennial America East bottom-feeder. After starting 3-6 against some tough non-conference opponents, Stony Brook blew through their remaining games, finishing 17-2, good enough for the America East regular season title and a the top seed in the conference tournament.

After disposing of Binghamton in the quarterfinals, Stony Brook found itself in trouble against Albany. Fittingly, Dallis Joyner provided a buzzer beating put-back for a 57-55 win. Once again, the Seawolves would have a chance to Dance, this time they would play on their home court, where they were 13-0 this season, against 2-seed Vermont.

Stony Brook struggled from the start today. Vermont clogged the paint and forced a ton of tough, contested shots from within the arc. The Seawolves also struggled from deep, shooting a mere 4-19. Stony Brook trailed by 13 with just under seven minutes to play, the dream looked dead, the students were relatively quite. Before one could blink, Vermont’s lead was cut to six courtesy of an 8-1 run by Dave Coley. The crowd was loud, there was hope, this was the moment for Stony Brook’s seniors to finally get over the hump.

But it never happened.

Vermont suffered through a 10:04 field goal drought to end the game but Stony Brook couldn’t reduce the deficit past four. Senior leader Bryan Dougher fouled out with :36 to play, tears filled with every type of emotion filled his eyes — the dream was dead. Vermont hit their free throws and their small contingent of students rushed the court to celebrate a second NCAA tournament appearance in three seasons. Stony Brook has never been to one.

I would imagine that most serious high school basketball players dream of playing in the NCAA tournament. Dougher, Rapier, Carter and Joyner will never know how it feels to play with the giant NCAA logo at the middle of the court and the nation’s eyes watching you. But they do know something else.

The 2008 class sparked the emergence of a Division I basketball program that was all sorts of irrelevant before they set foot on campus. From 20-67 in three seasons, to 75-50 (and  counting) in four seasons, 2 NIT appearances and 2 regular season America East titles. Individually, Bryan Dougher’s Stony Brook Athletics profile says the record he dreams of breaking is Stony Brook’s scoring record. He did just that with a three pointer at the 12:02 mark in the first half today.

After today’s game, head coach Steve Pikiell summed up how much the 2008 class means to him, “I wouldn’t trade this senior class for 10 trips to the NCAA tournament, and I mean that sincerely.”

Dancing is the ultimate goal, but this is a damn good consolation.

The future looks bright. Despite losing three of their top five scorers, Tommy Brenton returns for his senior season (he received a medical redshirt in 2010-11) and Steve Pikiell landed the highest rated recruit to ever sign with Stony Brook, Jameel Warney (Roselle Catholic HS, NJ). Pikiell also received commitments from three other high school seniors in Ryan Burnett, Carson Puriefoy and Ahmad Reid.

A Look at the Pacific-12 Bubble Mess

I’m unsure how bad the Pacific 12 is in historical proportion, but I do know they are pretty darn bad this season. A ‘BCS’ conference might be a 1-bid league come Selection Sunday or may have 3 or 4 bids. Here is my attempt to make some sense of this mess.

Washington is currently in first place of the Pac-12 with a 13-3 record while California is in second with a 13-4 record. Both teams have similar resumes, lets break them down:



– California has a better record against the Top-50 (2-3) than Washington (1-5) but has two bad losses to Washington’s zero.

– Washington was 7-5 in their non-conference schedule with their best win over UC Santa Barbara (#115) while California went 10-2 with wins over Weber State (#74)  and Denver (#88).

– Neither team has a strong resume and neither team did too much outside of the Pac-12.

Beyond these two teams, Arizona and Oregon are also in the mix for at-large bids. Lets take a look at their resumes.



– Arizona has very poor RPI/SOS numbers while Oregon’s are a bit better.

– Both teams had similar non-conference records but Arizona beat two Top-100 teams (@#69 New Mexico State, #89 Valparaiso) while Oregon did not.

– Arizona is 1-4 vs Top 50 and 4-8 vs Top 100. Oregon is 0-5 vs Top 50 and 2-7 vs Top 100.

Its clear that Arizona has a better resume than Oregon and one very similar to Washington’s. However, Arizona has worse RPI/SOS numbers & and one bad loss compared to Washington’s zero.

If today were Selection Sunday: California has the best resume in the Pac-12, if only by a hair. Washington has the next best and would receive the hypothetical ‘auto-bid’ right now due to conference standings. Arizona and Oregon would be on the outside looking in.

Looking forward: It would benefit these four teams if they stayed in the Top 4 of the Pac-12 standings in order to receive a first round bye in the Pac-12 tournament. Their first game would likely be a must win (especially for Washington, Arizona & Oregon). Optimally, all four teams would want to meet in the semi-finals of the conference tournament where the games could potentially be bubble elimination.

What California needs to do to be considered: Beat Stanford, at least reach Pac-12 semi-finals.

What Washington needs to do to be considered: Beat USC & UCLA, at least reach Pac-12 semi-finals

What Arizona needs to do to be considered: Beat Arizona State, at least reach Pac-12 finals

What Oregon needs to do to be considered: Beat Colorado & Utah, at least reach Pac-12 finals

With so many mediocre teams in the Pac-12, none of these teams outside of California (and even then…) can really afford more than one loss. Stanford, UCLA, USC, Utah & Arizona State would all count as bad losses. That means that these teams are in a neutral-lose situation until the Pac-12 semifinals. A loss would be bad and a win just keeps them afloat.

Whatever the case, I’m sure some of these teams will slip up and make the entire scenario that much muddier since they are that mediocre. Who knows, maybe Stanford or UCLA will make an improbable Pac-12 conference tournament run like USC in 2009 just for headache’s sake. We might have to revisit this situation in a week’s time.

Breaking Down the 1-Bid Leagues

Every bubble team’s worst nightmare: A team that is surely going to receive an NCAA Tournament bid no matter what and the rest of their conference has no chance at an at-large. The team winds up losing in their conference tournament and some sub .500 team receives the tournament auto-bid, suddenly turning a 1-bid league into a 2-bid league, subsequently “stealing” an at-large bid.

If you’re a fan of a bubble team, you want the following teams to win their conference tournaments so that the above scenario is avoided. The percentage attached to each team is assuming the team wins every remaining game EXCEPT the conference tournament final. Some of the projected Top 100 win/bad loss counts & RPI numbers are subject to change. (Ex: ‘Team Bad Loss’ has RPI of 101 but improves that to 93 by Selection Sunday)

Ohio Valley Conference: Murray State

The Racers are pretty much a lock for an at-large if they falter in the OVC tournament. They would have a 3-0 record vs the Top 50, 2 bad losses with an RPI in the 30s.

Chance of receiving at-large: 100%

Ivy League: Harvard

If Harvard wins out (@Columbia, @Cornell) they will receive the Ivy League auto-bid. If, however, they drop a game and Penn wins out, the two teams would be tied and would play a play-in game as they split the season series 1-1. Harvard would very likely.

Harvard would have an RPI somewhere around 45-50, 1 maybe 2 (St. Joes is 51) Top 50 wins, 7~ Top 100 wins (7-3 record), 2 bad losses and poor SOS. They would have a shot at an at-large.

Chance of receiving at-large: 60%

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference: Iona

Poor late officiating might cost Iona an at-large bid if they happen to lose in the MAAC final. A Robbie Hummel trey produced by an illegal screen downed the Gaels in their first game of the season. A win would have had Iona at 1-0 vs the Top 50 & 7-2 against the Top 100 with an RPI in the low 30s.

Iona’s resume reminds me of Harvard’s and would be arguably better save their loss to Purdue and their three bad losses. The Gaels likely need to win the MAAC and anything less than that would be a huge disappointment.

Chance of receiving at-large: 15%

Big West: Long Beach State

The 49ers have an outside shot of receiving an at-large bid if they lose in the Big West conference final. If that were to happen, they’d have an estimated RPI of 28, the toughest OOC SOS in the country, one or two bad losses (Montana is currently No. 101), 0 Top 50 wins and 2 neutral/road Top 100 wins (vs. Xavier, @Pittsburgh)

Chance of receiving at-large: 10%

Summit League: Oral Roberts

Another team with an outside shot at a bid if they lose in the Summit League final. They would have an RPI in the high 30s, 0-1 vs Top 50, 3-3 vs Top 100 (win @Xavier) and a poor SOS.

The Golden Eagles’ main threat in the conference tournament is South Dakota State, who they split the season series with 1-1.

Chance of receiving at-large: 5%

Other conferences (team) considered:

CAA (Drexel/VCU) – Both teams have a lot of wins but poor SOS/RPI numbers and bad losses will ultimately leave the CAA at a 1-bid league.

Sun Belt (Middle Tenn St) – A gaudy record but 0 Top-50 wins, 2+ bad losses and a poor SOS means the Blue Raiders need to win the Sun Belt title.

**Pacific 12 (Arizona, California, Washington) – All three teams are squarely on the bubble right now so this situation is changing by the game. As of right now the Pac-12 is not a 1-bid league but can be in the future.


Bubble Watch: Sunday, February 26th

Bubble teams, as usual, are in bold.

Sunday, February 26th:

Cincinnati @ South Florida (12PM ESPN3) – Huge, huge bubble game in the Big East. The Bearcats are in slightly better position but are still firmly on the bubble. South Florida is on the outside looking in and definitely need this win to improve their resume.

#24 Indiana @ Minnesota (1PM ESPN) – Minnesota has dropped four straight and are teetering on the outside of the bubble.  They surely need this win against a Top 25 team or they are likely NIT bound.

California @ Colorado (5:30PM) – California is hovering around an 8/9 seed right now but a loss would put them in the bubble conversation as the Pacific-12 is quite weak this season.

Iowa @ Illinois (6PM BTN) – Like Minnesota, Illinois is in a tailspin, dropping their last six. A must win game against an Iowa team which has done surprisingly well in conference play under third year skipper Fran McCaffery.

#16 Florida State @ Miami (FL) (6PM ESPNU) – Miami have lost three of their last four games but lost by just five @ Florida State earlier this month. For a team squarely on the bubble with state bragging rights on the line (for the 451 non-UF college basketball fans living in Florida), this is an important game.

Oregon @ Oregon State (7:30PM) – Oregon is hovering around the cut line with this being the most difficult of their three remaining games. Winning out and a Pacific 12 tournament run might just lock up a bid.

I’ll be doing daily Bubble Watches and other NCAA tournament related work until Selection Sunday (March 11th). Stay tuned.

Bubble Watch (February 14th – February 17th)

A rooting guide for bubble fans everywhere. Bubble teams are in bold so those are the teams you should be rooting against. Feel free to contact me @CerasolisGhost or leave a comment if you feel anything should be added or modified.

Tuesday February 14th:

Seton Hall vs. St. John’s (7PM SNY/ – The Pirates look to keep their NCAA hopes afloat.

#12 Florida @ Alabama (7PM ESPN/ – A chance for the Tide to tack a big time SEC win on their resume.

Texas @ Oklahoma (8PM – Texas is trying to stay in the bubble picture. Must win.

Minnesota vs. #6 Ohio State (9PM ESPN/ – A huge chance for Minnesota.


Wednesday February 15th:

Northwestern @ #20 Indiana (630PM BTN) – Northwestern is lacking a marquee road win (@Illinois is solid).

#7 North Carolina @ Miami (FL) (8PM ESPN/ – For a team squarely on the bubble, this would be huge for the Canes.

Richmond @ St. Louis (8PM)

Purdue @ Illinois (830 BTN) – Both teams are around 9 seeds right now. Loser will have to sweat it out a bit more than the winner.

Providence @ Cincinnati (9PM ESPNU) – Must win for the Bearcats if they have dreams of Dancing.

Colorado State @ Boise State (10PM MTN) – Colorado State can’t afford a ‘bad loss.’

New Mexico @ #15 San Diego State (10:15 PM ) – A road win against the Aztecs would really help New Mexico’s resume.


Thursday February 16th:

North Carolina State @ #4 Duke (9PM – NC State is right on the bubble. They wouldn’t be with a win at Cameron Indoor.

West Virginia @ Pittsburgh (9PM ESPN/ – After Pittsburgh’s loss to Seton Hall over the weekend, they look to be done. West Virginia isn’t but need this win.

Oregon @ California (10:30PM) – A Cal loss would make the Pac-12 being a 1-bid league that much more likely.

Seton Hall notes: Northwestern at Indiana on Wednesday is a double edged sword since the Pirates want their loss against Northwestern at the Charleston Classic to look as good as possible.