Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bracketology Issue #2

My field of 42 as of now:

Pool A
ASC - UT Tyler
CAC - Mary Washington
Centennial - Johns Hopkins
CUNYAC - Staten Island
Colonial States AC - Marywood
Commonwealth Coast - Roger Williams
Commonwealth - Elizabethtown
Empire 8 - Ithaca
Freedom - Wilkes
Heartland Collegiate AC - Transylvania
IIAC - Luther
Landmark - Drew
Little East - Western Connecticut
MIAA - Kalamazoo
Midwest - Grinnell
MIAC - Gustavus
NESCAC - Middlebury
NCAC - Kenyon
Northern Athletics - MSOE
NWC - Whitman
Ohio AC - Mount Union
ODAC - Washington & Lee
Skyline - St Josephs LI
SCAC - Trinity (TX)
USA South - NC Wesleyan
UAA - Emory

Pool B
1. Santa Cruz
2. Vassar
3. MIT
4. Skidmore
6. Eau Claire
7. Whitewater
8. Lacrosse
9. Carthage

Pool C
1. Cal Lutheran
2. Wash U
3. Carnegie Mellon
4. Amherst
5. Williams
6. Bowdoin

1. Middlebury*, Vassar, MIT, Roger Williams, Western Connecticut
2. Emory*, NC Wesleyan, Washington & Lee, UT-Tyler, Transylvania
3. CMS*, Cal Lutheran, Santa Cruz, Whitman
4. Wash U*, Trinity (TX), Luther, Grinnell, Carthage, MSOE
5. Carnegie Mellon*, Mary Washington, TCNJ, Mount Union, Wilkes, Marywood
6. Amherst*, Bowdoin, Skidmore, Staten Island, St. Josephs LI
7. Kenyon, Kalamazoo, Gustavus, Eau Claire, Whitewater*, LaCrosse
8. Johns Hopkins*, Williams, Drew, Ithaca, Elizabethtown

In quarters: 1 vs. 8, 4 vs. 5, 3 vs. 6, 2 vs. 7.
* denotes host site

There are several questionable moves which I took in making this bracket but overall I'm pleased with it. The New England regionals were fairly simple and since Williams isn't a 1 seed this year chances are good they will get shipped South to take on Hopkins. TCNJ could potentially be a host site for this match because I know the Hopkins facilities aren't the best. If Hopkins did put in a bid to host, I'm assuming they will get to host and Williams will travel South to play them since there are a plethora of teams in New England. Vassar is ranked and good enough to be a 2 seed, and I see them going to Midd since the Panthers are the top team in the country. That leaves Bowdoin no place to go but Amherst.

The job of the NCAA bracket making committee is to limit the amount of flights. Three flights must be done, those being Whitman, Trinity (TX) and UT-Tyler. After those three, the bracket should be done so there are no more flights regardless of whether the top teams get to host. With the emergence of NC Wesleyan, Emory can now host a regional and W&L as well as Transylvania can also go to Emory within the 500 mile rule. I used one of the flights to fill out the Emory region and although this is a tough region, I think 2 4-team regions may be pushing it. Unfortunate for NC Wesleyan, but I'm pretty sure they will end up at Emory simply because of geographic proximity. They are 11th in the country but they will most likely end up having to play the #2 overall seed in the Sweet 16. Washington & Lee is ranked high enough to be a 2 seed in the Emory region and it's possible you could send NC Wesleyan North, but that would leave only a 4 team bracket and I think the committee will want to avoid that if possible.

Next you notice Whitman traveling to California. The 3 Cali teams will obviously stay there and then one the flights needs to be used to send a team there. The obvious choice would be Whitman. In theory you could send Whitman to Atlanta and UT-Tyler out to California instead. I think Trinity (TX) is ranked high enough where they won't have to worry about being shipped to California. A 4 team region with everyone in the top 14 in the country would be ridiculous. Unfortunate for Whitman because they could have done some damage elsewhere. I'm pretty confident this is where they will end up for the 3rd year in a row. There just aren't enough teams in California and you obviously can't have a 3 team region.

That leaves the last flight for Trinity (TX) and my guess is they will go to St. Louis. I looked at flights for them to Pittsburgh potentially but they can't get there on a direct flight. San Antonio to St. Louis is pretty cheap and there are also a lot of teams in the Mid-Atlantic who can go to CMU. A lot of the Midwest schools may also end up traveling South to St. Louis. Several of these schools may be ones that normally end up at Gustavus.

I have mixed feelings on Region 5. CMU is a pretty central location and I'm quite sure they will get to host as they deserve it, but the options for their 2 seed are realistically Mary Wash or Kzoo. Since Kzoo has to be shipped to be packaged with Kenyon, that leaves Mary Washington as the obvious choice for Carnegie's 2 seed. This is a nice region for the Tartans and I guess they could potentially draw Trinity (TX) as well, but that would leave the St. Louis region extremely weak and also Mary Washington would have to go elsewhere creating a loaded region. TCNJ may be grouped with Williams and Hopkins but I figured Mary Wash should be challenged in the regional semifinals since TCNJ can make the trip to Pittsburgh. Let Williams have the easy road to the regional final as the higher ranked team.

Region 6 I'm pretty sure will happen. It's possible Williams and Amherst will be in the same region, but unlikely. Bowdoin is the clear choice to be Amherst's 2 seed and the only way that may change is if Williams stays in New England instead of traveling South to take on Hopkins. Bowdoin may then have to travel to Middlebury, but again this is an unlikely scenario.

Region 7 is where things got tricky. The problem here is that Gustavus cannot travel to any school that is in line to be a #1 seed, so this would therefore create another flight. They are just barely out of driving distance to Wash U at 535 miles. Therefore, a school between Gustavus and a #1 seed will have to host. The obvious choices are Wash U and Kenyon and I gave Wash U the host because they are the higher ranked team. Unfortunate for the Lords, but at the same time they have a pretty easy region for being the #7 overall seed. Whitewater has very nice outdoor facilities so I think they would be a great candidate for a host institution. The Lords shouldn't have to travel as a #1 seed and they have hosted the past 2 years, but things got thrown off with Gustavus being weak this year. To eliminate a flight for Gustavus, this must happen.

I really hope Region 8 happens because I would love to see these 2 teams square off the in Sweet 16. I think they are similar teams and quite evenly matched. I would hope that Williams doesn't get stuck with Amherst in a region. As I noted earlier, TCNJ could be a potential site for this region because I don't have confirmation that Hopkins put in a bid to host. The #3 seed here is weak but that's okay in my opinion because a 2 seed as strong as Williams deserves an easy first round.