Wednesday, March 18, 2015

No Time To Worry About Seedings

TigerBlog will add "Princeton will be home for the NCAA tournament" to the list of things that he was colossally wrong about.

First, there was the Trenton Thunder. TigerBlog used to live in the general neighborhood when the stadium was being built, and he said that nobody in a million years would ever go there. He was wrong about that. Colossally.

Then there was the Backcourt Bistro in Jadwin Gym for men's basketball. He said no way on that one too. He was wrong then also.

And to that list you can now add the NCAA tournament.

TigerBlog was pretty sure that Princeton would be at home when the seedings were announced Monday night. At worst he thought it was going to be a five seed, maybe a six, but unlikely.

Instead, it was an eight.

Princeton will play ninth-seeded Green Bay at 11 a.m. Saturday at the University of Maryland, whose top-seeded Terps loom in the second round for the winner. Green Bay enters with a record of 28-4 and is one of the better mid-majors around.

TigerBlog heard from someone - okay, John Cornell, who is one of two people who ever held the title of Publications Director for Princeton Athletics - who heard the committee valued quality losses and that Princeton might have been marked down because they didn't have any.

Princeton, of course, has no losses, 30-0, 30 games, 30 wins, 28 by double figures.

Steven Schultz, a colleague in the engineering department, put the odds this way: "If they went in as 9-1 favorites in 30 independent games, it would be a 4% chance of a perfect run. If they went in with a 95% shot at winning every game, they'd still just have a 21% chance for a perfect run through 30 games."

Maybe TigerBlog overvalued the respect such a record would carry, since it was shown very little.

Maybe it's an anti-New Jersey thing by the committee. The other two New Jersey teams in the field are Rutgers and Seton Hall, who are seeded eight and nine and meet each other in the first round. The winner gets UConn.

In other words, for a New Jersey team to get to the Sweet 16, it will have to beat a No. 1 seed to do so - assuming that the No. 1s aren't shocked in the first round.

So what's the deal? The committee didn't like "The Sopranos?" Sinatra? Springsteen?

Princeton was one of the big stories in women's basketball yesterday. Those in the know felt that the Tigers were jobbed, as it were, and some columnists really took it to the committee on Twitter and in their stories.

It was all over And lots of other places. The consensus was that the players and head coach Courtney Banghart handled it flawlessly.

And while that brought even more attention to the program, it doesn't make a difference come Saturday.

So now the anger of not getting more respect from the committee fades away in the face of preparation for the game itself.

The goal for Princeton has always been to get an NCAA win. It's something that only one Ivy team has ever done - Harvard over Stanford in 1998 - and it comes with an asterisk, as Stanford lost three starters to injury the week before the game.

Winning this week was Princeton's goal the other four times that Banghart brought a team this far. It remains the same.

Standing in the way is a Phoenix team that is used to winning.

The two have one common opponent, and that's Duquesne. Princeton beat the Dukes 79-62 in Pittsburgh; Green Bay won 84-52 at home.

What can anyone conclude from those results? Nothing. The games were played six days apart in November. That's about it.

Green Bay is a great defensive team, allowing teams only 55.3 points per game while holding them to 35.8% shooting and just 27.2% three-point shooting. Princeton's averages? 75.8 points, 49.3% shooting, 40.6% from three.

That's the game, right? Green Bay scores 69.2 per game. Princeton allows 50.9.

Princeton wants to run. Green Bay wants to defend. It figures to be the key to the game, at least based on a 30-second analysis of stats.

Come tip-off time, it won't matter who is seeded where. It will only matter what you do in that game

Princeton's reward for 30-0 wasn't a good seed or a chance to play at home.

Its reward is to play a 31st game that gives the team a chance to make history nonetheless. Additional history, beyond just the 30-0.

There's no sense worrying about what the committee said.

Now it's time to try to make your own statement.

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