Thursday, March 10, 2011

Purdue's #1 seed chances, Thursday update

Purdue's road loss to Iowa dropped them from a solid contender for a #1 seed to a possible #3 or even #4, depending on what happens in Indianapolis. Bracketology 101 currently has them as the last #2 seed, but they've still got a chance at a top seed if a number of things go right.

  • Purdue must win the Big Ten tournament, most likely by beating Ohio State. It would help if they also beat Wisconsin so that they get two more top-20 RPI wins rather than just one. Doing it by beating, say, Penn State and Michigan will not help their position as much.
  • Duke needs to lose in the ACC tournament, preferably not to North Carolina, who is right behind Purdue. If UNC wins out, they could conceivably pass the Boilers even if Purdue also wins out.
  • BYU probably needs to lose once – none of their opponents, other than San Diego State, will do anything to help their SOS, and the loss of Davies may affect their seeding even if they do win the Mountain West. Their narrow escape against TCU today probably didn't help their cause.
  • The Big East tournament needs to break properly. Notre Dame can't win it, because that will probably solidify their #1 seed. (Pittsburgh's loss probably didn't matter; they're reportedly a solid #1.) Syracuse can't win it, because that will likely keep them ahead of Purdue due to the strength of their conference. (Syracuse beat St. John's in the quarters; Purdue will draw Michigan State or RPI dud Iowa.) Unfortunately they're in different brackets, so Purdue fans need to root for Connecticut and the Louisville/Marquette winner (but see below).

If Purdue doesn't win the conference tournament, then they probably can't keep their seed unless their loss is to Wisconsin or Ohio State, and even then, they'll need North Carolina to lose at a comparable time. San Diego State can't win the WAC, especially if it means beating BYU. The Aztecs are in a shaky position but simply don't have many losses, and a marquee win might get them past Purdue if the Boilers don't also get one. Florida can't win the SEC: even though it's a weak conference this year, it's not like the tournament champion is going to drop a seed or two. Texas probably shouldn't win the Big 12, either.

Louisville could become a problem, especially if they knock out both Marquette and Notre Dame. That could get them by a Purdue team with a quarterfinal loss; if the Cardinals win the Big East, that might get them by anything but a conference champion Boiler team. Wisconsin is in a similar position: unlikely to come near Purdue unless Purdue nosedives or Wisconsin wins the conference tournament (which would probably mean a win over Purdue). St. John's is out (guess the refs worked the whole game this time), and Kentucky may be too far back to pass the Boilers even if the Wildcats win the SEC.

For now, a realistic seed for Purdue is the top #2; a worst-case scenario is the third #4. Updates to come later.


  1. Ok...dumb question. If Purdue is seeded at #4 does that mean that they don't move forward in the tournament? Do they need to be #1 to move forward?

  2. Hmm ... the best way to answer that is to say that they're more likely to move forward if they're a #1 seed.

    For our purposes, the tournament starts with 64 teams, 4 groups of 16. Each group is seeded 1 through 16, and then they're paired up so that the strongest (#1) plays the weakest (#16), #2 plays #15, and so on. So initially, a #1 seed has a much better chance of advancing. (The difference between seeds isn't the same because of how teams make the tournament. A #1 seed might be one of the four best teams in the country, but a #13 seed might be the 100th-best, and a #16 might be the 200th-best.)

    In the next rounds, it's harder to tell who will play whom, but in theory, the higher seed will have an easier game ... so the higher Purdue's seed is, the more likely it is they'll advance.


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