Illini Wonk
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
  IL joins the Big Dance
IL made it into the NCAA tournament on Sunday. After the selections were made their were some who felt that IL was one of the teams that is not as deserving to make it into the tournament as teams that were left out.

All in all IL does has a record that merits playing in the Big Dance.

Syracuse and Drexel are the town teams most often mentioned as getting snubbed. But is is usually Arkansas or Stanford who are pointed to as the teams that "stole" their bid and not IL. When you are looking at the teams that are being slotted into the 10th-12th seeds they all have some good points and some bad points.
Here is a quick look at the final teams to back the tourney and the teams that were left out.
those that made it:
IL 23-11 (11-8 Big Ten) RPI 29 Strength of Schedule 23 (4-9 vs. top 50)
Old Dominion 24-8 (16-4 Colonial Conf) RPI 40 SOS 82 (1-3 top 50)
Arkansas 21-12 (10-9 SEC) RPI 35 SOS 15 (5-5 top 50)
Stanford 18-12 (10-9 Pac 10) RPI 63 SOS 37 (5-6 top 50)
Xavier 24-8 (13-3 Atlantic 10) RPI 34 SOS 84 (3-2 top 50)

those that didn't make it:
Syracuse 22-10 (11-7 Big East) RPI 50 SOS 45 (3-7 top 50)
FL State 20-12 8-10 ACC) RPI 41 SOS 18 (5-12 top 50)
Drexel 22-8 (14-6 Colonial) RPI 39 SOS 95 (3-0 top 50)
West Vir 21-9 (10-8 Big East) RPI 57 SOS 109 (2-7 top 50)
Kansas St 22-11 (11-7 Big 12) RPI 56 SOS 91 (2-5 top 50)
Air Force 22-8 (10-7 Mt West) RPI 30 SOS 76 (2-4 top 50)

I know "The Committee" says that they don't really pay attention to conferences is but I think they do.
Drexel was eliminated because they were not going to place three teams from the Colonial Conference into the tournament. And Old Dominion beat them twice. And while Drexel beat several teams on the road in non conference play, they did not fair well against the three teams ahead of them in their own conference.
Syracuse fell victim to losing to 6 other teams being selected out of the Big East. Villanova seems to be the team that beat them out for a place in the tournament.
As for FL State. they had a tough schedule but they really did win any of the big games. And contrary to what Dickie V would have you to believe, 7 ACC teams is enough.
Both WV and K State were rather mediocre in their RPI, SOS and their records against top 50 teams.
Of all the teams that looked good for most of the year and didn't make it, it was Air Force. With only BYU making it from the MT West Conf perhaps they should have been included. Losing their final 4 games did not help them at all.

To me IL is not the team that should be tossed out but you can draw your own conclusions.

IL may have deserved a bit higher seed than 12th. It is my opinion that they were put there in order to be placed in the opposite half of the bracket that IN is in. Letting IL play their 1st game(s) in Columbus is in a small way something that the committee could do to even it out just a bit.

Here are a few links to stories on IL and the tourney
The bracket
A look at the West Bracket
A look at IL vs. Vir Tech
Fox Sports look at the surprises and snubs
CBS Sportsline's look
Sun-Times: Players are relieved,CST-SPT-ill12.article
The Tribune: No bad losses helped,1,7803405.story?coll=chi-sportstop-hed
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