Just a note– Since I am talking about brackets, The Bracketeer has updated the projected bracket and conference capsules. Be sure to check it out.
Just 3 short seasons ago, the Missouri Valley Conference put 4 teams into the NCAA Tournament. Of course, last season the Valley did not get multiple bids to the NCAA tournament which happened for the first time in several years. This season again, the Valley is in trouble of not receiving multiple bids to the tourney. However, I think the Valley can get 2 teams into the dance this season even if Creighton doesn’t win the conference outright or doesn’t win the MVC Tournament.
I go back to that 2005-06 season and I’m sure most remember a particular George Mason team that got into the tournament and amazingly made the Final Four. What makes things even a little more interesting is that George Mason was really close to not even making the tournament and it was a bit of a surprise that the Colonial got two bids to the Big Dance as well. Well, it may not have been a huge surprise that they got 2 in due to that crazy season, but I think a lot of people wondered why George Mason. So let’s step back a few years and evaluate the George Mason end of the season.
At this point in the season in 05-06, George Mason was 20-5 headed into Bracketbuster weekend against Wichita St. George Mason won against Wichita, but then lost to Hofstra and won against James Madison to finish the CAA regular season 22-6. George Mason tied for first in the CAA with North Carolina-Wilmington, but due to the tie-breaker got the 2nd seed in the CAA Tournament. George Mason lost to Hofstra in the semi-finals of the CAA Tournament. UNC-Wilimington ended up winning the conference tournament and getting the CAA automatic entry to the NCAA tournament. The CAA was rated 12th in conference RPI.
George Mason’s other losses that season headed into the conference tournament were to (KenPom rankings):
- Wake Forest (76)–Finished 17-17 and went to the NIT
- Creighton (59)–Creighton went to the NIT that year
- Mississippi St. (98)–Finished 15-15, no postseason
- Old Dominion (73)-Conference Foe, went to NIT
- UNC-Wilimington (30)-Conference champion and tournament champion. Lost in first round NCAA against George Washington
- Hofstra-twice (61)— Finished 3rd in conference. GM lost to them at end of season and in 2nd round of conference tourney. Went to NIT
Many thought that with George Mason’s troubles with Hofstra at the end of the season that Hofstra might get in as an At-Large if they took two from the CAA, but then when Mason was selected, many did not understand why. Then we saw what happened…
OK, so lets go back to today and where Creighton is at. They are currently 21-6, and currently they are 2nd in Valley with a chance yet to tie or overtake Northern Iowa for the MVC regular season championship. The Valley is currently 10th in confernce RPI.
Then we take a look at Creighton’s losses:
- Arkansas-Little Rock (152)–Currently 19-6 and 1st in the Sun Belt West division. If they don’t make the NCAA, definitely an NIT team.
- Nebraska (63)–Middle of the pack in the Big 12 at this point. Could make NIT
- Northern Iowa (91)–1st in the conference
- Illinois St. (79)–could finish 3rd in the conference
- Wichita St. (154)--Conference foe on a roll right now and could still finish strong
- Drake (160)–Probably the worst loss at this point
So the losses almost matchup like this:
- Arkansas-Little Rock (Creighton) vs. Creighton (GM)
- Nebraska (Creighton) vs. Wake Forest (GM)
- Northern Iowa (Creighton) vs. UNC-Wilmington (GM)
- Illinois St. (Creighton) vs. Hofstra (GM)
- Wichita St. (Creighton) vs. Old Dominion (GM)
- Drake (Creighton) vs. Mississippi St. (GM)
To me, these almost matchup way to well. So this is probably what needs to happen to have the Jays get At-Large consideration:
- Win vs. Evansville on Tuesday
- Win the Bracketbuster vs. George Mason on Saturday
- Win @ Missouri St. the following week
- Win or Lose against Illinois St. the following week (I can’t imagine losing at home on Senior day, but you never know)
- Get to Semi-Finals or finals (Finals if they lost to Illinois St. the week before) of MVC tournament, but UNI must win the tournament.
Creighton would end up finishing somewhere around 26-8 or as good as 28-6 and almost better than George Mason’s 23-7 that got them into the NCAA tournament in ’05-06.
Now you might say, it was George Mason’s total work that got them into the tournament. Honestly, George Mason didn’t really beat anyone of significance during their non-conference season and their best non-conference win was against Wichita St. in the Bracketbuster. That was their only win against a non-conference opponent in the top 100. That win was probably the single thing that got them in for At-Large consideration.
On the other hand, Creighton has wins against Dayton, New Mexico and St. Joseph which are in the KenPom top 100.
I find it ironic that on Saturday, the Jays will take on George Mason. The similarities of the situation George Mason was in a few seasons ago eerily apply today to Creighton. Maybe a win this season in the Bracketbuster will be the springboard to have them looked at as an At-Large and the Bracketbuster actually benefit Creighton. But of course if they win out, then there is nothing to worry about.