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The Trouble With Bracketologists and The Siena Challenge

Saturday, February 28, 2009 , Posted by Christopher Byrne at 9:48 AM, under , ,

Athens, GA (Feb 28, 2009) - Here we are, heading into the final couple of weeks before March Madness kicks into high gear. That means we will be seeing more of the much hyped bracketologists on the air and on-line. It may be Joe Lunardi over at ESPN, Jerry Palm over on, and Frank Burlison over on

Frank who? Frank Burlison of course, who has Siena College as a number 8 seed in his bracket. Obviously he has not gotten the news that mid-major teams do not get number 8 seeds. But then again, he did not put Siena and Niagara University in the MEAC, as opposed to the MAAC conference they belong to, as did in a headline this morning:

Herein lies the problem. Unless a school is from a top-tier conference, the media and most of theor bracketologists have no clue what they are saying or writing. If it is a one-bid conference, they just plug in whoever is leading the conference on that given day. They do not do their homework, and it is probably because thier main audience does not really care about these smaller schools and conferences.

Instead, they write about the BCS schools and conferences, as if that should make a difference come selection Sunday. of course, it does because these schools and conferences have enough money from football to support a top-tier basketball program. And for the most part, they can get away with it because if there is a conference tournament upset, it becomes a no harm, no foul situation. If the number one seed in the MEAC, currently Morgan State and not Siena, loss there is no impact. Only one team from the MEAC is going to the show anyway.

But what happens when there are two very good teams in a mid-level conference and the number one seed loses to the number two seed in the conference championship?

This could very well happen this year if Siena (22-7, 15-2 MAAC) and Niagara (23-7, 13-4 MAAC) square of in the MAAC , not MEAC, championship game. Assuming they both win their final games tomorrow, and make it to the finals, you will have two teams with a gaudy 25+ win season.

Siena has a very, very good RPI this year in the the low 20's. If Niagara should pull an upset and wins, does Siena go home to pack for the NIT or do they deserve a NCAA bid? In all fairness, they should, as they played a tremendously tough non-conference schedule. The naysayers will point out that they lost these games to this tough competition, and they let Niagara hang 100 points on them last night.

But they still took on that schedule and played it as it was written. And that includes a 13 point loss to Pitt and a 7 point loss to Kansas.

Niagara will probably not get an invitation to the dance if they do not win the championship game, despite the fact that they would have a 26-8 record. Even though they have an impressive 13-5 road record,the selection game is not played that way.

But if Niagara should pull an upset, what does the commitee do about Siena?

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