Monday, March 09, 2009

Spartans' One-Seed Hopes Hinge On Big Ten's Reputation

Michigan State as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament will be predicated on two factors.
The Spartans, obviously, must win the Big Ten Tournament. It also depends on how much validity the selection committee gives the Big Ten.
The conference has been taking a beating annually in the Big Ten-ACC challenge. Its performance in the NCAA Tournament has been spotty in recent years.
That doesn’t help MSU’s cause. It was early in the season, when the Spartans were floundering without Goran Suton, but they were blown out by both North Carolina and Maryland. That doesn’t help, either.
State is ranked in the Top 10 nationally, and has been for much of the season, but only two other Big Ten teams are ranked in the Top 25 - Purdue and Illinois. Both are way down the list - and justifiably so.
The Big East and ACC are just stronger conferences overall. The Pac 10, honestly, is underrated, but there is no clear-cut best team that has emerged. The Big 12 remains formidable, but the Spartans got their marquee non-conference victories over Texas and Kansas.
Where, honestly, does the Big Ten rate these days?
State could certainly make a claim ahead of Memphis. The Big Ten is definitely stronger than Conference USA. Then again, weren’t the Spartans embarrassingly run out of the gym by the Tigers in last year’s NCAAs?
I do feel this about Michigan State: The Spartans chances of reaching the Final Four are as good as any team - regardless the conference.
Tom Izzo has done an excellent job of molding this team into his imagine. The Spartans play extremely hard. They rebound especially well. They are exceptionally scrappy.
If the Spartans run the table in the Big Ten Tournament, I can’t see how they don’t deserve a No. 1 seed.
Whether they actually get it or not will then depend on how much Big Ten titles are worth these days.

Random Thoughts

- The Red Wings played poorly defensively Saturday night against Columbus, but Chris Osgood’s performance wasn’t good. Seven goals? That’s not getting it done. It was definitely a step back for him - and the Red Wings. It is looking more and more like it will Ty Conklin or bust come playoff time.

- If Michigan wins a game in the Big Ten Tournament, the Wolverines belong in the NCAA Tournament. They beat Duke and UCLA. They won at Minnesota with a lot on the line in their regular season finale. Those are meaningful victories that can’t be ignored.

- I don’t why, but it made me laugh the other night watching the World Baseball Classic. It was Venezuela vs. Italy and they were pitching around Nick Punto - one of the best hitters on the Italian team. I also got a chuckle out of seeing Carlos Guillen take Jason Grilli deep.

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6 Comments:

Anonymous Deano said...

Pat,

What really bugs me about Osgood is that he rarely takes the blame for bad games like Saturday. Reading his quotes in the Sunday paper, it was all about giveaways and how bad the team played in front of him. What about the 3 or 4 goals that were very stoppable?

6:14 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Osgood is back to his 1999 self. The defensive scheme only works if the offense is free for breakout movement. They are not free if they have to relieve the defense in their own zone. If you see Pavel behind Osgood at full strength we are in trouble. Give up Hossa and Franzen and sign Steve Mason in the off season. In the playoffs, watch for Calgary to surround our offensemen in our defensive zone. We may stagnate and fall apart. Fillpula and Maltby are not helpful coach! Where is Chelios to reduce Kronwall's ice time?

7:29 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Deano,
I think, as odd as it may seem, he is struggling to explain it and his confidence. The way he has played is not good and he knows it, but also wants to retain the belief he has done it before.
Caputo

5:35 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Anonymous,
There is no question they have not spent nearly as much on goaltending as their rivals. It is something that could hurt them a great deal if they don't shore it up during the playoffs.
Caputo

5:36 PM 
Blogger jpjgoblu said...

Pat - I'm hoping you can get this idea into the hands of the NCAA. I would propose that the selection committee rank the top 65 teams before the conference tournaments. Then, when a team outside the top 65 wins a conference tournament, the lowest ranked team from that same conference is eliminated from the tournament field. This will prevent conferences such as the SEC and PAC-10 this year who stole spots from deserving at large teams. While I'm not suggesting a conference would intentionally have a lower team win, it is a big deal for conferences to get as many teams in as possible. I see the financial reasons for having these tournaments, but it seems bad to allow a team that has been poor all year to get hot for 3 games and to go to the tournament.

8:56 PM 
Blogger jpjgoblu said...

Pat - hope you can get this idea to the NCAA. I propose that the 65 teams be ranked by the selection committee before the conference tournaments, and then if a team that would not be in the top 65 wins a conference tournament, the lowest ranked team from that conference is eliminated from the tournament. While I understand the financial reasons for the conference tournaments, it seems bad that a team that has played poorly all year can get hot (or opponents play poorly) for 3-4 games and knock out a deserving team from another conference.

9:01 PM 

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