Editor's note: Charlie Creme will project the 2007 NCAA Tournament bracket right up to Selection Monday in March. Here, he responds to questions about his most recent bracket.
How is it that Maryland, North Carolina and Duke are considered the country's women's basketball elite, when the three teams combine to play a cottonball schedule? Tennessee always has the toughest conference and nonconference schedule, but that does not seem to mean much anymore. UNC plays Division II-like teams such as UNC-Wilmington and wins by 50 points plus. So does that make the Tar Heels one of the elite teams in the country?
I'm not sure if you got a look at Duke's schedule last week. Playing Rutgers, Vanderbilt and Texas within a seven-day span is not a "cottonball" group. There's no question Tennessee plays the nation's best schedule year in and year out, but North Carolina handled that same Tennessee team you mention fairly convincingly. Maryland happens to be the defending national champions and has everyone back. Are those good enough reasons why those three teams might be considered among the country's best? And just to clarify, UNC-Wilmington is very much a Division I team and a proud member of the Colonial Athletic Association, perhaps the nation's best mid-major league this season.
Oh, please! An undefeated Pittsburgh team should be a No. 1 seed -- and since you yourself say last year never matters come tourney selection time, there is no way the ACC should have three 1-seeds! Also, undefeated UConn should be a 1-seed and undefeated Louisville should be higher than a 4-seed -- and Notre Dame should be in. The Irish beat Purdue and Bowling Green -- and have a winning record! The lack of respect the media has for the Big East has gotten way beyond being old! Also, almost everyone is sick and tired of the media kissing up to the ACC and SEC every year!
I'm responding to this letter simply to illustrate to the rest of the readers all that I get. If I'm not biased in one direction, I'm biased in another which actually demonstrates how unbiased I truly am. Now, to Clayton's points: I think we can dismiss the idea of Pittsburgh being a No. 1 seed as absurd at this point. I like the Panthers, but even the most devoted (yet reasonable) Big East fans would acknowledge that Pittsburgh is not in the same class as Maryland, North Carolina, Tennessee, Duke, Oklahoma, etc.
Do you guys even know about the Mountain West??? New Mexico is emerging right now as a big player in women's ball and yet still all we see is Big 12 and ACC. Even the Sun Belt got a mention!!!! Seriously, I know we might seem a lowly conference, but we have had some fairly good runs in the tournament. New Mexico this year and a couple others deserve some hype, too!!!! The Lobos did just knock off UCLA -- even though, as you say, "it does not go too far."
Perhaps a reading comprehension refresher course is in order. Sure, the Sun Belt got a "mention" in the most recent bracketology because Western Kentucky and Middle Tennessee made the field. But the Mountain West also got more than equal time. New Mexico was in the projection, joined by BYU and TCU. Wyoming and Utah might also be in the mix as the season wears on.
Do you think the Pitt Panthers will get into the tournament, and do you think they will get to play in front of the home fans?
Pittsburgh is a rising program. I expect that the Panthers will take that next step this season and make the tournament. If that does happen, yes, Pittsburgh will be hosting first-, and perhaps, second-round games in the Petersen Events Center. An upset of Duke or a finish in the top-five in the Big East regular season would be the best way to catch the attention of committee members and get into the routine tourney conversation.
Will UConn ever be seeded outside the Hartford bracket?
As the host of the Hartford sub-regional, Connecticut will have to play its first two games in the Hartford Civic Center, assuming the Huskies make the NCAA Tournament. Does anyone think that assumption is going too far out on a limb?
With obvious attention being given the three ACC powers, when is Florida State going to start getting some national attention and some respect? The Seminoles finished fourth behind three Final Four teams and have gotten off to a 10-1 record with a young and athletic team. What Sue Semrau has done in Tallahassee deserves much more recognition.
Florida State does have a very good team that is fun to watch, but I'm not sure what you are looking for, Dave. What recognition is lacking? The Seminoles are ranked in one poll and just outside in another. They received a sixth seed in the NCAA Tournament each of the last two years. However, if you don't think that is good enough, the solution would be to win more than one game in the NCAA Tournament. Teams who make the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight are more often the topic of conversation. When FSU has more success in March, it will get more publicity.
I saw the Oklahoma Sooners take on South Carolina last week. I checked out their schedule and saw they are playing next to no ranked teams this year, but they are still receiving a No. 3 ranking. Do you think they deserve it when a team like Tennessee plays so many ranked opponents -- and stay at No. 5? Should Tennessee be ranked as one of the top seeds in your opinion?
I think Oklahoma is very deserving and I think you might want to re-examine your analysis of the schedule. Sure, Tennessee's is better, but the Lady Vols' schedule is better than everybody's. The Lady Vols are also very good and should contend for a No. 1 seed all season, but that doesn't mean the Sooners aren't worthy. Oklahoma has already soundly beaten DePaul, which is a likely tournament team, and UCLA, a definite seasonlong contender for a postseason spot. The Sooners also host Ohio State next week. I also don't think fans of New Mexico, Baylor, Texas and Texas A&M would appreciate your dismissal.
Why not Iowa State?? This team is 15 in the RPI right now.
Questions abound about Iowa State and the Cyclones' exclusion from the field. The 7-1 start is worth a certain level of excitement in Ames. However, none of those seven wins are that significant. Winning at Iowa and beating Minnesota by 10 are decent, but not good enough at this point to get the Cyclones in the field. The rest of the pre-Big 12 schedule is just as lacking, so if Iowa State wants to hear its name called on March 12, some damage needs to be done in the conference.
P.S. You can forget the RPI in December. It's a whisker away from meaningless. Eight games are not enough of a sample to make the numbers worthwhile.
Charlie Creme can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.