Best Week Ever: January 14-21
We're debuting a new feature this week, recapping the week that was in bracketville. In honor of Danny Green (and get well, Coach Smith), we'll highlight some of the teams that are jumping up and getting down (headed down, anyway).
Southern Cal (out last week; #9 seed this week)
The Trojans' only game of the week saw them take down their in-town rival and move into the CTD field. That gave them a valuable RPI Top 25 win and boosted many of their other attributes (including #44 to #27 in the Sagarin rankings and #31 in the coaches poll). Aside from a bad loss to Mercer in their first game, they've played several potential #1 and #2 seeds close and beat the teams they should have.
As with many teams, conference play will determine their fate: only 3 of their remaining 13 opponents are outside the Pomeroy Top 50. I was surprised to see that despite their inexperience, their adjusted defensive efficiency ranks 7th nationally (through Sunday). Intuition says young teams take longer to grasp defense. If they keep that up, they could be a force in March.
Stanford (#9 seed last week; #6 seed this week)
Speaking of the Trojans' remaining opponents, Stanford swept the Arizona portion of the Pac 10 this week. The Cardinal have (has?) also played stellar defense, ranking 6th nationally in adjusted efficiency. The Pac 10 is ranked first (by average Pomeroy rank), with eight of the ten teams ranked 43rd or better. CTD currently has seven of those (excluding Cal) in the field.
Texas A&M (#4 seed last week; #8 seed this week)
The Big 12 (or is it Big XII?) is the Pomeroy 2nd ranked conference, but one of its better teams had a bad week. The Aggies dropped two conference games by double digits, causing them to fall from 16th to 29th in the CTD S-Curve. At least Billy Gillespie's former team is better off than his current one, which at 7-9 will need to pick it up in SEC play to make the field this year.
Arkansas (#9 seed last week; out this week)
Kentucky's SEC brethren Woo Pig Sooey (who knows how to spell that anyway?) played like slop last week. The 'Backs lost to two teams solidly out of the field, including one at home. Last week they were solidly in the CTD field with >99% confidence (100% confidence means a team's profile completely matches an at-large selection based on the committee's past behavior with teams having similar profiles; 0% means no dice). Those two losses dropped them to 35% confidence, though they're just the fourth team out. A few wins over RPI Top 25 teams (Ole Miss or RPI #1 Tennessee, for example) and they're right back in it.