Sunday, March 16, 2003

Good seeding likely for XU


A-10 loss shouldn't affect NCAA spot

By Dustin Dow
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Xavier didn't look very good in an Atlantic 10 semifinal loss to Temple Friday, but the Musketeers' chances for a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament still look strong.

Xavier (25-5) is competing with the likes of Florida, Pittsburgh, Marquette, Illinois, Syracuse and Duke for one of the four No. 3 seeds, which play 14th seeds in the first round. All those teams except Illinois, Pittsburgh and Duke lost before the final round of their respective conference tournaments.

Xavier won 16 consecutive games and moved up to No. 10 in the nation before playing one of its worst offensive games of the season in 63-57 loss to Temple Friday in Dayton.

"Temple played great," said Xavier coach Thad Matta. "That's all part of it. It's March Madness at its finest."

Now the Musketeers coaches and players must wait until 6 p.m. today to see what effect that game had on the selection committee's seeding of Xavier.

"Most likely they're still a three seed," said Jerry Palm, a seeding expert who runs Collegerpi.com and has correctly predicted all 34 at-large teams each of the last two years. "Friday's loss didn't hurt them too much, except instead of having a chance at a two seed, now they're a three, and the committee could make a four out of them depending on what they do with Illinois and Duke."

Palm said teams traditionally do not lose or gain seeds based on conference tournament performances unless a team that would not be in the NCAA Tournament wins its league title.

"It's really just another game," he said. "It's not like you'll lose three seeds. If Xavier ends up with a four or five seed, its because they were already seeded like that before they lost to Temple."

Palm had Xavier seeded third, along with Florida, Marquette and Illinois, in his projected bracket on Saturday. He had Pittsburgh and Syracuse, both from the Big East, getting a No. 2 seed and Duke a No. 4.

Xavier's strongest argument for a No. 3 seed rests on the Musketeers' impressive end to the regular season, in which Xavier won its last 15 games - including all eight of its A-10 road games. Because no team plays at home in the NCAA Tournament, the committee values road wins ahead of a team's performance at home. Overall, Xavier is 10-2 on the road, the best of any team hoping for a No. 3 seed, and 1-2 on neutral courts. Its best road win came at Dayton Feb. 22. The Flyers, who the Musketeers beat twice this season, are No. 13 in the Ratings Percentage Index.

Duke went 4-6 on the road, with its best win coming at Georgia Tech, No. 75 in the RPI. Illinois went 3-6 on the road.

The Musketeers are hurt most by strength of schedule. Xavier's RPI is No. 18 but the Musketeers have the weakest schedule of the teams competing for a three seed, 70th in the nation. Pittsburgh's isn't much better at No. 64, and Illinois' is No. 56.

Xavier has never been better than a No. 6 seed. Last season Xavier won the A-10 regular-season and conference tournament titles, and went into the NCAA Tournament with the same 25-5 record but received a No. 7 seed largely because of the Musketeers' schedule strength, which was 78th. Xavier defeated No. 10 seed Hawaii in the first round but lost to Final Four-bound Oklahoma in the second.

But Xavier has more going for it this season, including a year-long national ranking and the benefit of playing in the Atlantic 10, where three teams were ranked by season's end. Last year, Xavier was the only NCAA Tournament team from the A-10.

XU's competition for a No. 3 seed

Team Record Best win Worst loss RPI SOS Last 10
Xavier 25-5 DaytonRichmond 18 70 9-1
Duke 22-6 W. Forest Florida St. 12 33 7-3
Florida 24-7 Kansas W. Virginia 14 28 6-4
Pittsburgh 25-4 Syracuse Seton Hall 11 64 9-1
Illinois 23-6 Missouri Iowa 22 56 7-3
Marquette 23-5 W. Forest E. Carolina 9 36 8-2
Syracuse 24-5 Pittsburgh Rutgers 8 37 8-2

---

E-mail ddow@enquirer.com




REDS / BASEBALL
Injuries slow down RHP Wilson
Bottom of the 9th, but the big job's done
Reds 6, Twins 1
Hamilton grateful, now a Cardinal
Dempster keeps coming up aces
Reds Q&A
Reality bites players bound for minors
Cardinals expecting to be grand in Central
Robinson: Minorities have a long way to go
Trammell asks Sparky for guidance
A's say they won't re-sign Tejada

BENGALS / NFL
Daugherty: Bengals' perception
Bengals Q&A
Douglas will make impact on Jaguars

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
UC confident bid will come
Good seeding likely for XU
XU rifle team 2nd
Kentucky thumps Auburn
Daniels' scary fall gives fans pause
SEC: Mississippi State 76, LSU 61
This is how to win your office pool
College basketball today
Teams can get Dance Card punched here
Atlantic 10: Dayton stops Temple
Big East: Pitt wins title
Big 10: Illinois withstands Coverdale's heroics
C-USA: Cardinals win first title
MAC: Central Michigan blows past Kent
Top 25: Missouri exacts revenge on No. 4 Kansas
Tournaments at a glance

PREP SPORTS
Spartans' repeat hopes fizzle
Moeller turns Hamilton blue
Regina easily wins fourth straight title
Prep Insider: State titles on the line

GOLF
Love in control at Honda
Greater depth on PGA Tour astounds veterans

HOCKEY
AHL Ducks set playoff roster

HORSE RACING
Empire Maker takes Florida Derby by record margin

NBA
Hawks' bench packs powerful 1-2 punch
Kemp overcame demons to salvage career
Stackhouse may test the market
Wizards turn up defensive heat to douse Miami

COLLEGE SPORTS
Baseball: Xavier overcomes its early struggles

PAGE TWO
Back by popular demand
Enquirer Page Two Power rankings

PLAN YOUR DAY
This weekend's sports on TV, radio

Return to Xavier front page...

Mail This Story (Click here) Send this story to a friend.