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NCAA Brackets 2011: Joe Lunardi and the Bracketologists Struggled

The NCAA tournament committee is just screwing with Seth Greenberg now, right? Virginia Tech, thought to be a lock for the NCAA tournament, was snubbed again. Earlier Sunday, we took a look at the media bracket predictions, and all the pundits had Virginia Tech and Colorado in. The committee had other ideas. Both teams missed out, and were replaced by UAB and VCU. Jay Bilas at ESPN had a hilarious reaction: “Harvard has as good a case, if not better, as UAB and VCU.”

He’s right, of course. UAB’s inclusion is a joke. The Blazers’ best win? Arkansas. Their resume is laughable. Bilas: “These were bad decisions. Indefensible.” UAB has one RPI top 50 win. Colorado had six. But life goes on. Next year, Colorado’s non-conference strength of schedule hopefully will be better than 325.

It’s almost as if the expansion of the tournament hurt the high majors. Would it have looked bad for an ACC team and a Big 12 team to get in over two mid-majors? Perhaps. Except that UAB and VCU don’t have good resumes. Harvard would have made more sense.

But back to the pundits. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi had his worst year since we began intently tracking his picks in 2009. For the third year in a row, he missed nailing the field, despite this being the only thing he focuses on at ESPN all year. He had Virginia Tech, St. Mary’s and Colorado in. While 65-out-of-68 would be a score to cheer about on a math test … it’s not very good here.

Clearly, the first year of the tournament’s expansion hurt Lunardi (though, to be fair, no media prognosticator correctly nailed the field). Then again, we’re talking about a guy who had Michigan State vs. Gonzaga in the title game back in his November preseason predictions. While everyone had Michigan State highly-rated in the preseason, they are seeded 10 and 11, respectively.

 

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