Saturday, March 14, 2009

Too Much of a Good Thing ... Too Much?

Remember the old saying: "Be careful what you wish for?"

It probably applies pretty well to Siena's hopes for a good seeding position in the NCAA Tournament.

Siena supporters want the Saints to get as favorable a seed as possible.

Conventional wisdom (such as it is concerning anything this speculative) has the Saints getting as good a seeding as a No. 9 (according to ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi) in a 16-team bracket, and a No. 10, 11 or 12 nearly everywhere else.

One of this blogger's favorite sites, and one of the traditionally most-accurate, is Jerry Palm's (, which figures Siena for a No. 11 seed.

But, is better actually better?

Here's another cliche response concerning this situation: A good seed is the proverbial "double-edged sword."

It's understood that a good seed brings recognition and respect.

Does a good seed mean a better chance for a first-round victory?

A resounding "Yes" to that.

Does a good seed mean a good chance for a second-round victory?

A resounding "No" to that.

If a team in Siena's situation wants to win a second tournament game, the evidence is clear that it's easier to do so from a lesser seeded position than a better one.

Let's say Siena is seeded No. 9, as Lunardi currently projects. Lunardi's bracket has Siena matched up with Oklahoma State, coincidentally a team already played (in the Old Spice Classic) and would have beaten had the Saints shot better than 12-of-28 from the foul line that day.

The reward? A second-round match with a No. 1 seed.

Lunardi projects those to be North Carolina, Louisville, Pitt and UConn.

The likelihood of that scenario, though, seems slim here.

This blogger envisions Siena getting a No. 10, 11 or 12 seed.

In either of those spots, the Saints have a "win-able" first-round game. But, the chances of a second-round victory are better if Siena gets a 12 seed than if they do a 10.

At a No. 10, Siena would face a second-round contest against a No. 2 seed.

Here are some likely No. 2 seeds, according to several "mock" brackets: Kansas, Memphis, Michigan State, Duke, Oklahoma and Lousville.

At a No. 11, Siena would face a second-round game against a No. 3 seed, a group that could include: Wake Forest, Syracuse, Villanova, Kansas, Washington, Oklahoma.

At a No. 12, Siena would face a second-round game against a No. 4 seed, a group that could include: Missouri, Xavier, UCLA, Gonzaga.

(NOTE: Siena does have a victory over a No. 3 seed in its history. The 1988-89 team, as a No. 14 seed, knocked off Stanford, a No. 3 seed, in a first-round game.

(Last year's tournament saw Siena, as a No. 13 seed knock off Vanderbilt, a No. 4, in the first round).

The 1989 sceneario, though, shows the benefits of being an overlooked, underrated lower-seeded team. After Siena defeated Stanford, it faced off with Minnesota. The Saints led the contest midway through the second half before ultimately falling, 80-67.

Still, one never knows.

Davidson was a No. 1o seed last season and advanced to the NCAA Tournament's round of eight, earning unlikely victories over Georgetown (a No. 2 seed) in its second-round contest, and Wisconsin (a No. 3 seed) in its third-round game before losing to eventual national champion Kansas.

This blogger knows that most Siena fans are hoping for the best-possible seed, which gives the team a better chance at a first-round victory.

But, being seeded No. 9 or 10 severely lessens the chance of a second-round victory.

It says here that a No. 11 or No. 12 seed would actually be better if Siena hopes to advance beyond a first-round game in the tournament.

In truth, the opportunities for tournament upsets are usually a result of favorable matchups.

Last year, for example, the uptempo, athletic Saints matched favorably with half-court, less-athletic Vanderbit to earn a first-round victory.

Same thing in 1989 when Siena was athletic (Marc Brown, Jeff Robinson, etc.) and Stanford was a team of plodders by comparison.

In 1999, an uptempo Siena team that ranks with any in the program's history was a No. 13 seed. But that squad had the misfortune of a first-round match with Arkansas and its Nolan Richardson-coached "40 Minutes of Hell" style.

Arkansas played the exact same style as Siena, only with bigger, stronger, quicker athletes. The result was a predictable 94-80 Arkansas victory that wasn't anywhere near as close as the final score would indicate.

On the women's side ... this humble blogger won't begin to claim to know enough about how the MAAC's representative, Marist, stacks up against its potential tournament opponents.

Lunardi's mock bracket for women's projects Marist as an No. 11 seed facing off against Notre Dame.

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