Thursday, March 8, 2012

Where Will Montana Get Seeded?

It seems a lot of Montana fans are hoping for a seed similar to 2006, when the Grizzlies were the number 12 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem likely. Here is how some draft pundits are projecting them:

Joe Lunardi of ESPN has them as a 15 playing Missouri.
Jerry Palm of CBS Sports has them as a 14 playing Baylor.
Andy Bottoms of Fox Sports has them as a 15 playing Duke.

Factors helping Montana:
- They beat Long Beach State and Weber State (twice) – Long Beach State likely needs to win their conference tournament to make the Big Dance, but nobody disputes that they are a quality team. Montana beat them 73-71 in Dahlberg Arena. Weber State is another team that obviously is not going to make the NCAA Tournament, but they are a team with a decent RPI, and beating them twice will be a nice plus on their resume.
- They enter the tournament on a hot streak – As much as this matters (which is hard to say), you can’t be sitting much better than Montana is right now. They have won 14 straight games, 20 of 21, and won the conference championship by 19 points over the second best team. They will enter the tournament playing great, great basketball.

Factors hurting Montana:
- The weakness of the Big Sky – Other than the Grizzlies and Weber State, it was a weak year for the Big Sky. They finished 25 out of 33 conferences in RPI, and 27th among conference according to Ken Pomeroy. There was a dearth of quality non-conference wins outside of the conference, and they didn’t help themselves during Bracket Busters either (where the conference went 3-6). It was not a banner year for the Big Sky.
- They lost to North Dakota – All of their other losses are defensible, but this one will be hard to swallow. UND was supposed to take a step forward and be a really quality team this year, but that didn’t really happen. That’s the one really bad loss on their resume.
- They lack quality road wins – They were right in the game against Colorado State to start the year, but fell short. They got pounded by Oregon State on the road. Their best road win is probably Portland State, and while they are a solid team, that is not going to impress the committee. They would feel better if they got at least one quality non-conference road win, or even another quality home win (they lost to Nevada and San Francisco).

It looks like the most likely seed right now is a 15, but if they get some help, 14 is certainly reasonable. They will be a dangerous team for a 2/3 seed to have to take on.

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  1. I wonder if a reading of the Montana / North Dakota Box Score can help with an analysis of the game as played in North Dakota? Granted, Montana lose the game 88 - 81, though the Griz did make 27 FG Attempts to only 23 for ND. Quite the disparity when you glance over the Free Throw Attempts though: 21 - 31 for Montana and 37 - 56 for North Dakota; almost twice as many. Montana having four players (Steward, Cherry, Ward amongst them) with four fouls while Selvig fouled out. That's four starters for Montana with foul trouble. When has that ever happened for Montana elsewhere over the past couple years?
    Of course, that's all "water under the bridge" as they say and could be viewed as sour grapes, etc. But one game out of over thirty played so far isn't that much to weigh an entire season against. Not unless it's the last one.

  2. I don't think that one game is going to kill them or anything like that, but I would feel better about that seed if they hadn't lost that game. Every other less in pretty reasonable, but the committee might look at that one and wonder, especially in conjunction with the fact that they don't have many impressive road wins.

    I didn't have a chance to watch that game, but obviously very bizarre foul discrepancy because you are right, that is not exactly common for Montana. Unfortunately, all anyone in charge will see is that Montana lost to UND, not necessarily that they may have gotten the shaft on some of the calls in the game...