Selection Sunday Thoughts

Mar 14, 2022

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I'm out of Covid isolation. Spent those 120 hours mostly in the guest bedroom. Now that I've spent 120 hours watching YouTube videos, it's time to re-enter society. The first step, for me: hope for a Friday-Sunday tourney assignment.


The reason I was hoping for that: My symptoms began on Monday night. Thought it was allergies or something. Tuesday was sniffly but it's mid-March I'm always sniffly. But I had a face-to-face interview scheduled for Thursday, so on Wednesday, I figured it best to take a test. Positive for Covid-19.

The current CDC guidelines. 5 days of isolation after the onset of symptoms, and, as long as no symptoms persist, 5 additional days in a mask. And the five days start with your first full day of symptoms (which was Tuesday for me). So isolation Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday-Friday-Saturday. And now mask around others Sunday-Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday. Friday is my fully free and clear day.

(Yes, I'm aware of the additional guidances like "two days beyond symptoms you can return to work in a mask" and such. I'm just saying that to clear my rule-following conscience, I wanted a Friday-Sunday assignment for the weekend because Friday is my Day 11. Illini tourney assignment: Friday and Sunday in Pittsburgh.)

ENOUGH ABOUT ME. Let's talk bracket.

Pardon Me, Boy

Know how I know you're younger than, say, 32? Because when I tweeted "of course it's Chattanooga" you had no idea what I was talking about. Check out some of these responses:

Anyone who watched the 1997 NCAA Tournament would know what I was saying. So there's no way you were old enough to watch the 1997 Tournament. (Also, how do you follow me on Twitter and not think "he must be referencing some loss from the past" here?)

I just... I'll be nice.

"Have a better take" is absolute perfection. I'm not sure I'll be able to describe exactly why, but here goes.

Say it was Austin Peay and not Chattanooga. If we were matched up with Austin Peay and I tweeted "of course it's Austin Peay", you would understand what I was saying. A matchup with the team from the single worst Illini loss of yours or my lifetime? You would take it in its intended "OF COURSE my ex is at this wedding" sense.

Well, for me, Chattanooga is up there with "Austin Peay" or "Loyola". It's a dirty word. Punches me in the gut. I can tell you why without an ounce of research.

In 1997 we were the six seed. We beat USC in the 6/11 game (I listened on the radio in my office, three months into the job that I recently left in February of 2020). And Chattanooga shocked #3 Georgia, which meant that the only thing standing between us and the Sweet Sixteen was the 14-seed.

To make things even crazier, the 2-seed (can't remember who) had lost to the 10-seed (Providence). So our path to the Elite Eight: beat the 11-seed, then the 14-seed, then the 10-seed. God I'm starting to shake just thinking about it.

That 1997 team had really come on that season as Lon Kruger's systems settled in. And Kiwane Garris had climbed all the way up to #2 on the all-time scoring list. This was going to be Kiwane leading us all the way to the Elite Eight, maybe even the Final Four.

Chattanooga 75, Illinois 63

Easily a top-5 early tourney loss for me. Austin Peay and Loyola are still fighting for the top spot, but Chattanooga is probably third. The reason I know that everyone above is too young to remember is because if anyone watched that game, they'd never forget it. We led most of the game and I want to say were up by 8 with ten minutes to go before Chattanooga closed on something like a 22-5 run. It was as WHAT IS HAPPENING SOMEONE DO SOMETHING as any Illini Tournament game I can remember. Everything was fine for the first 32 minutes and then a complete and total collapse.

To make things worse, I remember referencing that game when we played Chattanooga in Springfield during the SFC renovations. We lost that one, too. I don't think we've played them any other time so that would be... 0-2 against Chattanooga in the history of the two teams playing each other?

So when I say "of course it's Chattanooga", that's what I mean. We're going to have to face the demons of 1997. I'm not worried with this experienced team, but man, why does it have to be Chattanooga?

I'm gonna start flinching again when I hear that word.

So Get Up Get, Get Get Down, Bracket Preview Is A Joke In Your Town

I'll try to keep this short (and I will fail).

Several years ago, the NCAA Committee, tired of people not understanding why certain teams were ahead of other teams in the bracket (basically, they wanted to hammer the Quads and conference strength into everyone's brains, not just the rankings), so they added the Bracket Preview. The Committee would get together three weeks out and seed the top four lines. An actual "if the Tournament started today" bracket from the real Committee, slapping down bad brackets which weren't following the Committee's methodology.

Today, it proved itself useless.

I don't say that as some "this Committee is a JOKE" statement. I'm not going to complain about the Illini's seed. I'm going to tell you that the Committee put Illinois ahead of Wisconsin on February 19th and then put Wisconsin ahead of Illinois on March 13th. Which means - and I want you to slow your brain down here so you read this - it means that the bracketologists knew better than the Committee what the Committee was going to eventually do. Their "no, we see it like this" wasn't that at all. They just came around to conventional wisdom.

What a joke.

Here's the quick background (which I wrote about here and here). Wisconsin had a better resume than Illinois on February 19th. Wisconsin had a better resume than Illinois today. Following the numbers and the numbers alone, Wisconsin should have been a 3 and Illinois a 4 both in February and today.

But that's now how they had it. In February, they had Illinois as a 3-seed and Wisconsin as a 4-seed. Why? In the video, the Committee Chair noted that it was "injuries" for Illinois (i.e. the two games Illinois lost while Kofi was out might have been wins). It's the only way you could look at the resumes on February 19th and say that Illinois should be a 3 and Wisconsin a 4. It had to be some external factor that bumped Illinois above Wisconsin. Wisconsin had 9 Quad 1 wins that day and Illinois had 6. Illinois ahead of Wisconsin made no sense. But hey, I'll take it.

That bracket came out that Saturday morning (just before our game at Michigan State). So since that moment - remember, Illinois went from 3 to 4 and Wisconsin went from 4 to 3 - here's what happened for each team:

W at Michigan State (Q1)
L Ohio State (Q1)
W at Michigan (Q1)
W Penn State (Q3)
W Iowa (Q1)
L Indiana (neutral) (Q1)

3-2 vs. Q1
1-0 vs Q3

W Michigan (Q2)
W at Minnesota (Q2)
W at Rutgers (Q2)
W Purdue (Q1)
L Nebraska (Q3)
L Michigan State (neutral) (Q1)

1-1 vs. Q1
3-0 vs. Q2
0-1 vs. Q3

Before you rush to the comments to note that I have Michigan as Q1 under Illinois and Q2 under Wisconsin, quads are based on where you play. A win at Michigan (a top-75 team) is considered Quad 1. A win at home vs. Michigan (has to be a top-30 opponent) is Quad 2.

So here's your timeline.

For whatever reason - Kofi missing 5 games and Belo missing 14 is the best guess - the Committee said that Illinois was a 3-seed and Wisconsin a 4-seed. Both teams go 4-2 from that point forward. Best wins cancel out: for Illinois it was home against #14 Iowa; best win for Wisconsin was #11 Purdue at home. The two Big Ten Tournament losses for the two teams were to #36 MSU and #39 Indiana so those cancel out as well. So that leaves this:

Illinois went 3-1 with a Q1 loss, two Q1 road wins, and a Q3 home win.
Wisconsin went 3-1 with a three Q2 wins and a Q3 home loss.

And those results move Wisconsin 4 places up the S-curve and Illinois 2 places down the S-Curve. If you're going to do that and you're not going to explain why you did that, then just eliminate the Bracket Preview. Three new Q1 wins for Illinois. 1 for Wisconsin. The two losses for Illinois were both Q1. The two losses for Wisconsin were Q1 and Q3.

I feel like I need to emphasize it one more time. Wisconsin should have been ahead of Illinois on February 19th. Wisconsin should have been ahead today. There was some external factor that caused the Committee to place Illinois above Wisconsin on the 19th (the only thing we have to go on is the Committee chair saying "injuries" when talking about Illinois that day), so we had to assume that this external factor still existed today. Illinois had better results from February 19th to today. And Wisconsin moved up 4 spots and Illinois down 2 spots on the S-Curve.

Explain yourself, NCAA Committee. Or just eliminate the Bracket Preview. It's more misleading than it is informative.

(I have much more to say, but I want to publish this. So... Part II later tonight or tomorrow.)


GMAW on March 14, 2022 @ 01:45 AM

The 2 seed in 1997 was Duke.

Altenberger with cheese on March 14, 2022 @ 01:46 AM

I think the #2 who lost was Duke — making the Chattanooga loss that much more painful.

IlliniJedi on March 14, 2022 @ 01:48 AM

It is simple on the seeding. They overvalued Purdue. Wisconsin beat them twice. We lost to the Boilers when they were playing out of their mind vs us. So Purdue gets a 3, Wisconsin matches, we get the 4. The Sweet 16 and Elite 8 are hard games to win no matter who you play.

ATOillini on March 14, 2022 @ 01:57 AM

Just win the damn game. Survive and advance. Then beat the next “why do we have to play them?” opponent.

Good teams win. Let’s just see if that’s who we are. on March 14, 2022 @ 02:13 AM

Definitely agree with you on the inconsistency (and boy did it matter, we missed Milwaukee and Chicago and a much weaker Midwest bracket). The only thing I can think of is maybe the committee, like all of us, expected a healthier, gelling team to look better and play better than they did the last several games. Yes Grandison was hurt but I wonder if the committee was saying Illinois hasn’t touched its potential after Kofi got screwed by the ncaa and Curbelo was hurt. But losing at home and on in the quarterfinal I wonder if we just didn’t get the bump they were expecting us to have. Either way, tough bracket and hope they can finally play up to their potential.

IlliniJoe81 on March 14, 2022 @ 02:29 AM

Didn't we lose some Quad 1 wins that were played before 2/19 in the final weeks? In other words, our existing 2/19 schedule was overvalued so when that came down to earth we lost ground to Wisconsin.

mcbain7 on March 14, 2022 @ 03:33 AM

I’m certainly not on Wisconsin’s side here (I would never), but could the committee have viewed/quasi-voided their loss to Nebraska similar to our loss to Marquette since Davis got hurt during the game

mcbain7 on March 14, 2022 @ 03:33 AM


The Olaf Rules on March 14, 2022 @ 03:44 AM

Seeding doesn’t matter now. Just win baby.

Bear8287 on March 14, 2022 @ 04:47 AM

How old do you have to be to remember all the way back to November 21, 2015 and a game played in Springfield? Considered a "neutral" court game, the final score

Illini: 77, Chattanooga: 81.

The Illini are 0-2 all time against Chattanooga.

I'll still pick the Illini to win this one, but overlook the Mocs and it will be another early exit.

Robert on March 14, 2022 @ 05:25 AM

How many times would you say you’ve done this over the years? At least a dozen times, right? You read the article looking for an omission, you think you find one, you skip the rest of the article to put the omission in the comments, and the thing you’re pointing out was right there in the article.

Bear8287 on March 14, 2022 @ 03:09 PM

:-D, I really don't have the time to read over your articles to look for omissions and thought that the comment was just adding more context.

Sorry if that somehow offends you..

Dman68 on March 14, 2022 @ 05:52 AM

If I had to choose between Loyola or Austin Peay as the most painful upset of Illini's tourney history, I would choose Loyola. Yes, the loss to AP was tough to stomach. But another in-state team, Loyola. who resides in the largest city in the state who we are trying to win over the area high school recruits, media, and fanbase, comes in with Sister Jean, rains on our parade, steels our thunder, and ruin a tremendous season too early (thank you NCAA and your knack for creating storylines). With the AP loss in 87,, at least the 88 team got a little bit of vindication with AP the following season with a W at the Hall. No sign of us being vindicated against the Ramblers anytime soon. Maybe Tuscola's Jalen Quinn who is headed to Loyola next season, can convince the two schools to let him play a homecoming of sorts game with his team against ours at the SF Center.

tvillini on March 14, 2022 @ 04:51 PM

Wasn't there also some nonsense from that '97 game where our locker-rooms were next to each other, and our guys were hootin' and hollerin' about going to the Final Four when we heard Duke had lost, and the Chatt players were all like, "...and I took that personally."?

mrmill on March 15, 2022 @ 01:14 AM

Not to overthink it, but I think the committee was giving us the benefit of the doubt in Feb. We’d been injured, and the thought was we’d be more consistent once we got healthy.

5 games later - we did not. Hello 4 seed.

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