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(Image credit: The Original Bracketology Blog)

I know, I know, it's a wee bit early to think about brackets already when neither the men or the women have played a single game in the Patriot League tournament.  But it's March, it's officially when the Madness starts to take hold, and - well - people are talking about it.  (more)

Start with the Lady Hawks, who probably should have earned the nation's respect with a school-record 26 regular-season wins and with only one loss outside the RPI Top 100 (in overtime, on the road, vs. American).  Where does ESPN's bracketology have them?  Try a 14 seed, facing Xavier basically on their home court in Cincinnati.  While I would like a higher seed for the Lady Hawks, the thought of them putting their unbeaten record against the Atlantic 10 on the line in the tournament - they've already beaten St. Joe's, LaSalle and Duquesne this year - is intriguing.

But that's not half the disrespect Lehigh's getting in the bracket department.

Both Bracketology 101 and ESPN are assigning Lehigh the dreaded play-in game versus Jackson State - which would be played in Dayton, Ohio the Tuesday after the Patriot League championship, should the Mountain Hawks make the Big Dance.

There is one notable voice that disagrees: John "The Last Amateurs" Feinstein, on his blog today:

When Mike Brey was coaching at Delaware he often said that winning The America East Tournament was the equivalent of getting to The Final Four for Duke—which was where he had coached prior to moving to Delaware. “And winning a game in the NCAA Tournament is like winning the national championship,” he added.

The real one bid leagues are the one where no one even discusses an at-large bid, where the committee has already penciled the champion in as a No. 15 or No. 16 seed most years. Of course there can be exceptions going in either direction. In 2006, coming off a first round upset a year earlier over Kansas, Bucknell came out of The Patriot League as a No. 9 seed—and promptly lived up to it by beating Arkansas. This year, the opposite is true in the league. The only conference team likely to avoid being sent to the dreaded play-in game in Dayton is top-seeded Lehigh. Anyone else wins the PL Tournament—which begins tomorrow but doesn’t end until March 12th because of (you guessed it) television—and they’re probably headed for Dayton. At the moment that teams cuts the nets down though, it won’t be thinking about Dayton. It will be nothing but pure joy.
He's right.  First of all, Lehigh is a team that could make a first round opponent cry - they have their vulnerabilities, but they are not a 16 seed.  (The Mountain Hawks are also a team that could certainly lose against Army tomorrow, like they've done for the last three years running.) 

Second, he knows that teams will fall that are currently sitting ahead of the Mountain Hawks should they make the tournament - UNC-Asheville winning the Big South tournament, say - and they'll be shuffled to the back of the line to play-in game territory.  Upsets happen in these conference tournaments, and should benefit the Mountain Hawks (as long as they don't happen in the Patriot League tournament.)

Quite frankly, it's a bit strange for me to be looking at bracketology before a single game has tipped off in either tournament.  (I hope I'm not cursing them.)  But on the other hand, it's nice to actually look at bracketologies and see, for a change, Lehigh on the screen.  Let's hope it's not like seeing Halley's Comet or something.


lu65 said…
Chuck, perhaps your readers would like to read this post I offered- up on the LU Sports Message Board yesterday....

At this time of year - days before Selection Sunday - many fans flock to ESPN's Bracketology to see what one man's opinions are concerning who will play who and where they will play come the start of the NCAAs. Alright, maybe it's a committee of people but nonetheless is nothing more than a WAG. Below I have listed the 16 and 15 seeds as posted on Bracketology (3/1/09).

Two Questions:

1. Should Lehigh prevail, do they deserve a fate better than a "Play-in" game against Jackson State?

Why not Quinnipiac - a team we beat and a team that plays out of a conference one step below the PL?

Why not Lipscomb - a 12 loss team with a weaker RPI and only a slightly better conference RPI?

Travel considerations.....not much to chose from.

Bethlehem, PA (Lehigh) to Dayton
Nashville, TN (Lipscomb) to Dayton
Hamden, CT (Quinnipiac) to Dayton

2. Should Lehigh not win its tournament, do any of the other teams in the PL deserve a 16 bid of its own or is it "Play-in" time for them, as well?

First the PL RPIs

LU 169
LC 216
BU 246
Army 248
Navy 260
CU 284
HC 285
AU 295

The Play-In Game ... March 16th @ UD Arena, Dayton (OH). Winner to get Syracuse in Round One at the Buffalo site on March 18th

Lehigh (19-10, 10-4) - 169 - Patriot - 28


Jackson State (16-11, 15-1) - 209 - Southwestern Athletic - 31

The 16 Seeds - their record - their RPI - their conference - their conference RPI

Quinnipiac (21-8, 13-3) - 143 - NE - 29 vs. Kansas

Lipscomb (16-12, 14-6) - 196 - Atlantic Sun - 25 vs. Duke

Stony Brook (20-8, 13-3) - 129 - America East - 24 vs. Kentucky

The 15 Seeds - their record - their RPI - their conference - their conference RPI

UC Santa Barbara (16-9, 11-4) - 106 - Big West - 19

Troy (15-11, 13-5) - 120 - Sun Belt - 22

Coastal Carolina (22-5, 15-3) -121 - Big South - 27

Morgan State (23-9, 14-1) - 108 - Mid-Eastern - 30
Anonymous said…
A Lehigh media member prognosticating about the Hawks' NCAA tournament hopes and projections before the final siren? Oh, where and when have we seen this before? Murray H. Goodman 2005?


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