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Let’s Talk Seeds February 10, 2013

Seriously, let’s talk NCAA Tournament seeds. This team – this picked 9th in the B1G before the season, holy crap we’re really good, wait, they are who we thought they were team – is probably going dancing.

No, I’m really being serious here. I want to talk about our possible seeds. First, we revisit The Path To Nine Wins:

at Purdue W (-1)
Ohio State L (even)
Minnesota L (even)
at Wisconsin L (even)
Northwestern W (-1)
at Nebraska W (-1)
Michigan L (-1)
at Michigan State L (-1)
Wisconsin W (-2)
Indiana L (-1)
at Minnesota L (even)
Purdue W
at Northwestern W
Penn State W
at Michigan L
Nebraska W
at Iowa W
at Ohio State L

But what have we learned since early January? That eight Big Ten wins locked us in the tournament. And what did we learn after Thursday? That guys like Andy Katz think we’re squarely in the tournament with a 20-13 (7-11) record, given our wins over Butler, and Gonzaga, and Ohio State, and Indiana.

And Minnesota. That’s five, count ‘em, five top-25 RPI wins. Remember, the committee’s #1 thing: WHO did you beat? The RPI isn’t used as a “they’re the 14th best team” thing – it’s used to see what solid teams you beat (or what awful teams you lost to). Right now, we have five – FIVE – wins over the top-18 in the RPI.

Which probably means this: beat Purdue, Penn State, and Nebraska at home, and we dance. That’s it. It’s not a comfortable selection Sunday, especially if we go out in the first round of the BTT. But I have to think that 20-13 is in with these five wins.

Still not convinced? Well, I did some quick research (I can never remember how close Lunardi’s RPI is to the actual RPI, but that’s what I used), and here’s the RPI top-25 wins nationally:

Illinois 5
Kansas 5
Duke 4
Indiana 4
Michigan 4
Miami 3
Arizona 3
Butler 3
Michigan State 3
Wisconsin 3
K-State 3
Pitt 3
New Mexico 3
Everyone else 2 or less.

I just can’t stress enough how important 5 – FIVE – RPI Top-25 wins are. Some team will have two all season and get a 5 seed. And we have five. With only one 100+ loss (Purdue).

OK, fine, Minnesota tanks and is no longer a top-25 RPI team, or we stun absolutely no one and lose to Purdue on Wednesday. Fine, it ain’t over ’til it’s over. But I’m comfortable enough after tonight’s win – OVER #18 MINNESOTA AT MINNESOTA – to talk about seeds. Because it’s highly likely that we’re going dancing.

First, I’ll say that the most likely outcome for the next seven games would be a 4-3 finish. Beat Purdue, Penn State, and Nebraska at home, lose at Michigan and at Ohio State, and then split at Northwestern and at Iowa. 4-3 finish means 8-10 means 21-12 even with a first round BTT tournament loss. That, I’d guess, would be on the 8/9 line. Win a BTT game and maybe sneak a 7 seed. Remember, one bad loss, five great ones. Most will boggle at our seed on Selection Sunday and say things like “they weren’t even .500 in their conference” when it’s announced. Can’t wait.

Best case scenario is probably a 5-2 finish to the Big Ten and two BTT wins (can’t see us winning it, or even making the final, and with a 9-9 finish we’re probably the #7 seed). So best case I’ll say is 24-11. 24-11, .500 in conference, top-10 strength of schedule, two of our five top-25 wins were true road games – I think that could squeak out a six seed. Maybe even something crazy like a five seed. Solidly at least a seven.

Worst case scenario? We just finished a week that saw us beat #1 at home and #18 on the road. I am physically incapable of writing about worst case scenarios right now.

But I will put up my first seed-range chart of the year. Somewhere between our best case scenario and missing the tournament. With this deep Big Ten, I won’t put two Big Ten Tournament wins in any of these scenarios. If we’re that #7 seed, and we beat the #10, we’d have to play #2 (Michigan? Indiana?) in the second round. Not very likely we win that game.

So here we go.

20-13 (7-11 with 0-1 BTT): 12 seed (maybe play-in)
21-13 (7-11 with 1-1 BTT): 11 seed
21-12 (8-10 with 0-1 BTT): 10 seed
22-12 (8-10 with 1-1 BTT): 9 seed
22-11 (9-9 with 0-1 BTT): 8 seed
23-11 (9-9 with 1-1 BTT): 7 seed

I know, I know – way too early to do this. Way too big of a range. 20 wins is a 12 seed but 23 is a 7? Come on, Robert – those are closer to our Big Ten Tournament seed ranges. Yeah, don’t care right now. We just beat #1 and #18. Last second shot at home then a wake-the-dog dagger three on the road. It’s my dance and I can seed if I want to.

One more thing. I’m such a sucker for a redemption story. So with Tyler hitting 4-7 three pointers and DJ hitting 3-5 to lead us to a road victory over #18 Minnesota three days after those same two much-maligned players led us to a home victory over #1 Indiana, I’m absolutely over the moon. Couldn’t be happier for those two guys.

Your turn, Brandon.

illiniranger February 10th, 2013

this team has come alive.
JG made some terrific defensive adjustments on Mbawke. We defended our asses off all night.
we can’t rebound but somehow we fought through and won. this has been an excellent 4 days of fandom.

PittsburghNellie February 10th, 2013

I got a chubby when we double teamed Mbakwe #gayposts

Lou-a-villini February 10th, 2013

Joe John???

bkenny February 10th, 2013

Joe John? He’s too busy writing this on a chalkboard 50 times: “Please lose to Purdue. Please lose to Purdue. Please lose to Purdue.”

Illinigrad February 11th, 2013

Actually Robert, I think you are being too cautious in the seed chart. It we play well and get to 23 wins, I think the seed will be higher, more in the range of 4 or 5, because of the body of work and wins vs. top 20 teams.

illiniranger February 11th, 2013

this team has a remarkable ability to play to the level of its competition, good or bad. i think we still have at least 2 absolute stinkers in us. i think we are more likely to go 7-11 then 8-10.

jdl February 11th, 2013

Unfortunately – as they seem to do every year around this time – Northwestern is now also a 100+ RPI team, so we have 2 “bad losses”. Not sure how much that really impacts our seeding. I tend to think if we can avoid losing another one to PU/NU/PSU/UNL then the committee will look at our 2 stumbles as the outlier and discount them somewhat. But if we do take another hit then I think we’re going to pay a price. We’ll still make it, but the seed won’t be as good as it could be.

IlliNYC February 11th, 2013

If I could take the Lunardi Bracket from last week (11 play in game v. ASU, San Diego State and Syracuse) I’d take it right now.

If we get in (and we could still collapse AGAIN) we’ll get a lot of buzz in the brackets as the bracket buster. We’de be the definition of the team nobody wants to play.

SouthernIllini February 11th, 2013

We knew this after about the first month of the season. Not to toot my own horn, but I mentioned how they would probably throw some head-scratching losses in with some really great wins.

This is a good team. A tough team. Not a great team. Paul really needs to get his head out of his a** if he isn’t struggling with some sort of injury. Hey Brandon! Take a pull-up jumper!!!! The book is out on you trying to fly into the opposing bigs and draw a foul!!!!

But wow! DJ I love you man! And McLovin, PLEASE never take another 3 with time winding down in a 1 point game!!!! I about spit my beer out! I mean ,sure you were shooting 100% from long range this year, but really?!

Again, I’m rambling, sorry Robert! But can I please state again how much I love John Groce in a non-sexual, totally basketball-oriented way?

Robert February 11th, 2013

Jerry Palm has us as a 7-seed this morning, FWIW.

Lou-a-villini February 11th, 2013

Jose Juan???? Bueller? Bueller?

neale stoner February 11th, 2013

Priceless Lou-a-villini. Priceless.

illiniranger February 11th, 2013

Fake Joe John – “Groce is not a good coach. Average at best.”
Me, “I was kind of starting to think that. We were mired in a slump, he kept asking TG to shoot it, and more worrisome, we were still hedging ball screens… HARD. the biggest difference in this game was JG’s adjustment to double team Mbawke with another post player. I see that as pretty good coaching and a great in game decision that was well executed by the team.”
Fake Joe John – “We are really soft inside.”
Me, “We aren’t really soft inside. We are DREADFULLY soft inside. The one negative takeaway I have from this game is that Nnana Egwu had a post up on Eliason early in the second half and had zero, and i mean zero, low post game. Eliason was high on his right side (toward the ft line.) All Nnana had to do was a quick turn to the baseline side and shoot a little 5 ft baby hook. That should be money in the bank. Nnana is so uncomfortable with his back to the basket that he turned TO THE DEFENDER and tried to hoist up some hackneyed jump shot from 8 ft that Eddie Johnson perfectly described as ‘not even targeting the basket.’ I would take two Nnana Egwu’s if I could. Kid plays as consistently hard as anyone on our team. But he shouldn’t be shooting 10,000 jump shots in the summer. He should be practicing 10000 post moves. He has NBA talent, but he won’t maximize it without being able to play in the post. Also, we got outrebounded by roughly 10000. And we only shot I think 3 FTs in the second half. Inability to get offensive boards and hanging out near the 3 pt line = no FT attempts. But we were H-O-T HOT from threepointland. And our defense, except rebounding, was TREE-MENDOUS.”
Fake Joe John – “Tracy Abrams is a middle of the road B1G PG.”
Me – “Tracy Abrams is a middle of the road B1G PG with balls the size of an Atlas stone. I’ll take it.”

GrogsBBQPepperoni February 11th, 2013

BTW, I love that Groce is willing to bench any starter if they are not doing what he demands of his team. And I love that that thing is to play great defense. Sweat through your jersey on defense and you have a starting position.
Oh yeah, and hit some 3s…

BexleyIllini February 11th, 2013

I sure hope there’s a lot of orange for the @NW game. If we take care of business at home (which we should), this could be the make or break game for getting selected to the NCAA tourney.

The double team on Mbakwe was brilliant.

SouthernIllini February 12th, 2013


Something we didn’t see much of from Weber…. in-game strategy adjustments…

I’m glad to see that from Groce for sure!!!

And am I dreaming here, or does McLovin seem to have a pretty fair post game? He throws in a lot of those baby hooks like they’re nothing. I know Egwu’s only been playing organized basketball for something like 5 years, but watch and learn Nanna!

ATOillini February 12th, 2013

I must say that transitioning from titling blog posts “Broken” to “Let’s Talk Seeds” in a 6 day span may have set a speed record from depression to unbridled enthusiasm.