Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 7:30 AM
The Louisville Cardinals find themselves in a very interesting position entering the American Athletic Conference tournament. Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology only has them as a #4 seed in the Big Dance as we write this, even though many respected computers and pundits are currently ranking them as one of the four best teams in the country. Louisville has so many blowout wins that the math says they’re positioned to repeat as National Champions.
Which is it? Are the Cardinals a true superpower (as they looked when crushing SMU and Connecticut last week)? Or, are they this year’s version of last year’s Florida…a team that could run up the score when the treys are falling but can’t be trusted to product on command when needed?
The ACC brackets might give us a chance to answer that. Let’s start with the schedule for the event being played at the FedEx Forum in Memphis.
WEDNESDAY’S FIRST ROUND
Rutgers (7) vs. South Florida (10)
Temple (8) vs. Central Florida (9)
SMU (3) vs. Houston (6)
Louisville (2) vs. the winner of Rutgers/South Florida
Cincinnati (1) vs. the winner of Temple/Central Florida
Connecticut (4) vs. Memphis (5)
Semifinal and final action will be Friday and Saturday. Louisville and Cincinnati were co-champs during the regular season. Cincinnati won a coin flip, giving them the #1 spot in the brackets. That may not be a perk because it put them in the Memphis half of the draw…in Memphis! Louisville could run into revenge-minded SMU in the semifinals…and then is likely to square off with Cincinnati to determine the “true” AAC champion.
Any drama elsewhere in the brackets? Probably not. The co-champs, SMU, UCONN, and Memphis all appear to be safely in the Dance. Some would argue that Lunardi has everyone but the champs rated too highly. Some head-to-head looks will do everyone some good.
Here’s how college basketball guru Ken Pomeroy and USA Today computer whiz Jeff Sagarin had everyone rated entering the new week…
Computer Rankings by Seed
1…Cincinnati: #18 in Pomeroy, #21 in Sagarin
2…Louisville: #2 in Pomeroy, #2 in Sagarin
3…SMU: #26 in Pomeroy, #32 in Sagarin
4…Connecticut: #30 in Pomeroy, #29 in Sagarin
5…Memphis: #38 in Pomeroy, #35 in Sagarin
6…Houston: #137 in Pomeroy, #143 in Sagarin
7…Rutgers: #167 in Pomeroy, #175 in Sagarin
8…Temple: #160 in Pomeroy, #153 in Sagarin
9…Central Florida: #177 in Pomeroy, #166 in Sagarin
10…South Florida: #193 in Pomeroy, #194 in Sagarin
See…these guys have Louisville at #2 in the country rather than down around the range for a #4 seed. They also have the top five teams all clearly in…and the bottom five teams so far out of the mix that it’s hard to even imagine a darkhorse story developing.
Pomeroy’s Adjusted Offensive and Defensive Ranks By Seed
1…Cincinnati: #101 on offense, #7 on defense
2…Louisville: #14 on offense, #6 on defense
3…SMU: #87 on offense, #12 on defense
4…Connecticut: #99 on offense, #11 on defense
5…Memphis: #47 on offense, #50 on defense
6…Houston: #61 on offense, #252 on defense
7…Rutgers: #141 on offense, #215 on defense
8…Temple: #85 on offense, #262 on defense
9…Central Florida: #147 on offense, #223 on defense
10…South Florida: #220 on offense, #157 on defense
Well…this is either a conference with fantastic defenses…or a conference with such horrible offenses that they make good teams look fantastic on defense. We know Louisville is usually legit on that side of the floor. Are Cincinnati, SMU, and UCONN really all top dozen caliber?
Moving to the markets…
Most Underrated ATS
Most Overrated ATS
Central Florida: 6-16-1
South Florida: 11-17
The two worst seeds did the worst against expectations. SMU was a great story this season, reminding everyone how great Larry Brown is as a head coach. That’s something Jim Hurley’s NOTEBOOK has talked about ever since internet coverage began for NETWORK! Did the Mustangs run out of gas last week? Or, is Brown about to surprise the market again in Memphis?
Our LIVING LEGENDS here at VEGAS-SPORTS-MASTERS definitely have some surprises planned for oddsmakers. BIG PLAY BOMBSHELLS are on the way! Be sure you check out our “buy picks” page every session for the latest news from Kelso Sturgeon, Wayne Root, Jim Hurley, Richie Bacciellieri, Tony Salinas, and Fred Wallin. If you’d like to talk to a live person about “rest of season” basketball options, call our handicapping office during normal business hours at 1-888-777-4155. Remember to call in the morning this week given the start times in so many tourneys.
Conference previews are all over the VSM-BLOG. Pick out your favorites or take notes from them all. We did the legwork so you could take out the guesswork! Now get to work with THE BEST PLAYS ON THE BOARD from THE BIGGEST NAMES IN HANDICAPPING!