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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, March 17, 2014 at 7:00 PM

Just hours ago CBS was announcing the convoluted and confusing brackets for the 2014 NCAA Tournament. And, now it’s time to set the fuse and light the fire with a doubleheader in Dayton matching Mt. St. Mary’s vs. Albany for the right to get throttled by Florida in the first round, and then Iowa vs. Tennessee in a game matching what respected computers would call #5 or #6 seeds rather than #11 seeds.

Let’s run through the numbers for both teams on the Tuesday ticket. Then, we’ll come back tomorrow to do the same thng for Cal Poly vs. Texas Southern and NC State vs. Xavier as the early Dancing in Dayton continues.

 

6:40 p.m. ET: Mt. St. Mary’s vs. Albany

Vegas Line: Albany by 2.5, total of 141.5

Most fans don’t know much if anything about these teams. The markets are showing Albany as slightly better, which is consistent with what college basketball guru Ken Pomeroy and USA Today math whiz Jeff Sagarin are showing.

 

Computer Rankings

Mt. St. Mary’s: #190 in Pomeroy, #214 in Sagarin

Albany, NY: #177 in Pomeroy, #193 in Sagarin

Albany is slightly better…though the margin for error would suggest more of a coin flip from Pomeroy. Let’s get a better sense of the strengths and weaknesses for the two squads.

 

Pomeroy’s Offensive and Defensive Ranks (Adjusted for Pace/Schedule)

Mt. St. Mary’s: #95 on offense, #287 on defense

Albany, NY: #225 on offense, #143 on defense

You can see that Mt. St. Mary’s is much better on offense. And, frankly, they have a HORRIBLE defense. That may not be too big a problem here though because Albany is poor on offense. We should not that these teams play extremely different tempos. Mt. St. Mary’s is lighting fast, #31 in Pomeroy’s speed rankings. Albany is slow as molasses with a #313 ranking. Amazingly, Mt. St. Mary’s plays very fast while also not guarding anybody, while Albany works the ball slowly for shots they can’t make. How did these teams get into the Dance? Hard to see either being competitive with Florida Thursday in Orlando.

 

9:10 p.m. ET: NC State vs. Xavier

Vegas Line: Xavier by 2.5, total of 142

NC State was a controversial selection for the Dance, seeing as no respected computer had them anywhere near the tournament. Credit the outdated RPI used by the committee for that error…and possibly lobbying from Coach K of Duke, who wanted people to be more impressed with his win over NC State than he should have been. These were the last two teams into the brackets. The markets are saying NC State is 2.5 points worse than the second-to-last team to qualify.

 

Computer Rankings

NC State: #66 in Pomeroy, #70 in Sagarin

Xavier: #42 in Pomeroy, #44 in Sagarin

You can see the scandal there. Xavier is properly rated as a #11 seed according to the computers. But, excluded SMU was actually ranked in the 30’s! The computers are saying that NC State probably would have been about a #4 or #5 seed in an NIT regional…not one of the top 10 teams in that lesser event.

 

Pomeroy’s Offensive and Defensive Ranks (Adjusted for Pace/Schedule)

NC State: #28 on offense, #144 on defense

Xavier: #37 on offense, #69 on defense

The Wolfpack do have an elite offense though. Maybe a superstar can carry them past this Tuesday play-in, and even past overseeded Saint Louis in the next round. Remember, this is a 12-12 game, and the 12-5 rung in the brackets usually sees at least one seedings upset. Xavier brings the better defense onto the floor tonight. State may be so tired of all the media whining that they might bring a meaningful chip on their shoulder to proceedings.

If you’re wondering about pace…these teams are virtual clones of each other in that regard, playing fractionally below average in tempo.

Tuesday’s college basketball schedule is actually LOADED because the NIT and lesser events are also getting under way. JIM HURLEY will be looking over the whole card…particularly the two games in Dayton plus Vermont/Georgia, and LSU/San Francisco in the NIT. You can purchase the final word here at the website Tuesday with your credit card. If you have any questions, call our handicapping office during normal business hours at 1-888-777-4155.

We’ve been waiting for weeks. THE NCAA TOURNAMENT IS FINALLY HERE! Be sure you GET ALL THE MONEY from the opening tip of tonight’s debut to the final buzzer of championship night in early April with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!

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