looking at the brackets

February 23, 2006 on 12:33 am | In analysis | Comments Off on looking at the brackets

Now that I have a second to sit back and check out the brackets, let’s see what I can come up with. First of all, I talked to several members of the seeding committee about this stuff beforehand, and I know the committee members work very hard to go into the meeting prepared and come out with fair brackets. Props to them, it is no easy task. That said, here are some of my thoughts:

St. John Vianney (6) and Chatham (4) are in my opinion too high. How does St. John Vianney finish seventh in the Gordon Conference and get seeded sixth? If you take their Gordon Conference position and rank Morristown-Beard and Bishop Eustace ahead of them, they should be No. 9. To take a different approach … usually the seeding committee favors head-to-head results over standings. But CBA was 1-0-1 against SJV, including a Feb. 8 win. St. John did beat St. Peter’s Prep twice, but those were in December! The Lancers also lost their last six Gordon games. SJV at No. 6 creates a harsh quarterfinal matchup (Delbarton-CBA, two teams that were a combined 20-for-22 in reaching the semifinals) and a harsh first-round matchup (St. Peter’s Prep-Bishop Eustace) and a relative easy quarterfinal pairing (Pope John-St. John Vianney) for two teams that have a combined one semifinal appearance all-time. Questionable.
As for Chatham at No. 4 … it’s more legit than the SJV ranking. But the fact remains that Bridgewater-Raritan beat Chatham, and Montgomery has earned the right to be ranked ahead of BR. I think Montgomery at 4 (I had them at 3, but 4 would be fine), Bridgewater at 5, and Chatham at 6 would have been more fair – and I’m a guy who hates matching up teams from the same conference! So of the high rankings, Chatham was a bit questionable and St. John Vianney was a lot questionable. The coaches of both teams are on the seeding committee (but usually try not to participate in the placement of their own team.)

The NBIAL got some (deserved) love. The top four NBIAL teams were ranked 10-11-20-21, but three of the four are paired with Northern Conference teams for the first round. I would’ve liked to see a little more geographical diversity, but that’s not a big deal. I was surprised Indian Hills was seeded ahead of Ramapo, considering Ramapo won the league by a game and a half. But, as I mentioned earlier, the committee favors head-to-head results. An eight-spot differential between Ridgewood and Ramsey is tough, but probably necessary due to the glut of competitive teams from 1-20.

At-large bids. By now, you know. Red Bank Catholic, MKA, Middletown South, Paramus, and Morris Hills got at-large bids. Verona is the only team with a real complaint about the process, and I told you two weeks ago somebody deserving was going to be left out. Paramus didn’t make the playoffs in the weakest Red Division but had head-to-head success against Morris Hills, Tenafly, and even Clifton. Verona’s only big win was St. Joseph Metuchen, and the Hillbillies lost to West Orange. Morris Hills played the toughest schedule of the borderline three. Tough call all the way around, but I’m glad the committee supported the maximum of five teams.

Mouth-watering matchups. Don’t think Randolph isn’t already worried about playing Mountain Lakes a third time if they meet in the Round of 16. And a fourth Knolls-Chatham contest in the semifinals could be really enticing. Best possible first-round games: Steinert-Wall, Ridgewood-Fair Lawn, Clifton-Ramsey, Mountain Lakes-Montclair. For the round of 16, almost every game has potential.

The private tournament. Always a different atmosphere than the public tournament because there’s very little early-round drama. For example, Gloucester Catholic should definitely be ahead of Pingry, but it doesn’t really matter, because they don’t stand much of a chance of making the quarterfinals from either spot. I’ve already touched on the matchup that will keep either Delbarton or CBA out of the semifinals. Morristown-Beard could lose in the first round or make the semifinals, they’re that unpredictable. You have to figure Seton Hall Prep against Delbarton or CBA in the private final.

I know that was critical, but I really do think the committee, by and large, did a good job with this year’s field and definitely set things up for an exciting postseason.

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