Just some thoughts that are kicking around. We’ll see how this goes.
Why did Humboldt State make it?
Because they received the auto-bid via winning the CCAA tournament.
Would Humboldt have made it without the auto bid?
No. They had no non-conference strength of schedule and lost eight in-conference games.
Why didn’t Alaska-Fairbanks make it?
1. Because they lost in the conference championship game and thus failed to procure the GNAC’s auto-bid.
2. Because while the Nooks were hot to end the season, they had no strength of schedule -something that’s now an official criterium. Strength of schedule largely comes from winning on the road and scheduling tough teams during non-conference. UAF didn’t play a single true road game, and while playing on a neutral court (MSUB) they lost both games to Dixie State and Dominican, respectively. And remember -this was a Dominican team that had a loss to NNU during non-conference. Had Alaska-Fairbanks literally won out in conference play (or gone something like 18-2) they would have had an argument for an at-large berth even without the strength of schedule, but they were competing for an at-large against teams that did have strength of schedule.
Who was the first team out?
In our opinion Dixie State. Dixie State had good strength schedule but lost too many non-conference games. They went 18-5 in conference, same as UAF. That goes to reiterate that even had UAF had strength of schedule, their bubble may have still burst. In non-conference Dixie lost to SFSU, Seattle Pacific, and Sonoma State; while beating Alaska-Fairbanks and MSU-Billings. Say Humboldt doesn’t get the auto-bid, you go back to that UAF/Dixie match-up, and you’d have to go with Dixie. But UAF returns a lot; they’ll have every opportunity for an at-large berth next year.
What do you think about the seedings and the resulting match-ups?
We agree with the match-ups. The seeding was incredibly variable -there were so many good arguments for the teams that made it being in spots 2-7, that we can’t complain at all. What we find hilarious is that while the seedings were variable, the optimal match-ups weren’t. Here’s a graphic that shows as much:
Three different seedings. All the same match-ups. Is it annoying to have the two GNAC teams potentially meeting up in the second round? Sort of, not really. The keyword there is potentially. While we have complete faith in the Wolves, we’re terrified of the Azusa match-up from an SPU perspective. The Falcons haven’t been playing particularly well and the brilliant cohesion we saw during non-conference hasn’t been seen in weeks. We’re incredibly worried.
In no year do seedings truly matter because the West Region is always a mess, but this year especially. Six teams. Toss them into a hat and draw names; that’s your seeding. In the D1 tournament it’s said that if you want to win, you have to beat everybody. On the D2 level that sentiment is on steroids because there are only eight teams and in years like this, it can mean that two could-be Elite Eight level teams meet in the first round. Cal Baptist and Cal Poly Pomona? Absolutely. Both 100% have the talent and skill to make it to the Elite Eight. There’s a 1/8 chance that either team will. Every team in the region this year has shown the ability to be at the level, including Humboldt. It’s going to be such a huge matter of who can get hot at the right time. This year’s GNAC tournament was balls-to-the-wall crazy and we have no idea what to expect out of the West Region. Even knowing the types of blowouts Cal Baptist and Humboldt State managed and the type of blowouts Azusa Pacific and Chico State were subject to, there’s no telling what’s going to happen.
And we love it. Welcome to the effing madness, put your seatbelt on because it’s going to be a wild ride.
Are you going to the Regional this year?
Yup, so come say ‘hi!’ if you’re there. Unfortunately we’re going to miss the first two games of the day because of work commitments, but we’ll be following the stats and keeping up on twitter, so whether you’re in Monmouth or watching at home -tell us what you think! You can either @ us on twitter via @GNACMBBlog or come talk to us in person during the second session. We’ll be wearing maroon and acting really hyper; we keep trying to calm down and be a grown-up, but it hasn’t happened yet.
Will there be game previews on Friday morning?
Absolutely. It’s on our to-do list for today, so theoretically that means it’ll be done by tomorrow. And yes: We will be talking about every game.
Are you going to talk about non-GNAC teams if both get bounced in the first round?
Most likely not. We don’t usually get enough hits to make it worth it, and we found it kind of drove our in-conference followers bananas last year, even previewing non-GNAC games. We’re 50/50 on that this year, just because there is so much interlocking play and it has been so intriguing from a regional perspective, but… Most likely when the last GNAC team’s season ends, our season will end, and we’ll get into our post-season awards and those types of posts.
Alright, any questions not answered: Ask us on twitter or leave a comment. Otherwise we’ll see you guys Friday morning for the West Region Day 1 preview.