Bid Analysis

West Virginia's seeding and placement in the NCAA tournament looks to be a fair one, but the Mountaineers figure to have a tough time getting out of the Auburn Hills pod.

While visions of a four seed danced in our heads just a month ago, West Virginia's 3-6 finish in the regular season and Big East tournament dropped the Mountaineers to a number six seed, but that appears to be a fair ranking for WVU's accomplishments during the 2005-06 season.

A comparison of the other number six seeds (Michigan State, Indiana, and Oklahoma), show at least two teams (the Spartans and Sooners) with similar achievements on the year. The Hoosiers might be a bit overrated at six, but playing in a conference that was stronger than any other except the Big East certainly didn't hurt lame duck coach Mike Davis and his squad (and might some sympathy for his position have influenced the voting?)

All four six seeds are matched up against "mid-major" teams in the first round, but as any knowledgeable observer can tell you, there isn't might not be much difference between these schools and the fourth or fifth place finishers in the power conference, especially when the comparison is made in just one game. In a best of three or best of five series, the number six seeds would certainly have an advantage, but in the sudden death scenario of the NCAAs, most of those bets are off.

Perversely, Indiana, as the most questionable of the number six seeds (the Hoosiers have just 18 wins) might have gotten the best matchup in the opening round. San Diego State, despite its 24 wins, appears to be the weakest of the number 11 seeds. Michigan State also got a good draw against George Mason, and figures to advance to the second round.

Oklahoma, however got a tough nut in Wisconsin-Milwaukee, which won two games in last year's tournament and could do so again this year, while the Mountaineers may have gotten the most difficult draw of all in Southern Illinois, which was battle-tested in the tough Missouri Valley Conference – a league that was probably better, top to bottom, than the ACC this year.

Looking one step down the road, assuming the six seeds all pass their first round tests, some intriguing matchups are possible. West Virginia could face an Iowa team that participated in the Guardians Classic and racked up 25 wins. Indiana could face a potential date with Gonzaga, which is no doubt steaming to prove its assigned three seed is too low. On the other side of the bracket, North Carolina likely awaits Michigan State, while Florida, which played a whopping 33 games, could face the Sooners. All of those matchups, however, are reasonable ones for a number six seed to face in the second round, so there probably shouldn't be much grumbling on the part of Mountaineer fans.

In the "what could have been" category, had WVU finished, say 6-3 instated of the other way around, the Mountaineers likely would have captured that number four seed. That would have matched them up against a team such as Iona, Bradley, Air Force or Pacific in the first round, with potential second round opponents from among the five seeds including teams such as Washington, Syracuse, Nevada and Pitt. Other than the Wolfpack, those foes are certainly ones that are as good as the current number three seeds, so perhaps John Beilein is on to something when he says that he doesn't worry to much about where the Mountaineers were seeded in this, or any other, tournament.


  • Boy, do I hate the fact that Pitt will be in the Auburn Hills pod with WVU. I plan on booking rooms at two different hotels, so I can move just in case I happen to land at one that's housing the Panther traveling contingent.

  • Tennessee a two seed? Gimme a break. The had almost as difficult a stretch run as WVU, but didn't drop a lick. (Certainly the selection committee wasn't considering them as a one, were they?)

  • How does Alabama keep getting in, and keep getting so much respect? Seventeen wins, and they got waxed in the first round last year – a game I watched in Cleveland. I'd take Cincinnati even up over the Tide anywhere this year.

  • Isn't it amazing how much of the despair over WVU's play the last few weeks has dissipated? Just like fall football camp, everything is new again. If the team can gain that spirit as well, I certainly won't count them out of a trip to Atlanta.

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