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Joe Lunardi Interview

The Drive with Josh Graham / Josh Graham
The Truth Network Radio
February 27, 2020 5:38 pm

Joe Lunardi Interview

The Drive with Josh Graham / Josh Graham

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February 27, 2020 5:38 pm

Josh Graham talks to Joe lunardi on The Drive about How many teams from the ACC can make it to the dance, what are NC States chances, and more.

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Now being joined by ESPN bracketologist Joe Leonardi, somebody who's very busy in his bunker this time of year, so let's just dive straight into it. NC State, they lose to North Carolina for the second time this year, a week after beating Duke inside PNC Arena. They do have the Blue Devils left on the schedule, but if NC State doesn't win in Durham, Joe, how many wins does NC State need for you to feel comfortable putting them into the field of 64? I'm not sure there's a point that they are going to feel comfortable, short of obviously winning the automatic bid and the ACC tournament title, or making a very deep run, let's say to the championship game.

Obviously we have kind of last year's experience still stings, and at this moment as we're recording this, it's team number 68, which I guess the good news is they're team number 68, and Ian, the bad news is they're team number 68, right? And that could change not just with their own play, but the many comparable teams chasing them from behind who could post a win at any point that even temporarily slides them ahead of the Wolfpack. The Wolfpack has some great wins, no question, but what we also can see this year is the ACC's coattails aren't as long as they usually are. A year ago, Joe, Syracuse, they were firmly on the bubble, and many feel the weight of beating Duke was the difference in them getting in. Of course, State has beaten Duke already, so how much weight do you think that will carry this time around?

It carried a lot of weight. It got them back in the field. It could very well be that Syracuse wasn't as far away from the field as NC State was in posting that win last weekend. Remember, not all Dukes are created equal. This is a really good Duke team. It's not an elite Duke team. I think we all saw that the other night, so I wouldn't hang my hat solely on that win in terms of getting in. UNC Greensboro, they were the first team left out a year ago. The Spartans lost to Furman last night, which means they're not going to get in as an at-large bid team. But Wes Miller's team hopes that they can win in the SoCon tournament, get the automatic bid there. But if East Tennessee State right now, which is a really strong team, the best team in the SoCon, if their next loss is in the Southern Conference tournament, do you think the SoCon gets two teams? It certainly can.

Too early to know whether it should. A, who's the loss against? Is it Furman or UNCG, or is it something earlier and more damaging? B, what else is going on among those last few teams in the mix, whether it's NC State, or Stanford, or Southern Cal, or Richmond, or a Northern Iowa may be losing in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament.

There are other scenarios like that. And then we have to remember that while ETSU certainly looks like an at-large team, not by a ton, but by enough at the moment, if they end up needing an at-large bid, it automatically means they're taking another loss between now and when they would be evaluated with the at-large. So it's kind of a catch-22 and proves the point of just how small the margin of error is for teams outside of the Power Conference.

I want to broaden things a bit. We're being joined by Joe Leonardi of ESPN, head bracketologist there. What did you learn from the way the NCAA tournament committee applied the net last year that's worth remembering this time around? A little bit, not a ton, because we only have one year of it. One thing we did learn is that at least at the cut line, and depending on how bad it is, your non-conference strength of schedule still matters.

A lot. NC State proved that in the wrong direction, but they were in the conversation last year because of the switch to net. Their RPI was in the 80s. So had we been in that era still as the primary evaluation tool, NC State would not have even been really on the board or realistically considered than they were a year ago. Is this tournament... Oh, I'm sorry to interrupt. I was just going to say, all this that you're bringing up I think just makes things maddening for you, guys like you, Joe, to try and piece together what exactly the projection should be.

Is this one of the more difficult tournaments that you've ever had to try and piece together, the differences between a one and a two seed, a two and a three, and who the heck makes this field? Well, I appreciate your concern. I don't think the 10 people in the room or the NCAA staff are lying awake at night thinking about my welfare or the welfare of the other guys who like to do this.

And that's okay. We adjusted last year. I adjusted last year and had, I think by any reasonable measure, a pretty accurate run of it.

And I don't really see yours as harder or easier than others. And were the bubble as better or worse than other years? Like everyone always, oh, the bubble's terrible. Well, no, the bubble is the bubble, which is full of flawed teams that at their best can look pretty good. If they were better than that, they wouldn't be on the bubble.

Like we have to have a bubble. And that's just the way it is. But overall, if you're looking at what we learned from net versus RPI, I would state it in layman's language this way. RPI was primarily a measure of who you played. Three quarters of it was your strength of schedule and your opponent's schedules. Net is at least an attempt to measure how you're playing. It's attempting to be a basketball measurement as opposed to a scheduling measurement, which the RPI didn't think it was, but clearly turned out to be. So I think it's an improvement. But like any rating systems, RPI, net, you know, the barometer, you need to be able to identify outliers and understand why they're outliers. And, you know, I think the committee is decent at that.

And I think the community of bracketology is actually quite good at that. And then a couple of weeks, we'll see how well we line up. Either way, the sun will come out on selection Monday. Joe, I hope the bunker is stocked with snacks and drinks and that everything is good to go for the next couple of weeks. We appreciate the time here in the Dryad. You bet. Good luck.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-11 06:22:32 / 2023-02-11 06:25:44 / 3

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