Putting Too Much Stock Into Preseason Lists, Bracketology

Should we care if our team's name is not on one of these lines in November? - J. Meric

College basketball fans are some of the best fans in the country, but we overreact to a lot of the noise out there about our teams. Bracketology in November and preseason awards are just some of the items that we really need to scale back our ire over. But maybe that passion is what makes us such great fans in the first place.

It still amazes me even after 10-plus years of writing about college basketball that we continue to overrate some of the preseason madness that happens. And yet that is part of what makes the college game so much better than what we get from our professional brethren: the passion of fans for their teams is unparalleled from No. 1 to No. 345.

We are sitting here churning out preview after preview about teams, with what amounts to some decent year old data, a small amount of projection based on gut feel, and then a whole lot of throwing darts. It is an educated guess in so many ways, and until the ball is tossed in the air to begin the season, there are no givens.

Doug McDermott could go into the opening game Friday against North Texas, land on Tony Mitchell's foot while coming down with a rebound, and his season -- and Creighton's along with it -- could be derailed for good.

That isn't to say that the Bluejays aren't one of the best 25 teams in the country, or that they won't at the end of the year be good enough to warrant a No. 5 seed as Joe Lunardi projects in his preseason projections. It is just that there is a heck of a lot of basketball to play before that the time comes for creating this stuff.

We don't have one single data point for this season yet. None.

It doesn't matter how good your recruiting class was. It doesn't matter how good your returning players are, or should be. There is nothing solid to base any of this speculation on.

But here we are pouring over the latest Bracketology from Lunardi, which has about a snowball's chance of being correct come March.Man, we love to go crazy over it.

If you want to really look at it -- and I mean really analyze what it says -- you would come to the conclusion that there is no way that a committee would even let that bracket out the door, at least they wouldn't if they ever wanted to hear the end of it.

For example, look at all of the 7-10 matchups. Now look at the two featuring Philadelphia-based teams playing in Philadelphia. Now look at the seed number next to those teams.

Both St. Joseph's and Drexel are projected on the 10 line, but somehow they both end up with what amounts to home court advantage. That is despite their being the underdog seed in their pod of four teams. How does that make any sense at all?

That is just one example, and I am sure that Lunardi values his teams a lot differently than a number of other outlets (like us, where we see no way that BYU would be playing in a second consecutive opening round game).

Yet the moral outrage that a team's seed was wrong, or a team was snubbed in this early season version is just farcical. Some of us really need to gain some perspective on all of this. But then again, this is college basketball.

It is the same way with preseason awards. Twitter showed at least a few schools pumping players who were nominated for the Lou Henson award. Congratulations to them. It is truly an achievement.

But take a look at that list of what should be the best mid-major players in Division 1. You will notice a few names missing from that list (say McDermott and Mitchell among others). That is because they are nominated for the Lute Olson award.

Forgive me for being confused by reading the rules but despite no prohibition, it appears you can't win both. That makes it really hard for the winner of the Lou Henson award to say he accomplished much more than being the best of the rest. But we will tout and celebrate whomever that is all the same (Everybody Gets a Trophy!). That is college basketball too.

We see the wild overreaction on some message boards and websites that happens if we aren't as 100 percent enthralled with a team as the fans are.

People! It is just a preseason prediction.

I hope I am right just as much as the next person, but I darn well know that there will be a number of items where I end up surprised at the end of the season. It never fails that someone has a breakout year (a real one, not a fake second breakout because they were ignored last year), and it never fails that someone falls on their face.

That is what makes college basketball great. You can't predict it to 100 percent certainty (otherwise insurance companies would have paid out a lot of winning for perfect brackets). If you could, it would be called the NBA.

So when you look at the early season bracket and think your team got screwed by the author, take a second to remember that you haven't even seen a free throw that counted yet.

Then blast away as normal, because that is college basketball.

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