Duke More Deserving Than Miami of a One-Seed

Though Miami won both the ACC regular season title, and earlier this afternoon, the conference tournament title, they should not be the highest seeded ACC team in the tournament.

That honor should belong to Duke.

When awarding seeds later this evening, the committee should take into account Duke’s overall resume and put them on the number one line, if comes down to them and the Hurricanes (there are other deserving teams–Gonzaga, Indiana, Louisville, Kansas–but this post will focus on the debate between the two ACC teams).

For starters, three respected computer ratings have Duke rated higher than Miami. Ken Pomeroy has the Blue Devils at 5th in the country, Jeff Sagarin has them 7th, and ESPN’s BPI has them 3rd.

Miami, meanwhile, is rated 14th, 14th, and 15th by Pomeroy, Sagarin, and the BPI, respectively.

All three ratings also show Duke to have played a stronger schedule.

Looking at quality of victory and defeat, Duke may have an edge here as well.

It is true Miami was 8-2 against the BPI top 50, while Duke went 9-5 against these teams.

However, while Duke was perfect against teams rated 51st or worse, Miami had four loses against this group, including a home loss to 99th rated Georgia Tech, and a 15-point loss to 130th rated Wake Forest. The Hurricanes also fell to Florida-Gulf Coast (131 in the BPI), although to be fair, that loss happened in November.

Duke also has the fact that, at full strength, they have been excellent, losing only once with forward Ryan Kelly in the lineup.

According to ESPN, only one of the Blue Devils’s five losses this season have come with the team having all of its top players in the lineup.

To its credit, Miami has been the better team in head-to-head games between the two teams, dominating Duke at home in January, while narrowly losing in Durham in early March.

That said, the committee should be careful putting too much stock into a small sample of games, and allowing a 2-game sample size to outweigh an entire resume seems foolish. There is danger saying a team is better than another just because they beat them in a single game. No one in their right mind wound claim TCU is better than Kansas, Penn St. is better than Michigan, or USC is better than Arizona.

If the committee does give a one-seed to the Hurricanes, it will likely be because they will make the foolish mistake of taking Miami’s high RPI into account. Though Duke is first in the RPI, Miami is also an “impressive” fourth in the index.

While I could explain here why RPI is an almost useless tool, I’ll instead leave it to experts like Pomeroy and John Hollinger to argue why we should not put much stock into it.

Back to the topic at hand, though Miami is the ACC Champion, Duke has the more impressive resume and is more deserving than Miami of a one-seed.

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