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Breaking Down the 8 & 9 Seeds

If (once) the Gators beat the Jackson State Tigers in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Friday night they will face either Arizona or Purdue in round two -- a task that when looked at by the so-called college basketball experts seems a bit difficult.

I mean, the Gators could be taking on the University of Arizona.  The Wildcats are the kind of team you'd expect to run into in the elite eight, not the round of 32.

Did the Gators get put into a bracket with the toughest matchup from the winner of the eight and nine seed game?  Let's take a look at some quick numbers:

RPI of the eight and nines in this tournament

  1. Kentucky (West) - 13
  2. Arizona (Midwest) - 14
  3. BYU (South) - 18
  4. Villanova (West) - 19
  5. Marquette (East) - 22
  6. Michigan State (East) - 24
  7. Xavier (South) - 33
  8. Purdue (Midwest) - 42
Record vs RPI Top 50
  1. Xavier (South) - 3-2 (.600)
  2. BYU (South) - 4-4 (.500)
  3. Marquette (East) - 5-6 (.455)
  4. Michigan State (East) - 6-9 (.400)
  5. Villanova (West) - 5-8 (.385)
  6. Kentucky (West) - 5-9 (.357)
  7. Arizona (Midwest) - 5-9 (.357)
  8. Purdue (Midwest) - 3-6 (.333)
Offensive Efficiency (Adjusted)
  1. Arizona (Midwest) - 120.4 (7th)
  2. Xavier (South) - 117.8 (15th)
  3. Kentucky (West) - 117.6 (16th)
  4. BYU (South) - 116.4 (23rd)
  5. Villanova (West) - 115.0 (31st)
  6. Marquette (East) - 113.9 (41st)
  7. Michigan State (East) - 113.6 (42nd)
  8. Purdue (Midwest) - 111.2 (67th)
Defensive Efficiency (Adjusted)
  1. Michigan State (East) - 87.1 (13th)
  2. Purdue (Midwest) - 87.8 (15th)
  3. Villanova (West) - 88.8 (19th)
  4. Marquette (East) - 90.7 (28th)
  5. Kentucky (West) - 90.8 (30th)
  6. Xavier (South) - 94.7 (62nd)
  7. Arizona (Midwest) - 95.4 (76th)
  8. BYU (South) - 97.4 (101st)
So the Gators have two possible outcomes:  They either face an Arizona squad who can hang with teams because of their offensive efficiency but have a pretty low defensive efficiency, or we could play a Purdue team who plays some pretty good defense.  Neither of these teams have great records against the RPI top 50 this season, although Arizona SOS rank is listed at #1 in many rankings.

Really neither of these matchups (Arizona/Purdue) should be considered fairly "easy" because each team has their own strengths -- plus they have benefited from playing in two of the "BCS" conferences this season.  However, I wouldn't consider the Gators eight/nine matchup in the second round to be any more difficult than any of the other #1 seeds in this tournament.

We'll hear about Arizona (if they beat Purdue) quite a bit prior to round two based on their name alone -- but on that note there are some pretty big names schools coming in at these seeds in other brackets as well -- Kentucky, 'Nova, Marquette, Michigan St. and Xavier.

Second round games could be interesting this season based on who the ones will be up against. I'm looking forward to it.  There could be some upsets in the round of 32, although I'm pretty confident there will not be one in the Midwest region.

Go Gators!