Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Four Pack For Thursday

A look at the four most notable games on Thursday's schedule:

Minnesota at Illinois
Minnesota hasn't fallen all the way to bubble status just yet, but they're getting pretty darn close. The Gophers are just 4-6 in their last 10 games (two of those win have come against Indiana) and they've have slipped to 8-7 in the Big Ten and down to the 9 line in our latest bracket. The biggest reason behind their slide has been their awful play on the road. They've lost their last four conference road games (at Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan) and for the season they have just one road win against a Big Ten team that is currently in the field (Wisconsin). That's not a very encouraging trend for Gopher fans, whose team will face another tough road test tonight in Champaign. Before last week's hideous showing against Penn State, the Illini had won six straight conference home games - over the likes of Purdue, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio State. They enter this game fresh off a nice road win over the Buckeyes on Sunday, and a victory here would keep their slim chance at winning a Big Ten title alive. Illinois sits a game and half back of Michigan State with three games to play. They host the Spartans this weekend before finishing up at Penn State next Thursday. Minnesota would drop to at least a 10 seed with a loss here and will slip closer to the bubble, but we are not of the opinion that they will fall apart and miss the tourney altogether. They have played well at home and they finish with home games against Wisconsin and Michigan; a 1-1 split and one Big Ten tourney win should be enough to get the Gophers a bid.

Purdue at Michigan
We still have no clue why John Beilein benched Manny Harris in overtime against Iowa on Sunday, but we do know this: Michigan's loss to the Hawkeyes may prove crippling to their already slim at-large hopes. The Wolverines are probably going to have to win out to get a bid, and that will be next to impossible given their remaining schedule and their season-long road woes. They host red-hot Purdue, winners of four in a row and 10 of their last 12, tonight and then hit the road for games at Wisconsin and at Minnesota to finish up. The Wolverines have just two true road wins this season, and those wins came at Northwestern and at Indiana. We know it's probably foolish to count Michigan out considering how up-and-down they have been all year, but we find it hard to believe that they are going to play well enough down the stretch to snag one of the final at-large spots. This game is also extremely important to the Boilermakers, who are in a three-way battle for the Big Ten regular season crown. A win would keep them a game behind Michigan State, who they already beat once, with three to play. The two teams face off in East Lansing next Sunday in the regular season finale for both.

West Virginia at Cincinnati
The Bearcats haven't played a game yet this week, but their at-large hopes have already taken a serious hit. Providence's upset of top-ranked Pitt vaulted the the Friars past Cincinnati in the Big East pecking order, and made it imperative that the Bearcats counter with a win here tonight against West Virginia. Cincinnati should be able to win its last two games (at South Florida, home vs. Seton Hall), and will need to win either this game or Sunday's game at Syracuse to finish 10-8 in conference. From there, two Big East will be need for the Bearcats to be in the discussion on Selection Sunday. Cincinnati will have to shoot the ball a lot better - and do a better job on the offensive glass - than they did against Louisville over the weekend if they are going to upset a West Virginia team that has been on fire defensively. The Mountaineers have won three straight games, holding high-scoring Villanova to 72 points, Notre Dame to just 68, and Rutgers to 56. Offensively, they've been riding the hot shooting of Da'Sean Butler, who has averaged over 24 points per game over his last three. A win tonight would give West Virginia a great chance of finishing 11-7 in conference, which would likely be good for a 6 seed in our bracket heading into the Big East tourney.

Arizona State at Washington
This one is a battle for the Pac-10 title. Both teams have a good chance to win out after this game, especially Washington, which makes the result here that much more important. The Sun Devils were able to hold on against Arizona over the weekend to set up this showdown. (By the way, how stupid are ASU students? First they rush the court after beating UCLA, which was a little questionable, then they rush against unranked Arizona?) The last time the Sun Devils lost was when the Huskies visited Tempe. Their five game winning streak has helped them climb to a 4 seed. They don't have much of an OOC resume, but if they are able to win out until Selection Sunday, they will climb to a 3 seed. A win for the Huskies would clearly make them the top team in the Pac-10. Like most Pac-10 teams, their OOC resume features no wins over current tourney teams, so getting above the 4 line may be difficult.

Also receiving votes: Miami at Virginia, North Carolina State at Wake Forest, UCLA at Stanford, Arizona at Washington State, USC at California, Xavier at St. Joseph's, LaSalle at Temple, Memphis at UAB, Hawaii at Utah State, St. Mary's at Pepperdine, Gonzaga at Santa Clara


Anonymous said...

What if Michigan wins 2 out of 3, and gets to 9-9, with a win in the Big Ten Tournament???

Anonymous said...

Big Ten should have 3-4 teams at most.....Penn St. give me a break..
Penn St. vs Ohio St. in Basketball? I'll take a gun to my head

Bracketology 101 said...

Michigan better win two Big Ten tourney games if they want to feel completely safe. One may get them in, but if there are too many bid stealers, it might not.

Anonymous said...

What are your thoughts on what Miami needs to accomplish to secure a bid? Will 19-10 (8-8) be enough or do they need 1 or more ACC tourney wins?

Eric Z said...

Random thoughts:

- What else does Rhode Island need to do to get in the field - or at least seriosuc onsideration on the bubble?

- If - and I know it is a big IF - UAB beats Memphis tonight, are they in?

- Please - for the love of God - please tell me Notre Dame needs to do much, much more before they are seriosuly considered for the field.

- And is Dayton's Saturday game vs Temple now a must-win?

Anonymous said...

#2, you sound like one of those guys who keeps touting Georgetown and Notre Dame no matter how many games in which they are run off the court. You don't happen to work for ESPN, do you?

Bracketology 101 said...

Quick hits...

After their crazy win last night, URI is officially in the bubble mix. We have thought for a while that a team other than Xavier or Dayton would win the A-10 tournament, and because of that, we've had Temple in our field for a couple of weeks as a bid-stealer. We still like the Owls as the A-10 automatic as of today, but URI is intruiging as well.

There are still a lot of games to be played this week, but if UAB beats Memphis tonight, they will be heavily considered for an at-large Sunday night. The biggest reason against putting UAB in is their 2-8 record against the RPI Top 100. A win over Memphis would give them three Top 100 wins, but that's a low number for an at-large team.

Dayton's game against Temple is pretty much a must-win, especially considering they play at Xavier next Thursday. The Flyers have lost three straight road games, and if they lose to both the Owls and the Musketeers, they'll be on the outside of the bracket looking in.

Notre Dame definitely has a lot of work left to do to get a bid, and they need teams like Providence to stop winning big games. We think that in the end, the Big East is going to get eight bids. ND, Providence, or Cincinnati is going to be that eighth team, but the way things have gone lately, we probably won't know who that team will be until the Big East tourney is over.

Anonymous said...

An ACC game broke out at Crisler tonight, great game for Michigan, but they gotta split the last two @ Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Anonymous said...

Alot of analysts say Michigan needs one more win including the Big Ten Tourney, I dont understand how B101 is saying they need 3 more wins that would put them at 21, including 2 more quality wins, at Wisc, or at Minn, plus the 2nd round of the Conference tournament.

20 gets them in, maybe 19. Committee looks at who you went out and played, they should def. be in over Minnesota!!

Anonymous said...

If Penn State is on the bubble after the OSU loss, Minnesota most surely is now.

Minnesota's road wins are a one point win vs Colorado State (RPI #181), Iowa (101), Wisconsin (29), Indiana (202).

Penn State's road wins to-date are Penn (RPI #247), GaTech (RPI #160), Indiana (202), Michigan State (#6), and Illinois (#16).
Plus PSU has a home win versus ranked Purdue, who beat Minnesota in Minneapolis.

People bring up PSU's OOC. I think PSU's win at Michigan State counteracts Minny's win versus Louisville. After Louisville, Minnesota played absolutely no one in OOC either.

Penn State's worst loss is a neutral site loss to URI by 3pts after they nearly knocked off Duke. Minnesota lost to Northwestern, who PSU beat.

If I'm missing something please let me know.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Penn St. fan...

You missed the fact that Penn St. is #63 in the RPI with an overall SOS ranked 85th and a non-conference SOS ranked 320th!

But nice job pointing out the few positives of Penn St's profile...

Anonymous said...

#2: 3-4 teams at most, for the #2 RPI conference? Please.

Bracketology 101 said...

First off, the games tonight did more to mix the bubble up than last night.

To clarify our Michigan thoughts, they picked up a huge win tonight over Purdue but that was probably the easy part. They now have Wisconsin and Minnesota left on the road next week. The Big Ten bubble possibilities are endless with 4 teams solidly on the bubble (Ohio State is safe for now). Just focusing on Michigan, the least that Michigan will likely need to do to get a bid is win one of their final regular season games and then win their first game in the Big Ten tourney (against a bottom 3 Big Ten team). If Michigan could win their next tourney game (against a Big Ten top three team) then they will be in good shape.

Miami obviously needs to win their next two games to finish 8-8. They also need some help from fellow ACC bubble teams. Both Maryland and Virginia Tech will be more attractive ACC teams at 8-8 so Miami needs both of these teams to falter. There is a good chance that Miami will be playing Maryland or Virginia Tech in their first ACC tourney game in what will likely be an elimination game.
If they can win that game then they would be right in the mix and if they got another win they would be a lock.

As for Penn State, there is no doubt that they have been impressive in conference play but the committee put's a lot emphasis on OOC SOS. Last year Arizona State went 9-9 in a good Pac-10 and the major reason the committee gave for them being left out was their OOC SOS. There is at least one team like this every year. The Nittany Lions have a favorable schedule left and if they can win out and get to 11-7 they won't have to worry about it, they will be in.

Anonymous said...

I think you are underestimating Miami's position on the bubble...I think finishing 8-8 in the ACC will get them in no matter what the other teams do

Bracketology 101 said...

We wouldn't go that far on Miami. The Hurricanes are going to need to finish 8-8 and win at least one game in the ACC tourney to get a bid, and if they do that, they'll likely knock out another ACC bubble team in the process.

It may sound weird, but Miami fans will want to root hard for BC to win its two remaining games. The Eagles sit at No. 51 in the RPI and a 2-0 finish would bump them into the top 50. That would give Miami two more Top 50 wins for their resume (Miami beat BC twice). They have just 2 Top 50 wins right now, which is not that impressive.

Anonymous said...

I'm not even sure Miami can beat Georgia Tech and NC State to end the season. I'm sure a loss in one of those games would put them on "must win ACC tournament" status.

Anonymous said...

Why is everyone taking LSU, Memphis, Kansas and Mizzou at face value? These are teams deserving of 8-9-10 seeds, not 2 and 3 seeds

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