Thursday, March 05, 2009

A Five Pack For Thursday

A look at the five most notable (bubble) games on Thursday's schedule:

Providence at Villanova
Who said life on the bubble was hard? Providence hasn't played a game since Sunday, but in the four days since then, the Friars have gone from the outside of the bracket looking in to pretty solidly in as the eighth and final Big East bid. The good fortune for Providence started on Monday when Notre Dame lost at home to Villanova, and it continued in a big way Tuesday night, when Georgetown choked away a double-digit second half lead to St. John's in the Garden (we still can't believe the Red Storm won that game) and Cincinnati lost on the road to lowly South Florida. Those three losses might have locked up a bid for the Friars even if they lose tonight on the road against the Wildcats. Providence will still finish 10-8 in conference with a loss here, which is a game better than Cincinnati can finish, plus the Friars beat the Bearcats twice. As long as Providence doesn't follow up a loss tonight with a first-round exit in the Big East tourney, they should be fine. If they do lose in the first round, they'll have to hope the committee sees 10 Big East wins as an automatic dance ticket, or hope that none of the other former Big East bubble teams make a miracle run to semifinals or finals of the Big East tournament.

Illinois at Penn State
Doesn't it feel like every Penn State game since Christmas has been a Six Pack game or a Game To Watch? That streak continues tonight as the Nittany Lions attempt to finally lock down an at-large bid by beating the Illini at home. Everyone remembers the first meeting between these two teams because of the final score - Penn State won 38-33 in Champaign - but lost in all that ugliness was how important the win was for the Nittany Lions' at-large chances. A win tonight would give Penn State a key season sweep of Illinois and give them six Top 50 wins on the year, which is just as many as Purdue has and one more than Ohio State and Minnesota have. If the Nittany Lions don't win tonight, they will be left with some work to do if they want to end their eight-year tourney drought. They would first have to beat Iowa on the road on Saturday and then win their first game in the Big Ten tournament next week. That game (right now) looks like it will be against Wisconsin, who beat the Nittany Lions twice during the regular season. In their most recent meeting - at Penn State on Feb. 8 - the Badgers held the Nittany Lions to just 37 percent shooting in a 54-44 loss.

Tennessee at South Carolina
We're still trying to wrap our heads around the fact that Florida and Kentucky laid ginormous eggs in must-win games last night. The SEC is looking more and more like a three-bid league right now and there's almost no chance the league gets the five bids it was projected for just last week. Two of the "safest" teams - Tennessee and South Carolina - face off tonight in Columbia. The Vols are almost a lock for a bid at this point because of their strong OOC resume and their season sweep of Florida. If they can beat South Carolina tonight, and complete a season sweep of the Gamecocks, they will move their way up the 8 line - and maybe onto the 7 line - in Friday's bracket. South Carolina might be able to join Tennessee in the "lock" category if they can pick up the win tonight at home. A victory would get the Gamecocks to 10-5 in conference, and if they beat Georgia on the road on Saturday, they would win the SEC East crown. Even if they lose tonight and then beat Georgia, South Carolina would enter the SEC tourney as the third best SEC team. One win might be enough to get them in at that point.

Dayton at Xavier
This game is all about seeding for Xavier and all about confidence for Dayton. The Flyers have lost two of their last three, but they're still in the field as an at-large thanks to their 28 RPI and their wins over Xavier, Marquette, and Temple. As long as they can split their last two games - they host Duquesne in their season finale Saturday - they will be in pretty good shape going into the A-10 tournament. The only team that could prove to be a thorn in Dayton's side is Rhode Island. URI just beat the Flyers this past weekend, and if the Rams win the A-10 automatic and go through the Flyers in the semifinals to win it, Dayton could be in a little trouble. The committee could point to their third place finish in the A-10 (URI will finish second) as a negative and leave the Flyers out. On the flip side, if Dayton were to beat Xavier tonight, they would finish off a season sweep of the Muskeeters and see their 9 seed turn into a 7. That result would also knock Xavier, who has lost three of six, down another seed line; a win tonight would bump the Musketeers (who, don't forget, have OOC wins over Memphis, Missouri, and at LSU) further up the 5 line. If Xavier wins the A-10 tourney, they'll be no worse than a 4 seed on Selection Sunday.

California at Arizona
There are a lot of warts on this year's crop of bubble teams, but not many of those warts are as gross as Arizona's 2-9 record in true road games. A record like that would normally kill a team's at-large chances, but the Wildcats have been able to offset it with some huge home wins (Kansas, Washington, UCLA, SDSU) and a neutral court win over Gonzaga. The only thing standing in Arizona's way of a bid now is an above-.500 record in the Pac-10. Given the schedule they have left (and more importantly, where those games are being played) we like their chances to finish 10-8. They host Cal tonight and then welcome Stanford, who has yet to win a conference road game, on Saturday. A pair of wins would make the Wildcats a lock heading into the Pac-10 tournament. A split means Arizona would have to win one (and maybe two) games in the Pac-10 tourney to feel completely safe. Cal, meanwhile, needs to go 1-1 this week to avoid falling into the 8/9 game. The Bears, who have lost two of their last three, checked in at a 7 seed this week after losing at home to UCLA on Saturday.

Also receiving votes: Oregon State at UCLA

55 comments:

Brian said...

B101 I see Providence in at 10-8 in the Big East UNLESS they lose to either ND, Gtown, or Cincy in the 2nd round of the BET and that team goes on to at least the Semi-Finals. Do you agree?

Bracketology 101 said...

That seems like the only scenario now in which the Friars get left out.

Brian said...

Thanks for the quick response...My Hoyas really blew a golden opportunity last night with all the destruction going on around the bubble but hopefully they can string together a run to the finals (or Semi-Finals while beating Providence in 2nd round). As unlikely as that seems I think the committee is going to put more emphasis on the conference tournaments this year basically by necessity and there are a lot of teams that are going to have the opportunity to sneak in with strong runs.

Bracketology 101 said...

We agree...the Big East, SEC, and ACC tournaments got a whole lot more interesting after the last three days.

Anonymous said...

If I recall correctly, in 2007, Kansas State had 10 conference wins and didn't make the tournament. Could that happen to Providence considering its weak OOC schedule?

Bracketology 101 said...

Providence certainly hasn't done too much to deserve a bid. They have two good home wins (Syracuse and Pitt) and have managed to avoid any bad losses in conference play. But with all the other bubble teams having bad losses this week they only need one more win to probably get their bid.

Anonymous said...

South Carolina currently has ZERO Top 50 wins. Has a major conference team ever gotten an at-large with that on their resume? I agree if they beat Tennessee AND Georgia, 11-5 in the SEC will be tough to keep out.

But I really don't see how a 10-6 South Carolina team is any different than a 10-6 Auburn team especially if that 10th win comes against Georgia.

And no, I'm not saying Auburn should be in.

DBATL said...

Wow. Interesting night. The teams that are really loving this are the 2d and 3d teams from the Mid-Majors -- St. Mary's, UNLV, New Mexico, Northern Iowa, URI, Dayton, Temple, Tulsa, Wis-Green Bay, Cleveland St. -- and the presumed #1s in lesser leagues in case they do not win their conference tourneys -- VA Commonwealth, Siena, Davidson, Utah St.

Pac10 also has to be smilin'.

Still not willing to throw Georgetown's hat back in the ring because they really do not deserve it but hey, if no-one else wants the invites . . .

Brian said...

I'm definitely not throwing Gtown's hat back in the ring either...All I'm saying is that with the bubble so weak I think any team who has been on the bubble the past few weeks has a chance to get a bid with a very strong run in their respective conference tournaments. The committee knows that the lower tier of the at-large bids will be weak and I would think they would at least want to include teams that are playing strong at the end of the year and in a tournament situation.

Bracketology 101 said...

According to Jerry Palm at CollegeRPI.com, only once in the last 15 years has a team received an at-large bid without having a win against the entire field. In 1998, Oklahoma got a bid despite not having a win against a tournament team. The Sooners' two best wins that year came against Missouri, who finished the season with an RPI of 53.

Anonymous said...

B101:

Your comment on South Carolina made me look at their OOC schedule. Wow. And I thought Penn St. had nothing. On second thought, even Baylor (who South Carolina beat by 1 point) has an RPI in the top 100. Penn St. really does have nothing. I guess South Carolina will be routing hard for The Citadel to make a run in the Southern.

SEC = 2 Bids said...

At least Penn St. has some nice wins in conference. South Carolina doesn't have any good wins in conference or out of conference.

From Jerry Palm at collegerpi.com...

"But the biggest loser of the night may have been a team that didn't play - South Carolina. With the Gators loss, the Gamecocks no longer have a win over a top 50 team, and worse than that, no longer have a win over a team in my bracket, not even an automatic qualifier. Only one team in the fifteen years I've been doing this has received a bid without a win against the entire field, and that was Oklahoma in 1998."

Anonymous said...

IT will be sad and disturbi9ng if south carolina gets in over Va tech and miami, just saying

Bracketology 101 said...

As we get ready for tonight's games to tip off, here are some fun RPI facts to chew on:

The lowest-rated RPI teams to get an at-large bid were:

Old RPI (before 2005) - #74 New Mexico in 1999, #70 Air Force in 2004

New RPI (since 2005) - #63 N.C. State in 2005, #63 Stanford in 2007

The highest-rated RPI teams to get an at-large bid were:

Old RPI - #33 Oklahoma in 1994

New RPI (mid-major) - #21 Missouri State in 2006, #30 Hofstra in 2006, #30 Air Force in 2007

New RPI (big conference) - #40 Cincinnati in 2006

Anonymous said...

The highest-rated RPI teams to get an at-large bid were:

Old RPI - #33 Oklahoma in 1994

New RPI (mid-major) - #21 Missouri State in 2006, #30 Hofstra in 2006, #30 Air Force in 2007

New RPI (big conference) - #40 Cincinnati in 2006

Is this highest teams not to get a bid?

Anonymous said...

is Michigan in at 8-10?

Anonymous said...

is Michigan in at 8-10?

Is that a trick question?

Anonymous said...

Is South Carolina done?

Anonymous said...

South Carolina isnt done, just need to make a run in the SEC tourney

Anonymous said...

I think most teams barely below or at .500 in major conferences that make a bigtime run in their conference tournaments will have a shot

Bracketology 101 said...

Yes, those are the highest ranked RPI teams to NOT receive an at-large.

(Sorry for the typo...)

MattLion said...

WE ARE PENN STATE! Sorry if we didn't play anyone out of conference...

Anonymous said...

PSU IS A LOCK! Big 10 rules!

Anonymous said...

Unless they slip up at Iowa, PSU deserves to make the dance, Illinois choked it away down the stretch but who cares.

Bracketology 101 said...

Huge win for the Nittany Lions. They're in.

Best court rush of the year, too. Nice job, Nittany Nation.

Anonymous said...

You still think they are in if they lose to Iowa and First game of BTT,

also does this make the Minnesota Michigan game a true play in game?

Anonymous said...

i was at the penn state game. it was awesome. rushing the court is such a good feeling. i hope they keep it up.

Bracketology 101 said...

Penn State still needs one more win to be 100% safe, but after tonight's performance, we're pretty confident they'll be able to do that.

Anonymous said...

Arizona probably just lost, they in or out?

Anonymous said...

out

Anonymous said...

So... FSU beats Va tech, gets the bye, and loses to clemson in the ACC quarters, what seed do they get?

Anonymous said...

5

Anonymous said...

Big 10 is getting 8 teams, book it.

Bracketology 101 said...

Tough loss for Arizona tonight. The game against Stanford this weekend is now a must win to get to 9-9. If they can win their first Pac-10 tourney game, against Cal or ASU, they should be ok but if they can't then they are in trouble and their bid streak could end.

Probably a 5 seed for FSU given that scenario

David said...

Let's take a look at the ACC vs. the Big Ten head to head on a neutral court from #1-11. I actually find this quite hilarious.

1)UNC vs. MSU advantage ACC
2)Duke vs. Purdue advantage ACC
3)Wake Forest vs. Ill advantage ACC
4)FSU vs. PSU advantage ACC
5)Clemson vs. Minn advantage ACC
6)BC vs. Minn slight advantage ACC
7)MD vs. Ohio St. slight advantage Big Ten
8)VT vs. Michigan toss up
9)Miami vs. Northwestern advantage ACC
10)NC St. vs. Iowa advantage ACC
11)UVA vs. Indiana advantage ACC

If they are hands down better in just about every single position, and the ACC has a better OOC resume, and the ACC wins the challenge every single year, someone please explain to me how the Big Ten almost always ends up with more bids than the ACC.

The only explanation I can come up with is, they are all basically the same team from 3 all the way down to 9 and they are pretty much all flirting around .500, and they all get rewarded for it.

David said...

6) was supposed to be Wisconsin, my bad

Anonymous said...

The top of the ACC is certainly stronger than the top of the Big Ten, but if the ACC doesn't get as many bids, it will be their own fault. The Big Ten middle-of-the-pack teams have, for the most part, taken care of business OOC. Meanwhile, Maryland lost to Morgan State, Virginia Tech lost to Seton Hall and Georgia, and Boston College lost to Harvard.

Anonymous said...

To clarify my point above, I'm not arguing that the Big Ten is a stronger conference - I think the #5 team in the ACC is stronger than the #2 in the Big Ten.

However, comparing Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Virginia Tech, Miami, and Maryland, I think you can make a sound argument that the 5 best of those 8 teams are the 5 Big Ten teams.

Anonymous said...

That is certainly your opinion but Maryland beat Michigan and Michigan State this year so leaving them out of that top 5 is foolish.

Anonymous said...

Michigan beat Duke

David said...

So I guess MD's win over Michigan didn't count?

How about when Penn St. lost to both Rhode Island and Temple yet still have a chance to finish 2nd in the Big Ten?

What about when Ohio St. was drubbed by 30 points at home to WVU, or when they were losing by 13 to Miami until their All American McClinton got ejected?

I mean you can make the case for all 8 of those teams that have good wins and bad losses, I don't agree that the 5 teams from the Big Ten are hands down better than the 3 teams you mentioned from the ACC, especially since one of them beat them head to head.

I will say this, at this point I don't think that VT or Miami deserve a bid at this moment. I also think it will be a travesty if the Big Ten gets 9 teams.

They only have one team that is truly capable of making a run in the tourney and that is Michigan St. (who MD beat on a neutral court by 20). Therefore to get 9 conference wins it really isn't that difficult. The ACC has had 4 teams that spent a good part of the season in the top 10 (UNC, Duke, WF, and Clem). That means, you have the potential of playing 6 or 7 games against top 10 calibur teams, whereas in the Big Ten you had to play 1 maybe 2 the whole conference season.

Purdue and Illinois are certainly no powerhouses, but teams get a huge amount of credit for beaing them, i.e. Ohio St.(who went 1-5 against the top 3 teams in conference, with their only win at home in OT when Purdue's best player was hurt)

It just boggles my mind that Ohio St. is a lock when they could easily lost a 2nd game against Northwestern on Sunday and finish 9-9 in the conference and be a 7 seed in the Big Ten tourney. Their OOC resume was good in December, but Miami (who they beat w/out McClinton) and Notre Dame are terrible right now. Their only good OOC win is a close one at home against overated Butler.

Lee said...

Morgan State, while a terrible loss for MD, is an NCAA tourney team. They will dance. It's an in state "rival" that won when a kid who played high school ball with a MD player basically caught fire and made 6 or 7 sick shots that were basically un guardable down the stretch and he had the ball in his hands last. It's a bad loss, I agree with that. But it isn't this "you lost this game no NCAA bid for you" loss. Put it this way, if Reggie Holmes plays like that and Thompson for them has a good game and they are a 14 seed, they could beat a lot of the teams that are talked about as a 3 seed in round one...

and for what it's worth I see no reason Ohio State v Maryland would be slight advantage Ohio State. MD the way they are playing woudl win that game 7 out of 10 times.

David said...

Michigan also lost to Duke on a neutral court before they made adjustments and beat them on their home court

David said...

I only said slight advantage Ohio St. beacuse they have size down low and that is MD's obvious weakness

Upstate Underdog said...

URI needs to be considered for an ALB

Anonymous said...

Ok, keeping in mind that Florida State lost to Northwestern, VT's loss to Wisconsin was at home, and the ACC didn't have to put NC State in the Challenge this year.

There is a reason all these teams we're talking about are bubble teams, they all either have glaring weaknesses or an incomplete list of accomplishments. But the Big Ten teams are higher in the pecking order because the ACC teams are closer to finishing with losing conference records. And this isn't because of too many games vs UNC or Wake. Almost all of those bubble teams have losses to GT, NC State, and UVa.

Lee said...

"Almost all of those bubble teams have losses to GT, NC State, and UVa." Not Maryland, who played UNC and Duke twice.

Lee said...

And for what it's worth the pomeroy rankings have the big 10 as the 5th rated conference. pomeroy rankings being adjusted offensive efficiency - adjusted defensive efficiency.

Anonymous said...

In this day of the super conferences and expansion, whether a team is 10-8, 9-9, 8-10 or even worse shouldn't matter that much because they have unbalanced schedules. Is it fair some ACC teams have to play both Duke and Carolina twice and only get Georgia Tech and Virginia once? No.

Conference record should have no bearing on a bid. It should be about who you beat, when, and where and who you lost to, when, and where. Just comparing conference records with no bearing on who they actually played should be of no importance.

Anonymous said...

"Conference record should have no bearing on a bid. It should be about who you beat, when, and where and who you lost to, when, and where. Just comparing conference records with no bearing on who they actually played should be of no importance."

Unfortunately, it does, because, whether or not people feel good admitting it, conference affiliation has something to do with selection. A team that has #3 in the SEC attached to it is going to get a bid, no matter what... a team that has 9-7 in the big 10 is going to get a bid, even though the entire conference is over .500
Maryland, Miami and VT would beat all of the big 10 teams except michigan state 70% of the time... The problem with the conference record is that in each league there is that teams are rated, and looked at nationally, ad even seeded based on what they do in-conference... and this is a problem, because all conference records are not created equally... Ranking of teams in both leagues by RPI
Note that 5 teams from the ACC are in the top 20, 1 from the big 10
8 acc teams are in the top 60, just 5 big 10 teams
Duke
UNC
Michigan State
Wake
Clemson
FSU
Illinois
Purdue
Minnestoa
Wisconsin
Michigan
Miami
BC
Maryland
Va tech
Penn State
NW
NCSU

Big 10's average RPI is 60
Acc's average is 53...
The acc has the top 2, 5 out of the top 6, and 9 out of the top 14, and the big 10 has by far the worst team... 7-9 in the ACC is much better than 9-7 n the big 10

Boris said...

"Maryland, Miami and VT would beat all of the big 10 teams except michigan state 70% of the time..."

Then why are they 2-2 against the Big Ten teams? Miami and VT lost home games to Big Ten teams. You might have a better case with Maryland.

Anonymous said...

How in the world does Lunardi have Kentucky as his 2nd team out??? Are they really that close?

Bracketology 101 said...

In a word...no.

Anonymous said...

The miami loss to ohio state comes with an asterisk, since jack mcclinton was controversially thrown out of the game right before the half when miami was up, and wisconsin beating Va tech by 2 is hardly a convincing win, especially since it was early in the season, and both teams have changed dramatically since...

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