Thursday, February 11, 2010

B101's Weekday Tweets - Thursday

Our quick thoughts on Thursday's results:

St. Mary's loss at Gonzaga wasn't all that shocking, but the final margin of victory certainly didn't help the Gaels' at-large hopes. The 'Zags outscored St. Mary's by 16 in the second half on Thursday night, en route to a convincing 80-61 win in Spokane. Elias Harris and Matt Bouldin combined for 37 points for Gonzaga, who will likely be a low 3/high 4 seed next week. The big story here, though, is St Mary's, and whether or not the Gaels will be able to get an at-large bid if they win out (their next two games are at Portland and at San Diego) and then lose to Gonzaga in the WCC final. If the bubble continues to be as soft as it is now, the answer to that question could very well be yes. What's working against the Gaels, though, is their recent history of not getting a bid without beating the 'Zags at least once (see last year), the fact that their OOC resume is good but not great, and the fact that several bid-stealers inevitably will arise - and potentially bump them - during Championship Week. We will continue to evaluate St. Mary's on a week-to-week basis, but right now, there's a better chance they get left out than they get invited in.

Rick Pitino spent the afternoon denying that he wants the Nets head coaching job. After Louisville's performance on Thursday night, Pitino may want to reconsider. The Cardinals played, well, pretty Nets-like in an ugly and potentially very damaging 74-55 loss to St. John's at The Garden. The Red Storm scored the first 12 points of the game and never looked back, building their lead to as many as 28 late in the second half. The only way the Cardinals will stay in our bracket next week is if they can pull off a miracle at the Carrier Dome on Sunday. (Their 1-6 road record doesn't give us much confidence in that happening.) The more likely scenario is that they finish the week out of the field and lumped into the bigger-than-ever Big East bubble.

Louisville wasn't the only Big East bubble team to lay an egg on Thursday night. Notre Dame, which picked up two nice wins last week over Cincinnati and South Florida, lost 90-87 against struggling Seton Hall in Newark. The Irish came back from a 10-point halftime deficit to make it close in the second half, but then Luke Harangody injured his right knee on a rebound attempt with just under nine minutes to play. Harangody checked back into the game a few minutes later, but then left for good. (No word yet on the severity of the injury.) Jeremy Hazell did his best Harangody impression in the All-American's absence, scoring 35 points and hitting eight threes. The loss drops Notre Dame to 6-6 in conference; they host St. John's on Sunday and then play at Louisville next Wednesday in an absolute must-win game for both teams.

The biggest bubble battle of the night (say that three times fast) took place in the SEC, and it was Mississippi State that came out the big winner. The Bulldogs completed a huge season sweep of in-state rival Mississippi, beating the Rebels 71-63 in Starkville. Ravern Johnson (18 points) was one of four players to score in double figures for Mississippi State, which moved to 5-4 in conference with the win. The Bulldogs will likely be in next week's field provided they can beat Auburn at home on Saturday. The Rebels, meanwhile, will probably be on the outside of next week's bracket looking in. Their upcoming schedule is nice (they have three straight home games against Vandy, Florida, and Auburn), but they have yet to show they can beat a tourney-caliber team in conference. They've now lost three of four and have the eighth best record in the SEC.

Is Cal finally ready to run away with the Pac-10? The Bears certainly played that way on Thursday night, as they blew out Washington at home to improve to 8-4 in conference. They're now one game up on Arizona State with six games to play and have an upcoming schedule that's about as easy as it gets. Their only remaining road games are against the three worst teams in the Pac-10 (Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford) and their toughest home game is against a Sun Devils team that they already beat in Tempe. A 13-5 finish should be enough to get Cal an at-large and a 12-6 finish would put them in pretty good shape provided they don't suffer an early exit in the Pac-10 tourney.

Butler clinched its fourth straight Horizon title on Wednesday night by winning at Youngstown State. Gordon Hayward had 22 points and 17 rebounds to lead the Bulldogs, who may end up being one of the hardest teams for us to seed on Selection Sunday. Butler has a gaudy record but only one good OOC win (vs. Xavier) and beating Siena at home in their BracketBuster game probably won't help them all that much. We think they could max out as a 4 seed if everything breaks right, but as of now, we like them on the 5 line.

Of note: Minnesota lost at home to Michigan; Utah State won at Boise State; Charleston beat Elon at home; Oakland won at Southern Utah; Murray State won at Tennessee Tech to stay unbeaten in the Ohio Valley; Coastal Carolina lost at High Point; Lipscomb lost at USC Upstate; Robert Morris won at Central Connecticut State; Middle Tennessee State beat Denver at home.


AG said...

Five seed for Butler sounds about right. When you think of teams you wouldn't want to face in the tournament, Butler isn't one of them.

I think the Big Ten has officially maxed out at 5 bids. Looks like when Michigan and Minnesota hired new coaches 3 years ago, Michigan got the better end of the bargain.

SMA said...

Louisville fan here. Just had a question for the high minds that run this great blog: let's say we go in and stun Syracuse on Valentine's Day. I know, it doesn't seem likely, but humor me. So if we split with a win against a top 2/3 team on the road is our resume

a.) better than it was before the game tonight
b.) about the same
c.) worse

Just curious as to what your thoughts are....great stuff and I'm hoping my boys can play their way into mock and actual brackets alike.

Bracketology 101 said...

We think big wins trump bad losses in the end (especially on the road) so if Louisville can somehow pull of the upset this weekend they will still be in the bracket and their resume would be slightly better than what they had coming into the week.

SMA said...

That's what I thought, though some fellow fans were saying it would merely cancel out tonight's disaster. Does 10-8 make it in the Big East in your opinion, or does it depend on what "kind" of 10-8 it is, a la Providence in 08? (I know there was an RPI/SOS issue there too)

Love the fact that this site is updated daily and will alert my fellow Bluegrass basketball fans. Congrats on the Fox gig, well deserved

SMA said...

Oops, Providence in 09

Bracketology 101 said...

10-8 will likely get you a bid out of the Big East this year and even 9-9 may be enough for someone.

DavidATL said...

Shame! That is just hurtful and hateful to compare anybody to the Nets. There may be children reading this.

East River1 said...

It looks very likely that Cal will finish with 13 or 14 conference wins. Would that give the Bears an at large slot? Dan Guerrero would not hear the end of whining from Cal if they didn't make it.

How in the world is Notre Dame even mentioned in bubble talk? The Irish played a weak OOC schedule and lost to Loyola Marymount and Northwestern. In conference play, they have lost to 4 teams not in your bracket. West Virginia is the only real impressive win on the Irish resume. They did sweep South Florida but they aren't in your bracket either. Notre Dame has more bad losses than good wins. Don't let that 6-6 Big East record fool you cause the Irish have played a weaker conference schedule than other teams. None of the 3 Big East teams they play twice are in your field. Notre Dame is not deserving of a bid.

Bulldawgs said...

would a 9-7 conference record put ole miss in? those wins over kansas state and utep look really good now. how many sec teams do you see making it? thankks and keep up the outstanding work.

James said...

In reference to your comments about the Pac-10:

"...their toughest home game is against a Sun Devils team that they already beat in Tempe."

Did you forget that one of their recent losses was to Arizona? I would consider the home game against the Cats to be the toughest game for Cal prior to the Pac-10 tournament.

Don't rule out Arizona just yet. Winning out may not be in the cards for the young Cats but if they play to their potential for the rest of the remaining games they could take the title. If Arizona goes 5-1 in the remaining games and win 2 in the Pac-10 tournament they deserve a spot in the NCAA tourney.

I don't believe there is a mid-major team that would be the 3rd or 4th team picked in their conference to go to the NCAA tournament that can hang with Cal, Arizona, or Washington (not the Washington we've seen on the road although that team will definitely keep them out of the tournament).

No one thought Arizona belonged in the tournament last year and they made it to the Sweet 16. This year's team is much better but young and inexperienced. I guarantee they would be a nightmare for a 3rd, 4th, or 5th seed team if they snuck in as a 12th, 13th, or 14th seed.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with the comment that Arizona is better than last year. They don't have an inside presence like Jordan HIll was. The only way Arizona gets in is by winning the pac 10 tournament. Last year, Zona got big non conference wins to enhance their resume. This year they lost to an NIT team in Oklahoma and got pummeled at home by BYU. Tournament worthy teams do not lose by 30 at home. Arizona is not even a bubble team right now.

Bracketology 101 said...

A 9-7 SEC might be enough for Mississippi, but it depends on who their wins come against down the stretch. They have yet to beat an SEC team currently in the field, so beating Vanderbilt or Florida (or maybe both) at home is a must. To be safe, the Rebels need to go 10-6. A 9-7 finish would mean they would need to win a couple of games in the SEC tourney to feel safe.

ACC Matt said...

I had a question about Florida State and Georgia Tech. Which one of these teams is in better shape now? Could an 8-8 conference record get either of these teams in?

AG said...

That thud you heard was Siena and Cornell crashing to the bottom of the bracket after a couple pretty embarrassing losses.