Sunday, March 13, 2011

Final NCAA prediction...

Lets take a look at the bubble teams now that it is Selection Sunday and see who should be in and who should be out.

The one team that I don't get as a bubble team is USC. They lost 9 games in the Pac-10, which had more bad teams than good ones. They have losses to Bradley (RPI 234), Rider (105), TCU (209), Oregon x2 (135), Oregon St (217), Cal (77), and Washington State (84). I know they are playing well now, beat some good teams (Tennessee, Texas, UCLA, Arizona), but the resume is clearly not tourney-worthy. The are certainly better with Jio Fontan, but I still don't see them in.

I have written on here the last week or so that I don't think BC has a legit case either. They failed to pick up a top 50 win since beating Texas A&M over Thanksgiving week. Not enough quality wins coupled with some bad losses put them out.

St Mary's went 3-4 in their last 7 and if they don't get in, they can blame it on losing late in the year (2/16) to San Diego, who boasts an RPI of 320. But, like BC, their only top 50 win was St. Johns, and that was on 11/16. Their 2nd best win was Gonzaga (58), but the Gaels also lost to the Zags twice. Stat that keeps them out: 20 of 23 wins vs. sub-100 opponents and one sub-300 loss.

Clemson looks like the ACC's best bubble team, but only because they have beaten the others up recently. ACC supporters think Clemson should be a lock because they have good wins over VT, BC, and FSU. While these are quality wins, do they, coupled with wins vs Charleston, Miami, and Long Beach State (next best wins) get the Tigers in? Maybe.

Virginia Tech is in a tough spot as well, as they were probably the last team out last year when I thought they were in easily. They are in a similar position this year with an RPI of 61 and that one Duke win as their case-maker. They have 2 wins over FSU, which help, and their win over Penn State looks better now. I just don't see how their stock improved after the past 2 weeks by getting blown out at home vs BC, losing to Clemson, beating GT and FSU (w/o Singleton by a finger-tip).

Alabama has a case only because of their 2 wins over UGA and their incredible play at home this season. Check the numbers below to see how they played away from home. The committee looks at numbers like these.

Bubble Teams Stats (via Mark Schlabach)

Most losses vs. teams outside top 25: UGA (4); VT (7); Clemson (6); Bama (7); BC (8); Penn St (8); VCU (8); Colo (10); USC (11)

Most top-50 wins: Colo (6); USC (5); PSU (5); Ala (4); VCU (3); UGA (3); VT (2); BC (1); St. Mary's (1); UAB (1); Clemson (0)

Road/Neutral: VCU (12-8); VT (10-8); St. Mary's (10-6); UGA (9-7); BC (8-8); USC (7-10); Penn St (6-8); Clem (6-9); Colo (6-11); Ala (5-11)

How I see it (with Richmond winning today)

1. Ohio State, Duke, Kansas, Pitt
2. Notre Dame, San Diego St, UNC, BYU
3. UConn, Texas, Florida, Kentucky
4. Louisville, Arizona, Syracuse, Wisconsin
5. Texas A&M, Purdue, Vanderbilt, UNLV
6. Xavier, St Johns, Kansas St, West Virginia
7. Washington, Old Dominion, Temple, Georgetown
8. UCLA, Cincinnati, Utah St, Gonzaga
9. Missouri, Richmond, Butler, George Mason
10. Villanova, Tennessee, Florida St, Marquette
11. Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, Michigan St
12. Clemson/Alabama, Illinois/Virginia Tech, Penn State

These predictions will certainly change if Dayton wins today. That would push out the last team in, which here was Alabama.

This differs from the "Bracketology" experts at CBS Sports (Bama/Colorado in and VCU/St Mary's out) and ESPN (UGA/Bama in and St Mary's/USC out)

Only 7 hours until we know for sure...

Monday, March 7, 2011

What did the weekend tell us?

Not much, actually…because George Mason and Missouri State both lost and that opens up a new debate about these teams as potential at-large selections. As you read on here last week, teams like Virginia Tech and Nebraska desperately needed big wins this weekend and came up short. Both are out now barring runs in their respective conference tourney’s all way to Sunday.

The following teams have been mentioned as bubble teams the past few weeks, but are locks for the tourney even if they fail to win another game:

1) Gonzaga
2) St Mary’s
3) Butler
4) Illinois

Obviously, one of the WCC teams will earn the auto-bid tonight, but whoever loses the Zaga/St Mary’s game is also safe as an at-large team. Both finished strong and have enough non-conference wins and a high enough RPI to feel safe. Butler is in the same boat and Illinois owns wins over Gonzaga, UNC, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Michigan State and will still be in even if they lose to Michigan in the 1st round of the Big 10 tournament.
These teams lost this weekend and now need to win at least one game this week to feel comfortable at all.

1) UGA
2) Virginia Tech
3) Michigan St
4) Tennessee
5) Marquette

I think all 5 of these teams are “out” if they lose their 1st round game this week. Winning that game won’t ensure a bid, but losing will make each of these 5 NIT bound.
Other teams that won this weekend, but still have work to do:

1) Michigan
2) Colorado
3) Richmond
4) Boston College
5) Alabama
6) Clemson
7) UAB
8) Florida State

Finally, we have the top 40 RPI mid-majors who were upset in their conference tourneys, Missouri State and George Mason. Let’s take a look at these 2 teams 1st in our bubble team breakdown:

1) George Mason – RPI (23), 2-1 vs top 50 RPI, 9-1 last 10 – Mason is a tough team for me to put in the tournament. Granted, they were on a 16 game win streak before losing to VCU on Sunday, but their overall resume is not very impressive. Their top 50 wins are Harvard and ODU, and they have losses to NC St (106), Wofford (121), Dayton (84), and Hofstra (82).

2) Missouri St – RPI (37), 0-1 vs top 50 RPI, 8-2 last 10 – I think Missouri State is a good team. I have seen them 3 times this year and they can really play. However, they are not an NCAA tournament team in my opinion. Their 2 best wins are against Wichita State, and every other team in the RPI top 100 they have played they have lost to: Tennessee (32), Tulsa (81), Oklahoma St (62), Indiana St (95) twice, and Valparaiso (71). They also have losses to Northern Iowa (108) and Evansville (142). NIT bound in my book…

So, here is my take on the seeds as of today, and who the last few teams in the tournament are:

1) Ohio State, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Kansas
2) UNC, Duke, Texas, BYU
3) San Diego St, Florida, Kentucky, Purdue
4) Louisville, Syracuse, Wisconsin, St. Johns
5) Vanderbilt, Xavier, Kansas St, West Virginia
6) Arizona, UNLV, Georgetown, Cincinnati
7) Villanova, Texas A&M, UConn, Temple
8) Old Dominion, Missouri, UCLA, Washington
9) Utah St, Illinois, Butler, St Mary’s
10) UAB, Clemson, Tennessee, UGA
11) Richmond, Florida St, Michigan, Alabama
12) George Mason/Boston College, Colorado/Michigan St, Marquette

That leaves the following bubble teams currently “out”:

1) Virginia Tech
2) Missouri State
3) Washington St
4) Baylor
5) Memphis
6) Nebraska
7) Colorado St
8) Washington St

Every at-large team in the 10-12 spot can easily be pushed out with a 1st round loss in their conference tourney. UGA is likely out if they lose to Auburn, Bama out if they lose to UGA/Auburn, UAB out with 1st round loss, Michigan St, Marquette, and so on all need to win at least 1 to feel good about their chances.

There are also still a ton of important games this week for the teams in the 10-12 spots. If you are a fan of any of the teams listed above, here is who you need to be rooting for this week (bubble teams included that need wins):

Monday: Old Dominion
Tuesday: Butler, Providence
Thursday: Auburn, Wake Forest, Iowa, Arkansas
Friday: Illinois

It’s hard to do a lot of predicting when you don’t know how teams will be matched up in the brackets, but as of now I like Ohio St, Pitt, Texas, and Florida to make very strong runs towards the title.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

What to do with the ACC?

When selection Sunday comes around in 11 days, the selection committee will likely have some tough decisions when it comes to the ACC. In years past, Florida State with a 10-4 conference record, VT and Clemson with a chance at 10, and Boston College with some good non-conference wins would be locks. However, the league isn’t what it used to be…

Lets 1st take a look at the bubble teams in the ACC, their case, and then compare them to some of the other bubble teams. One of the most important factors the committee looks for are RPI, record versus the top 50, and record in their last 10, so these numbers will be given for all teams.

1) Florida State – RPI (48), 2-4 vs to 50, 7-3 last 10 – Florida State really needs to finish strong, as the committee will really take into consideration the fact that the Noles lost their best player to injury. A win vs UNC tonight would likely get them in, but if they lose, they will need to win at NC State and get at least 1 more in the ACC tournament.

2) Virginia Tech – RPI (63), 2-6 vs top 50, 6-4 last 10 – The Hokies were getting a lot of love until they were blown out last night at home vs BC. Now, they face a tough road game against Clemson that may be a loser-is-out scenario. If they lose their last 2 after beating Duke, they will need to get to the ACC tournament final just to be considered.

3) Clemson – RPI (68), 2-4 vs top 50, 6-4 lat 10 – Clemson has worked their way back on the bubble and will move to “lock” status if they win their last 2 at Duke and vs Virginia Tech. Even if they lose to Duke tonight, a win over VT and a decent run in the ACC tournament will give them a good chance at one of the last few spots.

4) Boston College – RPI (37o), 1-6 vs top 50, 4-6 last 10 – BC was all but done until beating VT last night on the road. Now, a win over Wake to finish the season and a win or 2 in the ACC tournament will give them a pretty good resume. The lack of a top 50 win since Thanksgiving hurts, but they may end up having the best resume of all the ACC bubble teams.

Who are these ACC bubble teams battling for the final few spots? Well, after last night, Alabama and Baylor’s chances took major blows. Colorado State dug their grave by losing to Air Force. Marquette and Michigan State had big wins last week and are currently solid at-large choices. So, the following teams are currently on the bubble if they don’t do something before the conference tournaments start and will be battling the above ACC schools for the final 9 spots:

1) Michigan – RPI (57), 2-8 vs RPI top 50, 7-3 last 10 – winning at Minnesota this past weekend gave the Wolverines the bubble nod over the now NIT-bound Gophers. Michigan can really boost their chances by winning at home against Michigan State Saturday.

2) UGA – RPI (36), 3-9 vs RPI top 50, 5-5 last 10 – UGA is only on here because I am unsure why bracketologists are still considering them on the bubble. They have 0 bad losses and can only miss the tourney by losing their final 3 (tonight vs LSU, Saturday @ BAMA, and 1st round of the SEC tournament). I say they win at least 2 of those and lock up a 7-9 seed.

3) Baylor – RPI (78), 2-5 vs RPI top 50, 5-5 last 10 – Baylor’s chances took a major hit last night after losing to Ok St. While not a bad loss, the Bears needed the win for their resume. Like Boston College, their best win(s) are over Texas A&M.

4) Alabama – RPI (87), 2-3 vs RPI top 50, 8-2 last 10 – Bama’s chances were hurt last night, not because they lost, but how they lost. Everyone saw them get embarrassed by Florida in a game where they failed to compete. They must beat UGA on Saturday and win at least 1 in the SEC tourney to feel comfortable at all.

5) Colorado – RPI (77), 4-6 vs RPI top 50, 4-6 last 10 – Colorado is certainly an interesting case. They own wins over Texas, Missouri, Kansas St, and Colorado State, but also have losses to San Francisco, New Mexico, and Oklahoma, who are all outside the RPI top 90. They can, however, give themselves an excellent change at an NCAA tourney berth by winning their last two against Iowa State and Nebraska.

6) Memphis – RPI (33), 4-4 vs RPI top 50, 6-4 last 10 – Memphis is in a bit of trouble after getting blown out at UTEP Saturday. Their only top 50 wins are UAB (x2) and USM (x2) and they have losses to Rice, Tulsa, and SMU. The Tigers still have a strong RPI, but that will likely drop after their final 2 games – even if they beat ECU and Tulane. Wins in their final 2 and a spot in the C-USA tournament final are a must if Memphis wants in.

7) UAB – RPI (31), 0-5 vs RPI top 50, 7-3 last 10 – UAB can really use a win at Southern Miss tonight. It would give them their 1st RPI top 50 win and put them in a great spot to finish 12-4 and on top in C-USA. Right now, their best 4 wins are Marshall (x2) and UCF (x2). That must change for UAB to have a legit case.

8) St Mary’s – RPI (49), 1-4 vs RPI top 50, 6-4 last 10 – St Mary’s put themselves in a tough spot by losing 3 in a row late to San Diego, Utah St, and Gonzaga. The reason they have a top 50 RPI is their mid-November win over St John’s and losses to SDSU and BYU. The Gaels may need to win the conference tournament now if some of the other bubble teams finish strong.

9) Gonzaga – RPI (67), 2-6 vs RPI top 50, 9-1 last 10 – The Zags are hot as of late, winning their last 7 and getting squarely on the bubble. Their wins over Marquette and St Mary’s are good, but the Washington State blowout and losses to Santa Clara and San Francisco hurt a little bit. If they lose the conference championship game to St Mary’s, they still have a shot, but need some other teams to start losing.

10) Richmond – RPI (61), 1-3 vs RPI top 50, 8-2 last 10 – The Spiders are getting some more love now, but have been winning as of late due to an easy schedule. They won at Dayton (RPI 65), but other than that, their only top 100 RPI win since beating Purdue over Thanksgiving was 12/11 vs VCU. They need to win their final 2 A-10 games vs St Joe’s and Duquesne and make a conference tourney run to get in.

11) Nebraska – RPI (73), 3-6 vs RPI top 50, 4-6 last 10 – Nebraska is still a bit off the bubble, even after beating Missouri last night. They need to win at Colorado this weekend and win some conference tourney games before they approach “last 4 in” status.

12) Butler – RPI (46) – 3-3 vs RPI top 50, 7-3 last 10 – Butler has overcome their 3 game losing streak at the end of January to win 7 in a row and again become the Horizon conference tournament favorite. If they fail to win the tournament, they will need some help, but still have a good case.

As of the morning of 3/2, here is how I see the final 9 spots played out
10 seed – UGA
11 seeds – Florida St/Butler, Gonzaga, St Mary’s, Memphis
12 seeds – Clemson/VA tech winner Sat, Alabama, Michigan, Boston College