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.

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