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

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