Sunday, March 4, 2007

Road to Selection Sunday

With another weekend in the books, it's time for another edition of "Road to Selection Sunday". As stated last week, it is basically a recap of the past couple of days in college basketball, usually the Saturday and Sunday that were just completed. It will go over the teams on the bubble that helped or hurt themselves, teams in the NCAA Tournament whose seed is rising and falling, and much more.This weekend, a lot of teams made their case for an NCAA bid, while others found ways to keep themselves sweating until Selection Sunday. Conference tournaments in the mid-major conferences are in full stride, and 6 teams have received bids to the NCAA Tournament. Some squads clearly made a statement over the weekend, sending a message to the Committee that they deserve a bid. However, others dropped a game that they needed, leaving themselves squarely on the bubble heading into the major-conference tournaments. Let's take a look at all the teams that were affected by this weekend's results.

Teams that locked up bids to the NCAA Tournament:
The Wildcats knocked off Syracuse at home, giving them seven wins in their last nine games, and a 9-7 Big East record. They’re in.

Teams close to locking up bids to the NCAA Tournament:
Georgia Tech:
Following up a huge win over North Carolina, the Yellow Jackets beat Boston College handily to move them to 8-8 in the ACC.
Syracuse: Despite their loss to Villanova, the Orange have ten Big East wins, and likely need only a win over UConn in the Big East tourney to get a bid.
Michigan State: The Spartans nearly clinched their bid with another win over Wisconsin, but fell short. They can’t afford a first-round loss in the tourney.
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders are clearly 4th in the Big 12 pecking order. They finished 9-7 in the Big 12, with five wins in their last six games.
Xavier: The Musketeers won a share of the Atlantic-10 title with their eighth win in a row, at La Salle. If they avoid an early loss, XU should be fine.

Teams on the bubble that helped themselves:
Florida State: The Seminoles picked up a huge comeback win in overtime at Miami (Fl.). They still have work to do but 7-9 is a lot better than 6-10.
Clemson: The Tigers, after looking dead for weeks, picked up a huge road win at Virginia Tech in the final minute. They finished 7-9 in the ACC.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers keep beating the teams they should, which is not very helpful to their resume, but it keeps them in the mix.
DePaul: The Blue Demons finished 9-7 in the Big East after their home win over South Florida. Huge opening round game against Villanova looms.
Purdue: The Boilermakers picked up a must-win with their home victory over Northwestern to get to 9-7. The Purdue-Illinois debate could last until Selection Sunday.
Kansas State: The Wildcats, like West Virginia, picked up another win this weekend that won’t help their general resume, but keeps them in the mix.
San Diego State: The Aztecs beat TCU this weekend and got the #3 seed in the conference tournament. They need at least two wins.
VCU: The Rams got to the CAA final with an impressive victory over Drexel. They should beat George Mason, ending any at-large talk.
Massachusetts: The Minutemen won a share of the Atlantic-10 final with their road win at St. Joseph’s. Will a run to the finals be enough for a bid?
Gonzaga: Win over San Diego in WCC semi-finals gets them to within one win of an auto bid. Do they need that game to get to the Dance?
Arkansas: Might be too little, too late for the Razorbacks. However, win at Vanderbilt puts them in the mix in the SEC. Lots of work still left to do.

Teams on the bubble that hurt themselves:
Providence: The Friars are pretty much finished after their blowout loss at St. John’s leaves them at 8-8 in the Big East. Finished 10th in the conference.
Michigan: The Wolverines had Ohio State on the ropes, but blew a late lead and fell short. No real quality wins and an 8-8 Big Ten record won’t get it done.
Illinois: The Fighting Illini had a chance to separate themselves from the pack with 10 Big Ten wins, but they lost at Iowa, leaving work to do in Chicago.
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys really hurt their at-large chances with their loss at Baylor. They are now 6-9 in Big 12 play, and don’t have a road win.
Missouri State: The Bears are still definitely third in the MVC pecking order, but they simply didn’t show up against Creighton. I still think they’ll get in.
Bradley: The Braves’ chances are essentially done after their loss to SIU in the semi-finals. BU doesn’t have the overall resume to get a bid.
Georgia: The Bulldogs dropped one at home to Tennessee, leaving them at 8-8 in the SEC and likely killing their at-large hopes heading into Atlanta.
Alabama: The Crimson Tide, like every other SEC West team, is likely on the outside looking in. 7-9 in conference leaves a lot to be desired.
Drexel: The Dragons looked to be in good shape if they could beat VCU—it didn’t happen. They will now have to sit and wait another week. 1-5 against the CAA Top 3.
Old Dominion: Like Drexel, a win for ODU would have really helped out their cause. However, they were upset by GMU, snapping their 12-game win streak.
Appalachian State: ASU fell to Charleston in the SoCon semifinals, likely ruining their at-large hopes. They now just need to hope and pray for a week.

Teams whose seed is rising:
Maryland: The Terrapins are one of the hottest teams in the country, and have a legit shot to win the ACC Tournament. Could be a Top-4 seed.
Notre Dame: The Irish improved to 11-5 in the Big East over the weekend. Slowly creeping towards a quality seed come Selection Sunday.
Louisville: The Cardinals get the #2 seed in the Big East Tournament after they won their sixth in a row against Seton Hall. One of the hotter teams around.
Indiana: The Hoosiers clinched the third seed in the Big Ten with a blowout win over Penn State. 10-6 in the conference is impressive.
Arizona: The Wildcats, after looking lost a couple of weeks ago, finished the season with three straight wins on the road, including Saturday at Stanford.
Oregon: The Ducks won their third in a row over the weekend, improving to 11-7 in the Pac-10. They are playing good basketball again.
UNLV: The Rebels are rising rapidly in the eyes of the Committee. They won their fourth in a row, and also host the MWC Tournament.
BYU: The Cougars clinched the Mountain West Championship, finishing 13-3 in the league. They went 10-1 in their last eleven games.
Memphis: The Tigers have twenty in a row, and with other top teams falling the past week, UM is likely in line for a Top-2 seed at this point.
Creighton: The Blue Jays went from a bubble dweller to a team likely to be seeded in the top-half of the bracket. Was very impressive over the weekend.
Tennessee: The Volunteers are rising faster than nearly everyone in the country. They have won seven of eight, sport a #7 RPI, and finished 10-6 in the SEC.

Teams whose seed is falling:
Virginia: The Cavaliers took their second bad loss in two weeks, this time to Wake Forest. They have lost their last three road games.
Boston College: The Eagles just aren’t playing that well lately. They have lost four of five to end the season, and need to right the ship quickly.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies had a chance to win the ACC after Virginia lost yesterday. However, they lost at home to a Clemson team that was falling apart.

Duke: The Blue Devils lost their second in a row to drop to 8-8 and seventh place in the ACC. The suspension of Gerald Henderson hurts, too.
USC: The Trojans finished third in the Pac-10 at 11-7, but their computer numbers are unimpressive, and they lost two in a row.
Stanford: The Cardinal need to be careful with their at-large hopes. They finished only 10-8 in the Pac-10 with their home loss to Arizona in the finale.
Air Force: The Falcons are another team that might be in trouble Selection Sunday if they don’t pick up another win. AFA has lost three in a row.
Vanderbilt: The Commodores fell at home to Arkansas over the weekend, dropping their RPI several spots. Likely the third-best profile in the SEC now.
Kentucky: The Wildcats lost five of their final seven to end the season, and are falling fast. Need to win their first-round game in Atlanta.

Number one seeds as of this week:
1. UCLA:
Despite their loss at Washington, the Bruins still have the best profile in the country. Terrific computer numbers and 17 wins against the Top 100.
2. Ohio State: The Buckeyes are the only other team that has locked up a #1 seed, most likely. A Big Ten Tournament title gives them a shot at the overall #1.
3. Kansas: The Jayhawks took advantage of the other top seed candidates losing. Played outstanding in the second half against Texas.
4. Wisconsin: The Badgers give the Big Ten two #1 seeds. Their two-point win over Michigan State doesn’t bode well for March, however.

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