Wednesday, February 6, 2008

NCAA Tournament Stock Report

Welcome back to another installment of March Madness All Season’s new feature, “NCAA Tournament Stock Watch”. Essentially, it is a compilation of teams that are rising and falling with an eye on the NCAA Tournament. It will discuss teams whose potential seed is rising or falling, as well as clubs that are making moves either in or out of the at-large picture or could make noise in the coming weeks.

One last note: this is the last edition of the Stock Report for this year. Starting this week, it will be replaced by the “Road to Selection Sunday,” which will run every Sunday night until March 16.


Maryland: The Terrapins are quietly playing themselves back into at-large contention. They have won two in a row and eight of their last 10. The win at North Carolina is going to be a huge asset come Selection Sunday if they’re on the bubble.

North Carolina State: The Wolfpack were one of the last teams in this week’s bracket, and they solidifed that position with a win over Virginia Tech last night. They are a surprising 9-5 against the top-100. Next two games are on the road.

Notre Dame: The Irish are rising based strictly on their impressive 6-2 Big East record, although only two of those wins are against teams with an above .500 conference record. Three of the next four are on the road, which will tell us a lot about ND.

Connecticut: The Huskies are playing some of the best basketball in the country right now, as they have won five straight games, including four top-40 opponents. Three of their next five are at home, which suggests the winning ways will continue.

Louisville: The Cardinals bounced back from a two-point loss at Connecticut with a 37-point pasting of Rutgers and an impressive road win at Marquette by 14. A win over Georgetown on Saturday at home would be a huge boost and could clinch a bid.

Syracuse: The Orange went from NIT-bound to solidly in the NCAA Tournament field in the matter of a few games. Syracuse has won three straight games, including back-to-back road wins. Three of the next five are on the road; the Orange can’t falter.

Purdue: The Boilermakers continue to move up in the at-large field. They are now 9-1 in the Big Ten, with the only loss at Michigan State by three points a month ago. Purdue plays Wisconsin, Indiana and the Spartans within the next four games.

Wisconsin: The Badgers are looking like the last No. 2 seed in this week’s bracket, due to the fact they have won 12 of 13, and beat Indiana handily at home last week. A 16-point road win at Minnesota was impressive. Four of their next six are on the road.

Texas A&M: The Aggies bounced back from their three-game losing streak two weeks ago with three straight wins, including two road victories and wins over Texas and Oklahoma. They can cement a bid with three of the next five at home.

California: What a week for the Golden Bears. Left for dead after starting 2-5 in the Pac-10, they went to the Pacific Northwest and knocked off Washington State and Washington in consecutive games. After two home games, five of last seven are on the road.

Stanford: The Cardinal are slowly making a move into a two or three seed come March. They have won three straight games – all on the road – and get two more home games to continue their winning ways. Only one game behind UCLA in the standings.

Arkansas: While seemingly everyone else besides Tennessee and Kentucky continues to lose, the Razorbacks are playing themselves into a bid. They have won three straight games, including victories over Mississippi State and Florida by a combined 39 points.

Saint Joseph’s: Look who’s tied with Xavier at the top of the Atlantic-10. The Hawks, who started just 4-4 this season, have won 11 of their last 12, including a 22-point victory over Villanova in the ”Holy War” on Monday. Two road games coming up.

Rhode Island: The Rams have bounced back nicely from their sluggish stretch in mid-January, winning four in a row, including a solid, 12-point win over Dayton. Three consecutive upcoming road games could decide their fate in the standings.

Drake: What a story this has been. The Bulldogs continue to find ways to win, as they knocked off league contender Illinois State on the road last night. They have now won 19 in a row and continue to improve their profile. Two of next three are on the road.

Although the Mountain West has been wide-open for much of the season, we have begun to see some separation at the top. The Rebels have won 10 of 11, and are now 6-1 in the MWC. With the RPI rapidly rising, expect UNLV in the Big Dance.

BYU: Another team making a move in the MWC. The Cougars are keeping pace with UNLV, as they have won five in a row to improve to 6-1 in the conference. Their non-conference win over Louisville put them in the Field of 65 this week.

George Mason: Are we headed for another two-bid season in the CAA? If the Patriots continue to play this way, that looks like the case. They have won six of their last seven to improve to 8-3 in the conference. The next stretch is huge, with three straight road games.

MAC East:
This might be the year when a MAC team finally gets an at-large bid. Kent State and Ohio are both tied (along with Akron) atop the East Division, and both have decent power numbers and non-conference performances. This could be an interesting scenario to watch as Selection Sunday gets closer – the MAC is famous for teams beating up on each other.


Boston College:
Say goodbye to the Eagles in the at-large discussion. After starting 3-0 in the ACC, BC has lost four in a row, with three of the losses by at least 18 points. Three of the next four at home, which gives the Eagles some home.

Miami (Fl.): The Hurricanes have fallen quickly and expectedly from grace. They have lost five of their last six, a mark that could continue to get worse as two of the next three are on the road – and then Duke and Maryland come to town. It doesn’t look good.

Marquette: What happened to the Golden Eagles? The same team that beat Wisconsin and nearly beat Duke has lost three of six and dropped to 6-4 in the Big East after a 14-point loss to Louisville at home. Four of next six are on the road.

Pittsburgh: The Panthers still have impressive power numbers and a win over Duke, but they have lost three of five and face a plethora of top-50 opponents the rest of the way. Two straight home games might help them get back to their winning ways.

Villanova: One of the more disappointing stories of the conference season, the Wildcats have now lost five in a row after their 22-point loss to Saint Joseph’s Monday. They are 3-6 in the Big East, and are rapidly losing their at-large hopes.

Providence: The Friars have completely fallen apart since their road win at Connecticut. Prior to their win over DePaul last night, they had lost four in a row, including a must-win bubble game against West Virginia at home over the weekend. Next two are on the road.

Michigan State: The Spartans had a chance to solidify themselves as a No. 2 seed, but they fell at Penn State over the weekend, dropping them to fourth in the Big Ten. Road games at Purdue and Indiana are coming up, which could spell trouble for MSU.

Ohio State: Despite their surprisingly close win over Michigan last night, the Buckeyes have struggled lately. They fell at Iowa over the weekend, and four of their next six games are on the road. With a mediocre non-conference showing, they need a marquee win.

Baylor: The Bears went from a Big 12 contender at 4-0 to an also-ran, as they have lost two in a row, including a home defeat to Oklahoma. Two of their next three are on the road, of which Baylor would be smart to pick up at least two wins.

Washington State: Talk about an unexpected fall. The Cougars, who were fighting for a top-seed only a few weeks ago, have lost three in a row, including back-to-back home losses to California and Stanford last week. Showdown with UCLA coming up tomorrow.

Oregon: The Ducks have been one of the season’s more disappointing teams, as they had lost four in a row before beating Oregon State over the weekend. It also doesn’t get any easier for them, as the Ducks go on the road for five of the next seven.

Arizona State: Another Pac-10 team in the midst of a massive collapse. The same team that started 4-0 in the conference is now 4-5 after five consecutive losses – four of which were by double-figures. Intrastate rivalry at Arizona on Sunday.

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs had a chance to make themselves a contender in the SEC last week, but they fell to both Arkansas and Tennessee. With a severe lack of good wins, MSU could be in trouble. Three of its next five are on the road.

Vanderbilt: Just one of several SEC teams heading in the wrong direction. The Commodores have lost four of their last six, dropping them to 3-4 in the SEC. They have just two road wins on the year – good thing five of their last seven are at home.

Mississippi: The Rebels looked like they were recovering from their losing ways with a blowout win over Vanderbilt – before falling at home to South Carolina. For some reason, they scheduled an RPI-killing game against Presbyterian (RPI: 327) this week.

Florida: The Gators were quickly rising in both polls and projected brackets before heading on the road and losing by a combined 41 points to Arkansas and Tennessee. Three of their next four are at home, which gives them a chance to bounce back.

Dayton: The Flyers are just biding their time until Chris Wright returns – hopefully they’re still competitive by then. They have lost four of their last five, dropping them to 3-4 in the Atlantic-10. Luckily for them, the Flyers still have an outstanding non-league profile.

Massachusetts: Another A-10 team struggling, the Minutemen were one of the last teams in this week’s bracket. They have lost three of their last four, including a 12-point defeat at Saint Louis over the weekend. Huge game on Thursday against Rhode Island at home.

Illinois State:
Despite recent struggles, the Redbirds had a chance to get back into the at-large discussion against Drake last night. However, they fell at home by three, putting them four games behind the Bulldogs. They have lost four of their last six.

Gonzaga: The Bulldogs are certainly going to get an at-large bid barring a major self-destruction, but their seed is quickly dropping. With their OT loss at Saint Mary’s on Monday, the Zags are only 2-5 against the top-50. Two straight home games coming up.

1 comment:

  1. Stating that MSU's stock is falling because it lost on the road to Arkansas and at home to a national-title contender is ridiculous.

    MSU is still just 1 game behind in the SEC Title race and is leading the West.

    Get a grip.