Sunday, February 24, 2008

Road to Selection Sunday

Welcome back to the "Road to Selection Sunday". As stated last week, it is basically a recap of the past couple of days in college basketball, usually the weekend that was 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.

What a wild weekend in college basketball. We had a No. 1 vs. No. 2 match-up, another top-seed contender lost and several upsets occurred overall to shake up the NCAA Tournament landscape. Also, there was the Bracket Busters series, which saw plenty of at-large contenders and conference leaders jockeying for position come Selection Sunday. In terms of the bubble teams, many squads didn’t take advantage of opportunities to boost their resume, while others picked up big wins to help out their profiles for the Big Dance. Let's take a look at all the teams that were affected by this weekend's results.

Teams close to locking up bids to the NCAA Tournament:
Mississippi State:
The Bulldogs took the next step towards an at-large bid by escaping South Carolina in overtime on the road; two-game lead on Arkansas.
BYU: The Cougars could have likely wrapped up a bid if they had defeated San Diego State on Saturday night. Instead, they lost and now are just up one game on UNLV.
Kent State: The Golden Flashes were the big winners of Bracket Busters, as they went on the road and defeated Saint Mary’s. Now 7-3 vs. top-100.

Teams on the bubble that helped themselves:
Miami (Fl.):
The Hurricanes continue to help themselves out, as they followed up their win over Duke with a big home victory over Maryland in a huge bubble game.
Villanova: The Wildcats were able to keep their turnaround alive with a close victory over a hot Connecticut team on Saturday; now back to .500. in the Big East.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers knocked off Providence as expected on Saturday, although the victory now puts them seventh in the Big East pecking order.
Baylor: The Bears won for just the second time in eight games, but it was over Kansas State and got Baylor back to .500 in the Big 12.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils, like most of the Pac-10, is a mystery. However, they went on the road Saturday and beat Washington, something UCLA and Arizona couldn’t do.
Saint Joseph’s: The Hawks seemed left for dead after their loss to La Salle at home this past week, but a road victory over Rhode Island puts them back on the map.
Massachusetts: The Minutemen didn’t even play this weekend, but their win at Rhode Island last week and so many A-10 contenders losing moves them up.
New Mexico: This is definitely a team to keep an eye on. The Lobos have a weak SOS but a rising RPI – and they play UNLV and BYU this week at home.
UNLV: The Runnin’ Rebels are on their way up for two reasons: they beat Wyoming on the road on Saturday, and gained a game on BYU when the Cougars lost.
Southern Illinois: The Salukis kept their slim at-large hopes alive when they destroyed Nevada by 25 in the Bracket Busters. Making moves quickly.
Illinois State: The Redbirds also stayed in the at-large mix with yet another MVC Bracket Buster win, knocking off Wright State at home tonight.
UAB: The Blazers are looking like the next-in-line after Memphis in the C-USA pecking order; they defeated SMU on the road on Saturday.
Houston: The Cougars bounced back from a tough loss to UAB earlier in the week with a home victory over Rice on Saturday; their at-large hopes are fading, though.
Western Kentucky: The Hilltoppers don’t have much hopes for an at-large bid as it is, but they kept whatever chances they had alive with a home win over Louisiana-Monroe.

Teams on the bubble that hurt themselves:
The Terrapins fell from safely in the field to the wrong side of the bubble after following up their home loss to Va. Tech with a defeat at Miami (Fl.).
Wake Forest: Although not many people expected the Demon Deacons to beat North Carolina on the road, the loss drops them back to .500 in the ACC.
Syracuse: The Orange had a chance to boost their at-large hopes on Sunday with a win at Notre Dame, but they fell and now are just 2-9 vs. the top-50.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes continue to fall in my eyes; they have an extremely empty profile, one that got worse with a home loss to Wisconsin earlier today.
Oregon: For the second time in three days, the Ducks had a double-digit lead on the road but blew it in the second half, this time to UCLA on Saturday.
California: The Golden Bears weren’t expected to go into Stanford and beat the Cardinal on Sunday night, but they are running out of chances to boost their resume.
Rhode Island: The Rams might be the team that hurt themselves the most this past week, dropping back-to-back home games to fellow bubble teams in the A-10.
Dayton: If the Flyers could have just won a game against a contender over the past few weeks, the committee might be able to give them sympathy because of Chris Wright. It hasn’t happened.
George Mason: The Patriots’ at-large hopes are likely gone after their road loss to Ohio in the Bracket Busters. They have six sub-100 losses and have lost three of five.

Teams trying to work themselves into the at-large conversation:
Virginia Tech:
The Hokies could have an interesting case should they win two of their last three and finish 9-7 in the ACC. Their sweep of Maryland gives them a nice chip.
Cincinnati: The Bearcats are almost like the Va. Tech of the Big East, just better. They are likely going to finish 10-8 in the conference, with five top-50 wins.
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders kept their extremely slip at-large hopes alive with a home win over Iowa State; tough final stretch gives them chances to move up.
Kentucky: The Wildcats got the tough home win they needed to get at-large consideration when they beat Arkansas; they are now 9-3 in the SEC and rising quickly.
Ohio: The Bobcats could have potentially revived their seemingly dead at-large hopes with a comeback win over George Mason in the Bracket Busters.

Teams falling from the at-large conversation:
North Carolina State:
The Wolfpack might be the most disappointing team in the country this season; they lost their fourth in a row to drop to 4-8 in the ACC.
Mississippi: The Rebels looked like they were turning things around with their win over Mississippi State, but all that hope was dashed with a 20-point loss at LSU.
Temple: The Owls had extremely dim chances for an at-large as it was, but whatever hope they did was completely buried after they lost to Fordham at home by two.
Wright State: The Raiders had won 11 in a row heading into their Bracket Buster game at Illinois State, but they didn’t perform well and hurt their at-large resume.
Akron: The Zips are second in the MAC East, which gave them hope for an at-large bid, but a home loss to VCU in the Bracket Busters might have put those hopes to sleep.

Teams whose seed is rising:
The Cardinals are playing like the best team in the Big East right now, especially after an impressive road win at Pittsburgh on Sunday.
Notre Dame: The Irish are also moving up in the seedings as they continue to play well, defeating Syracuse on Sunday. Could finish 14-4 in the Big East.
Michigan State: The Spartans bounced back from their back-to-back losses last week with easy victories over Penn State and Iowa. It’s not much, but it helps.
Wisconsin: The Badgers continue to win anywhere they play – except against Purdue. They went into Columbus today, and knocked off Ohio State. 13-2 in Big Ten.
Texas: The Longhorns might have made a move to the No. 1-seed line after their easy victory over Oklahoma on Saturday. Leading the Big 12 over Kansas.
USC: The Trojans seemed to be fading last week, but they won back-to-back games over the Oregon schools this week, leaving them in good shape as of now.
Arizona: The Wildcats would have been squarely on the bubble had they lost at Washington State on Saturday; however, they won and are now okay.
Tennessee: The Volunteers might have jumped into the No. 1 overall seed with their impressive road win over Memphis on Saturday night. No. 1 RPI by a large margin.
Drake: The Bulldogs were struggling somewhat with losses in two of their last three games, but they bounced back in a big way with a road win at Butler on Saturday.

Teams whose seed is falling:
The Tigers could have moved up in the seedings with a road win at Florida State this weekend, but the Seminoles won. Clemson drops to 7-5 in the ACC.
Pittsburgh: The Panthers have to be careful the rest of the way; with a home loss to Louisville, they have now dropped three in a row and are 7-7 in the Big East.
Kansas: The Jayhawks are quickly slipping from contention for a No. 1 seed and now have work to do to stay in the mix. Just 4-2 against the top-50 of the RPI.
Kansas State: The Wildcats have lost all the momentum it had a few weeks ago. They have now dropped four in a row on the road, the latest being a defeat at struggling Baylor.
Texas A&M: The Aggies are likely on the bubble as they have now lost three in a row, including two at home to Oklahoma State and Nebraska, who were 1-13 on the road before beating A&M.
Oklahoma: The Sooners are right in front of most of the bubble teams, but they can’t have anymore 17-point losses in Big 12 play like they did at Texas on Saturday.
Washington State: The Cougars are a very interesting team; they are certainly going to get in the Big Dance, but it would help their seeding if they could win at home.
Arkansas: The Razorbacks have probably fell all the way back to the bubble, as they lost their third game in the past four with a defeat at Kentucky on Saturday.
Butler: The Bulldogs won’t fall too much after their home loss to Drake on Saturday, but it likely keeps them out of contention for a top-three seed come Selection Sunday.
Saint Mary’s: The Gaels are still a lock for the NCAA Tournament, but a home loss to Kent State on Saturday drops their RPI and potential seeding for the Big Dance.

Number one seeds as of this week:
1. Tennessee: The Volunteers made a huge jump this week after their road win at Memphis on Saturday. They have the most top-50 wins in the country and are hot.
2. Memphis: The Tigers are still a No. 1 seed despite their loss to Tennessee at home on Saturday; a loss in Conference-USA play, though, could spell a different story.
3. North Carolina: The Tar Heels continued their winning ways without Ty Lawson as they defeated a hot Wake Forest team in Chapel Hill on Sunday night.
4. Texas: The Longhorns get the last No. 1 seed this week, beating out UCLA for the final spot. Nine top-50 wins and the Big 12 lead gives them the nod for now.

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