Sunday, February 10, 2008

Road to Selection Sunday

Welcome back to another year of our popular feature, "Road to Selection Sunday". Basically, it is 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.

This weekend, a couple of highly-ranked teams were upset by teams in need of a win. In other cases, some teams on the right side of the bubble lost games they should have won and are no longer as comfortably in the Big Dance as before. In addition, there were several contests between bubble teams that could have a big impact on Selection Sunday. 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:
Notre Dame: The Irish have now won five in a row after their escape against Marquette on Saturday; 8-2 Big East record looks very impressive.
Connecticut: One of the hottest teams in the country, the Huskies have won seven in a row after their victory over Georgia Tech this weekend.
Kansas State: Aside from a three-point slip-up at Missouri, KSU has been dominant since 2008 began, winning eight of nine to go 7-1 in the Big 12.
Texas A&M: The Aggies pulled out a tough victory at Missouri, which is difficult to beat at home. A&M has won five in a row after struggles in mid-January.

Teams on the bubble that helped themselves:
Maryland: The Terrapins are rising rapidly into the at-large field, after winning their fourth game in a row, this one over fellow bubble-dweller North Carolina State.
Miami (Fl.): The Hurricanes were able to stay on the map with a win at Virginia Tech – only their second win since January 12.
Villanova: The Wildcats are falling fast, but a two-point home win over Seton Hall gave them hope. ‘Nova had lost five in a row prior to the victory.
Oregon: The Ducks were mired in an absolute collapse, losing five of six – until they came out of nowhere and beat California on the road by 22 points.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils were on the verge of falling off the bubble, but they went into Tucson and knocked off in-state rival Arizona by five.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs were struggling last week, getting blown out in two games, but they are coming off a 19-point road win at Auburn.
UNLV: The Runnin’ Rebels kept pace with BYU atop the Mountain West with a home win over an awful Colorado State team by 17 points.
Houston: The Cougars continue to pad their gaudy record by beating teams that range from mediocre to terrible. The latest victim was Tulane.
Ohio: The Bobcats kept their at-large hopes alive by pulling out a late win over Western Michigan by three. It would have been their second loss in a row.

Teams on the bubble that hurt themselves:
North Carolina State: The Wolfpack had a chance to move up in the ACC pecking order, but a poor second half against Maryland ruined any thoughts of that.
Seton Hall: The Pirates are struggling since their five-game winning streak, as they have now lost three in a row after a two-point defeat at Villanova.
Oklahoma: The Sooners are headed the wrong way at the wrong time, as they dropped their third game in a row, this time to cellar-dwellar Colorado.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes had a chance to pick up a marquee win at home on Sunday, but they fell to Indiana and now sit squarely on the bubble.
California: The Golden Bears were rolling along in the Pac-10, before fellow bubble team Oregon came to town and blitzed Cal in the second-half to win by 22.
George Mason: It’s going to be difficult as it is to get a second bid from the CAA, but losses to .500 conference teams like Old Dominion don’t help.
Saint Joseph’s: The Hawks had won six in a row and were looking great; since then, they’ve lost two in a row after letting a late lead slip away at Xavier.
Massachusetts: The Atlantic-10 will still get a few bids, but it shouldn’t feel as comfortable as it did a few weeks ago. UMass has now dropped four of its last six.

Teams trying to work themselves into the at-large conversation:
Washington: The Huskies seemed like the first victim (aside from Oregon State) of the brutal Pac-10, but a 10-point win over UCLA kept them in the mix.
Kentucky: The Wildcats still don’t have the requisite power numbers and overall profile, but a 6-2 SEC record is something to keep an eye on.

Teams falling from the at-large conversation:
Virginia Tech:
The Hokies were in the mix because of their solid ACC record; after back-to-back losses, they are now 5-5 and back to the middle of the pack.
Providence: The Friars have been in a complete tail-spin since beating UConn on the road; they’ve lost five of six, including one at St. John’s on Saturday.

Teams whose seed is rising:
The Cardinals picked up a huge win over Georgetown Saturday night with a great second half – they’re now just one game back of the Hoyas.
Purdue: Will everyone take the Boilermakers seriously now? After a big-time road win at Wisconsin on Saturday, Purdue is now 10-1 in the Big Ten.
Indiana: The Hoosiers have bounced back from two losses with three straight wins, including a couple of impressive road wins at Illinois and Ohio State.
Stanford: The Cardinal just continue to rise in the field. They are now tied with UCLA atop the Pac-10 after winning their seventh in a row this weekend.
Vanderbilt: The Commodores continue to steer clear of the bubble, as they have won three in a row after a buzzer-beater to beat South Carolina on the road.
Arkansas: The Razorbacks are looking like the second-best seeded team behind Tennessee in the SEC – they’ve won four in a row and eight of 10.Teams whose seed is falling:
Marquette: The Golden Eagles nearly knocked off Notre Dame on the road Saturday, but the loss dropped them to 6-5 and sixth place in the Big East.
Baylor: The Bears looked like a legitimate lock just a few weeks ago. However, they’ve lost three of their last four after dropping one at Kansas this weekend.
Wisconsin: It still is unclear how good the Badgers really are. A home loss to Purdue on Saturday quickly dropped them to third in the Big Ten.
Arizona: The Wildcats are fitting in nicely with the Pac-10 theme of inconsistency. After winning four in a row, UA has lost two in a row, including at home to ASU.
Dayton: The Flyers are still in the field because of great power numbers, but a 2-5 record in the past seven games is cause for concern. Losing at GW is unacceptable.

Number one seeds as of this week:
1. Memphis: The Tigers will continue to be the overall No. 1 seed until they lose – if that ever happens. Houston and UAB coming up this week.
2. Duke: It looks like the Blue Devils are back in their usual perch amongst the nation’s elite after defeating UNC on the road Wednesday. No. 2 RPI in the country.
3. Kansas: The Jayhawks reached 100 points for the first time since the season opener on Saturday night against Baylor. The lone hiccup was to KSU.
4. North Carolina: Although the Tar Heels fell to Duke this week, the committee might overlook it due to the fact Ty Lawson missed it with an ankle injury.

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