Sunday, February 17, 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.

This weekend, there were several marquee contests between teams fighting for top-four seeds as well as high-profile conference clashes and bubble battles. Furthermore, some teams that looked like locks for the Big Dance dropped games they should have won and now still have work left to do. 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:
The Commodores have gone from a precarious position to a near-lock with wins in their last five games. 22-4 with an RPI of 11.
Clemson: The Tigers have established themselves as the third-best team in the ACC with their fourth win in five games, at North Carolina State.
BYU: The Cougars cemented themselves in first-place in the Mountain West after pummeling second-place UNLV by 26 last night at home.

Teams on the bubble that helped themselves:
The Terrapins are creating some space between themselves and the rest of the middle-of-the-pack in the ACC. Their only two losses in the past month were to Duke.
Syracuse: The Orange picked up a must-win when they beat Georgetown at home on Saturday. After their loss to South Florida, it’s exactly what they needed.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers destroyed Seton Hall on Sunday, cementing themselves as the seventh or eighth best team in the conference.
Oklahoma: The Sooners bounced back from three straight losses with back-to-back wins, including a two-point road victory at Texas Tech on Saturday.
California: The Golden Bears picked up a game they had to win, knocking off Arizona State on the road on Saturday. They have won four of six.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs continue to rise in the Field of 65, after defeating SEC West contender Arkansas by six on Saturday. Four of next five on the road.
Saint Joseph’s: With the A-10 seemingly slipping at every turn lately, St. Joe’s stayed in the picture by beating St. Bonaventure and hanging onto second place.

Massachusetts: Although the Minutemen won a game they should have against Saint Louis, it avenged an earlier loss and gave them some momentum.
Dayton: The Flyers picked up a must-win on Saturday, defeating a rising Temple team in order to stay in the hunt for an at-large bid without star frosh Chris Wright.
Houston: The Cougars could have used a win at Memphis on Wednesday, but they are staying alive by beating tons of mediocre-to-average teams in C-USA.
South Alabama: Because the Jaguars lost control of first-place in the Sun Belt, it’s time to evaluate their at-large hopes. Beat FAU by 17 on Saturday.

Teams on the bubble that hurt themselves:
North Carolina State:
The Wolfpack are falling quickly in the ACC picture. They needed to beat Clemson at home on Saturday, and they faltered – their third straight loss.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes’ plan to beat every bad team in the Big Ten and lose to every good team took a hit when they lost to Michigan on Sunday.
Arizona State: If the Sun Devils had defeated California at home on Saturday night, they could have been in the field. Instead, they lost, falling back to the pack.
Oregon: The Ducks had a marquee win all lined up when Washington State came to town, but they lost, dropping to 15-10 overall and 6-7 in the Pac-10.
Florida: The Gators are struggling at the wrong time, as they have now lost four of their last five after dropping a close one at Vanderbilt on Saturday.
Mississippi: The Rebels might be falling the fastest of any team that was in the field last week. They lost at home to Auburn on Saturday – their fourth straight SEC loss.
Illinois State: The Redbirds’ slim at-large hopes are slowly slipping away, as they lost at Indiana State on Saturday. They are just 4-5 in the last month.
UNLV: The Rebels could be entering a precarious position pretty soon. Their power numbers are dropping, and they just lost by 26 at first-place BYU.
George Mason: The Patriots looked to be in good shape for a potential at-large bid a few weeks ago, but their home loss to UNC-Wilmington Saturday kills those hopes.

Teams trying to work themselves into the at-large conversation:
Wake Forest:
The Demon Deacons’ huge home win over Duke tonight adds some spice to their profile, which already included a blowout win over BYU.
Villanova: The Wildcats are trying to hold onto their fading at-large hopes, beating St. John’s by 18 on the road. Their close loss at Georgetown was huge.
Miami (Fl.): The Hurricanes are still hanging around in the ACC, beating Georgia Tech on the road to avoid dropping to 3-8 in the league.
Western Kentucky: With the Hilltoppers now solely on top in the Sun Belt and wins in 11 straight games, could they be considered for an at-large bid?
Southern Illinois: Bear with me here: if the Salukis win their last four games, could they potentially get picked because of their big wins and power numbers?

Teams falling from the at-large conversation:
Seton Hall:
The Pirates dropped their fifth in a row on Sunday, falling to West Virginia by 21. 15-11 and 5-8 in the Big East certainly won’t get it done.
Texas Tech: Whatever hopes the Red Raiders had after beating Kansas State on Wednesday essentially disintegrated with a home loss to Oklahoma on Saturday.
Charlotte: The Atlantic-10 seemingly had room for a team to make a move into the at-large picture, but the 49ers aren’t that team – not after losing to Fordham.
Creighton: The Bluejays were moving into the at-large mix as of last week, but back-to-back losses to Evansville and Bradley drop them completely out of the picture.
Ohio: So much for the MAC getting a second team. Three losses in four games likely ruins any shot the Bobcats had after their 15-6 start.

Teams whose seed is rising:
The Cardinals are now atop the Big East after they beat Providence and Georgetown lost to Syracuse. Five straight wins for the ‘Ville.
Connecticut: Yet another Big East team looking to move into first-place; the Huskies escaped South Florida in overtime on Saturday, their ninth win in a row.
Marquette: The Golden Eagles picked up their second blowout victory in a row, destroying Pittsburgh by 18 on Friday night. They are now 8-5 in the Big East.
Purdue: The Boilermakers may be rising faster than any team in the country. They have won 11 in a row and are 12-1 in the Big Ten after winning at Northwestern.
Wisconsin: The Badgers defeated Indiana on the road and then beat Minnesota at home; their only two losses in the last two months were against Purdue.
Washington State: The Cougars have bounced back from their mid-season slump very nicely, winning at Oregon for their third victory in a row.

Teams whose seed is falling:
Georgetown: The Hoyas find themselves just a half-game from dropping to fourth in the Big East, and their resume is looking less impressive every day.
Pittsburgh: The Panthers had plenty of momentum after beating Providence by 19 and getting Levance Fields back – then they promptly lost to Marquette by 18.
Michigan State: The Spartans are now in fourth place in the Big Ten, 3.5 games behind Purdue. Losing by 19 at a distracted Indiana team came as a huge surprise.
Texas A&M: The Aggies were rising quickly in the Big 12 before inexplicably losing to Oklahoma State at home. The loss snapped a five-game winning streak.
Baylor: The Bears are likely on the bubble after losing to Texas at home on Saturday, their fifth loss in six games. They are now just 5-5 in the Big 12.
Arizona: The Wildcats have lost three of their last four, after losing to Stanford by one at home on Saturday. The next are on the road, which could drop ‘Zona to the bubble.
USC: The Trojans could have major problems if Daniel Hackett is hampered for an extended period of time; they lost their second in a row to UCLA on Sunday night.
Arkansas: The Razorbacks had a chance to cement themselves as the SEC West favorite on Saturday, but they lost at Mississippi State – their second loss in a row.
Rhode Island: The Rams are moving dangerously close to bubble land, as they have dropped two of three and face Xavier in a must-win on Monday night.

Number one seeds as of this week:
1. Memphis:
Still undefeated, the Tigers escaped UAB with a one-point road win on Chris Douglas-Roberts’ three-point play with six seconds left.
2. Duke: Despite its loss at Wake Forest Sunday night, the Blue Devils still have a top-three RPI and are atop the ACC standings. It was their first loss since Dec. 20.
3. Tennessee: The Volunteers continue to rise, as they own the nation’s top-ranked RPI and are running away with the SEC. Showdown at Memphis on Saturday.
4. Kansas: Until Ty Lawson comes back for North Carolina, the Jayhawks get the last top seed. Their loss at Texas put them only a half-game up on UT and KSU, though.


  1. I suggest you check Wright State's resume. It is much, much stronger than several of the teams you have listed as bubble teams, yet you completely omitted them. They also have much more potential to improve their standing in coming weeks than many of the teams you included, as they close out with games @ #9 Butler, @Illinois State, and @Valpo. Those road games could be RPI jackpots.

    Wright St. is also riding a 10 game winning streak, so I wouldn't suggest just writing off their chances. Wins in just three of their last four would put their RPI in the top 40 FWIW.

  2. You're absolutely right about Wright State -- good find.

    However, those 5 sub-100 losses are going to absolutely kill them if they win out and then lose in the Horizon title game to Butler or something.

    Still, I did overlook them; thanks for calling them to my attention.