Sunday, March 9, 2008

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 five 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. The next update will be on Thursday and will be posted daily from then until Sunday

Teams close to locking up bids to the NCAA Tournament:
West Virginia: The Mountaineers improved to 11-7 in the Big East and got the No. 5 seed in the conference tourney with an overtime victory over Saint John’s.
Miami (Fl.): The Hurricanes lost to Florida State in overtime, but with Virginia Tech and Maryland losing, there is now even more separation between Miami and those two.
Oklahoma: The Sooners beat Missouri over the weekend, which was their sixth win in eight games. Eight top-50 victories will be enough to get them in.
Kansas State: The Wildcats got their tenth win in Big 12 play with a road victory at Iowa State; third place and double-digit wins in-conference is huge.
UNLV: It seems like the Rebels are in this category every week. They clinched second-place in the conference with a win Saturday; conference tourney is in Vegas.

Teams on the bubble that helped themselves:
Syracuse: The Orange picked up a huge home win over Marquette on Saturday, putting them back in the mix for an at-large bid heading into the Big East tourney.
Villanova: The Wildcats avoided a potentially huge loss by beating Providence on the road, setting up a bubble elimination game against Syracuse on Wednesday.
Ohio State: The knock on the Buckeyes all season long was their lack of a big win; back-to-back victories over Purdue and Michigan State may have done the trick.
Baylor: The Bears got closer to clinching an at-large bid with an important road win at Texas Tech. It kept them over .500 in the Big 12 and was their 20th win.
Oregon: The Ducks are back from the dead, after winning their third in a row. They swept the Arizona schools and are now .500 in the Pac-10 and in the hunt.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils dropped a close won at Oregon during the week, but bounced back with an important victory over Oregon State. .500 in the Pac-10.
Kentucky: The Wildcats are all but in the NCAA Tournament after finishing 12-4 in the SEC. 11-2 in their last 13 games and second in the SEC East.
Arkansas: The Razorbacks picked up a must-win with their home victory over Auburn this weekend; second in the SEC West and above .500 in conference play.
Mississippi: The Rebels continue their late-season renaissance, winning their third in a row on the road at Georgia. 7-9 in the SEC, and need to do work in the tournament.
Massachusetts: The Minutemen are clearly the second-best team in the Atlantic-10 pecking order right now; they have won six in a row and are hot heading into the tourney.
Dayton: The Flyers are going to be a very interesting case for the committee. They’ve won three in a row to get back to .500 in the A-10 and could get Chris Wright back.
New Mexico: The Lobos followed up their big win over UNLV with a dominant road victory at Colorado State. Potential rematch with Rebels loom in MWC semis.
Western Kentucky: The Hilltoppers kept their faint at-large hopes alive with a victory over North Texas in the Sun Belt tourney. Need to get to at least the finals.

Teams on the bubble that hurt themselves:
Maryland: The Terrapins might have shot themselves in the foot – again – with a loss at Virginia on Sunday. 8-8 in the ACC and a dropping RPI doesn’t look good.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies missed a huge chance to make a statement to the committee with a road win at Clemson, but they gave up two late free-throws to lose by one.
Texas A&M: The Aggies followed up their big road win at Baylor with a blowout loss at the hands of Kansas. 8-8 in the Big 12 and have now lost five of their last seven.
Arizona: The Wildcats are still likely to get a bid, but they are now below .500 in the Pac-10 and have lost seven of their last 10 games. Oregon State is a must-win.
Florida: The Gators are pretty much done after their loss at Kentucky on Sunday; they are now 8-8 in the SEC and have a very empty profile for an at-large candidate.
Saint Joseph’s: The Hawks had a chance to make a move this weekend after their win over Xavier, but they lost at fellow bubble team Dayton and fall back.
Illinois State: The Redbirds probably only needed to put-up a decent fight against Drake in order to get a bid, but they lost by 30 and will now sweat it out for a week.
VCU: The Rams will now have to wait a week to find out their postseason future after their surprising loss to William & Mary in the CAA semifinals.
Southern Illinois: The Salukis probably had to reach the MVC finals to garner true consideration for a bid, but they fell to Northern Iowa in the quarterfinals.
UAB: The Blazers did not leave a lasting impression in their regular-season finale, with their 38-point loss at the hands of Memphis. Need to get to the C-USA finals.

Teams trying to work themselves into the at-large conversation:
The Owls are still a long shot to get an at-large bid, but they did get the second seed in the A-10 Tournament and have several good wins on their resume.

Teams falling from the at-large conversation:
Rhode Island: The Rams dropped their season finale at home to Charlotte on Saturday, their eighth loss in 10 games. Below .500 in the Atlantic-10 doesn’t help.
Houston: The Cougars probably needed to win out until the Conference-USA finals to get consideration, but they fell at UTEP on Saturday, killing their chances.

Teams whose seed is rising:
Notre Dame:
The Irish continue to win, as they finished tied for second in the Big East at 14-4. They have won 11 of their last 13 and could be a top-four seed.
Wisconsin: The Badgers won the outright Big Ten title, finishing 16-2 on the season, with the only two losses coming to Purdue. Could they move as high as a No. 2?
USC: The Trojans could be a potential sleeper to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament; they have won 11 of their last 15 after their win over Stanford.

Teams whose seed is falling:
Marquette: The Golden Eagles dropped to the No. 6 seed in the Big East Tournament after dropping its last two Big East games, including at Syracuse on Saturday.
Indiana: The Hoosiers could have clinched the No. 2 seed in the Big Ten and picked up momentum, but they lost at Penn State in overtime on Sunday.
Stanford: No matter what you think of the Stanford-UCLA ending, the fact remains that the Cardinal have now dropped two straight Pac-10 games to end the year.

Number one seeds as of this week:
1. Memphis: The Tigers continue to stay atop the field, especially after their demolition of UAB on Saturday. A conference tournament title would just add to the resume.
2. North Carolina: The Tar Heels might have clinched a No. 1 seed with their road win over Duke on Saturday; they are an outstanding 19-2 against the top-100.
3. Tennessee: The Volunteers might have to win the SEC Tournament in order to feel safe about their top-seed status. No. 1 RPI and No. 1 SOS are excellent trump cards.
4. UCLA: The Bruins were able to keep their No. 1 seed despite the fact they probably should have gone 0-2 this weekend against Stanford and California.

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