Sunday, February 22, 2009

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 week in college basketball. The top three teams in the country lost, and there were a couple of other results that shook 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:
Arizona**: Despite the Wildcats’ loss at Arizona State Sunday night, they will coast into the NCAA Tournament if they continue to play the way they are.
LSU: With the Tigers’ 11-1 SEC record nearly locking up the conference title, they might be the only sure thing in the league this season.
Utah: The Utes are very likely to win the Mountain West title. Combine that with a shocking RPI of 10, they should make the Big Dance unless they completely collapse.

Teams on the bubble that helped themselves:
Miami (Fl.):
The Hurricanes badly needed a win in order to keep their at-large hopes alive, and they got it, in the form of an 11-point victory over Boston College.
Maryland: The Terrapins might have helped themselves more than any other bubble team, knocking off North Carolina in overtime behind a Grevis Vasquez’s triple-double.
Notre Dame: Left for dead just a couple of weeks ago, the Irish dominated Providence on the road on Saturday to move back into the at-large hunt.
Oklahoma State: In a battle of bubble teams, the Cowboys defeated Baylor by 10. It was their third win in a row and got them back to .500 in the Big 12.
Kansas State: The Wildcats have now won eight of their last nine games, after knocking off Iowa State on the road. They still need to boost their computer numbers.
Texas A&M: The Aggies were pretty much out of contention heading into the week, but they defeated Texas at home and Texas Tech on the road.
Kentucky: The Wildcats completed their sweep of Tennessee to keep pace in the SEC East. They need to become more consistent down the stretch, though.
Florida: The Gators knocked off Vanderbilt on Saturday to stay in a tie for first place in the division. They face a tough finishing stretch to the season.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks bounced back from a tough loss at Mississippi State with a close win over Arkansas on Saturday. 8-4 in the SEC.
Temple: The Owls continue to win games and keep their at-large hopes alive. Their blowout win over St. Bonaventure on Sunday brought them to 9-3 in the A-10.
Saint Mary’s: The Gaels absolutely needed to beat Utah State on Saturday to keep their at-large hopes alive without Patty Mills, and that’s exactly what they did.
Siena: The Saints are going to be an interesting case come Selection Sunday, but their win over Northern Iowa on Saturday was their 12th in 13 games. RPI is 24.
UAB: The Blazers don’t have many impressive wins, but they are now 19-8 overall and 9-3 in Conference-USA after blowing out Southern Miss on Saturday.
New Mexico: The Lobos are likely fifth in the Mountain West pecking order, but a blowout win over San Diego State keeps them in the at-large mix.
UNLV: The Runnin’ Rebels overcame a late BYU run to pick up a one-point win over the Cougars and keep their at-large hopes alive in the crowded MWC.

Teams on the bubble that hurt themselves:
Boston College:
The Eagles hadn’t played since beating Duke last Sunday, and they were handled by fellow bubble team Miami (Fl.) on Saturday.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies are falling quickly, and need to right the ship fast. A two-point home loss to Florida State was their third in a row, and could be costly.
Cincinnati: The Bearcats had a chance to pick up a marquee win against Louisville, but couldn’t handle the flood of Cardinals’ runs and were defeated.
Providence: The Friars suffered a very costly loss on Saturday at home to Notre Dame. It dropped their RPI to about 75 and left them in eighth place.
Michigan: The Wolverines really hurt their at-large chances with a blown lead at Iowa and subsequent defeat in overtime. Now below .500 in the Big Ten.
USC: A win over Washington State brought some optimism, but a loss at home to Washington and some in-fighting after the game showed this team might be falling.
Utah State: The Aggies don’t have a great non-conference resume at all, and a poor performance at Saint Mary’s on Saturday night doesn’t bode well for Selection Sunday.
Davidson: The Wildcats have now lost two in a row and three of their last five after falling to Butler on Saturday. Stephen Curry and co. have to win the Southern tournament.
San Diego State: The Aztecs were at the top of the Mountain West just a couple of weeks ago, but they have lost two of three to drop to 8-4 in the league.
BYU: The Cougars were playing some of the best basketball in the Mountain West, but their one-point loss at UNLV puts them back to the rest of the pack.

Teams trying to work themselves into the at-large conversation:
The Bluejays struggled mightily during the middle part of the season, but they have now won eight in a row and are tied atop the Missouri Valley.

Teams falling from the at-large conversation:
The Hoyas need to essentially win out and then win a game or two in the Big East Tournament after their home loss to Marquette. 4-10 in 2009.
Baylor: The Bears needed to basically win out to get to the Dance, but their double-digit loss at Oklahoma State dropped them to 4-8 in the Big 12.
Nebraska: The Cornhuskers had an outside shot at an at-large bid, but they have been destroyed in back-to-back weeks against Missouri and Kansas.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs had a very slim shot at an at-large bid, but a double-overtime loss to Alabama on Saturday all but ends their NCAA hopes.

Teams whose seed is rising:
Florida State:
The Seminoles are officially a lock for the NCAA Tournament – and could be in the mix for an ACC title. With their road win at Virginia Tech, they are just 1.5 games out.
Pittsburgh: With losses by Connecticut (to the Panthers), Oklahoma and North Carolina, Pittsburgh moves into the top overall spot in the rankings.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers have moved completely out of bubble talk after winning their third in a row, on the road against Rutgers.
Purdue: The Boilermakers dominated Michigan State during the week and then defeated Indiana by 14 on Saturday. They are only a game back of the Spartans.
Missouri: The Tigers could be a sleeper for a top-two seed and a Big 12 title. They have won six in a row to move to 10-2 in the conference, but face a tough upcoming stretch.
Arizona State**: After a slump earlier this month, the Sun Devils seem to be hitting their stride. Their win Sunday night over Arizona was their fifth in a row.
Gonzaga: The Bulldogs haven’t defeated a sure-fire NCAA team yet, but they are unbeaten in West Coast Conference play and wrapped up a title.
Memphis: With all the top seeds falling in the past week and the crowds at the top of the ACC and the Big East, can the Tigers sneak in and grab a top seed?

Teams whose seed is falling:
The knock on the Orange was that they couldn’t win on the road; now, they can’t win at home either. They fell to Villanova to drop to 7-7 in the Big East.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes dropped to .500 in the Big Ten after its loss at home to Illinois, a team that was coming off of a 33-point performance at home.
UCLA: The Bruins are struggling mightily after their four-game winning streak. They have lost three of four, including a home defeat to Washington State on Saturday.

California: The Golden Bears were in the mix for a Pac-10 title but a loss at Oregon State have dropped them back in the conference. 1.5 games out.
Tennessee: The Volunteers’ abysmal performance against Kentucky dropped them to fourth in the SEC East. They are now firmly on the NCAA bubble.
Dayton: The Flyers seemed to have an at-large bid wrapped up, but a road loss to sub-100 Saint Louis is a huge mark on their NCAA Tournament resume.

Number one seeds as of this week:
1. Pittsburgh: The Panthers have the No. 1 RPI, a top-15 SOS and the most top-25 wins in the country. They are also likely No. 1 in the polls after this wild week.
2. Oklahoma: The Sooners’ loss at Texas on Saturday was essentially without Blake Griffin, who was knocked out (no pun intended) with a concussion. They face Kansas Monday.
3. Connecticut: The Huskies have to prove they are a No. 1 seed without the injured Jerome Dyson. They missed a golden opportunity with a blown lead vs. Pitt.
4. North Carolina: The Tar Heels suffered their third conference loss of the year in overtime at Maryland to drop them to the final No. 1 seed. 15 wins vs. the top-100.

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