Sunday, February 15, 2009

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 week, more than half the teams ranked in the top-25 lost at least one game this week, including a couple of top-10 teams over the weekend. 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 week’s results.

Teams close to locking up bids to the NCAA Tournament:
Syracuse: The Orange have been slumping lately, but they escaped with an overtime win against Georgetown to get back on the right track.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers needed a marquee win within the Big East for their resume, and got it by blowing out Villanova on Friday.
Dayton: The Flyers are tied atop the Atlantic-10, and didn’t have a letdown after their win over Xavier by beating Richmond on Saturday.
Utah: The Utes have an RPI of 11 and are now by themselves atop the Mountain West. They have won six in a row after beating Air Force.
LSU: Sure, the SEC West is much worse than the East division, but the Tigers now have a 9-1 record in the conference after knocking off Ole Miss.
Tennessee: The Volunteers’ slump seems like ages ago. They have now won four of five with a blowout win over Vanderbilt, and have a top-20 RPI.

Teams on the bubble that helped themselves:
Boston College: Another huge win for the Eagles to add to their resume with the victory over Duke. They have just four games left in the season.
Maryland: The Terrapins aren’t done yet. They knocked off fellow bubble dweller Virginia Tech and now face Clemson, UNC and Duke consecutively.
Providence: The Friars are still sticking around in the at-large picture. They improved to 8-5 in the Big East with an easy victory over Rutgers.
Baylor: After six straight losses, the Bears finally got a victory, defeating fellow bubble team Texas A&M by four. They are still just 4-7 in the Big 12.
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys bounced back from its abysmal performance against Texas by beating Iowa State handily. They’re 4-6 in the Big 12.
Penn State: The Nittany Lions still have a pulse after beating Minnesota to snap a three-game losing streak. They’re 7-6 in the Big Ten.
Wisconsin: The Badgers have really bounced back after their earlier losing streak. Beating Ohio State Saturday night brings the winning streak to four games.
Michigan: The Wolverines got back on the winning path by beating Northwestern on the road. It’s still just their third win in their last 10 games though.
Arizona: The Wildcats might be rising up the bubble faster than any other team. They have now won seven in a row after handling UCLA on Saturday.
Kentucky: Another set of Wildcats moving in the right direction. Led by Jodie Meeks, Kentucky dominated Arkansas on the road to move to 7-3.
South Carolina: It certainly wasn’t pretty, but the Gamecocks eked out a last-second win at Alabama to improve to 7-3 in the SEC East.
UNLV: The Runnin’ Rebels won their second in a row, blowing out Colorado State. They need to finish strong in the crowded Mountain West.
BYU: The Cougars continue to move up in the pecking order, winning their fourth game in a row, dominating TCU on the road. They are now 7-3.
San Diego State: The Aztecs bounced back from their loss to Utah with a solid win over Wyoming, moving them back into second in the MWC.
Saint Mary’s: The Gaels still are going to be in trouble come Selection Sunday, but a win over second-place Portland gets them momentum.

Teams on the bubble that hurt themselves:
Miami (Fl.): The Hurricanes had a real chance to pick up a huge resume win against North Carolina, but they fell short late in the second half.
Virginia Tech: The middle of the ACC is a mess right now, and the Hokies didn’t do anything to separate themselves from the pack by losing at Maryland.
Georgetown: The Hoyas are a complete mess right now, and are in real danger of missing the Dance after their overtime loss at Syracuse.
Cincinnati: I don’t think anyone expected the Bearcats to beat Pittsburgh on the road, but the 16-point margin doesn’t give them momentum heading down a tough stretch.
Texas A&M: The Aggies needed to beat Baylor in order to snap their losing ways, but they lost by four. They are now just 3-7 in conference play.
Kansas State: The Wildcats had a major opportunity to make a statement, but they blew an early lead at home against Kansas and fell to the Jayhawks.
USC**: You can’t really blame them for losses at a hot Arizona team and at Arizona State, but the Trojans are running out of chances for big wins.
Florida: The Gators had an awful week, losing in the final seconds at Kentucky and then falling at previously winless Georgia on Saturday.
Utah State: If the Aggies don’t win the WAC Tournament, they might have some trouble after losing at Boise State. Their only good win is over Utah.

Teams trying to work themselves into the at-large conversation:
Like last season, the Owls are making some late noise in the Atlantic-10. They beat Duquesne on the road Sunday to improve their resume.
Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish were left for dead last week, but they have since dominated Louisville and defeated South Florida to stay alive.
UAB: If the Blazers are going to get an at-large bid from Conference-USA, they need to pretty much run the table. But, they have won seven of eight.

Teams falling from the at-large conversation:
The Cornhuskers don’t have a lot of marquee wins on their resume, and their 23-point blowout at Missouri suggests they aren’t an NCAA team.
Saint Joseph’s: The Hawks were in the mix the past few weeks, but a loss at home to Temple and then a road defeat at La Salle knocks them out.
Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane are now the third team in a Conference-USA pecking order that doesn’t have room for a third team.

Teams whose seed is rising:
Missouri: The Tigers are looking like a potential sleeper come March. After beating Kansas during the week, they destroyed Nebraska by 23 at home.
Texas: Although the Longhorns didn’t look impressive against Colorado, two straight wins in this kind of week is enough to make your seed rise.
Purdue: The Boilermakers escaped Iowa with a four-point win, which was their second in a row and eighth in their last 10. Tied for second in the league.
Illinois: With Ohio State and Minnesota both falling, the Fighting Illini move up in the Big Ten pecking order as they have now won three in a row.
Washington: With UCLA losing two in a row, the Huskies are now atop the Pac-10 standings by themselves. They have won three in a row and eight of 10.
Arizona State**: The Sun Devils are still within striking distance of the Pac-10 title after defeating UCLA and USC at home to move to 8-4.
California: The Golden Bears’ losing ways are a distant memory as they have now won three in a row – albeit all coming at home – to move to 8-4.

Teams whose seed is falling:
The Tigers were looking like a real threat after winning at Boston College, but they followed that up with a loss at one-win Virginia.
Duke: The Blue Devils are struggling mightily lately, especially after their latest loss, a road defeat at Boston College. Might they actually fall to a three?
Minnesota: The Golden Gophers are now just 7-6 in the Big Ten after losing at Penn State, which was their third defeat in four games.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes snapped a four-game winning streak with a loss at Wisconsin on Saturday night. They have a manageable final six games.
UCLA: The Bruins certainly dropped from the clear best team in the Pac-10. They lost at Arizona, their second in a row. They still lack a true marquee win.
Butler: The Bulldogs are still in the Dance, but they lost their second game this month, this time to Loyola-Chicago at home. That will hurt their computer numbers.

Number one seeds as of this week:
1. Connecticut: Although the Huskies probably lost Jerome Dyson for the season, their RPI keeps improving and they have 16 top-100 wins.
2. Oklahoma: The Sooners continue to stave off North Carolina, mainly as a result of their 17 top-50 wins and undefeated Big 12 record.
3. North Carolina: The Tar Heels escaped both Duke and Miami (Fl.) on the road to really separate themselves as the best team in the ACC.
4. Pittsburgh: The Panthers are back on the top-seed line thanks to five straight wins and the top-rated RPI in the country. Pitt’s in good shape.


  1. Starting to get high on some SEC teams? I still think that conference is a huge let-down this year and they have 0 contenders.

    Also, this PITT @ UCONN game will speak volumes about both teams in my mind. If Pitt is able to deface UCONN in any way, and show where their real weakness is, regardless of a win or loss this game will set up for a great season finale in Pitt on March 7th. I like UCONN to win a close game tonight. I am not a huge Levance Fields fan, but I think he can come up with a good recipe for disaster to set his teammates up to upset the #1 Huskies.

  2. No sir, I still think the SEC is very mediocre and might not have a team get out of the first weekend -- or first round, for that matter.

    It's just that Tennessee and LSU are starting to have NCAA-worthy profiles.

  3. Butler is the most ridiculously overrated team (year after year) in college basketball. Who has this team beaten to be ranked #15!?

    They play in a joke of a conference, and still get thoroughly outplayed by the likes of Green Bay and Loyola.

    If they were in the MVC, they probably wouldn't even be in first place, routinely playing the likes of Northern Iowa, Creighton, and Illinois State. There is no way they deserve to be #15...I'm not even sure if they're a Top 25.

  4. Butler is 8-2 vs the RPI Top 100 along with an out of conference SOS of 2 and RPI of 1