Sunday, February 21, 2010

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. 11 of the top 25 teams in the country lost, and there were plenty of other results that shook up the NCAA Tournament landscape. Also, there was the Bracket Busters series, which saw numerous 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:

Maryland: The Terrapins picked up three big wins this week, including a victory over Georgia Tech on a three-pointer at the buzzer by Cliff Tucker.

Clemson: The Tigers’ late January swoon seems well behind them, as they have now won three in a row, and four of their last five. 7-5 in the ACC.

Texas A&M: The Aggies lost a tough one on Monday against Kansas, but bounced back to pick up a road win at Iowa State. They’ve won five of six.

Richmond: It’s tough to think of any reason not to include the Spiders in this category. They are 11-2 in the A-10 and have won eight in a row.

Xavier: The Musketeers are right there behind Richmond, sitting at 10-2 and winners of 11 of their last 13, after their impressive road win at Charlotte.

Teams on the bubble that helped themselves:

Virginia Tech: Sure, the Hokies fell short at Duke on Sunday, but their victory over Wake Forest earlier in the week solidified their profile.

Louisville: It hasn’t been pretty, but the Cardinals followed up a double-overtime win over Notre Dame with a nine-point victory at DePaul.

Marquette: The Golden Eagles picked up a monster bubble victory at Cincinnati on Sunday, their sixth win in their last seven games.

Connecticut: Left for dead a week ago, the Huskies are back in the mix after winning back-to-back road games at Villanova and Rutgers.

Oklahoma State: The Cowboys have now won three in a row after defeating Baylor at home on Saturday to move to 7-5 in the Big 12.

Minnesota: After falling off the radar, it might be time to look at Minnesota again. The Golden Gophers dominated Wisconsin and Indiana.

Florida: The Gators followed an 0-2 week with a solid 2-0 performance, including a huge road win at Mississippi, escaping by three points.

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs could have made a move into the Big Dance with a win over Kentucky, but they lost in OT before holding on at LSU.

San Diego State: The third-place team in the Mountain West, the Aztecs have won eight of their last 10 and four in a row. Huge game at BYU on Wed.

Rhode Island: The lone Atlantic-10 bubble team to not suffer a profile-diminishing loss this weekend, the Rams dominated a hapless Fordham team.

Memphis: The Tigers are slowly creeping into the at-large mix, getting to 20 wins and second place in Conference-USA after beating SMU.

UAB: After losing three of four, the Blazers had a solid week, winning at Southern Miss and then handling Houston at home on Saturday.

Saint Mary’s: With every other bubble team falling apart, the Gaels road win at San Diego on Thursday was helpful towards their resume.

Teams on the bubble that hurt themselves:

Cincinnati: The Bearcats had a terrible week, losing to fellow bubble dwellers South Florida and Marquette, the latter coming at home in OT.

South Florida: While the Bulls did knock off Cincinnati on Tuesday, their 16-point home loss to St. John’s on Saturday is the more striking result.

Illinois: The Fighting Illini could have potentially locked up a bid with games against Ohio State and Purdue this week, but they lost both.

Mississippi: The Rebels are very likely headed to the NIT after losing back-to-back home games to Vanderbilt and Florida to stop to 5-7 in the SEC.

Charlotte: The 49ers have imploded since starting 8-1 in the Atlantic-10, losing three in a row, including back-to-back home games this week.

Dayton: Another Atlantic-10 team not helping itself in the at-large hunt, the Flyers lost by two at Duquesne on Sunday, dropping to 7-5 in the conference.

Wichita State: Facing likely its last shot at picking up a big at-large win, the Shockers lost at Utah State by 10 in the Bracket Busters.

William & Mary: Another mid-major that missed an opportunity in the Bracket Busters, the Tribe went to Iona and got rocked by 16.

Teams trying to work themselves into the at-large conversation:

Arizona State: The Sun Devils don’t have enough of an at-large profile to really garner at-large consideration, but they are now only 0.5 games behind Cal.

Saint Louis: Fourth-place in the Atlantic-10.  Wins over Richmond, Dayton and Rhode Island. Why can’t the Billikens get a little love?

Marshall: The Thundering Herd don’t have much of a shot at all, but they do have 20 wins overall and defeated UAB and Tulsa in the past eight days.

VCU: The Rams will need a lot of help if they are going to even be in the mix, but they did look very solid in their win over Drexel on Saturday.

Teams falling from the at-large conversation:

Notre Dame: Without Luke Harangody, the Fighting Irish have fallen out of the mix, losing three in a row to drop to 6-8 in the Big East.

Seton Hall: The Pirates had a chance to make a move towards the bubble against West Virginia, but their second-half rally fell short.

Texas Tech: The Red Raiders needed to pick up some big wins to improve their profile, but they were blown out at Baylor and then lost to Texas.

Northwestern: Sure, the Wildcats have a few nice wins, but their loss at home to Penn State on Wednesday dropped their RPI into the 90s.

South Carolina: At this rate, the Gamecocks could struggle to make the NIT. Devan Downey and co. have lost three in a row to drop to 14-12.

Tulsa: The Golden Hurricanes have been a major disappointment in Conference-USA, dropping to 8-5 in the league with a home loss to UTEP.

Teams whose seed is rising:

Pittsburgh: After beating Marquette on the road and then beating Villanova at home, the Panthers are now tied for third in the Big East at 10-4.

Missouri: The Tigers are solidly in the Tournament right now, having won four of the last five games and improving to 8-4 in the Big 12.

Purdue: The newest No. 1 seed, the Boilermakers have won nine games in a row – including four road games – to take over first-place in the Big Ten.

New Mexico: Yes, the Lobos nearly lost to 9-16 Air Force on Saturday, but the win was their 11th in a row – they will be a protected seed.

Northern Iowa: After beating Old Dominion in the Bracket Busters, the Panthers are very likely to get a bid no matter what happens in the MVC Tournament.

Utah State: The Aggies are not a lock for the Big Dance, but they will have a shot if they lose in the WAC Tournament. They have won 12 in a row.

Butler: The Bulldogs fell off the radar for awhile, but they put the country on notice after beating Siena that they are a threat in the NCAA Tournament.

Teams whose seed is falling:

Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets would have had no problem had Cliff Tucker’s buzzer three not fallen on Saturday; now, they’re 6-7 in the ACC.

Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons understandably dropped a road game at Virginia Tech, but then got blown out by North Carolina State.

Villanova: The Wildcats are officially off the No. 1 seed line after losing at home to Connecticut and then dropping a road game on Saturday to Pitt.

Georgetown: The Hoyas had only one game this week, but their ridiculous rally fell short in the second half at home against Syracuse. 8-6 in the Big East.

California: The Golden Bears are still atop the Pac-10, but they were blown out at Oregon State on Thursday; they don’t have much of an at-large shot.

Old Dominion: The Monarchs could have made a statement with a road win at Northern Iowa, but they fell to the Panthers. Still the CAA favorite.

Siena: The Saints will need to win the MAAC Tournament after losing at Butler on Saturday, getting blown out in the second half by the Bulldogs.

Gonzaga: If the Bulldogs get a top-four seed, they can play their first two rounds in Spokane. However, losing to Loyola Marymount won’t help that cause.

Number one seeds as of this week:

1. Kansas: An impressive road win at Texas A&M keeps the Jayhawks as the overall No. 1 seed. They have a tremendous 6-1 top-50 record.

2. Kentucky: Any questions about the legitimacy of the Wildcats were answered by road wins at Mississippi State and Vanderbilt. 5-0 vs. top-50 teams.

3. Syracuse: The Orange bounced back from its home loss to Louisville with a road victory at Georgetown. They lead the country with 15 top-100 wins.

4. Purdue: The Boilermakers move into the final No. 1 spot based on their 5-1 top-25 record and 10-2 record away from home. Have won nine in a row.

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