Sunday, March 7, 2010

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:

Louisville: The Cardinals went from a bubble team to a near-lock after beating Syracuse by double-digits in Freedom Hall’s grand finale.

Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons were struggling mightily, having lost four in a row. However, they beat Clemson on Sunday to get on the right track.

Florida State: The Seminoles beat Wake Forest and Miami this week in two close games to improve to 10-6; they won five of their last six.

Marquette: The Golden Eagles lost to Notre Dame in overtime on Saturday, but they have likely done enough to garner an at-large bid.

Oklahoma State: The Cowboys bounced back from a loss to Texas A&M by dominating Oklahoma on the road; that could have locked up a bid.

UNLV: The Runnin’ Rebels won the last four games of the season to finish 11-5 in the MWC. They also host the conference tourney; they should be fine.

Teams on the bubble that helped themselves:

Virginia Tech: The Hokies had a huge week, beating North Carolina State at home before going into Georgia Tech and knocking off the Yellow Jackets.

Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish are nearing “safe” status, after going into Marquette and knocking off the Golden Eagles in OT. Have won four in a row.

Mississippi: Don’t count out Ole Miss just yet. The Rebels finished the season on a four-game winning streak to get to 9-7 in the SEC.

San Diego State: The Aztecs did what they had to do in order to stay in the at-large hunt, winning six of their last seven to get to 11-5 in the MWC.

Memphis: The Tigers might end up in the NCAA Tournament again after all. They have won seven of their last eight, including wins over UAB and Tulsa.

Saint Mary’s: The Gaels have a third shot at beating Gonzaga after defeating Portland in the WCC semifinals on Sunday night. They might need to win.

Arizona State: The Sun Devils beat UCLA on Saturday to finish second in the Pac-10; they have won six of their last seven to end the season.

Washington: The Huskies are also still in the Pac-10 at-large hunt after sweeping a road trip against the Oregon schools. They have won nine of 11.

Minnesota: With the way the bubble is this year, the Golden Gophers might still have an outside chance at a bid; they destroyed Iowa on Sunday.

Seton Hall: Left for dead a couple of weeks ago, the Pirates finished the season by winning six of their final eight, going 9-9 in the Big East.

South Florida: The Bulls still have an outside shot at a bid, defeating Connecticut on Saturday to finish at 9-9 in the Big East. Have won three in a row. 

Teams on the bubble that hurt themselves:

Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets have a nice collection of wins, but the home loss to Virginia Tech was their fifth in the last seven. 7-9 in the ACC.

Connecticut: The Huskies don’t have much of a shot at an at-large bid now, after losing at South Florida on Saturday. Disappointing finish for UConn.

Illinois: The Fighting Illini lost at home to Wisconsin on Sunday, their fifth loss in their last six games, to drop to 10-8 in the Big Ten.

Florida: The Gators looked like a lock after dominating Tennessee to improve to 9-4; however, they have since lost three in a row and are in trouble.

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs had a chance at a resume-boosting win against Tennessee, but they lost by 16 at home to fall to 9-7.

Rhode Island: After destroying Charlotte on Wednesday, the Rams followed that up with a loss at hapless Massachusetts. Horrendous defeat.

Dayton: The Flyers finished the season by losing four of five and five of seven, sitting at just 8-8 in the A-10. The home loss to Saint Louis is damaging.

UAB: The Blazers had two chances this week to improve their resume, and they failed both times, losing at home to Memphis and then at UTEP.

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

Saint Louis: The Billikens continue to play A-10 sleeper, going into Dayton and knocking off the Flyers. SLU finished 11-5 in the conference.

Wichita State: The Shockers had a chance to get the automatic bid in the Missouri Valley, but lost to Northern Iowa and don’t have much of a shot.

Teams falling from the at-large conversation:

Cincinnati: The Bearcats’ at-large hopes were on their last life, and then they went out and got run out of the building by Georgetown.

Charlotte: Disastrous finish to the season for the 49ers. They lost six of their last seven, and ended up just 9-7 in the A-10. Remember, this team was 8-1 in the A-10.

Teams whose seed is rising:

New Mexico: The Lobos locked up sole possession of the Mountain West title, finishing 14-2. They are a deep sleeper for a No. 1 seed if everyone else falls.

Tennessee: The Volunteers beat Mississippi State handily on the road on Saturday, their fifth win in the last six games, to improve to 11-5 in the SEC.

Maryland: The ACC regular-season champions followed up their win over Duke by defeating Virginia on the road to close the season on a seven-game streak.

Baylor: The Bears continue to rise up the seed lines, beating Texas Tech and Texas to close the season on a four-game winning streak.

West Virginia: The Mountaineers overcame an awful start to defeat Villanova on the road in overtime; this is a potential sleeper for a No. 1 seed.

Pittsburgh: The Panthers closed the season by winning eight of their last nine after struggling at the midpoint of Big East play. Three seed, likely.

Texas A&M: Since starting the Big 12 season 1-2, the Aggies have gone 10-3 in their last 13 games. Two wins over the Oklahoma schools pushes them up.

UTEP: Tremendous finish for the Miners, who won their last 14 games to win the Conference-USA regular-season title outright.

Xavier: The Musketeers finished 14-2 in the Atlantic-10, ending the season by winning seven in a row and 15 of their last 17 overall.

Utah State: 15 wins in a row to finish the season for the Aggies, who also beat BYU earlier this season. This is an at-large team if they don’t win the WAC tourney.

Teams whose seed is falling:

Kansas State: The Wildcats went from the last No. 1 seed a week ago to losing at home to Iowa State on Saturday; they finished 11-5 in the Big 12.

Clemson: The Tigers had a chance to finish 10-6 in the ACC and get a bye in the conference tournament, but they lost to Wake Forest.

Texas: The Longhorns essentially have a permanent spot in this category. They had another rough week, getting blown out at Baylor Saturday.

Villanova: The Wildcats blew an early lead against West Virginia, losing in overtime. They have now lost four of their last six and five of nine.

Vanderbilt: After looking great for most of the season, the Commodores finished up in poor fashion, losing at home to struggling South Carolina.

Missouri: The Tigers finished the season losing two of their last three, including an embarrassing second-half performance on Saturday vs. Kansas.

Number one seeds as of this week:

1. Kansas: After wins over Kansas State and Missouri, the Jayhawks are back on top. They have the No. 1 RPI and are a ridiculous 11-2 against the top-50.

2. Kentucky: The Wildcats are prone to close games and inconsistency, but they just continue to win. The fact they have only four top-50 wins won’t matter.

3. Syracuse: The Orange can’t beat Louisville for some reason, but they are still a No. 1 seed. They have a very impressive 17 wins vs. the top-100.

4. Duke: The fourth number one seed is completely up in the air, but Duke’s No. 2 RPI and 17 wins vs. the top-100 give it the nod over the other contenders.

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