Wednesday, January 31, 2007


A mid-week update on some of the big games from the last few days. I'm going to stick to games with big bubble connotations:

Stanford 75, #2 UCLA 68
An absolutely huge win for the Cardinal (yes, that's the correct grammar). They didn't outplay the Bruins by any means, but they hit big shots at the end and pulled out a massive upset. Up until this past week, Stanford wasn't at the forefront of anyone's bracket prediction, but with back-to-back wins over USC and UCLA they will probably be in just about everybody's bracket now. They have a great RPI and are sitting pretty at 6-3 and a tie for fourth in the Pac-10. The only thing that they have to look out for is that there are a lot of very good teams sitting just behind them. USC is also at 6-3, Arizona is 5-4 and Cal is 4-5. Don't forget Washington sitting there at 3-6. And I don't think anyone expects Stanford to catch UCLA, Oregon and Wazzu at the top of the conference. The Pac-10 has been a great conference this year, but they're not getting 8 teams. They're not even getting seven. At best, I can see them getting six. If Stanford drops to sixth and has a team like Arizona sitting behind them at 7th, well the Cardinal might just be NIT-bound. Don't forget, their next three conference games are at Cal, Wazzu and Washington. That's brutal. They could easily lose all three. Looking at their schedule, they could very easily finish 8-10 or 9-9. They are not a guarantee by any means. But a win like this will go a long way on Selection Sunday, because not many bubble teams have a marquee win like this.

Virginia 64, #17 Clemson 63
A huge win by the Cavaliers keeps them smack dap in the middle of the bubble as well. They are the classic bubble team with a decent record (12-6), some good wins (Arizona, Clemson, Maryland) and no real awful losses. They still have a pretty weak RPI (47th), but a few more wins will fix that because they have an outstanding strength of schedule. If anything, the best thing they have going for them is that 5-2 ACC record. By the way, why aren't people more surprised at that 4-4 ACC record for Clemson? Despite that 16-0 start, they haven't locked up a Tournament bid yet. They need to get their act together or they can really start getting nervous.

#23 Virginia Tech 73, Georgia Tech 65
I wasn't so much impressed by Va Tech in this one as I was disappointed by Georgia Tech. They just had no energy on defense, and the Hokies shot a ridiculous 60% from the field. No one shoots 60% from the field unless the other team plays bad defense. It's especially disappointing when you consider how tenuous this team's hold on the bubble is. I gave them a generous spot in this past weekend's BP65, but they're definitely falling out now. They are now 2-6 in conference and 0-6 on the road. That's pretty awful. They need a big turnaround soon or else. As for Va Tech, they've built up a cushion right now. They're due to lose a few bad games the rest of the way, but with an RPI of 15 and a record of 4-2 against the RPI top 50, they can lose a game or two and still feel fine.

West Virginia 64, Depaul 52
A good "taking care of business" win for West Virginia, a team that seems to be on the right side of the bubble for now. They've had an easy schedule, but 16-4 is 16-4. They're also a solid 5-3 in the Big East and a decent 3-3 against the RPI top 100. As a sidenote, they actually moved to 17-4 and 6-3 in the Big East while I was writing this post. They haven't wrapped anything up, but I think that continued solid play will get them in. The'yve shown good maturity and teamwork for a team this young. I've been really impressed by John Beilein this season. As for Depaul, their at-large hopes are on real life support. They are barely above .500 on the season, and an awful 3-8 against the RPI top 50. With teams like Stanford, Vanderbilt and Wichita State coming on, I can't see any reason for someone to take Depaul seriously.

#19 Notre Dame 103, Syracuse 91
A wild up-and-down game for these two teams. The Syracuse defense was just terrible, giving up 61 points in the first half alone. Notre Dame forced 8 steals, and just sliced up the Orange defense. After not too much of that Irish luck last year, Notre Dame is looking like a pretty safe at-large team right now. As for Syracuse, they're a very bubblicious 4-4 in the Big East. They have an RPI of 59, and a record of 5-6 against the RPI top 100. All stuff that looks decent, but nothing that wows you. They need some more wins, because no one is making it out of the Big East with a .500 conference record.

Wichita State 67, Northern Iowa 61
No team has had more ups and downs this year than the Shockers. They went from a 2 seed in some brackets to nearly a .500 record. Now, they're back to 6-6 in the Valley, and they're red hot. They did their best to try to blow a big lead in this one, but with the win they have worked their way all the way back to the fat part of the bubble. Good defense shut down a Northern Iowa team that has been good this year, but not quite good enough to beat really good teams. They're likely a Tournament team, but they don't really strike me as too likely to actually win a game. As for the Shockers, they've got that RPI back in the top 50. A few more wins and they'll actually be in good shape. They just need to make sure they finish over .500, because no 9-9 team is getting out of the Valley. A home game against Valley leaders Southern Illinois this weekend should be a huge test. A win and they'll be back in almost everyone's bracket.

No comments: