Saturday, March 10, 2007

Early Look at the Early Games

With so much going on today, it's worthwhile to take a look at the early games now. We'll get to the later games as they come:

#1 Ohio State 63, Purdue 52
#2 Kansas 67, Kansas State 61
I put these two games together because they had so many similarities. Both games had teams playing for #1 seeds. Ohio State locks up the #1 seed in the Midwest with a win tomorrow, and might get a #1 seed even with a loss (especially since the Selection Committee has strongly hinted that they might have to make their final selections before the Ohio State/Wisconsin game ends). Kansas, too, can get a #1 seed if they can win the Big 12 title game and get a little bit of help. If Florida, UNC and Wisconsin win their respective Conference Tourneys, Kansas could get locked out. They obviously don't get a top seed if they lose tomorrow, but they can feel pretty good with another win.

More importantly for these games, however, were the two losers. Both Purdue and Kansas State came in firmly on the bubble. K-State has the better conference record, although the Big 12 hasn't been quite as good as the Big 10 this year. Purdue clearly has the better RPI, but K-State has the better elite win (Purdue couldn't close the deal against OSU or Wisconsin this year). Purdue obviously has the better RPI. Which brings us to this game. Despite the scores, the Purdue/OSU game was actually closer. Carl Landry played out of this world and single-handedly kept this game even the whole way until the final five minutes. Kansas, on the hand, led for most of the game. Kansas State made a small run at the end, but the game wasn't in too much doubt near the end.

So, when you add in the fact that Ohio State has probably been just a little better than Kansas this year, you have to consider Purdue's final pre-Selection Show performance superior to that of the Wildcats. And that could be the difference if there is only room tomorrow for one of these teams. Of course, at-large spots are being swallowed up everywhere. What happens if Oklahoma State takes out Texas? What happens if NC State wins the ACC Tourney? Both Kansas State and Purdue still have a decent shot of getting in, but they both need a lot of stuff to break right over the next 24 hours.

Arkansas 81, Mississippi State 72
A huge game for both of these teams. Potentially an elimination game for both, the Razorbacks came up with another big win to add to an already solid resume. I'm not calling this game a clincher by any means, but if the season ended this moment they'd have to be in. The RPI is safely in the Top 40 and they're 10-9 against the RPI Top 100. Sagarin will also likely move them into the Top 40 when the new rankings come out tomorrow morning. Mississippi State came in with a nearly-as-good resume, but obviously that's not the case anymore. They're probably done. As for Arkansas, I'd say they need to atleast stay close tomorrow. Play Florida tight. Hope that teams like NC State don't pull off any more big upsets. And I think that should be enough. But we'll see what happens as more games get played later today.

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