Sunday, March 04, 2007

Getting Left Behind

#11 Southern Illinois 53, Bradley 51
The inspiration for the title of this post. Taking SIU down to the wire and playing them this tough actually adds a little bit to a resume that is already pretty good. They already have 20 wins, and a fourth place finish in a conference that has a higher RPI than the Big 12 and Big East. The RPI is decent at 39. And their road record of 6-7 isn't too good, but actually looks pretty decent when you compare it to other bubble teams like Georgia Tech (1-8), Arkansas (2-8) and Florida State (4-8). If the season ended now, they'd have a great chance of getting in. I'd probably even put them in as the last or second to last team. But you'll also notice that after yesterday's games I took Bradley out of my BP65. How can those past two sentences be consistent? Well like I've consistently stressed to new readers to this site that complain, this website is a PREDICTION site, not a "what if the season ended now" site. And it seems silly, from my vantage point, to ignore the fact that there is another week of basketball left. Teams like Drexel, Florida State, Clemson, Arkansas and VCU are all going to get a chance for big wins. Some will get them and some won't. But there are going to be more good wins like Georgia Tech over UNC, and those wins are going to push new teams into the Tournament. Bradley is at a huge disadvantage in that they're done for the year. There is nothing else they can do to gain respect, to gain ground on other teams. When Georgia Tech beats UNC, Bradley drops a spot. This process should continue a few more times over the next week, and Bradley will most likely be knocked out of the Tournament.

Creighton 75, Missouri State 58
Speaking of the Valley, there were definitely some Tournament implications in the other Semifinal as well. The game meant less for a Creighton team that is already a lock for the Tournament. The RPI is a strong 25, and they're a good 10-7 agains the RPI Top 100. At this point, they're playing for seeding, with a loss here probably meaning something like a 10 or 11 seed. With the win they shouldn't do worse than a 9. A win over Southern Illinois in the Valley finals would give them a shot at something like a 6. Let's remember that the top seed in the Valley hasn't won the Tournament in almost a decade, so you can't count the Bluejays out based on that stat alone. That said, the larger implications were for a Missouri State team that has been on the bubble all year. At no point have a majority of people thought this didn't feel like a Tourney team, but at no point did it feel like the Bears were really going to blow away the Selection Committee either. I still feel like this is a Tourney team. An RPI of 38, a Sagarin rating of 29, and a decent 9-9 record against the RPI Top 100. They could possibly get screwed if Conference Tourney Week turns into a total mess (you can bet they'll be Butler fans on Tuesday). But it just seems like too much has to happen for the Missouri Valley not to get three teams. Right now, you've got to have the Bears in the Tournament.

#1 Ohio State 65, Michigan 61
I'm pretty sure that a couple weeks ago I called this obvious scenario. Michigan is always good but not good enough, and I think that both Tommy Amaker and the team he coaches need a fresh start and a new direction. I wouldn't be surprised to see him go during the offseason. Analysts discussed the 10-0 Buckeye run at the end of this game as evidence of the great strength of Ohio State. And while that's partly true, it ignores the greater issue: the total collapse of Michigan. Calling them terrible in the last two minutes of this game is to give the Wolverines too much credit. Missed dunks, missed free throws, matador defense and unforced turnovers - and all at home, on Senior Day, against their hated rival? This team will be on everyone's bubble watch until the end, but there's no way this team should get in barring a major upset in the Big 10 Tournament. I'd rather take a scrappy Purdue team if somebody wanted a sixth Big 10 team.


DMoore said...

So far, no bubble slots have been lost in conference tourneys that have completed. Have I missed any? In all the conferences with bubble teams, the favorites (Creighton was close enough) have won out: VCU, Davidson, Gonzaga, etc. I'm sure half of the Colonial, Big Ten and SEC conferences are relieved.

Here are the final profiles of the main bubblers that are done (except for lobbying and whining) until the selection show. They're listed in RPI order. How do they rank in terms of who should get in before who?

Missouri State
RPI 38
Top 25 1-5
Top 50 2-0 (3-5)
Top 100 6-4 (9-9)
Bad Losses 134
Road Record 8-4 road, 2-2 neut
Neutral Wins 4, 100
Road Wins 43, 79, 100, 112, 137, 139, 186, 262
Final Record 21-10

Old Dominion
RPI 39
Top 25 1-0
Top 50 3-2 (4-2)
Top 100 2-2 (6-4)
Bad Losses 108, 120, 301
Road Record 8-5 road, 1-1 neut
Neutral Wins 155
Road Wins 17, 46, 87, 120, 180, 198, 230, 262
Final Record 24-8

RPI 43
Top 25 1-5
Top 50 1-3 (2-8)
Top 100 4-3 (6-11)
Bad Losses 143
Road Record 5-7 road, 1-2 neut
Neutral Wins 79
Road Wins 47, 112, 134, 137, 139
Final Record 20-12

RPI 46
Top 25 2-0
Top 50 1-4 (3-4)
Top 100 4-2 (7-6)
Bad Losses 198, 200
Road Record 13-5 road, 1-0 neut
Neutral Wins -- 180
Road Wins 19, 30, 49, 65, 76, 88, 164, 179, 241, 260, 299, 301
Final Record 22-8

Appalachian State
RPI 62
Top 25 -- None
Top 50 3-2
Top 100 2-0 (5-2)
Bad Losses 109, 124, 195, 208, 299
Road Record 9-6 road, 4-0 neut
Neutral Wins -- 37, 47, 111
Road Wins 47, 51, 100, 109, 222, 243, 247, 299, 306
Final Record 22-7

Jeff said...

In my mind, Missouri State still should be in. And Bradley and Appalachian State are probably done. I think there is one bid to be had between Old Dominion and Drexel, and I'm going to put some thought into it before I respond. It just feels like the Colonial should get a second team.

Remember that during Championship Week spots aren't only lost because some non-favorite wins a conference. They can also be lost when some mediocre bubble team in a big conference goes on a roll. For example, what happens if Kansas State rolls to the Big 12 finals? They're probably getting in. And that's one less spot for Drexel, Old Dominion and the rest. It's an opportunity that bubble teams in the big conferences have that bubble teams in the small conferences don't.

DMoore said...

You're right, the remaining bubble slots may get taken by teams with a big win or two, even if they don't win the auto bid. I was just saying that it must be a relief that none of the slots have been gobbled up yet.

As for Old Dominion vs. Drexel, Drexel is really hurt that Old Dominion beat them twice, home and away, and the game at Old Dominion was a blowout. If there's only one bid there, I think that makes up the difference between ODU's win over Georgetown, compared with Drexel's wins over Villanova, Creighton & Syracuse. All of those wins, for both schools, are road wins, by the way.

That said, in everything but name recognition, Drexel's resume looks outstanding to me. It's just really hard for me to look at the records of an Alabama, Illinois, or even Syracuse and think they're more deserving. Unless they make a big statement in their conference tourney.

A couple of bubblers to keep an eye on are the ones with semi-home games in their conference tourneys. After beating Penn State, Illinois will have a semi-home game against Indiana (they've shown some foldability) in Chicago. Florida State in Tampa has interesting possibilities, as Al Thornton has been monstrous lately, they have Toney Douglas back, and they face recently shaky Clemson and Carolina.