#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.