Saturday, March 03, 2007

They're Starting To Fall

Championship Week is well underway, and we already have our first big casualty (Appalachian State). Meanwhile, other teams are trying their best to punch their own tickets (Georgia Tech). Of course, we should remember that every year features a few teams playing their way into the Tournament by getting hot in early March. This is bad news for teams like Florida State and Bradley that have good resumes, but are going to get leapfrogged unless they too can pull off a big upset.

Let's get to the most important games from the last two days:

Georgia Tech 84, #8 North Carolina 77

Not quite as much media attention for this performance, even though it was a lot more impressive, than the game that made Syracuse a "lock". In fact, at this point I'd say that Tech is in before Syracuse. I think they both get in - but if someone stays home it's going to be Syracuse. Tech has the better RPI, and though they are hurt by the atrocious road record (1-8) the Jackets have just played a lot more elite teams, and won a lot more of those games. They have an excellent 7-8 record versus the RPI Top 50, compared to the Orange's 3-5. What has to be on the minds of all Georgia Tech fans, however, is the NBA Draft. Are any of these young guys going to go pro? Their two offensive stars are both freshmen, and they have no seniors playing important roles. They can be a real threat to win the ACC next year if they can hang onto that talent.

Missouri State 67, Wichita State 64

A good win that the Bears needed to have. They came into the Missouri Valley tournament with a pretty good resume, that more likely than not would be good enough for a Tournament bid, but with teams like Georgia Tech knocking off UNC you can never be too sure of a bid. Especially since there is nothing about Missouri State's resume that will really blow away the committee, other than the very early season upset of Wisconsin. To be sure, avoiding an upset at the hands of the utterly disappointing Shockers was a plus. An upset of Creighton on Saturday would be the clincher for sure. Even without it, Missouri State is without a doubt the third team in the Valley pecking order. I can't see them only getting two teams.

College of Charleston 89, Appalachian State 87, OT
An incredibly disappointing loss for an Appalachian State team that I really wish could make the Tourney. They'd been on a great roll, but probably got caught looking ahead to Davidson. Definitely a surprise for a team with so much senior leadership and experience. They have played well when given the opportunity, including a very solid 5-2 record against the RPI Top 50. If they had lost the SoCon finals to Davidson in a close duel, I could easily see the Mountaineers sneaking in. But this loss dips the RPI outside the Top 60, and probably dooms them to the NIT. Would it be more fun to see this team get in than an 8th ACC team? Definitely. But you have to win a big game to define your season for the casual fan and the Selection Committee. Appalachian State needed to schedule a tougher out-of-conference schedule, to give themselves the chance to pull off a big upset or two. Wins at Virginia, Vanderbilt and Wichita State are nice, but nothing that screams at-large bid. I don't want to do it, but I'm going to have to pull Appalachian State out of the next BP65.

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