Saturday, January 26, 2008

Saturday Update, Part II

Purdue 60, #11 Wisconsin 56
The Indiana loss was obviously bad for the Big Ten, but I think that this result was actually good for the conference. Wisconsin, Michigan State, Indiana and Ohio State all look headed to Tournament bids. But with Illinois shooting at an atrocious level and Minnesota unable to get a signature win, the conference might be headed to only four Tournament bids. This win puts Purdue on the right side of the bubble, for now at least. The weak schedule means that they still have poor computer numbers (that loss to Wofford really kills their numbers), but that will improve just as they continue to play in the Big Ten. And regardless of the computer numbers, a 6-1 record in the Big Ten will turn a lot of heads. This win now gives them something to brag about on Selection Sunday. The computer numbers will never be great, but if they finish 12-6 in the Big Ten (or better) it's hard to see them getting denied.

Mississippi State 88, Mississippi 68

Thie game has ramifications that will go beyond rivalry bragging rights. Don't look now, but Mississippi State is now 5-0 in the SEC, while Ole Miss is way back at 2-3. Overall, Ole Miss has played better this season, and the computer numbers still agree (Ole Miss has an RPI in the teens while Mississippi State hasn't punched through the Top 50 yet). But can we keep ignoring Misssippi State if they keep winning? The schedule does get tougher for the Bulldogs, of course. They have to play Tennessee next weekend, and still have to head to Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and Florida. So they'll get a few losses, but there's no reason that they can't finish 11-5. And if that's enough to get the first seed out of the SEC West, they could have a favorable route to the SEC Tourney finals. I'm not going to project them into the Tournament yet, but they're getting close. I should point out that the Sagarin Ratings suggest that this Mississippi State run isn't too big of a surprise. Entering today, they had a Sagarin ELO_CHESS of 78th and a PREDICTOR of 35th. Anytime your PREDICTOR jumps into the Top 30 (like Mississippi State's probably will when tomorrow's Sagarin numbers come out), you're in good position to make a run at a Tournament bid.

Richmond 80, #19 Dayton 63
I hope Dayton fans enjoyed seeing their team's name with a number in front of it, because this is the last they'll see that for a while. I've talked about this a lot, so I'm not going to rehash these Atlantic Ten issues. It will be interesting to see how the Bracket Matrix responds to Dayton's horrific week. There really are too many brackets on that page - I think I keep my text font pretty small, but I still can't even come close to getting all of those on the screen at once. The idea of combining everyone's logic is a great one, but some people just are a bit clueless. Anyone who had Dayton as a #3 seed should have their bracket privileges revoked. Okay, not really, but I was personally appalled at that. You can't have a Sagarin PREDICTOR in the 60s or 70s and hope to get anything close a #3 seed. My guess is that if the season ended today Dayton would still get in the Tournament. Probably something like an 8 or a 9 seed due to the strong RPI numbers (Realtimerpi has them 17th as I'm typing this). But I'm dropping them out altogether and moving Rhode Island in. Texas A&M's poor stretch was a fluke, but Dayton's poor stretch is a trend. They should take care of St. Louis at home, but I would project them to lose at Rhode Island next weekend. That puts them at four losses in conference, and I think most people agree that Dayton has to finish 11-5 or better to get an at-large bid. That's just not enough wiggle room for a team that will probably have another upset loss or two. These guys are out of the BP65 unless they show significant improvement.

#9 Georgetown 58, West Virginia 57

Amazing finish in this game. In college basketball, experience is just so important towards the end of games. West Virginia is a building team that plays a lot of young guys. Georgetown is one of the most experienced teams in the Top 25, and they know how to steal a win. A month ago, you would have said that both Marquette and Pitt had a great shot to win the Big East, with other dark horses in the waiting like Louisville. But right now, Georgetown just seems to be running away with this thing. Pitt's injuries have been devastating, and Marquette has just been too inconsistent. Barring a big turn of events, Georgetown will win the conference to more-or-less guarantee a top two seed in the Tournament. As for West Virginia, they let a huge opportunity go here. They're still probably on the right side of the bubble, but this win would have allowed them to shoot way up the charts. They could have been 5-2 with a signature win and an RPI near 20th in the country. But there's a reason that you get so much benefit for beating a Top Ten team - it's supposed to be hard to do. The Mountaineers would be a Tournament lock if they could get to 11-7 in the Big East, but the schedule makers didn't do them any favors. They still have to head to Pitt, UConn, Villanova and Providence. And the home slate includes Pitt and the suddenly-dangerous Rutgers team. Hard to see them finding a way to only lose four games the rest of the way. Depending on how many more signature wins they get, 10-8 will probably still get them in the Tournament. But it will depend what happens around the rest of the country. West Virginia could have really grabbed hold of their Tournament destiny with a win in this one. Now they're probably going to be doing a lot of scoreboard watching the rest of the way.


Anonymous said...

Dayton is currently without two of their top front court players (both in the top 4 in scoring and rebounding when they went out) with broken bones - Charles Little may start practice next week and super freshman Chris Wright may be back by the end of the month. In addition, All-American candidate Brian Roberts has been suffering with an unidentified respiratory illness that has limited his effectiveness (he only played the first 4 minutes of the second half against xavier before he couldn't go on). Also you should learn a bit about the selection process - if they get healthy by the end of the season and finish strong, the selection committee will take into account that they were suffering through injuries and health problems during this bad stretch

Jeff said...

I'm well aware of how the Selection Process works (we all remember the famous case of Kenyon Martin's injury and Cincy's #2 seed a bunch of years back), and I am aware of Dayton's injuries. But you have to remember two things:

First of all, you can't just pretend that games don't count because you had injuries. If Dayton finishes 10-6 in the Atlantic Ten that will probably not get them in the Tournament, even if a majority of their losses occurred with injuries. Most teams have injuries of some kind, and the games still count. You can weigh the injuries a little bit, but you can't just discount the games.

Second of all, taking injuries into account also hurts Dayton's resume a bit. The thing that they have going for them are the two big out of conference wins, over Louisville and Pitt. But both of those teams were suffering serious injury issues, which makes those games count a bit less than they would if those two teams were at full strength (like Dayton was at the time).

Anonymous said...

As I posted - If they get healthy and finish strong then they can weather this losing streak.

Your comments of their last two games never mentioned the injuries so there's no way tell if you were aware of them. Intead you stated they were over rated and that their losing would be a trend and not a fluke.

If Dayton finishes 21-8 (9-7 A10) + gets to the final game of the A10tourney they'll get an at large bid

Jeff said...

First of all, they were overrated even before this losing streak. Their Sagarin PREDICTOR was outside the Top 50 even before these losses.

The problem is that people see the RPI rating and think it's all that matters. In fact, the Sagarin rating holds more weight with the Selection Committee than the RPI.

I don't know where to find Sagarin Ratings from Selection Sunday last year, but you can look at the final Sagarin Ratings (which include Tournament results). And even then, you only see two at-large teams with a Sagarin Rating outside the top 50 - Stanford and Illinois. And both of those teams lost in the first round of the Tournament, which means that their Sagarin Ratings were higher on Selection Sunday.

In other words, it's very very rare for a team to make the Tournament as an at-large with a Sagarin Rating outside the Top 50 (even more rare than a team with an RPI outside the top 50). Right now, Dayton is 53rd. And with a PREDICTOR of 79th, that means that we can expect their Sagarin rating to drop even further as the season goes on.

There's no way they can finish 9-7 in the A-10 and still get an at-large bid. It's possible to get in with a 10-6, but I'd say that they really need to get to 11-5.

Anonymous said...

Dayton was never overrated. You're over-relying too much on Sagarin's questionable ranking system. Dayton's rough week had nothing to do with them being overrated and everything to do with injuries to two of their top six players, and their best player dealing with a respiratory illness.

Which leads me to this: their win against Louisville may not have happened had the Cards been completely healthy. But the Flyers win over Pittsburgh was legit. The Panthers beat Georgetown WITHOUT Levance Fields. Injuries or not, Pittsburgh is still a tough squad and a good win for Dayton.

There's no doubt in my mind that the Flyers are in trouble. But it has nothing to do with them not deserving of their early accolades. If this team can get healthy and get in to the tournament, they're going to be a great sleeper pick to make the Sweet 16.