Saturday, February 09, 2008

Afternoon Update

Most of the country is getting to watch Texas get all it can handle from a pesky Iowa State team. But for now, let's just get to games already completed earlier today:

#21 Notre Dame 86, #16 Marquette 83
Notre Dame didn't hit a shot from the field in the final 6:23 of this game. But what they did do was hit their free throws. They went 10-for-10 from the line during that stretch from their last field goal to the final buzzer. Very impressive - good teams find a way to win when things aren't going their way. And a key is always to hit your free throws. They're free points, and they devastate your chances if you can't hit them. Just ask Shaun Pruitt. Notre Dame's chances of winning the Big East are still somewhat long because of an unfortunate quirk in the Big East schedule - their only game against Georgetown was on the road. They lost that game, and don't get a chance to make it up. Still, 8-2 in the Big East is good for second place, and will look very good on Selection Sunday. And you can bet they'll be Louisville fans tonight. Nobody's schedule is ever easy in the Big East, but it really could be a lot worse than what the Irish have the rest of the way. I can easily see a 14-4 finish. As for Marquette, they're just kind of in a funk. You can't find much to criticize when you take it down to the buzzer against a team that showed up with a 33 game home winning streak, but this is yet another example of the Golden Warriors (as some stubborn Marquette fans call the team) coming up just short. They aren't in any danger of falling out of the Tournament anytime soon, but there is a good shot that they'll fall out of the Top 25. But as long as they can get out of this funk by March they'll be fine for a Tournament run.

Miami (Fl) 74, Virginia Tech 71

The Canes somehow survived this one to stay in the bubble picture. Virginia Tech shot very well (55% from the field), but could not deal with the Miami bigs on the inside. I was shocked at how Virginia Tech just got out-athleted in this one. This ends a very bad week for a Va Tech team that has fallen all the way out of the RPI Top 60. The 5-5 ACC record is still pretty good, but you need to win these kinds of games in the ACC. Because when you don't take care of business, suddenly you find yourself heading to UNC and Maryland desperately needing a win. Miami, meanwhile, stays alive by improving the conference record to 3-6. Still a long way to go, but the computer numbers are so good. They are still living off that early undefeated run (remember, this team was #1 in the RPI more than a month into the season). The schedule is not really that awful the rest of the way, but Miami needs to get to a minimum of 7-9 in the ACC to even be considered for a bid. And they probably need to be 8-8. That requires a 5-2 finish against a tough schedule. Not an easy task for anybody.

TCU 68, San Diego State 62
A bad loss for a San Diego State team that just really can't get over the hump. The overall numbers seem pretty solid (6-3 in the Moutain West, 15-7 overall, RPI of 64), but they just haven't been able to get a win over a good team. California, St. Mary's, UNLV, BYU... all of those would be solid victories. But all of them have been losses. Throw in the losses to Northern Colorado and this one to TCU, and the odds are just getting pretty long to the Aztecs. They might need to win that conference Tournament, unless they basically go undefeated the rest of the regular season.

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