Saturday, January 10, 2009

Oklahoma State And Texas A&M Battle

Oklahoma State 72, Texas A&M 61
Travis Ford gets a very nice win here in his Big 12 debut. Nearly a month ago I spoke about Oklahoma State's lack of an inside presence since Ibrahimi Thomas was booted off the team, and I talked about possible solutions. It turns out that the solution may be a previously little-used 6'6" reserve, Marshall Moses. Moses earned a career-high 23 minutes (previous high: 21) and scored a career-high 15 points (previous high: 9) and collected a career-high 13 rebounds (previous high: 4), including 7 on the offensive end (previous high: 3). If Moses can provide them with a complementary inside presence to go with Obi Muonelo (I know that he's a guard, but he's leading the team with 10 rebounds per game) then Oklahoma State can potentially compete to finish as high as third place in the Big 12. Texas and Oklahoma have long since left the rest of the conference behind, but every other position in the conference standings is wide open right now. The RPI is up to 15th, including a solid 4-3 record against the RPI Top 75. Things are a little less optimistic for a Texas A&M team that came into this game with a 14-1 record that got no attention nationally because it was against an atrociously easy schedule. They are now 2-2 against the RPI Top 100, with their second best win coming over Stephen F. Austin. They do have that one point home victory over Arizona, but that's not exactly going to bowl over the Selection Committee. The RPI is still 48th even after this loss, but a Sagarin PREDICTOR of 94th and a Pomeroy rank of 88th suggests that maybe this team isn't as good as we think they are. If they can prove the computers wrong and finish with a good Big 12 record, they will end up with good computer numbers just with the vast number of total wins that they'll have. The Selection Committee sometimes lets teams into the Tournament because they're distracted by the shiny record, so the Aggies can be one of those rare college basketball teams that actually benefits from a weak strength of schedule.

Creighton 73, Bradley 64
A lot of bracketologists panicked after Illinois State wiped the floor with Creighton and made them the favorites in the Missouri Valley, but there's a reason why I didn't jump on that boat. The Missouri Valley is a high intensity conference where there are no bad teams and every game is a battle, and it's just not realistic to expect the utterly inexperienced Illinois State team to respond as well to that as this very experienced Creighton squad. Bradley was actually leading the Missouri Valley standings with a 4-0 record before this one, and so it was quite a coup for Creighton to take them out on their home floor. As is typical of this conference, it is now a wide open race, with six teams within one game of first place, including Bradley, Illinois State and Creighton. I still think Creighton is the favorite. This is a tough loss for a Bradley team that really doesn't have the out-of-conference resume that a Tournament team needs, with a loss to UMKC and zero wins over the RPI Top 100. It's possible for them to get an at-large bid, but it's highly unlikely.

Washington State 55, Stanford 54
I mentioned this morning that Stanford was heading towards a desperate Washington State team, which is a place that you don't want to be. Washington State, despite their bad start and lack of depth, still has a pretty good and experienced starting lineup. They are also typically a pretty good home team. And it was those experienced players (especially Taylor Rochestie, who was the star of this one), and the home crowd, that carried Washington State to a win in what was essentially a must-win game for them. Even with this win they're still only 9-6 with a 1-2 Pac-10 record. This is their first win over the RPI Top 100 (after five losses), and the RPI is still going to be right around 100th in the nation. That said, their Sagarin PREDICTOR will likely be inside the Top 50 when the new numbers come out tomorrow, so there is hope for this team. For Stanford, they are going to wake up tomorrow and realize that despite their great start they are now 1-3 in the Pac-10. They have a full week to prepare for a home game against Cal, but a loss there will turn those home games against the two Oregon teams into must-wins. Stanford has a weak strength of schedule, so they need to collect a lot more wins to earn a Tournament bid. Even if they work their way back to 9-9 in the Pac-10, they'll still need to do well in the Pac-10 tournament.

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