Thursday, February 12, 2009

Baylor Is Running Out Of Time

#2 Oklahoma 78, Baylor 63
Baylor is really starting to run out of time to make their Tournament case, as this loss drops them to 3-7 in the Big 12. More importantly, they clearly viewed this game as their chance to turn this season around with a big win, and there's going to be a lot of disappointment about falling short. They are now in ninth place in a conference that won't get more than six teams, and have to win a minimum of four of their final six regular season games to still be in the bubble debate when the Big 12 tournament starts. Oklahoma, meanwhile, continues to grind these games out. Kansas and Missouri continue to breathe down their neck, but Oklahoma is arguably the safest 1 seed at this point. They can afford to lose another game or two in the regular season as long as they win the Big 12 tournament. It's hard to see a 31-3 Oklahoma team not getting a 1 seed.

Utah 67, San Diego State 55
A very important battle for Mountain West positioning. Utah's resume continues to be peculiar because nobody knows what to do about that loss to Division II Southwest Baptist. It's not even clear which computer rankings take that loss into account. If you throw that loss out you've got a heck of a resume as they have an RPI of 11th, and a very solid 7-5 record against the RPI Top 100. Obviously that one bad loss really hurts, but Utah would definitely be in the Tournament if the season ended now. Utah has grabbed the conference lead at 8-2, and I think they can lock up a Tournament bid if they get to 12-4. The Mountain West is as good as the SEC, and if a 12-4 SEC team is a lock then a 12-4 Mountain West team has to be a lock as well. Utah has got three relatively easy games, and three relatively difficult games (UNLV, at BYU, at New Mexico) remaining. If they can win the three easy games and then take one of the three difficult games, I think that will be the clincher. But that Division II loss, and how much the Selection Committee cares about the first game of the season from November 15th, will be big wild cards that will make it extremely difficult to project Utah's Tournament seed. San Diego State, up until this game, had really been sneaking up on people. Even with the loss they are 7-3 in the Mountain West with an RPI of 48th. It's unlikely that the Mountain West will get a fourth Tournament team, but San Diego State is going to make a run at it. The key for their remaining schedule will be beating BYU and UNLV at home, because they could really use the RPI Top 100 wins.

Temple 61, Saint Joseph's 59
Temple continues to hang in the bubble picture, while Saint Joe's is really falling back. Temple actually nearly blew a huge lead, and might have blown it entirely if Tasheed Carr hadn't panicked and fired up a half court shot with over two seconds remaining rather than trying to work for something better. I've talked before about how Temple's biggest problem is that they don't have a sexy record (even with the win they're still only 14-9 overall), but everything else about their resume is pretty solid. They're 6-3 in the A-10, 4-7 against the RPI Top 100, and the RPI is up to 36th (Sagarin and Pomeroy more or less agree with this as an appropriate ranking). I still think that Temple needs to get to 20 wins overall to earn a Tournament bid, but that's certainly a more likely scenario with this big win. As for Saint Joe's, they still have that 7-2 record in the A-10, but not much else on their resume looks worthy of an at-large bid. They still lack any RPI Top 50 wins with only two more chances remaining in the regular season (Xavier and Temple). They still have time to work their way into the bubble debate, but I just don't see it happening.

No comments: