Thursday, February 26, 2009

Boston College Closes In On A Bid

Boston College 72, #25 Florida State 67
All season long Boston College has gone as Tyrese Rice has gone, and he led them to an absolutely essential victory here. This marks their 20th victory of the season, and they are now 8-6 in the ACC and 9-7 against the RPI Top 100 (although that doesn't take into account their two bad losses outside the RPI Top 100). They have those huge victories over Duke and UNC, but this is probably their next best win. They also have quality wins over UAB, Providence, Maryland and Virginia Tech. The computer numbers still aren't really good enough for a Tournament bid (they are suffering from a weak out of conference schedule, which Pomeroy ranks 271st), but they're getting closer. This was a key win because they end with two fairly easy games (at NC State, vs Georgia Tech). So while they might not be in the Tournament if the season ended now, they'll be a near-lock if they can close out those two games to end up 10-6 in the ACC. Florida State has not yet completely locked up their Tournament bid, but they'd have to completely collapse to lose out. The question is whether they can finish strong and earn a high Tournament seed.

#18 LSU 81, Florida 75
LSU is finally getting the national attention that they deserve, although I'm thinking that they might suddenly become overrated. The fact is that no casual fans are watching the SEC this season unless they root for SEC teams, so nobody is watching any of these teams. All they can do is look at the records, and boy does LSU have a nice record: 12-1 in the SEC and 8-3 against the RPI Top 100. But that said, people need to remember that they're playing the SEC West. Their only decent out of conference win came against Washington State (their next best win came over Troy). LSU is very long and athletic, but they're also impatient. They will lose in the NCAA Tournament to the first team that has the wherewithal to patiently work the shot clock and then rush back on defense. But if they're playing impatient teams (like this game against Florida) they do look quite a bit like that Final Four team from 2006 (in style, not in overall talent). As for Florida, I think I've finally put a finger on why they seem to be underperforming. There is no question that Nick Calathes is the star and center of the team, and everybody else responds to him. But he's just not good enough to be the star of an elite team. He'd be a great sidekick for a team with an explosive point guard or dominant big man. But he's the star of Florida, and that's why they still have work left to do to even make the Tournament.

BYU 69, San Diego State 59
The Mountain West won't get any attention from anybody until casual fans start looking at their brackets in a few weeks, but this was an important battle for Tournament positioning. The Mountain West is a real dog fight, with five teams firmly in the bubble discussion and none of them having locked up their Tournament bid yet. BYU is probably in the second best position, especially after this big road victory. They're now tied for second in the conference with a 9-4 record. They have an RPI of 22nd, and the best Sagarin PREDICTOR in the conference (13th). They are only 1-5 against the RPI Top 50, but they're 19-1 against everybody else. You can easily earn an at-large out of a mid-major conference if you can avoid bad losses, and BYU has none. Things are a little more difficult for San Diego State, which falls to 8-5 in conference play and 4-8 against the RPI Top 100. They have a mildly bad loss against Wyoming, and still don't have a defining victory. The computer numbers are rapidly fading, and the Aztecs are going to have to finish very well to make the Tournament.

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