Saturday, February 21, 2009

Crushing Loss For Georgetown

#11 Marquette 78, Georgetown 72
Despite being 5-8 in the Big East entering this game, Georgetown still had a very plausible path the Tournament. They had two games that they should fairly easily win (DePaul, at St. John's), and two good teams coming to visit that would make great wins (Marquette, Louisville). It seemed like a plausible path to a 9-9 Big East record, and Georgetown's computer numbers would be great even if they were only 8-10. But with this loss, the margin of error becomes incredibly thin. Georgetown would unquestionably be out of the Tournament if the season ended now, and need to go nearly undefeated the rest of the way to make the Tournament. They have to win a minimum of three of their final four regular season games or they will have no chance at an at-large bid. As for Marquette, they have now completely locked up their Tournament bid. They could lose every game the rest of the season and would still be a lock to make the Tournament (this is a real lock, unlike what passes for a "lock" at many other websites). They are in a de facto four-way tie atop the Big East with two losses. That said, their remaining schedule is incredibly brutal (UConn, at Louisville, at Pittsburgh, Syracuse). That schedule is so difficult that should Marquette sweep it they'll probably be in the driver's seat for a 1 seed. I can't see that actually happening, but Marquette definitely has an excellent shot at a 2 or a 3 seed.

Kentucky 77, Tennessee 58
I don't understand the media fascination with Jodie Meeks. He's an electric scorer, but I have been saying all year that Patrick Patterson is the most important player on the team, and if there were any questions just look at what happened in this, their first game with him back from an injury. There is something about the way that these two teams play, and I can't quite put my finger on it, but it just seems like Tennessee just cannot beat Kentucky this year. They are going to need Kentucky to get knocked out by somebody else in the SEC tournament, because it's hard to see Tennessee beating them after the way they've gotten beaten down the first two times these teams have played. Tennessee still has an RPI of 27th, but the Sagarin has slipped into the 40s, and that's a real danger zone. They have two relatively easy games, as well as two relatively difficult games (at South Carolina, at Florida) the rest of the way, and I think they need three wins in those four games to make the Tournament. Tennessee can make the Tournament if they finish 9-7 in the SEC (they're currently 7-5), but they'd need a very good SEC tournament as well as some bubble help. Kentucky is now 8-4 in the SEC, as well as a pretty solid 7-7 against the RPI Top 100. That said, their remaining schedule is pretty tough, and Kentucky needs to at least split their remaining four games to be a likely Tournament team.

Oklahoma State 84, Baylor 74
Baylor fired away with 31 three-point attempts in this one, and that just plays into Oklahoma State's hands. They are such a small team that they want you to play perimeter ball. They can't handle teams with good inside presences. Both of these teams would have been in a lot of trouble with a loss here, but Oklahoma State probably could have afforded it more than a Baylor team that now falls to 4-8 in the Big 12. They really have fallen apart, and their only chance to make the Tournament as an at-large is to win their final four regular season games. Oklahoma State, meanwhile, has quietly won three straight games to move to 6-6 in conference play. The RPI is 30th, and Sagarin will have them around 40th when the numbers come out tomorrow. That said, the Cowboys have to play both Texas and Oklahoma, and the size of those two teams will be a real problem. Oklahoma State needs to go 2-2 the rest of the way to have a plausible shot at an at-large bid heading into the Big 12 tournament. Honestly, they've really got to beat one of those two aforementioned powers to go 9-7 for the season if they want to be a likely Tournament team.

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