Saturday, February 28, 2009

Georgetown Stays Alive

Georgetown 56, #12 Villanova 54
I spoke a few days ago how this game against Villanova was an absolute must-win for Georgetown. A loss here would have completely eliminated them from Tournament contention. But as dire it seems to be one loss away from elimination before February ends, Georgetown's route to a Tournament bid actually isn't as bad as you might think. They are 6-10 in the Big East, and absolutely must get to 8-10 to have a shot at an at-large bid, but their final two games are at St. John's, and at home against DePaul. The DePaul win will be automatic, and they should be solid favorites against St. John's. As I mentioned before, it will be impossible for Georgetown (or any other team seeded 9th or worse) to win the Big East tournament. But if Georgetown can get to 8-10, which they should, then they don't have to win the Big East tournament. They'll have to win that first round Big East game, and then they'll get one of the better Big East teams in the second round. A win there and Georgetown will have an excellent claim at a Tournament bid. If they can win another game to make it to the semifinals then Georgetown will actually be a likely Tournament team. But they can't get too far ahead of themselves. They've got to take care of St. John's and DePaul first. As for Villanova, this was a disappointing offensive performance for them. Their defense is good, and they a solid rebounding team, but they sometimes struggle to score efficiently. This loss pretty much locks them into the fifth seed in the Big East tournament, which means that they'll only get the single bye, and not a double bye. In fact, if the season ended now they'd be on pace for a desperate Georgetown team in the second round. Their path to the Big East tournament title will certainly be a lot tougher than it would have been if they could have gotten to fourth place.

#2 UConn 72, Notre Dame 65
Staying in the big East, Jeff Adrien led the way as UConn closes in on a possible Big East title. Hasheem Thabeet had eight blocks (not to mention about eight more that were re-directed and missed in a desperate attempt to avoid a Thabeet rejection), but it is always Adrien that leads this team when they need him most. UConn now moves to 15-2, and gets a full week to prepare for a road game at Pitt. I don't think they'll win that game, but a win would clinch a share of the Big East title. A loss and the title probably goes to Louisville. UConn actually doesn't need to win next Saturday to get a 1 seed. They can lose to Pitt, and they'll probably still get a 1 seed if they can get to the Big East tournament finals. As for Notre Dame, this has to be a disheartening loss because they played so well. Kyle McAlarney was playing well, as was Ryan Ayers. They also got a bit of a breakout performance off the bench by Tyrone Nash (even if it doesn't show up in the boxscore), who looks like he'll be one of the leading players on next year's team. But even with all of that, they still lost, and they're now 7-9 in the Big East. With the weak overall resume (4-11 against the RPI Top 100, for example), I don't see any way Notre Dame earns an at-large unless they win their final two regular season games (home games against Villanova and St. John's). If they can get to 9-9 then they'll need at least one win in the Big East tournament. Notre Dame is playing like a Tournament team right now, but they mght have just dug themselves too big of a hole to climb completely out of.

#21 Washington 83, Arizona 78
Washington is clearly smelling hardware as they lock up at least a share of the Pac-10 regular season title with the win here. Jon Brockman was the star here, managing to go blow-for-blow with Jordan Hill for the whole game. Arizona can't beat anybody unless Hill is dominating on the inside, and Arizona's guards and small forwards just were no match for Washington's guards and small forwards. Washington will lock up the outright crown if they can take care of business next Sunday at home against Washington State. If the Huskies can somehow add the Pac-10 tournament title to the regular season title then they will get no lower than a 3 seed in the Tournament. They'll even have an excellent argument for a 2 seed. With the loss, Arizona slips to 8-8 in the Pac-10, and still has some work left to earn a Tournament bid. They are only 9-10 against the RPI Top 100, but they do have several very nice wins (UCLA, Washington, Gonzaga and Kansas). The RPI is only 49th, but Sagarin has them 40th and they're probably in the Tournament if the season ended now. They end with two home games (California and Stanford), and I think Arizona more than likely makes the Tournament if they split those two games and win at least one Pac-10 tournament game. But things would really be much simpler if they win both remaining regular season games, because if the bubble gets messy it might be hard to argue for a 9-9 team out of what is only the fifth best conference in the nation.

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