Saturday, February 21, 2009

UNC and UCLA Lose

Maryland 88, #3 UNC 85, OT
North Carolina's defense has not been that good for a while now, and Grievis Vasquez torched them for a triple-double here. It is nice to see Tyler Zeller starting to make his way back, and he should be back to his early season form by the time the Tournament comes around, but he is not going to help them with perimeter defense. North Carolina is still leading the ACC, and is still in the driver's seat for a 1 seed, but they continue to underperform. This should be the clear best team in the nation, and right now I don't think they're playing any better than Pitt or Oklahoma are. Meanwhile, Maryland really resuscitated their Tournament hopes with this win here. As I explained here, they really needed a win over UNC, Duke or Clemson in this final stretch, and now they have that big win. Maryland is now 6-6 in the ACC, and will still be firmly on the bubble if they merely get to 8-8. If they get to 9-7 then they will make the Tournament with a solid ACC tournament performance.

Washington State 82, #15 UCLA 81
This was probably the most shocking result of the day, and UCLA really is in a complete free fall. UCLA continues to play without any sense of urgency, and seems to believe that they can just turn it on late in games. And they always look impressive late in games as they attempt their desperate comebacks, which unfortunately makes them feel like they can come back the next time they fall behind. But things are serious now, as UCLA is now 9-5 with an RPI that has fallen to 35th. They have a pretty easy schedule the rest of the way, but is anything really certain with this UCLA team right now? Even with this win, Washington State is only 6-9 in the Pac-10. Their RPI is still 102nd, and it's not worth discussing their at-large chances unless they can win about five games in a row.

#7 Louisville 72, Cincinnati 63
Louisville continues to play solid basketball as they win their third straight since that embarrassing loss to Notre Dame. Louisville's remaining schedule is difficult, but not impossible, and they have an excellent shot at a share of the Big East title. They are also still in the 1 seed discussion. They are probably third in the Big East pecking order, and we obviously won't see three Big East teams getting 1 seeds no matter how many times ESPN tries to convince us that it's the best conference in the nation. So at the very least, Louisville probably needs to pass UConn to earn that 1 seed. Cincinnati, meanwhile, is now 7-7 in the Big East with an RPI and a Sagarin rating outside of the Top 50. That said, their remaining schedule is fairly easy, and Cincy will be a serious bubble team if they can finish 3-1 over their final four regular season games. A 9-9 Cincy team most likely won't make the Tournament, but it's going to be hard for the Selection Committee to turn away a team that goes 10-8 in the Big East and wins at least one Big East tournament game.

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