Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Big East Tourney Gets Rolling

DePaul 67, Cincinnati 57
This is arguably the most shocking result from any conference tournament thus far. DePaul didn't just go 0-18 in the Big East, but they were rarely even close. And Cincinnati came into this game as a bubble team that would have been a serious contender on Selection Sunday even with a mere win over DePaul. But they didn't even get that. This was just a total clunker from Cincy that should eliminate them from bubble contention. They finish 18-14 overall with a 7-12 record against the RPI Top 100. Their RPI is 83rd, Sagarin has them 73rd, and Pomeroy has them 85th. They're out.

Notre Dame 61, Rutgers 50
Notre Dame keeps their NCAA Tournament hopes alive with the win here. They don't have to win the Big East tournament to get in, but they're going to have to do more than just beat Rutgers. With the win they move to 18-13 with a 5-12 record against the RPI Top 100. The RPI is 71st, but Sagarin has tham 38th. They have wins over Louisville and Texas to go with losses to St. John's and Cincinnati. The Irish did play a very tough schedule, and they'll get credit for that, but you can't get an at-large with an 18-14 overall record. They've got to win tonight against West Virginia. Even the win against West Virginia might not put them in the Tournament. They might need to beat Pittsburgh in their next game. But depending on how the rest of the bubble plays out, it's possible for Notre Dame to get in the Tournament if they win tonight.

Providence 83, DePaul 74
Look at DePaul: two mentions in one post! Of course, their season is now done and they have to focus on developing that young talent so that they can be more competitive next season. The real question after this game is what this does to Providence's resume. They will be playing Louisville at noon eastern time tomorrow, so is that a must win game? Well, I was just watching Sportscenter, and I saw Digger Phelps say that Providence is now a lock. Of course, Digger thinks St. John's is a bubble team... I don't even know why ESPN continues to ask for his opinion on Big East issues. I would argue that not only is Providence not a lock, but they're probably out of the Tournament if they lose tomorrow. Here are the numbers: They went 10-8 in the Big East, but they did it with five wins over DePaul, St. John's, South Florida and Rutgers. In all, eight of their ten wins came against the bottom nine teams in the conference. They may have gone 10-8 in the Big East, but I don't see how they could have done better than 8-10 in the ACC or Big Ten. Providence went 19-12 overall, but only 6-12 against the RPI Top 100. Their RPI is 72nd, Sagarin has them 70th, and Pomeroy has them 77th. They do have those wins over Pitt and Syracuse, and no real bad losses (Northeastern and Baylor aren't that bad). But the numbers really are just daunting. A loss tomorrow would put them 13-13 against the RPI Top 200, and most years we don't see a single team earn an at-large that isn't above .500 against the Top 200. And the Selection Committee knows that a 10-8 in the Big East is not an absolute numbers because of the unbalanced schedules. And you'd be hard pressed to find another bubble team with a worse out of conference resume. There's just no way that a team with a Sagarin rating of 70th is earning an at-large bid, so I just don't see how Providence gets in the Tournament without at least one more win.

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