Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Bubble Shrinks

Cleveland State 57, #17 Butler 54
For the second time in three years Butler was the only team in the Horizon League with a shot at an at-large, yet fell in the conference tournament to steal away a second bid for the conference. Two years ago it was Wright State, and this year it's Cleveland State. But don't pencil the Vikings in for a 14 seed (the seed that Wright State got in '09), for a number of reasons. First of all, a number of small conference regular season champions have gone down, meaning a number of lesser teams taking up 14 and 15 seeds. And Cleveland State has a good resume, even when you don't take into account that they nearly beat Butler the other two times that they played. They finish 25-10 with a 5-7 record against the RPI Top 100. Their RPI is 55th, and Sagarin has them 69th. At this point I'd say that they're most likely going to get a 13 seed, although a 12 or a 14 seed is possible. As for Butler, they are going to get in as an at-large, even if their seed probably won't be as good as it's been the last couple of years. They finish 26-5 with wins over Xavier and UAB, although they also have losses to Loyola-Chicago and UW-Milwaukee. They are 24th in the RPI and Sagarin has them 32nd. I see them most likely as an 8-9 seed.

Texas 67, Colorado 56
It wasn't pretty, but Texas managed to avoid an embarrassing loss to Colorado here, and I think this should be the clincher for them. They only went 9-7 in a mediocre Big 12, but conference records are not the only thing the Selection Commitee looks at. I felt that Texas was going to get into the Dance if they could avoid a total clunker to open their Big 12 tournament campaign, and they have jumped over that hurdle. They finish a respectable 9-9 against the RPI Top 100 with wins over UCLA, Villanova and Wisconsin out of conference. They have that fluke loss to Arkansas, but that's not going to keep them out. But now that they're in the Tournament, the question is where they'll be seeded, and a key will be how they play in their next game. The Longhorns play a Kansas State team playing to keep their own Tournament hopes alive. If Texas loses they could potentially be the lower-seeded team in their first round game. A win should assure them of no lower than an 8 seed. If they win they'll get the winner of Kansas/Baylor on Friday evening.

West Virginia 74, Notre Dame 62

This loss drops Notre Dame to the Bubble... the NIT Bubble. I don't want to rehash everthing I talked about just a few hours ago, but the only real question was whether Notre Dame might sneak into the Dance with a win tonight. They most likely would have needed another win tomorrow night against Pitt, but that doesn't matter now. Notre Dame is out. As for West Virginia, they locked up their own Tournament bid before the Big East tourney began, but this win helps their seed. They only finished 10-8 in the Big East, but unlike Providence they actually have something to talk about regarding their out of conference resume. They only have one marquee win (Ohio State), but they have a number of other solid wins that show consistency and help the computer numbers (Cleveland State, Mississippi and Miami of Ohio). They also collected a win over Villanova in Big East play, and overall they are now 11-10 against the RPI Top 100 with an RPI of 26th and a Sagarin of 17th. Right now they look like a 5-7 seed, but they could move even higher if they can knock off Pitt tomorrow night.

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