Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Georgetown And Notre Dame Are Going To The NIT

St. John's 59, Georgetown 56, OT
This game was one of the real shockers of the week, although in retrospect should we really be that surprised to see Georgetown come out and vastly underperform? I can't count how many times this season I've watched this team play, unable to believe the score on the tv screen. Georgetown is now 6-11 in the Big East (incidentally the same record as St. John's). They end with an automatic win at home against DePaul, but they'll be 7-11 overall and playing in the first round of the Big East tournament. I'm actually not going to completely eliminate Georgetown from the BP65 because if they manage to somehow win four straight Big East tournament games to get to the Big East finals it would be such a media story that they actually might make the NCAA tournament despite the 7-11 record. But there's no way that's going to happen. Georgetown is going to the NIT.

#16 Villanova 77, Notre Dame 60

This game was actually much closer than the final score. The game was basically tied for the entire first 30 minutes of the game before Notre Dame finally wore out in the final ten minutes of the game. But this was really a must win game for the Irish, and they now fall to 7-10 in the Big East with an RPI of 75th. They are an atrocious 8-13 against the RPI Top 200, and Notre Dame's NCAA scenario is almost as ridiculous as Georgetown's is at this point. Obviously they've got to win the regular season finale against St. John's (not a gimme since the Johnnies beat them in New York two months ago). Assuming that they win that game they'll get Rutgers in the first round of the Big East tournament. They should win that game, which will put them up against either Syracuse, West Virginia or Providence in the second round. If they can survive that then they'll be up against either UConn, Pitt or Louisville in the quarterfinals. Notre Dame must win that game to make the Big East semifinals to have any chance at the Tournament. That's the bare minimum, no matter what else happens around the nation. In other words, Notre Dame now faces at least four straight elimination games, and a loss in any of them will mean a trip to the NIT. Villanova, on the other hand, is currently tied with Marquette for fourth in the Big East. I'm not sure how that tie break will work out (since the two teams split their regular season meetings), but it actually doesn't really matter. I believe that getting the fourth seed and the double bye is overrated, because it's not like Villanova or Marquette is going to win the Big East tournament regardless of their seed. Being the fifth seed just means that you most likely will collect an extra win against a decent opponent. Plus you'll play a fourth seeded team that is rusty after so long without a game, while you'll be in a groove after coming off a nice victory the day before. I think there will be a big advantage for the fifth seeded team in that quarterfinal game.

New Mexico 77, Utah 71
New Mexico collects a massive victory here, keeping their at-large hopes realistic. They actually move into a tie for first place in the Mountain West with Utah, and can lock up a share of the conference title if they can win an (admittedly tough) game at Wyoming. That conference record is wonderful, and New Mexico does have some nice scalps in conference play, but beating Mountain West teams just is not going to get anybody into the Tournament. The real problem for New Mexico has been an atrocious out of conference performance. Pomeroy rates their out of conference RPI 180th, and they only went 9-6 against it. Their best win was over Ole Miss (not even as impressive as those wins over the likes of UNLV and Utah in conference), and their next best win was probably over New Mexico State. They have losses to Drake, Central Florida and Texas Tech. They're a good team, but those bad losses just make it really tough to see New Mexico in the NCAA Tournament. They've got to win that regular season finale and then play well in the Mountain West tournament. They still have a shot at an at-large, but it's unlikely. Utah, on the other hand, is still close to locking up their own bid. Everybody knows that their RPI of 10th is ridiculous, and their Sagarin rating of 31st is much more realistic. I think they've got to take care of business against TCU on Saturday evening to finally wrap up that at-large bid. It will also give them at least a share of the Mountain West regular season title.

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