Saturday, March 07, 2009

Oklahoma Continues To Slide

#12 Missouri 73, #5 Oklahoma 64
Missouri bounced back in a big way with this very solid victory over an Oklahoma team that still seems to be finding themselves since Blake Griffin got back. We saw while Griffin was out just how good Willie Warren is, but he really took a back seat here with only 7 points, 6 assists and 4 turnovers. The Sooners will eventually get Warren and Griffin going at the same time, and that's going to be a very scary team. But for now, this loss probably ends any chance of a Big 12 title, as Kansas should wrap up the outright title this afternoon unless they get upset at home by Texas. Still, Oklahoma can earn a 1 seed if they beat Oklahoma State (which they should) and then win the Big 12 tournament title. If they lose any more games between now and Selection Sunday they'll almost definitely earn a 2 seed. As for Missouri, they finish this wonderful regular season 17-0 at home, and Mike Anderson should be one of the top vote getters for National Coach of the Year. And I think he should be the Big 12 winner, over Bill Self. Their performance in Big 12 play has been great, but a weak out-of-conference resume will preclude them from anything higher than a 2 seed. And unless they win the Big 12 tournament I don't see them any higher than a 3 seed.

Mississippi State 80, Florida 71
Mississippi State did CBS a favor by setting them up a near-elimination game this afternoon between Florida and Kentucky. While Kentucky definitely would not be in the Tournament if the season ended now, Florida would be right on the border. They are 8-7 in the SEC, and the Sagarin rating has slipped to 48th (they have an RPI of 54th, and Pomeroy has them 47th). If they lose to Kentucky this afternoon then things really do become bleak. They would have a must-win game against LSU in the SEC quarterfinals. And even a win there might not be enough. If they can beat Kentucky then they'll have a more respectable 9-7 SEC record, and they'll most likely get third place in the SEC East. If that's the case then they'll have to make the SEC semifinals at a minimum. There they'd most likely face Tennessee, possibly still needing another win to make the Tournament. In other words, Florida has a ton of work to do, but things will get a lot easier if they can take care of business against Kentucky. As for Mississippi State, they're still technically alive for an at-large bid, as they're still 8-7 with a good chance to finish 9-7. It's exceedingly unlikely, but stranger things have happened.

Minnesota 51, Wisconsin 46
Wisconsin continues to battle with Virginia Tech for the most snake bitten team in the nation. At this point it's clearly mental, that the Badgers just expect to lose every close game that they're in. Wisconsin fans just have to hope that things refresh once they are in the NCAA Tournament, and that they are more loose when they're playing with house money. Wisconsin has not completely locked up that bid, of course, although they would have if they'd won here. I can't fathom them losing at home on Senior Night to Indiana, and once they win that game they will almost definitely make the Tournament, but they could get screwed by a crazy Championship Week. Wisconsin would settle things if they can follow up that Indiana win with one Big Ten tournament win. They'll be a certain lock if they can do that. As for Minnesota, they also move closer to locking up a Tournament spot with this big win (I believe it's their first season sweep over archrival Wisconsin in about 15 years). Like Wisconsin, they've really got to get that last victory on Senior Night to get to 10-8 on the season, although Minnesota's opponent will be more of a challenge. They will have to face a Michigan team desperate for a win as well. If Minnesota can win there then like Wisconsin they should be pretty solid for the Tournament. And again like Wisconsin, one win in the Big Ten tournament will make things certain.

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