Saturday, March 07, 2009

Pitt Beats #1 UConn... Again

#4 Pittsburgh 70, #1 UConn 60
This result shouldn't have been much of a surprise to anybody. Not only was Pitt at home, but they're the better team and it was Senior Night. They opened up a 14 point lead early in the second half only to see UConn to make a game of it with a 12-0 run. To me, the reason for this is the fact that Pitt has a bit of a showboating style of play. When they're in a close game or trailing they play smart, fundamental basketball. But when they opened up a lead and the crowd got behind them, too often they tried fancy dribbling, fancy passing and alley-oops that were unnecessary. The fact that they don't do this during close games is encouraging, but Pitt needs to cut it out altogether. Not only is it stupid and you can blow a Tournament game that way, but it also motivates the other team. If UConn wasn't such a poor free throw shooting team (10-for-19 for the game) they might have made a real game of this. Still, Pitt won and is looking pretty safe for a 1 seed at this point. They will get one unless they lose their Big East tournament opener. UConn, on the other hand, needs to make it to at least the Big East semifinals to get their 1 seed.

Seton Hall 67, Cincinnati 63, OT
Staying in the Big East, we have Cincinnati starting a trend that would continue all day long: bubble teams failing to win against inferior opponents. This loss was particularly bad when you consider this was a team coming off two straight losses, only one win away from a .500 season, and playing on Senior Night. But with a team that has had no consistency all season long, no win is assured ahead of time. And Cincy is now nearly off the bubble altogether. At 8-10 in the Big East and an atrocious 11-13 against the RPI Top 200, they would have no chance of being in the Tournament if the season ended now. I don't think there's any chance of them being in the Tournament unless they make the Big East semifinals. If they can get that far then they can look around and see how the rest of the bubble is doing. Until they get that far it's not even worthwhile for Cincy fans to worry about anything but winning the next game.

Michigan 67, Minnesota 64
The fact that there has been so much carnage around the bubble team only amplifies the importance of this victory for Michigan. They now get to 9-9, which will look a whole lot better than 8-10. They are now a reasonable 10-11 against the RPI Top 100, with wins over Duke, UCLA, Purdue and Illinois, and only one bad loss (Iowa). Both their Sagarin and RPI ratings are currently 40th, and they will most likely finish in 7th place in a conference that is most likely going to get seven teams. A win in their first round Big Ten tournament game (probably against Iowa) will most likely put them in the Tournament. If they can get a win in the next round (either against Purdue or Illinois) then they'll be a lock. Minnesota is another team that is probably in the Tournament if the season ended now, but also still with some work left to do. They now finish 9-9 in the Big Ten as well, but the sweep at the hands of Michigan means that they will probably end the season eighth in the standings. That will probably put them in an elimination game in the first round of the Big Ten tournament against Northwestern. A win there and Minnesota is probably in the Tournament, but a win in the next round (most likely against Michigan State) would be the clincher. A loss in the Big Ten quarterfinals will mean that Minnesota will probably still get a Tournament bid, but they'll have to sweat it out through Selection Sunday.

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