Saturday, March 07, 2009

Texas A&M Is Suddenly Looking Safe

Texas A&M 96, #12 Missouri 86
Missouri's helter-skelter style of basketball lends itself to a little bit of a lack of consistency, but the last week or so has been a bit nuts even by their standards. They get destroyed by Kansas, then handled Oklahoma only to fall by ten points to Texas A&M. This loss won't keep them from getting a solid seed in the 3-5 range in the Tournament, but Missouri will not be able to make a deep run unless they can play with more consistency. Regardless, this game meant more for Texas A&M anyway, a team that was probably in bracket even before this win and is looking very safe right now. They have won six straight games to finish up 9-7 in the Big 12, 23-8 overall and 8-8 against the RPI Top 100, and their own RPI is up to 29th. I wouldn't say that they're a lock yet, but they're probably in the Tournament even if they lose their first Big 12 tournament game. A win in that game will make them that lock. With the rest of the bubble falling apart this past week, Texas A&M has been one of the few teams taking advantage and playing good basketball when it matters most.

#25 Syracuse 86, #15 Marquette 79, OT
This game wasn't a bubble game, of course, as both of these teams are safely in the Dance. What it was about were two teams moving in opposite directions. Syracuse has won four straight games to finish the season 11-7, and their Tournament seed is rapidly climbing. They could potentially go as high as a 4 seed if they play well in the Big East tournament. Marquette, on the other hand, continues to slide without Dominic James. They have yet to win without him, and they've lost four straight games to finish up 12-6 in the Big East. They will now play the winner of Georgetown-St. John's in the second round of the Big East tournament. A win there would put them up against Villanova in the Big East quarterfinals. But at this point the games are not about earning a higher seed but about just figuring out how to win without James. If they don't turn things around then they won't make the Sweet 16 regardless of the seed they earn.

Auburn 69, #11 LSU 53
Most casual fans are probably unaware that Auburn is having a good season, but they've quietly won eight of their last nine games to finish the season 10-6 and in second place in the SEC West. That said, only an SEC West team can win ten conference games with only five wins over the RPI Top 100 all season long. Their only other quality win came against Tennessee, and they have losses to Mercer and Ole Miss. Sagarin will have them somewhere around 65th when tomorrow's numbers come out, which means that Auburn still has a way to go. They will probably face Florida in the SEC quarterfinals, and then would most likely face Tennessee in the SEC semifinals should they get that far. They'll have to beat Florida to have a chance at the Tournament, and they'd probably need to beat Tennessee also. They still have a lot of work left to do, but the fact that we're still talking about Auburn as a legitimate bubble team as we head into the SEC tournament is shocking when you consider where this team was a month ago.

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