Sunday, March 08, 2009

Tough Losses for Va Tech, Illinois State

#24 Florida State 63, Virginia Tech 53
Once again, Virginia Tech hung in a game against an elite team. And once again they fell short. It's been the story of the season for Virginia Tech. They finish the regular season 17-13, and 7-9 in the ACC. They are an atrocious 4-11 against the RPI Top 100, with wins over Clemson and Wake Forest counterbalanced by losses to Georgia, Virginia and Seton Hall. Their next game will be an elimination game in the first round of the ACC tournament, on Thursday against Miami. The loser of that game will be effectively eliminated from at-large contention. But even that win will probably not put Virginia Tech in the Tournament, and they'll probably need a second round win over North Carolina. They gave the Tar Heels a battle when they played last week, and anything is possible, but it's not likely. Florida State, meanwhile, finishes in sole possession of fourth place in the ACC at 10-6. They will face either Clemson or Georgia Tech in the second round of the ACC tournament on Friday, and will then presumably play the winner of that UNC/Miami/Va Tech pod on Saturday. They're probably sitting at a 4 or a 5 seed right now, and can move up if they can do well in the ACC tournament.

Northern Iowa 60, Illinois State 57, OT
A game that was so exciting that I didn't mind missing the start of UNC/Duke on CBS. Osiris Eldridge did his best to carry his team to the Tournament, but a team that has always lived and died by the three ended up dying today (10-for-35 from behind the arc). And while Illinois State will probably get discussed by the Selection Committee, it's hard to fathom them earning an at-large bid. Their resume is clearly inferior to Creighton's in every way other than the fact that they played better during Arch Madness. Creighton would get in before Illinois State, which means that the Redbirds can only get in if the Selection Committee chooses three teams out of the MVC, a conference most likely to be a one-bid league. Creighton is at best a 50-50 proposition for an at-large bid right now. Watching those Illinois State players on the floor at the end of the game, they knew that they're going to the NIT. As for Northern Iowa, their resume is pretty solid and they should get a decent seed in the Tournament. There is no way that they'll do worse than a 13 seed, and they will have a great shot at a 12 seed. They even have a shot at an 11 if things fall right.

#8 Michigan State 62, #20 Purdue 51
Michigan State appears to be getting healthy and into a groove at exactly the right time, as Tom Izzo teams tend to do. They finish 15-3, a full four games ahead of second place in the Big Ten. If they can win the Big Ten tournament they will have an excellent shot at a 1 seed, although they will need a little bit of help. Even if they flame out in their first Big Ten tournament game they won't fall any further than a 3 seed. As for Purdue, this loss drops them from second to third in the final conference standings, which actually doesn't matter all too much. If anything, they might prefer to play 6 seed Penn State rather than 7 seed Michigan. Either way they were going to play a team desperately trying to play itself into the Tournament in the Big Ten quarterfinals. Purdue's seed can vary anywhere between a 4 and a 10 depending on how their Big Ten tournament goes.

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