Monday, March 09, 2009

UNC Just About Locks Up That 1 Seed

#2 North Carolina 79, #7 Duke 71
Duke put up a fight, but they're just not at the level of North Carolina this season. Even though this game was close the entire way, I never got the sense that Duke had a real chance of winning. It just seemed inevitable that they'd come up short. With this one it seems clear to me that North Carolina as the best resume in the country has we enter the conference tournaments. And that means that they're just about a lock for a 1 seed. The only way they can end up as a 2 will be if they lose their first ACC tournament game and then a lot of stuff goes wrong everywhere else around the country. They are the only team in the country that can lose their conference tournament opener and still probably get a 1 seed. Duke does have a shot at giving the ACC a second 1 seed, but they'd need a ton of help. Even winning the ACC tournament won't be enough unless they get a lot of help (like a Memphis loss in the C-USA tournament, and a Michigan State loss in the Big Ten tournament).

#10 Wake Forest 96, #19 Clemson 88
Staying in the ACC, this win gets Wake Forest to 11-5 and a tie for second with Duke. Because of the tiebreak procedure, Wake actually gets the second seed in the ACC tournament, proving me correct in my prediction way back in April where I had Wake second in the ACC. Of course, I also whiffed on Florida State, so what do I know anyway? I don't think I can come up with any scenario where Wake could earn a 1 seed, but a win in the ACC tournament would probably get them a 2 seed. Anything less and they're likely going to be a 3 or a 4 seed. As for Clemson, remember when they were a dark horse pick to earn a 1 seed? Well now they are 7-7 in their last 14 games, finishing 9-7 in the ACC and 8-6 against the RPI Top 100. The fact that the bubble is so weak, and that Clemson has great computer numbers, means that they're still sitting around a 5-6 seed at the moment. But they could slip even further if they play poorly in the ACC tournament. They're going to have to play in the opening round against Georgia Tech, and a win would put them up against a Florida State team that swept them during the regular season.

Ohio State 52, Northwestern 47
I've been a little bit perplexed by all of the bubble talk around Northwestern. They're not a glamor team, so the only explanation I have is that it's a feel good story for a team with such a horrible history (zero NCAA Tournament appearances in over 100 years of basketball). And maybe they would have had a good case if they could have beaten Ohio State here and then won a game or two in the Big Ten tournament, but now they're really quite the long shot. They finish 17-12 overall and 8-10 in the Big Ten. They finish 6-10 against the RPI Top 100, and an even worse 9-12 against the RPI Top 200. They do have wins over Florida State, Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin, but they also have losses to Iowa and Stanford. Sagarin has them 49th, Pomeroy has them 59th, and their RPI is 71st because of a really weak strength of schedule (Pomeroy rates their out of conference strength of schedule at 276th). They have to win their Big Ten tournament opener against Minnesota or it's all academic, but I don't even think that will be enough. I think they've got to beat Michigan State in the Big Ten quarterfinals or they're going to NIT. That said, even the NIT is an accomplishment for a team that has only accomplished that feat on three occasions in history, and not once since 1999.

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