Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Three Final Saturday Recaps

I wanted to do a little catching up with three final games from Saturday I haven't gotten to yet. There were some good games last night, and obviously a bunch of good games tonight, and I'll probably get to those tomorrow night. It's worth noting that there are no Division I college basketball games Thursday or Friday (other than the Diamond Head Classic, I believe), so there's plenty of time for catching up. Without further ado:

Old Dominion 61, #11 Georgetown 57
This was yet another one of those bizarre results from Saturday. I wouldn't put too much stock into this result for a few reasons. Obviously we have a lot of weird results in this period around finals and holiday vacations, and in addition we had a Georgetown team that had survived a whole bunch of close wins and was due to finally lose a game. They now fall to 8-1, and despite this loss remain in the discussion of potential Big East champions. They play a good Harvard team tomorrow before opening Big East play New Year's Eve against St. John's. I'm looking at a January 9th home game against UConn as an early test of whether this Georgetown team can win a Big East crown. As for Old Dominion, you have to admire the way that they fought to a draw on the boards against a big Georgetown team, despite getting very little production from their only legitimate big man: 6'10" Gerald Lee. They outhustled and outworked Georgetown, and it paid off with their biggest win of the year. Old Dominion moves to only 7-4, but they have zero losses to teams I expect to finish outside the RPI Top 100, and actually have a Sagarin PREDICTOR of 23rd. I doubt that computer number will hold up, but the Monarchs can actually put together a pretty decent at-large resume if they can beat Charlotte and Duquesne at home before heading back into Colonial play. I see it as unlikely for the Colonial to be a multi-bid league this season, but it's possible if Old Dominion, William & Mary and VCU keep rolling over teams the way they have and all run up good records.

Temple 71, Seton Hall 65
Seton Hall actually entered this game 8-0 and nearing the Top 25, but that record had more to do with a joke schedule than anything else. A ten point home victory over Cornell is their best win of the season. I find it bizarre for a likely bubble team like Seton Hall to play such an easy schedule, because it softens them up for the early part of Big East play, and puts them at a disadvantage on Selection Sunday against teams with better wins and computer numbers. And they might find themselves punished immediately as they open up Big East play against West Virginia on December 26th, and then play Syracuse on the 29th. Seton Hall isn't as good as those teams in any case, but I find it hard to believe that they'll be able to hang with teams that have toughened themselves up against good opponents. It might take a few Big East games for Seton Hall to get up to speed. I still don't think they're going to make the NCAA Tournament, and this out-of-conference schedule is a big reason why. As for Temple, they move to 8-2 with a number of quality wins (Villanova, Virginia Tech, Penn State, Siena, Seton Hall) and zero bad losses. They now play two inferior opponents before a big home game against Kansas on January 2nd, where they can really make a national name for themselves. But even with a loss to Kansas they have collected enough good scalps that an 11-5 Atlantic Ten record really should be enough to get them into the NCAA Tournament.

Wichita State 85, #20 Texas Tech
This game was a little reality check for a Texas Tech team that shouldn't be ranked 20th in the country. They just bounced back a few minutes ago (as I'm typing this) with a win over Stanford, which is an encouraging sign, but I still need to see Texas Tech play some more quality teams before I really buy into them. I'm really curious to see how the Red Raiders handle a match-up next Tuesday night at New Mexico, which will likely enter the game 13-0 and ranked 10th or 11th in the country. It will be Texas Tech's last chance for a second big win before Big 12 play begins (Washington being the other). As for Wichita State, they have quietly moved up to 11-1, with the sole loss a neutral court affair to Pittsburgh. This is their best win, but they also have decent wins against Iowa, TCU and Cleveland State. Their RPI is only 88th because of the weak schedule, but Sagarin's PREDICTOR puts them 63rd and Pomeroy has them 62nd, which means that they're in a position to make a run for an at-large bid. The Missouri Valley might be a one-bid league again, but Wichita State appears to at least be in the discussion for an at-large if they can finish 12-6 or better in conference games. They open up Missouri Valley play on the 29th at Illinois State.

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