Monday, February 01, 2010

Is South Florida A Possible Tournament Team?

South Florida 70, #17 Pittsburgh 61
Nobody has paid much attention to South Florida since they've moved to the Big East because they just haven't been relevant. Stan Heath hasn't been able to attract big time recruits, so he's focused on finding underrated recruits, and transfers. He does have one actual elite player: Dominique Jones, who exploded for 37 points here. As a team they're not particularly good at anything, but they're not really bad at anything either, and they hang in there against good teams and give themselves a chance to win. Now that they've finally collected a big scalp it's worth looking at their overall resume: they're 14-7 overall and 4-5 in the Big East, with a 5-6 record against the RPI Top 100. Their RPI is 54th and their Sagarin ELO_CHESS is 71st. They wouldn't be in the Tournament if the season ended right now, but they're closer than you'd think. They now play three straight road games, at Georgetown, Notre Dame and Marquette. If they can win at least one of those games they'll stay in the at-large discussion, particularly with a pretty easy end to the regular season. They need to get to at least 9-9 in the Big East to have a shot. As for Pitt, they now fall to 6-3 in the Big East with a big road game at West Virginia looming. They've lost three of four, and seem to be struggling a bit from the high expectations suddenly placed on a fairly young team after a quick start to the season. With a difficult schedule ahead even after the West Virginia game, it's still not out of the question that Pitt will fall all the way back to the bubble.

#14 Tennessee 61, Florida 60
Neither team seemed to particularly want to win this game. Neither team shot the ball particularly well, and there were a lot of turnovers for how slow the pace of the game was. The only player who had a very good game was probably Florida's Alex Tyus (18 points on 7-for-11 shooting, along with seven rebounds). But for Tennessee, it's big to play this poorly and still collect a quality win. Coming off a bad home loss to Vanderbilt they were in danger of really falling back in the SEC standings. This coming week will be pretty easy for them, but the following week has road games against Vanderbilt and Kentucky. If Tennessee is going to finish in the top two of the SEC East, they've got to at least split those two games. As for Florida, they continue to struggle to win close games against good teams in the SEC. They have two RPI Top 50 wins this season, but both happened back in November. They're only 4-5 against the RPI Top 100 (not even including a very bad loss to South Alabama), and their RPI has fallen out of the Top 50. At the moment they're a bubble team, and at 4-3 in the SEC they cannot afford to finish worse than 9-7 if they're going to get an at-large bid. Home games later this season against Tennessee and Vanderbilt could be crucial chances for late season wins over elite opponents.

Arizona 76, California 72
Arizona is a very young team that is still growing, but the one really experienced star that they have is Nic Wise, and he was a star in this game. He scored 30 points including seven in the final minute of the game to lead Arizona to a huge home victory. Believe it or not, Arizona is actually tied for first place in the Pac-10 at 6-3 with Cal. Normally a 6-3 Pac-10 record would be impressive, but the Pac-10 is arguably the worst BCS conference in the last two decades, and could still potentially be a one-bid league. Arizona is only 12-9, with a 4-8 record against the RPI Top 100, with a Sagarin ELO_CHESS of 77th. It's very rare for teams to earn at-large bids without an ELO_CHESS inside the Top 50. If Arizona can get to 12-6 then they'll have to garner respect from the Selection Committee, but at 11-7 or worse they're probably NIT bound at best. But just the fact that we're talking about them as a potential at-large team in February is fairly incredible after how badly they played in November and December. Sean Miller has done a great job this season. As for California, they still have the best computer numbers in the conference, as both Sagarin and Pomeroy have them as one of the Top 25 teams in the nation. But with a 14-7 record, including 0-4 against the RPI Top 50, they're still a bubble team at the moment. They probably have to get to 11-7 in the Pac-10 to earn an at-large bid.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Every team is possible to make the tournament but S. Florida has no chance.