Saturday, March 06, 2010

Crushing Loss For Villanova

#8 West Virginia 69, #9 Villanova 68, OT
Villanova came out fired up on Senior Night, opening up an 18-4 lead and seemingly ending this game in its opening moments. Villanova's lead was still 13 points at halftime, but West Virginia began to chip back with inspired defense, and by grinding out points. Nobody did a better job of forcing himself on the scoreboard than Da'Sean Butler, who was cold from the field (3-for-10) but forced himself to the line for 14 attempts, ending up with 21 points and ten rebounds. The loss is killer for a reeling Villanova team that has now lost four of six to fall to fourth place in the Big East. They shouldn't have been ranked 9th in the country to begin this game, and this loss will drop them into the range of approximately a 4 seed. I could see them falling as far as a 5 seed if they play poorly in the Big East tournament. Things are brighter for a West Virginia team that skips ahead of Villanova into third place in the Big East. Both teams are 13-5 in the Big East and 24-6 overall, but West Virginia has done it against a tougher schedule and is clearly playing better down the stretch. If the season ended now they'd probably be a 2 seed, and while they'd need a whole lot of help (in addition to winning the Big East tournament) to get a 1 seed, they also would need to play rather poorly to fall to a 3 seed.

#2 Kansas 77, Missouri 56
Kansas has had more games like this than any other team in the country, and it's not even close. The way they walked into Missouri's Senior Night and just wiped the floor with them is wildly impressive. Anybody who thinks Kansas isn't the best team in the country just isn't watching enough college basketball. Kansas probably has to lose in the first round of the Big 12 tournament to not get a 1 seed. As for Missouri, they just couldn't hit a shot here, although a big part of it is just playing Kansas. Missouri remains a very dangerous NCAA Tournament squad that give teams unfamiliar with full court presses absolute fits. Even with this loss they finish up 10-6 in a Big 12 conference that is probably the best in the country. They remain 6-7 against the RPI Top 100 with wins over Kansas State and Texas, and only one bad loss (to Oral Roberts). Their Sagarin ELO_CHESS will be near 30th when the new numbers come out tomorrow, which is good enough that it's hard to see Missouri missing the Tournament even if they lose their first round Big 12 tournament game (I think they'll be playing Nebraska). The only question is their seed, which is somewhere in the 7-10 range right now.

Memphis 75, Tulsa 53
Elliot Williams and Doneal Mack have been big for Memphis all season long, but this game was about Will Coleman, who had the best game he's played all season. At the same time, it's been shocking how badly Tulsa has fallen apart this season. Nobody other than Jerome Jordan is doing anything, and even he has been disappointing considering the NBA buzz he was getting heading into the season. They've lost five of their last seven games to finish 10-6 in Conference USA, with a Sagarin rating that has fallen all the way out of the Top 70. There's almost no possible scenario for an at-large bid for them anymore. Memphis, on the other hand, is quite possibly working their way towards an at-large bid for themselves. They finish 13-3 in Conference USA, which is good for second place. This win pushes their RPI up into the Top 50 for the first time in a long time, and their Sagarin ELO_CHESS will be around 55th. I do think that Memphis probably has to reach the Conference USA tournament finals to make the Tournament, but if they lose a respectable championship game to UTEP, they still might end up being in on Selection Sunday. They've got to get that ELO_CHESS into the Top 50.

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