Saturday, March 13, 2010

Georgia Tech, Minnesota AND Washington All Win

Georgia Tech 57, NC State 54
NC State played really well in this year's ACC tournament, and they outplayed Georgia Tech here. They committed ten fewer turnovers, and also won the rebounding battle against the athletic and long Georgia Tech front line. But they couldn't hit a shot, firing away at 31% from the field, 23% behind the arc and 53% at the line. And so not only did Georgia Tech walk into a shockingly weak opponent in the ACC semifinals, but they were gift-wrapped this game with NC State's atrocious shooting. Georgia Tech moves to 11-9 against the RPI Top 100 with wins over Duke, Clemson, Maryland and Siena, with road losses against Virginia, Miami (Fl) and Georgia being their only weak loss. Their RPI is 33rd and their Sagarin ELO_CHESS will be within one spot of 40th. I hesitate to call them a Tournament lock, but I'd be surprised to see them end up out, even if they lose badly to Duke tomorrow.

Minnesota 69, #5 Purdue 42
I actually think it would be a mistake to draw too much from this blowout loss to Minnesota. You know that this loss will be used as evidence that Purdue is going to flame out in the first round or two of the NCAA Tournament, but this game was more of a fluke than anything. Purdue actually managed to attempt eight more shots from the field, and only lost because they couldn't hit a wide open jump shot to save their lives. They hit 28% from the field, and that came with some decent second half shooting. They hit only two of their first 20 shots from the field, and just were never able to engage in this game. A big part of the Purdue gameplan is hustle, and they lost motivation and got outworked by a team that just needed this win more. Purdue's tiny hopes of a 1 seed disappeared with this loss, and I'd be very surprised to see them get a 2 seed. They're looking at a 3 or 4 seed right now. As for Minnesota, this win means that for the first time in weeks a lot of folks are putting them in the Field of 65. I'm not certain however, and could easily see them being the first or second team out if the season ended now. So there's still a very good chance that they'll be in the NIT if they lose to Ohio State tomorrow. Although considering how shaky Ohio State has been in the Big Ten tournament, there's no reason that a red hot Minnesota team can't knock them off.

Washington 79, California 75
It was thought heading into the Pac-10 tournament that Washington would earn an at-large bid if they could just make it to the Pac-10 championship game. But their Pac-10 semifinal opponent ended up being Stanford instead of Arizona State, and the NCAA Tournament bubble improved rapidly throughout yesterday and today, and as this game tipped off it actually seemed most likely that Washington would end up in the NIT if they lost. But it doesn't matter now, as they took care of business and assured the Pac-10 of avoiding the ignominy of being the first one-bid BCS conference in the history of the 64/65 team bracket. This was not a surprising result at all, as Washington just matches up very well with Cal, as they have the guards to match up with Cal's stellar backcourt, a d they also have post players who can take advantage of the part of the court where Cal is weakest. While neither of these teams will get good seeds, I should point out that both of these teams are good upset picks for the Tournament. The Pac-10 was awful this year, but the criticism has gotten so over the top that the conference is now underrated. Both Sagarin and Pomeroy rate it as the sixth best conference, ahead of both the Mountain West and Atlantic Ten. And both Cal and Washington should have Sagarin PREDICTORS inside the Top 25. Both are sleeper Sweet 16 teams. As for what seed they'll actually get, I think Washington is most likely going to be an 11 seed, although they could move up or down one line. Their RPI is 49th and their ELO_CHESS will be just inside the Top 50. As for Cal, they have a mid-major resume because of the lack of elite teams in the Pac-10. They finish with zero wins against the RPI Top 45, and after a win over Washington their second best win (according to the RPI) came over Murray State. But they avoided bad losses all season and finish with an RPI of 18th and an ELO_CHESS near 43rd-45th. They're most likely looking at a 9-10 seed in the Tournament.

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