Tuesday, March 09, 2010

ODU & Saint Mary's Lock Up Bids

Saint Mary's 81, #14 Gonzaga 62
I've talked quite a bit about how we had a great weekend for bubble teams sitting at home, as every single result was the result that they were rooting for. Illinois, Florida, Mississippi State, UAB and Wichita State all lost. The first result of Championship Week that wasn't wonderful for the bubble was this one. Honestly, Saint Mary's probably was going to be in the NCAA Tournament even if they lost here. Their good wins were not wonderful (San Diego State, Utah State and New Mexico State), but they did a wonderful job of taking care of business against weaker opponents (losses at Portland, and on a neutral court against USC were their only two losses outside the RPI Top 50 all season long). Their RPI is 38th and their Sagarin ELO_CHESS is 35th, although even if they'd lost this game those numbers still would have been well within the Top 50. They'd have had to sweat out the rest of the week, but I think they probably would have been in. Still, this result removes all doubt, and Saint Mary's should be somewhere between a 10 and a 12 seed on Selection Sunday. As for Gonzaga, this loss will amplify the fact that their resume really is not all that good right now. They are a seemingly impressive 4-4 against the RPI Top 50 and 8-4 against the RPI Top 100, but it's a lot less impressive when you break it down. Their only wins over the RPI Top 75 are Saint Mary's (twice), Memphis and Wisconsin. The only one of those wins that's particularly impressive is the Wisconsin win, and that came way back in November on a neutral court, when Wisconsin was not even ranked. Over the last six weeks they've had two really perplexing losses (to San Francisco and Loyola-Marymount), and they were spanked by Saint Mary's in this game. Their Sagarin ELO_CHESS is 27th (although their Sagarin PREDICTOR is 49th) and their RPI is 37th. They came into this game ranked 14th in the nation, but I don't see any way that they can get higher than a 6 seed in the NCAA tournament. They could fall as far as an 8 or 9 seed, depending on what happens the rest of this week. And with that PREDICTOR number, and a Pomeroy rating that has fallen to 54th, it's safe to say I will not be projecting Gonzaga to make a Tournament run this season.

Old Dominion 60, William & Mary 53
While the rest of the bubble was rooting against Saint Mary's, they were certainly rooting for Old Dominion. William & Mary is a team with a good resume, and if the bubble keeps weakening then they could earn some consideration on Selection Sunday, but I'd be absolutely shocked if the bubble gets weak enough for the Tribe to make it in. They are a respectable 6-7 against the RPI Top 100 with wins over Wake Forest, Richmond and Maryland, although with several bad losses (Towson, James Madison and UNC-Wilmington). Their RPI is 60th and their ELO_CHESS is 67th. It's quite possibly the best season William & Mary has ever had, but it's going to lead to their second ever NIT appearance instead of their first ever NCAA appearance. But hey, they've got something to play for: they've never won an NIT game (they lost in the first round in their lone appearance in 1983), and I expect them to get another shot this season. As for Old Dominion, they'd have been a formidable bubble team on Selection Sunday. They've got a 9-7 record against the RPI Top 100 with wins over Georgetown, Marshall and Charlotte with only one loss to a team outside the RPI Top 75 (a road game at George Mason). Their RPI is all the way up to 30th, and their Sagarin ELO_CHESS is 44th. It's extremely unlikely that Old Dominion will do worse than a 12 seed. I'd expect them to be a 10-12 seed, although even a 9 seed is possible if they get lucky during the rest of this week.

Seton Hall 109, Providence 106
The surprise in this game was not that Seton Hall won, but that the finish was so close. Seton Hall totally fell apart down the stretch, and if we played 41 minutes instead of 40 minutes I think Seton Hall would have blown this game altogether. Providence has been in a tailspin, and came into this game with 10 straight losses, and just three days ago Seton Hall had taken care of them by double digits at Providence's Senior Night. Providence is in a rebuilding mode, and their fans started focusing on the 2010-11 season some time around December of 2009. But Seton Hall is very quietly sneaking up on people, particularly as the bubble has weakened over the last couple of days. They went 9-9 in the Big East and a respectable 6-11 against the RPI Top 100 with wins over Louisville, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and Cornell. But here is the most impressive stat: their sum total of losses outside the RPI Top 50 consist of road losses to UConn, South Florida and Marquette. The Selection Commitee does care more about big wins than avoiding weak losses, but Seton Hall probably will have the most impressive losses (if there is such a thing) of all of the teams being debated for the last few at-large spots. None of the computer ratings are updated with the results of this game yet, but Seton Hall's RPI will be just outside the Top 50, and their Sagarin ELO_CHESS will be around 36-38th. If the season ended tonight I actually think there would be right around a 50-50 chance that Seton Hall would be in the bracket. But the problem is, we all know that the bubble will strengthen between now and Selection Sunday, and a loss in their next game would strengthen the resume of another bubble team: Notre Dame. So even though Seton Hall would have a very good shot of being the Field of 65 at the moment, I don't see how they end up getting in unless they win tomorrow against Notre Dame. The winner of that game will face Pitt, but even a loss there would still guarantee Seton Hall to at least be in the discussion for the last couple of at-large bids. They'll have to sweat out Selection Sunday. But to even get there, they have got to win tomorrow against Notre Dame.

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