Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Seton Hall's Beatdown of Syracuse Not As Shocking As You'd Think

Seton Hall 90, Syracuse 68
I actually thought that Seton Hall was going to have a good chance in this game. I watched these two teams play a few weeks ago and Seton Hall outplayed Syracuse. They earned 12 extra possessions in that game and did a great job of passing through the zone to get open jumpers, but they just could not hit a shot to save their lives (3-for-26 behind the arc, with similar success on two-point jumpers) and ended up losing by five. I watched that game and thought that Seton Hall would have won easily if they could have hit any kind of shot. So this evening in this game at the Carrier Dome? They hit shots. They were 10-for-17 behind the arc for the game and they were at their hottest to start the game. They hit 9 of their first 11 shots from the field to open up a quick 26-15 lead. Syracuse is a team that is so important to get ahead against - they are so difficult to come back on, but also are not built to come back in games themselves. Interestingly enough, Syracuse actually earned 9 more possessions than Seton Hall in this game. But it goes to show you how fluke shooting can affect perceptions. Nobody even noticed Syracuse beating Seton Hall by 5 points a few weeks ago, but everybody is shocked by this result. In reality, I thought Seton Hall actually played better in their loss. But they shot uncharacteristically bad in that one, and uncharacteristically well in this one. I guess it all evens out in the end. For Syracuse this loss is their third straight and their Big East title chances are nearly shredded. They are two games behind a Pittsburgh team that will have the head-to-head tiebreak over them. And their schedule doesn't ease up with road games coming up against Marquette and UConn. As for Seton Hall, this is a defining win for Kevin Willard, but this now only makes them 1-11 against the RPI Top 100 and 3-6 in the Big East. Their Sagarin ELO_CHESS is 132nd, so they would have to win several more games in a row just to get some bubble attention. Their next game is Sunday afternoon at home against Providence.

#23 Florida 103, Georgia 91, 2OT
It's frustrating watching Florida's backcourt play. Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton are so talented, but they have zero patience, and constantly commit silly turnovers and take silly shots. It was particularly apparent late in the second half of this game, when Florida had an 8 point game with three minutes to go. They had three offensive possessionsn before Georgia began intentionally fouling. Those possessions ended on Boynton missing a shot with 21 seconds left on a shot clock, a Walker turnover, and then a Walker missed shot with 12 seconds left on a shot clock. Florida never should have needed overtime to win this one. But a win is what Florida ended up with, and the Gators now lead the SEC East at 5-1. They are now 5-1 against the RPI Top 50 and their Sagarin ELO_CHESS is up to 20th, and they will get their chance to earn an SEC title. They have to play at Mississippi State on Saturday, but next week they will play Vanderbilt and Kentucky at home. They can grab firm control of the SEC if they can win both games. As for Georgia, they have now lost three of five and are seeing their at-large hopes begin to fade. They are now 1-5 against the RPI Top 50 with just that win over Kentucky (although no bad losses). Their Sagarin ELO_CHESS will fall to near 40th when the new numbers come out in the morning, and Pomeroy and Sagarin will both rate them as near the 60th best team in the nation. They are 3-3 in the SEC and will likely need to finish 9-7 or better to earn an at-large bid. They next head on the road to play at Kentucky on Saturday, and then will play on the road at Arkansas.

Richmond 70, Dayton 61
Richmond is proving that, as always, things tend to even out in the long run. They had been an unlucky team so far, entering this game only 2-4 in games decided by single digits and 13-1 in games decided by double digits. Pomeroy rated their Luck 258th in the nation, and there was no question that they were better than their resume. And so in this game they were honestly outplayed by a quality Dayton team, but ended up with the win because of hot shooting. Dayton had 2 fewer turnovers, a better offensive rebounding percentage (41%, compared to 22% for Richmond), a higher Assist/FGM ratio (67% vs 50%) and an almost identical two-point shooting percentage (36%, vs 41% for Richmond). But Richmond hit 53% of their threes (compared to 32% for Dayton), and that was the difference. Richmond is a sleeper team now for the Atlantic Ten title. They sit one game back in the loss column to Xavier and Duquesne, but they still will play both of those teams, and will have both of those games at home. They are now 4-4 against the RPI Top 100 with a good win over Purdue to go with weak losses against Iona and Georgia Tech. Their Sagarin ELO_CHESS should slide into the Top 50 when the new numbers come out tomorrow, so they are right on the bubble. Dayton, on the other hand, will finally see their own Sagarin ELO_CHESS slide out of the Top 50, which was not expected since both Sagarin and Pomeroy rate them as only approximately the 100th best team in the nation. At 3-3 in A-10 play they will be unlikely to generate much at-large buzz unless they can get to 11-5. Their next game is Sunday, at Duquesne.

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