Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Arkansas Stuns Kentucky In OT

Arkansas 77, #22 Kentucky 76, OT
Kentucky has struggled on the road this year (they're now 1-6 in true road games in the SEC) but it was still shocking to see them go down to a very mediocre and young Arkansas team. I know that a lot of ink has been spilled about how Kentucky is too young to win close games on the road... And yes, their youth is hurting them on the road - they're playing afraid and are taking too many threes. But Kentucky is now 0-4 in SEC road games decided by two points or less. They've played poorly on the road, but their luck has been worse than their play. Kentucky is still the best team in the SEC and a team that can potentially do some damage in the NCAA Tournament. They now fall to 7-6 in the SEC with three tough opponents remaining (vs Florida, vs Vanderbilt, at Tennessee). If they win all three they can vault themselves all the way to an NCAA Tournament seed in the 3 or 4 range, but if they lose all three they'll actually find themselves on the bubble. I think they'll take care of business at home, though.

Arkansas doesn't have a plausible path to an at-large bid but they are pretty solidly in the Top 100 in every computer rating other than the RPI (they're 106th in RPI), which is a pretty successful season relative to expectations. Also, at 6-7 in SEC play they have a shot to grab second place in the SEC West, which would net them a bye to the SEC tournament quarterfinals.

Miami (Fl) 73, Boston College 64
Boston College came out very flat in this game, and Miami did an excellent job of muzzling up Reggie Jackson (15 points on 5-for-14 shooting). Boston College struggles to do much of anything offensively if Jackson isn't playing well, and they ended up with 39% shooting from the field. Miami, on the other hand, hit 51%, including 7-for-15 behind the arc. This isn't a "bad loss" on the resume for Boston College, but it's a killer because of their inability to close the deal against elite opponents this season (1-6 against the RPI Top 50). This loss also drops the team to 6-7 in the ACC, which is a problem when you consider how poorly the ACC is being viewed by the media (the league is down, but it's not nearly as bad as the mainstream media is making it out to be). BC will play at Virginia on Saturday, then on the road at Virginia Tech, and then will come home for Wake Forest. Obviously they can't afford to finish worse than 2-1 in that stretch. They'll be underdogs at Va Tech, so that makes the road game at Virginia a huge one for BC's at-large hopes.

This win keeps Miami's at-large hopes alive for at least a few more days. It pushes their RPI up to 66th, but they're 4-10 against the RPI Top 100 with a Sagarin ELO_CHESS that should be in the 75-80 range. If they lose even one of their final three remaining regular season games they're going to need to go on a run in the ACC tournament. They will next play on Saturday at Florida State.

#7 BYU 84, Colorado State 76
This game was a great opportunity for Colorado State. Jimmer Fredette did play in this game (the word was that he might actually miss the game with a minor injury) and he did score 34 points, but he was not his usual, efficient self. Jimmer shot 9-for-25 from the field and had 8 turnovers. Colorado State will rue their 5-for-18 shooting behind the arc and also a little home cooking from the refs (30 fouls led to 43 free throws for BYU). But it was always going to be a little bit of a long shot for CSU to win in Provo. BYU never loses at home - it's been more than two years since a Mountain West opponent took them out at the Marriott Center.

Colorado State will get another chance for a big win on March 5th at San Diego State, but if they can't win that one then it's an uphill battle to an at-large bid. Certainly they can't afford to lose at Air Force this coming Saturday - a game that will not be easy. Should they fall to SDSU and finish 10-6 in Mountain West play, the odds are that they'll need to make the Mountain West tournament finals to get to the NCAA Tournament. BYU can now turn their attention to their Saturday showdown at SDSU. A win in that game will give them a clear path to the Mountain West regular season title and a realistic path to a 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. A loss will probably put them on a path for a 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

No comments: