Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Ohio State Falls To Purdue

#11 Purdue 76, #3 Ohio State 63
E'Twaun Moore is likely to be a first team All-Big Ten player, but even by his usual standards he had a ridiculous night against Ohio State. Moore had 38 points on 13-for-18 shooting. He absolutely torched Aaron Craft, who has now struggled with Moore and Jordan Taylor within a week after being so dominant defensively all season long. Craft showed a lot of his youth offensively, too, collecting six assists and six turnovers. On the road against a team like Purdue that is so sound defensively he's got to be more patient with the ball. But I don't want to be too hard on Craft - he's a freshman after all. And honestly, Craft might be the best freshman in the Big Ten this year not named Sullinger.

This game had Big Ten title implications. If they had won here, Ohio State would have essentially locked up a Big Ten regular season title. With this loss their lead over Purdue is down to a single game, and they're also only two games ahead of Wisconsin. Ohio State does have a much easier remaining schedule than either Purdue or Wisconsin, so they should still win the regular season title, but at least it's a competition now. Despite this loss, Ohio State is still firmly on pace for a 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Even if they lose a game or two down the stretch they'll still lock up a 1 seed if they win the Big Ten tournament.

As for Purdue, I'm not sure they can get themselves a 1 seed no matter what they do, but they're getting closer and closer to a 2 seed. Something like a 3-1 finish and a trip to the Big Ten championship game will probably get them that 2 seed. They have a deceptively difficult final stretch, though, with road games at Michigan State, Indiana and Iowa. All of those will be tough games, and I would expect Purdue to lose at least one of those. The first game will be at Indiana, tomorrow night.

Old Dominion 74, Cleveland State 63
For yet another season it appears as if the Bracketbusters has harmed a lot more mid-major resumes than it's helped. Old Dominion is likely going to the Tournament no matter what, but Cleveland State really could have used this win. Cleveland State now has zero big wins all season. In fact, their only RPI Top 100 wins have come against Kent State and Valparaiso. Throw in a loss to Detroit and I don't care if they're 23-5 overall with an RPI of 35th, because I don't see any way right now that Cleveland State gets into the Tournament. They likely won't face another RPI Top 100 team until the Horizon League championship game, so even if they win out between now and then and lose a tough championship game to Butler, I still think Cleveland State is going to need a very soft bubble to sneak into the Tournament, even with what would be a 26-7 overall record.

Old Dominion is in a much better situation, particularly after this win. The Monarchs are 22-6 and also have an RPI 100+ loss (Delaware), but they've also got nine RPI Top 100 wins, including victories over Xavier, George Mason, Clemson and now Cleveland State. Their RPI is 27th and their Sagarin ELO_CHESS is 30th. If the season ended now they'd earn a seed in the 8-10 range, and can possibly earn a seed in the 6 or 7 range if they win out. They have a tricky game on Wednesday night at James Madison, but then presumably will not be too tested again until the Colonial tournament semifinals, when they'll likely be matched up with VCU or Hofstra.

California 76, UCLA 72, OT
In every sense this was a horrible game for the Pac-10. Despite the exciting end to regulation the game as a whole was poorly played. Both teams showed a lot more athleticism than skill. Nobody other than Cal's Jorge Gutierrez (34 points on 11-for-21 shooting) played well. And on top of that, this loss will be very damaging to UCLA's resume, and increases the probability of the Pac-10 ending up as a two-bid Tournament league yet again. UCLA is 10-4 in Pac-10 play, but they're only 5-7 against the RPI Top 100 with only two particularly impressive wins (BYU and St. John's) and a poor loss to Montana. Their RPI is 43rd and their Sagarin ELO_CHESS is 47th. If the season ended now UCLA would be in the Field of 68, but only narrowly. Certainly they can't afford to finish worse than 2-2 down the stretch. They will play Arizona State at home on Thursday night, but the schedule then picks up with a home game against Arizona and then a road game at Washington.

California moves to 7-8 in Pac-10 play with a 5-12 record against the RPI Top 100. The stat that sticks out to me is their 2-10 record against the RPI Top 50 (including 1-5 in non-conference play). They went out and scheduled good opponents, and I give them credit for that. But scheduling good teams is only step one. Step two is actually beating them. I do think Cal will make the NIT, though, and I wouldn't be shocked to see them win a game or two there.

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