Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Texas Destroys Texas A&M, Is Overrated

#3 Texas 69, #16 Texas A&M 49
Regular readers will be shocked by the title of this post. After all, I've been calling Texas underrated all season long. When linking to the first Coaches Poll of the season, back in October, I spent the entire post talking about how it was ridiculous that Texas was ranked 25th. I said that Texas was a Top Ten team and a Big 12 title contender. But that said, teams are never as good as they seem at times, and never as bad as they seem as times. Mainstream media commentators constantly fall into the trap of thinking a team is as good or bad as their latest game. In their past few games Texas has been spectacular - no question about it. But this is the same Texas team that less than a month ago made me write this post about how ugly their game against UConn was. They are still a team that makes stupid decisions, and their offense tends to devolve into one-on-one streetball whenever Dogus Balbay isn't in the game. Texas is indeed a Top Ten team, and they have a great shot of winning the Big 12 regular season title, but I still don't see them as a Final Four team, and anybody talking about them now as the best team in the nation is nuts. One thing we can be certain of is that the media will have a short memory and will be quick to jump all over this team as soon as they have a bad loss... which they will have at some point. The Longhorns have nine regular season games left, and exactly zero of them will be against ranked teams, but I still expect them to lose once or twice.

The Aggies fall to 5-3 and into a tie for third place in the Big 12 with this loss. They are 6-4 against the RPI Top 100 with wins over Washington, Temple, Missouri and Kansas State, and only one loss outside the RPI Top 40 (Nebraska). Their RPI is 23rd and their Sagarin ELO_CHESS is 20th. At this point I don't see any way that they fall back to the bubble, but they are very unlikely to get close to Texas and Kansas either. So they already look like a team locked into a 3-7 seed in the Tournament.

#14 Georgetown 62, #13 Louisville 59
It seems like every Georgetown game is a battle, and I really like the toughness from Georgetown the past few games. The Hoyas just show a lot of fight, and even-keeled emotions. You never see them point at themselves and preen after scoring and that's a good thing, because players that do that tend to get down on themselves when games are going in the wrong direction (see: Selby, Josh). The Hoyas were also excited to get 24 points (on 8-for-14 shooting) from Chris Wright, but as a senior he needs to be more consistent. He came off a zero point game against Villanova, but he's been inconsistent all season. He's scored in single-digits in half of the ten Big East games they've played this season, including a 3 point performance in a loss to Notre Dame. When Wright and Austin Freeman are both clicking, with Julian Vaughn inside and the emergence of Nate Lubick (a freshman who is going to be really good in a year or two), Georgetown is arguably the second best team in the Big East. But it's very close. Both Sagarin and Pomeroy have six Big East teams rated somewhere between 10th and 20th in the nation. Georgetown is in that group (as is Louisville). How things shake up among that group is incredibly hard to predict.

Georgetown has won five straight games to move to 6-4 in Big East play with a 7-5 record against the RPI Top 50 and a 10-0 record against the RPI 51+. Certainly any fears of the Hoyas becoming a bubble team when they were at 1-4 in Big East play have disappeared. Their key games ahead, if they're going to finish as high as second place in the Big East (I don't see any way that they catch Pittsburgh for the conference title) will be a home-and-home against Syracuse, as well as a road game at UConn. Louisville falls to 6-3 in Big East play with this loss. They have a tough schedule remaining, but their games against Pitt, Syracuse and UConn will all be at home, so they will get their shot to win the conference title. They have proven to be very tough in close games even with this loss (If I need a perimeter player to get the ball to the basket in a tight spot, Peyton Siva is on the very short list of guys I would pick), and will remain a dangerous team. They will play DePaul this weekend, and next Wednesday will head to Notre Dame for their next big game. Georgetown plays Providence this weekend and then heads to play at Syracuse next Wednesday.

#18 Wisconsin 66, #10 Purdue 59
Purdue has arguably the best inside-outside duo in the nation in JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore. But no two players are good enough to form a Top Ten team playing with three scrubs. And without Robbie Hummel, the success Purdue has had this year has come from their better-than-expected depth, which was why it was shocking to see them run away from their depth in much of this game. There were approximately three minutes left in the first half of this game before a Purdue player other than Johnson or Moore earned a single field goal attempt. Purdue started the second half by getting the other players involved, and some hot outside shooting by Ryne Smith and DJ Byrd put Purdue into the lead, but again it devolved into the Johnson/Moore show down the stretch. The Purdue bench as a whole combined for three points and one assist. That's just not the way they've been winning this season.

Wisconsin needed to win this game to keep their hopes of second place in the Big Ten alive. They still have a return game at Purdue, and they've got a home-and-home still to play with Ohio State. They do appear to be stuck in the same area they seem to be in every single season - nowhere near worrying about missing the Tournament altogether, but not seen as a plausible Final Four contender either. They're stuck looking at another 3-5 NCAA Tournament seed. They're going to need to beat Ohio State, or pull the upset at Purdue, to have any chance of getting to a 2 seed. The Badgers play Michigan State next, on Sunday. Purdue is still in second place in the Big Ten after this loss, and their remaining games against both Wisconsin and Ohio State will be at home. I don't see them catching Ohio State for the Big Ten title, but they are still in the driver's seat for second place. They have a full week to prepare for their next game, a home match-up against injury-ravaged Indiana.

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