Saturday, March 05, 2011

Kansas Impresses At Missouri

#2 Kansas 70, #24 Missouri 66
When a team plays as awful on the road as Missouri has (1-7 in conference play) it puts a lot of pressure on the team to win every home game. Kansas is just too good offensively for the poor Missouri halfcourt defense. Missouri forced 24 turnovers, but they really struggled every time they didn't get a turnover to stop the Kansas bigs. Marcus Morris ended with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Thomas Robinson had 15 and 13 off the bench. Missouri struggled mightily on offense as well, finishing with a 31.9 eFG%. They ended up scoring nearly half of their points at the free throw line, where they hit 29-for-35. One worry for Kansas is Tyshawn Taylor, who hasn't gotten back into a good groove since his suspension. He finished with 4 points, 3 assists and 5 turnovers in 17 minutes here.

Kansas is obviously closing in a 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. I wouldn't say they've "locked" up a 1 seed, because a lot of stuff can happen in the final week. I only have to go back to the 2006-07 season, when UCLA entered the Pac-10 tournament as one of the clear two best teams in the nation and considered by everybody a lock for a 1 seed. They went one-and-done in the Pac-10 tournament and ended up dropping to a 2 seed. In fact, if you want a real blast from the past, here's a post I wrote on the morning of Selection Sunday four years ago, where I talk about how UCLA was the overall #1 coming into the Pac-10 tournament, but I concluded at the end of the post that if all of the favorites won their games on Selection Sunday that UCLA would drop to a 2 seed, which ended up being exactly what happened. Going back and reading those old posts I feel like I've gotten way better at both writing and analyzing, and I clearly had fewer readers back then, but that post suggests that at least I wasn't a total idiot (although as few readers as I had, I still had a couple of that thought I was a total idiot... I don't think that's changed, though). Getting back on topic, Kansas and Ohio State are the two teams with the strongest resumes heading into the conference tournaments, but neither will completely lock up a 1 seed unless they play respectable in their conference tournaments.

With the regular season over, Missouri's resume really is starting to look shaky. They finish 8-8 in Big 12 play and 7-9 against the RPI Top 100 with wins over Vanderbilt, Illinois, Old Dominion and Kansas State, and zero bad losses. Their RPI is 34th and their Sagarin ELO_CHESS should be in the 30-35 range as well. Even if they lose in the first round of the Big 12 tournament (their opponent is not set yet) they still probably won't fall to the bubble, but their seed would really plummet. Missouri could slip to a 9 or 10 seed if they don't win at least one game in the Big 12 tournament.

Alabama 65, Georgia 57
This was a huge game for both teams. Alabama played really well on Senior Night, though, and honestly should have won by more. Alabama had 7 more offensive rebounds, 8 fewer turnovers, 3 more blocks, 6 more steals and 2 more assists. The only reason the game was even competitive was because Georgia shot 50% behind the arc while Alabama hit only 31%. Of course, Alabama's shooting hasn't ever been good this season - they're dead last in the conference with 26.3% three-point shooting in SEC games.

This game was one that Alabama absolutely had to have. A loss would have dropped them to 11-5 in SEC play. When you consider that an 11-5 record in the SEC West is probably equal to a 9-9 record in the Big East or Big Ten, the fact that Alabama went 8-6 against a non-conference schedule rated 289th by Pomeroy would have kept them out of the Tournament. The closest comparison would actually be the 2007-08 Kentucky team that had a horrid non-conference performance but then went 12-4 in the SEC and snuck into the NCAA Tournament with an 11 seed. But even though that team went 6-7 in the non-conference, their non-conference schedule was rated 178th by Pomeroy, which probably makes their non-conference resume better than the 2010-11 Alabama resume. But now that Alabama is also 12-4, they are right on the bubble and can get themselves into the NCAA Tournament with a couple of wins in the SEC tournament. And I do think that in the end Alabama will need two wins the SEC tournament to have enough.

Cincinnati 69, #17 Georgetown 47
This game was closer than the final score. Cincinnati didn't get their first double-digit lead until there were about seven minutes left in the game. But one thing that was apparent, although it was apparent a week ago, is that the Georgetown offense is terrible without Chris Wright. They just don't move the ball right and can't get any good shots. I know that Austin Freeman is supposed to be the best player on the team, and he is the best pure scorer and has the best Pomeroy ORtg on the team, but the last two weeks have made it pretty clear that Wright is the team's most important offensive player. Freeman led all players with 21 points in this game, but it took him 23 shots to get there, and Georgetown finished with only 8 assists (an incomprehensibly small number considering the type of offense Georgetown runs).

Even after this loss, Georgetown has an RPI that is 10th in the nation, and their Sagarin ELO_CHESS should still be in the Top 15, but they are only 10-8 in the Big East and would be at best a 4 seed if the season ended now. Georgetown will be the 8 seed in the Big East tournament, which means that unless DePaul pulls an epic upset in the first round of the Big East tournament, the Hoyas will play either UConn, Villanova or Marquette in the second round of the Big East tournament (the 9/10/11 seeds still haven't been set). It's looking very unlikely that Georgetown will have Wright back for the Big East tournament. They're saying that he might be back for the NCAA Tournament, but there's a history of teams overrating publicly the chances of a star player returning, hoping that it will sway the Selection Committee.

Cincinnati finishes 11-7 in the Big East and 5-7 against the RPI Top 50, with zero losses outside the Top 50. Their RPI is only 33rd, but their Sagarin ELO_CHESS is nearing the Top Ten, and they would be at worst a 5 seed if the season ended now. Cincinnati will be the 7 seed in the Big East tournament, which will give them a single bye. Neither the 10 or 15 seed has been set yet, so they have many possible opponents for their first Big East tournament game.

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