Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Missouri Loses On The Road Again

Nebraska 69, #24 Missouri 58
Missouri and Kansas State had stood out in the Big 12 as teams that had been playing dramatically better at home than on the road. Kansas State has finally shaken that by going into Austin and winning. Missouri hasn't. As I've noted before, the problem for Missouri has been defense - they are allowing 0.84 PPP at home and 1.09 on the road. It continued here, with 1.05 PPP allowed against a Nebraska team known for its defense that doesn't have a lot of offensive weapons. Ken Pomeroy had an interesting blog post recently where he talked about how the mainstream media overrates road records, and that focusing on that ignores at least half of the games that teams play. Plenty of teams have been putrid on the road all season long and then gone on NCAA Tournament runs since, after all, there are no true road games in the Tournament. So it would be a mistake to discount Missouri in the Tournament because of their road futility in the Big 12. But at the same time, you can't discount their road woes either, and when you add it all up, Missouri's really not been that impressive overall in Big 12 play. They are now 8-7 in Big 12 games with only a game remaining against Kansas, on Saturday. Without a win there they cannot earn a bye through the first round of the Big 12 tournament.

Missouri is 4-5 against the RPI Top 50 with wins over Illinois, Old Dominion, Vanderbilt and Kansas State, and no RPI 100+ losses. Their RPI is 30th and their Sagarin ELO_CHESS is 32nd. Missouri can get back on track by beating Kansas, but with a loss there they will have to avoid a loss in the first round of the Big 12 tournament or risk actually falling onto the bubble. The bubble is weak now, but many times I've seen a weak bubble turn into a strong bubble throughout Championship Week. Nebraska is still out of the Field of 68, but they're getting closer, and they face a huge game on Saturday at Colorado. It's hard to see both of these teams making the Tournament, so that game will be a near-elimination game.

#6 Purdue 75, Illinois 67
Illinois put up a fight in this game, and it was only some late clutch three-pointers that carried Purdue through on Senior Night. Purdue finished 11-for-26 on three-pointers. JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore always produce, but the team also got nice contributions here from D.J. Byrd, who finished with 16 points and 7 rebounds. And with this win Purdue moves closer to a share of the Big Ten regular season title. In fact, if they can win on Saturday at Iowa, and Ohio State loses on Sunday against Wisconsin, Purdue will earn the top seed in the Big Ten tournament. Purdue is beginning to get a lot of 1 seed buzz because of their strong play, along with the struggles of teams like Texas, and now BYU's loss of Brandon Davies. If Purdue can win a share of the Big Ten regular season title and then win the Big Ten tournament they'll have a great shot at a 1 seed. Since Wisconsin is far better than any Big Ten team not named Purdue or Ohio State, and is basically locked into the 3 seed, getting that 1 seed will also mean a far easier path to the Big Ten tournament title.

Illinois falls to 8-9 in the Big Ten with only a home game against Indiana remaining in the regular season. The Illini are 10-10 against the RPI Top 100 with wins over North Carolina, Wisconsin and Michigan State, along with bad losses to Indiana and Illinois-Chicago. Their RPI is 40th and their Sagarin ELO_CHESS is 34th. They're still safely off the Tournament bubble, but they need to take care of business against Indiana to be sure that they stay there. The Big Ten 4-7th seeds are still muddled, so even if Illinois finishes 9-9 they may not earn a first round bye, but it would help.

Oklahoma State 71, Baylor 60
We've seen this movie before. LaceDarius Dunn believes he's better than he really is, and he will continue to force shots even when they're bad shots, and even when he's playing poorly. In this game he ended up with more shots blocked (4) than made (2). Overall he was 2-for-16 from the field, with 0 assists and 4 turnovers. It's almost at the point that he needs to be benched. Baylor has other guys who can create offense (Perry Jones, for example). Oklahoma State doesn't have half the talent that Baylor does, but they played with nice balance in this game, with five players scoring in double-digits. And Oklahoma State achieved the goal of keeping their at-large hopes alive, while damaging Baylor's chances.

Oklahoma State is 6-9 in Big 12 play with a road game at Oklahoma on Saturday. They have wins over Missouri, Kansas State and Missouri State, along with a bad loss to Texas Tech. Their RPI is 55th and their Sagarin ELO_CHESS is 59th. They're not far out of the Tournament, but they've really got to beat Oklahoma. I just don't see any way the Selection Committee will take a 6-10 Big 12 team. Oklahoma is only 4-10, but they're feisty at home, and they're going to come to play on Senior Night against their in-state rivals. Baylor falls to 7-8 in the Big 12 and 5-8 against the RPI Top 100, with two wins over Texas A&M, along with bad losses to Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Iowa State. Their RPI is 78th and their Sagarin ELO_CHESS is 76th. Their Senior Night game on Saturday will be against Texas, and that is nearly a must-win game now. With a loss there they'll need to reach the Big 12 tournament finals at a minimum to make the NCAA Tournament. With a win over Texas they'll have a good shot at the Tournament, even if they should bow out as early as the Big 12 tournament semis.

No comments: