Saturday, March 12, 2011

Richmond In. Virginia Tech Waits.

Richmond 58, #24 Temple 54
Temple is a team that rarely ever beats themselves. But they beat themselves down the stretch in this game. Winning by a point with a little under four minutes to go they finished the game with 0-for-6 shooting from the field, 2 turnovers, and arguably their best player (Juan Fernandez) missing the front end of a one-and-one. It was a tough day all around for Fernandez, who finished only 3-for-17 from the field (although he did have 10 assists, 7 rebounds and only 3 turnovers).

Temple's struggles mean that Richmond now has a huge victory. They were in the Field of 68 when this game tipped off, but not a comfortable margin. Richmond is now 26-7 with three RPI Top 50 wins (Purdue, VCU and Temple). Their RPI is 44th and their Sagarin ELO_CHESS will move into the Top 35. They're now in the Tournament for sure. They're most likely looking at a 10 or 11 seed, and can move up if they win the A-10 tournament title tomorrow. Certainly the rest of the bubble will be rooting for them, because a loss would mean that Dayton would steal a bid from a bubble team.

#5 Duke 77, Virginia Tech 63
Despite Nolan Smith coming back and playing well in this game (27 points and 6 assists), Virginia Tech hung in well here. They won the rebounding and turnovers battles, and committed fewer fouls, but it was clear that they were wearing down. They were a step slow offensively and couldn't get good shots near the rim, and their outside jumpers were awful, which tends to happen to players with tired legs. Virginia Tech had only three assists the entire game and hit 2-for-16 on threes.

Virginia Tech now has to await their fate. They finish 21-11, 9-7 in ACC play and 8-8 against the RPI Top 100, with wins over Duke, Florida State (twice) and Penn State, along with bad losses to Georgia Tech and Virginia (twice). Their RPI is 61st but their Sagarin ELO_CHESS should still be in the 40-45 range. Right now I think they're still in the Field of 68, but it's not assured by any means. They need to root for Richmond and Utah State, for example. Duke will now head into an ACC tournament title game against North Carolina, which was exactly what everybody suspected would happen. And with Notre Dame going down yesterday, there's a good chance that the winner of that game tomorrow will earn a 1 seed while the loser will get a 2 seed.

#12 Florida 77, #24 Vanderbilt 66
Vanderbilt was dominating this game in the first half. They forced a whole bunch of turnovers and were able to get out and run. But Florida cleaned things up in the second half, and without the transition offense Vanderbilt just started settling for outside shots. They actually took 33 of their 63 shots behind the arc, hitting only six. You can't win games against quality opponents shooting 6-for-33 behind the arc.

Florida will play in the SEC tournament title game tomorrow against Kentucky. I think Kentucky is better and picked them to win, but Doron Lamb left the court late in their win today with an ankle injury, and if he can't go then Kentucky gets BYU-thin. I'd give Florida the edge if Lamb can't play. And if Florida does win then they will be no worse than a 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and will be in the discussion for a 2 seed.

Vanderbilt finishes 23-10, 9-7 in SEC play, and 10-8 against the RPI Top 100, with wins over North Carolina, Kentucky, Georgia (twice) and Saint Mary's, along with weak losses to South Carolina and Arkansas. Their RPI is 27th and their Sagarin ELO_CHESS should be around 35th when the new numbers come out tomorrow. I don't see how Vanderbilt can earn higher than a 6 seed, and they're more likely looking at a 7.

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