Saturday, March 05, 2011

West Virginia Beats Louisville In Crazy Finish

West Virginia 72, #11 Louisville 70
Louisville has been involved in more than their share of exciting, crazy finishes this season. Less than a week after "Cheerleader-Gate", Louisville suffered a crushing collapse in the final 30 seconds of this game. Up by five points with under 20 seconds to go, they allowed Casey Mitchell to get open for a three-pointer. After Peyton Siva was fouled and hit one of two at the free throw line, Preston Knowles inexplicably allowed Mitchell to get another wide open three point attempt, which he nailed to tie the game. Louisville had one last shot to win the game, and Knowles missed a jumper, but then lost complete track of game situation and fouled Truck Bryant while fighting for the rebound.... 80 feet from the basket, with 0.6 seconds to go. And it wasn't a debatable foul - he practically assaulted Bryant. Bryant hit both to win the game. It wasn't the dumbest way I've seen a game get lost this season, but it's definitely in the top five.

This win is big for West Virginia for a variety of reasons. For one, they've now ended any doubt about their Tournament bid and are purely playing for seed. Second, they clinched a bye in the Big East tournament. The seeds aren't set for sure yet, but right now it looks very likely that West Virginia will have the 6 seed in the Big East tournament. West Virginia finishes the regular season 11-7 in Big East play with an 8-6 record against the RPI Top 50, with wins over Purdue, Vanderbilt, Georgetown, Notre Dame, UConn, Louisville and Cincinnati, along with zero RPI 100+ losses. West Virginia's Sagarin ELO_CHESS is inside the Top 20, and if the season ended now they'd be a 4 or 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament. With a strong Big East tournament they could easily slide up to a 3.

Louisville was already locked into the 3 seed in the Big East tournament before this game tipped off, so this result didn't mean a whole lot to them. This loss lowers their chances of earning a 2 or 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but it's not a disaster. Their Sagarin ELO_CHESS will still be inside the Top 20, and I could see them still getting a 2 seed if they win the Big East tournament. Considering how awful Peyton Siva was (2 points and 4 fouls in 27 minutes played), Louisville should honestly feel encouraged by how well they played at West Virginia on Senior Night for the Mountaineers.

Clemson 69, Virginia Tech 60
So... I guess Virginia Tech didn't clinch that Tournament bid when they beat Duke, huh? It's easy to dump on Dick Vitale for his rant after that game about how Virginia Tech couldn't be kept out with that win, but almost all of the mainstream analysts were saying the same thing. I wrote about that game only about one hour after it finished, and I said at the time that Virginia Tech still had a lot of work to do. I said in that post that Virginia Tech needed one more win at a minimum and probably would need two to lock things up. I stand by that. And Virginia Tech hasn't won a game yet, losing to Boston College and now to Clemson. So they now head into the ACC tournament needing a minimum of one win to make the Tournament.

Virginia Tech finishes the regular season 9-7 in the ACC and 7-7 against the RPI Top 100 with wins over Duke and Florida State, as well as bad losses to Georgia Tech and Virginia (twice). Their RPI is 66th and their Sagarin ELO_CHESS will be right around 50th when the new numbers come out tomorrow morning. Virginia Tech will likely be the 6 seed in the ACC tournament, which would put them against Georgia Tech in the first round, and then Florida State in the quarterfinals. At a bare minimum they've got to beat Georgia Tech. But even a win there and a loss to Florida State will mean another heartbreaking NIT appearance for Virginia Tech unless we end up with a very weak bubble.

Richmond 68, Duquesne 56
Duquesne has been a strong team this year (they're much better than their record), but they couldn't hit a shot to save their lives in this game. They shot 43% on twos, 14% on threes, and 61% at the line. On the road against a team as good offensively as Richmond is, that's just not going to cut it. This loss should effectively end Duquesne's at-large chances, but they will still have a bye to the A-10 tournament quarterfinals, where they'll play the winner of George Washington vs St. Joseph's. A win there will likely give them a semifinal match-up against Xavier. Duquesne is a quality team, so it wouldn't be that big of a shock if they stole the A-10's automatic bid.

Richmond finishes the regular season only 1-3 against the RPI Top 50, but that win came over Purdue and they went 13-3 in Atlantic Ten play. Their RPI is 57th, but their Sagarin ELO_CHESS is inside the Top 40. I won't call them a Tournament lock yet because there's always a chance that the bubble will get a lot tighter over the next week, but they could lose their first A-10 tournament game and still have a good shot at the NCAA Tournament. A win in their first A-10 tournament game, against the winner of Rhode Island vs Saint Louis, will clinch an at-large bid. A win there will also likely set up a semifinal match-up against Temple.

No comments: