Saturday, January 14, 2012

More Pac-12 Chaos: Oregon Knocks Off Arizona

Oregon 59, Arizona 57
Oregon got off to a quick start in this game, leading by 12 points at the half and by as much as 17 in the second half. Arizona fought back, and actually took the lead briefly late. Garrett Sim hit a three to put Oregon back up by three points, and then Josiah Turner hit 1-of-2 at the free throw line to cut the lead to two with 85 seconds left. Arizona then had a slew of chances the rest of the way - they actually had four shots from the field, but none of them went in. Neither team scored a point in those final 85 seconds.

Devoe Joseph was the catalyst for Oregon here. He scored 13 points on 6-for-12 shooting, and opened things up for players like EJ Singler and Garrett Sim on the perimeter. For Arizona, Solomon Hill again was the star, finishing with 16 points on 6-for-9 shooting, as well as 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals.

This is not a result that will help Arizona's at-large resume. There just aren't a lot of quality losses to be had in the Pac-12 this season. This loss drops them to 12-6 overall and 3-2 in the Pac-12, with wins over New Mexico State and Oregon State along with bad losses to UCLA and Oregon. They are 1-5 against the RPI Top 100 and their Sagarin ELO_CHESS is going to fall to close to 70th. It's hard to see them earning an at-large bid unless they finish at least 12-6 in Pac-12 play. Next week they'll head on the road to play Utah and Colorado.

Oregon moves to 4-2 in Pac-12 play with this win. They have this win and a win over Stanford, along with an iffy loss to Washington. Like Arizona, it's hard to see Oregon earning an at-large bid with anything worse than a 12-6 record in conference play. Next week they'll be at home for the two southern California schools.

Boston College 61, Virginia Tech 59

Virginia Tech isn't that bad of a team, honestly. They actually came into this game rated in the Top 40 in both the Pomeroy and Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings. But the results haven't come, and they are now 1-4 in games decided by four points or less. Three of those four close losses have come in ACC play, and they are now in serious Tournament trouble. They have zero wins against the RPI Top 75, and now a pair of bad losses to Boston College and Wake Forest. Their RPI has fallen to 82nd, and their Sagarin ELO_CHESS is going to be in a similar spot.

Offense has been a major issue for Virginia Tech in their recent slump. They have scored fewer than 0.90 PPP in each of their three ACC games thus far. The problem to me seems to be that the team has no quality post scorers. ACC opponents are squeezing them on the perimeter, and limiting their open jump shots.

This is Boston College's best win of the season, and that may still be a true statement on Selection Sunday. Wins over Clemson and Stony Brook are their only two other wins over the Pomeroy Top 200, and they have bad losses to Rhode Island, Holy Cross, Boston University, Penn State and others. It's been a long season. This win does push them to 2-1 in ACC play, though. Their next game will be Thursday at NC State.

Virginia Tech is now 0-3 in ACC play with a huge home game coming up on Thursday against North Carolina. And unfortunately for them, UNC is going to be very angry and motivated after an embarrassing loss to Florida State earlier today. With as poor as the ACC is this season, and without any big wins for Virginia Tech out-of-conference, the Hokies probably need to get to at least 9-7 in conference play to earn an at-large bid. It's going to be tough to dig out of a (likely) 0-4 hole. Their schedule doesn't ease up after that UNC game, either. Next Saturday they'll play at Virginia.

UMass 71, Saint Josephs' 62
Massachusetts has been playing well over the past few weeks, driven by an uptempo pressure defense. They are sixth in the nation in tempo (76.6 possessions per game) and 4th in the nation in steals per game (9.9). St. Joe's slowed this particular game down (65 possessions, by my count), but UMass still got their ten steals.

The Minutemen have now won eight of nine, and it's at the point that we've got to talk about their at-large chances. They are 14-4 overall and 3-1 in Atlantic Ten play, with only one bad loss (Charleston), though this is their best win of the season. Their RPI is all the way up to 61st, though their Sagarin ELO_CHESS is still going to be back in the 70-75 range. They're going to need quality wins for Selection Sunday. They have home games remaining against Saint Louis and Xavier, and also will play at Temple. If they can win one or two of those games and get to 10-6 or better in conference play, we'd have to at least consider their at-large hopes heading into the Atlantic Ten tournament. They will next play on Wednesday at Duquesne.

Saint Joe's played very well out of conference, beating Creighton and Villanova, with only one bad loss (American). But they are now only 2-2 in Atlantic Ten play against a soft schedule, suffering bad losses to UMass and Charlotte. They are now only 2-5 against the RPI Top 100 with a Sagarin ELO_CHESS that will slide out to the 55-60 range after this loss. They have a big game coming up on Wednesday at Xavier.


Anonymous said...

Hello Jeff, how are you. I am really confused with the results of this week. Louisville and N. Carolina loss by more than 25 points. Do you think that some games are fixed or sold ?

Jeff said...

Weird results are always going to happen when the sample sizes get large enough. No way are these kids throwing games.

There have been cases of kids getting involved with gamblers, but they've always been at smaller schools, and always involved kids shaving points. There's never been a case of kids actually throwing games.

Tom said...

Zona looks NIT bound

DMoore said...

C'mon. You know Virginia Tech is going to win at least one game against UNC or Duke. It's Seth Greenberg's Law -- Whatever can put us on the bubble, will.

Jeff said...

Oh, I know, DMoore. I think it would violate NCAA bylaws for us to have a Selection Sunday without a Virginia Tech team on the bubble that has one or two huge scalps and a whole bunch of bad losses.

But even with a hypothetical big win down the road, I still think Virginia Tech is in trouble. They've dug themselves a big hole to dig out of.

Tom said...

Jeff, I've found a pattern with Arizona that's lasted most of the season: win 2, lose 1

Arizona was 4-2, 6-3, 8-4, 10-5, and now 12-6. I think 21-10 (12-6) is about reasonable to expect at this point. Does that, along with a win or two in the Pac-tourney leave Arizona on the wrong side of the bubble?

Jeff said...

Tom, it's hard to answer that question in a vacuum. It would put them on the bubble. Whether they'd be one of the final teams in the field or one of the top seeds in the NIT? It would depend on how strong the bubble ends up being. Arizona fans would have to spend Championship Week watching a lot of mid-major conference tournaments, rooting for results that would make the bubble weaker.

Tom said...

I realize there are a lot of factors that make that difficult to answer. What if 21-10 (12-6) was good enough for a share of a conference championship (or outright, which is still hard to imagine at 12)? I know Cal and Stanford are 5-1 but who knows what'll happen in this league... it's a mess. I guess my question is, would sharing or taking a conference title outright change the way their resume is viewed, as opposed to if they didn't have the conference champion label attached?

Jeff said...

It's hard to imagine in a 12 team league that none of them will get to 13-5. Somebody has to win these games - just out of random dumb chance you'd expect some team to end up 13-5.

Being a regular season champion has never appeared to have a huge impact on the Selection Committee. Winning those games matters, of course. But if you go 15-3 but finish behind a team that went 16-2, you won't be penalized.

Winning the conference tournament has a much larger impact on a team's seed.