Thursday, January 09, 2014

Morning News: UNC & Georgetown Fall, Mizzou Suffers A Terrible Loss, End Of #2BidIvy?, Toledo Stumbles, Plus Gibbs/McClellan/Wilbekin

In his first game coaching since his father's death, Mark Fox had a touching moment after Georgia clinched the victory.

UNC Falls To 0-2 With Syracuse Looming The air seems to have come out of the UNC sails since they learned that PJ Hairston would not play this season. They've lost three of their last six games, with the three wins all coming to Pomeroy 175+ teams, with one coming in overtime. Unless Marcus Paige is playing really well, their offense just looks awfully discombobulated and ugly (Paige was 2-for-15 from the field here).

Unless the Tar Heels shoot the lights out against Syracuse, they're going to fall to 0-3 in ACC play. Don't be shocked if North Carolina ends up on the bubble this season - they could easily fall to 9-9 in ACC play if they're not careful.

Coach of the Year awards are stupid and irrational, and due to the arbitrary rules of how they get handed out Jim Larranaga has no chance to win, but I don't see how anybody in the ACC has done a better job this season. This Miami roster lost everybody from last season, and they really should be terrible this season. But they actually have a shot to earn a bid to the NIT. Considering this roster, that would be a fantastic achievement.

Georgetown Falls To Providence This was not a good day for Georgetown. First, they found out that Josh Smith would miss the game with an academic issue. Then their offense just fell apart against the Friars, scoring only 0.81 PPP, their worst offensive performance of the season so far. When Georgetown's offense is in a funk, it tends to be Markel Starks taking too many bad shots, and that was the case here. He finished with 8 points on 15 shots attempted from the field.

If Josh Smith is out for any significant length of time, that's a huge problem for Georgetown. He's a physical force, and an underrated offensive weapon. He's clearly their best interior scorer. With road games against Butler and Xavier coming up next, Georgetown has to be careful. They could fall to the bubble if they're not careful.

Providence is a good team that is going to beat some quality opponents, but the question with them is always their depth. They only have a six man rotation, and they're just going to struggle to win consistently in the Big East. This is a big win for their resume, but they're going to need more than one quality Big East win to get back into the BP68.

Missouri Suffers A Terrible Loss To Georgia Despite that #21 ranking, Missouri is at serious risk of being on the bubble in March. They came into this game ranked 41st in Pomeroy and 45th in the Sagarin PREDICTOR, so they'd been playing like a bubble team, despite their ranking. They just got out-worked here, getting crushed on the boards (35.7 OR% for Georgia, 20.0% for Missouri) despite coming in the better rebounding team.

Despite their soft strength of schedule, Missouri should be okay if they get to 10-8 or better in SEC play. Home games against Kentucky and Tennessee will be key for building their resume. Georgia, meanwhile, will just be playing spoiler this year. It's unlikely that they'll be able to finish the season .500 or better overall.

Harvard (And #2BidIvy?) Go Down I talked a few weeks ago about #2BidIvy, and the possibility of the Ivy League getting its first ever at-large bid. And I said at the time that their only realistic path involved Harvard beating UConn. So... yeah. The injury to Wesley Saunders is definitely a concern. Tommy Amaker doesn't seem to think he'll be out for too long, and they have a few easy games coming up next, but you never know with knees.

UConn needed this win after back-to-back losses to Houston and SMU. For now they're clear of the bubble, but they were trending awfully close before this win. They're still a team with real flaws that can be exploited, so don't be shocked if they drop close to the bubble again. To be sure of an at-large bid, they'll need to at least 11-7 in AAC play.

Toledo Stumbles Against Western Michigan Toledo was bound to eventually have a poor game, and this was it. The MAC isn't what it once was, but there are a bunch of teams that are going to be difficult to beat at home. Western Michigan is one of those teams due to their ability to get to the line. Get them at home with a little bit of home cooking and they just start a free throw drill. They're up to 7th in the nation in FTA/FGA ratio (56.2%), and attempted 41 free throws here.

If Toledo is going to have a chance to contend for an at-large bid, or to get something better than a 13 seed if they win the MAC tournament, they can't afford more than one or two of these losses. They have to plow through the MAC, and this isn't the right way to start.

Grant Gibbs Out 4-6 Weeks This is actually good news for Creighton fans, who were worried Gibbs might be done for the season. The Selection Committee is not going to give Creighton a pass for games without Gibbs, so the pressure will be on this team to avoid slipping against a tough upcoming schedule while shorthanded. A bad loss or two could ruin their chances of winning the Big East regular season title.

Eric McClellan Done For The Season Academic issues have ended the season for the Vanderbilt's Eric McClellan. McClellan is an inconsistent scorer who is often inefficient and can shoot his team out of games, but he's also the only explosive scorer on the roster with the ability to lead the team to a win over a quality opponent. His monster games against Butler and Texas were really impressive (Butler held on in overtime while Texas won by six). With McClellan done, this Vandy offensive is going to get really ugly. They were long shots to make the NCAA Tournament anyway, but now they'll be lucky just to crack .500 for the season.

Scottie Wilbekin Injured This happened late in Florida's big win over South Carolina. At this point, it's unclear how severe the ankle injury is, but it didn't look good. By now, these injuries are becoming a blur for Gators fans. This season has been absurd in that respect.

Stephen F Austin Will Forfeit Two Games This story is bizarre because this seems like the sort of thing that a competent conference would have figured out a way around. This Stephen F Austin team is really solid and could be a scary Round of 64 opponent in March, but the good news is that I don't think this will affect anything. They weren't going to be an at-large contender anyway, and I doubt the Selection Committee will drop them a seed line (assuming that they win the Southland tournament) due to these two forfeits. So in the end, this probably won't matter. Except that it's still stupid.

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