Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Morning News: Ohio St Takes Out Iowa, Is St. John's A Bubble Team?, Wisconsin Bounces Back, And Florida Holds Off Mizzou

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Ohio State Takes Out Ice Cold Iowa In Iowa City The panic about Ohio State (and the rest of the top half of the Big Ten) continues to be ridiculous. The conference is extremely balanced, and one team to has to lose every single game. Ohio State's resume was a bit bubbly for a while, but they were far too good not to pick up plenty of quality wins in Big Ten play. After struggling quite a bit the last few games, Aaron Craft played really well here (a team-high 17 points on 6-for-7 shooting, along with 6 assists and 6 steals).

Remember that Ohio State's schedule was very front-loaded. They are only 5-5 in Big Ten play, but with an extremely reasonable schedule the rest of the way. In fact, the Buckeyes might be favored in every remaining regular season game. They'll play Purdue on Saturday, but then have a massive home game against Michigan next Tuesday.

Iowa will feel like they deserved this game. They owned the glass (a 41.7 OR% compared to 14.8% for the Buckeyes), but were undone by 3-for-20 three-point shooting. Sometimes you just go cold. They'll get a chance to atone for this loss on Saturday when Michigan comes to town.

Is St. John's A Bubble Team? The way that St. John's and Seton Hall have both come alive the last few weeks after being so brutal in non-conference play is stunning, and I don't think anybody saw it coming. The Johnnies open Big East play 0-5, but they've now won four of five, and the one loss was by three points on the road at Creighton.  They've been shooting better, and been really good at avoiding turnovers. The Johnnies committed only 5 turnovers here, and are leading the Big East with turnovers on only 14.9% of possessions in conference play. Throw in a 54.8 eFG% and their offense was able to put together a season-high 1.28 PPP.

The Johnnies are 14-9 overall now, with wins over Providence and Marquette to go with bad losses to DePaul and Penn State. Their RPI is up to 64th and their Sagarin PURE_ELO is 71st.. That's not a Tournament resume yet, of course, but they're up to 44th in Pomeroy and 54th in the Sagarin PREDICTOR. If they can knock off Creighton on Sunday, they will start to get into the bubble discussion.

I've talked plenty the past couple of weeks about this thin Providence roster and why I thought that would lead to a decline in play. I'm not going to keep repeating myself about that. Bryce Cotton continues to be incredible, but it's not enough. Now just 6-4 in Big East play, they have a really tough week upcoming, heading on the road to face Xavier and Georgetown. They're going to need at least a split to stay on pace for an at-large bid.

Wisconsin Bounces Back At Illinois With some heavy snow in the area, most of the crowd didn't make it out to this game, and it was oddly quiet. And this game was disjointed, with both teams going through long stretches of scoring followed by long droughts. The panic over Wisconsin, like it was over Ohio State, was ridiculous. They're a very good team that plays in a really deep conference and that had some bad luck in close games combined with some brutal shooting. But after 19.5% three-point shooting combined the last two games, they were 10-for-23 here. Nigel Hayes (14 points on 5-for-7 shooting) continues to impress for the Badgers. Very few college players have a higher hoops IQ, and he's just a true freshman.

Now 5-5 in Big Ten play, Wisconsin heads into a massive home game with Michigan State on Sunday. This will be a non-upset "upset" alert, as Wisconsin will likely be favored by about a point in Vegas. Illinois, meanwhile, has now lost eight straight games. It's come against a brutal schedule, but it's just a morale sapper for the Illini. Anybody remember that this team was ranked fewer than four weeks ago? How dumb was that?

Florida Holds Off Missouri Florida struggled much more in this game than most expected. Missouri actually led for much of this game, and the Gators didn't grab control until a Michael Frazier III outside shooting barrage midway through the second half. Scott Wilbekin led Florida with 19 points (including a staggering 16 attempted free throws). Patric Young (13 points and 6 rebounds) was a physical force in the paint. The key performance for Gators fans, though, was 4 points from Chris Walker. They are just very happy to have him back.

This has been a really brutal four day stretch for Missouri. There are two victories that you can get in the SEC that will impress the national media - Kentucky and Florida. Missouri had their shots against both of these teams in the last four days, but came up just short both times. Now just 4-5 in SEC play and 1-2 against the RPI Top 50, this could be the week that costs them a bid to the NCAA Tournament. Considering their soft remaining schedule, they probably need to go 6-3 down the stretch (to get to 10-8 in SEC play) to feel good about their at-large hopes.


ervinsm said...

If you look at the remaining schedules of the BE bubble teams, I think there is actually an outside chance of only 2 teams getting bids.

Creighton and Nova are effectively locks but remaining bid contenders are :

Home games: depaul,Nova, Marq
Road: Xu, Gt, Butler, Shall, Creighton

Home: Prov, Depaul, creighton, Nova

Road: Butler, Marq, GT, StJ, Shall

ervinsm said...

And kenpom has GT to finish at 8-10, with no other teams expected to finish above 500 in league play. I doubt 9-9 would get stj or marq in.