Friday, February 14, 2014

Morning News: UCLA Outshoots Colorado, Wisconsin Takes Care Of Business, And Southern Miss Has A Nightmare Game

It's easy to make fun of a coach's son who doesn't really look like he should be a basketball star, but Bryce Alford has proven that he can shoot pretty damn well.

UCLA Outshoots Colorado This is a tough missed opportunity for a Colorado team that's been making a good run at an at-large bid over the past couple of weeks, and has done an impressive job at overcoming the Spencer Dinwiddie injury. They led for much of this game, but early in the second half UCLA just stopped missing shots. Between 18:20 and 5:00 in the second half, UCLA shot a staggering 8-for-9 on threes. For the game, they had a 65.3 eFG%, which is just short of their best shooting performance in Pac-12 play so far this season (they had a 65.5 eFG% in Pac-12 play, but it came at home against bottom feeder USC). Bryce Alford led the way at 4-for-5 behind the arc.

UCLA is quietly putting up a really nice resume. They don't have any premier scalps, but they have wins over Arizona State, Stanford, Colorado (twice), California and Oregon, with only one bad loss (Oregon State). They're up to 8-4 against the RPI Top 100 with an RPI up to 15th and a Sagarin PURE_ELO up to 23rd. They don't really have a path to win the Pac-12 title, but a win at California on Wednesday they would basically lock up second place.

Colorado has that big win over Kansas and also has decent victories over Harvard and Oregon, along with a bad loss to Washington. Their RPI is 26th, but they're only 2-5 against the RPI Top 50 and 7-7 against the RPI Top 100, with a Sagarin PURE_ELO that is 51st. If the season ended now, that high RPI probably gets them into the NCAA Tournament (pretty rare to see a BCS conference team in the RPI Top 35 miss out), but they'd be in only narrowly. And their remaining schedule in downright brutal: a home game against Arizona State is their second easiest remaining game. They close with three road games, at Utah, Stanford and Cal. If they can go 3-3 down the stretch and then win a game in the Pac-12 tournament, that will probably get them into the NCAA Tournament. Anything less than that and they'll be in trouble.

Wisconsin Takes Care Of Business Against Minnesota The Gophers shot the ball well here, finishing 9-for-17 behind the arc. Wisconsin has broken out of their own slump, though, and they hit 40% behind the arc and 83% at the line. The free throw shooting is particularly important because Nigel Hayes and Frank Kaminsky have become a menace in the paint. Nigel Hayes, in particular, has shown an incredible penchant for getting fouled as a true freshman. The 7.8 fouls that Hayes draws per 40 minutes are 10th most in the entire nation. Of the 9 players getting fouled more than Hayes, all are juniors or seniors, and only one is from a major conference (Auburn's Chris Denson). All three of Minnesota's big men spent a lot of time in foul trouble (Joey King fouled out).

Wisconsin needed to take care of business with a brutal week coming up. They'll be at Michigan on Sunday and then at Iowa next Saturday. After that, though, their final four regular season games will be very reasonable by Big Ten standards. Even if they lose to both Michigan and Iowa, it's hard to see Wisconsin finishing worse than 10-8 in Big Ten play, which should be sufficient for a 5 seed with all of the quality wins that they have (6-3 vs the RPI Top 50).

Minnesota trailed nearly this entire game, so it never really felt like they had a good chance to win, but they really could have used this one. The loss drops them to just 5-7 in Big Ten play. The fact that they some really nice wins (Ohio State, Wisconsin and Florida State) and that the Big Ten is so strong is why I've been saying for weeks now that Minnesota should make the NCAA Tournament if they can get to 9-9 in conference play. But that requires a 4-2 finish, and considering some of the remaining games (including road games at Ohio State and Michigan), Sunday's game at Northwestern is almost a must-win. The Gophers could earn an at-large bid at 8-10 in Big Ten play, but they'll have to do significant damage int he Big Ten tournament.

Southern Miss Has A Nightmare Game This was just a bad game all around for Southern Miss, and UAB took advantage to absolutely wipe the floor with them. Southern Miss was a brutal 2-for-16 behind the arc, and also shot only 30% on two-point jumpers. Their 38.6 eFG% was their second worst of the entire season, while UAB's 62.5 eFG% is the second worst that Southern Miss has allowed all season.

Southern Miss has a weird resume that is going to end up hotly debating on Selection Sunday if they don't win the Conference USA tournament. They came into this game 21-3, but with only three RPI Top 100 wins to go with a pair of RPI 100+ losses. Their best win over the season came over Louisiana Tech, and they now have bad losses to Western Kentucky, Tulsa and UAB. Their RPI is 40th and their Sagarin PURE_ELO is 44th. The computer numbers are (just barely) Tournament quality, but the Selection Committee will do them no favors because of their poor schedule and lack of quality wins. They can probably afford one more loss without dropping into the NIT, but it's hard to see them overcoming two more losses.

1 comment:

Jeremy Halperin said...

I don't know why you continue to hate on cu (you are the only bracketologist who doesn't have them in...). You say there schedule is tough, but the ucla game was arguably tougher than any of their remaining games. They were in that game and will be in every other game this season. They have improved every game since Dinwiddie went down, and they will easily make the tournament