Crushing Loss For Florida #TeamBadLuck suffered yet another heartbreaking loss last night, and this might be the one that finally does in their at-large hopes. Ole Miss had the ball down by two points and with a chance to hold for the last shot if they wanted it, and Florida actually forced a contested, off-balance three pointer... which Stefan Moody nailed with 2.7 seconds to go. Moody is a 36% three-point shooter, but that had to be a significantly lower probability shot than his average three-point attempt. But that's what can happen in a one possession game. Open shots miss while contested shots go in. You can watch Moody's shot below:
Ole Miss doesn't have any big scalps, but they've won six straight in SEC play to get to 8-3 overall, and to push their RPI into the Top 40. If the season ended now they'd definitely be an at-large team. If they can win four of their final seven regular season games to get to 12-6 they should stay in the bracket for good.
Iowa Stumbles Iowa came into this game 6-4 in Big Ten play and with a very manageable schedule the rest of the way. They were likely going to be favored in seven of their final eight games. Hawkeyes fans started to look ahead and think about "what if" they finished with something like a 13-5 Big Ten record. But perhaps their players were looking ahead as well, because Iowa was really disjointed in this game, particularly on offense.
57% of Iowa's shots were two-point jumpers, which they hit at only a 37% clip. Some late scoring in the frantic final minute pushed their offensive efficiency up to 0.97 PPP for the game, though that still marks their second worst offensive performance in Big Ten play this season. Iowa is still in the Field of 68, but another loss or two in a game where they're favored and the bubble will come into play again.
Minnesota was desperate at 2-7 in Big Ten play and they've responded by winning three straight. Their RPI is only 68th, but their Pomeroy is 39th. A weak schedule and a 2-6 record in Big Ten games decided by six points or less is why their resume is so out of whack with how good they are. If they can get to 9-9 in Big Ten play they'll be in decent shape, but anything less than that and they're probably headed to the NIT.
UConn Smokes Tulsa We knew that 10-0 Tulsa was in for something of a reality check once they hit this week and the tail end of their AAC schedule, but... man, this is a bad start. After losing by double-digits at home to SMU they got absolutely annihilated by UConn here. The Huskies nearly had them doubled up midway through the second half (it was 50-27 at one point). UConn hit 63% of their two pointers while Tulsa hit 35% of theirs. The Huskies blocked ten shots.
Tulsa's resume is difficult to figure out because of that non-Division I loss to SE Oklahoma State. Their RPI is still 44th, but they're just 7-6 against the RPI Top 200. If the season ended now they'd almost surely be an NIT team. To get back into the Field of 68 they need to win at least four of their final six regular season games. They've got a key home game coming up on February 22nd against Temple.
UConn is now 7-4 in AAC play with three RPI Top 50 wins, though their RPI is an ugly 89th. If they can go 5-2 down the stretch to get to 12-6 in conference play, their RPI will rise enough that they'll be in the at-large discussion, though they still will have more to do in the AAC tournament.
Denver's Half Court Shot In the end, Denver still lost. But they got to overtime with one of the best shots you'll see all month:
Utah Handles Stanford This game didn't have much drama. Utah took a small lead early that they continuously grew the rest of the way. They committed just 8 turnovers, hit 56% of their two-pointers and 83% of their free throws. One stat to keep in mind in case you don't realize how good this Utah team is: they're outscoring the Pac-12 by more points per possession (0.30 PPP) than Arizona (0.22 PP), and more than even Kentucky is outscoring the SEC (0.23 PPP).
Stanford has that win over Texas, but it came before Christmas. Unless they pull an unlikely upset at Arizona they're going to finish the regular season without a big scalp. Their RPI is 41st and they're 8-6 against the RPI Top 100, but they'd be just barely in the Field of 68 if the season ended now. If they can get to 11-7 in Pac-12 play (a 4-2 finish) then they should be pretty safe, but anything less than that will require them to avoid a one-and-done in the Pac-12 tournament.
Southern Miss Plays Just Four Guys Southern Miss started the night with just seven players dressed, and so after their third foul-out came in overtime they were forced to finish the game with just four players on the court. It's been a long year for them in every way, and even if they hadn't self-imposed a postseason ban they wouldn't likely be qualifying for even their own conference tournament, but not even getting to play 5-on-5 might be the new low.
UNLV's Rashad Vaughn Injured Vaughn is UNLV's superfrosh. He might end up going 1-and-done, in fact. UNLV isn't going to earn an at-large bid, but they are always dangerous on their home court in their Mountain West tournament. If Vaughn can't get back for the MWC tourney, UNLV's odds of stealing an automatic bid to the Big Dance will take a big hit. Vaughn suffered an injury to the same knee in high school, which makes me particularly wary of projecting a quick return for him.