Thursday, March 05, 2015

Morning News: New Bracket Projection, Notre Dame Gets Past Louisville, Michigan St Holds Off Purdue, Miami Tops Pittsburgh, And More

Is shorthanded Louisville starting to slip?
New Bracket Projection Oregon moves into the Field of 68, replacing Stanford, as the bubble weakens. More details are at the link.

Bubble Watch Notre Dame became the 17th lock into the NCAA Tournament, while Cincinnati pulled themselves off the bubble with a big win.

Notre Dame Gets Past Louisville Louisville overcame an 11 point halftime deficit to make a game of this one late. But Jerian Grant was a catalyst for a stretch of five straight Irish possessions with a made basket. Demetrius Jackson was the best player on the court, scoring 21 points on 6-for-11 shooting, with 5 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 assists.

The Irish had been struggling since that win over Duke. They had gone 4-3 over that stretch, and it could have been worse. They barely squeaked by Clemson and Boston College. This is easily their best performance since the Duke win, and obviously Irish fans are going to hope that this is the start of a trend, and perhaps the team peaking at the right part of the season.

This is Louisville's first loss since Chris Jones was kicked off the team, though they had a mere 1 point win over Georgia Tech. This loss also drops Louisville into a tie for fourth place with North Carolina. If they slip to fifth place they'll have to play in the ACC tournament second round.

Michigan State Holds Off Purdue Purdue led by 9 points in the first half here, but a 26-6 Michigan State run blew this game open. The Spartans had to hit free throws down the stretch, and they hit 11-for-16 over the final 1:45. Travis Trice hit four of those en route to a game-high 27 points.

This should put to rest the bubble concerns for Michigan State. They're now 11-6 in Big Ten play with an RPI all the way up to 30th. Only having two RPI Top 50 wins is a problem, but unless they lose the rest of their games they should be safe.

Purdue is also 11-6 in Big Ten play, but they're just 13-11 against the RPI Top 200 and their RPI has slipped out of the Top 60. That home finale against Illinois might be something of an elimination game for those two teams. It's certainly hard to see Purdue earning an at-large bid if their RPI is out of the Top 60 on Selection Sunday.

Miami Tops Pittsburgh Angel Rodriguez missed another game for Miami, but there were also concerns that Sheldon McClellen would miss the game. Miami fans are thankful that McClellan could play, because he scored 16 of his 20 points in the second half here. In the final minute, Miami was getting generous bounces on the rim while Pitt had a couple of shots rim in and out. That's the way things have gone this past week for Pitt as they slip out of the NCAA Tournament picture.

Pitt's NCAA Tournament hopes aren't over, but they'll need to beat Florida State and then go on a run in the ACC tournament, to at least the semifinals. Miami is in better shape, but they still have a ton of work to do as well. Their RPI is 65th and they have a 13-11 record against the RPI Top 200. They will need to beat Virginia Tech and then win at least one game in the ACC tournament.

Bryant's Buzzer Beater The best part of March college basketball isn't the Final Four, it's shots like this to save the season of a team desperately hoping to get to the NCAA Tournament, even if getting in just means a 16 seed:
That's Joe O'Shea hitting the desperation three for Bryant to get the game into overtime, and Bryant would end up winning the game in double overtime. They move on to the NEC semifinals, where they'll take on Robert Morris.

Tulsa Falls To Cincinnati Cincinnati's defense is always strong, and it's their offense which generally holds them back. Here, they held Tulsa to just 6-for-21 shooting on layups and dunks (7 shots were blocked), but the star was Farad Cobb. Cobb scored 22 points, including 4-for-7 three-point shooting and 3-for-4 on two-point jump shooting.

This win should be the one that puts Cincinnati into the NCAA Tournament for good. They are 12-5 in AAC play with six RPI Top 50 wins and a Top 35 RPI. Unless they lose their home finale at Memphis they should be safe.

For Tulsa, this game is meaningless for their hopes of winning the AAC regular season title, and they still have a Top 50 RPI, but that RPI doesn't take into account their non-Division I loss and they have just five RPI Top 100 wins. Unless they pull that upset at SMU, they're going to enter the AAC tournament looking up at the NCAA Tournament and needing at least a win or two.

LSU Gets Run Off The Court LSU is sliding right out of the NCAA Tournament. This was just a languid loss at home in a game that they needed to win. In the second half, Tennessee torched LSU for 1.41 PPP, and they did it not in the way you'd expect. Tennessee is 11th in the SEC in offensive efficiency in conference play, and what offense they do generate tends to come off offensive rebounds, but in the second half here they had only two of those. Instead they hit 72% of their two-pointers and were 5-for-8 behind the arc. Armani Moore had 15 of those points by himself.

LSU's RPI dropped out of the Top 50 with this loss. They have four RPI Top 50 wins, but the only really impressive win came against West Virginia. Unless they pull an upset at Arkansas on Saturday, they're going to finish the season 10-8 in SEC play, and likely needing to get to at least the SEC tourney semifinals to avoid the NIT.


Anonymous said...

Are you going to do your "conference tournament preview" write ups again this year? I know a few have started but are still very helpful in what to look for and documenting the different story-lines out there.

Jeff said...

Sorry, I'm not doing them this year. Not enough time, sadly.

Anonymous said...

I'm having trouble putting Temple in the bracket, let alone a nine seed. They have the huge win over Kansas but really nothing else of note on their resume. The RPI is okay but their Sagarin numbers, across the board, suggest they have no place in the field as an at-large.

In fact, the AAC seems pretty overvalued as a confernce. SMU is obviously in the field but even Cincinnati, with their big wins, has shaky Sagarin numbers that suggest they ought to be on the bubble. Tulsa is tied for first and they're no better than a bubble team.

Jeff said...

Well, wherever you think Temple is going I think you have to slide them up another line or two because of how bad they were in Nov/Dec and how much better they've been since. We've seen many times in the past that the Selection Committee weighs more recent games more than older games, no matter how many times they insist they don't.

Anonymous said...

Temple was 10-4 before New Year's and they're 10-5 since. Granted, they're 8-2 in their last ten games.

However, they lost both meetings against SMU and both games against Tulsa. They split with UC.

Sagarin has their overall rating at 79, with an ELO rating of 57 and an SOS of 103. Those figures aren't exactly awe inspiring.

Jeff said...

You can't compare non-conference W-L records with conference W-L records. Temple was 115th in KenPom when Jesse Morgan got his eligibility and they are 61st now. They're clearly playing much better.

You have to be a little careful of using Sagarin numbers because that's not a Pure ELO rating anymore. All of the ratings on his site keep scores of games into account, and Temple has been a little lucky in close games.

Also, I'll say that Temple is far from a Tourney lock. If they lose one of those two remaining regular season games they're going to drop at least one seed line, probably two.

But right now, who is the obvious team I've got as an 11 or 12 seed or out of the bracket that you think is better than Temple? Texas A&M? Tulsa?

Anonymous said...

Yes, I know that Sagarin changed his ELO rating but it's still fairly reliable. Temple's other Sagarin numbers are far worse, making me think that 57th is about where they belong. Even if they're 47th, they're still no better than on the bubble.

Of course, none of that means the selection committee agrees with me. I just find it odd that a lot of bracketologists have Temple fairly confortably in the field. I think they're a bubble team at best, a 12 seed. Or at least they should be. I don't think they're a better team than anyone you have behind them in your bracket and a couple of teams that aren't in your bracket.

Anonymous said...

Maryland a 5 seed? They have a better overall resume than anyone on your 3 or 4 line.