Thursday, January 15, 2009

Reality Check For Syracuse

#12 Georgetown 88, #8 Syracuse
I was debating with a Syracuse fan recently about why I wasn't moving them higher than a 5 seed. And my answer was that despite the 4-0 Big East record, they still hadn't played anybody. While everybody else was battling ranked team after ranked team, Syracuse had been moving down the bottom of the Big East (Seton Hall, South Florida, DePaul, Rutgers). They're going to have to win a lot of games over ranked teams to compete in the Big East, and so far they have zero wins over ranked teams (I do believe that Memphis was ranked when Syracuse beat them, but obviously that doesn't look like such an impressive win now). On the plus side, the fact that Syracuse will likely be in the Tournament means that we won't have to listen to Jim Boeheim whine on Selection Sunday about how much he hates the Selection Committee. But on the other hand, I stand by my statement that Syracuse needs to earn themselves a spot in the Big East elite. They have an excellent opportunity on Saturday against Notre Dame, a team that has struggled on the road against good teams this season. For Georgetown, this win helps them keep pace with UConn and Pitt. They are a team that still has flaws, but they're one of the most well-rounded teams in the nation. If they can find a little bit more production off the bench they might actually win the whole conference.

Florida 68, Auburn 65
A nice job of Florida to win on the road when they weren't playing their best. Florida turned the ball over 17 times, shot 40% from the field (including 5-for-23 from behind the arc), and had a fairly decent road opponent in Auburn, but they just found a way to get the win. They did what they had to do to get to 2-0 in the SEC (currently tied with Kentucky atop the SEC East). That's a very encouraging sign for a relatively young team. They Gators move to 15-2, including 3-2 against the RPI Top 100. If they season ended right now they'd be a bubble team, although I think they'd sneak in. Like Kentucky, Florida just has to take care of business against the weak SEC. Ten wins will probably get them into the Tournament, and 11 will lock them in. For Auburn, this is obviously a rebuilding year. They are now 9-6, with zero wins over the RPI Top 100, and a really bad 2-6 record against the RPI Top 200. Nothing is locked in this early in the season, but it's really hard to see Auburn getting back in the bubble hunt.

Mississippi 74, Arkansas 65
It was actually a nice job of Arkansas to make this one respectable, after falling behind 32-11 late in the first half. But this is all part of what I've been saying about Arkansas. All of those bracketologists who threw Arkansas not only into the Tournament, but into single-digit seeds, were simply fooled by two (albeit large) upsets. The problem is that losses in the SEC are generally bad losses, and the Razorbacks now have two straight. Right now, if you throw out those two big upsets, their highest RPI victory is over 119th rated Austin Peay (a 16 seed in my most recent bracket). And heading into Gainesville for their next game makes it a high probability that Arkansas will open up SEC play 0-3. That makes the following two home games (against Auburn and Alabama) absolute must-wins. They do not want to fall to 1-4 in the SEC West. Ole Miss, meanwhile, moves to 1-1 and into a tie with LSU for second in the SEC West. They're probably going to have to win the SEC West to have a serious chance at an at-large bid. I wouldn't bet on it, but I wouldn't be too surprised to see anybody win that division.


Anonymous said...

alright fine. You win, for now. keep them on the 5 line until we beat a ranked team--that makes sense.

Jeff said...

I wasn't planning on dropping them, and nobody "wins." I won't drop Syracuse all the way in the rankings for losing at Georgetown any more than I would jump them up in the rankings for beating South Florida. I just have a lot of experience putting these brackets together, and I think I do a pretty good job at this point. I try to explain my reasons as much as I can. And I always appreciate constructive criticism.