Thursday, January 29, 2009

Texas Rolls, Maryland Continues To Stumble

#12 Texas 78, Baylor 72
Texas didn't blow out Baylor by any means, but it's a really solid win in all respects. Baylor doesn't get a lot of national attention (or really any national attention, honestly), but they're a very good team and they don't go down easily at home. Texas still doesn't have great numbers anywhere on their resume, but they're definitely still in the hunt for a 1 seed. They're going to have to beat Oklahoma, and they're going to have to go on a big winning streak, but they're one of the few teams that is still thinking that they can earn that 1 seed. Baylor, on the other hand, is focused on just making the Tournament, and they're still in good shape despite this home loss. They're 3-3 in the Big 12 with a 5-5 record against the RPI Top 100, but those numbers are deceptively bad because of the really brutal start to their Big 12 schedule. Things get a lot easier on the tail end of their regular season schedule, so they shouldn't struggle too much to get to the 9-7 that will more or less lock them into the Tournament. If they want a good seed, though, they're going to have to do better than 9-7. They're going to have to pull an upset or two.

#17 Purdue 64, Wisconsin 63

It's hard to think of a team that has been more snake bit this season than Wisconsin. They have found new and creative ways to lose every close game they've been in for more than a month now. I watch them play and they look like a team that obviously should be a Tournament team, but how can you say that about a team that is now 3-5 in conference play? That said, they're entering a very winnable stretch (at Northwestern, Illinois, at Penn State, Iowa, Ohio State, at Indiana). Looking at their schedule you would think that they should be able to get to 9-9, which would basically lock up a Tournament bid. But right now, nothing is a lock for Wisconsin. For Purdue, on the other hand, they keep their slim Big Ten title chances alive. They move to 5-2 in conference play, and are 7-4 against the RPI Top 100. I don't think they have a good chance at a top seed in the Tournament, but there's no reason that they can't get as high as a 3 or a 4 if they keep playing as well as they've played lately.

Boston College 76, Maryland 67
Things really are disintegrating at Maryland, and not just on the floor. Things are getting bad off the court (see here and here), and it's not clear how much longer Gary Williams will even be coaching at Maryland. I have to say that Williams has always been known as one of the good guys in the game, who runs one of the cleanest programs at major schools, so I don't like the way that their athletic director has gone to the media and thrown him to the wolves. On the floor, of course, things are also getting bad. The RPI is down to 87th, and they're 2-4 in the ACC with a pretty brutal schedule the rest of the way. They have a must-win game Saturday night against Miami, because after that they head to North Carolina and it's hard to see this team recovering from a 2-6 start. Boston College, on the other hand, is really making a good Tournament case. The computer numbers still aren't good enough for a bid, but they're up to 4-3 in the ACC, and are a solid 6-4 against the RPI Top 100. They have a winnable next two games, and end up with three relatively easy games to end the regular season, but in between it really gets brutal. So right now I'm not ready to put the Eagles in the Tournament, but they're definitely in striking distance. If they can get to 9-7 then they likely will make the Tournament. They definitely control their own destiny.

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