Friday, January 30, 2009

Virginia Tech Misses Huge Opportunity

#11 Clemson 86, Virginia Tech 82
This is one of those really tough missed opportunities. Virginia Tech played great basketball, playing very efficiently (51% shooting from the field) against a very good defense. They led by as many as 15 points in the second half, but in the end they just couldn't make the big play. And remember that a win here would have put them into a tie for first at 5-1 in the ACC. The RPI slips to 38th, and despite a couple of big wins (at Wake Forest, at Miami of Florida) are only 4-4 against the RPI Top 100. If the season ended now they would really be a very tough decision for the Selection Committee, as they'd probably be the first team in or out. This win obviously would have gone a long way towards putting them safely into the field. Even with this loss, they are still 4-2 in the ACC knowing that 9-7 will almost definitely put them into the Tournament. Clemson meanwhile moves to 18-2 with a chance to really establish themselves as a national contender if they can beat Duke at home Wednesday night. It's still not out of the question for them to make a run at a 1 or a 2 seed.

Washington State 65, #14 Arizona State 55
This game was really important for both squads. For Washington State, this really throws them back into the bubble picture. They are back to 4-4 in the Pac-10 and have their first win over the RPI Top 50. Their 3-8 record against the RPI Top 50, and the bad computers wouldn't put them in the Touranment yet, but they're in the discussion. Things really were starting to get bleak for this squad. For Arizona State, with UCLA struggling and Washington not really good enough to win the conference, they had a chance to establish themselves as the leader in the Pac-10. But this is a really tough setback. James Harden is a great player, and probably a first team All-American, but he can't win the conference by himself. Arizona State fans need to hope that this was a "look ahead" game, and that they'll respond by taking out Washington on Saturday.

Arizona 106, Washington 97
A very entertaining, albeit messy game. Like Washington State, Arizona really needed a victory to stay in the at-large debate. They're now hanging in there at 3-5 in the Pac-10 with a 4-8 record against the RPI Top 100. We've known all season that Arizona is a very inconsistent team, so while they could utterly collapse down the stretch they could also go on a big winning streak. They're not out of the Tournament hunt by any means. For Washington, this loss was a bit of a reality check. They slip back into a tie for first in the Pac-10 with UCLA at 6-2, with a tough schedule up ahead. They're a good team that is still in an excellent position to make the Tournament, but I think they got a little bit overrated after that upset over UCLA. They're not as good of a team as UCLA or Arizona State.

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