Monday, February 01, 2010

Kansas Holds Off Kansas State

#2 Kansas 81, #13 Kansas State 79, OT
Kansas State's fans were motivated for this one, with one of the largest crowds I've ever seen for an ESPN College Gameday. And they played well, hustling for 20 offensive rebounds and winning the turnover battle. But Kansas is just an outstanding team, and Sherron Collins had his most clutch performance of the season, and the Jayhawks just looked a little bit more comfortable in the waning moments of a big nationally televised game like this. Kansas State is a really good team, but this whole thing is new to them. Kansas has been here before, and it shows. This also has to go down as one of the most impressive wins for any team in the nation this season. It shows once again why I feel that Kansas is the best team in the nation. For Kansas State, this is a home loss, but not all home losses are created equal. This game actually goes a long way towards proving to me that Kansas State is legitimately one of the best teams in the nation. They are only 4-3 in the Big 12, but with a relatively easy upcoming schedule they should be able to take care of business over the next couple of weeks.

#1 Kentucky 85, #23 Vanderbilt 72
This isn't a game that Vandy ever had much chance of winning. They were coming off their most impressive win of the season and were due for a letdown, and Kentucky was highly motivated after their first loss of the season. Throw in homecourt advantage for Kentucky and I'm impressed with Vanderbilt that they even kept things this close. I still believe Kentucky is a little bit overrated, but I do think they're on their way to a 1 seed just because they should run through the SEC with no more than one or two losses the rest of the way. It's rare for a BCS conference team to lose three games or less in a season while winning the regular season or tournament title to then not get a 1 seed. As for Vanderbilt, this loss drops them to 5-1 in the SEC with a winnable but dangerous upcoming schedule (vs Mississippi State, at Georgia, vs Tennessee). The Commodores were on a really nice five game hot streak before this loss, and the key for them is to again find that play, and to not allow one loss in a game they never had much of a chance in anyway from affecting their mindset from this point forward.

Cornell 86, Harvard 50
It's fairly remarkable that there has actually been talk in the national media of the Ivy League getting two teams into the NCAA Tournament. It's actually harder for the Ivy league to be a multi-bid league than any other conference, and not necessarily for the reason you might think. It's because a lot of conferences get a cheap second bid where they have one really good team that just gets knocked off in the conference tournament, so they get two teams in the NCAA Tournament but only one with at-large credentials. The Ivy League doesn't have a conference tournament, so they need two teams to have legitimate at-large credentials. And Cornell actually has that: they're 16-3 with a 3-3 record against the RPI Top 100, with no big wins but no bad losses either. Their Sagarin ELO_CHESS is 14th, although their PREDICTOR and Pomeroy rating are closer to 40th. If the season ended now and they weren't given an automatic bid, they probably would actually earn that at-large bid. Harvard's resume, however, is not as impressive. They're 13-4 with a 2-3 record against the RPI Top 100. Again, no elite wins, but one bad loss (to Army). Their Sagarin ELO_CHESS is 58th, and their RPI is 68th. They would not be an at-large team if the season ended now. If they don't earn the automatic Ivy League bid then that means that they will have lost at least one more game (if Harvard beats Cornell in the re-match later this season, and both teams finish 13-1, there would be a playoff game for the automatic bid, so one of them would have to lose another game), and that means that their odds of an at-large bid really are not good at all. If they go undefeated the rest of the way and earn the automatic bid then that means Cornell has to lose at least two more times, which would greatly damage their own at-large chances. So while it's still possible for the Ivy League to earn two NCAA Tournament bids, they really need a whole bunch of things to fall into place. I don't like their chances.

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