Saturday, February 06, 2010

Tar Heels Lose... Again

Virginia Tech 74, North Carolina 70
This was a much better effort from North Carolina after that embarrassing performance against Virginia, but Virginia Tech is a very good team that is difficult to beat at home, and in the end the Hokies pulled out a close one. Ed Davis did a good job of getting to the line, and Marcus Ginyard looked like an elite perimeter defender for the first time in a while. But it's getting to the point that North Carolina can't afford too many more "quality" losses. They are now only 2-5 in the ACC with a difficult upcoming schedule (at Maryland, vs Duke), knowing that they probably have to get to 7-9 to make the NCAA Tournament. Even 7-9 might not be enough to get them in. As for Virginia Tech, it seems likely that they'll stay on the bubble the rest of the season. This nice win moves them to 4-3 in the ACC, with a 5-4 record against the RPI Top 100. Their RPI is 70th, but that mostly has to do with a very weak schedule, and their Sagarin ELO_CHESS (a much better metric of potential Selection Committee support than the RPI) is 31st. If the season ended now they'd probably actually make the NCAA Tournament despite that bad RPI, although they'd be one of the last in. They'll have an excellent chance of getting in if they can make it to 8-8 in ACC play and then win at least one ACC tournament game.

Notre Dame 83, Cincinnati 65
Luke Harangody got Yancy Gates in foul trouble, and with the Cincy big man out of the game it was open season for the Irish big man. Harangody blew up for 37 points and 14 rebounds, and Notre Dame won the rebounding battle despite the fact that Tim Abromaitis fouled out of the game. Ben Hansbrough also had a great game, with 12 points, 9 assists and 8 rebounds. Every time I watch him all I have to do is squint my eyes and I think I'm watching Kyle McAlarney, except perhaps with not quite the three point range. He has clearly grown into the position of floor leader for the Irish. Notre Dame now moves to 5-5 with a very easy upcoming schedule (vs USF, at Seton Hall, vs St. John's). Their Sagarin ELO_CHESS is up to 58th (keep in mind that only about one team per year makes the Tournament outside the ELO_CHESS Top 50). As for the Cincy, they are also now 5-5, but with a much tougher upcoming schedule. If they can get to 9-9 in Big East play then it means that they probably collected at least one more big win, to go along with wins over Vanderbilt and Maryland, and they will most likely make the NCAA Tournament.

Maryland 71, Florida State 67
Greivis Vasquez took Maryland on his back here with 23 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists against an outstanding Florida State defense. Maryland also deserves a lot of credit as a team for getting down low and forcing Florida State's big men to kick the ball out to their bad perimeter shooters, and allowing them to basically fight to a draw on the boards despite being much smaller. Vasquez, a guard, actually led the team in rebounds. Maryland continues to hang around the top of the ACC with a 5-2 record, with important home games coming up against North Carolina and Virginia. They then play at Duke next Saturday, in a game that they need to win if they're going to make a run at the ACC title. Florida State, on the other hand, continues to confound me. For about five or six weeks now they've been either one of the two or three first teams out of my field of 65, or the first team in. They have great defense and horrible offense, and so every game with them is close and competitive. This loss drops them to 4-4 in the ACC and 16-6 overall, with a 6-5 record against the RPI Top 100, with two wins over Georgia Tech being their two best wins. Their RPI is 47th, their Sagarin ELO_CHESS is 37th, their Sagarin PREDICTOR is 28th and Pomeroy has them 24th. If the season ended now they'd be in the Tournament, but not by much. They will very likely be in the NCAA Tournament if they get to 8-8 in the ACC. If they go 7-9 and play well in the ACC tournament then they will have a fairly good shot as well.

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