Saturday, March 13, 2010

Georgia Tech Closes In On A Bid

Georgia Tech 69, #19 Maryland 64
Georgia Tech played with incredible amounts of energy here, and it had its positives and negatives. The negatives were clear: 25 turnovers (including 16 steals given to Maryland) and 15 allowed offensive rebounds. But the positives were also clear: they just forced themselves to the basket, and when they weren't stripped of the ball they generally scored or were fouled. They hit 56% from the field and earned more than twice as many free throws as their opponents. And they managed to force eight steals of their own, as well as six blocks. Georgia Tech entered the ACC tournament in real need after closing their regular season with five losses in their final seven games, ending up with a 7-9 conference record. The ACC is one of the two best conferences in the country, but the attitude of the masses is that it's way down this year because it doesn't have a lot of good teams at the top (since to most people, a conference should only be rated by the number of Top 15 teams it has, with no consideration for depth). And the fact is that the Selection Commitee is affected by the pounding of the television and newspaper analysts, and they will look down on a 7-9 ACC record (even though it's harder to go 7-9 in the ACC than 8-10 in the Big East). But Georgia Tech has responded now with narrow wins over North Carolina and Maryland, and have been handed a gift with NC State as their opponent in the ACC semifinals. To be fair, there is a downside to having NC State as an opponent, which is that a loss would look really bad. So they've got to take care of business or they're probably missing the Tournament. But with a win they'll be in really good shape, even if they lose to Duke in the finals. They're up to 5-6 against the RPI Top 50 and 10-9 against the Top 100 with wins over Duke, Clemson and Siena to go with this one, and their only losses outside the RPI Top 60 were road games at Virginia, Miami and Georgia. Their RPI is up to 35th and their Sagarin ELO_CHESS is 44th. If the season ended now they're probably in the Tournament, but they've got to take care of business against NC State today. As for Maryland, they missed a chance in the ACC tournament to really drive up their Tournament seed, and they'll be no higher than a 5 seed now. They could easily fall to a 6 or 7 seed.

Xavier 78, Dayton 73
I had talked a couple of times about the fact that Dayton ended the regular season with an amazing eight straight losses in games decided by five points or less. They have a Pomeroy Luck rating of 345th in the nation, and will unquestionably be better than some of the teams that earn at-large bids. But while the law of large numbers requires that those numbers have to even out over time, a conference tournament is a small sample size, and so it can't have been a shock that Dayton lost yet another game by five points or less, marking what is now nine straight. And this one is probably the death blow for a Dayton team that is only 4-10 against the RPI Top 100 with a Sagarin ELO_CHESS of 59th. It's hard to see any scenario that gets them in now. As for Xavier, they've been my favorite to win the A-10 tournament for some time, and they will play in the semifinals against Richmond today. They are up to 10-7 against the RPI Top 100 with a win over that very same Richmond team being their one RPI Top 25 win. Their Sagarin ELO_CHESS is up to 17th, and they have a real possibility of a 3 seed if they can win the A-10 tournament.

#1 Kansas 79, #24 Texas A&M 66
Kansas didn't have much to play for in this game, with a 1 seed already locked up. The only question is the #1 overall seed, which they can lock up by winning the Big 12 title game today. But they balanced a lack of motivation with 10-for-16 shooting behind the arc. On Texas A&M I want to again point out Bryan Davis, who is rapidly becoming one of my favorite players in the country. He scored zero points in this game, but had nine rebounds, four assists, three steals and three blocks - he always does all of the little things. Texas A&M has without a doubt played really well this season, but I do think that they have a limited ceiling. Their upset at home over Baylor is their only victory this season against the RPI Top 30. They are only 5-9 against the RPI Top 50, but 18-0 against everybody else. So they've taken care of business all season long, but they don't have the horses to take out the big boys. So I wouldn't pick them for a Final Four run, but don't pick them for a first round upset either. They are looking at a 4-7 seed, and right now I've got them as a 5.

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