Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Vanderbilt Falls To Florida In OT

#23 Florida 65, #24 Vanderbilt 61, OT
This will be a tough loss for Vanderbilt fans because they looked like the better team to me. But they were killed all night by the refs. I know that home teams always get more calls - it's the dominant cause of homecourt advantage - but this was a little bit ridiculous. Vanderbilt probably could have overcome that if the foul calls had been distributed differently. Instead they ended up with three of their six best players fouled out, including their star playmaker Jeffery Taylor. Losing Festus Ezeli after only 20 minutes on the floor was also key because he is the team's best offensive rebounder and defensive post presence. Florida did escape from this game with the win, but I continue to believe they will not reach their potential until somebody gets Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton under control. Both are extremely talented and occasionally have great games, but too often they just launch bad shot after bad shot without getting the rest of the team involved. In this game they finished with a combined 9-for-27 shooting, 6 assists and 4 turnovers.

With this win Florida moves to 6-2, a full game clear of the field in the SEC. They have a huge game coming up on Saturday night against Kentucky. They do still have road games at Vanderbilt and Kentucky to play, so they need to build up that SEC lead as far as they can now to give themselves some cushion. At 5-1 against the RPI Top 50 and with a Sagarin ELO_CHESS that is 24th they certainly appear to be safe in the NCAA Tournament. But an SEC regular season title, as weak as the SEC is, will still potentially vault Florida as high as a 3 seed. Vanderbilt falls to 3-4 in the SEC with this loss, and two of those losses were bad losses (Arkansas and South Carolina). They still have a home-and-home with Kentucky as well as home games with Tennessee and Florida to go. But overall their resume is still strong. Those two bad SEC losses are their only losses outside the RPI Top 50, and they've got wins over North Carolina, Saint Mary's and Georgia. Their Sagarin ELO_CHESS is 30th - anything inside the Top 40 will keep them off the bubble. They have easy home games upcoming against South Carolina and Alabama, and then have a home game against Kentucky a week from Saturday.

Oklahoma 73, Baylor 66
I don't know if anybody had a chance to turn this game on during the day. After being snowed out last night the game was on today (it was supposed to be on ESPN2 last night), but ESPN evidently couldn't get a crew to the game. So instead ESPN3 played the Oklahoma radio announcers along with the video that was being played on the jumbotron. So while there were almost no instant replays, I got to see things like the Kiss Cam and people waving everytime they were on the screen. It was cool - it felt a little bit like being at the game. I've never been to the Oklahoma campus, so that was the closest I've gotten to that feeling. As for this game, while it was only about pride for the Sooners this game meant a whole lot for a Baylor team that really couldn't afford another bad loss. But yet again a team found a way to neutralize Baylor's tremendous athleticism and length on the inside. Baylor ended up with three fewer offensive rebounds than Oklahoma had, and they only had three blocks total. I've said many times that blocks are the most over-rated stat in basketball, and that remains true, but it's a good measure of Baylor's defensive intensity and to only have three is disappointing. And Baylor's defense has definitely decayed. Baylor has now allowed at least 1 point per possession against six of their last seven opponents.

Baylor will still be ranked as something around the 60th best team in the nation by Sagarin and Pomeroy after this loss, but their resume is woefully weak with not very much time left. They have as many RPI Top 100 wins (Oklahoma State and Colorado) as RPI 100+ losses (Oklahoma and Iowa State). Their RPI is 80th and their Sagarin ELO_CHESS will likely be closer to 90th. At 4-4 in Big 12 play they're going to need to finish 9-7 or better or they're going to need to win a bunch of games at the Big 12 tournament. They still have a home-and-home remaining with both Texas and Texas A&M, and they also will head to Missouri and Oklahoma State. Their only path to 9-7 involves collecting some big wins, and those big wins are essential. They can't go into Selection Sunday with Colorado as their second best win or they won't have a chance. The road game at Texas A&M is their next game, on Saturday afternoon. As for Oklahoma, don't look now but the Sooners have won four straight and are actually above .500 (4-3) in the Big 12. Their Sagarin ELO_CHESS might even break the Top 100 after this win. They are still a long shot to even make the NIT, but the team is showing some really nice improvement considering how decimated this program was a year ago, so they're definitely moving in the right direction.

Indiana 60, #20 Minnesota 57
Christian Watford has now joined Maurice Creek on Indiana's "out indefinitely" list, but the Hoosiers comtinued their strong run of play with this very nice home upset. They won this game without anything spectacular - just solid basketball. They committed only 9 turnovers and allowed Minnesota to self-destruct with a 42.6 eFG% and 11-for-22 at the free throw line. And Minnesota is now in a dangerous position, still unsure about themselves without a true point guard and that bizarre one-guard lineup they're starting games with. They are 5-5 in Big Ten play with home games against Ohio State and Illinois up next. They do have wins over Purdue, North Carolina and West Virginia, but even a 9-9 Big Ten record won't completely assure them of a spot in the NCAA Tournament. And if they finish 8-10 they'll definitely be on the bubble.

Indiana has now played well in five of their last six games, with wins over Minnesota, Illinois and Michigan along with narrow losses to Wisconsin and Michigan State on the road (the latter one came in overtime). Their Sagarin PREDICTOR and Pomeroy ratings were 60th even before this game, and will be up to nearly 50th now. But as well as they've played lately their resume is still their resume, and it's poor overall. They are a putrid 5-11 against the RPI Top 200 with losses to Iowa, Colorado and Northern Iowa. Their Sagarin ELO_CHESS could still be outside the Top 100 after this loss. At 3-7 in the Big Ten they'll have to get to 8-10 to even be considered as a bubble team heading into the Big Ten tournament. With road games left against Purdue, Ohio State and Illinois, as well as home games against Wisconsin and Purdue, I just don't see any plausible way that they get there.

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