Saturday, December 31, 2011

Princeton Knocks Off Florida St In Triple Overtime

Princeton 75, Florida State 73, 3OT
This was a very, very strange game. A mediocre Princeton team won on the road at Florida State despite a bad game from star Doug Davis (8-for-24 from the field, 2 rebounds, 0 assists). Florida State had only ten points in the first half, and ended the game with only nine assists. Despite an offensive flurry in the third overtime (13 points for FSU), they still finished with only 0.90 PPP. One thing that's gotten clear is that Florida State struggles offensively if they can't rebound the ball. They lost in the Bahamas to a Harvard team that held them to a 19.4 OR%. In the first half of this game, when they scored only ten points, they had a 17.4 OR%. It was because FSU rebounded the ball better the rest of the game (a 47.4 OR%) that they were able to get back into the game. They fell in overtime because of atrocious free throw shooting (50% for the game, 3-for-10 in overtime).

Florida State, a team that was looking like the clear third best team in the ACC, is suddenly looking like a bubble team. This is a bad loss, and they have zero quality wins. They have a home game against Auburn on Wednesday that you would think they'd win, but even with that win they'll enter ACC play needing to win at least nine games to have a shot on Selection Sunday. And unless they have a strong ACC tournament and/or there's a very weak bubble, FSU will probably need to go 10-6 or better. They'll open conference play January 7th at Clemson.

Princeton moves to 7-7 with their biggest scalp of the season by far (their previous best win came over Buffalo). The computers say that second place in the Ivy League is wide open (both Sagarin and Pomeroy rate Princeton very narrowly ahead of Yale for second), but you have to figure that with their personnel the Tigers are clearly the most likely team to challenge Harvard. They'll open conference play January 13th at Cornell.

Dayton 62, Mississippi 50
Dayton's defense, particularly their field goal defense, has been pretty bad this season, but Mississippi's offense has been worse. Ole Miss had a 39.8 eFG% and hit only 52% at the line. Only Buffalo shot worse against Dayton this season. Dayton was led by Chris Johnson, their best offensive player (16 points on 5-for-10 shooting, 5 rebounds, 5 assists). Ole Miss has now played 11 games this season against teams not from the SWAC. They have scored greater than 1 PPP in only three of them. That's tremendous offensive futility.

Ole Miss is now 9-4 with a win over Miami (Fl) and questionable losses to Dayton and Middle Tennessee St. They've actually dropped outside the Top 100 of both the Pomeroy and Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings. Assuming they can beat SMU on Wednesday, they'll need to go at least 9-7 in SEC play, and (with the unbalanced schedule) probably 10-6 or better to make the NCAA Tournament.

Dayton is a long way off from the Big 3 in the Atlantic Ten (Xavier, Temple, Saint Louis), but they shouldn't be counted out as an at-large contender. They're 10-4 with wins over Alabama, Minnesota and Ole Miss, along with weak losses to Miami (OH) and Buffalo. They'd be out of the Tournament if the season ended now, but with the strength of the A-10 (and the weakness of the Pac-12 and ACC), Dayton will be on the bubble if they can get to 10-6 or better in A-10 play. They open with a huge game on Wednesday against Saint Louis. Three days later they'll play at Temple.

Stanford 60, UCLA 59
UCLA's been playing a lot better over the last few weeks, and they nearly pulled a relatively big upset at Stanford. Lazeric Jones (26 points on 8-for-13 shooting) has become an offensive weapon - he's scored in double-digits in eight straight games after averaging only 9.0 points per game in the first five games of the season. The emergence of Jones has keyed the strong stretch UCLA has been on. They'd won five straight coming in here. Stanford hung on partially because of a strong offensive performance by Aaron Brown, who was 4-for-8 on threes and hit four straight clutch free throws late.

UCLA's been playing better, but they still don't have any great wins, and they had those awful losses to Loyola Marymount and Middle Tennessee State to open the season. They're back inside the Top 100 in the Pomeroy and Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings, but their resume is still really bad (their ELO_CHESS is 159th and their RPI is 167th. Even an 11-7 Pac-12 record, an unlikely event, probably wouldn't be enough to put them in the NCAA Tournament. And now they're 0-1. It's not looking good. They'll play on the road at California later today. Next week they'll play the two Arizona schools.

While UCLA is playing better, and this is a solid victory for Stanford, the reality is that a loss would have been brutal for Stanford's computer numbers. They're now 11-2 with wins over Oklahoma State and NC State, along with an iffy loss to Butler. As bad as the Pac-12 is, Stanford needs to get to 11-7 or better to feel confident in their at-large hopes heading into the Pac-12 tournament. They'll try to move to 2-0 later today against USC. Next week they'll be on the road against the two Oregon schools.

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