Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Bubble Cheers: Memphis Rocks Marshall

Memphis 83, Marshall 57
This game was never close. with Memphis grabbing a 20 point first half lead, and never leading by less than 13 in the second half. They were getting to the rim at will, while Marshall was running their offense 25 feet from the basket because they couldn't handle the Memphis pressure defense. There's no shame for Marshall here. Memphis was coming off a 31 point destruction of UCF, a borderline bubble team at the time. Before that they beat a decent UTEP team by 18.

Over the next few days, you're going to start seeing people in the media tell you that Memphis is a "sleeper" team and a "dark horse Sweet 16 team". I was on twitter this morning making fun of guys like Doug Gottlieb starting it. They'll all thump their chests if Memphis wins a couple of games in the NCAA Tournament. The reality is that Memphis has been a very good team for a while now. They were rated the 11th best team by both Pomeroy and Sagarin even before this game tipped off. And they've been getting better throughout the season - they were sitting around 25th in Pomeroy through January and the first half of February before going on this tear the past few weeks. Right now they are good enough to beat absolutely anybody. They're not a dark horse Sweet 16 team - they're a dark horse Final Four team.

Marshall went 9-7 in Conference USA and finished 21-13 overall. They are a very good 4-5 against the RPI Top 50. Those three numbers alone are very bubblicious. The problem for Marshall is an 11-13 record against the RPI Top 200 and a Sagarin ELO_CHESS near 70th. And of course, their last impression was getting destroyed by Memphis. With a really tight game here they might have had an at-large case, but now I think they're basically an NIT lock.

Colorado 70, California 59
Oh bubble, how this result was not good for thee. California was the one Pac-12 team that looked in good shape for an at-large bid. Now the Pac-12 will likely be a two-bid league, with either Colorado or Arizona stealing the auto bid, and with California and Washington as serious bubble teams. California finished with 17 turnovers and only 0.94 PPP. It's the type of sloppy play that has been rampant at the Pac-12 tournament this year, which has just been depressing to watch.

The one highlight of the Pac-12 tournament has been the Colorado student section. The school gave free trips to Los Angeles for the most active members of the student section, which is an awesome idea. Those kids have been great, and you have to wonder if they've played a real role in this nice tournament run for the Buffaloes. They're very unlikely to earn an at-large bid if they fall to Arizona, but you have to figure that the game is a toss-up. The auto-bid is staring them in the face.

California went 13-5 in the Pac-12 and finished 9-7 against the RPI Top 100. That said, they have zero wins against the RPI Top 50, and have bad losses to Washington State and Oregon State. Their RPI is 36th and their Sagarin ELO_CHESS is 47th. If the season ended now they'd probably be in the NCAA Tournament, but that's a very, very soft resume. If certain games go the wrong way (such as St. Louis losing to Xavier today), I could easily see California falling into the NIT.

Louisiana Tech 78, Nevada 73
This was a tough loss for Nevada. They had a 48.4 eFG%, compared to a 61.2 eFG% for Louisiana Tech. Hard to overcome that kind of hot shooting. This wasn't a game that got any media attention at all yesterday, which is bad news for Nevada, even though they've actually had a really nice season. Their Sagarin ELO_CHESS was actually in the Top 50 before this loss, which is a very bubblicious resume.

That said, this loss drops their ELO_CHESS to 63rd and they finish 0-3 against the RPI Top 50. They won the WAC outright with a 13-1 record, but without any quality wins it's going to be hard to justify putting them in the Field of 68. Certainly I think they'd have to be behind Washington and Drexel, who are two teams with similar types of resumes. Nevada will be an auto-bid to the NIT, so they won't have to worry about getting into that tournament, but I just don't see how they can earn an at-large bid to the NCAA field.

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