Sunday, March 04, 2012

Iowa State Is The Big 12 Tourney 3 Seed

Iowa State 80, #10 Baylor 72
It's kind of amazing that the third seed in the Big 12 tournament won't be Baylor or Texas or Kansas State, but Iowa State. Since this whole roster has been constructed with transfers, it remains to be seen if Fred Hoiberg can build a program that can win long term, but there's no question that it's been a special season in Ames. Scott Christopherson, who is one of the Iowa State players that transferred in before Fred Hoiberg was the coach, had an outstanding Senior Night with 23 points and 6 assists. Pierre Jackson went off for Baylor (35 points on 11-for-19 shooting), but it wasn't enough. His teammates, for example, shot a combined 1-for-14 beyond the arc.

This win should effectively lock up an at-large bid for Iowa State. They went 12-6 in Big 12 play and have wins over Kansas, Baylor, Kansas State and Texas, and only one real bad loss (Drake). Their Sagarin ELO-CHESS will move up near 20th. If the season ended now, Iowa State would likely be a 5 or 6 seed, and they can easily move up to a 4 seed with a strong Big 12 tournament. They'll play in the quarterfinals against Texas on Thursday.

Baylor has stumbled a bit down the stretch, going only 4-4 in their final eight games to finish 12-6 in conference play. Of more concern is their 0-4 record against the RPI Top 25. They have struggled against elite opponents, and it's because they don't take care of the ball and they are awful at defensive rebounding. Their Sagarin ELO_CHESS will still be in the Top 15 after this loss, so they're still unlikely to fall below a 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but right now it's hard to see them making a deep NCAA Tournament run. They will be the 4 seed in the Big 12 tournament, where they'll play Kansas State in the Big 12 quarterfinals on Thursday.

#4 Kansas 73, Texas 63
The injury of Alexis Wangmene is a major concern for Texas coming out of this game. Kansas already has an imposing front line, and when you throw in foul trouble for Jaylen Bond and Jonathan Holmes (both fouled out), the Longhorns just didn't have an answer for Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey. That said, J'Covan Brown had a great game (33 points with 9-for-18 shooting from the field and 14-for-15 at the line), and Texas might have pulled this upset off without 3-for-17 shooting behind the arc.

Kansas finishes the regular season 16-2 in Big 12 play and 10-4 against the RPI Top 50. They control their own destiny for a 1 seed. With a Big 12 tournament title they'll lock up the 1 seed. With a loss in the Big 12 tournament, they'll need some help.

Texas finishes the regular season 9-9 in Big 12 play with wins over Iowa State, Kansas State and Temple, along with bad losses to Oregon State and Oklahoma State. Their Sagarin ELO_CHESS is right around 45th. If the season ended now they'd be in the NCAA Tournament, but without much room to spare. That makes their Big 12 tournament quarterfinal game against Iowa State crucial. A loss there could knock them to the NIT.

Gonzaga 77, BYU 58
Often times you see teams come out playing poor after byes or double-byes. Announcers will tend to attribute that to being "rusty", although if the teams come out and play well then announcers will tend to attribute that to being "rested". I've never seen any analysis that shows any correlation between byes and performances. Gonzaga was the latter - they came out playing tremendous basketball, blowing BYU off the floor in the opening minutes and never looking back. They led 19-5, and never led by single-digits again. Kevin Pangos (30 points on 10-for-17 shooting) dominated for Gonzaga.

This win gives us a chance to see Gonzaga take on St. Mary's in the WCC tournament finals, but the real story coming out of this game is whether BYU has knocked themselves into the NIT. They are 25-8 with wins over Gonzaga and Oregon along with bad losses to Utah State and Loyola-Marymount. Their Sagarin ELO_CHESS should be in the 40-45 range. The lack of big wins is a problem, and their computer numbers are only decent, so they're going to have to sweat out Selection Sunday. If the season ended now, BYU would be an NCAA Tournament team, but it's very possible that they could fall out over the next week. BYU fans will have to spend the week rooting for teams like Creighton, Temple and California.

Gonzaga is now 25-5 and 5-3 against the RPI Top 50. This win will likely push their Sagarin ELO_CHESS inside the Top 20. If they can beat St. Mary's on Monday, they could move as high as a 4 seed. With a loss they'll probably be a 6 or 7 seed.

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