Thursday, March 08, 2012

Seton Hall Falls To Louisville; Are They Out?

Louisville 61, Seton Hall 55
This was not a particularly well played game for either team. Seton Hall committed 17 turnovers and had a 35.6 eFG%, leading to 0.74 PPP... and somehow still had a chance in the final minute of the game. It looked to me like Louisville's effort was poor. They also didn't help themselves with 57% free throw shooting. Certainly, Louisville is going to have to play a lot better to beat Marquette.

The big question coming out of this game is what are Seton Hall's at-large chances. And they really do have a classic bubble resume: 20 wins, 8-10 in conference play and 7-9 against the RPI Top 100. They have wins over Georgetown, West Virginia, UConn and VCU, along with bad losses to DePaul, Rutgers and Villanova. Their RPI is 62nd and their Sagarin ELO_CHESS is going to be just narrowly outside the Top 50. They have some nice wins, but the problem is that they have too many losses, and an 8-10 Big East record just isn't good enough in a down year for the Big East. You can make an argument that Seton Hall would still be in the Field of 68 if the season ended now, but on Selection Sunday it's more likely than not that they'll be NIT-bound.

Louisville moves to 10-8 against the RPI Top 100 with this win, and their Sagarin ELO_CHESS is closing in on the Top 20. If the season ended now they'd be a 4 or 5 seed, and they can push up to a 3 seed if they go far enough in the Big East tournament. A win over Marquette would help.

UConn 71, West Virginia 67, OT
ESPN has tried comparing this year's UConn to last year's UConn approximately 850 times in the past few days. And interestingly enough, ESPN is kind of right, but for the wrong reasons. This UConn team, for all its flaws, isn't too much worse than last year's team. But last year's Big East tournament run was so incredibly improbably that it's pointless to think it's going to happen again. Beating West Virginia in overtime is doable. But trying to beat Syracuse next? I'll need to see it to believe it.

But should UConn fall to Syracuse, have they done enough to secure an at-large bid? They went 8-10 in Big East play and are 10-10 against the RPI Top 100. They have wins over Notre Dame, Harvard, West Virginia, South Florida, Florida State and Seton Hall, along with bad losses to Rutgers, Providence and UCF. This win should push their Sagarin ELO_CHESS up close to 40th. I don't think there's any question that if the season ended now, UConn would be in the Tournament. If they lose to Syracuse will they still be in the Tournament on Selection Sunday? Probably. But is it possible that some weird results over the next few days could bump UConn out of the Field? Yes. So if they lose to Syracuse, they will still have to sweat out the next few days.

West Virginia went 9-9 in Big East play and 9-11 against the RPI Top 100. They have wins over Georgetown, Cincinnati, South Florida, Kansas State and Miami (Fl), along with bad losses to St. John's and Kent State. This loss will likely drop their Sagarin ELO_CHESS out of the RPI Top 45. Heading into this game, West Virginia clearly had a stronger resume than UConn, but right now? I'd give the narrow edge to the Huskies. West Virginia is still in the NCAA Tournament at the moment, but they're going to have to sweat out the next few days. They could fall to the NIT if results in other conferences go the wrong way.

South Florida 56, Villanova 47
We've seen this from USF before. Their defense has been excellent - this is their 9th straight game holding their opponent under 1 PPP - but their offense is flat out brutal. Anthony Collins led the way with 17 points, which might as well have been 30 points in a more typical game. Mouphtaou Yarou had a really good game for Villanova, honestly, but his teammates gave him no support. Every time I've seen Villanova play this season, one of their players has gone off, and the rest of his teammates stink. It's a sign of a team that just isn't focused, and that just isn't motivated. Basically this whole team will be back next season, and it was obviously from pretty early along this season that there was no confidence of any success this season. And that's what they had. It will be interesting to see how mentally strong they start next season, when expectations will be higher.

Villanova's problems are USF's gain, of course. This is a big win for them, since everybody understands that USF's 12-6 Big East record is fairly fraudulent. USF is still only 1-8 against the RPI Top 50, with the one win coming over Louisville, and that is more than balanced out by bad losses to Penn State, Auburn and Old Dominion. Their Sagarin ELO_CHESS is hovering right around 50th. If the season ended now they'd be right on the bubble. I think they'd be more likely to get in than not, but plenty can happen in the next few days. If USF is going to feel confident about their chances on Selection Sunday, they really need to go out and beat Notre Dame.

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