Friday, March 09, 2012

Virginia Falls To NC State, Is More Of A Bubble Team Than You Think

NC State 67, Virginia 64
NC State had surprising success against the normally excellent Virginia defense. Virginia led the ACC with a 44.9 eFG% against in conference play this season, but allowed a 59.0 eFG% here. NC State hit 62.9% of their two-pointers, compared to Virginia's season average of 43.7% against. Virginia just doesn't have the offensive firepower to keep up with that. Mike Scott had 23 points, but he's the only Virginia player that scares any ACC opponent on offense.

I haven't seen Virginia really considered a bubble team by anybody, but the reality is that their resume is incredibly soft. They went 22-9 overall and their Sagarin ELO_CHESS should be in the mid-30s tomorrow morning. But they went only 9-7 in the ACC and 2-6 against the RPI Top 50, with zero wins over likely NCAA Tournament teams since they beat Michigan back in November. I do think Virginia will most likely be an NCAA Tournament team, but Virginia fans will have to sweat out Selection Sunday. They need to root for teams like California and St. Louis.

This game was a must-win for NC State. But this gives them a third quality win (they also beat Texas and the University of Miami), and pushed their RPI into the Top 50 (48th). That said, their Sagarin ELO_CHESS is still going to be right around 50th, and they still have only one RPI Top 50 win (Virginia fell out of the RPI Top 50, so their only Top 50 win was technically against Texas). If the season ended now they'd be right on the bubble, but unless they get a ton of help I think they're most likely heading to the NIT unless they beat North Carolina tomorrow.

UMass 77, #24 Temple 71
Is UMass a potential bid stealer? A 17-0 run straddling halftime blew this game open for UMass, sparked by three straight made triples to start the second half. The Minutemen hit 9-for-16 behind the arc for the game, but the real difference was a strikingly sloppy ball-handling performance from Temple. They finished with 22 turnovers, meaning that they committed turnovers on 30% of offensive possessions after leading the conference with only a 17.6 offensive turnover percentage in conference play. The credit has to go to the uptempo, aggressive defense that UMass plays. These teams had played a little more than a week ago and UMass had managed to crank up the pace, but not the turnovers.

UMass will play St. Bonaventure in the A-10 semis tomorrow. Obviously they're only two wins away from stealing an automatic bid, but is an at-large bid still possible for them? They are 22-10 overall and went 9-7 in A-10 play, with wins over Temple, St. Louis and Xavier, along with bad losses to Charleston, Rhode Island and Duquesne. Even after this win, their Sagarin ELO_CHESS will likely be outside the Top 70. So if they beat St. Bonaventure and then lose the A-10 title game to St. Louis? An at-large bid isn't impossible, but they'd need a lot of help. I don't see it as a realistic scenario.

Temple is still safe for an at-large bid. They won the A-10 outright with a 13-3 record, and they have wins over Duke, Wichita State and St. Louis to go with a couple of bad losses (Bowling Green and Richmond). Their Sagarin ELO_CHESS should still be inside the Top 30 - it would have to be around 40th for them to be a bubble team. But this loss does cost them a chance at a 4 or 5 seed. Instead they're likely looking at a 7 or 8 seed.

#12 Wisconsin 79, #15 Indiana 71
It's always great to see a Senior who stuck it out through years of limited playing time to become a major factor in his final few games. Wisconsin's Rob Wilson blew up for 30 points here (his previous career high was 13). He also hit 7-for-10 behind the arc in this game, despite hitting just 27 combined three-pointers in his full four year career coming in. This was also a nice win for Wisconsin, coming despite a bad game from Jordan Taylor (3-for-12 shooting) and despite it being a virtual road game. This game was in Indianapolis, and the Indiana fans dominated the crowd, and got the foul calls (for the second straight day) that you'd expect a home team to get. Even Dan Dakich, an Indiana guy through and through, was complaining repeatedly about the reffing throughout the broadcast. And I bring that up simply because I'm wondering how awesome it is that Dan Dakich responds on twitter during tv timeouts to people who are complaining about how he's calling games? Love it.

Indiana finished 25-8 and 11-6 against the RPI Top 100 with a Sagarin ELO_CHESS that should still be in the Top 15. This loss costs them a chance of a 3 seed, but they could still end up a 4. I can't see them falling further than a 5 seed.

Wisconsin moves to 11-6 against the RPI Top 100 with this win, and their Sagarin ELO_CHESS should be right around 11th or 12th tomorrow. If the season ended now they'd either be a 3 seed or a 4 seed, and it's still possible for them to move up to a 2 seed if they win the Big Ten tournament. They'll play Michigan State tomorrow.

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