Saturday, January 19, 2013

Florida Routs Missouri

#10 Florida 83, #17 Missouri 52
As I was saying on twitter during this game, I'm not sure which of these two teams had a more ridiculous ranking. Missouri was overrated at #17, but you could make a decent case that they were still a Top 25 team. But Florida at #10 was just ridiculous. Sagarin and Pomeroy both rated Florida as the best team in the nation before this game tipped off. The bad news for Florida is that with the dumb way polls are conducted (Florida will not be allowed to pass any of the teams above them until those teams lose) it will take another week or two for Florida to get their ranking closer to reality. The good news is that as putrid as the rest of the SEC is, Florida shouldn't be in serious danger of losing another game for quite some time.

How big is the gap to the rest of the league? There are only three teams that are even close to Florida in terms of talent. Missouri is one of them, and we saw what happened there, though the Tigers should be more competitive at Mizzou Arena in a month (particularly if we assume Laurence Bowers comes back). The other two are Kentucky and Ole Miss. Florida doesn't even have to play at Ole Miss this season, and their match-up in Gainesville won't be until February anyway. Kentucky is the closest team to Florida in terms of raw talent and potential, so they should put up the best fight. Those two teams won't play until February either. And by the time Florida plays at Kentucky it will be each team's regular season finale (March 9th), and the odds are that Florida will have the SEC regular season title clinched by then. Florida's next game will be on Wednesday, at Georgia.

Missouri's resume suddenly looks a whole lot weaker than it did a couple of weeks ago. That Illinois win, as I warned at the time, wasn't as good as it seemed. They only have one true quality victory, over VCU. They are now 2-2 in a very poor SEC and 13-4 overall. Considering how bad the SEC is, Missouri probably needs to get to at least 11-7 in SEC play to clinch an at-large bid. Assuming that Laurence Bowers comes back sooner rather than later, that shouldn't be too difficult of a task.

#4 Kansas 64, Texas 59
Texas desperately needed a big win to get back into the at-large picture, and for a short while it looked like they might get it here. The Texas offense is terrible but their defense is actually pretty good, and Kansas couldn't hit the few open shots they got either. With just over 11 minutes in the game, Kansas trailed 47-37. They finished the game on a 27-12 run, powered in a large part with transition offense. Texas turned the ball over seven times in the final 11 minutes.

Elijah Johnson had a terrible day (1-for-11 from the field), but got picked up by Ben McLemore (16 points) and Jeff Withey (14 points on 4-for-6 shooting). Withey actually led Kansas in assists (4), and also made the key defensive play with around 4:30 to go that generated a Ben McLemore transition dunk and gave Kansas a lead for the first time since very early in the second half.

This is a killer loss for Texas. A win would have rejuvenated their season. Instead they fall to 0-4 in Big 12 play and 8-9 overall, with a Sagarin ELO_SCORE that still sits outside the Top 100. They will have to get back close to .500 in Big 12 play before we can take them seriously for an at-large bid. Their next game will be on Monday, at Oklahoma.

It's increasingly looking like Kansas is going to run away with the Big 12 title. It will be the remarkable ninth consecutive year for the Jayhawks with at least a share of the Big 12 regular season title. They will play at Kansas State on Tuesday, and then at home against Oklahoma next Saturday.

St. Bonaventure 81, Temple 78
Did you know that this was the first win for St. Bonaventure at Temple in 31 tries? Or that they had lost 15 straight games against Temple at any location, going back to January 16, 2002? Temple has historically been a better program than St. Bonaventure, but those are two fairly amazing streaks. And in Temple's defense, it took a crazy shooting performance for the Bonnies (11-for-18 behind the arc) to pull this upset off.

But while this loss might have been a fluke, there's no question that Temple has been underwhelming against mediocre competition all season. They've gotten up for Syracuse, Kansas and St. Louis, but struggled against George Washington, Xavier, Canisius and now St. Bonaventure. And despite the wins over Syracuse and St. Louis, they're now 2-2 in A-10 play with only an 8-5 record against the RPI Top 200. This loss dropped their RPI to 50th, and their Sagarin ELO_SCORE will be very close to that when the new numbers come out tomorrow. To make the NCAA Tournament they'll probably need to get to at least 9-7 in conference play. They'll play Pennsylvania on Wednesday, and then will have a massive game on Saturday at Butler.

The star for St. Bonaventure was Matthew Wright, who went toe-to-toe with Khalif Wyatt and scored 22 points on 8-for-11 shooting, including 4-for-4 behind the arc. Defense has been a significant problem for the Bonnies all season (this is the seventh consecutive game where they have allowed at least 1.08 PPP), so they need an offensive explosion to beat anybody decent. They got one here, and it snapped a six game losing streak. The Bonnies are now 8-9 overall and 1-3 in Atlantic Ten play. They'll play at St. Joseph's on Wednesday, followed by a home game against St. Louis on Saturday.

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