Wednesday, January 30, 2013

LSU Upsets Missouri

LSU 73, #17 Missouri 70
Missouri is a team that's basically been overrated all season and is slowly regressing to the mean. Their biggest problem so far in SEC play has been defense. They were allowing 0.97 PPP in a down SEC coming into this game, and gave up 1.14 PPP here. Anthony Hickey was able to get into the paint at will (9-for-17 from the field with 4 assists), and LSU hit 67.9% of their two-point attempts.

The silver lining for Missouri is that Laurence Bowers finally returned after missing five games. He didn't look quite like himself, but if he can get back to where he was then Missouri might be able to stop this defensive bleeding a little bit. Their offense is pretty good and they can rebound, if only they can get some misses from the other team. Phil Pressey continues to perplex, by the way, He scored 25 points here, but it came with 1-for-9 shooting behind the arc. Any time Pressey launches threes instead of attacking the basket to generate offense, that's a win for the opposing defense.

Missouri drops to 4-3 in the SEC with this win. They have wins over VCU and Illinois along with this bad loss to LSU. Their Sagarin ELO_SCORE should drop to the mid-30s when the new numbers come out tomorrow. Considering how bad the SEC is, even 11-7 might not guarantee Missouri an at-large bid. They need to go 12-6 to be sure. Their next game will be on Saturday, against Auburn.

LSU moves to 11-7 overall and 2-5 in the SEC with this win. This is their best win of the season by far, and helps their chances of still being over .500 at season's end. Their next game will be at Mississippi State, on Saturday.

UMass 61, La Salle 60
I've gotten a bunch of grief from La Salle fans for not having them in my bracket projection, but I just did not want to overreact to one crazy week. Yes, they did knock off Butler and VCU for their biggest week in close to 20 years, but those are just two games out of a long season (and Butler is overrated, too). La Salle is a team that is good at everything, but great at nothing, and they certainly weren't as good as their resume. They came into this game 4-0 in games decided by two points or less or in overtime, meaning that they were overdue to lose a game on a Chaz Williams drive like they did here.

La Salle drops to 4-3 in Atlantic Ten play with this loss, with losses to Charlotte and Central Connecticut to go with those two big wins. They are 5-5 against the RPI Top 100 with a Sagarin ELO_SCORE that should fall to around 60th. If the season ended now they'd almost certainly be NIT bound. I think they need to get to 11-5 in A-10 play to feel good about their at-large chances heading into the A-10 tournament, which isn't that unlikely considering their soft remaining schedule. Their next game will be on Saturday, at George Washington.

UMass is a team that I never thought of as a serious at-large team, even before Jesse Morgan went down with a season-ending ACL injury. They got a lot of at-large hype back when they were 10-3, but their only Pomeroy Top 100 win at that point had came over Ohio, and they were 5-0 in games decided by five or less. And in fact their luck is still pretty good - with this win they are now 8-1 in games decided by five points or less. It's why they are 14-5 overall and 4-2 in the A-10 with an RPI that is 43rd, despite the fact that even after this win they will not be rated as one of the 100 best teams in the country by either Pomeroy or Sagarin. They can stay on the Tournament bubble if they get to 10-6 in A-10 play, but you have to assume that their luck is going to start evening out and they won't get there. The Minutemen will play next on Saturday at Charlotte.

Oklahoma State 78, Iowa State 76
This game was tight the entire way. Neither team led by more than six points in the final 14 minutes. But Iowa State was undone by some brutal play down the stretch. They failed to score on their final five possessions, tallying three turnovers and two missed shots. Marcus Smart, meanwhile, had a monster game for Oklahoma State. He scored 21 points on 9-for-15 shooting (including the game winner), along with 7 assists, 6 rebounds and 4 steals.

Marcus Smart was something of a battle early in the season between the statistical community and the anti-stat community. Smart clearly has NBA talent and a ton of raw skill, but his shooting and overall offensive efficiency was just brutal in the first couple of months. Nothing is more underrated in basketball than shooting efficiency. Now that Smart is scoring efficiently (and has been doing so for the past few weeks) the anti-stats community is saying "I told you so!" But nobody ever said Smart wasn't going to be a really good player someday. He just wasn't a really good player until he started to hit some shots. With this performance his season eFG% is up to 47.6%, which is pretty respectable when you consider how bad it was early in the season and how much of the offensive load he carries.

Oklahoma State is now 4-3 in Big 12 play and 14-5 overall, though this is their best win of the season. They also have a bad loss to Virginia Tech. But despite an underwhelming resume, they will probably wake up tomorrow rated as the second best team in the Big 12 by both Pomeroy and Sagarin. They do still have home games against Kansas and Baylor to try to improve the strength of their resume. Their next game will be their road game at Kansas, on Saturday.

Iowa State drops to 14-6 overall and 4-3 in the Big 12 with this loss. They have wins over BYU and Kansas State along with a bad loss to Texas Tech. To have a decent at-large case they are going to need to get to at least 10-8 in conference play with a win in the Big 12 tournament. They will play Baylor at home on Saturday, followed by a home game against Oklahoma on Monday.

No comments: