Thursday, January 31, 2013

Stanford Routs Oregon

Stanford 76, #10 Oregon 52
This result is a surprise, but only in terms of the final margin. Stanford was a two point favorite in Vegas. The reason? Oregon is nowhere near the 10th best team in the nation. They came into this game ranked 23rd by Pomeroy and 32nd by the Sagarin PREDICTOR. How do they only have two losses? First, their non-conference schedule was a joke (rated 330th toughest in Division I by Pomeroy), and they were lucky with a 5-1 record in games decided by five points or fewer.

The Oregon offense was a mess here, finishing with more turnovers (21) than made field goals (18). They finished with 0.72 PPP, their worst offense performance since they lost 62-42 to Oregon State on February 6, 2010. Stanford hit 8-for-14 behind the arc, and was led by Josh Huestis (14 points on 6-for-9 shooting, with 13 rebounds, 3 blocks and 2 steals).

Oregon remains firmly in control of the Pac-12 regular season title race. They are a game clear of Arizona and Arizona State, and two games clear of UCLA, with the season tiebreakers already locked up against all of them. They do need to navigate through a fairly tough remaining schedule, though. Up next is a road game at California, on Saturday. After that will be a home game against Colorado.

Stanford ris very much on the Tournament bubble. They are 13-8 overall and 4-4 in conference play, against a far tougher schedule than Oregon has faced. They are only 1-6 against the RPI Top 50 (this is that first Top 50 win), but their only bad losses are Washington and USC, neither of which is really that bad. Their RPI is 77th, though their Sagarin ELO_SCORE should move into the Top 50 when the new numbers come out tomorrow. They'd very likely be an NIT team if the season ended now, but they should be a Tournament team if they can get to 11-7 in Pac-12 play and then win a game or two in the Pac-12 tournament. Their next game will be on Sunday against Oregon State, which is something of a must-win game with a brutal road game at Arizona up the following Wednesday.

Florida State 73, Maryland 71
Michael Snaer is becoming this generation's Robert Horry. It was the second time in a week that he hit a game winner in the final seconds, after a pair of prominent buzzer beating shots last season. A big reason Maryland was in this situation was because foul trouble limited Alex Len to 17 minutes played. But 16 turnovers (compared to only 26 made field goals) against a mediocre Florida State defense also didn't help. Besides Michael Snear, Florida State's biggest contributor was Okaro White. White was only 2-for-8 from the field, but he took advantage of the small Maryland front line sans Alex Len and ended up 10-for-10 from the free throw line.

Florida State is closer to the bubble than most people realize. They are only 12-8 overall, but 4-3 in the ACC and 5-5 against the RPI Top 100. They have wins over BYU and Maryland (twice), along with bad losses to South Alabama, Mercer and Auburn. Their Sagarin ELO_SCORE is going to move up close to 50th after this win. If the season ended now they'd be NIT bound, but they can get onto the bubble if they get to 11-7 in conference play. They'll have a huge opportunity to dramatically increase that at-large hype if they can beat a reeling Duke squad on Saturday.

Maryland drops to 3-5 in the ACC after this loss. They have a win over NC State along with a pair of losses to Florida State. It's a pretty boring resume, honestly. They need a quality win, and will get a home game against Duke. But they're already done playing Miami and will not get a road game at Cameron, so that really is their only chance. Their next game will be on Saturday against Wake Forest.

USC 75, UCLA 71, OT
UCLA had to overcome a 15 point second half deficit here. They closed regulation on a 24-11 run, sparked by some nice plays on both ends of the court by Larry Drew III. Jordan Adams hit a shot from the corner with 24 seconds left to send the game into overtime. In overtime, the surprising star was USC's Ari Stewart. With USC up by 1 with 11 seconds left, Stewart went to the line for his first free throws of the entire season. Despite Ben Howland icing him with a timeout in between his two shots, Stewart still hit both. On the other end of the floor, Shabazz Muhammad missed a shot and Jordan Adams was called for an over-the-back on the rebound.

It's been a tough week for UCLA. After beating Arizona to get to 6-1 in Pac-12 play and firmly in the Pac-12 title race, they fell to Arizona State and then lost to USC here. They are now only 16-6 overall, with wins over Missouri, Colorado and Arizona, along with bad losses to Cal Poly, Arizona State and USC. Their RPI is 41st, and their Sagarin ELO_SCORE should also be in the 40-45 range. They will likely be an NCAA Tournament team if they get to 12-6. At 11-7 or 10-8 they'll have work to do in the Pac-12 tournament.

UCLA won't play this weekend, but next week they'll be at home to face the two Washington schools. USC, now 4-5 in Pac-12 play, will also play the two Washington schools next week. The Trojans could move to .500 in conference play, though at 9-13 overall it's unlikely that they'll get back to .500 overall at any point this season.

No comments: