Saturday, January 12, 2013

Virginia Loses To Clemson, Drops Out Of Field Of 68

Clemson 59, Virginia 44
Virginia losses tend to be "ugly losses", and this was no exception. Clemson did hit 6-for-10 beyond the arc, but against the suffocating Virginia defense that was still only worth 1.04 PPP. But Jontel Evans was invisible on offense and the Virginia offense stalled. In three ACC games so far, Virginia is averaging only 52.3 points per game, and 0.87 PPP.

Even after these ugly losses, or perhaps because of them, Virginia is underrated. Slow tempo teams that play good defense always are underrated by a media that is inherently biased in favor of teams that play high scoring games. But while Virginia will likely still be in the Pomeroy Top 40 after this game, I'm going to drop them out of the Field of 68 tonight. They have big wins over Wisconsin and North Carolina, but they have bad losses now to Old Dominion, Delaware, Wake Forest, George Mason and Clemson, Their Sagarin ELO_SCORE will be barely inside the Top 100 tomorrow, and their RPI is 160th. They are 1-2 in ACC play, and will likely need to get to 11-7 to earn an at-large bid. They can't afford to give away any more games that they're "supposed to win", so they'll need to take care of business next Saturday against Florida State.

Staring an 0-3 ACC start in the face, Clemson is now 1-2 with a very winnable game against Wake Forest on Tuesday. They're not going to make a run at an at-large bid (they'd have to get to at least 11-7 to have a chance), but they're not a bad team either. Don't be too surprised if they finish in around 6th or 7th  place in a down ACC.

UConn 65, #17 Notre Dame 58
I'm not sure that there's an explanation for this result other than that Notre Dame was kind of overdue for a loss. They didn't shoot as well as they did against Cincinnati, but their offense wasn't terrible (0.97 PPP). Shabazz Napier (19 points on 8-for-13 shooting) had a good day against a soft Irish defense, but more than anything the Irish just couldn't hit a big shot late. In the final three minutes they scored a grand total of two points. It's sort of a lame explanation, but like I said, after 12 straight wins Notre Dame was overdue for a down game.

The Irish are 14-2 and 2-1 in the Big East with wins over Kentucky, Cincinnati and BYU, along with a potentially bad loss to St. Joseph's. I don't think their defense is good enough to challenge Syracuse or Louisville, but with Pittsburgh's struggles, Notre Dame is very much in the competition for third place in the Big East. Their next game will be Tuesday, on the road at a reeling St. John's squad.

UConn is now 2-1 in Big East play, and will play Louisville on Monday, followed by a road game at Pittsburgh next Saturday. Ineligible for the postseason but playing well, they will continue trying to play the spoiler role.

#14 Butler 79, Dayton 73
The result of this game took backstage to the scary Rotnei Clarke injury, when he slammed his head into the basket stanchion, and had to be carted off. It does sound as though he's going to be okay, and hopefully he won't miss any games at all. But you never know with injuries like that - you have to be cautious.

Butler was able to win this game with some hot shooting from Chase Stigall and Kellen Dunham (both 2-for-3 behind the arc), as well as some good defense. It was surprising to see them get beaten so badly on the glass, though (a 16-4 offensive rebounding advantage for Dayton). It continues to disappointing to see clunkers like this from the Butler front line after seeing how well they have played against other teams. But they really do play to their level of competition. They didn't need a great game to beat a down Dayton squad, so they didn't get it.

This is a solid road victory for Butler, though, and it pushes them closer to the 10-6 Atlantic Ten record that they'll probably need to lock up an at-large bid. They'll play Richmond on Wednesday, and then will have Gonzaga come to town next Saturday.

Dayton is now 10-6 overall and 0-2 in Atlantic Ten play, with bad losses to USC, Weber State and Illinois State, and no good wins. They need to go on a little winning streak if they want to get back into the bubble discussion. They'll play at La Salle next, on Wednesday.

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