Saturday, March 09, 2013

Baylor Is Back On The Bubble With A Win Over Kansas

Baylor 81, #4 Kansas 58
Boy, Baylor can look really good when they're at their best, right? I feel like we say this every season, as Baylor is loaded with talent and just under performs it. I have talked all season (in basically every Baylor recap, if you click the Baylor label at the bottom of this post) that the key for Baylor is getting Cory Jefferson 9 or more shot attempts while having Pierre Jackson doing more creating and less shooting. Here, Jefferson took 13 shots (hitting 11), while Jackson had 10 assists to only 13 shots for himself. Amazingly, Jefferson was able to go at Jeff Withey (the best interior defender in the nation) with success. It shows just what Baylor has missed most of the season by not giving him enough of the ball.

Kansas has had two really bad losses this season - this blowout and the inexplicable loss to TCU. And the result is that I don't think they control their own destiny for a 1 seed anymore. They'll need to win the Big 12 tournament title, and they'll need a little bit of help. As the 1 seed in the Big 12 tournament, they'll play in the quarterfinals against the West Virginia/Texas Tech winner. If they win that game then they'll face the Oklahoma/Iowa State winner in the semifinals.

With 8 losses in their last 11 games, Baylor wasn't on the bubble when this game tipped off. With this win they at least get back into the bubble conversation, though I still think they'd come up short if the season ended now. They finish the regular season 18-13 overall and 9-9 in Big 12 play, with a poor 10-13 record against the RPI Top 200. They can earn an at-large bid in the Big 12 tournament, but they're going to need a minimum of two wins to have a chance. They'll face Oklahoma State in the quarterfinals, and then either Kansas State/Texas/TCU in the semifinals, should they get there.

TCU 70, Oklahoma 67
TCU finishes the regular season 2-16 in Big 12 play, but both of those wins turned out to be awfully important. They had the win over Kansas that was one of the biggest upsets of the past decade and which might cost Kansas their 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and they delivered a brutal blow to Oklahoma's at-large chances here. Now to be fair, Oklahoma was the better team here. The Sooners had 9 more offensive rebounds and 7 fewer turnovers. They ended up with 16 more shots from field and 11 more at the free throw line. How can you lose a game when you take that many more shot attempts? Oklahoma shot a frigid 0-for-16 behind the arc while TCU hit 8-for-14. That's how. Considering that Oklahoma came in with the better three-point shooting offense, that was a swing of at least 24 points in a game Oklahoma lost by 3. Brutal.

A win here wouldn't have meant much in a vacuum, but it would have pushed Oklahoma to 12-6 in Big 12 play, and it's really to believe a team that went 12-6 in a conference as good as the Big 12 with a true double-round-robin could miss the NCAA Tournament. But at 11-7 and with a terrible loss (as well as bad losses to Texas and Arkansas) to balance out their wins over Kansas, Iowa State and Oklahoma State, they're going to need to win a Big 12 tournament game or they're going to have to sweat out Selection Sunday. As the 4 seed in the Big 12 tournament, they'll play in the quarterfinals against Iowa State.

At 2-16, TCU obviously finished in last place in the conference standings. They'll face Texas in the Big 12 tournament first round, and if they win there then they'll play Kansas State.

Oregon State 64, Colorado 58
There was a rush in the media to proclaim Colorado a certain NCAA Tournament team after they beat Oregon on Thursday. But while I moved Colorado off the bubble I made it clear that they could easily drop back to the bubble if they fell to Oregon State today. So... yeah. The problem that Colorado has is they just don't have quality shooters on offense, and scoring is a grind for them. They have cracked 1.07 PPP on offense just once all season in Pac-12 play, and at 0.97 PPP overall are 8th in the conference in total offensive efficiency. They rely on their defense to win, but when any team gets reasonably hot (Oregon State hit 6-for-14 behind the arc and 8-for-9 at the free throw line), the Buffaloes are not good enough to run away from them. When you play tight games against bad teams... sometimes you're going to lose.

Colorado finishes the regular season 20-10 overall and 10-8 in Pac-12 play, with a 9-8 record against the RPI Top 100. Their RPI is 37th, but it's been inflated all year (they were 6th in RPI when they opened the Pac-12 regular season), and their Sagarin ELO_CHESS (should be narrowly in the Top 50 tomorrow) is a better measure of their resume. If the season ended now they'd be one of the last teams either in or out of the Tournament. With more than a week to go, that means Colorado has to win at least one game in the Pac-12 tournament to avoid the NIT. As the 5 seed, they'll open with another game against Oregon State. If they win then they'll play Arizona in the quarterfinals. A win over Oregon State and a loss to Arizona won't necessarily make them a Tournament team, but it'll guarantee them a spot in the conversation on Selection Sunday. A win over Arizona should get them in.

At 4-14 in Pac-12 play, Oregon State gets the 12 seed in the Pac-12 tournament, which means that they'll get a chance to really ruin Colorado's season on Wednesday.

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