Saturday, March 16, 2013

Wisconsin Takes Out Indiana Yet Again

#22 Wisconsin 68, #3 Indiana 56
Wisconsin's 12 game winning streak over Indiana is one of the stranger streaks in college basketball. Obviously Indiana stunk for several years in there, but even as Indiana has rebounded as a program they still have not been able to get past the Badgers. The star for Wisconsin was, surprisingly, Ryan Evans. He abused Indiana post defenders in the paint all day, finishing with 16 points on 7-for-12 shooting, along with 8 rebounds and 4 assists. The Badgers hit 58% of their two-pointers over the course of the game, while the Hoosiers struggled with Jared Berggren manning the paint (42% on two-pointers). Cody Zeller played about as well as he could have against the Wisconsin defense (13 points and 11 rebounds).

I don't think there's any way that this loss could cost Indiana their 1 seed, but it's not inconceivable that they could get bumped from the Indianapolis regional if Louisville wins the Big East title tonight. And honestly, getting to Indianapolis matters a lot more than a 1 or 2 seed, so Indiana will be rooting for Syracuse tonight.

The Badgers move to 8-7 against the RPI Top 50 with this win, and finally get their RPI back inside the Top 30. Their Sagarin ELO_SCORE will be around 20th. If the season ended now they'd be a 4 or 5 seed, and could move up to a 3 seed if they beat Ohio State in the Big Ten title game.

#10 Ohio State 61, #8 Michigan State 58
This was the type of physical, close battle that everybody expected coming in. These are two very even teams that are both playing well as we head into the NCAA Tournament. The big moment in this game came with just under 1:30 to go when Ohio State was up by a single point and Aaron Craft attacked the basket and was harshly taken down by Derrick Nix. The call was a flagrant, so the Buckeyes got the ball back after Craft hit 1-for-2 at the line. The Buckeyes ran the clock down before Shannon Scott missed a three-pointer... but DeShaun Thomas managed to get the rebound back. He eventually got the ball back and hit a jumper to put Ohio State up by 4 with only 25 seconds left.

Aaron Craft was the star of this game (20 points on 9-for-13 shooting with 9 assists and 4 steals). Considering the situation, this was probably the biggest game Craft has had in his Ohio State career. For Michigan State, Derrick Nix abused an Ohio State defense that can struggle with physical big men, scoring 17 points on 6-for-8 shooting. As expected, however, the Michigan State backcourt struggled with Craft, Shannon Scott and Lenzelle Smith defensively. Gary Harris and Keith Appling combined to shoot only 7-for-24 from the field, with only 2 assists and 5 turnovers.

The Buckeyes are probably out of contention for a 1 seed, but with a win over Wisconsin tomorrow should at least earn a 2 seed. Even with a loss, they won't get worse than a 3 seed. Michigan State would have had a stronger case for a 1 seed if they had won the Big Ten title. Instead, they too are likely looking at a 2 or 3 seed.

#13 Florida 61, Alabama 51
Florida could not hit the ocean from a boat, finishing 3-for-17 behind the arc while Alabama hit 6-for-12, while it actually looked like Alabama might pull the shocking upset and pop the bubble of another bubble team. Order was restored, though, during a 15-0 run that included 11 points from Kenny Boynton. Boynton finished the day with 16 points, while Patric Young added 13 points (on 6-for-10 shooting) and 9 rebounds. Against a defense as good as Florida, and with an offense that has been pretty poor at times this season, Alabama has to be happy with 0.96 PPP offensive performance. They played well enough to have a chance for the big upset, and simply came up short.

Alabama finishes 21-12 and 12-6 in the SEC, but with an 0-6 record against the RPI Top 50 and both an RPI and Sagarin ELO_SCORE that will be around 60th tomorrow. It's hard to see how they could get an at-large bid. The Tide will likely be a high seed in the NIT.

The Gators realistically cannot earn a 1 seed. In fact, they could win the SEC tournament title and still end up a 3 seed, though I'd bet on a 2 seed being more likely. The title game will be tomorrow, against Ole Miss.

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