Tag:Duke
Posted on: March 4, 2012 10:04 am
Edited on: March 4, 2012 10:07 am
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Carolina back on top

Today's bracket is up and shows North Carolina on the top line, replacing Duke after the Heels whipped the Blue Devils at Cameron. 

That's not final by any means.  Michigan State and Ohio State could jump in.  They play Sunday, plus possibly again next Sunday.  Duke could take it back with an ACC tournament win.  Missouri could get in there with a win over Kansas in the Big 12 tournament.  There's still a long way to go.

Washington's loss to UCLA knocked the Huskies out of sole possession of first place in the Pac-12, and out of the bracket.  They were replaced by Miami.

My twitter feed blows up after every game -- sometimes during games -- with "we should in now" after someone wins or "they should be out" after some bubble team loses.  Fans tend to overreact to one game, but the committee does not.  It's just one of the 30ish games on your schedule.

So, yeah, Seton Hall got embarrassed today at DePaul, and yeah, that may eventually help cost them a spot in the field, but not quite yet.

South Florida lost, but they aren't out...yet.  Northwestern won, but they aren't a lock and probably never will be. 

Cincinnati
isn't a lock either.  The Bearcats have some historically bad negatives on their resume, but they may eventually become a lock.  They are this year's Alabama, which last year went 12-4 in the SEC, but was so poor out of conference that they were left out anyway.  The Bearcats' non-conference performance isn't quite as bad as Bama's, and the Big East is much better than the SEC West was last year, so they are in better shape than Alabama was last year.

But this team is an example that you can't just look at you conference record/performance.  A team's entire season counts.  Cincinnati had to post 12 conference wins to have a chance to overcome the non-conference part of its season.  Same thing for USF, which only went 6-6 and took three bad losses in non-conference play.

Even more extreme is Tennessee.  Cuonzo Martin's sqaud went 7-7 in non-conference play with four bad losses, but came back to finish 10-6 in the SEC and will be the second seed in the conference tournament if Kentucky beats Florida today.  The addition of Jarnell Stokes has helped, to be sure, but the committee can't ignore what happened before he joined the team.  Either their credentials will be good enough to get in or not.  Right now, they're not, and they might have to win the conference tournament before they are.

BYU became the first bubble team to lose in its conference tournament.  Gonzaga handled the Cougars easily last night in the WCC semifinals.  All they can do now is sit back and hope what they have done is enough.

Wichita State is the first team top seed to lose in its conference tournament.  The Shockers lost to Illinois State in the MVC semifinals.  If the Redbirds beat Creighton today, some potential at-large team will be headed to the NIT.

We also had a near-bid stealer with Murray State.  The Racers needed a last-second layup to beat Tennessee State and win the Ohio Valley Conference title.  Sighs of relief we heard everywhere.

Finally, we have to say goodbye to Butler, the two-time national runner-up.  I was at the ARC at Valparaiso last night when the top-seeded Crusaders ended the Bulldogs season 65-46, and the career of senior Ronald Nored, who was a key contributor on those two Final Four teams.




Posted on: March 3, 2012 2:20 am
 

Jam packed Saturday

There have been no changes to the bracket the last couple of days, but it is sure to change tomorrow as many teams end their regular seasons, and three conferences crown their tournament champions.

The Atlantic Sun, Big South and Ohio Valley conferences will decided their automatic qualifiers Saturday.  All bubble teams will be watching the OVC game closely as Tennessee State tries to steal an at-large bid away when it faces Murray State.  The Racers are in the NCAAs, win or lose.

Harvard can also clinch the Ivy League title with a win at Cornell and a loss by Penn to Yale.

Everyone will be talking about North Carolina and Duke, which could have top seed implications, but the games involving teams trying to fight their way into the bracket are more interesting.

West Virginia is at South Florida in a battle of bubble teams.  The winner isn't necessarily a lock and the loser isn't necessarily eliminated, but the winner could have a leg up on the loser if they are competiting for a spot in the bracket.

Texas has a chance to make a big splash, and fill a big hole in its tournament profile, when it travels to Kansas.  The Longhorns do not have a win away from home of any significance, but I think it's safe to say, winning at Phog would be significant.

Northwestern will try to keep its number of bad losses at zero as it goes on the road to play Iowa.  The Hawkeyes have been playing much better the last few weeks, but they are not a tournament team, so it's a must win for the Wildcats.

Washington can wrap up an outright Pac-12 championship with a win at UCLA.

Finally, BYU has a chance to pick up its best win of the season when it faces Gonzaga in the semifinals of the WCC tournament.  The Cougars beat the Zags at home earlier this year.

Posted on: February 26, 2012 9:48 am
Edited on: February 26, 2012 12:17 pm
 

Bracket notes; Purdue, ISU get big wins

Purdue and Iowa State picked up huge, resume building wins on Saturday in what was a very busy day.

The Boilermakers got their biggest win of the season at Michigan.  The win for Purdue is just its second over a team that is sure to make the tournament.  It was Michigan's first loss at home all season.

Iowa State picked up its first away-from-home win of any significance when it completed the season sweep of Kansas State.  The Cyclones now have four top 100 RPI wins (despite a gaudy 11-5 conference record), and should be safe if they can get one more.  Teams with just four top 100 wins have received 13 at-large bids in the last 18 years, but that's out of 250 teams.

It was a tough day to be a conference leader.  Temple, Harvard, New Mexico, Long Island, and Middle Tennessee all lost.  Duke, Syracuse, Kansas, Belmont, Drexel, Murray State, Oral Roberts, Nevada and St. Mary's all were pushed to the brink.

Alabama put another nail into Mississippi State's coffin with a win in Tuscaloosa.  The Bulldogs have lost five straight and travel to South Carolina next.  They are only 2-6 on the road.

Northwestern kept its hopes alive with a one-point win at Penn State.  The Wildcats don't have many good wins (just six top 100), but none of their 11 losses have come to non-contenders.  They have a chance to make a statement next when Ohio State visits.

Saint Louis took its worst loss of the season at Rhode Island on Saturday.  For a team with few good wins, that's not a good sign.  Also in the A-10,  Saint Joseph's played their way back onto the bubble with a win over Temple.

Notre Dame lost at St. John's, which is the fourth bad loss of the season for the Irish.  It's also the first loss of any kind since January 16th.

Kansas clinched at least a tie for the Big 12 title with an overtime win over Missouri.  The Jayhawks are continuing their push for a No. 1 seed.

St. Mary's won the West Coast title outright, ending an 11-year streak during which Gonzaga either won or shared the regular season title.

Mostly irrelevant fact of the day: The Ivy League has half its teams in the top 100 of the RPI.  Conference USA, the Colonial, Missouri Valley, Pac-12 and West Coast conferences can't say that.

The bubble watch will be updated this morning.


Posted on: February 17, 2012 10:16 am
Edited on: February 17, 2012 10:53 am
 

Feb. 17 bracket

Today's bracket is posted.  There are virtually no changes at the top, thanks to Duke's comeback over North Carolina State last night.
There is some shuffling at the bottom though.  The First Four provides a post-season version of the Big Ten-ACC Challenge.  Miami and Northwestern are bracketed for one game, and the Wolfpack faces Minnesota in the other.

There are still nine Big Ten teams in the bracket, but obviously, two are in serious trouble.

A second Pac 12 team (Arizona) is in for now and Washington is among the first four out.

Iowa State is out, not because they lost, but because the Cyclones haven't beaten anyone of any significance away from home.  That is an important thing for the committee.  It's also the problem for fellow conference mate Texas.

I will write in more detail about the bottom and off-the-bracket teams in Bubble Watch in a little bit.

However, here's a few helpful hints for those of you commenting on your teams.

Conference record is just a number.  Teams are evaluated on their entire seasons, not just the conference portion, which is only about 2/3 of a team's full schedule (and less than that with three weeks to go).  If all you have is conference record and/or position in the conference standings, you have nothing.

Head to head results are not decisive.  Teams are judged on their entire seasons, not one or two games.  Alabama fans know that well, after beating Georgia twice in the final week of the season last year, only to see the Bulldogs be selected ahead of them.

How teams finish the season has been deemphasized by the committee.  It has no bearing on how you do in the tournament.  VCU lost four of its last five last year.

Speaking of the Colonial league, people are asking if there is an at-large team in the trio atop the league (Drexel, VCU, George Mason).  They ask because the league usually has at-large quaity teams at the top of the league and has performed well in the tournament.  However, this is a down year.  Those three are rated betewen 80-100 in the RPI, or a good 50-60 spots below where the league's best team usually rates.    Those three teams have combined for three non-conference wins against top 100 teams.   There just isn't enough there to compete for at-large bids, so the Colonial will be a one-bid league.

I will be headed to the Murray State-St. Mary's game on Saturday, followed by the Michigan State-Purdue game on Sunday.  The SMC-Murray game is part of the bracket buster, which rarely, if ever, busts a bracket, but Murray can really help itself with a win over the Gaels in the event the Racers get upset in the OVC tournament and need an at-large big.

Another team that can boost its potential at-large hopes with a win is Long Beach, which travels to Creighton.  It would be their best win of the year.



Posted on: February 14, 2012 1:16 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2012 1:20 pm
 

Feb.14 bracket

Ohio State didn't last very long as a No. 1 seed.  The loss to Michigan State has knocked them back to the two line in today's bracket, replaced by Duke.  The biggest difference is that Duke has shown it can win away from home (Columbus excluded).  Its top four wins are all away from Cameron.

That said, I'm not optimistic for Duke long term unless they get their defense fixed.

Kansas is also pushing for the top line, but at the moment, the loss to Davidson separates them.

North Carolina and Michigan State could still get there as well.  It's a very competitive top of the bracket still for this late in the season.

Baylor is not likely to find itself as a one-seed again this season.  I have the Bears down to a three this week after they got smoked at Missouri over the weekend.

The SEC is a muddle.  Florida has now been swept by Tennessee and has only one of its eight top 100 RPI wins away from home.  The Gators are 2-5 in road games and have four of their next five on the road.

The first of those games is at Alabama.  Alabama's roster issues could give the committee fits.  With four starters suspended, the Tide lost at LSU over the weekend.  Two of those starters will return for the Florida game tonight, but leading scorer JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell are still out.

The committee does consider missing players when doing selections and (moreso) seeding.  A team has to have the credentials to get picked regardless of your roster situation during the season.  They won't take a 17-15 team that was missing its leading scorer for 10 games, even if they lost all 10.  The committee cannot assume a result would have been different if the roster was at full strength.  A team might get seeded a little higher in that situation if it is at full strength going into the tournament.

The opposite is also true.  A team losing a key player for the season might get seeded lower if it doesn't play as well without him, but still merits selection.  There are numerous examples of this in the past.   The most recent would be when Purdue was docked a little after Robbie Hummel's (first) knee injury in 2010.

The bottom of the Big Ten is still muddled as well.  Purdue picked up a key win over Northwestern over the weekend, completing the regular season sweep of the Cats.  Illinois continues to fade, now having lost six of seven after dropping a game at Michigan.  The Illini host Purdue tomorrow in what has to be considered a must win.  Illinois goes to Nebraska and Ohio St after that.

It would make sense that at some point, one of those Big Ten teams will fall off the bracket.  Maybe two.  Right now, nobody is really stepping up to take their spots.

The Pac 12 looks for all the world like a one-bid league this year.  That may or may not happen, but it's hard to build an at-large case when nobody can pick up a top 50 RPI win without beating league-leader Cal.  The league has five RPI top 100 teams, and none of them has a non-conference win over a team in the top 50 of the RPI, or over an at-large quality team in the bracket. 

Today's fun fact: All nine Big Ten teams in the bracket rate higher in the RPI than every Pac 12 team except Cal.


Posted on: February 10, 2012 11:48 am
Edited on: February 10, 2012 11:50 am
 

Feb. 10 bracket

Today's bracket is up, and for the first time in a couple weeks, there is a change at the top.  Baylor is gone after another blowout loss to KansasOhio State has moved up to take the Bears' place.

Duke's win over North Carolina has the Blue Devils making a push for the top line as well, but home losses to Florida State and Miami are still too much to overcome.

Murray State suffered its first loss of the season last night at home to Tennessee State.  That dropped them down to a five-seed in today's bracket.  Every Racers' loss, with the possible exception of one to St. Mary's, will have an increasing, negative effect on their seed.  It might only take three or four bad losses, including one in the Ohio Valley tournament, of course, to knock them out of the field altogether.

I think the best comparison to a past team right now is the 1998 Princeton team that went 25-1.  The fifth-seeded Tigers' only loss that year was to No. 1 North Carolina, so obviously, that is a much better loss than Murray's.  However Princeton beat only one top 50 RPI team that season, and nobody that made the tournament.

There is also a comparisons being made to the 2006 George Washington team that finished 26-2 and was an 8-seed, but their seed suffered because of an injury to star Pops Mensah-Bonsu.

The teams that were either a three or four seed in Tuesday's bracket went 1-5 since then.  Michigan State was the only winner, while Georgetown, Florida, Murray State, Creighton and St. Mary's all lost.

Florida State took a dive after losing at Boston College, dropping down to a 9-seed.  The Seminoles had been playing much better lately, but a third bad loss really hurts their tournament profile.
Cal replaces Washington again at the leader of the Pac 12, which still shows only one bid at the moment.  The Huskies got drilled at Oregon last night.

And finally, a reminder of how I make those conference leader decisions for the bracket.  The conference leader is designated as the team with the fewest conference losses.  Ties are broken by RPI.  As a Northwest Indiana guy, I'm as excited as anyone that Valparaiso beat Cleveland State last night to take a half-game lead on the Vikings in the Horizon League.  However, CSU still has a better RPI, so the Vikes are still listed as the leader and in the bracket.  I do it this way because it's the most likely way to get each league's best team into the projection.  Once conference tournament seeding is decided, I go with the top seed remaining.


Posted on: February 7, 2012 12:38 pm
Edited on: February 7, 2012 12:45 pm
 

Feb. 7 bracket

Today's bracket is up with very little change at the top.  The top two lines are the same, and only 3-seed Georgetown moved more than one-line up to join the top 16.  The Hoyas were a five-seed last week.  Florida also moved up one spot to a four-seed.  The Gators have a big opportunity to make a splash tonight at overall No. 1 Kentucky.

Ohio State continues to push for a spot on the top line.  The Buckeyes have some good wins, over a little better quality teams than Baylor, but has losses to Illinois and Indiana and just picked up their first win of any significance outside of Columbus last weekend when they beat Wisconsin.  Almost all of Baylor's best wins have come away from home, and the Bears worst loss came at Kansas.  That's Ohio State's best loss.  So, Baylor still holds on for now.

Marquette dropped a couple spots after getting blown out at Notre Dame.  The Irish continue their climb in the bracket.  They moved up to an 11-seed after being slotted in a First Four game last week.

I can't get Seton Hall out of the bracket yet, despite the Pirates' best effort to fall out.  Their six-game losing streak is troublesome, but they do not have a loss to a triple-digit RPI team yet (Villanova is close though).  The Hall needs to right the ship against Rutgers tomorrow.

Northwestern is also still in the bracket after a bounce-back week that included a win over Nebraska and also at Illinois.  That pick got a lot of criticism last week because at the time, the Cats were 2-6 in the league.  Keep in mind though that conference record and conference standings are not relevant to the selection process.  Teams are judged on their entire seasons, not just the conference part, and it doesn't get any special weight.  Conference record is just a number.  And with the unbalanced schedules most leagues play (ridiculously so in the Big East), standings aren't very useful.

I've been talking most of the last month or so about how if a team in the Big Ten is going to drop out of tournament contention, it would likely come from the group of Northwestern, Purdue or Minnesota, but keep an eye on the Fading Illini.  Illinois has lost four of its last five, including two at home, but get a load of their next five games: at Indiana, at Michigan, home vs Purdue, at Nebraska, which has beaten IU at home already, and at Ohio State.  ouchie.  The Illini have picked a bad time to slump.

Oklahoma's stay in the bracket was short lived after home losses to Iowa State and MissouriOle Miss is also gone.  Those two were replaced in the at-large pool by Miami, which won at Duke, and BYU, who crawls back in after beating Gonzaga.

Washington has taken over Cal's spot as the Pac 12 leader, and Drexel is in from the Colonial, in place of George Mason.

We're used to seeing the CAA produce at-large quality champions, and occasionally, multiple bids, but this is a down year for the league.  Only VCU and Drexel are in the RPI top 100, and just barely (86 and 85 respectively).  It's arguably the league's worse season since 1999-2000.  I have the Dragons as a 15-seed today.

The Pac 12 has only one time in the RPI top 50 -- for now.  Cal fell to 48th after losing at home to Arizona this week.  The league has struggled the last two years, but still ranked 7th.  This year, it's down to 10th, and is a miserable 1-31 vs the RPI top 50 (Stanford over Colorado State on Nov. 15).  It's hard to build a case for an at-large bid for anyone based on that performance.  The top three teams in the league are all on the road for two games this weekend, so we could have another mess come next week.


Posted on: February 6, 2012 11:18 am
Edited on: February 6, 2012 11:53 am
 

Weekend winners and losers

Here is a look at the teams that helped and hurt themselves significantly this weekend. 

Winners:

Missouri -- The big win over Kansas will be a big help in the battle to be a No. 1 seed.  Of course, those two will play again.  Maybe twice more.

Ohio State and Indiana -- Both teams picked up their first significant road wins of the season.  The Buckeyes won at Wisconsin and IU beat Purdue at Mackey.

Notre Dame -- The Irish continued their resurgance with a 76-59 pounding of Marquette, which had won seven straight.  Notre Dame's winning streak is up to four, and all four are quality wins.

Memphis -- After struggling against better non-conference foes, the Tigers picked up a big comeback win over Xavier.  That is arguably their best non-conference win.  However, the Tigers also won at Miami, a win that looks a lot better today...

Miami -- The Hurricanes won at Duke for their fourth straight win, and easily their best of the season.  It puts Miami squarely in the tournament chase.

Northwestern -- Just when you thought they were dead after losing at home to Purdue last weekend, they went to Champaign and beat Illinois yesterday.

Losers:

Seton Hall -- The freefall continues.  A 23-point loss at Connecticut is the Pirates sixth straight defeat.

Dayton -- Speaking of freefalling, it's an annual ritual for the Flyers.  Their loss to Saint Louis over the weekend was their fourth in a row.

Purdue -- Losing at home to Indiana is never good for the Boilers, but their inabilitly to defend the home floor against tournament quality opposition may send them to the NIT.

Arkansas -- Lost at LSU and still looking for its first win outside Fayetteville.

Xavier -- The Muskies lost an opportunity at Memphis and have now lost three of five with a difficult stretch of the schedule coming up soon.

Oklahoma -- The Sooners have been on thin ice at best, but a home loss to Iowa State means the climb back to tournament contention may be too big a task.

Nevada -- The Wolf Pack still leads the WAC, but a home loss to Idaho may mean they have to beat Iona in the bracket buster to resuscitate any at-large chances they may have had.



 
 
 
 
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