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Tag:UCLA
Posted on: March 4, 2012 10:04 am
Edited on: March 4, 2012 10:07 am
 

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: December 1, 2011 2:31 pm
 

BCS: What's left to be decided?

Technically, every BCS bid is still up for grabs as we enter the final weekend.  All six AQ conference championships will be determined, and of course, the four at-large spots.  Three teams could automatically qualify this weekend, two of them without even stepping on the field.

Starting at the top:

SEC -- LSU vs Georgia.  If LSU wins, we will get an LSU (AQ)-Alabama (automatic at-large) rematch in the BCS title game.  If Georgia wins, it will go to the Sugar Bowl unless voters move them WAY up to No. 1 or 2.  LSU and Alabama could still be 1-2, which would make them automatic at-larges and give the SEC three teams.  However, if either drops out of the top two, it will not be in a BCS game at all.

ACC -- Virginia Tech vs Clemson.  The Tigers won the first meeting 23-3 in Blacksburg, but it's the Hokies who are on a roll right now, while Clemson is just rolling over.

Big 12 -- Oklahoma at Oklahoma State.  Bedlam.  The Cowboys haven't beaten the Sooners since 2002.  A convincing win by OSU may not be convincing enough to convince voters to move them up past Alabama.  Not to mention Virginia Tech and Stanford, which are between the Cowboys and the Tide in the polls.

Pac-12 -- Oregon vs UCLA.  UCLA gets to go to bowl even if it loses to fall to 6-7.  That's a shame for the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, which would likely get the Bruins, and for some deserving, eligible team that stays home.

Big Ten -- Wisconsin vs Michigan State.  Sparty won the first meeting on a Hail Mary pass.  Wisconsin lost twice on that play.  The Badgers are about 30 second from playing for a shot at LSU this weekend.

Big East -- Connecticut at Cincinnati.  If the Bearcats lose, 7-5 Louisville wins the league and the Big East sends an unranked team to the BCS for the second consecutive year.  Otherwise...

Big East -- West Virginia at South Florida.  This game is on Thursday, so Cincinnati will know if its win matters for them or not.  If West Virginia wins, the Mountaineers will go to the BCS.  If West Virginia loses, then the Bearcats are BCS-bound.

At-larges:

Alabama -- If in the top two, the Tide automatically qualifies.
Stanford -- The Cardinal are currently fourth.  If they hold that spot (or move up), they too, would automatically qualify for an at-large spot.
Houston -- The Cougars will be in also if they win the C-USA title.  A loss would open the door for...
TCU -- The Frogs need a Houston loss and to crawl up two spots to get to the top 16.

Other teams that could be in the at-large pool to be selected include (depending on other results) Kansas State, Michigan, Boise State and Baylor.

Arkansas and South Carolina figure to be in the top 14, but because of the two-team limit, won't be able to be chosen.

Posted on: November 11, 2011 10:57 pm
 

On field talk: BCS games of the week

It may not be a Game of the Century, but it is the Game of the Week.  Stanford and Oregon in Palo Alto likely for the Pac-12 North title, but also to stay in the national championship hunt.

One of the BCS games of the week was played last night, when Virginia Tech won 37-26 at Georgia Tech.  The ACC Coastal division title could come down to the Virginia-Virginia Tech game at the end of the season.

Clemson hosts Wake Forest this week for control of the Atlantic division.

Texas Tech hasn't won, or even looked competent, since beating Oklahoma a few weeks ago.  Now the Red Raiders get their shot at Oklahoma State.  Maybe they only show up for the big games.

There are two big games in the B1G.  Michigan St is at Iowa.  Both teams control their own destiny for the Legends division crown.  MSU will be looking to redeem itself after getting embarrassed in Iowa City last year.

And, of course, Nebraska is in Unhappy Valley to take on Penn State.  As a Big Ten guy, this is a game that would be must see TV for me (even though neither school was in the Big Ten in my day).  Honestly though, I'm not sure I can bring myself to tune in.  Penn St has a two-game lead in the Leaders division, with three very tough games left under the best of circumstances.

Last call for anyone to beat Boise State comes on Saturday, when TCU takes to the smurf turf and takes on the Broncos.

Also, UCLA keeps its push to save Rick Neuheisel's job going -- not to mention to win the Pac-12 South -- as they face Utah in Salt Lake City.

Posted on: November 3, 2011 9:55 pm
 

LSU-Alabama, the prequel?

A lot of the speculation surrounding this game isn't just about which team will win, but whether or not this game even matters?  That is because many think we could see this matchup again on Jan. 9th in New Orleans.

I don't think that's a very likely event.  Obviously, Oklahoma State and Stanford have to lose to even have the discussion.  The loser on Saturday will have a couple of things going against them in the eyes of voters.  First, while there isn't a whole lot of precedent on this, voters have shied away from a rematch if there was another good choice available.

In 2006, after a pretty exciting Ohio State-Michigan game that ended 42-39 in favor of the Buckeyes, Michigan fell only to third in the polls, just behind one-loss USC and ahead of six other one-loss teams, led by Florida.  That was the final game of the regular season for the Big Ten schools.

Entering the final week of the season, the Wolverines were still sandwiched between USC and Florida.  That weekend, USC lost to UCLA, opening the door for a rematch.  However, after Florida beat Arkansas for the SEC title, voters pushed the Gators ahead of Michigan and into the BCS title game.

The desire to avoid a rematch wasn't the only thing working against Michigan.  Florida was also a conference champion.  In the 14-year history of the BCS, the top two teams in the final polls have always been conference champions.  Earlier versions of the BCS formula overruled the will of the voters a couple of times and put a non-champion in the BCS title game.  It is harder to do that in this version of the formula, which gives 2/3 of the weight to the voters.

The loser of this game figures to be in the same boat as Michigan.  I think if there is any other reasonable choice, including undefeated Boise State or one-loss Oklahoma, the voters will ultimately go that route, even if they don't do so this week.  And I think that is true no matter how good the game is on Saturday, although obviously a good game is more helpful to the rematch cause than a poor one.

Yes, I did say Boise State up there.  Certainly, if it comes down to a choice of the Broncos or LSU/Alabama, there will be a lot of debate over how "reasonable" a choice Boise State is.  That program has built up a lot of respect with the voters over the last several years, and if the circumstance is right, voters may finally say, "let's see what they got."

Posted on: October 30, 2011 11:14 pm
Edited on: October 30, 2011 11:22 pm
 

BCS and bowl notes, Oct. 30

Stanford made its inevitable move past Boise State in the BCS this week and will now try (but ultimately fail) to close on Oklahoma State.

Oklahoma is at the top of the list of one-loss teams at No. 6, and might be able to stay there for a while.  Oregon is actually ahead of the Sooners in both the Harris and coaches' polls, but Oklahoma's computer strength might be good enough to hold off the Ducks long-term.

Arkansas is sandwiched between those two in the BCS ratings, and can't be ruled out as a contender yet.  The Hogs still have LSU on the schedule, but for them, it would really help to be the division (and conference) winner, but they do not control their own desitny.  Arkansas could be like Michigan State last year and go 11-1 and have no chance for a BCS berth because of two more desireable teams in its own league.
Of course, one more team will join that battle next week.

Houston has quietly crept up to No. 13, and if it weren't for Boise State, would be high enough in the rankings to automatically qualify for a BCS spot.  Unfortunately, that only goes to the highest rated non-AQ conference champion, and it'll take at least one Bronco loss to knock them below the Cougars.

Penn State is not really getting much respect from the voters or the computers, but the No. 16 Nittany Lions lead the Big Ten and are the last undefeated team in conference play.  Nebraska, Michigan and MSU are in a three-way tie for first in the Whatever Division.  It could have been a four-way tie, but Iowa managed to do something that not even New Mexico State and North Dakota State could accomplish -- lose to Minnesota.

And who would have thought we'd enter November with teams like Wake Forest, Virginia and UCLA still in control of their own destinies for conference titles, but Wisconsin, Florida, Georgia and Florida State needing help.

I am still one team short of the number needed in this week's bowl projections.  Toledo is left standing at the altar at the Little Caesar's Bowl.


Posted on: March 5, 2011 9:37 am
Edited on: March 5, 2011 10:12 am
 

Last Big Weekend

by Jerry Palm

This is the last weekend of the regular season in which just about everybody is in action.  At least four conferences will decide their automatic qualifiers, and a lot of bubble teams will be trying to help their cause.

The Atlantic Sun, Big South and Ohio Valley all play their conference tournament championship games today, and the Missour Valley finishes up tomorrow.  The Ivy League could also be decided today when Princeton goes to Harvard.   If the Tigers win, they are the league champions, but if not, they must beat Penn next week to force a one-game playoff with the Crimson to be played next weekend.

This is also a very bubblicious weekend.  Is "bubblicious" a word?

In the ACC, Virginia Tech is at Clemson.   The Hokies are trying to bounce back from the loss at home to Boston College.   The Tigers have done most of their damage at home, so it's important for them to continue to defend the home floor.  ACC tournament seeding is at stake as well.  The winner earns the 4-seed and gets a bye.

Texas has another opportunity to help play a middle of the road Big 12 team into the field when it goes to Baylor today.  Among the trio trying to squeeze in (Baylor, Colorado, Nebraska), the Bears have the best road win (at Texas A&M) and the least embarassing non-conference schedule, although that isn't saying much.  Colorado and Nebraska play each other today in Boulder.

Marquette picked up arguably its worst loss of the season the other day at home against Cincinnati.   Now they travel to Seton Hall for a very important game for their tournament hopes.  If they lose again, they are 18-13 entering the Big East tournament and on a two-game skid.

There is a huge bubble game in the Big Ten as well.  Michigan State travels to Michigan trying to avenge its home loss to the Wolverines a month ago.  The winner isn't guaranteed a spot in the NCAA tournament, but the loser is in a world of hurt.

Colorado State can go a long way to securing a spot by winning at new league favorite San Diego State.   The Rams have a win at UNLV, but that probably isn't going to be enough by itself to claim an at-large berth.  A road win over a team like the Aztecs would look really nice on the tournament resume.

Washington State will be without star Klay Thompson when it hosts UCLA today in a vital game for its at-large chances.  Thompson has been suspended after a marijuana arrest this week.

Georgia can put the final nail in Alabama's coffin with a win in Tuscaloosa today.  The Tide have lost two in a row and would still only have very slim at-large hopes with a win.  The best thing about Georgia's tournament profile is that it has no losses outside the RPI top 50.  A win today keeps that intact.

See complete Bracketology coverage here.

Posted on: March 1, 2011 12:51 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2011 6:09 pm
 

Mar. 1 Bracket - Welcome to the Madness

by Jerry Palm

There has been another change at the top of the bracket this week as the top of the field continues to play its way backwards.  BYU takes over for San Diego State on the top line for now, but may have to win out to keep it.

Of course, other contenders continue to fall away.  Texas once looked like a strong candidate for a top seed, but has lost twice since Friday's bracket.  They blew a 22-point lead at Colorado on Saturday, then Kansas State came back on them at home Monday night (although from not nearly as large a hole).  Combine that with the loss at Nebraska the previous week and it looks like the Longhorns are trying to play the whole middle of the Big 12 into the field.  That's good news for Baylor, who plays them this weekend.

The result is that the Longhorns find themselves as a 3-seed today, while Notre Dame moves up to the second line.  Both the Irish and red-hot Purdue have chances to challenge for top seeds, but probably need to win out and get help.

Meanwhile, Kansas State has won five in a row, including it's three biggest wins of the year, and has played itself right off the bubble.

Virginia Tech also picked up its biggest win so far when it beat Duke on Saturday.  Despite the screaming of the TV commentators that the Hokies are now a lock, that's not true.  They can't go on a three-game losing streak from here and expect to get in.

Arizona had a rough week in LA, losing to both USC and UCLA, and dropping into a tie with the Bruins for first place in the Pac 10.  The Wildcats have done little of substance away from home.  Their only top 50 RPI wins came over UCLA and Washington, both in Tucson.  Poll voters still love them for their gaudy record, but they look like a middle of the bracket team.

I get a lot of question about team's selection or seeding that go something like this "My team is ahead of this other team in the conference standings, so why are they seeded lower?"

The answer is that conference standings (and conference record by itself) are not at all relevant to the selection and seeding process.  Conference standings don't matter in part because so many leagues play unbalanced schedules.  Seriously -- is there anything less meaningful than the Big East standings?  And the other thing about conference performance is that it is only about two-thirds of a team's entire profile, and teams are judged on their entire body of work, not just conference play.

So, I have Old Dominion ahead of George Mason in the bracket because the Monarchs' non-conference performance makes up for a two-game deficit in the Colonial standings.  They have a non-conference wins over Xavier, Richmond, Clemson and Cleveland State.   Mason's only non-conference win of any substance came over Harvard at home.  In fact, Mason's best away-from-home win of the season came at VCU.   ODU beat both Xavier and Clemson on neutral courts.  So, I see a slight overall edge to ODU.

The extreme case of this is Alabama, which is 11-3 in the SEC at the moment and has clinched the West division title, but still isn't close to an at-large bid.  Their non-conference performance was so bad that a gaudy league record hasn't been able to wipe it away.  Of course, it doesn't help that the rest of the West stinks and that accounts for most of the Tide's conference schedule.

I'll have more in the Bubble Watch later today.

See complete Bracketology coverage here.



 
 
 
 
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