Tag:VCU
Posted on: March 6, 2012 12:55 am
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Four more in the field

Four more teams clinched berths in the tournament tonight in down-to-the-wire championship games.

VCU held off a Drexel rally to win the Colonial title and will get a chance to make back-to-back Final Four runs.  Despite the media shilling for the Dragons, at the moment, their tournament profile doesn't measure up to at-large status.

Loyola of Maryland is in the tournament for just the second time ever after beating Fairfield for the MAAC championship.

St. Mary's needed overtime to beat Gonzaga for the West Coast title.  The last time the Zags came away without a regular season or conference tournament title was in 1997.

Davidson took two overtimes to disperse Western Carolina to win the Southern Conference championship.  This is the Wildcats' first trip back to the tournament since their Elite Eight run in 2008.

Oral Roberts was knocked out of the Summit league tournament by Western Illinois.  The Golden Eagles are the fourth non-major team that started their conference tournament as the top seed and in the top 50 of the RPI to lose before the finals of their tournament.

The Sun Belt had another upset tonight as Western Kentucky took out Denver, the top remaining seed.  The NO. 7 seed Hilltoppers will play 5th-seeded North Texas in the final for a trip to Dayton and the play-in games.

Posted on: March 5, 2012 10:05 am
 

Upsetting day

Sunday was a day of upsets that altered the bracket, but not to the point that any bids were stolen.

That almost happened though.  Creighton needed overtime to dispatch Illinois State in the Missouri Valley final.  ISU would have stolen a bid from someone with a win.

Top seeded Iona and Middle Tennessee State lost in their conference tournaments, but their at-large prospects are not very good.  Both teams too bad losses relatively early in their tournaments, and it's hard to see either one getting in now.

In fact, the second seed in the Sun Belt lost also, so Denver shows up as the league rep in today's bracket.

Further up the bracket, Ohio State won at Michigan State to create a three-way tie for the Big Ten title with Michigan.  It's the first Big Ten regular season title for the Wolverines since 1986.  The Fab Five and the 1989 National Champs didn't win the league.

The game wasn't the only loss for the Spartans.  Star freshman Brandon Dawson was lost for the year with a torn ACL.  It remains to be seen how much of an impact that will have on MSU.

Both the Buckeyes and Spartans are two-seeds in the bracket today, but still in the hunt for a one.

The Pac-12 disaster keeps chugging along.  Cal, Washington and Arizona all took bad losses on the road this weekend.  Washington is back in the bracket as the conference leader today after relinquishing that on Saturday.  Cal remains an at-large for now, but in a first four game.  Texas fell out of the bracket to make room for the Huskies.

Four more bids will be clinched tonight, including the Colonial, which has the top two seeds, Drexel and VCU, facing off.  Many are championing the idea that both teams should be in win or lose, but those people are living in the past.  The committee doesn't care that VCU was in the Final Four last year or that George Mason was in 2006.  The league is way down this year.  Drexel did next to nothing out of conference.  VCU has a win at home over the lesser version of South Florida.  That's pretty much it.  If these teams played in the Pac-12, the same media people be fuming over them even being considered.  Actually, that's pretty much happening anyway -- the people who think both these teams should be in are repulsed by the idea that a Pac-12 team could be an at-large.  The reality is that neither league has a good at-large candidate.  That doesn't mean a team or two won't get in -- there is a 68-team bracket to fill -- but nobody in either league will be able to complain about being left out.

Posted on: February 24, 2012 9:47 am
 

A new top seed and a feeble bubble

The new bracket and bubble watch are posted.  There is a new no.1 seed.  Michigan State takes over a spot on the top line, bumping Missouri, which lost for the second time this season to Kansas State.

Expect to see some jumbling of the top eight teams in the bracket as the three conference pairs in that group play each other.  Each pair has a regular season game left, as well as a possible conference tournament game.

Cincinnati finally joins the bracket despite its putrid non-conference schedule.  Their non-conference schedule ranking of 320 would be the second-worst ever to get an at-large bid.  The record is 323, which is held by the 2006 George Washington team, which finished its season 26-2.  The worst ranking for a team that was close to the bottom of the at-large pool was Air Force in 2004, which ranked 315th.

It's only the quality of its wins that has the Bearcats in at all, but before Cinci fans get too comfortable, teams with 5 top 50 RPI wins get left out routinely, so the Bearcats are not comfortably in the field at all.

As it stands right now, Cincinnati would also tie the record for the lowest RPI ever for an at-large team.  New Mexico was also 74th back in 1999.

The committee very rarely rewards teams that only have three top 100 RPI wins.  In the 18 years that I've been tracking the data, it's only happened five times, and not at all since 2003.  Iowa State has a spot in this field though, despite just three top 100 wins, and all at home.  VCU is in the same boat and also pushing for a spot. 
Colorado State is barely in the bracket, despite a top 30 RPI.  I doubt the Rams will set the record for the highest rated team left out (21, Missouri State in 2006), but they have a chance to be in the team picture.  The next highest ranked team left out was 30th.

Teams without at least one top 50 RPI win don't get picked very often.  Clemson was chosen last year despite and 0-5 record against that group, but the Tigers were the first team picked since 2006 without a top 50 win.  This bracket has two such teams (Saint Louis and Washington).

Looks like the NIT is going to be missing more than a few teams this year.
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 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: 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.



Posted on: February 18, 2011 3:58 pm
Edited on: February 18, 2011 5:17 pm
 

Feb. 18 - Bubble Watch

by Jerry Palm

There will be a lot of focus on the bracket busters this weekend, but there aren't too many bubble teams involved in that event.  One game that got a lot more interesting though is Utah State at St. Mary's.   The Gaels gagged one away at 300+ RPI San Diego this week and put what looked like a pretty secure tournament berth, not to mention a conference title, in jeopardy.

The Aggies haven't beaten anyone all year.  They have 23 wins and not a single one of them has come against a top 100 RPI foe.  So far, they have proven then can lose to a bad team (Idaho ), but haven't proven they can beat a good one.

Another game that could have some bubble implications is Cleveland State at Old Dominion on Sunday.  The Vikings are co-leaders in the Horizon league, but are missing a top 50 RPI win.  A road win against the Monarchs might give them a boost if they slip up in the conference tournament.

VCU at Wichita State looked like a potentially bubbly game when it was announced, but two big losses at home for the Rams this week were a buzzkill.

Missouri State at Valparaiso could help the winner perhaps, but probably only if the winner also wins its league regular season title.

Among the bigger schools, Boston College has a chance to make a splash this Saturday at the Dean Dome when they take on North Carolina.

Oklahoma State
is a home court hero, and they can't really do anything to fix that when they host Texas A&M this weekend, but you take quality wins where you can get them.

In the Big Ten, all eyes are focused on Purdue and Ohio State, but Illinois at Michigan State on Saturday has big bubble implications.  The Spartans are just 13-11, and no matter how good your schedule is, that record isn't going to cut it (some of you may remember Georgia in 2001 - this doesn't compare. Nothing even remotely compares).  The Illini have been fading some too, and they have the Buckeyes next, so this one is even more important.

The whole top of the Pac 10 seems to be on the bubble, and I wouldn't necessarily rule out haven't-beaten-anyone Arizona either.  The Wildcats host Washington in a big game in both the conference race and the tournament chase.

Finally, Georiga begins the final, brutal stretch of its schedule with a game at Tennessee.   The Bulldogs also have game at Florida and Alabama remaining, and may have to win at least one of those to feel any level of comfort entering the SEC tournament.  It's also a big game for Tennessee, which is 16-10 overall and cannot afford to slip too much with games at Vanderbilt and home against Kentucky left.

See complete Bracketology coverage here.

Bubble Watch


Posted on: February 11, 2011 3:17 pm
Edited on: February 11, 2011 3:29 pm
 

On the Bubble

by Jerry Palm

I hate the term, but The Bubble has become accepted vernacular when it comes to bracket projections.  Those are the teams that can still go either way in or out of the tournament field.  Today, we debut a new page called "Bubble Watch," where I spotlight certain teams on either side of the fence and some others of interest.  It will be updated at least every Friday.  This week, 11 teams are featured.  It does not include every single team on the bubble.  Every team from an 8-seed on down is on the bubble as far as I'm concerned, and of course, there are those not in the bracket for now.

Here are some key games to watch this weekend for our bubbly friends.

The ACC: The league has no fewer than six fencesitters -- Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, Maryland, Miami and Virginia Tech.   Every time they take the floor against each other, or against either Duke or North Carolina, that's a key game.

Saturday, Maryland is at BC and UNC goes to Clemson, where the Tigers do occassionaly come up with a win against the Heels.  On Sunday, Duke is in Miami to face the Canes.

In the A-10 on Sunday, Xavier is at Duquesne with first place in the league on the line.  Xavier is looking pretty good for the tournament, but the Dukes might need the conference regular season title to remain an at-large possibility.

Baylor is still trying to recover from a rough start to its season, but a win at Texas on Saturday would heal a lot of those pains.

Two bubblers face off when Old Dominion visits VCU on Saturday hoping to stay in the Colonial race.

Two more go at it in the Big East on Sunday when St. John's goes to Cincinnati.   The Bearcats won the first meeting in NYC.

New Mexico
and Marquette get chances this weekend to prove they are not just home court heroes.  The Lobos are at Colorado State on Saturday, while the Golden Eagles face Georgetown on Sunday.


See complete Bracketology coverage here.

 
 
 
 
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