JR Swift’s Blog

What I’m Thinking About Today

Another quick update on March Madness

Posted by jrswift on March 7, 2007

Welcome two more teams to field of 65 as Central Connecticut St. (Northeast) and Weber St. (Big Sky) win their leagues’ tourneys. Not much of note has happened today beyond that except for Villanova and Syracuse likely cementing their place as at-large bids and West Virginia keeping hope alive for another day. With DePaul’s loss, they are toast. Providence is done as well. And UConn will not make the tournament this year as they needed to win the Big East and that isn’t going to happen.

I promised an analysis of five more teams today so I’m going to go ahead and do that. We’ll look at Texas Tech and Kansas St. from the Big 12, Missouri St. and Bradley from the Missouri Valley and West Virginia out of the Big East.

Texas Tech is one of the most interesting teams still on the bubble. They have three wins against Top 25 teams, beating Kansas and sweeping Texas A& M home and away but, frankly, not much else. If you consider that they also beat 4th place Kansas St. and were swept by Texas, they finished 4-2 against the top 4 teams in the league and only 5-5 against the rest. They lost to Baylor and Nebraska beat them at home. They weren’t very good in their non-conference either, losing to Marquette, Air Force, Stanford and UNLV with a pretty good win over Arkansas mixed in. They are not a particularly talented lot but they are well-coached (who’s their coach again?) and are a threat to beat most anybody on a good night. Do they get in? Probably but I doubt they can afford a loss to Colorado in the first round of the Big 12 and maybe not even one to Kansas St. in the quarterfinals.

Speaking of Kansas St., we have another very shaky contender here, led by another controversial coach. Other than winning twenty games and beating most everyone they should have beaten in the Big 12, their only claim to fame is winning at Texas and knocking off USC in Las Vegas. They also had some pretty bad losses in the non-conference, losing at Colorado St and New Mexico and getting absolutely mauled by Cal. They must beat Texas Tech in the Big 12 quarterfinals to stay alive and only a trip to the conference championship game (likely meaning a win over Kansas) could get them in for sure.

The Missouri Valley was a bit down this year and the fact that their 3rd and 4th place teams are on the bubble is an indication. Maybe the league was more balanced or perhaps Southern Illinois was just too dominant on top but neither of these teams can be feeling very hopeful right now. Bradley is probably beyond help. Despite decent computer numbers, there isn’t much in their resume when you break things down. They did beat DePaul, Wright St. and Virginia Commonwealth outside the league but were only 11-9 against Valley teams. They lost three games to SIU, twice to Creighton and twice to Missouri St. Hmmm…not too good. Worst yet, their season is over. No more second chances. I can’t imagine them getting in.

Missouri St. just makes me queasy. Last year they set a record by not earning an at-large bid with an RPI of 21. I was stunned. This year, with their RPI in the 30’s, I am pretty concerned. They look like they might be one of the last six teams but I’m afraid something bad is going to happen to them. They have one big marque win and that just might save them. That was a win over possible #1 seed Wisconsin. Other than that, they beat no one of note unless you consider Bradley of note. They were swept by Creighton and Southern Illinois so not much help for them in their league. Their non-conferences losses aren’t terrible (Oklahoma St and a controversial one at St. Louis) but there just isn’t any heft there that would suggest they get in. They are obviously a pretty good team but I am increasingly afraid that pretty good won’t be enough.

With DePaul and Providence’s losses today, there is only one true bubble team left in the Big East: West Virginia. Can they become the 8th team from their league to earn a bid? Let’s take a look. A pretty good record in a pretty good league with pretty good computer numbers is what earns this team a look but, like many of the other bubble teams, they don’t have that much to hang their hat on when it comes to claiming a spot in the tournament. They played only a couple of good teams in the non-conference portion of their schedule, losing to Arkansas and upsetting UCLA. Keep in mind (and the committe will) that UCLA had to travel cross country for the game in the middle of their conference schedule and played without their best player. In the league, they have exactly ONE win against a team that is going to make the field and that is Villanova. Keep in mind that half of their league is going to make it and they only managed one win! Yep…I don’t like their chances unless they make a big run in the Big East tournament but that has happened before so it could again.

Tomorrow I’m going to look at five more bubble teams and go ahead and reveal a provisional field of 65. There will also be a lot more conference tournaments tomorrow and a few teams will likely bite the dust. Until then, be well.

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