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Ranking the NCAA Men’s Hoops Major Job Openings

Wooooooooo! Pig! Soooooey!

There are many factors that go into making a college coaching job better than another. Sometimes it can just be based on timing, as schools change administrations, conferences, or upgrade facilities. The biggest factor, however, is the total commitment by the administration and the fan/alumni base. It’s that commitment that can make or break the non-elite coaches.

1. Arkansas

The Hogs are the most recent national champion in this group. This is a program with a tremendous amount of success starting with Eddie Sutton in the 1970’s and followed by Nolan Richardson’s 40 minutes of Hell-era. Since Richardson, Stan Heath and John Pelphrey have only made 3 NCAA tournaments in 9 seasons and Arkansas hasn’t been a major player nationally.

The expectations are higher in Fayetteville than many places and for good reason. Since Bud Walton Arena opened before the 1993-94 season, the Razorbacks have been in the top 10 nationally in attendance 11 of 17 seasons it’s been open. They play in the extremely weak SEC West where football reigns supreme. The only other traditionally good SEC West basketball school is LSU and they are going through worse times in Baton Rouge than Arkansas. There’s no reason why Arkansas can’t be the class of the SEC West given their tradition and competition.

If the SEC is a five or six bid league annually, then Arkansas should be in the running for one of the spots competing right behind Kentucky and Florida. That leaves three or four spots for the ten remaining teams. Arkansas shouldn’t be taking a back seat to any of the remaining teams as long as they have the right coach. As a school that has been to 3 Final Fours and has one championship since 1990, more is expected from this program. The right hire here and the Hogs could be national powers again in the near future.

2. North Carolina State

If the rumors are true, then Sidney Lowe should be unemployed shortly after his midday meeting with AD Debbie Yow. The word is that NC State will be offering upwards of $3M per season to the next coach to compete on Tobacco Road against the heavyweights of college basketball.

The tradition of this program has taken a hit over the past 20 years, but the passion of the fan base remains rabid. Many forget, but there are only a handful of schools that have more national championships than the Wolfpack’s two in 1974 and 1983. Their rich history spans decades with successful coaches like Everett Case, Norm Sloan, and Jim Valvano. But with only six NCAA bids since 1989, the prestige of the program has taken a hit, both locally and nationally and this hire can go a long way to restoring the success in the program.

Like the SEC, the ACC is typically a five or six bid league annually. That usually leaves four bids for the ten teams behind Duke and UNC every March. There’s no reason why NC State should be behind football schools Clemson, Florida State, Miami, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. They also have a better tradition and history of success than Virginia and Wake Forest. They belong with Maryland in the next tier below UNC in the ACC.

Duke is different animal. They are in a special situation where they might have the best coach ever in college basketball. The key question that the new head coach needs to know is: How much longer will Coach K be at Duke? Once Coach K leaves Duke, that will open up the competition for the #2 spot in the ACC behind UNC. With the right coach, the Wolfpack could easily fill the void that Duke will leave when Coach K leaves. If this happens within the next 3-5 years, this new coach should benefit.

3. Utah

The Utes? Yes. The 1998 national runner-ups have a very good tradition that has gone under the radar due to their media market and conference affiliations. But beginning next season, they will be a part of the Pacific 12 conference and there will be an opportunity for major success.

The Utes have a national championship during World War II and also played in three other Final Fours, including 1998. The Utes have appeared in 27 NCAA tournaments and also won the NIT in 1947 when it was still bigger than the NCAAs. In addition, the Utes are tied with Indiana for 11th on the all-time win list with 1651 wins.

The Pac 10 hasn’t been that great in recent years and a good hire should get Utah into the top third of the conference quickly. Only UCLA and Arizona are the traditionally stronger programs than Utah in the Pac 12. The other top programs are very similar in history and success. The Huntsman Center is a very good facility that has hosted the NCAA tournament as recently as 2006 and is bigger than any building in the new Pac 12.

Athletic Director Chris Hill has made two hires since Rick Majerus left seven years ago. Unfortunately, it has only resulted in two appearances in the NCAAs. This is now a good job in a BCS conference now; they appear to want to make a strong commitment, so will they be able to attract the right coach?

4. Oklahoma

Jeff Capel was let go on Monday and it’s now hiring season in Norman. While the Sooners have a solid basketball program, it will always be in the shadow of its perennial top 10 football program. The program has been very good over the past 30 years but competing annually against Kansas and a now stronger Texas makes this job more difficult than the others above on the list. In addition, Bedlam rival Oklahoma State has a much longer and richer tradition of success on the hardwood than the Sooners.

The departure of Colorado and Nebraska tightens up the quality of the conference basketball wise. But there are unknowns about the future of the league and how a conference shift based on football might affect the basketball program. This is a solid job, but not a great job. They will always be clustered in a group behind Kansas in the conference. The resources are there, but the fan base isn’t as passionate as the other schools on this list.

Since Billy Tubbs arrived for the 1980-81 season, the Sooners have played in 23 NCAA tournaments, with two Final Fours, and also two NIT appearances. They made 25 straight postseason appearances from 1982-2006 which was snapped after Capel’s first season. The AD Joe Castiglione is definitely committed to excellence. But will he be able to find that special coach who can lead the Sooners back to the Final Four?

5. Georgia Tech

The Rambling Wreck was an also-ran in the ACC forever before they brought Bobby Cremins into the program in 1981. In the 19 seasons with Cremins, the Yellow Jackets went to 10 of their 16 NCAA tournaments and one Final Four. Recently fired Paul Hewitt went to 5 NCAAs in 11 seasons and lost in the 2004 championship game.

What makes this program somewhat intriguing is the size of the school and their alumni base. Even though they are a traditional football school, Georgia Tech has gotten a taste of success in hoops over the past 25 years and the right hire might be able to reenergize the fan base. This biggest problem facing Tech is similar to NC State, playing in the competitive ACC. Except that they lack the Tobacco Road fanaticism and tradition that State has.

Georgia Tech is an ACC school located in Atlanta. That should be enticing, right? But you start every year playing for third in the ACC and the expectations are generally high. Hewitt got eleven years, but he was given extra time based on his early success. His replacement isn’t going to be guaranteed that kind of support. As with NC State, the timing could be right here. The conference is down across the board, save UNC and Duke, so the right hire could catapult the Yellow Jackets to the top third of the ACC.

6. Providence

Here’s an example of why all big conference jobs aren’t created equal. The Friars were great under Joe Mullaney and Dave Gavitt in the years leading up to the formation of the Big East conference in 1979. Since then, the Friars have struggled to compete against the nationally recognizable conference mates.

Rick Pitino had a short tenure at PC, but took the Friars to their second and last Final Four in 1987. In the decade or so after Pitino left for the Knicks, the Friars became a stop on the basketball coaching ladder as Rick Barnes and Pete Gillen both left PC for the ACC.  Before firing Keno Davis after only three seasons, the Friars were incredibly patient with his predecessor, Tim Welsh. Welsh spent 10 years at PC with only two appearances in the NCAA’s after taking over for Pete Gillen in 1998.

So what is the deal here? The fanbase is terrific as the Friars are essentially the “pro team” in the state capital of Rhode Island during the winter. The problem is that the Big East is ridiculously difficult to compete in now. Ten coaches in the conference have made it to the Sweet 16 or farther. Six have been to the Final Four and three have won NCAA championships.

While the fans probably want a lifer, the best possible coach for them would be in the mold of a young Pitino or Barnes who are working their way up in the profession. Maybe they can get lucky and that coach sticks around for a few years longer than expected.

Making the Case against the Teams Whose Bubbles Burst

March 14, 2011 1 comment

Maybe Colorado won't play 7 sub 295 RPI teams next year

This isn’t meant as a defense of the selection committee or any of the questionable teams that were selected to the NCAA tournament. In reality, only 50-something teams really deserved to be selected to the 68-team Big Dance. This is about those controversial teams that were left out and the reasons why these schools do not have any reason to complain.

Virginia Tech: Yes, America’s bubble team had its hopes shattered again. For starters, the Hokies were only 9-7 in the 5th ranked conference. They were swept by Virginia (RPI 139) and NIT-bound Boston College, added a bad loss at Georgia Tech, and suffered a crippling season ending loss at Clemson. In addition, they beat FSU based on an overturned game winning basket in the ACC quarterfinals that was debatable. The only top 50 RPI team in the ACC that they beat was Duke.

The Hokies OOC schedule was ranked 180 out of 340. They played 6 teams with RPIs of over 230. They went 2-3 against top 100 teams OOC. How difficult would it be for Seth Greenburg to replace UNC-Greensboro (RPI 297), USC Upstate (313), Mount St. Mary’s (231), and Longwood (320) on his schedule? If he played and beat Virginia NCAA tournament schools like Old Dominion, VCU, George Mason, and Richmond, they would have been a lock for selection.

VCU went 3-6 against the top 50 and Tech was only 2-5. How does a CAA team play more top 50 games than an ACC team? Only cowardly scheduling sent the Hokies back to the NIT.

Colorado: The media would have you think that the Buffaloes survived a gauntlet of difficult games throughout the season. They are wrong. The Buffaloes OOC schedule was ranked 331 out of 340. They only went 10-4 against that group of teams. Their best win was against a bad Indiana (RPI 190). They played 7 teams with a RPI of 295 or more. In games against teams with a RPI of less than 295, they went 13-13. They won half and lost half.

Lowering the RPI threshold, the Buffaloes went 10-13 against the top 150 teams. Is that really at-large material there? Sure, they beat a few good teams, including Texas and Kansas State three times. But it’s not about head-to-head results and a splashy win or two for the selection committee. It’s about the overall profile.

Schools like Colorado have more choices than their mid-major counterparts when selecting OOC opponents. Instead of scheduling better teams, they scheduled gimme games to pad their win total. If they played 7 OOC teams between 100-150 in the RPI instead of 295 and over, they would be headed to the Big Dance. It’s that plain and simple.

Alabama: Don’t let the fact that the Crimson Tide is in the SEC fool you. The SEC West as a standalone conference would have easily been ranked behind every mid-major conference that received an at-large bid. The SEC West is home to Auburn (RPI 255), LSU (224), Arkansas (124), and Mississippi State (119). With 8 games against those schools, it’s no wonder that this team went 12-4 in SEC play. In addition, all of their key SEC wins were against vulnerable teams. Kentucky was awful away from Rupp, going 4-7 in true road games. Tennessee didn’t have Bruce Pearl for their loss to Alabama and were a poor home team all season.

The Tide schedule was ranked 294. They went 8-6 against those teams. The highest RPI of an OOC team that they beat was Lipscomb at 131. Overall, Alabama went 10-11 against the top 200 teams in the RPI. Is that really the mark of a quality at-large team? Have the standards dropped that much? They only had one win OOC against top 200 teams. I rest my case, your honor.

Saint Mary’s: The Gaels were a mid-major “snub” that many in the national media love. The problem is that many talking heads don’t follow the games as closely as you would expect an “expert” would. The issues for the Gaels began back on February 16 in San Diego. That night the Gaels lost to USD on national television by eight. The trouble is that USD won only 4 games against Division 1 schools all season, including the St. Mary’s win, and they have a RPI of 318. This was easily the worst loss of any prospective at-large candidate that made it in front of the selection committee.

In addition to losing in San Diego, the Gaels followed that with home losses to Utah State and Gonzaga. For a mid-major school like St. Mary’s to receive an at-large bid, they have to schedule and win against good teams OOC and take care of business in their own league.

The Gaels only quality OOC win was against St. John’s in Steve Lavin’s coaching debut. They lost to BYU, San Diego State, Vanderbilt, and Utah State. But with only one top 50 win all season, it was tough for the Gaels to overcome their horrible loss to San Diego. They also played 5 OOC teams with RPIs over 240. At the end of the day, the Gaels didn’t beat enough good teams and lost to a really bad one.

Harvard: The case against Harvard became easy when the brackets were announced. Their two best wins were against Boston College and Colorado. They now have a chance at a rematch with both in the NIT.

The message from the selection committee should be clear. Teams need to schedule better to improve their at-large chances and seeding for the NCAA tournament. There are teams that made the tournament with similar records, but their schedules were the difference. Why does 22-10 Kansas State have a 5 seed and 23-10 Missouri have an 11 seed? They are both in the Big 12 with Colorado. It’s the schedule.

The bottom line is that tougher scheduling and avoiding poor losses goes a long way to eliminating a team’s question marks that could burst their bubble on Selection Sunday. Maybe next year Virginia Tech will actually schedule some CAA teams and Alabama will play UAB to decide their fates on the court. Or maybe they’ll play Russian roulette with their tournament chances again.

Road to Selection Sunday for March 13

Done?

Welcome to the Road to Selection Sunday for March 13

Today is Selection Sunday: Finally Home

News and Notes:

It doesn’t look good for Pelphrey to remain as coach in Arkansas.

Paul Hewitt is done as coach at Georgia Tech after being the national runner-up in 2004 and 11 seasons.

Dayton is excited to be playing on CBS in a non NCAA tournament game since 1984.

Josh Harrellson is laying is on the line during his senior season for Kentucky.

The Gators bench was a big factor in their win yesterday against Vanderbilt.

It took a few months, but North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes is playing like the real deal.

Winners:

Automatic Qualifiers:

  • America East: Boston University
  • Conference USA: Memphis
  • MEAC: Hampton
  • Southland: Texas-San Antonio
  • Ivy: Princeton
  • Big 12: Kansas
  • MAC: Akron
  • PAC 10: Washington
  • Mountain West: San Diego State
  • Big West: UC-Santa Barbara
  • SWAC: Alabama State
  • Big East: Connecticut
  • WAC: Utah State

Memphis: The Tigers showed their #tigerblood yesterday by coming back from 62-50 with just over 6 minutes remaining. It appeared that experienced coaching would win out and UTEP would be dancing, while the Tigers would hold their breath for 29 hours. But Joe Jackson stepped up with help from Chris Crawford and led the Tigers back in the hostile Don Haskins Center. While Memphis might not be a major threat next week, making the NCAA tournament during a down season is the mark of a very good program.

Atlantic Ten: The A-10 might have their best case final scenario with Dayton facing Richmond. Dayton’s got the best RPI outside of the top 3 teams and if those 3 are on the right side of the bubble, then Dayton can steal a bid to give the A-10 four bids for the first time since 2003-04. Dayton’s RPI is now 70 so a loss by Richmond might not burst their bubble.

Florida: The Gators look like a 2 seed now and they should be a lock if they beat Kentucky today. If not, they probably drop to a 3 seed, but they’re more dangerous than in most seasons.

Duke and North Carolina: Many feel that the winner of this game will be a 1 seed. I think Duke can get it, but North Carolina might have to win to get a 2 seed. Those top 2 lines are tough and UNC doesn’t have a better profile than Florida, who might still be a 3 seed.

Penn State: It looks like the Lions brought Jerry Sandusky to Chicago. They’ve only given up 81 points in the past 2 games to reach the finals. Is making the finals enough? Grab a coin.

San Diego State: Great performance by the Aztecs as they avenged their only two losses of the season last night in Vegas. This team is deserving of at least a 2 seed, but I’d give them a 1 if Duke loses.

Losers:

Harvard: Tough last second loss to Princeton in the one game playoff at Yale. They are better than at least 5-10 teams that will make it in today. Will they be perceived as good enough by the committee?

UTEP: Tough loss as the Miners blew a 12 point lead with about 6 minutes left on their home court. This team should get better the longer Tim Floyd remains coach.

Alabama: If conference affiliation doesn’t matter and the overall profile is the key, then Alabama is done after losing to Kentucky yesterday.

Virginia Tech: Do you have a coin? Call heads or tails and that’s probably the chances that you hear Seth Greenburg crying to Dick Vitale tonight after being left out again. Remember Seth, if you had played Richmond, VCU, George Mason, ODU, and other Virginia schools, you’re strength of schedule wouldn’t be an issue.

Clemson: The Tigers don’t have any top 50 wins. Good luck on the bubble.

Texas: The national media still loves the Longhorns, but they shouldn’t be anything higher than a 4 seed.

Arizona: The Wildcats will be the highest seeded Pac 10 school, but they might be in an 8-9 game.

Michigan State: You didn’t expect Sparty to all of a sudden get consistent, did you? Expect them to be done by the end of next weekend.

Brigham Young: The Cougars still can’t shake that they’re not a top team without Brandon Davies. Last night’s convincing loss did nothing to dissuade viewers and most likely, the selection committee. I think they should get at least a 3, but the committee will probably make them a 4 seed at best.

Sunday’s Games: RPI in ()

Atlantic Ten Championship (70) Dayton at (44) Richmond: CBS at 1 EST

ACC Championship (4) Duke at (6) North Carolina: ESPN at 1 EST

SEC Championship (9) Kentucky vs. (7) Florida: ABC at 1 EST

Big Ten Championship (39) Penn State vs. (2) Ohio State: CBS at 3:30 EST

Click here for conference breakdowns on This Week in College Basketball.

Road to Selection Sunday for March 12

The Jimmer got 52 last night

Welcome to the Road to Selection Sunday for March 12

News and Notes:

Top 3 Games to Watch:

1. Jimmer and BYU against San Diego State at 7:00 ET on Versus

2. UConn and Louisville at 9:00 ET on ESPN

3. Texas and Kansas at 6:00 ET on ESPN

Winners:

Automatic Qualifiers:

  • Patriot: Bucknell

Dayton: The Flyers pulled an upset over their rivals, Xavier, yesterday and will play 12 seed St. Joe’s this afternoon. The Flyers have disappointed for two consecutive years now and have a chance at redemption if they can win two more games in AC.

Alabama: Is back-to-back wins over Georgia good enough for the Tide? The SEC West champs are only 1-2 against top 25 RPI teams. In comparison, mid-major VCU is 2-3 against the same group. The issue with Alabama is that they are in the very weak SEC West and took advantage of 200+ RPI games against LSU and Auburn. They are only 9-10 against the top 200.

Michigan: You have to like how the Wolverines have done almost everything that they could to win their way into an at-large bid. They started 1-6 in the Big Ten and looked dead but rallied to finish at 9-9 and are now a win away from the Big Ten championship game. It’s amazing to think, but they will be wearing their white jerseys in their first NCAA game if they win the Big Ten tourney.

Clemson: The Tigers might have clinched an at-large bid by eliminating BC yesterday. This game wasn’t even close and they should be good as long as UNC doesn’t destroy them this afternoon.

UTEP: The Miners will play on their home court this morning for the CUSA championship and it should be rocking. It will be interesting if their profile is good enough if they were to lose.

Michigan State: The real Spartans finally showed up as they blasted Purdue last night. That should eliminate any of the bubble talk for Tom Izzo’s club and if Sparty can continue to play like that, they will be a tough out.

Connecticut: The Huskies appear to be a solid 3 seed and are probably just playing to maneuver on that line for Sunday. It’s tough to see how they move up to a 2 seed, but they shouldn’t fall to a 4 either.

Texas: The Longhorns might have reemerged as a possible 2 seed by making the Big 12 championship game. If they win, they should be a solid 2 seed, if they lose, then they could drop back to a 3 seed.

Virginia Tech: The Hokies are close, if not in the tournament after their lucky win last night. Their RPI is still not too good and their profile isn’t impressive, save the Duke win. A win over Duke today and they WILL be good.

Penn State: I guess somebody had to win this game, certainly not the viewers. The Lions should be close if they can beat Michigan State tomorrow to play again on Sunday.

BYU and San Diego State: The Jimmer went for 52 last night and DJ Gay drained a floater in the lane with 4 seconds left and these MWC heavyweights will meet for a third time. Fair minded people would think that a #1 seed would be the reward for the winner. But the national media has anointed BYU as damaged goods without Brandon Davies and SDSU lost to the Cougars twice. In a year with only two apparently dominant teams, Ohio State and Kansas, the winner of this game deserves to be a #1 seed.

Losers:

Xavier: The Musketeers were beaten by Dayton outside of UD Arena for the first time since 1981 yesterday in AC. The Musketeers could have been as high as a 5 seed if they won the A10 tournament, now they are looking at a possible 7 or even an 8-9 game situation. That doesn’t represent the easiest route to the Sweet 16.

Georgia: The Dawgs lost to the very weak bubble dwelling Alabama yesterday and now are squarely on the bubble themselves. They’re hoping that mediocrity prevails.

Boston College: Mercifully, their at-large hopes are over. Too many blowout losses in the last month and an RPI that has fallen into the 50’s should be enough to send the Eagles to the NIT.

Illinois: The Illini continued their Jekyll & Hyde season with another up and down performance in the first and only Big Ten tourney game. They led Michigan by double digits with less than 10 minutes left in the game and blew the lead. They will most likely clear the hideous bubble, but expectations for Bruce Weber will be for more success next season in Champaign.

Colorado: Last night’s loss to Kansas leaves them on the bubble for Selection Sunday. It will be interesting to see if they miss out despite taking three from lock Kansas State.

Notre Dame: The Irish were in play for a #1 seed, but their loss to Louisville probably bumps them off. They are still a team that nobody is going to want to see in the coming weeks.

Wisconsin: The Badgers turned back the clock, in a bad way, by putting up a score that was standard in the peach basket era of hoops. This wasn’t the showing the Bo Ryan wanted to secure a 4 seed on Sunday.

Florida State: The ‘Noles are probably in, but their controversial loss last night to Virginia Tech put their RPI over 50 and their OOC profile wasn’t very good. They should be in, but you never know with the mediocrity in the ACC after the top 2.

Saturday’s Notable Games: RPI in ()

Conference USA Championship (30) Memphis at (47) UTEP: CBS at 11:30 EST

America East Championship (240) Stony Brook at (132) Boston University: ESPN2 at 12:00 EST

(9) Kentucky vs. (77) Alabama: ABC at 1 EST

(53) Clemson vs. (6) North Carolina: ESPN at 1 EST

(50) Michigan vs. (2) Ohio State: CBS at 1:40 EST

MEAC Championship (207) Morgan State vs. (81) Hampton: ESPN2 at 2:00 EST

(55) Richmond vs. (28) Temple: CBS College at 3:30 EST

(25) Vanderbilt vs. (8) Florida: ABC at 3:30 EST

(60) Virginia Tech vs. (4) Duke: ESPN at 3:30 EST

Southland Championship (201) Texas-San Antonio at (147) McNeese State: ESPN2 at 4:00 EST

Ivy League Playoff (33) Harvard vs. (48) Princeton: ESPN3 at 4:00 EST

(39) Michigan State vs. (42) Penn State: CBS at 4:05 EST

Big 12 Championship (10) Texas vs. (1) Kansas: ESPN at 6:00 EST

MAC Championship (117) Akron vs. (70) Kent State: ESPN2 at 6:00 EST

Pac 10 Championship (38) Washington vs. (17) Arizona: CBS at 6:00 EST

Mountain West Championship (3) San Diego State vs. (5) Brigham Young: Versus at 7:00 EST

Big West Championship (171) UC-Santa Barbara vs. (86) Long Beach State: ESPN2 at 8:00 EST

SWAC Championship (313) Grambling State vs. (271) Alabama State: ESPNU at 8:30 EST

Big East Championship (14) Connecticut vs. (15) Louisville: ESPN at 9:00 EST

WAC Championship (114) Boise State vs. (18) Utah State: ESPN2 at 10:00 EST

Click here for conference breakdowns on This Week in College Basketball.

Most Disappointing College Hoops Teams of 2011

This was supposed to be The Year for Lucas and the Spartans

With the completion of college basketball’s regular season, the time has come to take a look back at which teams have fallen short of their expectations during the season. The good news for these teams is that they are still alive for the NCAA tournament and can erase the memories of an underachieving season with a run through the brackets later this month.

1. Michigan State: The Spartans were ranked #2 in both polls at the beginning of the season. With five returning players who averaged over 20 minutes per game from last year’s Final Four team; expectations in East Lansing were for a run at Coach Tom Izzo’s second national championship. But junior guard Korie Lucious got suspended for their season opener and was eventually kicked off the team two months later for conduct detrimental to the team. On the court, the Spartans played their typically tough OOC schedule, but failed to beat any good teams. The only significant opponent to fall to the Spartans was Washington, who underachieved enough to show up below the Spartans on this list. Going into the Big Ten tournament, the Spartans weren’t expected to be 17-13 with a 9-9 conference record. That might be eight games off what was expected in October. While Michigan State could still get their name called next Sunday, they were hoping to be one of the #1 seeds going into the NCAA tournament, not a bubble team.

2. Washington: The Huskies were ranked in the top 20 coming into the season and their early season blowout wins had the talking heads buzzing about the Huskies. Despite losing to Kentucky and Michigan State in Maui, the Huskies remained ranked and were considered the team to beat in the Pac 10 this season. Analysts frequently mentioned the Huskies as a national contender despite not having a win over an OOC opponent with a RPI of better than 75. This left the Huskies needing a strong performance in conference play to solidify their postseason credentials. But inexplicable road losses to Stanford, both Oregon schools, along with being swept by Washington State have placed the once mighty Huskies squarely on the bubble going into the Pac 10 tournament. With loads of returning talent, the Huskies should have been able to overcome the midseason loss of Abdul Gaddy, but they couldn’t (10-3 with Gaddy, 9-7 w/o). A third loss to Washington State on Thursday could send the Huskies to the NIT.

3. Baylor: Scott Drew’s Bears were an up-and-coming power, a preseason top 20 team that excited everybody. That was with good reason because they had the highly rated freshman big man Perry Jones and the eventual Big 12 all time leading scorer, LaceDarius Dunn. In addition to the stars, they were returning good role players from a team that rolled St. Mary’s in the Sweet 16 and then playing eventual champion Duke tough in the Elite 8 game last season. The Bears were picked to finish 3rd in the Big 12, but finished in a tie for 7th with a 7-9 record. They failed to beat any prospective at-large teams OOC and they are probably not even on the bubble right now. Even though Dunn just became the conference’s all time leading scorer and Jones remains a possible #1 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, the Bears might have to win the Big 12 tournament to earn a return to the Big Dance next week.

4. Butler: The Bulldogs are still alive for the Horizon League automatic bid as they face UW-Milwaukee in the league’s championship game. However, the Bulldogs have been anything but dominating following their great season in which they lost to Duke by a basket last April. Credit is given for their scheduling effort as they faced the 12th ranked OOC schedule designed to offset their typically weak conference slate. Losses were expected to the likes of Louisville and Duke and the purpose of the strong schedule was to insulate the Bulldogs NCAA chances from a potential upset in the Horizon tournament. But conference play started and the Bulldogs lost five games to their Horizon rivals. The Bulldogs had only lost five conference games over the past three seasons COMBINED. A win on Tuesday night can erase a lot of the disappointment that this preseason top 20 team has to feel about their season.

5. Villanova: The Wildcats are going through the second biggest in-season collapse behind Minnesota. After starting the season ranked just outside of the top 5, ‘Nova jumped out to a 16-1 record and looked like a potential championship contender. Then the wheels fell off. Starting with a loss on MLK Day to UConn, the ‘Cats went 5-9 to end the season at 21-10, including four straight losses to complete the regular season. While the Big East schedule is brutal, with most games involving two ranked teams, this type of collapse wasn’t expected from a team with solid senior leadership and Final Four expectations. Getting South Florida on Tuesday should end their losing streak, but how they fare against Cincinnati on Wednesday will be a better indicator of what to expect out of this team when the NCAA tournament begins.

6. Virginia Tech: So THIS is now America’s Bubble Team? Great. The Hokies only have themselves to blame for another March on the bubble as they ducked quality in-state opponents and underachieved against the teams that they did play. Their only decent OOC wins are against mediocre Penn State and Oklahoma State. Neither of those teams is likely to receive an at-large bid on Sunday. In the top heavy ACC, the Hokies were swept by triple digit RPI rival Virginia, lost to Georgia Tech, and then lost their final two games of the season to fellow mediocre bubble dwellers Boston College and Clemson. At 19-10 overall with 9 ACC wins, Tech could be a solid NCAA team right now. But they refuse to get challenged by any instate opponents OOC. By ducking solid CAA schools like George Mason, Old Dominion, and Virginia Commonwealth, along with Richmond, the Hokies won’t be receiving any profiles in courage awards for their schedule making. It’s going to be tough to justify the fifth best team in Virginia making the NCAA tournament as an at-large. Maybe the Hokies will make it if they expanded the field to 96 teams next season.

Special Nominee: Tennessee: The Volunteers season has been something that you might find at Six Flags over Knoxville. Their roller coaster season began with a 7-0 record, including a Preseason NIT championship and a win over Pittsburgh on the road. Despite the self inflicted distractions brought on by Bruce Pearl’s NCAA violations, it appeared that the players were unfazed by everything going on around them. Then the Vols lost three straight to Oakland, Charlotte, and USC, two of those games at home. Ten days later they dropped another home game to Charleston. Pearl was required to miss the first 8 SEC games, in which they went 5-3. Pearl then returned to guide the Vols to a 3-5 record down the stretch, including losses in their final 3 home games. With an 18-13 record (SEC 8-8), and a difficult schedule, the Vols still look safe on Sunday. But the NCAA has held grudges in the past (remember #25 UNLV getting the shaft in 92-93?) and the embattled Pearl could be their next target.

Other Disappointments:

Memphis 22-9, 10-6 in CUSA: Losses to SMU, Rice, and East Carolina could doom their NCAA chances.

Mississippi State 17-13, 9-7 in SEC West: Suspensions, fighting amongst teammates, players complaining through Twitter about the coaches, and bad losses to Florida Atlantic, East Tenn St, Hawaii, Auburn, and LSU leave Rick Stansbury and the Bulldogs looking at missing the NCAA tournament for the fourth time in six seasons.

Northwestern 17-12, 7-11 in Big Ten: The Wildcats have never made the NCAA tournament and this year’s group will have to overachieve to win the Big Ten tournament to end that streak.

ACC Basketball Overview March 7

ACC Basketball Overview March 7

Team Overviews: Records are going into March 7th. RPI is courtesy of rpiforecast.com.

Current NCAA Locks:

Duke Blue Devils RPI 5

  • 27-4, 13-3 in ACC   Away: 8-4  Neutral:  2-0
  • OOC rundown: 14-1 with wins against Marquette, Kansas State, Michigan State, Butler, UAB , and Temple and a loss to St John’s. They also have 5 gimme wins. RPI 7, schedule 44.
  • ACC Wins: Mia, Mary, UVA, at NC St, at WF, BC, at Mary, NC St, UNC, at Mia, at UVa, GT, Clem      Losses: at FSU, at VT, at UNC
  • The Devils need to win the ACC tournament and maybe get help to get a 1 seed. As long as they win one game, they should be at least a 2 seed.

North Carolina Tar Heels RPI 6

  • 24-6, 14-2 in ACC   Away: 8-3  Neutral:  1-2
  • OOC rundown: 10-4 with a good win over Kentucky and losses to Minnesota, Vanderbilt, Illinois, and Texas. They also have 5 gimme wins. RPI 29, schedule 20.
  • ACC Wins: at UVa, VT, Clem, at Mia, NC St, at BC, FSU, at Clem, WF, BC, at NC St, Mary, at FSU, Duke     Losses: at GT, at Duke
  • The Heels can get a 1 seed if they win the ACC tournament and get help. They should be a 2 seed if they win two games. If they win one and lose one, it will be a coin flip for 2 or 3 seed. They won’t be lower than a 3 seed.

 

Bubble Territory:

Florida State Seminoles RPI 45

  • 21-9, 11-5 in ACC   Away: 8-5  Neutral:  1-1
  • OOC rundown: 10-4 with a win over Baylor and losses to Florida, Ohio State, Butler and a horrible loss to Auburn. They also have 9 gimme wins. RPI 104, schedule 190.
  • ACC Wins: Clem, Duke, NC St, at Mia, BC, WF, at GT, UVa, at WF, Mia, at NC St   Losses: at VT, at Clem, at UNC, at Mary, UNC
  • The Seminoles need to beat Virginia Tech to be safe. Otherwise they leave their fate up to the committee. Beating Duke again would lock them in and get them into an 8-9 game.

Virginia Tech Hokies RPI 63

  • 19-10, 9-7 in ACC   Away: 6-6  Neutral:  2-1
  • OOC rundown: 10-3 with notable wins against Oklahoma State and Penn State and losses to Kansas State, UNLV, and Purdue. They also have 6 gimme wins. RPI 73, schedule 151.
  • ACC Wins: FSU, WF, at Mary, Mia, at NC St, GT, Mary, at WF, Duke  Losses: UVa, at UNC, at GT, at BC, at UVA, BC, at Clem
  • Wow. Just can’t take a good win and capitalize. They have to beat FSU to have a chance. Beating Duke again after that would lock up their bid. When you see Seth crying next Sunday, remember that the ACC is the FIFTH ranked conference this season.

Boston College Eagles RPI 44

  • 19-11, 9-7 in ACC   Away: 4-6  Neutral:  2-1
  • OOC rundown: 10-4 with a good win over Texas A&M and a solid losses to Wisconsin and Harvard with strange ones to Yale and Rhode Island. They also have 3 gimme wins. RPI 66, schedule 57.
  • ACC Wins: at Mary, GT, NC St, UVa, VT, Mary, at UVa, at VT, WF   Losses: at Mia, at FSU, at Duke, UNC, at Clem, at UNC, Mia
  • The Eagles need to beat Clemson to wrap up their bid. A loss to Wake would send them to the NIT in a hurry. A win over UNC gets them a game in their white jerseys.

Clemson Tigers RPI 58

  • 20-10, 9-7 in ACC   Away: 3-7  Neutral:  2-1
  • OOC rundown: 11-3 with no good wins and losses to Old Dominion, Michigan, and South Carolina. They also have 6 gimme wins. RPI 90, schedule 199.
  • ACC Wins: Mia, GT, NC St, FSU, at GT, BC, at Mia, WF, VT  Losses: at FSU, at UNC, at Mary, at UVa, UNC, at NC St, at Duke
  • The Tigers need to beat BC to have a chance. Beating UNC would lock it up for them.

 

Better Win the Conference Tournament:

Maryland Terrapins RPI 99

  • 18-13, 7-9 in ACC
  • OOC rundown: 11-4 with a decent win over Penn State and losses to Pittsburgh, Illinois, Temple, and Villanova. They also have 9 gimme wins. RPI 102, schedule 178.
  • Sorry Gary. Play and beat better OOC opponents next season.

Miami Hurricanes RPI 74

  • 18-13, 6-10 in ACC
  • OOC rundown: 12-3 with a good win over West Virginia and losses to Memphis, Rutgers and Central Florida. They also have 6 gimme wins. RPI 46, schedule 145.
  • That loss to Georgia Tech finished their at-large hopes.

North Carolina State Wolfpack RPI 120

  • 15-15, 5-11 in ACC
  • OOC rundown: 10-4 with a win over George Mason and losses to Georgetown, Wisconsin, Syracuse, and Arizona. They also have 8 gimme wins. RPI 105, schedule 181.
  • The Sidney Lowe watch has begun.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets RPI 161

  • 13-17, 5-11 in ACC
  • OOC rundown: 8-6 with a win over Richmond and a bunch of losses. They also have 6 gimme wins. RPI 161, schedule 176.
  • How many more down years does Hewitt get? 2004 is a long time ago in hoop years.

Virginia Cavaliers RPI 134

  • 16-14, 7-9 in ACC
  • OOC rundown: 9-5 with a win over Minnesota and a horrific loss to Seattle. They also have 5 gimme wins. RPI 218, schedule 302.
  • The Cavs are going to ruin one or two of their ACC mates’ seasons. Hello Va Tech. Anybody else want some?

Wake Forest Demon Deacons RPI 265

  • 8-23, 1-15 in ACC
  • OOC rundown: 7-8 with no good wins and plenty of losses, both good and bad. They also have 7 gimme wins. RPI 267, schedule 246.
  • When did the Deacons turn into Fordham? The A-10 invite is forthcoming.

 Make sure you check in every morning for a review of the previous day’s games on the Road to Selection Sunday.

Road to Selection Sunday for Mar 2

March 2, 2011 1 comment

Winning!

Welcome to the Road to Selection Sunday for Mar 2

News and Notes:

Calhoun is looking for more consistency out of Oriakhi down the stretch.

The Bearcats have done well on the road during the Big East season as they play at Marquette tonight.

Marquette’s Seniors will be celebrated tonight for their successful careers, which include NCAA trips every season.

The Tar Heels lose Bullock for the season with a knee injury.

Tyshawn Taylor is back for the Jayhawks after sitting out while suspended for two games.

Mark Turgeon takes his Aggies home to Allen Fieldhouse trying to upset the Jayhawks tonight.

Brigham Young boots Davies for the season for violating school’s honor code.

Cougars’ Abouo has stepped up since entering the starting lineup a few weeks ago.

Winners:

Ohio State: The Buckeyes can all but wrap up a #1 seed by beating the Badgers this weekend after taking care of business at Penn State. The Lions could have been a tough opponent with their slim NCAA hopes on the line, but Jon Diebler’s three point barrage was remarkable. One night after Notre Dame lit up Villanova in South Bend with 20 3’s, the Big Ten’s all-time leading three point shooter went 10 for 12 from long range. Those 10 made threes tied the Big Ten record for one game. Oh, and the Buckeyes clinched at least a tie for the regular season title. That’s Thad Matta’s fourth title in seven seasons at Ohio State. Michigan State alum and Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert should have tried to hire Matta, not Izzo, in the summer. That would have been his greatest donation to his alma mater.

Florida: The Gators clinched at least a share of the SEC title by blowing out Alabama in the second half last night. Chandler Parsons is making a serious case for SEC POY after going for 19 and 11 last night. He’ll get to see his closest competition up close on Saturday in Nashville when he faces John Jenkins.

Nebraska and Oklahoma State: These two Big 12 schools wouldn’t have a prayer in any other season but are still alive due to the softness of the bubble. Both teams got big wins over other bubble teams last night and will still be alive for an at-large when they go to Kansas City next week.

Boston College: Good timing on that win, BC. The Eagles have the RPI but lack the “on paper” profile, especially with their two Ivy losses. But sweeping VT and their wins over Cal and Texas A&M might prove good enough on Selection Sunday. Not impressed by that? Me neither.

Losers:

Alabama: The Tide has turned again on Bama’s season. The Tide has to get to the SEC tournament finals and maybe even win to get in.

Missouri: The road paper Tigers are going to make it tough on Selection Sunday if they keep losing. They get KU this weekend to secure a winning record in the Big 12. If they lose, a first round exit in the Big 12 tournament could end their NCAA hopes.

Baylor: The Bears can’t get their act together either. Losing at a beleaguered Oklahoma State team is not the result the selection committee was looking for last night. LaceDarius Dunn would like a mulligan for last night’s performance (2-16 FG, 1-9 3PT) and probably for the season in general. There aren’t five teams in the country more disappointing than the Bears this season.

Virginia Tech: Well, Dickie V decided to reverse course after the Hokies lost last night and described them as “heading off the cliff”. Good description. They now need to beat fellow ACC bubble resident Clemson on Saturday or win three straight in Greensboro. With how the bubble has been, expect some of these teams to get the auto-bid and for other teams that aren’t in to crash the party as well. The bubble will most likely tighten as we get closer to Selection Sunday and teams that lose games to fellow bubble teams will suffer.

Wednesday’s Notable Games: RPI in ()

(11) North Carolina at (47) Florida State: ESPN at 7 EST

(85) Maryland at (69) Miami: ESPNU at 7 EST

(21) Connecticut at (22) West Virginia: ESPN2 at 7 EST

(31) UAB at (39) Southern Miss: 7 EST

(38) Cincinnati at (54) Marquette: 8 EST

(28) Texas A&M at (2) Kansas: ESPN2 at 9 EST

(68) Clemson at (5) Duke: ESPN at 9 EST

(52) Marshall at (70) UTEP: 9 EST

(94) New Mexico at (1) Brigham Young: 10 EST

Click here for conference breakdowns on This Week in College Basketball.