Monday, November 30, 2009

Feast Week Winners and Losers

With the conclusion of the early season tournaments, college basketball is finally in full swing. There were some marquee matchups this week, but this post will focus on how the potential bubble teams fared. Here's a summary of which teams boosted their profiles this week, and which teams suffered major setbacks.


Portland: I'll admit the Pilots were not on my at-large radar entering the season, but it's impossible to ignore them now after blowing out UCLA and beating Minnesota. The WCC definitely looks like a multi-bid league at this point after the conference's strong OOC performance, and right now Portland looks to be in good shape for an at-large bid.

Florida:  nobody picked up a bigger win than the Gators this week, knocking off Michigan State in Atlantic City en route to winning the Legends Classic.  That win will be huge in March if Florida does happen to end up on the bubble.

Richmond:  the Spiders more than made up for the early season loss to William & Mary by defeating Mississippi State and Missouri to win the South Padre Island Invitational.  Their next 4 games (Old Dominion, @VCU, @South Carolina, @Florida) will go a long way towards determining their at-large chances.

Gonzaga: after winning the Maui Invitational and taking Michigan State to the wire, Gonzaga has once again gotten off to a strong start. Traditionally though, the Zags have been unable to back that up with success in March. Will this year be any different?

Cincinnati: the Bearcats were squarely on the bubble going into the Maui Invitational. Now that they picked up neutral court wins over Vanderbilt and Maryland, Cincinnati is in great position to make the NCAA tournament with a decent showing in conference.

Wisconsin: the Badgers picked up two big wins against fellow bubble teams Arizona and Maryland.  If they end up on the bubble in March, those wins should help keep them in the field.

Marquette:  the Golden Eagles nearly won the Old Spice Classic, beating Xavier and Michigan before losing to Florida State by 1.  It was supposed to be a rebuilding year for Marquette, but they look like a team plenty capable of making the NCAAs.

Florida State:  FSU made up for the blowout loss against Florida by winning the Old Spice Classic.  While they didn't pick up any marquee wins, neutral court victories against fellow bubble teams Alabama and Marquette definitely help the Seminole's at-large hopes.

UNLV:  for the 2nd year in a row UNLV picks up a marquee win against Louisville.  Will they be able to build on it and make the big dance this time around?

San Diego:  the Toreros picked up wins over Oklahoma and Houston.  Despite the blowout loss to Washington State in the Championship, San Diego has a chance at an at-large bid if they do well in WCC play.

Alabama:  they weren't really on my radar either at the beginning of the year, but the Crimson Tide are definitely in the at-large discussion now after beating Baylor and Michigan. 

Northwestern:  the quest for their first NCAA bid in school history is still on track after defeating Notre Dame and Iowa State.  If they can beat NC State this week, the Wildcats should be 10-1 heading into Big 10 play.


Arizona:  the Wildcats had second half leads against Wisconsin and Vanderbilt, but didn't manage to win either of them.  As bad as the Pac-10 has been so far, the Wildcats don't have too many more chances to pick up quality wins and impress the committee.

Maryland:  I thought Maryland was a sleeper this year in the ACC, but the Terps did not look good at all in losses against Wisconsin and Cincinnati.  Hopefully they remember how they got to the NCAAs last year and start playing hard again.

Notre Dame:  the Irish had a great chance to pick up some wins against fellow bubble teams this week, but
lost to Northwestern and had to settle for a win against St. Louis. 

Illinois:  a bad week for the Illini, who lost back-to-back games against Utah and Bradley, both of which are unlikely to compete for an NCAA bid this year. 

Creighton:  I never would have picked the Blue Jays to go 0-3 at the Old Spice Classic, but they did just that, including losing to Iona on the final day.  Unless they dominate the MVC, Creighton likely has little chance at an at-large bid now.

UCLA:  The same goes for the Bruins.  With just a 2-4 record and losses to CSU-Fullerton and Long Beach State, UCLA needs to turn it around in a hurry if they want to have any chance at an NCAA bid.

Mississippi State:  a poor start to the season for MSU, losing to Rider and now losing to Richmond in the South Padre semis.  They somewhat made up for it with a good win against Old Dominion, keeping them in the NCAA hunt for now.

Wake Forest:  the Deacons lost at home to William & Mary on Saturday night.  W&M may not be that bad a team since they've also beaten Richmond, but for now it's enough to bump Wake Forest out of the tournament field.

Siena:  an underwhelming start so far for the Saints, losing to Temple and St. John's.  Siena needs to at least split their road games against Georgia Tech and Northern Iowa, then dominate the MAAC if they want a good seed in March.

Oklahoma:  no team has been more surprisingly bad so far this year than the Sooners.  They are 3-3 with losses to VCU, San Diego, and Houston, and trailed in the 2nd half against Nicholls State before finally waking up and winning by 21.  Oklahoma better run the table in their next 4 games (Arkansas, Arizona, Centenary, @Utah) or they could end up in a situation similar to Kentucky 2 years ago where they have to win 10 or more conference games just to get back into the NCAA discussion.

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