Friday, February 26, 2010

The Mid Majors Baker's Dozen - February 26, 2010

With another snowstorm hitting Long Island, it's another day off from work. Even had time after shoveling snow to make a giant hill for my older son's sled. And still had time for the last Mid Major Baker's Dozen before conference tournaments. The tastiest thirteen A-10 free mid major teams in the country.

1) Butler - The Bulldogs have won seventeen straight. Number 17 was won by 17, in a impressive win over Siena. The Bulldogs are a Sweet 16 Team waiting to happen.

2) Gonzaga - The Zags rebounded after a loss at improving to Loyola Marymount by beating up Pepperdine and Santa Clara to clinch their tenth straight regular season WCC title. But the Marymount loss may have mortally wounded their chance to play in Spokane in the first round.

3) Northern Iowa - After a really terrific win over Old Dominion minus Jordan Eglseder, the Panthers suffered a major letdown and lost to last place Valley member Evansville. But with Wichita State imploding, NIU is the team to beat in the Valley Tournament.

4) Cornell - The Big Red rebounded from their loss to Penn by squeaking by Princeton. If the Big Red can win their return dance with the Tigers, the Ivy is basically theirs. A dangerous first round NCAA Tournament opponent. Just ask Kansas.

5) St Mary's - Turns out that the Gaels turned down a Bracketbuster game and now are scrambling to find a team willing to play an extra game on the schedule. Sound familiar? They did that last season too and the win over Eastern Washington didn't work.

6) Utah State - The biggest mover in these standings. The Aggies are on a huge run having won thirteen in a row. They followed up their big home win over Louisiana Tech with a resounding win over Wichita State in their Bracketbuster matchup. And not even a long trip to Hawaii can cool off Utah State as they defeated the Rainbow early this morning.

7) Siena - The Saints had their chance for a signature non conference road win for their at large bid resume when they faced Butler last Saturday. And Siena went out to a halftime lead, but got run over by the Bulldogs in the second half. Now the Saints must concentrate on winning the MAAC conference tournament. An at large bid for the Saints is dicey at best.

8) Old Dominion - The Monarchs were thoroughly outplayed by the Panthers last Friday night. And for a good part of their next game at Georgia State, the Monarchs were trailing the Panthers. But a 13-2 run helped ODU escape Atlanta with a win.

9) Kent State - The Golden Flashes struggled but won over Western Carolina in their Bracketbuster game. Then Kent State avoided a letdown and won at Bowling Green. The last game of the regular season vs. Akron will be for the #1 seed in the MAC Tournament.

10) New Mexico State - The Aggies forced Pacific to play an uptempo game and the result was a very nice road win for NMSU. No Bracketbuster letdown for the Aggies as they trounced Idaho at home in their next game.

11) Murray State - Despite being hosed by ESPN on Bracketbuster weekend, the Racers still kept their focus and won a tough home game over an underrated Morgan State team. Unfortunately, they couldn't keep their Ohio Valley undefeated streak going and lost at second place Morehead State 70-65. Not a bad loss mind you.

12) Oakland - Did you know that the best team in the Summit League also has a very respectable RPI of 65, higher than Big East bubble teams Notre Dame and South Florida? The Golden Grizzlies have won 15 of their last 16 and have a 24 point win over Green Bay.

13) Tie Wofford and Sam Houston State - The best teams in the Southern and Southland Conferences deserve some love. After defeating former South Division co-leader Charleston, the Terriers have won nine in a row and 15 of their last 16. They have played a very tough non conference schedule - Kent State, Michigan State, Pittsburgh and Illinois. All were losses but no loss was more than 14 points, so the Terriers have been competitive.

Meanwhile Sam Houston State has a RPI of 77 and only lost at Kentucky by 10 points. The Bearkats have won 13 of their last 14. Sam Houston State has an impressive average margin of victory of 10 points per game.

Honorable Mention - Stony Brook, Wichita State, Louisiana Tech, Northeastern, VCU

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