Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sunday Sausage Links and Selection Sunday Thoughts

Before we get into Selection Sunday, I have to take issue with something that I think has gone seriously under the radar.  Providence fired Keno Davis after just three seasons with the Friars.  Providence athletic director Bob Driscoll had some damning words for Keno Davis stating that with star player Marshon Brooks ""is probably going to the NBA and the kids coming in probably aren't as good, so it just felt like it was stalling and going backwards a bit."

Damn, that was just an open shot at Davis' incoming recruits and the team that will be returning.  Driscoll further stated  "There's no question we can be in the top half of the Big East, and if you're in the top half of the Big East, you're in the NCAA tournament. So it's absolutely doable with the right leadership and the right kind of support.

Well let's talk about the previous coach that Driscoll fired at Providence, Tim Welsh.  In Welsh's ten seasons at Providence, they made the NCAA twice and the NIT three times.  Welsh's career record was 145-126.  And Welsh was the coach who recruited Marshon Brooks.  Driscoll didn't think Welsh did a good enough job (geez a winning record overall as a Big East coach) and replaced him with Davis.

Driscoll seriously needs a reality check.  The Big East is by far the best Power Six conference and currently has 16 teams in it with TCU coming on board soon as well.  The conference will have eleven teams make the NCAA Tournament.  Three teams that ARE BELOW the top half of the conference - UConn, Villanova and Marquette will make the NCAA Tournament.  So to paraphrase Driscoll, to think without question that Providence can be in the top half of the Big East, well  it isn't going to be so easy.   Word of warning to coaches that are interested in that position.  Driscoll has all the patience of my five year old son.  Enough said.

Well it's Selection Sunday.  Unless you have been under a rock the last few days, you must have seen so many of the close games in conference tournaments.  And it hasn't just been the mid major tournaments, it's been the power six conference tournaments that have had games go down to the final shot as well.  Here's a list of a few of them.

  • Princeton defeats Harvard on a last second shot by Douglas Davis.
  • John Holland hits two free throws with 2.4 seconds left to give Boston University their first lead of the day to defeat Stony Brook for the America East title.
  • Isaiah Thomas hits a buzzer beater as Washington defeats Arizona in OT for the PAC-10 title.
  • Akron blocks two shots in the final seconds to defeat Kent State by one in OT for the MAC title.
  • Preston Knowles three point attempt to tie the game at the buzzer misses as UConn beats Louisville for Big East title.
  • Memphis' Joe Jackson hits 2 free throws with 7 seconds left as Memphis downs UTEP by one for the Conference USA title.
  • .NC's Tyler Zeller hits a shot with 45 seconds left to force OT vs. Clemson as the Tar Heels win semifinal game vs. Clemson.  The day before, Zeller hits a layup at the buzzer to defeat Miami.
  • Virginia Tech defeats Florida State by one after an apparent game winning shot at the buzzer is overturned (incorrectly in my view) after officials review the replay.
  • Carleton Scott hits a late shot in regulation to force overtime and Louisville eventually defeats Notre Dame in Big East semifinal game.
  • Scoop Jardine hits a late three to force overtime for Syracuse.  But UConn wins in overtime.
  • Luke Fabrizius hits two late free throws to give Dayton a win over Xavier.  Dayton then defeats St Joseph's to play for the A-10 Championship today.
  • San Diego State barely holds off UNLV by two points in a Mountain West semifinal game.  The Aztecs then trounce BYU to win the MWC Championship.
  • Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor misses a potential tying three point attempt at the end of the regulation and Penn State likely makes the NCAA tournament with a 36-33 win in the ugliest game I can ever remember.
That's thirteen close games in just the past two days.  That's incredible.  That doesn't even include Kemba Walker's buzzer beater heroics vs Pitt on Thursday. What does it all mean?  I think very simply that this might be the most wide open NCAA Tournament ever.   Yes, there is potentially a dominant team like Kansas that could very well reach the Final Four.  But Duke, Pitt, Notre Dame and San Diego State, all potential number one seeds, could easily get knocked off in the round of 32 by say an Old Dominion or a Butler (two potential #8 seeds).  Get ready for the most exciting NCAA Tournament ever.

There are a lot of bubble teams that don't know if they will get in or not today on Selection Sunday.  And complicating things is the fact that Dayton with a win over Richmond today gets an auto bid with the A-10.  Thus there would be one less slot for bubble teams.  Penn State is definitely in after making the Big Ten final.  After that, it's anybody's guess.  Teams considered on the bubble are Michigan, Michigan State, Boston College, Clemson, Virginia Tech, St Mary's, VCU, Harvard, USC, UAB, Alabama, Georgia and Missouri State.   You could put all these teams in a blender, set it on high, then dump out the contents to see what goes where.

And I though with the tournament expanding to sixty eight teams that it would be easier to figure out the bubble teams.  Well I was dead wrong.  If you would like, use the world famous (OK, maybe not world famous) Moore Selection Sunday Primer to figure out what teams should make it.  Here's my guess on it all.

Missouri State - Great RPI, not much else.  Name the best team they beat non-conference.  I dare you.  Double Dare you.  Sorry, Bears, Missouri Valley is a one bid league.

Boston College - Got smoked in the ACC quarterfinals by Clemson.   Lost to fellow bubble team Harvard AT BOSTON COLLEGE.   Sorry, you're out too.

UAB - Lost in the Conference USA quarterfinals.  That's a no no in the Moore Primer. Also lost to fellow bubble team Georgia.   Blazers meet the NIT.

St Mary's - Best wins are non conference home game vs. St John's and road win vs. Gonzaga.  Struggled down the stretch though losing four out of their last seven games including a really bad loss vs. San Diego.  Hunker down Gaels' fans,it's going to be close today.

VCU - Have the good non conference win over UCLA and a good RPI of 51. Wins over George Mason and ODU certainly help.  Negatives, a loss to UAB could be used against them.  Losses to Northeastern, Georgia State and South Florida not helpful.  Definitely in the mix on Sunday.  Would love to see #3BidsForCAA come true.

Alabama -  First in the SEC West with a 12-4 conference record.   Made the SEC semifinals but got smoked by Kentucky.  They do have two wins vs. fellow bubble team Georgia.  RPI is 80.  No t a single good non conference win.  Ruh roh.

Georgia -  They have a win over Colorado and a win over fellow bubble team UAB. Also wins over Kentucky and Tennsessee.  Good RPI #46.  Bad news- only a 9-7 conference record and lost both games to Alabama, one of which was in SEC Quarterfinals.   Will be very tense day for Bulldogs.

Harvard -  Good non conference wins at Boston College and Colorado.  #37 in RPI is very good as well.   Except for bad loss to Yale, only other losses were to Princeton twice, UConn, George Mason and Michigan, all teams in the tournament.    Very close call on Harvard.  Honestly, I would put them in before St Mary's.

Virginia Tech  -  If it wasn't for the referees incorrectly overturning the buzzer beater against Florida State in the ACC Quarterfinals (and folks that replay was not conclusive.  Just try proving to me otherwise), the Hokies would be done.  Their non conference schedule stinks and they lost to UVA twice.  Somehow I think they are in, especially since they made the ACC semis and beat Duke.

Clemson - Made the ACC semifinals and smoked BC to get there.  Barely lost to NC in overtime in the semifinal.  The fact that they also beat Virginia Tech and Florida State should get them in.  But their best non conference win is over Wofford, so the Tigers will sweat somewhat on Sunday.  But I think they are in.

USC - The good.  Non conference wins over Texas and Tennessee.  Conference wins over UCLA, Arizona and Washington.  All five of those teams are in the dance.  Bad news, 10-8 in PAC 10 not great. Two losses to Oregon, a loss to TCU and Bradley.  Ugh. Will be close for the Trojans on Sunday.

Michigan State - The trouncing of Purdue in the Big Ten Quarterfinals got them in.  Also beat Washington non conference and the Spartans also have wins over Wisconsin, Illinois and Penn State.   Pretty sure they are in.

Michigan - Good non conference wins vs. Clemson and Harvard (otherwise known as the Tommy Amaker Bowl).  Beat Michigan State twice and Penn State twice and defeated Illinois as well. Made the conference semis vs. Ohio State.  Despite .500 conference record, no really bad losses to speak of in conference.   They are in.

Some other things of note.

As you may know from my CAA Tournament preview, I love Frank Hassell.  And Hassell had an absolutely dominant performance in the CAA Tournament averaging nearly 23 points per game in the three ODU wins.  The Monarchs are 15-0 now when Hassell has a double double.  Did you also know that twelve of those fifteen double doubles were from January 15th on?  Also, did you know that Hassell has shot 73 percent from the field over his last six games.  Finally, Hassell has moved up to fifth in the John Hollinger College Player Efficiency Ratings, one spot ahead of Charles Jenkins. Agaiin, to quote Brian Mull as far as ODU goes, "Hassell drives their train."

Mike Litos has a terrific article comparing the resume of VCU to the other teams on the bubble.

Ryan Greene of the Yahoo Sports'  The Dagger has a great blog article on Princeton's win over Harvard.

Our man, Jerry Beach, has a great article on how skewered the NIT will be toward Power Six conference teams come selection time tonight.

Finally, John Branch of the NY Times has a good article on Brandon Davies of BYU.

Enjoy your Selection Sunday.

1 comment:

  1. There are a lot of games I could comment on, but I will limit my thoughts to three of them.

    Congratulations to Princeton on the last-second win! I wish the game had been televised where I am. Harvard is definitely a team the NCAA selection committee will discuss thoroughly.

    Congratulations to the Washington Huskies on winning the Pac-10 Tournament in yet another exciting finish to a game Saturday! That was an amazing conference championship game, capped by a fantastic shot by Isaiah Thomas!

    Lastly, congratulations to Connecticut on winning five games in five days! That really is a remarkable accomplishment, especially when you consider who they beat. Kemba Walker showed just how dominant he can be by destroying the Big East Tournament’s scoring record. Hopefully, they will get a respectable seed in the NCAA Tournament and their momentum will carry over in order to allow them to make a nice run.