RTC Daily Bracketbusters: Monday-ThursdayPosted by nvr1983 on February 21st, 2010
Even though ESPN likes to hype up its Bracketbuster day the fact is that the last few weeks of the season act like an elimination tournament with teams moving in and out of the NCAA Tournament while other teams move up and down on a daily basis. While each and every game could theoretically have an impact on the Bubble and NCAA seeding there are a few games that matter more than the others which we will feature over the next two weeks leading up to the conference tournaments. We will feature these in two posts per week. The first will be a post released on Sunday night for games from Monday through Thursday and the second will be a post released on Thursday night for games from Friday through Sunday.
#8 West Virginia at UConn at 7 PM on ESPN on Monday – The Mountaineers will need a miracle to get a #1 seed, but this is a “must-win” if UConn wants to get into the NCAA Tournament. After this game the Huskies do not have another opponent that would impress the Selection Committee until they begin the Big East Tournament. Despite the fact that their “ceiling” is probably a #2 seed this game is also very important for the Mountaineers who need to be careful here because they finish with a tricky stretch with this game being following by games at home against Cincinnati and Georgetown then a trip to Villanova before the Big East Tournament. If the Mountaineers do not finish strong (at least 2-2) they could be looking at a #4 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
#22 Texas A&M at #24 Baylor at 9 PM on ESPNU on Wednesday – This is one game that does not feature a bubble team since both of these teams are in the NCAA Tournament, but this game does have big seeding implications. Right now these teams are competing for the #3 spot in the Big 12 behind Kansas and Kansas State. Both of these teams could fall anywhere from a #5 seed to a #8 seed and the difference for both could well be this game. Texas A&M has been playing well lately with only one loss this month (by 5 to Kansas). Up until Saturday when they lost in Stillwater, Baylor had not lost since they traveled to College Station. Now the Bears welcome the Aggies to Waco hoping to return the favor as inhospitable hosts. Both teams have favorable schedules down the stretch (read: no Kansas or Kansas State) so the winner of this has the inside track along with Texas for that coveted #3 seed in the Big 12 Tournament to avoid Kansas in the semifinals and get a higher seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Oklahoma State at #21 Texas at 9 PM on ESPN2 on Wednesday – The Cowboys picked up a big win on Saturday against Baylor, which should put them on the inside of the Bubble, but they are entering a difficult 3-game stretch: at Texas, home against Kansas, and at Texas A&M. Winning 2 of 3 should ensure that the Cowboys get in to the NCAA Tournament, but if they lose all 3 games (not an unreasonable proposition) they will be sweating it out on Selection Sunday. As for the Longhorns, we are not sure what to say about them at this point. Outside of UNC there has not been a more disappointing team in the nation–the Tar Heels have a safe lead in this category–yet we know that they are the one underachieving team that nobody wants to see in the pod when the brackets come out. Right now people have them in the #5-6 range, but they have a 4 very winnable games to finish the regular season (at Texas A&M and Baylor will be challenging as both teams took the Longhorns to OT in Austin earlier this year, but the Longhorns should expect to win those games). If they can get their act together, this team could get back to a #3-4 seed given their 3 wins (and counting) against the RPI top 25. If they don’t they could slip down to the #8-9 range, which could make for a very interesting 2nd round match-up in the NCAA Tournament for a #1 seed.
#11 Georgetown at Louisville at 7 PM on ESPN2 on Tuesday – This game obviously has big implications for Louisville as a win would probably guarantee them a spot in the NCAA Tournament (assuming they don’t collapse) as they finish with a tough schedule [Ed. Note: You could say this for a lot of the Big East] playing the Hoyas at home then at UConn and Marquette then at home against Syracuse before the Big East Tournament. I’m not saying a 1-3 finish would get them in the field, but this could be one of their best chances of getting another impressive win before Selection Sunday. As for the Hoyas, they might be one of the most bipolar teams in the nation. They go from crushing Duke in front of Rush the Court, Barack Obama, and Joe Biden (listed in order of political power and influence) to losing at home to NIT-bound USF then beat Villanova before winning at Providence then lose at CBI-bound Rutgers. For the Hoyas, this game is really about seeding–a win here and against Cincinnati in the regular season finale and they could be a #2 seed regardless of the outcome of the game in Morgantown on March 1st, but if they lose we could see them slip to #4 or #5 seed territory.
While we are talking about seeding, is there really that much that separates these two teams? Outside of one week of awful play by the Cardinals in December when they lost at home to Charlotte (maybe not that bad) and Western Carolina (ok, that is bad) I don’t see that much. Louisville is 18-9 and 9-5 in conference while Georgetown is 18-7 and 8-6 in conference. Sure, Georgetown has a few more impressive wins, but is the difference big enough that you can go from a potential #2 seed (Georgetown) to a bubble team (Louisville)? I’ll give you that Georgetown’s resume is slightly more impressive, but there is no way the difference should be that big.
San Diego State at #13 BYU at 9 PM on CBS College Sports on Wednesday – This is the Aztecs last chance to impress the Selection Committee before the Mountain West Conference Tournament. Right now they are on the outside of most people’s bubbles, but a win in Provo would be huge and they have an easy schedule to finish the season so if they win here they could enter the post-season on a 7-game winning streak, which might be enough to get them an at-large bid despite their weak strength of schedule (75th in the nation). As for BYU, I am not sure whether or not the Cougars can work their way up to a #3 seed, but if they beat the Aztecs and Lobos in back-to-back games that should send a strong message to the Selection Committee in Indianapolis. The winner of the BYU-New Mexico game could have a legitimate case for a #3 seed if they win the MWC Tournament if BYU can get by the Aztecs here. If Cougars stumble late they could fall as low as a #6 seed with back-to-back losses unless they win the conference tournament.