BGTD: Early Afternoon Games Analysis

Posted by jstevrtc on February 26th, 2011

The only question on a day like today after the early flight of games is…how’s the bubble? The biggest worry for bubble teams is not necessarily racking up good wins late in the year, because the schedule is, of course, already set. What you don’t want to do is give the selection committee something negative on which to hang their hat so they can leave you out. In other words, don’t play yourself out of the Tournament. So far today…

  • Let there be no doubt about Kansas State. They’ve already done enough to get in, but if you’re a bubble team you still don’t want to trip up late and drop games at home. The Wildcats, knowing that they’re in, could have come out complacent in an early game today against Missouri and  just gone through the motions. No, sir. The raves will pile up for Jacob Pullen (24 points on 6-10 and 4-4 from three) and Curtis Kelly (15/6 on 7-9), and with good reason. Pullen’s vocal leadership late in the season has been a revelation for KSU, but let’s give some juice to the Kansas State bench today, chipping in 29 points, 16 rebounds, and eight assists. And look at the unselfishness on display. The Wildcats hit 28 shots…off of 23 assists!
  • For a team playing themselves out of The Dance, look no further than VCU. A few weeks ago all the talk was about how the CAA might get two or three teams in, with VCU an obvious choice. Over the past two weeks, all the Rams have done is drop four of five, including today’s senior day game against Colonial sixth-placers James Madison (72-69). No disrespect to the Dukes, because you don’t win 21 games (so far) without being a solid squad, especially in a rapidly improving conference. But despite NCAA selectors confirming that the “last 10 games” criteria isn’t considered, bubble teams that run into late losing streaks tend to wind up on the outside looking in on post-selection Monday. Barring a CAA Tournament title, you’ve got to figure that VCU is done.
  • It makes me feel good that Greg Anthony said this right after I typed it, but come on…is ANYONE playing as well as St. John’s right now? Upon examining the halftime box score, we were surprised to see that the Johnnies had already launched 17 threes, since they’d gone entire games during the year with single-digit attempts from beyond the arc. Didn’t matter, since the Red Storm had a five point lead at Villanova and still shot 50% for the first half. They shot a mere four — four! — threes in the second half, tightened up their shot selection when ‘Nova turned up the defensive intensity, continued their unselfish play that is the very definition of this Red Storm squad, and walked out of Philadelphia with an 81-68 win. Dwight Hardy (34 points on 9-16) may actually end up winning that Big East MVP award, and let’s just go ahead and say it, because nobody else has: playing like they are now, St. John’s is a Final Four contender, and you’ll see them projected there in the brackets of some of the experts, we promise you.
  • Let’s start the party in Springfield! With their 69-64 win over Wichita State, Missouri State has clinched its first Missouri Valley Conference title, and they did it in one of the more exciting games of the second half of this season. Take note, all you overzealous RTCers…that’s how and when you do it. At 23-7 (15-3) and holding the MVC championship, we’d like to see the Bears make it for the first time in 12 years. With an RPI of 46 and a 2-4 record against the top 100, though…whew. Might be sweating without a conference tournament crown to go along with the regular season one.
  • Even with their adjacent rankings, there was a lot of talk about how San Diego State was playing for a 1-seed today but BYU wasn’t. Well, if there was a top seed out there today, it wasn’t the Aztecs. The Cougars shot a preposterous 14-24 (58.3%) from three point land, but they did one thing even better than that — they outscrapped the Aztecs on the inside. Even though SDSU won the rebounding battle and had twice as many offensive boards as BYU, the Cougars used active hands and physical play to frustrate the hosts inside. SDSU missed shot after shot from close range, and five of the Cougars’ six steals were in the paint. D.J. Gay and Malcolm Thomas shot a combined 5-17 (totalling 15 points) and only shot five free throws between them. The Jimmer was his usual self — shot a lot, hit a lot, missed a lot (25 points on 8-23) — but was an outstanding floor leader, exhibited mostly by his game-leading nine assists. Quite a few of those went to Joseph Abouo (18/9) who has emerged as a fantastic fourth option for BYU. We all thought that on offense the Aztecs would attack Fredette’s position no matter who he was guarding, and they did this early with some success. In the second half, oddly enough, they promptly stopped as soon as Jimmer picked up his fourth foul, even though he asked to stay in the game.
jstevrtc (547 Posts)

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