O26 Resume Review

Posted by Adam Stillman on January 8th, 2014

Now is when all the fun starts. No more guarantee games. Conference play is underway. We can start breaking down resumes in earnest and begin to get a clearer picture of where teams stand nationally. It’s hard to believe that the NCAA Tournament is just over two months away, but let’s take stock of where some of the O26 bubble teams stand and how their resumes stack up right now.

Note: O26 teams that are projected to be safely in the field aren’t included in this resume review. That includes Wichita State, San Diego State, Massachusetts and Gonzaga.

Boise State (11-3)

  • Good wins: Utah
  • Bad losses: None
Boise State Missed an Opportunity at Kentucky

Boise State Missed an Opportunity at Kentucky

Thoughts: Boise State has missed out on its biggest opportunities to secure marquee wins. The Broncos came up just short against Iowa State on Christmas, falling by four at the Diamond Head Classic. A 15-point drubbing at the hands of Kentucky didn’t help either. That home loss to Saint Mary’s is looking worse now with the Gaels struggling. There will be plenty of chances for Boise State in the Mountain West, though, even if the league is somewhat down from last season. There’s no better way than to tip off league play with a date at San Diego State tonight.

  • Projected seed for now: Out

Dayton (12-3)

  • Good wins: Gonzaga, at Ole Miss? California?
  • Bad losses: Illinois State, USC

Thoughts: Dayton is somewhat of an enigma. The Flyers have a really nice win against Gonzaga at the Maui Invitational and fell just a point shy against Baylor in the semifinals of that same tournament. A true road win at Ole Miss isn’t too shabby either. But then you also have to consider an away loss to Illinois State and a home loss to Southern California. The Flyers can open Atlantic 10 play off on the right foot when they host Saint Louis January 11.

  • Projected seed for now: #12

George Washington (12-2)

  • Good wins: Creighton
  • Bad losses: None

Thoughts: Still not sure what to think of the Colonials. They have that sparkling win against Creighton in early December, but not much else stands out on their resume. Their win against Maryland is decent. Some concerns were certainly raised in that 17-point loss to Kansas State on New Year’s Eve, although the Wildcats are certainly a team on the rise. A home game against VCU on January 14 should be a good barometer to see where this team stands.

  • Projected seed for now: Out

Harvard (13-1)

Harvard is Seeking a Return Trip in March

Harvard is Seeking a Return Trip in March

  • Good wins: None
  • Bad losses: None

Thoughts: Harvard’s at-large case appears pretty simple. Win tonight at Connecticut, split with Princeton in the Ivy League and fall to the Tigers in the winner-take-all playoff game. Would that be enough to get the Crimson into the NCAA Tournament? It’s certainly an interesting case. I say yes. Harvard’s likeliest path to the Big Dance is still through winning the regular-season title in the Ivy League, and just about all chances of an at-large berth go out the window without a win at UConn. There’s just not enough on the resume without it. Ultimately, this team should find itself in the Tournament for the second straight year, though. Harvard’s Ken Pomeroy ranking of #27 looks mighty fine.

  • Projected seed for now: #9

Indiana State (11-3)

  • Good wins: Notre Dame, Belmont?
  • Bad losses: Tulsa

Thoughts: Indiana State’s early season win at Notre Dame looks much nicer now after the Fighting Irish took down Duke (even with the subsequent loss to NC State). The Sycamores can’t hang their hat on that victory all season long, though. They’ll likely need to knock off Wichita State once and basically go undefeated against the rest of the Missouri Valley. Indiana State could certainly make a case by doing that and making a run to the MVC Tournament championship game. The Sycamores travel to Wichita State on January 18 before the return game February 5.

  • Projected seed for now: Out

Louisiana Tech (12-3)

  • Good wins: at Oklahoma?
  • Bad losses: Louisiana-Lafayette

Thoughts: Can Louisiana Tech avoid a repeat of 2013? The Bulldogs owned a gaudy record and sat squarely on the bubble. Then they lost their last three games, including a first-round exit in the WAC Tournament. Now a member of Conference USA, the road is a little bit tougher. But without Memphis around, would an impressive league record and a loss in the tournament final be enough for an at-large bid? That road win at Oklahoma in overtime looks nice, but there’s nothing else to see on this resume. A trip to Southern Miss on January 19 followed by a home date with Charlotte on January 23 is a key stretch.

  • Projected seed for now: Out

New Mexico (10-3)

  • Good wins: Cincinnati, Marquette?
  • Bad losses: New Mexico State

Thoughts: New Mexico probably will find itself in the NCAA Tournament field without too much of a problem. But for now their resume is worthy of review. The win against Cincinnati is looking better after the Bearcats’ recent stretch that includes a win at Memphis and at Houston. While losses to Massachusetts and Kansas are not going to kill New Mexico, the margin of defeat in both — 16 and 17 points, respectively — is concerning. The MW will provide ample opportunity to pad the resume, starting with a home date with Boise State on January 21. The Lobos don’t face San Diego State until late February and early March.

  • Projected seed for now: # 11

Saint Louis (14-2)

Jordair Jett has the Billikens in contention for an at-large bid. (Photo courtesy of foxpsports.com)

Jordair Jett has the Billikens in contention for an at-large bid. (Photo courtesy of foxpsports.com)

  • Good wins: Indiana State?
  • Bad losses: None

Thoughts: While the computer numbers look nice, there’s not much on the Billikens’ resume to back them up. Saint Louis sits at #22 in KenPom’s rankings, including the third-best mark in defensive efficiency (89.2). That’s all well and good, but at some point Jim Crews’ bunch will need to add a marquee scalp or two. Saint Louis throttled a solid Indiana State team at home, but came up short against Wisconsin and Wichita State, the latter of which was at home. Those losses were a combined 11 points, showing the Billikens can play with the best, thanks to their elite defense. An away game at Dayton on January 11 would be a nice-to-have. A home-and-home with VCU and an away game to close the season on March 9 are the dates to circle on the calendar.

  • Projected seed for now: #10

Toledo (12-1)

  • Good wins: None
  • Bad losses: None

Thoughts: Toledo is still an unknown commodity. The Rockets were one of the final seven unbeaten teams in the nation before losing by 10 at Kansas on December 30. That’s a respectable score at Phog Allen Fieldhouse. Yet Toledo’s best win is against Cleveland State, ranked #87 in KenPom’s ratings. The Rockets boast one of the most efficient offenses in the country, scoring 118.7 points per 100 possessions, good for third in the land. While Toledo might fit that Giant Killer model — a strong three-point shooting team that doesn’t turn the ball over — the Rockets have to get there first. With just Mid-American Conference play left on the docket, it might take an undefeated league slate and a loss in the the MAC championship game to garner an at-large bid.

  • Projected seed for now: #13

VCU (12-3)

  • Good wins: at Virginia, at Belmont?
  • Bad losses: Northern Iowa

Thoughts: HAVOC is no fun for opponents’ ball-handlers. VCU tops the nation in defensive turnover percentage, taking the ball away on 28.6 percent of its opponent’s possessions. That certainly helps the Rams hold the 15th-ranked defensive efficiency (92.4) in the nation. Those numbers look dandy, but the resume doesn’t stack up to further scrutiny. What once looked like a great win at Virginia doesn’t look quite so special now with the Cavaliers’ struggles. VCU will battle it out with Massachusetts and St. Louis for the Atlantic 10 crown and should ultimately find its way into the NCAA Tournament. Home-and-homes with the Billikens and George Washington, as well as an away game at UMass on February 21, could determine VCU’s postseason fate.

  • Projected seed for now: #10

Others under consideration: Southern Miss, UAB, Utah State, Princeton, Charlotte, Saint Mary’s, Green Bay.

Adam Stillman (48 Posts)


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