O26 Resume Review: New Mexico, Richmond & VCU Rising…

Posted by Adam Stillman on January 29th, 2014

As January comes to a close, we’re beginning to see teams play their way into or out of the at-large conversation. While we saw a couple teams already projected to earn a selection to the NCAA Tournament boost their profiles this past week, we also witnessed a couple more teams throw away their invitations to the Big Dance. Let’s see which O26 teams helped and hurt themselves.

Helped

Richmond (14-6, 4-1 A-10).

Cedrick Lindsay has the Richmond Spiders on the rise. (Photo courtesy of espn.com)

Cedrick Lindsay has the Richmond Spiders on the rise. (Photo courtesy of espn.com)

What a couple of weeks it’s been for the Richmond Spiders. They’ve suddenly thrust themselves into the bubble picture with wins against Massachusetts (#8 RPI), Dayton and St. Joseph’s. Richmond’s hot streak boosted its RPI from #62 to #48 in the matter of seven days. While still on the outside looking in, the Spiders can change that this week as opportunity comes knocking. The make-or-break stretch starts with a road game tonight at Saint Louis before traveling to face VCU on Saturday. Ken Pomeroy’s projections don’t give Richmond much of a chance in either game (19 percent and 20 percent, respectively). Those same projections have Richmond finishing 20-11 overall and 10-6 in the Atlantic 10, though. Is that enough to make the Big Dance? Joe Lunardi currently has Richmond listed second in his “First Four Out” category, while CBS’ Jerry Palm has the Spiders in that same group.

Projected seed for now: Out

New Mexico (16-4, 7-1 MW). The New Mexico Lobos are looking like a safe bet to be the Mountain West’s second — and maybe final — representative in the NCAA Tournament behind San Diego State. After a disappointing home loss to UNLV on January 15 that prompted me to place the Lobos in the “Hurt” category, New Mexico has since rattled off four straight wins. While three of those victories came against Utah State, Fresno State and Colorado State, the fact they came on the road helps the Lobos’ overall profile. Mix in a solid home win against Boise State, and New Mexico’s RPI jumped from #45 to #30 in a week’s time. The Lobos boast five top-100 RPI wins, including a December victory against Cincinnati (#24 RPI) that continues to look better and better as the Bearcats (19-2) climb up the rankings (#13 AP, #15 Coaches). New Mexico still faces a home-and-home with San Diego State in late February and early March, as well as road contests at Boise State and UNLV.

Projected seed for now: #10

VCU (16-4, 4-1 A-10). Are we finally seeing the VCU that we expected all along? The Rams are coming off a huge week with road wins at Dayton (80-66) and La Salle (97-89 in two overtimes) that bumped their RPI from #47 to #35. The Atlantic 10 favorites entering the season, VCU struggled in the non-conference portion of the schedule that included losses to Florida State, Georgetown and Northern Iowa. Now the Rams have won eight of their last nine games with the lone blemish a road loss to an overachieving George Washington team. VCU gets its next three opponents at home — Fordham, Richmond, and Rhode Island — before beginning a stretch that includes SLU twice, UMass on the road and a rematch with GW. VCU looks poised to challenge for the Atlantic 10 crown and a seed in the top half of the NCAA Tournament bracket.

Projected seed for now: #9

Hurt

BYU (13-9, 5-4). This past week might have signaled the end of BYU’s at-large hopes. The Cougars’ were already skating on thin ice with seven overall losses, but an 11th-ranked strength of schedule according to KenPom kept BYU’s name in the discussion. After an ignominious triple-overtime loss to Portland on January 23 and a pasting at the hands of Gonzaga on January 25, it’s automatic bid or bust for the Cougars. BYU’s RPI dropped from #40 to #49 after that damaging three-day swing, and only Gonzaga on February 20 presents the Cougars’ a legitimate resume-boosting opportunity.  BYU is favored in eight of its last nine games according to KenPom, with a road game at Saint Mary’s being the projected loss, but I’d find it hard to believe a five-loss WCC team would garner an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament.

BYU hurt its at-large profile last week.

BYU hurt its at-large profile last week.

Projected seed for now: Out

Dayton (13-7, 1-4 A-10). Yikes. That might be it for Dayton’s at-large dreams as well. The Flyers are in nose-dive mode, having lost three straight games — at Richmond, home to VCU and at Rhode Island — that caused the Flyers’ RPI to plummet from #50 to #63. It was just earlier this month that Dayton appeared to be a strong candidate for a bid. The Flyers sat at 12-3 entering conference play with wins against Gonzaga, California and Ole Miss. Now Dayton has dropped four of its first five Atlantic 10 tilts, with the lone win coming against Fordham. There’s still plenty of time to right the ship, as games against George Washington, SLU and UMass dot the remaining schedule. The only problem? Dayton is projected to lose the latter two and KenPom as the Flyers as finishing 19-12 overall and 7-9 in conference play. That doesn’t add up to an at-large bid.

Projected seed for now: Out

Adam Stillman (46 Posts)


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