RTC Daily Bracketbusters: Monday-Thursday

Posted by nvr1983 on March 1st, 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.

Tenth
Georgia Tech at Clemson on Raycom/ESPN Full Court at 8 PM on Tuesday – This game is important not just for NCAA seeding, but also for ACC seeding. Both teams are currently occupying a position in the ACC standings where they could easily rank anywhere from 3rd in the conference all the way down to 7th in the conference. That conference rank could be the difference between having to play Duke or having to play UNC (ok, I’ll admit that was a cheap shot Tar Heel fans) early in the ACC Tournament. As you would expect from fairly similar teams, they both sit in the middle of most brackets. I could see either one going as high as a 6-seed or as low as a 9-seed when Selection Sunday roles around and these head-to-head match-ups will play a huge role in where they fit in the bracket.

Ninth
Memphis at UAB on Comcast Sports South at 9 PM on Wednesday – It still seems incredible after all these years of John Calipari‘s teams dominating Conference USA that the Tigers are no longer dominating CUSA any more. In fact, these two Conference USA teams will be playing for more than the #2 seed in the CUSA Tournament (UTEP is in the driver’s seat for the #1 seed) when they meet in Birmingham. They might be playing for an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament as well. Most bracketologists have the Blazers as one of their last teams in while the Tigers are one of the last teams out. A win by Josh Pastner‘s squad could cause the teams to flip positions into and out of the bracket overnight. Normally I might make this game even higher, but I’m not buying the UTEP Kool-Aid and the loser could still get in with either a win in the conference tournament over the other or could potentially win the CUSA Tournament outright.

Eighth
Oklahoma State at #24 Texas A&M on ESPN at 9 PM on Wednesday – Both teams are coming off huge home wins. Now the question is whether they can sustain the momentum. The Cowboys will need to show they can win away from the land of perpetual T. Boone Pickens money and the Aggies will need to show they can win against a team that isn’t collapsing. Both teams are currently in a group of five Big 12 teams with in-conference records of either 8-6 or 9-5. A win here or there could mean the difference between finishing 3rd in the conference or finishing 7th in the conference and even though OSU has a win over KU everybody in the Big 12 (and the country) wants to avoid the Jayhawks for as long as possible in any tournament (Big 12 or NCAA). Right now both teams are in the 6-8 seed range, but a hot or cold streak to finish the season could mean anywhere from a 5-seed to a 10-seed for these two teams.

Seventh
#19 Vanderbilt at Florida on ESPN at 7 PM on Tuesday – The Gators are coming off a tough two-point loss at Georgia, but their prior three-game winning streak has assured them a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Now they are entering a two-game stretch (home versus Vanderbilt then at Kentucky) where it might appear that they can only help their NCAA seed and a win could boost them 2-3 spots, but if they lose these two and their opener in the SEC Tournament a four-game losing streak might be enough to take them to the NIT for the third straight year. As for the Commodores, they have a treacherous two-game finish in Gainesville then at home against Devan Downey and company. They are currently chasing a #3 or #4 seed, but a loss in either of those games could cripple their chances at getting a top-4 seed (barring an upset victory over Kentucky in the SEC Tournament). Technically they still have a chance of winning the SEC regular season title (if they win out and the Wildcats finish on a 3-game losing streak), but we don’t see that happening.

Can Chandler Parsons and his Gators shoot their way into the field?

Sixth
#9 Villanova at Cincinnati on ESPN2 at 7 PM on Tuesday – The question here is how these teams respond to difficult loses on Saturday. Villanova’s loss was more visible and watched (by just about everyone in upstate New York–aka everything outside of NYC), but the Bearcats suffered a difficult loss in Morgantown where they blew a 2nd half lead before falling just short. The Wildcats loss likely will keep them out of a #1 seed, but the Bearcats loss might be enough to keep them out the NCAA Tournament altogether. A win here for Villanova would be big to ensure that they stay on the 2-seed line while Cincinnati needs a win here and probably at Georgetown along with 1 or 2 wins in the Big East Tournament to punch their ticket to the Big Dance.

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RTC Daily Bracketbusters: Saturday & Sunday

Posted by nvr1983 on February 27th, 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/Friday night for games from Friday through Sunday.

Fifth
#21 Texas at #23 Texas A&M at 2 PM on ESPN on Saturday – These two teams are on edge of being anywhere from a #4 to a #8 seed so this is obviously a big game for both teams because when the Selection Committee is placing teams in the bracket they will look at how they did head-to-head. Texas has been disappointing this year, but they have a chance to salvage their season with a late rally. The big question is how they respond to the loss of Dogus Balbay.  Texas A&M is in essentially the same situation that the Longhorns are just with much less fanfare and volatility. The winner here has a shot at a 4 seed while the loser is going to be looking at a #7 seed at best barring a run in the Big 12 Conference Tournament, but perhaps the biggest prize for the winner will be moving up to try and avoid Kansas in the Conference Tournament for as long as possible.

Fourth
Illinois State at #22 Northern Iowa at 8:05 PM on ESPN2 on Saturday – I know after the media’s lovefest for the Panthers this year it might be shocking to hear that they might need to win this game to guarantee a spot in the NCAA Tournament, but after their shocking loss at Evansville they might need this one for an at-large bid if they slip up in Arch Madness. Jordan Eglseder is scheduled to return from his suspension today and the Panthers will need him against Illinois State. The Redbirds have no illusions of an at-large bid, but this game is significant for their automatic bid chances as it would give them a shot at the #2 seed in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament and help them avoid the Panthers until the finals, which is particularly important since there are only 3 solid teams in the MVC.

Will Eglseder’s return spark the Panthers?

Third
#8 Villanova at #4 Syracuse at 9 PM on ESPN on Saturday - Yes. The biggest game ever (!) slides in as the #3 game of the weekend in our rankings. Obviously this is the marquee game of the weekend in terms of big names, but it holds a little less significance for the NCAA Tournament then some would think. A win here for Syracuse would give them clinch the Big East regular season title for the Orange, but they already have the coveted double-bye (an absolute joke) in the Big East Tournament. The bigger issue for Jim Boeheim‘s squad is their quest for a #1 seed. With Purdue basically being eliminated in the talk about the final two #1 seeds (see below), a Syracuse win would give them the inside track for one of those seeds. As for Villanova, they have an outside shot at a #1 seed, but they will need a lot of help thanks to their #50 SOS (yes, I double checked and yes I was shocked too). Their main concern should be trying to avoid slipping for a #3 or possibly even #4 seed with a difficult three-game stretch to end the season (at Syracuse, at Cincinnati, and home versus West Virginia).

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RTC Daily Bracketbusters: Monday-Thursday

Posted 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.

Fifth
#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.

Ebanks is the X-factor for West Virginia

Fourth
#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.

Third
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.

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