Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Jabesblog - NCAA Analysis

With less than 5 weeks to go before Selection Sunday there is still plenty of work to do for a lot of teams to lock-up a spot in this year's expanded field.  Other teams are playing for seed, which also impacts location.  Jabesblog takes a look at a conference-by-conference analysis of where teams stand and what remains for each team.

BIG EAST (conference RPI - #1) - projected teams in field - 10 or 11

Pittsburgh (22-2, 10-1, RPI#5)
Notre Dame (19-4, 8-3, RPI#9)
Connecticut (18-4, 6-4, RPI#10)
Georgetown (18-5, 7-4, RPI#6)
Syracuse (20-4, 7-4, RPI#16)
Villanova (19-4, 7-3, RPI#13)
Louisville (18-5, 7-3, RPI#26)
West Virginia (15-8, 6-5, RPI#18)

Cincinnati (19-5, 6-5, RPI#35) - 6 of the last 7 for the Bearcats are against projected Field of 68 teams, so Cincinnati will have opportunities to continue making amends for a cream-puff early season schedule.  That schedule currently has them 9th in the Big East seeding order, which is still good for a top 8 seed.  Upcoming home games against Louisville and St. John's appear crucial, as the four game finish at Georgetown, vs UConn, at Marquette, and vs Georgetown could be disastrous.  (Jabesblog projection - IN)

St. John's (13-9, 5-5, RPI#22) - St. John's has the potential to build the most interesting of resumes.  They have 4 RPI top 25 wins, including at West Virginia.  That alone would appear to make them a Field of 68 lock.  They have 5 games remaining against Field of 68 teams, 3 on the road, and the home games are Pitt and UConn.  Wins in the 3 lower RPI games seem crucial, as the "Johnnies" could easily go 1-4 in the other 5.  That would put them at 17-13, 9-9, with 5 RPI top 25 wins and lock them into the field, even with a first round Big East ouster.  I would hate to have to evaluate a 16-15, 8-10 team with 4 or 5 big wins like the Red Storm.  (Jabesblog projection - IN)

Marquette (14-9, 5-5, RPI#67) - The Golden Eagles are probably the most tenuous of the Big East teams, with a 3-7 record against the RPI top 25 and all 3 wins coming at home.  The good news for Marquette, is that they have possibly the easiest remaining schedule of all the teams mentioned, with 4 games against lower Big East teams and home games against St. John's and Cincinnati.  Take care of those 6, and the lack of quality road win probably doesn't matter.  (Jabesblog projection - IN)

BIG TEN (conference RPI #2) - projected teams in field - 5 or 6
Ohio State (24-0, 11-0, RPI#3)
Purdue (19-5, 8-3, RPI#11)
Wisconsin (17-5, 7-3, RPI #20)
Minnesota (16-7, 5-6, RPI#28) - The Gophers are almost there, with 3 RPI top 25 wins.  Their 7 remaining games are all against teams with RPI's 40 or below, so the Gophers just need to beat teams they are better than to lock up a bid.  That has been easier said than done for teams this year.  (Jabesblog projection - IN)

Illinois (15-8, 5-5, RPI#40) - The Illini are just 2-5 in their last 7 games and have fallen into dangerous territory.  Illinois has only two road wins all season to go with two decent neutral wins against Maryland and Gonzaga.  Road games remain at Minnesota, Michigan State, Ohio State and Purdue, as well as a home date with the Boilers.  The trend says that Illinois could go 1-4 or 0-5 in that set, which would place them squarely on the Bubble.  (Jabesblog projection - IN)

Michigan State (12-10, 5-6, RPI#49) - This season has been a disaster for Sparty, who came in as the consensus pre-season #2.  MSU is 1-5 in their last 6 games and the one win was an OT win at home against Indiana.  Yikes!!  Michigan State only has 2 road wins as well, which does not bode well for trips to Ohio State and Minnesota.  The trend is not good, and its hard to see how this team will even be able to take care of Illinois or Purdue at home.  (Jabesblog projection - OUT)

Penn State (12-10, 5-6, RPI#69) - Sunday's loss at home against Michigan was a killer, both to momentum and the Nittany Lions at-large chances.  Penn State has 1 road win all year and has trips to Michigan State, Wisconsin, Northwestern and Minnesota remaining, as well as a home date with the Buckeyes.  Penn State needs to win 2, if not 3 of those games to be under consideration.  (Jabesblog projection - OUT)

Michigan (13-10, 4-7, RPI#62) - The Wolverines have several factors working against them.  A 4-7 conference record, zero RPI top 25 wins, and 10 total losses.  Working in their favor is a manageable remaining schedule with 4 homes games and a trip to Iowa.  One of the home games is vs Wisconsin, which would be an RPI top 25 win.  Michigan likely needs a 5-2 finish and one win in the Big Ten tournament, but the schedule is there to do it.  (Jabesblog projection - OUT)

Northwestern (14-8, 4-7, RPI#81) - The Wildcats have a ton of work to do, but with the next 5 games at Michigan, at Penn State, vs Iowa, at Indiana and vs Penn State, Northwestern has a chance to get hot and feed off Saturday's win against Illinois.  With no bad losses, a 9-9 conference finish plus one Big Ten tourney win could do it for them.  (Jabesblog projection - OUT)

BIG 12 - (conference RPI #3) - projected teams in field - 5 or 6
Kansas (23-1, 8-1, RPI#1)
Texas (20-3, 8-0, RPI#7)
Missouri (17-6, 4-5, RPI#29)
Texas A&M (16-5, 4-4, RPI#33) - The Aggies are very close and should be able to close the deal with 6 remaining games against RPI 75+ teams.  Their current 1-4 stretch is what categorizes them here, as they need to reverse that trend, especially with that schedule.  (Jabesblog projection - IN)

Kansas State (15-8, 4-5, RPI#31) - This season wasn't supposed to go like this, but the Wildcats find themselves with work to do.  Zero RPI top 50 wins is the biggest obstacle right now.  Home games against Kansas and Missouri and a roadie at Texas give them their opportunity.  Key road games at Colorado and Nebraska loom as well.  (Jabesblog projection - IN)

Oklahoma State (16-7, 4-5, RPI#45) - With games at Kansas and Texas, the Cowboys need to be almost flawless in the other 5 if they can not pull off the upset in either of those two.  Road games at Nebraska and Oklahoma are no gimmes, and A&M and a talented Baylor team come to Stillwater yet.  A 7-9 finish in the Big 12 is very possible, meaning a conference tournament victory would seem necessary. (Jabesblog projection - OUT)

Baylor (15-7, 5-4, RPI#75) - Probably more disappointing than Kansas State, as at least KSU has a decent SOS.  Baylor has left themselves a lot of work and has the schedule to prove it.  Trips to Texas, Missouri and Oklahoma State, as well as home dates with the Longhorns and A&M are huge.  If they can steal a road win or beat Texas at home, Baylor would be back in the fold.  (Jabesblog projection - OUT)

MOUNTAIN WEST (conference RPI #4) - projected teams in field - 4 or 5

San Diego State (21-1, 8-1, RPI#4)
Brigham Young (21-2, 8-1, RPI#2)
UNLV (17-6, 5-4, RPI#27)

Colorado State (15-7, 6-3, RPI#44) - The Rams made the Jabesblog field this week and have a couple intriguing resume points.  A road win at UNLV and neutral wins vs Mississippi and Southern Mississippi, as well as their 3rd place standing in the nation's 4th ranked conference are all pluses.  Colorado State has two huge home games remaining against New Mexico and UNLV, before having to play at both San Diego State and BYU.  If they can survive trips to TCU and Air Force and take care of their home business, wouldn't it be hard to keep an 20-9, 11-5 Rams team out of the dance?  (Jabesblog projection - IN)

New Mexico (15-7, 4-4, RPI#61) - Los Lobos are under consideration for one major reason - a victory over RPI#2 BYU.  A home win against Colorado State is their lone other RPI top 50 win, with 4 RPI top 100 wins overall.  A season sweep of Colorado State would go along way toward stealing a fourth MWC bid.  Trips to both San Diego State and BYU remain, along with a visit from UNLV.  (Jabesblog projection - OUT)

ACC (Conference RPI #5) - projected teams in field - 4 or 5

Duke (21-2, 8-1, RPI#8)
North Carolina (17-5, 7-1, RPI#15)

Florida State (16-7, 6-3, RPI#54) - The Seminoles are the safest of the ACC Bubble teams based on their 3rd place standing and RPI top 25 victory over Duke.  Although 4 of the final 7 are on the road, only two games remain against NCAA discussion teams - at Maryland and a home date with North Carolina.  FSU should be able to take care of its business, but beating UNC would lock it up.  (Jabesblog projection - IN)

Boston College (15-9, 5-5, RPI#43) - The RPI number was prior to last nights loss at Clemson.  Neutral court wins vs Texas A&M and California are their two best wins, and the Eagles do have 6 RPI top 100 wins.  Home wins vs Maryland and Miami seem a must, with road games at North Carolina and Virginia Tech remaining.  (Jabesblog projection - IN)

Virginia Tech (15-7, 5-4, RPI#68) - The Hokies were my first team out this week based upon their 1 RPI top 50 win and two bad losses.  Home games against Maryland, Duke and Boston College remain to boost an iffy resume, as well as a trip to Clemson for the regular season finale.  Duke or BC would give them another top 50 win, but would 2 be enough?  (Jabesblog projection - OUT)

Maryland (15-8, 5-4, RPI#78) - The Terps are currently 0-7 against the RPI top 50, not really exuding confidence that they are tournament-worthy.  A schedule that takes them to Virginia Tech, Boston College and North Carolina gives them opportunity, as well as a home game against Florida State.  I am just not sure if there is enough there to make a strong case.  (Jabesblog projection - OUT)

Clemson (17-7, 6-4, RPI#72) - The Tigers got their first RPI top 50 win of the year, although it could knock B.C. out of the top 50 with the loss.  Home dates with North Carolina and Virginia Tech loom, as well as trips to Duke and Miami.  Clemson could use one more big win and the Virginia Tech finale might be for the last ACC bid.  (Jabesblog projection - OUT)

SEC (Conference RPI #6) - projected teams in field - 5 or 6

Florida (18-5, 7-2, RPI#14)
Kentucky (17-6, 5-4, RPI#12)
Vanderbilt (16-6, 4-4, RPI#19)
Tennessee (15-9, 5-4, RPI#21)

Georgia (16-7, 5-4, RPI#36) - The Bulldogs were fairly safe in the field this week, with 1 RPI top 25 and 2 RPI top 50 wins.  The kicker right now is four tough roadies at South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, and Alabama, along with a home date against Vandy.  An 0-5 mark in those four might send Georgia to the NIT.  Even the home win against Vandy would give them a likely 2nd RPI top 25 win.  (Jabesblog projection - IN)

Alabama (15-7, 7-1, RPI#96) - Yes, I put the RPI #96 team in my field this week.  The conference mark is hard to ignore, especially with wins against Kentucky and at Tennessee.  Trips to Florida and Vanderbilt remain, but the rest of the schedule is manageable.  Let's say they slip up at Ole Miss, can you really keep out a 12-4 SEC team with 2 huge wins?  (Jabesblog projection - IN)

Mississippi (15-8, 3-5, RPI#58) - The difference between Alabama and Mississippi is slim, but a 4 game difference in standing is huge.  Both have wins over Kentucky, but 'Bama won at Tennessee and Ole Miss has no such win.  The Rebels would need to sweep the two remaining games against the Tide to flip this consideration.  The other 6 games are against RPI 100+ teams, so a 6-2 finish is reasonable.  The problem with it, is that there are no opportunites outside the SEC Tourney for a big win.  (Jabesblog projection - OUT)

PAC-10 (conference RPI #7) - Projected teams in field  - 3 or 4

Arizona (20-4, 9-2, RPI#17)

UCLA (16-7, 7-3, RPI#41) - The Bruins are an upward mover, winners of 7 of their last 8.  They picked up a second big win last weekend over St. John's, currently an RPI top 25 team, to go with their neutral win over BYU.  A home game against Arizona will be a great chance for another top 25 win.  The Bruins have to go to Cal, Washington and Washington State yet, so nothing will be easy.  (Jabesblog projection - IN)

Washington (15-7, 7-4, RPI#40) - What has happened to the Huskies?  A 3-game losing streak has sent them down the bracket, mainly because they lost to the Oregon schools who are pitiful.  An RPI top 25 win over Arizona is there, as well as a win at UCLA.  Washington needs to turn it around with a home game against Cal on Thursday.  Only one tough roadie remains at Arizona, so unless the current spin is irreversible, things should be o.k.  (Jabesblog projection - IN)

Washington State (16-7, 6-5, RPI#70) - A free-falling Washington has tainted their best win, so a win at Arizona or Washington or home to UCLA seems like a must.  With no RPI top 25 wins, the Cougars will likely be leap-frogged by a team having such wins on its resume.  (Jabesblog projection - OUT)

California (13-10, 6-5, RPI#66) - With a tough SOS and a top 50 win vs Temple, the Golden Bears are not out of the picture yet.  They too could use an RPI top 25 win, but no such games remain outside the PAC-10 Tourney.  Wins over the Washington schools or UCLA would help, but the resume lacks overall.  (Jabesblog projection - OUT)

CONFERENCE USA (conference RPI #8) - projected teams in field 2 or 3

Memphis (17-6, 5-3, RPI#45) - The Tigers recovered with a big week win Saturday at Gonzaga.  Memphis has two RPI top 50 road wins, and gets those same two teams at home in UAB and Southern Mississippi.  Road games at Central Florida tonight and UTEP down the road are the only other RPI top 100 games left, but Conference USA has proved these teams are not immune to a 100+ loss.  (Jabesblog projection - IN)

Southern Mississippi (16-5, 7-3, RPI#44) - The Golden Eagles were new to my field this week, but that spot is tenuous.  With 0 RPI top 25 wins and just 1 RPI top 50 win, it was solely based on their first place standing in the conference and 4-game winning streak.  Games remain at Memphis and Tulsa, as well as home games with UAB and UTEP.  A regular-season title is very key in this conference for the second bid.  (Jabesblog projection - IN)

UAB - (16-6, 6-3, RPI#36) - A high RPI built on zero top 50 wins, UAB has work to do.  Winnable home games remain, but the Blazers could use a road win at Memphis or Southern Miss to get a top 50 win.  (Jabesblog projection - OUT)

UTEP - (17-5, 6-2, RPI#58) - I hate to keep saying it, but zero top 50 wins does not a resume make.  UTEP's chances come at Southern Miss and at home against Memphis.  The conference tourney is also in El Paso.  They could easily be Conference USA regular season or tourney champions.  (Jabesblog projection - OUT)

Atlantic 10 (conference RPI #9) - projected teams in field - 3 or 4

Xavier (17-6, 8-1, RPI#19)
Temple (17-5, 7-2, RPI#32)

Richmond (18-6, 7-2, RPI#74) - The Spiders have an RPI top 25 win over Purdue currently keeping them in the field.  Also, besides a game at Temple, the remaining schedule is soft enough to go at least 5-2, which would get them  to 23-8, 12-4.  That soft schedule will likely keep them right at the fringe, but unless other teams start coming up with top 25 or multiple top 50 wins, Richmond is ok.  (Jabesblog projection - IN)

Dayton (17-7, 5-4, RPI#54) - Dayton also has an RPI top 25 win, albeit against #23 George Mason.  Home games with Temple and Xavier are huge for Dayton to leap back into the fray.  A road game tonight vs Rhode Island is huge to keep moving forward.  (Jabesblog projection - OUT)

COLONIAL (conference RPI #10) - projected teams in field 2 or 3

George Mason (20-5, 12-2, RPI#23) - The Patriots have zero RPI top 25 wins, but with the conference lead and 2 RPI top 50 wins, they are in the field for now. A split of road games at VCU and Northern Iowa would likely lock-up a spot, as long as an unforeseen disaster is avoided at home or at Georgia State.  (Jabesblog projection - IN)

Old Dominion (18-6, 9-4, RPI#29) - What does Bracketology 101 have against the Monarchs?  They have a top 25 neutral win vs Xavier and a top 25 win against George Mason.  So many other teams lack even one RPI top 25 win.  Yes, they lost at home to VCU and a loss at VCU would mean a season sweep, but the more important games may be at home vs Cleveland State and at James Madison.  (Jabesblog projection - IN)

VCU (19-6, 11-2, RPI#56) - Two top 50 wins, one neutral vs UCLA and one at Old Dominion are big.  a season sweep of ODU and a home win against George Mason would give the Rams 4 RPI top 50 wins.  They also have a bracket buster game at Wichita State and play at a solid Drexel team.  VCU can definitely play their way in the dance.  (Jabesblog projection - IN)

That's 46 teams from 10 conferences, meaning the remaining 21 conferences would have 22 bids.  St. Mary's and Utah State appear to be the only virtual locks at this point.  Wichita State, Missouri State and Cleveland State appear to have blown their at-large chances recently.  A win at Old Dominion could get Cleveland State back in the mix, but right now, I just don't see it.  That means if St. Mary's and Utah State both win their conference tourney, one more bid would be available.  That will either go to a surprise conference tourney winner from a top 10 conference or one more at-large from those conferences.

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