Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Big Bubble Blows

Two bubble teams were knocked out of the tournament (most likely) last night, due to losses by South Alabama and Gonzaga in their tournaments. This, along with the VCU loss this weekend, makes the bubble an even muddier picture. Gonzaga is in for sure. But South Alabama and VCU are bubble teams.

South Alabama has an RPI of 37, with a strength of schedule of 127. VCU's RPI is 54, with an SOS of 155. USA finished 26-6, 16-2 in their conference to finish tied for first in the 15th toughest league by RPI. VCU finished 24-7, 15-3 in conference to finish first by 3 games in the 13th toughest league. USA lost in the tournament semifinals, as did VCU. Non-conference saw USA with a NC SOS of 73, with VCU at 81. In terms of results, USA beat Mississippi State and San Diego (two tournament teams), swept Western Kentucky, and lost to Vanderbilt and Ole Miss both by three on the road. VCU beat Maryland and Houston, lost to George Mason in their only meeting by 12, and lost to Miami (FL) by six and Arkansas by 10. It's closer than I thought, but I think South Alabama is clearly a tournament team, while VCU is probably just out.

Two more tournaments kick off today, the WAC and the MEAC, along with chamionships in the Horizon, the Sun Belt, and the Summit.

Western Athletic Conference:
The WAC is a really weird conference to me, as it seems like it should be better than it is. But it's not, it sucks. The WAC rankes 20th out of the 31 conferences in RPI. A four way tie for first just reinforces the mediocrity. Leading the way down crap lane is Utah State and superstar guard Jaycee Carroll. It's not too touch to figure out what this team is all about, as they rank 7th in the country in offensive efficiency, but 259th in defensive efficiency. They shoot 52% from the floor as a team, 39% from three, and 79% from the line - second in the country. Carroll himself is sixth in O-efficiency, shooting 53%, including 50% from three, and 92% from the line while averaging 23 points per game. The Aggies biggest competition is Nevada, who has been the favorite for several years but dropped off without Nick Fazekas around anymore. Marcellus Kemp is still around, however, and was second in the league in scoring to Carroll.
FAVORITE: Utah State
SLEEPER: Boise State. Finished in that four way tie for first, but ended up with the fourth seed after tie breakers. Led the league in scoring and have the two top rebounders in the WAC. Also swept Nevada, although Utah St swept them.
W's PICK: Utah State. I can't pick against a team I watched play in person. Especially with all the hot girls who attend there.

One of a couple of conferences that is always in contention to send it's champion to the play-in game, and this year doesn't look much different, as the MEAC finished 30th out of 31 conferences in RPI. This year's leader is Morgan State, who steamrolled through the conference at 14-2, winning by three games. The Golden Bears are yet another one of those teams that play solid defense and a slow game, and could at least give their NCAA opponent some trouble if they make it. They'll have to get by Hampton and Norfolk State in the tournament if they want to make it, they finished in a tie for second, and Norfolk handed Morgan State one of it's losses this season.
FAVORITE: Morgan State
SLEEPER: Florida A&M. The Rattlers are on a roll (won five straight), have been here before (have won the MEAC tournament twice - including last year), and play Morgan State tough (2 losses by a total of five points)
W's PICK: Morgan State

TOMORROW: Some of the "real" conferences get things moving, such as the Atlantic 10, Mountain West, Big East, and Pac 10, along with the Big West, MAC, and Conference USA. Championships for the NEC and Big Sky, too. And it's my mom's birthday.

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