Thursday, March 4, 2010

Well that sucked

 Well yesterday certainly sucked.  As you probably inferred from the post directly below this one, we had to put our kick-ass super awesome cat Merlin down yesterday.  He was fine in the morning and near death in the evening due to some pretty serious health issues that suddenly popped up.  You will be missed, good buddy.  You will be missed.

On to the basketball, because life does go on, after all and there are bubbles and tournaments that need attention.  The two biggest bubble games were the Memphis vs. UAB and UCONN vs. Notre Dame tilts, and the big winners were the Tigers and the Irish.  The Memphis win puts them on the same level as UAB, both squarely in the middle of the bubble.  They both close with tough C-USA matchups (Memphis vs. Tulsa, UAB @ UTEP) and then the C-USA Tourney.  It's not hard to imagine a scenario with either both in, or both out.  Notre Dame's big win assures them of at least a .500 record in the Big East, which might be enough to get them in, while UCONN is now 7-10 in conference play and looking very dicey.

Florida State and Rhode Island also picked up big wins (over Wake and Charlotte).  FSU is in better shape than Rhodey (who will probably need to make the A-10 final or big up a big win in the tournament), Charlotte is done, and Wake is suddenly looking like a bubble team instead of a "lock" thanks to a four-game skid.  They really need to win their finale at home against Clemson or the ACC tournament is going to become huge for them.

In the three other games with at-large implications Virginia Tech beat NC State, SDSU crushed Colorado State, and Mississippi State was upset by Auburn.  The Hokies now have nine ACC wins with a game at Georgia Tech left on the schedule.  If they pull that one out and get to ten wins it's going to be hard to keep them out, despite an empty computer profile.  SDSU is still tracking to give the MWC four teams.  BYU, New Mexico, and maybe UNLV are all pretty much in already and the Aztecs might need to pick one of them off in the MWC tournament.  If that upset comes against UNLV things get very interesting between the two teams.  Finally, the Bulldogs' loss to Auburn might have tossed them from the conversation, which sucks because I'd love to watch Varnado in the tournament.  Oh, and I forgot St. Louis lost to Temple which kills their chances.

As usual during this week, there are a few conference tournaments kicking off today:

NORTHEAST CONFERENCE:  Generally, year-after-year, the worst three conferences are the MEAC, the Independents, and the SWAC.  This year the MEAC actually crept ahead of someone - the NEC.  They were hurt by the addition of Bryant who went 1-29, but this is a bad, bad group of basketball teams.  The days of Charles Jones and LIU are long gone.
FAVORITE: Quinnipiac.  The Bobcats finished in a regular-season tie at the top of the NEC standings with Robert Morris, but get favorite status thanks to a better overall record and a win over RMU in their only regular season meeting.
SLEEPER:  Mount Saint Mary's.  The Mountaineers finished three games behind the conference leaders, but come into the NEC tournament with a ten-game winning streak that including wins over both Quinnipiac and RMU.  I started to do some research to see why they got so hot in the last two months of the season, but then I remembered that this is the NEC and I've probably spent too much time on it already.
W's PICK: Quinnipiac.  I almost went with Robert Morris since they won this thing last year, but QP leads the conference in scoring, rebounding, and field goal percentage.  Should be enough to win.

MISSOURI VALLEY:  Once the darling of the mid-major crowd, the MVC has fallen off the face of the earth and now has just one team with a shot at an at-large in Northern Iowa.  Perhaps a great indicator of the drop is Southern Illinois at 6-12 in MVC play.  Once the jewel (along with Creighton) of the MVC, years of sustained high-level play have come to an end, and most of the rest of the conference has followed.
FAVORITE:  Northern Iowa.  I actually think the Panthers are really overrated this year, but they won the conference regular season crown by three games and have an overall record of 25-4.  Of course, those losses are to DePaul (RPI = 191), Bradley (107), Wichita State (51), and Evansville (243) and outside of wins over Siena and Old Dominion (and Wichita) there's nothing here.  This is not a team that will pull an upset in the first round of the NCAAs.  Trust me.
SLEEPER:  Illinois State.  They finished just 11-7 in the conference, but they might be the most talented team.  They have the leading MVC scorer (Osiris Eldridge), rebounder (Dinma Odiakosa), field-goal percentage shooter (Odiakosa), and third-leading assist guy (Lloyd Phillips).  They've won six of their last seven, and this same group has fallen just short of the NCAAs and ended up in the NIT the past two seasons.
W's PICK:  Drake.  Just for our very own Rockies guy.  Plus they have that Josh Young guy, who is probably the best player in Iowa.

AMERICAN EAST: This isn't a highly rated conference by any stretch, but they do seem to produce teams that are tough outs in the tournament (Vermont, Albany).  This year doesn't look like it will it will continue that trend, with no real good teams coming out of the AEC.  Additionally, Binghampton, who had a chance to be a decent sleeper this week, has pulled out of the tournament due to the ongoing legal woes with the program.
FAVORITE: Stony Brook.  They won the conference with a 13-3 mark and had a 5-1 mark against the other top teams.
SLEEPER:  Maine.  They finished in third and were the only upper-division team to beat Stony Brook. 
W's PICK:  Vermont.  The Catamounts have the pedigree and, more importantly, have one of the best players most people haven't heard of in Marquis Blakely, a 6-5 senior forward who does it all for Vermont.  I haven't actually seen him play (Vermont isn't on TV as much as you might think), but ranking second in scoring, rebounding, and field goal percentage and fourth in assists in the AEC is pretty impressive. 


Seton Hall @ Rutgers - The Pirates are still alive based almost solely on the fact that they are in the Big East, where at 7-9 they can still pull to .500, and that's a possibility with this game and than another one at Providence.  If they can win the last two on the road and then do something in the Big East Tournament they have a good shot at a bid.

Dayton @ Richmond - The Flyers were supposed to be good, but instead find themselves clinging to life.   A win would go a long way towards a bid, but a loss here probably ends the dream.

LSU @ Ole Miss - The Rebels have climbed back into the picture with a late two game winning streak and a quickly weakening bubble (also the reason Lunardi has the Gophers as the fifth team out right now, but don't hold your breath).  Of course, like a lot of other teams right now a loss probably puts them out.

Washington @ Oregon - God the Pac 10 sucks.

USC @ Arizona State - Yep, still sucks.

RIP Merlin.  If there's a cat heaven go ahead and give your Cat God a nice swipe of a claw for me.

And then kick him in his little cat nuts.


WWWWWW said...

And since I know you are curious, things are getting very interesting in my Fantasy College Hoops championship. Thanks to a couple of big nights from guys like JaJuan and Shurna, I've closed the gap to 284-251. I have Draymond Green going tonight and he has nobody. If Green can put up 33 points (say 14 points, 9 boards, 2 assists and 2 steals with 0 TOs) we will be tied and each have 10 games remaining.

So go ahead and root for Draymond tonight. You know you want to.

joey said...

Nice cat blog...