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Mid-Major Bubbles

I don’t know about little brothers. According to my six-year-old niece, “they’re annoying,” and my older sister tends to concur. I think the NCAA’s “power six” conferences feel that way about the mid-major schools a lot too (especially after Butler’s run a year ago).

Wichita St. (23-6, 14-3): Nice team with some decent non-c wins over the likes of Virginia, LSU, Tulsa, and in conference at Northern Iowa, and at Indiana St. They lost at home to fellow bubble members Missouri St., and VCU, and have a bad home loss to Southern Illinois. The last week of the MVC regular season sees the teams (WSU-MSU) tied for first play on the final day of action before the tournament.

Having gone to school at Drake (6-10, 12-16) I have a nice connection to the Missouri Valley. My Bulldogs have had another rough year and watching Keno flounder at Providence has only slightly quelled the pain of another losing year. I would think Drake would be a good place to go if you were a basketball player. I’ll save my recruiting pitch for another time

Missouri St. (21-7, 13-3): The Bears’ biggest win unfortunately for them was that win in Wichita. They split with both UNI and Indiana St., lost both games against “Power 6” teams Oklahoma St. and Tennessee, and got blown out in the bracket buster at Valparaiso. It seems like they will need to win out to get in, yes that means the conference tournament too.

What a way to lose Michigan. Wow, I thought being a Minnesota fan was brutal. That was the most deflating way to go out since Roy Munson lost his hand.

Colorado St. (18-9, 8-5): Is this team riding the coattails of this conference’s inflated RPI and SOS because of the two top-ten teams at the top? Yes, yes they are. The best wins for this team have been a neutral site win over Ole Miss and a win at UNLV (a game they just nullified with their loss at home against the Rebels) and they lost at home to Sam Houston St. The loss tonight to BYU could be the second of potentially four down the stretch as they still go to Air Force and San Diego St.

Damn. Best game on is Kansas St. at Nebraska right now and there is a woman doing color.

Butler (20-9, 12-5): The runners-up from a year ago have struggled to live up to the ridiculous preseason hype that surrounded them. They’ve had a couple of bad losses versus Evansville in non-conference and at Youngstown St. in the Horizon. Good wins over some power 6 teams, the way they are finishing the season (6 straight wins, will be 7 when they beat Loyola on Saturday), and a little name recognition will help the Bulldogs get in.

Virginia Commonwealth (21-9, 12-5): Tough loss on the road to Drexel tonight and that now makes three straight within the conference. With losses to fellow bubble dwellers UAB and Richmond, and a really bad loss at Georgia St. the Rams will have to win the Colonial tournament to get in on Selection Sunday.

Alabama-Birmingham (19-7, 9-4): Speaking of the Blazers, for the co-leader in Conference USA (is that really something to brag about?) it will probably come down to a big game next week at Southern Miss. Win that you probably finish the regular season avenging an earlier home loss, winning four straight heading into the conference tourney as either a one or two seed, and they probably sneak in. Lose that game and they’ll need to go out and get the automatic bid.

Some shocking/bad losses tonight: Kentucky at Arkansas, Michigan vs Wisconsin, Georgetown vs Cincinnati, Boston College vs Miami, Florida St. at Maryland (blow out), Nebraska vs Kansas St. Watched the Husker loss, not the most exciting finish and the officials seemed like they wanted to take over the game once in a while, really annoying. Nebraska missed a ton of free throws down the stretch, just as they did when they let Texas back in on Saturday. I would hate to have Frank Martin as my head coach. What a dick.

Southern Mississippi (21-6, 9-4): I wonder how Larry Eustachy has adjusted to keeping his Natty Ice cooled down now that he is down in the sweltering Mississippi coast (just couldn’t help it). Anyway, the game against UAB is big (obviously) for the Golden Eagles as well, but they should fear the finale too, a road trip to tricky Tulsa. Think they also need a sweep to even have a hint of an at-large bid.

Tough OT win for UNLV tonight, liked how the MWC refs swallowed their whistles toward the end of the game, very un-Big 12 referee like.

Richmond (21-7, 10-3): Love the nickname, hate the loss to Iona. Love the colors, hate the loss to Georgia Tech. Love the win over Purdue, hate the loss to Bucknell. If they can close out the season with three straight wins to finish with 24 wins and ten games over .500 in the A-10, they should be in. If not, they’ll have to do some serious damage in the conference tourney.

Cleveland St. (23-6, 12-4): Norris Cole is averaging over 21 PPG and is leading this team to a number one seed in the Horizon League Tournament, however they have no quality wins and have struggled as of late (losing 3 in their last 5). They’ll need to take Butler down in the final to get in.

Gonzaga (19-9, 9-3): Yes they’re still a mid-major, they play in the WCC. They’ve been rolling along in the WCC too, winning six straight to go with their quality non-conference wins over Marquette and Baylor. They have a big game at St. Mary’s Thursday night and if they can get that W, they probably wont have to worry about how they do in the conference tournament.

That’s enough for now.

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Bubble watch

Quick look at some teams hovering on the brink of expulsion from the Big Dance.

Boston College (16-10, 6-6): Caught their game with UNC over the weekend and wow, offense was set back some 40 years in that game. This is a veteran squad (which is what BC’s team’s are every year) that has really had some trouble on the road as of late, losing 5 straight in the less than stellar ACC. To guarantee themselves a spot they can’t let that streak hit 7, which would mean devastating loses at Virginia and Virginia Tech. The one feather in the resume cap would be the win over Texas A&M in Orlando earlier this year, one turd would be the loss to Yale.

I’m watching the Champions League match between Marsielle and Man U. For everyone who jumped on the World Cup bandwagon last year and actually enjoyed the game, Champions League is the best soccer in the world being played. Man U left a lot of guys home so this is a pretty good game, Lyon vs Real Madrid yesterday was highly entertaining as well.

Nebraska (18-8, 6-6): Watched the majority of their second half win over Texas online on Saturday (loving this year, hate a lot of the national televised games) and was as impressed with the Huskers composure from the 10 minute mark to the two minute mark, then was completely appalled. The way they let Texas back in the game was one of the strangest endings to a game that I’ve seen and they still got the win. Another team that lacks a decent road win in conference, Nebraska also has no quality non-conference wins either.

Just saw a Claritin commercial with the main character telling her story and was a Vet. I’m sorry, but don’t most people who have allergies around animals, so bad that they get blurred vision, stuffy nose, start sneezing, and have a terrible headache, not become veterinarians? I mean, if that happened to me, I would’ve grown up with fish or a turtle. I would’ve avoided and hated the furry animals all my life and probably would not have made caring for them a career choice.

Marquette (16-11, 7-7): Wow, different team but a very familiar story. The Golden Eagles need to take Thursday nights game in Stores to get off the bubble (it would also avenge an earlier home loss) and would have to win out after that to stay off. Darius Johnson-Odom is absolutely a chucker in the truest Costanza sense in Marquette’s seven conference losses. The junior has averaged 17 shots in those games and with a shooting percentage hanging around 43% on the season it doesn’t take a mathematics savant to realize those are a lot of empty possessions.

Minnesota (17-10, 6-9): Could this be the end of the Tubby Smith era with the Gophers? But it isn’t like this is unfamiliar territory for the Maroon and Gold. Both of the last two years they’ve been in this uncomfortable position of having to play their way into the tournament with the Big Ten Tournament and a late season push. If they get to 21 total wins they will probably get in because unlike other teams above them they do have the non-conference wins.

Another point on Tubby leaving: The continuing speculation that he will leave for the inevitable opening at Georgia Tech after this year is brought up so often it has become comical. He hasn’t had a ton of success here so as a Gopher fan, I wouldn’t be too upset except for the fact that we’d have to watch Joel Maturi make another coaching hire.

Penn St. (14-12, 7-8): This team has losses to Maine, Ole Miss, and Virginia Tech. Their best wins were both at home over Michigan St. (on the verge of collapse) and Illinois (on the verge of collapse), and then, the Lions were then blasted by both on the road. How is this team on the bubble? If they lose their last three and that will end any hope that shouldn’t be there anyways.

We’ll check some mid-major bubbles in a bit.

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