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TAG | March Madness

Feb/11

23

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 espn3.com 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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Feb/11

4

ACC up to the moment

ACC

Thursday night’s game between Georgia Tech and Miami is exactly why the ACC is behind the SEC. If I had actually watched this game, I would instantly start writing letters to both schools demanding that their science departments stop everything they are doing and focus on sending messages back in time. That way they could tell everyone not to watch the display from this game. If they don’t have a science department, create one. At the 9:33 mark of the second half Miami led 50-32. From that point on the ‘Canes went 2-12 shooting (after shooting lights out all game), had nine total points, and committed 12 turnovers. Georgia Tech still found a way to lose on the road per usual (0-7 this year and 0-13 in all) 59-57. I could see Auburn and LSU having a game like that, but that’s the problem, those are the two worst teams in the SEC. NC St. and Wake Forest are below Georgia Tech in the standings.

Best Team (yawn): Duke (20-2, 7-1)
I’ll give it up to Nolen Smith he is having one hell of a season. The senior has stepped up in the absence of Kyle Irving to average 21 PPG, 5 RPG, 5.5 APG, and 1.5 SPG, can you say POY? Irving will get an MRI on his big toe that has kept him out for so long on Friday, so we’ll get a better idea if Mr. Smith needs to continue his torrid pace for the remainder of the year. I give them a pass on the St. John’s loss, what did they really have to play for there? They came back smashed the Terps in College Park when it was counting for the ACC again and their next real threat of a loss isn’t until going to Virginia Tech at the end of the month.

Next in line: North Carolina (16-5, 6-1)
The Heels have been turning it around thanks to the meagerness that is the ACC. Their only loss was at (gulp) Georgia Tech (huh?). There is reason for optimism for UNC though, they’ve got one good (could be great by season’s end) non-conference win over Kentucky, Harrison Barnes seems to be coming around (right about the time we should expect most freshman to), and in the last two games they rolled teams that they should if they are indeed back to being UNC. The schedule stiffens up fast though, as they still play Duke and Florida St. twice, starting this week.
*Note: this could all change by Sunday when UNC host Florida St. but I didn’t feel right about putting a team that lost to Auburn at second best team.

Biggest Disappointment: North Carolina St. (12-10, 2-6)
Well, Sidney Lowe is just digging his own grave. This team was picked to finish in the top-5 of the ACC because it returned three starters and added three highly regarded freshman. This season has been a non-stop struggle as they lost every meaningful non-conference game, sometimes in embarrassing fashion and since blowing out Wake at home they’ve lost 6 of seven ACC games. Oh, and by the way, they get to play at Duke on Saturday as the prep game for ESPN’s prime time game, awesome. Any coach looking for a new job next year should salivate over this one if Lowe is gone, boatloads of talent will return.

Next in line: Miami (13-9, 2-6): The U has had a rough go of it losing four straight conference games, before the win Thursday, by a combined 11 points.

Biggest Surprise: Virginia (12-10, 3-5)
Tony Bennett has this team believing they can compete and they’ve already won as many games in the ACC as many thought they may all year. Some of those wins were nice (@MN, @VT, vs. Clem) and the freshman guard duo of Harris and Harrell has developed nicely as the year has gone on. The schedule gets tougher for the Cavaliers too, but six ACC wins would be a successful season.

Next in line: Boston College (14-8, 4-4)
They’ve gotten blown out in their last three games by the top three teams of the ACC, but this veteran team had been playing stronger prior to that ugly week and a half. They do have a nice win over Texas A&M and a couple other over BCS schools, but the vets will have to step up real big down the stretch if they want to play in the post season.


Big Games

Saturday 2/5

12:00 Virginia Tech (15-6, 5-3) @ Boston College (14-8, 4-4): Hey, with this conference you’ve got to reach a little bit. This will free up a little of the logjam in the middle and really neither team can afford this loss in the eyes of the tournament committee.

Sunday 2/6

1:00 Florida St. (16-6, 6-2) @ North Carolina (16-5, 6-1): Really a game to decide who will have the inside track on the #2 seed for the ACC tournament. As far as tournament seeding is concerned this game, even with the win over Duke, is probably more important for Florida St. The Seminoles don’t have a true road win over anyone worth mentioning, they have an awful loss at Auburn, and this is their last chance for a road win over a team with an RPI in the top 70. The Heels want to show that they are indeed a team to be reckoned with again and they have sort of a tough game after this one. If your watching Super Bowl preview shit while this is going on your either a Steeler or Packer fan, you are in fact an idiot, or you really take the no basketball until football is over rule to heart


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Feb/11

3

SEC up to the moment

SEC

It was a tough decision to go with the SEC over the ACC for today. The main thing is the depth (mainly in the East) of the conference barely out weighs the fact that the conference doesn’t have a dominating team. They have three or four nice teams, but no one team strikes fear in the masses. There have been some nice non-conference wins by multiple teams, but there have been some humiliating one’s too (see Auburn 0-2 vs Atlantic Sun and Big South.


Best Team: Kentucky (16-5, 4-3)
This was also difficult because Florida leads the conference and the Wildcats have struggled lately going 2-2 in their last four. Talent wise and play in the non-conference swayed the decision for me. Six players eat up the majority of the time for Kentucky, three of whom are not only freshman, but also their leading scorers. This team can score in bunches (77.5 PPG, .459 FG%, .399 3P%) and can defend (.381 OFG%), how that translates into a tournament run is anyone’s guess at this point as the youngsters will continue to develop and may or may not hit a wall (no pun intended).

Next in line: Florida (17-5, 6-2)
The Gators passed a major test early in the conference with the victory at Tennessee (a place they always struggle), but followed that up with a loss at home to lowly South Carolina. Inconsistency has plagued Billy Donovan’s teams since his back-to-back titles and this team doesn’t appear to be any different.

Biggest Disappointment: Auburn (8-13, 1-6)
It’s not like anyone thought this team would be any good what so ever, but for a major conference program to lose to the likes of teams nicknamed the Fighting Camels, Dolphins, and Blue Hose (a team that Vandy beat by 41) is humiliation for the conference. Quite possibly the worst major conference team, ever.

Next in line: Mississippi St. (11-12, 3-4)
The Bulldogs were a consensus to win the SEC West this year, however they are under .500 and sitting 3 games back of Alabama, a team that has already swept them. The Bulldogs have also lost to teams like Florida Atlantic and East Tennessee. The struggles haven’t just been confined to the court with the now infamous fight in the stands between star Renardo Sidney and Elgin Bailey and a twitter controversy that has hurt the program’s stability.
Biggest Surprise: Alabama (14-7, 6-1)
Only because they are the West’s only hope for a NCAA bid (they probably have to 8 or 9 more games to even be considered) and have recovered nicely in the conference after an ugly non-conference.

Next in line: Nobody. Hell, Alabama was a stretch.

Big Games

Saturday 2/5

4:oo Alabama (14-7, 6-1) @Tennessee (14-7, 4-2): Tennessee’s second to last SEC game without Bruce Pearl on the sidelines sees the Tide coming to town. The Vols want to keep pace with Florida and hang strong for a potential at-large bid (they have good non-conference wins for it) and a win at home would do both. ‘Bama needs victories as mentioned above, but especially needs road/neutral wins to prove that they warrant tourney discussion.

8:00 Kentucky (16-5, 4-3) @Florida (17-5, 6-2): The Wildcats can’t fall two games behind the Gators in the lose column and need to show that they are still the team to beat. The Gators still need to prove they are for real and a victory over UK would be their best win thus far in the season. Yuck, cannot believe this is the game of the week. Cannot wait for a week and we get Pitt and Nova. Have no fear, having said all that, this will probably be the game of the year in the SEC.


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