Sunday, March 09, 2008

Bubble Breakdown in the Power Conferences

Can the PAC 10 actually have seven bids? TaJuan Porter thinks so.
Credit: Digital Headbutt

With conference play coming to a close in the six major college basketball conferences (ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big XII, PAC 10, SEC), it's time to debunk a huge myth. To be brief, I'm talking about a team's overall conference record. In conferences with unbalanced scheduling (e.g. Big East), some teams get fat on the weakest of teams who do not even get invited to the postseason conference tournament at Madison Square Garden. Others may face the elite teams more than once, and in the cases in which they face them once, it's at the opposition's venue.

In this breakdown, conferences are dissected to determine through resumes that are about as clear as mud heading into an exciting week of conference tournaments that should provide not only a great deal of excitement but plenty of clarity.

IN: UNC, Duke, Clemson, Miami
Bubble: Virginia Tech, Maryland

Virginia Tech
Record vs. IN: 0-4
Wins: None
Losses: @ UNC, v. Duke, @ Clemson, v. Miami

Record vs. IN: 1-4
Wins: @ UNC
Losses: Duke (2), v. Clemson, @ Miami

* Virginia Tech swept Maryland this season

Analysis: Despite being a game up and holding a season sweep over the Terrapins, Maryland has a slight advantage in that they have better wins. Not to mention, they are the only team to defeat Carolina with a healthy Ty Lawson. Nevertheless, both Maryland (1-6) and Tech (0-6) are abysmal against the RPI Top 50.

IN: Texas, Kansas, Kansas State
Bubble: Oklahoma, Baylor, Texas A&M

Record vs IN: 0-4
Wins: None
Losses: Texas (2), @ Kansas, v. Kansas State

Record vs. IN: 1-3
Wins: v. Kansas State
Losses: Texas (2), @ Kansas

Texas A&M
Record vs. IN: 1-3
Wins: v. Texas
Losses: @ Texas, v. Kansas, @ Kansas State

* Against like teams, Oklahoma is 3-1; Texas A&M is 2-2; Baylor is 1-3.
Analysis: Of these three teams, A&M is the only one with a signature win. Of the three, Oklahoma is winning the eye test, but could change with another injury to a key player. Additionally, the Sooners hold 3 more (six) wins than their bubble counterparts over the RPI Top 50. A three-game stretch that included wins over Gonzaga, Arkansas and West Virginia push them near a lock status for a NCAA bid.

PAC 10
UCLA, Stanford, Washington State, USC
Bubble: Arizona State, Oregon, Arizona

Arizona State
Record v. IN: 2-6
Wins: v. Stanford, v. USC
Losses: UCLA (2), @ Stanford, Washington State (2), @ USC

Record v. IN: 1-7
Wins: v. Stanford
Losses: UCLA (2), @ Stanford, Washington State (2), USC (2)

Record v. IN: 3-5
Wins: Washington State (2), @ USC
Losses: UCLA (2), Stanford (2), v. USC

* Against like teams, Arizona State is 3-1; Oregon is 3-1; Arizona is 0-4.

Analysis: First, can the PAC 10 send seven teams to the NCAA Tournament? Despite going .500 in what I consider to be the toughest conference this season, Arizona State boasts a humble RPI of 74. Yet, they hold wins over Xavier, Stanford, USC, Oregon and a season sweep of Arizona. As for Oregon, they have went 3-0 in March to reach 9-9 in conference, but possess a shoddy non-conference resume (best win: @ Kansas State) with bad losses against Nebraska and Oakland. In Tucson, the Wildcats are just 3-7 in their last ten, but have battled injuries and hold the nation's #2 strength of schedule. A season's sweep of Washington State doesn't hurt either.

Big East
Georgetown, Louisville, Notre Dame, UConn, Marquette, Pittsburgh
Bubble: West Virginia, Syracuse, Villanova

West Virginia
Record v. IN: 2-5
Wins: v. Marquette, v. Pittsburgh
Losses: v. Georgetown, @ Louisville, @ Notre Dame, @ UConn, @ Pittsburgh

Record v. IN: 2-5
Wins: v. Georgetown, v. Marquette
Losses: @ Georgetown, @ Louisville, @ Notre Dame, v. UConn, v. Pittsburgh

Record v. IN: 2-5
Wins: v. UConn, v. Pittsburgh
Losses: @ Georgetown, @ Louisville, v. Notre Dame, v. Marquette, @ Pittsburgh

* Against like teams, West Virginia is 1-1; Syracuse is 1-2; Villanova is 2-1.

Analysis: With six teams from the Big East considered to be already included in the field of 65, three teams are jockeying for one, possibly two spots. The eye test nod goes to West Virginia, because they have lost the fewest games. Meanwhile, their best win is at home against Marquette. Both Syracuse and Villanova are 9-9, yet seem to hold stronger in-conference resumes against the best six teams. Will the Mountaineers have to do more than simply avoid defeat in the 1st round? If UConn defeats Cincinnati later today, then Syracuse and Villanova will play each other in an elimination game with a right to face off against regular season champ Georgetown.

IN: Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State
Bubble: Arkansas, Kentucky, Florida, Ole Miss

Record v. IN: 2-2
Wins: v. Vanderbilt, v. Mississippi State
Losses: @ Tennessee, @ Mississippi State

Record v. IN: 2-3
Wins: v. Tennessee, v. Vanderbilt
Losses: @ Tennessee, @ Vanderbilt, @ Mississippi State

Record v. IN: 1-4
Wins: v. Vanderbilt
Losses: Tennessee (2), @ Vanderbilt, v. Mississippi State

Ole Miss
Record v. IN: 2-2
Wins: v. Vanderbilt, v. Mississippi State
Losses: @ Tennessee, @ Mississippi State

* Against like teams, Arkansas is 2-2; Kentucky is 3-1; Florida is 1-3; Ole Miss is 2-2.

Analysis: On February 11, one cavalier bracketologist projected Kentucky to be in the field of 65 stating that 11 SEC wins was not out of the question. Well, he (I) was wrong. They got 12 SEC wins. While there are valid arguments against Kentucky (best away win against South Carolina - RPI: 148 and the injury to Patrick Patterson), this team is resilient. Arkansas is likely in barring a collapse. As for Florida and Ole Miss, both have work cut out for them, but are capable of stealing consideration for an at-large bid should either (but not both) make the SEC Final.

Big Ten
IN: Wisconsin, Michigan State, Indiana, Purdue
Bubble: Ohio State

Ohio State
Record v. IN: 2-5
Wins: v. Purdue, v. Michigan State
Losses: v. Wisconsin, @ Michigan State, Indiana (2), @ Purdue
Analysis: As Clement noted in our conversations last Sunday before deciding upon the last bracket, Florida and Ohio State had a great opportunity to right the ship this week. It turns out that we picked the wrong team. While the Buckeyes are not a lock, the Selection Committee loves March victories against bona fide tournament teams regardless of the venue and rates them very close to the "true value" of the team.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Texas A&N lost 5 out of their last 7 and finished the Big 12 with an 8-8. With 20 wins from push-over schools, how does that rate? I can't see them making the NCAA's. If they do, then they will be the sixth Big 12 school in the Big Dance.