Friday, March 14, 2008

Friday FourCast: Bubble Talk Continues...

The FourCast, barely two days old in its college basketball format, is already undergoing several radical changes.

First off, we’re going to target the eight best matchups of the day (because 4 +4 is 8!). Fortunately for your eyes, we’re only giving each game ONE sentence.

We’re also projecting four thoughts from the past day (in this case, Thursday). Finally, I’m asking our “Bracket expert” Paymon (who I assure you won’t change his picks at 5:52pm Sunday evening) four questions that are clawing me deep into my bone marrow.

Yes, I said bone marrow.

Some of us "experts" need to take quantum physics to explain how VCU and the "Dagger" will return to the tourney in 2008.
Credit: NY

FourCast Four Thoughts:

1) West Virginia not only pushed itself into “lock” status, but might start climbing up the big board with its impressive victory over (my pick to cut down the nets in MSG) the UCONN Huskies. Joe Alexander poured in 34 and the Mountaineers might have exposed UCONN’s questionable perimeter defense.

2) Houston said bye-bye to a desperately-needed Conference USA tourney run with a rather embarrassing loss to UTEP. Does this affect a certain Richmond-based team who needs Houston to look as good (but not too good)?

3) Apparently, UCLA doesn’t need all the calls. Often, teams like this can be discounted or even swept under the radar. What appears clear is that UCLA should earn the West’s #1 seed and even if they do not, they may be just as dangerous as they were last as the #2 seed out of their preferred region.

4) Teams who are livin’ on a bubble prayer (hello VCU!) better hope that teams like New Mexico, UNLV and Texas A&M are bit by the upset bug. Of course, that’s highly unlikely. HIGHLY.

FourCast Four Questions:
1) How damaging was Baylor’s 2-overtime loss to (12-19) Colorado?

It’s damaging enough to place them firmly onto the bubble, rather than near “lock” status. I think their early season neutral court wins will get them over the hump. I’ll take 9 wins in a top 3 conference and a neutral court victory over ‘Gody over most of the bubble boys any day.

2) Is Villanova truly “in” with their victory over Syracuse? Or was their drubbing from Georgetown (combined with a 3-6 record against the RPI Top 50 and several BAD losses – DePaul & Rutgers notably) enough to put them as one of the last four teams out?

Anyone familiar with Villanova knows exactly how aggravating it is to follow the team. Because of the criteria set before you, Villanova will be among the teams that Clement and I will be discussing at length on Sunday afternoon.

3) Arizona State’s standing has been far more pessimistic in brackets outside of yours. How damaging was their 4-point loss to OJ Mayo and the Trojans?

According to the Bracket Matrix, 41 of 53 bracket projectionists have Arizona State in the field of 65, but the average seed is 11. On their loss, I didn’t see it as damaging at all, except for it meaning that Arizona State has a losing conference record and an ugly RPI. They played tough defense against a stout USC team and fell short of forcing overtime, no thanks to PAC-10 officials.

4) Why is everyone so in love as of late with New Mexico?

I’ve been absent from this love party for New Mexico. There’s this bizarre belief that the Mountain West will be a two-bid conference, even if BYU wins the conference tournament. The 24 wins are impressive, but they are due in large part to fattening up on weak teams and at home. Of their 31 games, the Lobos played 18 on their home court. Their best win outside of Albuquerque was at San Diego State.

8 Games to Watch on Friday (or as WJFK’s Don & Mike say…Fri-dee!):

Michigan vs. Wisconsin
-Alright UM fans, this is your shot to make a 9-21 season end on as high a note as possible for a 9-21 team.

Texas vs. Oklahoma State
-A #1 seed for Texas is still far from out of the question.

Miami (FL) vs. Virginia Tech
-Hokie fans were crying to me how much they wanted to avoid the ‘Canes. Tough break.

Xavier vs. St. Joseph’s
-The Red Hawks need this win if they want to keep their legit tourney hopes alive.

Georgetown vs. West Virginia

A) Who underrated Georgetown a month ago (ME!)

B) Who underrated WVU’s 11-win conference performance (Pay!)

Temple vs. UMass Charlotte
With UMASS coughing up an 18-point lead, will Pay’s brilliance of sticking with Temple be rewarded with an A-10 Championship Game birth?

-This should clinch a #1 seed, in my opinion, for UCLA…if they win, of course.

Washington State vs. Stanford
-Forget this matchup, what about the Thursday night losers and their bubble fates (Arizona does seem safer than Oregon, right?)?

Hope you enjoyed the new format! It’s gonna be around for another 12 hours or so…

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