Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Future’s For Discovering: Big East Bubble Breakdown and Pre-MSG Forecasting

To date, a conservative estimate posits that no less than five Big East teams have punched their ticket for March Madness and no more than five teams will be considered outside of the mix unless they win the automatic bid at Madison Square Garden. That leaves a whopping six teams vying for additional at-large bids. This piece takes a look at each of these teams’ key wins, projects their remaining regular season games, and determines what work needs to be done. To make the projected record somewhat objective, I am using’s projected record, which is based on cumulative probabilities of winning each game and may not equal the individual game predictions. For that reason, I underlined two projected upsets that may be controversial.

IN: UConn, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Marquette, Villanova
Seton Hall, St. John’s, South Florida, Rutgers, DePaul
Providence, Syracuse, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Notre Dame, Georgetown

Providence 17-11 (9-7)
Key Wins: v. Pittsburgh, v. Syracuse, Cincinnati (2x), Rhode Island
Remaining Games: @ Rutgers (W), @ Villanova (L)
Projected Record: 18-12 (10-8)
Record v. Big East Top 5: 1-4

Syracuse 20-8 (8-7)
Key Wins: Florida (N), Kansas (SA), @ Memphis, v. Notre Dame, v. West Virginia, Georgetown (S)
Remaining Games: v. Cincinnati (W), v. Rutgers (W), @ Marquette (L)
Projected Record: 22-9 (10-8)
Record v. Big East Top 5: 0-5

West Virginia 19-9 (8-7)
Key Wins: v. Villanova, @ Ohio State, @ Georgetown, v. Providence, v. Notre Dame
Remaining Games: @ South Florida (W), v. DePaul (W), v. Louisville (W)
Projected Record: 22-9 (11-7)
Record v. Big East Top 5: 1-5

Cincinnati 18-10 (8-7)
Key Wins: Georgetown (2x), v. West Virginia, v. Notre Dame, @UNLV, v. UAB
Remaining Games: @ Syracuse (L), @ South Florida (W), v. Seton Hall (W)
Projected Record: 20-11 (10-8)
Record v. Big East Top 5: 0-5

Notre Dame 16-12 (7-9)
Key Wins: Texas (N), Louisville (S), Georgetown, @ Providence
Remaining Games: v. Villanova (W), v. St. John’s (W)
Projected Record: 18-12 (9-9)
Record v. Big East Top 5: 1-5

Georgetown 15-12 (6-10)
Key Wins: @ UConn, v. Memphis, @ Villanova, Syracuse (S), v. Providence, Maryland (N)
Remaining Games: @ St. John’s (W), v. DePaul (W)
Projected Record: 17-12 (8-10)
Record v. Big East Top 5: 2-4

As a result of this exercise, West Virginia finishes alone in 6th place. Three teams tie for a 10-8 regular season mark. If the tie-breaker of choice is each team’s record against the other three, here is how it would break down.

Providence: 3-0 (7th seed)
: 1-1 (8th seed)
: 0-3 (9th seed)
Notre Dame earns the 10th seed and Georgetown takes the 11th.

So, what does that leave each team to do secure an at-large bid?

West Virginia: Absolutely nothing (if they defeat Louisville in the season finale)
Providence: Win at least 1 game (win would have to be against Notre Dame) and advance to quarterfinals
Syracuse: Nothing (barring no costly injuries)
Cincinnati: Win 2 games (2nd win would be against Syracuse) and advance to quarterfinals
Notre Dame: Win 2 games (2nd win would be against Providence) and advance to quarterfinals
Georgetown: Win 1 game; 2nd win (would be versus West Virginia) would lock up a certain bid with road/neutral wins against UConn, Villanova, West Virginia and Maryland.

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