Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wednesday Lay-up Lines: The Night of the Bubble Watch

Nine top 25 teams take the court tonight, but the games that matter tonight happen below the realm of the ranked. By my count, there are 13 games tonight that will significantly impact the bubble. And that isn't counting the LSU or Utah State cakewalks games.

What is interesting about tonight's games is that the majority of the important bubble games are going to be happening in the big six conferences. If you believe Joe Lunardi (which you should, the guy is a god at what he does), then you know that only eight conferences are projected to get at-large bids this year - the big six plus the A-10 and MWC. Of course, that could change if a team like Utah State or Davidson loses in their conference tourney, but assuming they don't, this year will be four below the average number of conferences to get multiple bids since the tourney expanded to 64/65 teams.

Enough about the tourney, let's get into tonight's bubble games (all RPI numbers from

  • 7:00 PM: Miami (15-9, 4-7) @ Florida State (19-6, 6-4): This game is huge for both teams. Florida State has a ridiculous gauntlet after Miami (Va Tech twice, @ BC, @ Duke, Clemson), and dropping a home game to the 10th place team in the ACC would be a huge blow to their resume. Miami, on the other hand, is almost to the point where they cannot afford another loss. Their four games after FSU are very winnable, which means that running the table is not out of the question. With an RPI that is only ok (50, although their SOS is 12), Miami may need to get above .500 in league play to lock up a bid.
  • 7:00 PM: Notre Dame (14-10, 5-7) @ West Virginia (17-8, 6-6): The Mountaineers are almost to the point that they can stamp their ticket. They have an RPI of 16 (and a KenPom rating in the top 10), and the 21 point smack down they put on Villanova gave them a signature win. Notre Dame, on the other hand, was pretty much dead in the water before they whooped up on Louisville by 33. After beating South Florida over the weekend, the Irish have worked their way back into contention. With an RPI as low as 75, the Irish will have their work cut out for them, but beating WVU on the road would go a long way towards an at-large bid.
  • 7:00 PM: Georgetown (13-10, 4-8) @ South Florida (8-16, 3-9): Georgetown is just about finished. They have good computer numbers (thanks to the toughest schedule in the nation), but unless they can get to .500 in the Big East, Hoya fans can probably resign themselves to the NIT.
  • 7:00 PM: Alabama (13-11, 3-7) @ Florida (19-6, 6-4): I hope Gator fans aren't feeling too comfortable just yet. While they have a pretty record, they are just 47 in the RPI (and have a SOS of 98). They have also won just two games on the road, at Auburn and Vanderbilt. Oh yeah, and the Gators still have to play LSU, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Mississippi State. Nick Calathes and company need to string together some wins or they may be looking at a second straight NIT, especially considering how down the SEC is.
  • 7:00 PM: Penn State (18-8, 7-6) @ Illinois (21-5, 9-4): At this point, the Illini are playing for seeding (and for the Big Ten regular season - they are a game out after MSU's loss). Penn State is just about done. They have an RPI of 72 and still get Illinois again after this and have to head to Ohio State.
  • 7:00 PM: Citadel (17-10, 12-4) @ Davidson (22-4, 15-1): Steph Curry is a game-time decision with a bad ankle tonight. Curry or not, Davidson is probably at the point where they must win out and then make it to the finals of the SoCon tourney for a shot at an at-large.
  • 7:30 PM: Providence (16-9, 8-5) @ Louisville (19-5, 10-2): As of today, Lunardi has the Friars in (as his last team). That could change over the next five games, however, as PC has to face three top 20 RPI teams as well as Notre Dame, who will need the win just as badly.
  • 8:00 PM: Virginia Tech (16-8, 6-4) @ Virginia (8-13, 2-8): The Hokies are in for now. But they have a brutal schedule coming up after UVa (FSU twice, @ Clemson, Duke, UNC), which makes this game so important. Unfortunately, they will be playing shorthanded as Jeff Allen's bird call got him suspended for a game.
  • 8:00 PM: South Carolina (18-5, 7-3) @ Mississippi State (16-9, 6-4): At this point, MSU is here to play spoiler. They've beaten exactly no one (best win, RPI # 65 Western Kentucky) and only played three teams with RPI's in the top 50 (LSU twice at #40 and Cinci at #48). South Carolina, on the other haand, still has a really good shot at making the dance. They have an RPI of 42 and are tied for first in the more-competitive-than-you-think SEC East (Tennessee, Kentucky, and Florida also inhabit the division). But, as is with every team on the bubble, they need to keep the winning going.
  • 9:00 PM: Ohio State (17-6, 7-5) @ Northwestern (13-10, 4-8): The Wildcats are pretty much out of the picture, while OSU should be all but in (Lunardi has them as a five seed). The Buckeyes are being slept on this season. They have just two losses outside the RPI top 16 (at #29 Wisconsin and at #36 Minnesota) and they have beaten Miami, Notre Dame, Butler, Purdue, and Minnesota. And remember, most of this was done without David Lighty in the line-up.
  • 10:00 PM: UNLV (19-6, 7-4) @ Wyoming (14-10, 3-7): Believe it or not, there are five MWC teams with a realistic shot of reaching the tourney. Lunardi has UNLV in right now, but with games left against BYU, Utah, and SDSU, the Rebels really need to pick up a win here.
The rest of the games on tonight's schedule:
  • 7:30 PM: Georgia Tech (10-14, 1-10) @ Wake Forest (19-4, 6-4)
  • 8:00 PM: Utah (18-7, 9-2) @ Colorado State (8-17, 3-8)
  • 8:00 PM: Tennessee (16-8, 7-3) @ Mississippi (13-11, 4-6)
  • 8:00 PM: NC State (14-9, 4-6) @ UNC (23-2, 9-2)
  • 8:00 PM: SMU (7-16, 1-9) @ Memphis (22-3, 10-0)
  • 8:00 PM: Butler (22-3, 13-2) @ Milwaukee (14-11, 9-6)
  • 8:00 PM: Iowa State (13-12, 2-8) @ Kansas (20-5, 9-1)
  • 8:05 PM: LSU (21-4, 9-1) @ Arkansas (13-10, 1-9)
  • 9:05 PM: Cal St. Bakersfield (6-19, 1-13) @ Utah State (24-2, 12-1)
  • 10:00 PM: St. Joe's (14-10, 7-3) @ St. Louis (15-10, 6-5)

No comments: