Tuesday, March 8, 2011

VCU and St. Mary's are right back on the bubble

Bubble teams can breathe a (slight) sigh of relief after last night.

Down in Richmond, Old Dominion was able to fend off a scrappy VCU team and earn the CAA's autobid with a 70-65 win. The Monarchs were up by as much as 18 points in the second half, but VCU's defense came to life, using a 26-9 surge to get within one point with about five minutes left. But VCU couldn't get a defensive rebound down the stretch, and it cost them late.

Out in Vegas, Gonzaga won the rubber match with St. Mary's, 75-63, to come full circle after a slow start to the season, making their 13th straight NCAA Tournament. 13 straight NCAA Tournaments for a school from a conference like the WCC is absolutely unbelievable. The Zags and Mark Few don't get enough credit for what they have done, because that is a dynasty if I have ever seen one.

Like I said, bubble teams can probably breathe a sigh of relief as those were probably the best possible outcomes.

ODU was in. They weren't on the bubble, they weren't going to be sweating out Selection Sunday. The Monarchs were a lock, and with this win may be able to climb as high as a six or seven seed. VCU, however, wasn't. Heading into last night, they were one of the teams sitting squarely on the cut line, and with the loss they are probably in the exact same spot. Andy Glockner, who runs SI's bubble watch, currently has VCU as the last team in, but with bid-stealers and major conference teams that have a chance to improve their resumes, that won't hold.

In other words, VCU isn't an at-large team. If they had beaten ODU, that would have been one less at-large bid available.

St. Mary's is in the same position. They are sitting squarely on the cut line (Glocker has them as the second team out, but Joe Lunardi had them in as a ten seed), but the Gaels are in the midst of a collapse. They lost to San Diego (who has a sub-300 RPI), they blew a big lead to Utah State at home, and they couldn't close out against Gonzaga twice in the last week.

If St. Mary's had won, Gonzaga would have been in the same position, so the outcome of the WCC final didn't have nearly the effect that an ODU loss would have.

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