Monday, January 20, 2014

How to Destroy a #1 Seed, Creighton's Destruction of Villanova in Philly

Two major upsets occurred on Monday night, but the upsets couldn't have been more different. In the first game, we were shocked not by the upset but by the way it happened. In the second, we were shocked by the sheer downfall of a once solid team. That and more in Monday night's recap.

Creighton 96, @Villanova 68: Whoa. That's really the only way to describe Creighton's absolute destruction of Villanova. Creighton, up by 40 in the second half, played so well that it shot up to #2 in Ken Pomeroy's rankings (from #13) on the strength of tonight's win after scoring 96 points in only 66 possessions. I had Creighton at a #5 most recently, and that might be a little low, but I'm not ready to go ahead and replace Villanova's #1 seed with Creighton. Yes, the Bluejays were unbeatable tonight, but I don't know that anyone could replicate that shooting again this season, not even Creighton.

As for Villanova, yes, they lost their #1 seed tonight. You can't lose at home by that much, no matter who you are playing, and keep a #1 seed. Plus, it isn't just like Villanova played matador defense: Nova was outscored 30-6 in the first 10 minutes of the second half. Awful, simply awful. Look, Villanova still looks like a very good team, and the teams they've lost to (Syracuse and Creighton) occupy the #2 and #3 spots in Pomeroy's rankings. The Wildcats also have some nice wins. But Villanova has a lot to prove after tonight's drubbing. Nova now plays three straight games on the road (Marquette, Georgetown, and Temple). Win all three of those, and Villanova may get some of the respect back that it lost tonight.

@Nebraska 68, Ohio State 62: Villanova lost one game. Ohio State has now lost 4 in a row. If the first game was a "Whoa" this game is a "Yikes". Yes, there were talks on Twitter about the potential of Ohio State, a solid #1 seed two weeks ago, missing the tournament after losing to Nebraska. Yes, Nebraska is not very good, and a solid bracket team shouldn't be losing to it. I still don't think that means that all of OSU's early season accomplishments are washed out. And Ohio State has winnable games coming up. But more losses will put the Buckeyes' season in true jeopardy, no matter how the non-conference season went.

Marquette 80, @Georgetown 72 (OT): Oy. I had the post written with Georgetown's win penciled in, and then it let Marquette get into overtime, where the Eagles took control and left DC with a win. Georgetown is in even worse shape than UNC (see below), and it cannot afford to give away games that it has in its grasp. The Hoyas may fall out of consideration on the strength of this loss to a Marquette team that has struggled all year, never putting together more than a two-game winning streak. Tough times for the Big East, tough times. If Providence doesn't keep winning, the Big East is in severe danger of being a three-bid conference.

Elsewhere, we continued to watch North Carolina's roller coaster of a season continue its downward trend, wondering if it will ever pick back up. And another ACC team, Maryland, also lost when it really needed a win.

@Belmont 62, Fairfield 53
Xavier 84, @DePaul 74
@Virginia 76, North Carolina 61 - UNC likely to fall out of next bracket
Delaware 90, @Drexel 77 - Delaware in clear control of CAA
@Vermont 57, New Hampshire 40
@Boston U 72, Loyola (MD) 58
@Kansas XX, Baylor XX
@NC State 65, Maryland 56 - everytime MD gains ground, it does something like this

A number of bubble teams are in play on Tuesday night as they try to hang on to their grasp of a place in the bracket. These games involve UConn, Clemson, Providence, New Mexico, and Boise State (who is trying to get into the bracket). And the best game of the night should be Kansas State at Texas, as two teams who have a chance at third place in the Big 12 will compete for a precious win.

Indiana at #1 Michigan State
#8 Kansas State at #7 Texas
Temple at #10 Connecticut
#9 Harvard at Florida Atlantic
(NFO) Missouri at LSU
(LFI) #12 Clemson at #4 Pittsburgh
Rutgers at #9 SMU
Notre Dame at #6 Florida State
Texas A&M at #7 Kentucky
Butler at #12 Providence
(FFO) Boise State at #12 New Mexico

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