Sunday, March 2, 2014

Upset Saturday Follows Upset Thursday

On the last full Saturday of the college basketball season, a huge number of teams saw their tournament hopes bolstered or fall apart. And a big number of the nation's top teams fell in a big fashion. Let's get into it.

With the massive amount of action, you'll see that there's not much to say anymore. Either a team moved up, down, or stayed about the same. There aren't a lot of chances left for any team to prove itself, so if your team is in trouble now, it will be in trouble all the way to Selection Sunday.

@Dayton 86, Massachusetts 79: Dayton did exactly what a bubble team needs to do: win. Dayton's next game is at Saint Louis, and a win (against suddenly-losing-games Saint Louis) might be enough to get the Flyers over the hump. This win wasn't enough, but a loss would have been devastating.

@Memphis 72, Louisville 66: These two teams have been heading in opposite directions for several weeks now. Memphis has fallen all the way to the edge of the bracket, while Louisville has moved up into the better seed lines. But this game showed how difficult it is to win on the road, as Memphis's late run sealed the victory and, in all likelihood, Memphis's at-large berth.

@Utah 75, Colorado 64: Interesting result. Utah is actually quite a good team, capable of beating a lot of teams, but its computer numbers suffered thanks in large part to a very bad non-conference tournament and a loss at Washington State. Colorado has been sliding a bit, though it should still be in the bracket. These teams' trips to Stanford and Cal next week might be the most interesting games of the final week of the regular season, as all 4 teams are on the lower end of the bracket or on the bubble. With a sweep, either one of these teams can make the tournament, easily in Colorado's case.

Illinois 53, @Michigan State 46: It's too early to write off Michigan State, who was finally playing at full strength today. It takes time for a team to gel. Teams that have been healthy all year have had 30 games to gel at this point. MSU has had 1. But it is very possible that it's all happening too late to be able to come together for the Big Ten and NCAA tourneys. Today's result should prove to the committee that Michigan State may not deserve a good seed at this point, regardless of how they might be able to come together later.

@Virginia 75, Syracuse 56: Virginia has been flying under the ACC radar most of the season, taking a backseat to Syracuse and Duke. But UVA has arrived. At the time when Syracuse is slumping (win or lose, it has been struggling) and Duke is looking good but beatable, UVA swooped in and stole the ACC championship. Virginia may be extremely dangerous in March, and it's continuing improvement may give it preferential seeding, seed site, and regional site over any other ACC team.

@Xavier 75, Creighton 69: Xavier is just about a lock for the tournament with this win, and Creighton may drop slightly (a spot or two in the overall seed list), so, really, this was the best possible result for the Big East, who was starting to look like it could only get two teams into the tournament.

@VCU 67, Saint Louis 56: Don't panic, yet, Saint Louis fans. Winning on the road is very hard, and winning at VCU is extremely difficult. Saint Louis still is in a great position for a high seed, but winning some A-10 tourney games will be necessary to stay up there.

@Michigan 66, Minnesota 56: Minnesota is now guaranteed a losing Big Ten record, and if it can't figure out how to beat Penn State on Sunday, it will fall to two-games under 0.500. Minnesota shouldn't be hurt by a loss at Michigan, but it needs wins and nothing but wins. If Minnesota struggles against Penn State and has a bad showing in the Big Ten tourney, Minnesota may be heading to the NIT.

@South Carolina 72, Kentucky 67: Do you have any faith in Kentucky right now? Three-straight bad games, with two-straight unacceptable losses. Ending the season at Florida, Kentucky is likely to finish the regular season losing 3 of 4 games, a severe blow to any momentum the Wildcats had heading into the SEC tourney. Kentucky is safe, but their seed isn't, and neither is anyone in the SEC besides Kentucky and Florida (which means those teams will be desperate).

@Arizona State 78, California 60: Cal's resume took another blow today when it failed to get the upset at Arizona State. As noted above, Cal is stuck welcoming in the hungry Utah Utes and the talented Colorado Buffaloes next week. A failure to sweep those games and to win at least a game or two in the Pac-12 tourney may end Cal's chances of getting into the tourney.

@Kansas State 80, Iowa State 73: Like Xavier/Creighton, this was the best result for the Big 12. Iowa State is safely in the tournament, while Kansas State has been in the lower half of the bracket for a while. With difficult games remaining, Kansas State fans can now breathe easily.

@Oklahoma State 72, Kansas 65: What a comeback. Down big late to Kansas, Oklahoma State found a way to pull out this game and, with it, save their season. OSU has been one of the worst bracket teams of late with a substantial losing streak. A win over a top team was more important to the Cowboys than just about anyone else in the country, and here they have it. Oklahoma State ends with Kansas State and a game at Iowa State, so OSU should feel safe. Interestingly, with Syracuse, Creighton, and Kansas's losses, Villanova is now poised to move back into #1-seed consideration.

Gonzaga 75, @Saint Mary's 47: And we pull this game out special because that's it for Saint Mary's at-large chances. The only way SMC can get in the tournament is by winning the WCC tournament in Vegas. SMC is capable of good games, but we shouldn't expect it.

That wasn't it. College basketball threw a huge number of important games at us on Saturday. Take a look below at the rest of Saturday's craziness.

@Connecticut 51, Cincinnati 45 - expected home win for UConn
@Tennessee 76, Vanderbilt 38
@Mercer 69, Jacksonville 55
@Baylor 59, Texas Tech 49 - important win for BU
@Missouri 85, Mississippi State 66
@Wichita State 68, Missouri State 45
Boston U 68, @Holy Cross 64
Pittsburgh 85, @Notre Dame 81 (OT) - important win to stop Pitt's plummeting seed
Delaware 89, @Charleston 86
North Carolina 60, @Virginia Tech 56
Saint Joseph's 83, @St. Bonaventure 74
@Florida 79, LSU 61
@Oklahoma 77, Texas 65 - expected home win for OU
Green Bay 75, @Detroit 66
BYU 78, @San Diego 70
@SMU 70, UCF 55
@Arkansas 87, Georgia 75
Oregon 78, @USC 63
@North Carolina Central 86, South Carolina State 44
@Nebraska 54, Northwestern 47
Georgia State 66, @Texas State 55
Belmont 76, @Jacksonville State 53
Stephen F. Austin 75, @Southeast Louisiana 62
@Wagner 59, Robert Morris 48 - loss keeps RMU on #16 line
@Toledo 96, Western Michigan 85 (OT)
@Harvard 80, Columbia 47 - Crimson's magic number down to 1
Davidson 86, @Elon 69
@North Dakota State 78, Denver 68
Northern Arizona 73, @Weber State 71 (OT)
@Utah Valley 45, UT Pan Am 42
@Texas Southern 86, Alabama State 66 - SWAC up for grabs with Southern U.'s ineligibility
San Diego State 82, @Fresno State 67
@UC Irvine 55, Cal Poly 48

Sunday will mark exactly two weeks to Selection Sunday. The mid- and low-major teams are locking into their conference tourney slots, and over the next week, the high-majors have a last chance to improve their resumes before their conference tourneys. A number of these teams, especially Marquette, Louisiana Tech, Florida State, and Maryland/Clemson must win every game to have a chance. St. John's is in good position, but it can't lose to DePaul.

#3 Wisconsin at Penn State
DePaul at (FFO) St. John's
Maryland at (LFO) Clemson
George Mason at #9 George Washington
(NFO) Marquette at #2 Villanova
(LFI) #12 Southern Miss at Florida Atlantic
#14 Vermont at Binghamton
Purdue at #6 Iowa
Rider at #13 Iona
#6 Ohio State at Indiana
#12 Louisiana Tech at UAB
#6 New Mexico at Nevada
Georgia Tech at (LFI) #12 Florida State
#10 Stanford at #1 Arizona
Oregon State at #5 UCLA

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