NCAA Tournament Bubble Teams – 01/22/07
The big off-court news this week came out of Chestnut Hill, as BC coach Al Skinner dismissed Sean Williams and Akida McLain from the team for disciplinary reasons. BC will likely present a case similar to Cincinnati’s last year after it lost Armein Kirkland, albeit to injury rather than suspension/dismissal. And Bearcats fans will surely tell you, it’s a not a case you necessarily wish for.
The Selection Committee will evaluate what BC did both with Williams and McLain and without, but will place far more emphasis on the team that would actually take the floor in the NCAA Tournament if they were awarded a bid. BC was 5-0 in the ACC prior to their dismissal, but has already fallen to 0-1 without them, losing by 20 to a hungry Clemson team.
6-10 without Kirkland wasn’t good enough for Cincinnati last year, even though the Big East was stronger than this year’s ACC. What will be good enough for the Eagles? 6-7? My gut says yes. 5-8? My gut says no. Stay tuned…
Yes, Gonzaga. I had no idea last Monday’s column would be so prescient, but the Bulldogs’ RPI dropped 18 slots, from 33 to 51, following their loss at St. Mary’s on Monday night. Mark Few’s team hadn’t lost a WCC game in two years, and they haven’t been a bubble team in at least twice that long.
Still on the docket this year are a trip to Palo Alto and a game against Memphis at the Spokane Civic Center. Both games should help counteract the anchor-like effect of the WCC in the RPI, regardless of the outcomes, but wins in both would really help the ‘Zags’ at-large case.
Groundhog Day 2007 is almost upon us, but for Tommy Amaker, it must feel like the Wolverines are stuck in the movie every single year.The Wolverines are once again in a familiar position at the end of January: lacking a true signature win, but still in the hunt for an at-large bid.
Michigan’s win over Illinois is quickly losing its luster, and even their best non-conference win (Davidson) took a hit this week as the Wildcats lost to Appalachian State at home. It’s now or never for Dion Harris, Lester Abram, and Courtney Sims (at Wisconsin, at Indiana this week) if they want to play in an NCAA Tournament. Even 1-1 would signal a favorable start to February, and perhaps a way out of the Maize and Blue’s depressing loop.
The Hoyas won’t get noticed for their work this week (wins at Rutgers and Seton Hall), but it was the kind of work that had to be done in order to avoid negative attention. The schedule is favorable over the next four games, but down the stretch it’s downright brutal, with trips to Villanova and Syracuse and home dates with Marquette and Pitt. It’s time for my Big East pre-season favorites to start playing like favorites.
(Interestingly, GU’s best non-conference wins got added boosts this week, as both Vandy and Michigan posted nice W’s of their own.)
Last year’s semifinalists are now officially in bubble trouble. I’ve kept LSU off this list all year, primarily because of their win over Texas A&M, but now at just 2-2 in SEC play after a blowout loss at Arkansas this week, the Bayou Bengals need to prove their mettle. There’s no time like the present to prove it, with red-hot Vanderbilt coming to Baton Rouge and a road test at streaking Georgia on the schedule this week. Big Baby Davis has been strong even in LSU’s losses this year, but someone in the backcourt needs to step up and complement him, effective immediately.