Saturday, March 12, 2005

Conference Tournament Watch - 3/12/2005

(All times Central. RPI in parentheses, courtesy Ken Pomeroy)

Yesterday's Qualifiers

Just one, The
Bucknell Bison win the Patriot League

A lot of people think Holy Cross, whom the Bison beat to clinch the title, might get an at-large bid anyway. Problem is, the Crusaders' RPI dropped from 45 to 66, which puts them just ahead of teams like Miami and Arizona State, whom some think are already eliminated. That's not the company you want to be in if you have at-large aspirations.

Already in

  • Atlantic Sun: Central Florida
  • Big Sky: Montana
  • Big South: Winthrop
  • Colonial: Old Dominion
  • Horizon: Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  • Ivy League: Penn
  • Metro Atlantic: Niagara
  • Mid Continent: Oakland
  • Missouri Valley: Creighton
  • Northeast: Farleigh Dickinson
  • Ohio Valley: Eastern Kentucky
  • SoCon: Chattanooga
  • Sun Belt: Louisiana-Lafayette
  • West Coast: Gonzaga

Waiting on the committee

  • Wake Forest (4)
  • Boston College (9)
  • UConn (12)
  • Villanova (16)
  • Southern Illinois (18)
  • Cincinnati (24)
  • Mississippi State (27)
  • Charlotte (30)
  • St. Mary's of California (31)
  • Nevada (33)
  • Pittsburgh (36)
  • UCLA (38)
  • Northern Iowa (39)
  • Texas (41)
  • Stanford (42)
  • Miami of Ohio (44)
  • Wichita State (46)
  • Alabama-Birmingham (49)
  • Southwest Missouri State (51)
  • Maryland (52)
  • DePaul (53)
  • Indiana (54)
  • Iowa State (58)
  • Rice (59)
  • Kent State (61)
  • Holy Cross (66)
  • Arizona State (67)
  • Miami(FL) (68)
  • Missouri (69)
  • Texas A&M (70)
  • Akron (71)
  • Vanderbilt (72)
  • Notre Dame (73)

(Dropping off the waiting list: Georgetown (77), Western Kentucky (75))

The rest of the conferences

America East

As we've mentioned all week, Vermont plays Northeastern today for the America East Championship. (10:30 AM ESPN)

If you're one of those teams listed above under "Waiting for the Committee" you need to be pulling for Vermont today. The last thing you need is one more at-large competitor

If you're Vermont, you better take a hard look at what happened to Holy Cross, another top seed that lost at home after a long layoff, and learn from their mistakes.


North Carolina survived a scare from Clemson. If the universe was fair, though, the Tar Heels should have lost that game. They came out like they didn't care, didn't even try through the first 35 minutes of the game and went on a run the last 5 minutes to win. Even though they won, that performance was just disrespectful to the game of basketball as a whole.

When Dick Vitale, who never has anything critical to say about an ACC team, is disgusted with North Carolina's performance, that's bad.

In other ACC News,
thank you Georgia Tech for putting the Turkeys out of their misery. People talked about VA Tech as a bubble team despite their sub-100 RPI. Now, everyone can stop all the crazy talk.

Upset Alert: As for
NC State, I've stated elsewhere that they probably needed to win against Wake, but looking at their RPI and their other wins, I'm not so sure. They're still in the same RPI neighborhood with burst-bubble teams Kent State, Miami, and Holy Cross, and are near George Washington, whose bubble could burst today. Not teams you want to be grouped with if you want to be an at-large.
Beating Duke will give them a boost, though.

Duke beat Pete Gillen's Virginia Cavs in what was probably Gillen's swan song. The irony is Gillen is most famous for stating on the Jim Rome show, with a thick New England accent, that Duke was, "on TV more than Leave it to Bee-vah Reruns," a take which the clones still reset to this day. Somehow fitting that Duke would be the one to finish him off.

Today's Semifinals:

  • North Carolina(2)-Georgia Tech(29) (12:30 PM ESPN)
  • Duke(6)-NC State(62) (3:00 PM ESPN)

Atlantic 10

The finals are here, and for once on Championship Week, the top 2 seeds have survived to play in the championship. As I've previously stated, the A-10 is way down this year and the winner may be the conference's lone representative.

St Joseph's(50) takes on George Washington(63) for today's championship.

Big East

Upset Alert: West Virginia continues to roll through the Big East. After polishing off top seed Boston College,
the Mountaineers knocked off another ranked team, Villanova, 78-76. They are playing like a team on a mission. Not only are they on a roll going into the tournament, they have a lot of size on the interior, which is tough to handle in a 1 game setting if you don't have the size to counter

Bottom line, if they've played their way into the 7-10 range in terms of seeding, they are not a team I want to see paired with Texas Tech.

In the other semifinal,
Syracuse hit their free throws (and won) and UConn didn't (and lost). Kids, practice your foul shots.

Today's final: Syracuse(19)-West Virginia(28) (7:00 PM ESPN)

Big 10

Good news for Illinois: The Illini polished off Northwestern. Bad News for Illinois:
Bruce Weber's mom died in the hospital after complaining of chest pains. While Weber is going to coach tomorrow, it will not be easy for him. Thoughts and prayers go out to the Weber family.

Bad News for Mike Davis:
Your demise is imminent. Good news for Minnesota: You're off the bubble. You betcha!

Good news for Iowa,
You're profile's better than NC State's.

Good news for the Big 10,
disgraced Ohio State won't be your tournament champ.

Today's Semifinals:

  • Illinois(3)-Minnesota(40) (12:40 PM CBS)
  • Wisconsin(17)-Iowa(35) (4:00 PM CBS)


The semifinals are set
Texas Tech went on a 14-2 run down the stretch to beat Iowa State, avenging one of their losses from this year. Now, they play top seed Oklahoma, a team they beat in Norman, but lost to in Lubbock. The way OU is playing down the stretch, reflected in their thrashing of Missouri, I would expect this game to be more like the Lubbock game.

Kansas nor Oklahoma State had trouble with their second round opponents.

Today's Games:

  • Oklahoma(13)-Texas Tech(32) (1:00 PM ESPN2)
  • Kansas(1)-Oklahoma State(7) (4:30 PM ESPN2)

Big West

Cal-State Northridge almost pulled an upset of Pacific, but
failed in the final seconds. Fans of bubble teams everywhere can now breathe easy.

Pacific(21) now faces Utah State(65) in today's final (11:00 PM ESPN)

Conference USA

Louisville(15) topped UAB(49) in the semifinals, while Memphis beat South Florida in a battle of low seeds.

Now fans of bubble teams are hoping Rick Pitino's Cardinals can beat John Calipari's Tigers(111) in today's final (10:35 AM CBS)


Yesterday's Semifinals:

We've got 2 bubble teams in today's finals (6:00 PM ESPN2) and the loser is likely NIT bound. Should make for a great game between Buffalo(43) and Ohio U.(60)


ESPN screwed up big, and we've screwed up as a result.

I thought Delaware State(140) lost to Bethune-Cookman, because that's what ESPN reported. Turns out not only did Delaware State beat Bethune-Cookman, they beat S.C. State and are facing Hampton in the finals (11:00 AM ESPN2).

Where's Jesse Jackson when you need him? (OK, OK, no wiseass responses...)

Mountain West

Utah(20) plays New Mexico(88) in the finals. (9:00 ESPN)

If Lobos coach Ritchie McKay thinks his team is a tournament team, he better put his money where his mouth is and get his team to beat Utah.

If you're a fan of a bubble team, you better be a Utes fan for this game.


The 2 best teams in the Pac-10, Arizona(8) and Washington(5), square off in the finals (5:00 CBS)


Florida beat Mississippi State yesterday, but the Bulldogs are still a projected lock.

Today's Semifinals:

  • Alabama(14)-Florida(25) (noon, regional TV)
  • Kentucky(10)-LSU(23) (2:15, regional TV)

All of these guys are consensus tournament locks, so we'll see who can work up the motivation to play for a higher seed.


Tomorrow's Final: Southeast Louisiana at Northwestern State(117)


Tomorrow's Final: Alabama A&M(241) vs. Alabama State. As I understand it, this is a pretty heated rivalry, so tune in (11:00 AM Sunday on ESPN2) if you get a chance.


Upset Alert: Boise State 86, Fresno State 85

Bubble teams everywhere will be pulling for UTEP(34) in today's final (8:00 PM ESPN2)

Tomorrow: CTW - Selection Sunday Edition

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