Bleacher Report: Providence College: For a team whose only hope of making the Big Dance lies with its conference performance, Providence really failed to seize the moment on Saturday.
The Friars’ usually dangerous offense deserted them on the road at UConn, and they managed just 59 points in an overtime loss.
Conference wins over Villanova (twice), Notre Dame and Cincinnati are all going to work in favor of LaDontae Henton and his mates, but one more quality win won’t be enough.
Providence will probably need to make it all the way to the Big East final (likely beating Cincinnati, Georgetown and Pitt along the way) to feel safe on Selection Sunday.
UMass: A solid 9-7 record in the brutal Atlantic 10 is a good start to UMass’ March Madness hopes, but it’s almost all the Minutemen have.
Their best nonconference wins came against other bubble-quality teams (Ohio, Providence), and they went 0-3 against A-10 powers Butler, VCU and Saint Louis.
A conference tourney opener against George Washington will not do much for UMass’ portfolio, but potential rematches with Temple and VCU later on are a different story.
Beating the Owls and Rams on the way to the A-10 final would give the Minutemen hope (albeit slim) of sneaking into the Big Dance as an at-large.
Xavier: Xavier has added some much-needed quality wins in recent weeks, but Semaj Christon and Co. still have work to do. Wins over Butler, Memphis and Saint Louis are big assets, but losses to St. Joe’s, Dayton and (especially) Pacific really hurt.
Xavier’s biggest disadvantage at this stage is that it has only 17 wins in total, so adding quality wins is less crucial than just adding more wins, period.
With three games between them and a spot in the conference final, the Musketeers should have a good shot at a tournament berth just by getting that far.
PC: This is kind of a shock considering how PC’s out-of-conference schedule played out with loses to UMass, BC, and Brown. The loses to BC and Brown led into Big East play where PC started 0-3 (which meant a 5-game losing streak) which included a home loss to DePaul. However, having been to a few PC games (URI, ND, and Nova), PC has shown that on any given night, they can play with anybody. The problem with almost all of those big wins: they were at home. The only good road win they have is at Villanova. Do I think PC has what it takes to make it to the Big East tournament championship? Yes I do. Do I think they can play at MSG like they play at the Dunk? Not even a little. I think PC can hope for a bid from the NIT.
UMass: Talk about a Jekyll and Hyde team. At least PC’s inconsistencies are explained by their home and away schedule/record. They started off hot (10-3 out-of-conference record) with their only loses against current tourney teams (Miami and NC State) and then Tennessee. However, once A-10 play started, they couldn’t sustain a streak (in either direction). They were a win 2 then lose 2 the rest of the way. I know the inconsistency ties in directly to Jesse Morgan going down with a torn ACL in their first A-10 game but that shouldn’t be a factor because Morgan isn’t coming back meaning the selection committee will look at what type of team UMass is without Morgan (9-7). UMass has some good road wins against La Salle and fellow bubble-teamer Xavier. UMass also has some head-scratching loses to George Washington, Charlotte, and St. Bonaventure. I think there are just too many teams in the way for UMass to get in without the auto-bid from winning the A-10 tournament.
Xavier: This team is as average as it gets. Some big wins (mentioned by the article above) and some really confusing loses. Beyond what the article pointed out, Xavier also had a stretch earlier in the season where they lost 4 in a row including a home loss to Wofford. Yes, Wofford. Since that streak (because the selection committee absolutely looks at how a team is playing recently when selecting teams), Xavier has not been able to gain any momentum after opening A-10 play. I agree Xavier needs to go far in the A-10 tournament, just for a different reason than the article pointed out (they think it is just to pad the win column). I think they need to get to the finals to show the committee that they are gaining momentum and will carry it forward into the tournament.