NCAA Tournament Field Set, A-10 Teams In Upsets?

ESPN: (4) No. 13 Boise State Broncos or La Salle Explorers versus No. 4 Kansas State Wildcats

Upset chance: 32.5 percent (La Salle) or 34.8 percent (Boise State)

What you need to know: Either play-in team can shoot well enough to show why Kansas State has been one of the most overrated teams in the country all season.

(6) No. 11 Bucknell Bison versus No. 6 Butler Bulldogs

Upset chance: 29.4 percent

What you need to know: The ultra-conservative Bison are a resistible force; the over-seeded Bulldogs are a movable object.

(7) No. 12 Akron Zips versus No. 5 Virginia Commonwealth Rams

Upset chance: 28.9 percent

What you need to know: VCU is now a trendy pick, but the Rams need to be careful: their high-pressure, outside-shooting game profiles better for Killers than Giants, and Akron’s offensive rebounding can keep them in games.

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So these are the potential upsets that could happen as they relate to A-10 teams. Two teams being “giants” and one team as a “giant killer.”

It would be a great day for A-10 fans if La Salle beats Boise State then goes on to upset K-State and Bucknell upsets Butler. A nice parting shot as Butler (expectedly) goes one-and-done in the A-10 and leaves for the Big East which basically spits in the faces of all A-10 fans. La Salle is also a great story here too as one of the last 2 teams announced as participants in the NCAA tournament. La Salle had a great season, which, in my opinion, came out of nowhere. It gives this tournament berth a bit of that “Cinderella” vibe for the Explorers and I hope they make it last until the Round of 32.

The confusing part of this is the 29% upset chance given to Akron over VCU. Is this adjusted for Akron’s best player being ineligible after getting arrested for being the worst drug dealer in America? If it was adjusted, what would the chances have been given to Akron with Alex Abreu active? Seems like some disrespect towards VCU. VCU is a “killer” and can survive Akron and then give Michigan (and even perhaps Kansas) all that they can handle.

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Xavier Snubbed, Doesn’t Get Into NIT

ESPN: The NIT selection committee snubbed Xavier despite quality the Musketeers’ wins over Temple, Butler, La Salle, Memphis and Saint Louis. Xavier coach Chris Mack and outgoing athletic director Mike Bobinski were expecting to get an NIT bid. When one didn’t come Sunday night they both agreed not to pursue the CBI. So, Xavier’s season is over and likely its longtime history in the A-10 has come to a close as well. The Musketeers are expected to be announced, according to multiple sources, with Butler and Creighton, as a member of the new Big East later this week.

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Xavier being denied a bid to the NIT is one of the biggest oversights in the history of the NIT. Xavier should have been a top-half seed (a 4-seed or higher) at a minimum but were denied a bid altogether. I don’t blame Xavier for saying “screw it, our season’s done.” They were a deep run in the A-10 tournament away from climbing into the ranks of NCAA tournament bubble teams.

I’m thoroughly confused and I think selection committee chairs for each tournament should make themselves available to the media to discuss and defend their decisions for why they added certain teams and not others. NCAA tournament selection committee chair Mike Bobinski (Xavier’s soon-to-be-former AD) went on to CBS and ESPN to answer questions about certain bubble teams making it over other bubble teams. If he is willing to step in front of a camera to defend and explain picks, why won’t others? Agree or disagree with the selections/snubs, you have to respect Mike Bobinski for at least addressing the questions.

Round 2 Picks: A10 Tournament

So I am a little late with this and missed the Charlotte/SLU game that started at 12…so I won’t pick that game.

Butler (-2.0) vs La Salle (+2.0)
I think La Salle is a good match-up against Butler. La Salle did beat Butler last time these teams played. La Salle is also averaging 76ppg in their last 5 games while giving up 71ppg in the same span. Butler, meanwhile, is averaging 65ppg while giving up 68ppg over their last 5. La Salle wins and they definitely cover the 2.0.

St. Joe’s (+7.0) vs VCU (-7.0)
I have VCU winning outright as they are just way more talented than St. Joe’s plus their defense will shut this Hawks team down. VCU covers but it will be because of fouling at the end of the game so if you bet on this game, expect it kind of close until the end.

UMass (+5.0) vs Temple (-5.0)
I have Temple winning this game. However, I think UMass covers. This will be a great game with Chaz Williams and Khalif Wyatt both trying to out-perform each other. There will also be a lot of 3’s. UMass has been keeping it close for the most part this year (win or lose).

So there we have it. Just know I am batting .500 in sports betting so don’t blame me for my wrong picks….and send a piece of the winnings if I am right.

Wild Finishes Today In The First Round Of A-10 Tournament Play

Richmond/Charlotte

Tough day for the refs in this game. I think Richmond got absolutely screwed with some of these calls. In conference tournament games, refs really need to not make themselves the show and really be conservative with their whistles. I’ll be curious to see what the league has to say about this tomorrow. Either way, I’m happy with the outcome. I said that I thought Charlotte would win outright (thereby covering the spread). Take it to the bank. Anyways, get ’em, Digger!

Xavier/St. Joe’s

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GIF courtesy of SB Nation

What a bad beat…had Xavier covering (and winning outright). Xavier fought to gain the lead. Had a 1 point lead with 28 seconds left and took a bad shot (essentially giving the ball back to St. Joe’s). Then Xavier doesn’t do what any team with a 1 point lead does…they allowed the St. Joe’s player to get into the paint and drive to the basket and fouled him. Now down 1 point with 1.4 seconds left, Xavier gets a GIFT of a lucky bounce on the inbounds pass landing right in Philmore’s hands with nobody around and he bricks an easy lay up. What a shitty way to end your last season in the A-10, huh? NIT should be entertaining, though….cheer up Xavier fans!

A10 Conference Tournament Begins Today

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Richmond (-4.5) vs Charlotte (+4.5)
Not only do I think Charlotte covers, I think Charlotte wins this game outright.

Dayton (+4.5) vs Butler (-4.5)
Last time these 2 played, Butler won by 6 at Daayton. However, Dayton has covered 3 of their last 4 (including their last 2 games). I just think Butler will be too much (especially on a neutral court) for Dayton. Butler fans travel well and I expect the crowd to be very pro-Butler. Butler covers the 4.5.

St. Joe’s (-1.0) vs Xavier (+1.0)
Same as the Richmond/Charlotte game. I expect Xavier to win (and therefore they cover the 1.0.

George Washington (+2.5) vs UMass (-2.5)
UMass has been inconsistent this year but they are just too talented going against this GW team. I think UMass covers and I don’t think it will be close.

Atlantic 10 Announces POY, ROY, COY Award Winners

Khalif Wyatt, Myck Kabongo

Atlantic 10: Temple senior Khalif Wyatt was named Atlantic 10 Men’s Basketball Player of the Year and Saint Louis coach Jim Crews was chosen as the Coach of the Year the league announced Tuesday. VCU’s Briante Weber earned Defensive Player of the Year honors and Xavier freshman Semaj Christon was named the conference’s Rookie of the Year.

Cody Ellis of Saint Louis was named the A-10’s Sixth Man of the Year and Xavier’s Travis Taylor was selected for the Chris Daniels’ Most Improved Player Award. The league also released its All-Conference teams, which along with the major awards were voted on by a panel of the A-10’s 16 head coaches. The All-Academic team, which was selected by the A-10’s sports information directors, was also announced Tuesday.

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The A-10 got the POY selection 100% correct (they also got the Coach of the Year right too – but I didn’t preach about that in previous posts). There is not much more I can say beyond what I wrote here. Wyatt was the single best choice for POY and was, hands down, the most important player on their team this season.

A side note about Jim Crews who took over SLU under such extreme circumstances and turned in a great season that included time as a ranked team towards the end of the season as well as the #1 seed in the A-10 tournament. Maybe I am biased, but I think he should be the national COY as well (at least in the consideration as a top 3 coach). Do the right thing, voters. Vote for Crews for COY. I know Miami had a completely unforeseen season that saw them go from unranked to top 5 in a matter of 3 weeks, but maybe that’s the fault of the voters ranking the teams and not really something Miami did, per se.

Bubble Teams And Tournament Analysis

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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.

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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.