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.

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Temple Beats VCU, Solidifies Tourney Spot

Crying Owl

ESPN: PHILADELPHIA — On the way out of the Atlantic 10, Temple looked ready to take one more trophy as a keepsake.

Khalif Wyatt scored 30 points and Jake O’Brien had 19, and the Owls beat No. 21 VCU 84-76 on Sunday after rallying from a big first-half deficit.

The Owls (23-8, 11-5 A-10) flipped a 16-point hole into a 17-point lead and clinched the No. 3 seed in the conference tournament.

O’Brien rallied the Owls back from the big first-half hole with clutch 3-pointers in transition that propelled them toward their seventh straight win. O’Brien tied the game at 46-46 on a 3, then gave the Owls the lead for good with another 3 to go up 51-48 with less than 15 minutes left.

The Owls took off from there, thrilling a sellout crowd of 10,206 with tough buckets inside, while O’Brien led the surge from outside.

VCU coach Shaka Smart said he’s left trying to figure out why the Rams lost “their fire” after halftime, especially with first place at stake. The Rams were on the brink of sharing a championship in their first season in the A-10 after bolting the Colonial Athletic Association.

“Nobody transitions from a smaller league to a bigger league and wins the league in the first year,” Smart said. “This is why. You’ve got to win games like today. We just didn’t do what it took to win.”

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And there Temple fans have it. I said that they needed to split the La Salle and VCU games while winning their other games remaining. They did even better. They won out. It wasn’t all pretty, though. I was in the stands for the URI/Temple game that really came down to the wire. As I was leaving the arena, I overheard a couple of students say “that was close; that was the tournament right there.” They were 100% correct. I thought that even though they won it would still negatively impact Temple’s chances as they barely squeaked by with a win, at home, against an 8-win team. If VCU came in to Temple and ran them off the court, that would have most likely force them to really do work in the A-10 tournament. Now they can win their first game and be guaranteed a spot in the NCAA tournament.

It was very much a huge win for Temple. A real demoralizing loss for VCU heading into the A-10 tournament.

Another big-time performance from a big-time player. Khalif Wyatt really should be the A-10 player of the year. In every meaningful statistic category (points, steals, assists, turnovers, etc.), Wyatt is ahead of the other players considered for POY honors (Juvonte Reddic-VCU, Rotnei Clarke-Butler, and Ramon Galloway-La Salle). Looking at those 4 players, I think it is safe to say that without Wyatt, Temple may not even be a .500 team in the conference. I think there are other players around Juvonte Reddic that can more than pick up the slack if he were to go down with an injury and VCU wouldn’t be as worse off by losing Reddic; such as Treveon Graham and Troy Daniels. Same can be said for Rotnei Clarke and Butler who have 4 other players besides Clarke who average 10ppg or more. Roosevelt Jones may not score as many points as Clarke, but he gets more rebounds, has more assists, and fewer turnovers. As for Ramon Galloway, La Salle can make up his rebounding numbers by giving Steve Mack or Jerrell Wright more time. Tyreek Duren and Tyrone Garland can be just as effective scoring and other than Galloway scoring 2 more points per game, Duren’s stats are almost identical to Galloway (assists, steals, blocks, and turnovers). Wyatt scores 8 more points per game than the second highest scorer on Temple and is the only one on Temple with over 4 assists per game. Temple would have a much tougher time replacing Wyatt than the other teams would have replacing their best player which I think is the definition of the Most VALUABLE Player. Wyatt has the intrinsic value of a POY candidate; he’s got good enough stats to win it but he also has the increased value to his team.

URI Is Mathematically Eliminated From The A-10 Tournament

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So I saw this search come across my stats today:

URI Tournament CMon Man

Not sure if this is a joke or not. I am hoping it was a joke.
A10 Standings 02252013

URI is 3 games back with 3 to go plus St. Bonaventure (the current last team to get in) owns the tie breaker over URI. The Bonnies also only have 3 games left. Mathematically, there is no way for URI to leap over St. Bonaventure.

But the larger question remains, who really was still holding out hope for them to make the tournament this late in the game? I had URI effectively eliminated after losing to SBU (their 6th loss in row during that streak). After going on that 6 game losing streak and looking at their schedule down the final stretch of the season (Xavier, Temple, La Salle, and UMass) was there really anybody who truly believed they still had a chance? If the answer to that is “yes,” then those yahoos are truly, honestly, fucking stupid. The only thing I have to say to them is:
c'mon man