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Sunday, March 01, 2009

Road to Selection Sunday

With another weekend in the books, it's time for another edition of "Road to Selection Sunday". As stated last week, it is basically a recap of the past couple of days in college basketball, usually the Saturday and Sunday that were just completed. It will go over the teams on the bubble that helped or hurt themselves, teams in the NCAA Tournament whose seed is rising and falling, and much more.

This weekend, a lot of teams made their case for an NCAA bid, while others found ways to keep themselves sweating until Selection Sunday. Conference tournaments in the mid-major conferences start up this week, which will help sort some things out. Let's take a look at all the teams that were affected by this weekend's results.

Teams close to locking up bids to the NCAA Tournament:
BYU: The Cougars are very likely headed to the Dance after beating San Diego State on the road and then handling MWC leader Utah at home.
Dayton: The Flyers were struggling somewhat, but their victory over Temple on Saturday puts them in good shape for an at-large bid.
Wisconsin: The Badgers are a completely different team than they were a month ago, beating Michigan for their sixth win in seven games.
Tennessee: The Volunteers have a top-30 RPI and an excellent SOS; their win at Florida today probably cements their spot in the field.


Teams on the bubble that helped themselves:
Maryland:
The Terrapins couldn’t afford a second straight loss after their win over North Carolina, and they pulled out a win at North Carolina State.
Providence: The Friars followed up their win over Pittsburgh with a solid if unimpressive victory at Rutgers. First in the Big East bubble pecking order.
Georgetown: The Hoyas get themselves back into the conversation with a win at Villanova. If they win their last two, they could get a berth.
Penn State: The Nittany Lions were on the verge of killing their resume against Indiana, but they pulled a victory out late against the Hoosiers.
Rhode Island: The Rams are smack in the middle of the bubble talk, after following their win over Dayton with a solid victory at Duquesne on Sunday.
Texas A&M: The Aggies’ at-large hopes are on the upswing after blowing out Iowa State. They have a top-35 RPI and are back to .500 in the Big 12.
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys are making moves towards the NCAA Tournament, winning their last five games, including a solid home win over Texas on Saturday.
Kansas State: The Wildcats bounced back nicely from their blowout loss at Missouri with a win over a desperate Nebraska team on Saturday.
New Mexico: The Lobos are tied for second in the Mountain West after pulling out a double-overtime win at Colorado State on Saturday.
San Diego State: The Aztecs bounced back from a home loss to BYU with an overtime win on the road at TCU. They are still just fourth in the MWC, though.
Saint Mary’s: The Gaels improved in two ways on Saturday: they beat Loyola Marymount on the road and then saw Portland lose to Santa Clara, giving second place to Saint Mary’s.
Davidson: The Wildcats can’t afford any more Southern Conference losses; a 43-point victory over Georgia Southern certainly demonstrated that.


Teams on the bubble that hurt themselves:
Virginia Tech: The Hokies had a chance to essentially lock up a bid at home against Duke, and now have plenty of work left to do for an at-large slot.
Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish were on the verge of putting themselves in position for a bid, but they fell late at Connecticut and are back on the bubble.
Cincinnati: A 24-point defeat at the hands of Syracuse was not the way the Bearcats wanted to follow up their win over West Virginia.
Michigan: The Wolverines picked up a big win over Purdue on Thursday, but then couldn’t pull out a victory Sunday at Wisconsin.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes are squarely on the bubble after losing four of their last five, including a 25-point defeat at Purdue on Saturday.
Temple: The Owls were one of the last teams in last week, but losses to La Salle and Dayton could knock them out of the conversation.
UAB: Sure, the Blazers defeated East Carolina by 20 on Saturday, but their loss to Memphis on Thursday might have ended their at-large chances.
Arizona: The Wildcats looked solid a week ago, but they have now lost three in a row to drop to .500 in the Pac-10 after a close loss to Washington.
USC: The Trojans have played themselves out of the at-large picture with losses in six of their last seven games. They have a ton of work left to do.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks had a chance to potentially lock up a bid at Vanderbilt, but they were run out of the building in the first half.
Florida: The Gators needed to beat Tennessee at home on Sunday, but they got down early and their late comeback attempt fell just short.
Kentucky: The Wildcats were yet another SEC East team to struggle this weekend, blowing a double-digit second half lead against LSU.
Utah State: After losing at Nevada on Saturday, the Aggies might need the WAC’s automatic bid if they want to get to the NCAA Tournament.
Siena: The Saints were beat fairly easily by Niagara on Friday, and then struggled at Canisius Sunday. They might not be able to afford any more losses.


Teams trying to work themselves into the at-large conversation:
Washington State:
If the Cougars win at Washington on Saturday, they will be 9-9 in the Pac-10 with four straight wins to close the season.
Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane are lurking under the radar in Conference-USA, as they are now tied for second in the league with UAB.
Niagara: 24 wins, a 4-2 record vs. the top-100, and an RPI in the 50s. Why can’t the Purple Eagles be in the conversation for a bid?

Teams falling from the at-large conversation:
Nebraska:
The Cornhuskers had one last chance to salvage their hopes against Kansas State, but they couldn’t hold onto their halftime lead and lost.


Teams whose seed is rising:
Florida State: The Seminoles are putting themselves in good position for a top-five seed come Selection Sunday, after their win over Clemson.
Syracuse: The Orange sent a message this week, winning at St. John’s by 29 then blowing Cincinnati out on Sunday by a 24-point margin.
Kansas: Can the Jayhawks get to a No. 2 seed? They won at Oklahoma on Monday then dominated Missouri en route to a 25-point win.
Washington: The Huskies clinched a share of the Pac-10 title after holding off Arizona on Saturday. They are in shape for a top-four seed.
UCLA: The Bruins had been struggling, but their victory at California on Saturday puts them in second place in the Pac-10 and back to a top-five seed.
LSU: The Tigers locked up an SEC title and moved into top-five or six seed status with an impressive road victory at a hungry Kentucky team.


Teams whose seed is falling:
Clemson: The Tigers are a tough team to read, but two straight losses knock them out of the ACC title race and could drop them a few seed lines.
Marquette: The Golden Eagles are clearly not the same team without Dominic James, but close losses against UConn and Louisville are nothing to be ashamed of.
Villanova: The Wildcats struggled in a win over DePaul then lost to a Georgetown team that had won two of its previous 11 games.
Texas: The Longhorns might be a lock, but they are struggling lately. They barely beat Texas Tech during the week then fell at Oklahoma State Saturday.
California: The Golden Bears could have moved to third in the Pac-10 pecking order with a home win over UCLA, but they couldn’t pull out a win.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils dropped to a tie for third in the Pac-10 after close losses at Washington and Washington State.


Number one seeds as of this week:
1. Connecticut:
The Huskies move back into the top overall spot with a road win at Marquette and a solid home win over a game Notre Dame team.
2. Pittsburgh: Despite their loss to Providence earlier in the week, the Panthers still have the most top-25 wins of anyone in the country and the No. 1 RPI.
3. Oklahoma: The Sooners showed they are a completely different team with Blake Griffin, pulling away in the second half against scrappy Texas Tech.
4. North Carolina: The Tar Heels still have a one-game lead in the ACC standings after beating Georgia Tech by 30 in their first game since losing to Maryland.

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