Bracket Express Notebook Ramblings

Bracket Express Notebook Ramblings
Feb 02, 2007, 01:38 am

-Two teams that really needed and got big wins this week were Texas and Gonzaga. Gonzaga won a double overtime thriller at Stanford, who is a team that had made quite a bit of noise in the Pac Ten recently and was on the verge of cracking the top 25. The Zags fell behind early, but kept their poise and were able to pull off the big win. Texas won at Texas Tech, who had recently beaten two top ten teams at home. Texas’s RPI was fairly poor due to some weak teams they played out of conference, and they didn’t have much in the way of quality wins. This is one of their most impressive wins on the year so far, so it really helps solidify their resume.

-Notre Dame also did themselves a huge favor by winning on the road against Syracuse. It’s the best road win they’ve managed since losing their starting point guard, and does quite a bit to verify that they’re still a good team without him.

-Virginia got a huge overtime win against Duke. They had looked like a solid NCAA team early on, but then went into the tank around December. They’ve won some big games recently and have really gotten themselves back inside the bubble…for now. This win will look very good on their resume.

-Tennessee got a big win against Georgia, which couldn’t have come at a better time. They’d lost five of their last six and really needed a quality conference win, which they got. They’re at Florida on Saturday, which will not be an easy game to win, so it’s good that they got this one.


-This league continues to beat itself up somewhat, which is a testament to how competitive the conference is, but isn’t necessarily good when it comes to getting teams to the NCAAs. In order for a team or two from this league to assure an at-large, they pretty much needed to run away from the rest of the league, and that really hasn’t happened yet.

VCU fell to Hofstra for their first conference loss, but they still have a one game lead over Hofstra in the standings. Unfortunately this is the only time the two teams will meet during the regular season. If VCU can win the league and only lose one or two more the rest of the way, they should be okay for an NCAA bid.

Hofstra will likely get consideration for an at-large if they win the regular season title, but it’s hard to say how much consideration they'll get. Their win against VCU was their most impressive of the season, but they have three very bad losses to Delaware, Northeastern and Manhattan. All three of those teams have RPIs worse than 200. Only one team has ever received an at-large bid with two losses to sub 200 RPI teams, and that was Gonzaga in 2003. That Gonzaga team had a much better overall resume than the one Hofstra will end up with. How in the world does a team as talented as Hofstra, and that played as well as they did the other night against VCU, lose three games to such poor teams?? They could be very dangerous in the conference tournament, but needing to fall back on that to get to the NCAAs with teams like Drexel, VCU and Old Dominion in the league is not a very safe way to go about things.

Another thing that is interesting is that I do not recall a situation where a regular season champion did not receive an at-large bid, but someone else below them in their league did. It isn’t impossible and it could happen, but it is a very rare circumstance, if it has ever happened at all. There are some really good teams in this league, particularly VCU and possibly Drexel, that have the kinds of credentials that can earn them at-large bids, but chances are they’ll have to finish ahead of Hofstra in the standings.

Speaking of Drexel, they put on a very unimpressive show in their home loss to Old Dominion the other night. Old Dominion blew them out a few weeks ago in a previous meeting and beat them rather handily once again last night. Drexel had the most impressive wins out of conference when they won back to back games at Villanova and at Syracuse, but they haven’t done as well in conference play as many would expect. One or two more losses could offset their quality out of conference wins entirely and drop them out of the picture.

Old Dominion is just two games behind VCU, and the two will face each other at Old Dominion a week from Saturday, so they’ll have their chances to make up some ground and get themselves in the race for first place.


-Xavier fell to Duquesne 93-91 the other night. It is Duquesne’s third win in a row, which is quite impressive considering they only won three games all of last season and had so many problems over the summer with five of their players being injured in a campus shooting. Duquesne is 4-4 in the conference, and it looks like they have some winnable games ahead.

As for Xavier, they pretty much need to win out until the conference championship game to even have a chance at an at-large, and even if that happens it will still only be a chance, not a sure thing. This is a very damaging loss to a team that really couldn’t afford one. Their best wins are against bubble teams, and their worst losses are against losing teams.

George Washington fell on the road to Dayton, which was their second conference loss, but the Xavier loss to Duquesne keeps GW in sole control of first place. They most likely need to finish first in the standings and either win out or come close to it in order to get serious consideration for an at-large. Their narrow margin for error became a little more narrow with their loss to Dayton. Two more losses the rest of the could be too many.

Neither Xavier's nor George Washington's coaches were all that happy with the officiating. Xavier Coach Sean Miller was T'd up during the game, and ran out on the floor afterwards yelling all sorts of four letter words at the refs after he thought a foul should have been called at the end of the game. George Washington Coach Karl Hobbs was ejected from their game against Dayton. Evidently he didn't wait until the game was over to run out on the floor and start yelling at the refs.


-The Pac Ten continues to be one of the most exciting conferences to watch this year. Washington State won another exciting game against Arizona. Zona has now lost six of eight and really needs a big win against Washington this weekend.

Wazzu is in great shape and is in the hunt for the conference title. The thing is that four other teams can say the same thing. Only one game separates the top five teams, which is remarkable for that to be the case this late in the year. UCLA is in first place, and Stanford, Washington State, Oregon and USC are all tied for second. Many of the individual games have been as close and exciting as the conference race currently is.

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