Impact of Yesterday’s Games
Yesterday was all about the Big East Bubble teams, and one game went the way Wildcat fans wanted, one didn’t, and one was probably a wash in terms of teams on the Bubble.
First, the one that may have knocked a Bubble team out… Seton Hall’s loss to Louisville. When Seton Hall lost over the weekend at DePaul, we said that it damaged Northwestern’s tournament resume a bit because it knocked the Pirates out of the RPI Top 50, giving NU one less “win over teams in RPI Top 50.” Then, Big East Tournament play started, and with Seton Hall now right alongside Northwestern in the game of musical chairs that is the NCAA Tournament Bubble, we began to root for them to lose, because a deep run in the Big East Tourney likely would have helped them lock up a bid. They did crush Providence on Wednesday, but they lost to Louisville 61-55 yesterday, leaving them nibbling away at their nails for the next several days. The four bracketologists we are following are split on Seton Hall – “Last Four In” for CBS Sports.com’s Palm and SI.com’s Glockner and “First Four Out” for ESPN.com’s Lunardi and Foxsports.com’s Bottoms in their latest projections.
At this point, a side-by-side resume comparison with the Cats favors Northwestern slightly IMHO,with the Hall’s only advantage coming in wins over RPI Top 50 (3 for Seton Hall, 1 for NU). Of course, those wins (Georgetown, UCONN, and West Virginia) are pretty impressive, but I would argue that Seton Hall’s bad losses (Rutgers, Villanova, DePaul), at least to some extent, cancel out their good wins. Plus, of course, there is the direct head-to-head result of Northwestern beating Seton Hall 80-73 on November 20. (All stats below are courtesy collegerpi.com (subscription requried))
- RPI: NU (47) / Seton Hall (62)
- SOS: NU (12) / Seton Hall (44)
- Bad Losses (AKA losses to teams outside of the RPI Top 100) – NU (0) / Seton Hall (3)
- Wins vs. RPI Top 50: NU (1) / Seton Hall (3)
As for the other two “games to watch” from yesterday, South Florida took down Villanova, but considering how bad Villanova was this season, this win was more about South Florida staying alive than helping them get in. If they can knock off #23 Notre Dame later today, that would go a long way towards moving them off of the Bubble and into Bracketland.
The game that was, for the most part a wash – UCONN vs. West Virginia, the results of which we detailed in yesterday’s post. That, combined with this this afternoon’s thrilling close loss to #2 Syracuse, just about cemented UCONN’s slot and probably wasn’t enough to knock West Virginia out, so no real help to NU.
Bubble Watch Watch
Good news, bad news folks… First, the bad news, for the first time all week, somebody has moved the Cats out their field of 68 (Andy Glockner at SI.com). Thus far, he’s the only one, but as we’ve talked about over and over, a loss to Minnesota this afternoon will likely have everybody else joining him in that move. Now, the good news – somebody actually moved the Cats to a higher seed (Jerry Palm/CBSSports.com).
Joe Lunardi/ESPN.com – IN – 13 seed, “First Four” vs. Drexel, Last Four In
- Cats are still in the same spot for Joe as they’ve been the last few days, and Joe replaced Seton Hall with Texas in the Field of 68. However, here’s something to make Northwestern Nation a little bit nervous (and H/T to AdamDG for pointing this out), in a tweet from Joe last night (@ESPNLunardi) – “Last night of my bracketology course: A 6-hour mock selection. Last team in: Drexel. Out: Washington, Seton Hall, Texas, Northwestern, Iona.”
- Jerry bumped the Cats up a bit in his latest bracket. He had put them as an 11 seed earlier in the week, and held them there for the last few days, but in today’s bracket he moved them up to the 10 slot. It seems that Jerry is the biggest Northwestern believer of the four bracketologists we are tracking, as he’s the only one who, as we’ve mentioned before, does not have NU in a “Last Four In”/”First Four Out.” However, there is this tweet (@jppalm) that suggests that while Jerry may have more confidence than the others, he doesn’t exactly think Northwestern is a lock – “There is nothing solid about Northwestern. RT
@jerjorgenson: Jerry please explain to me how Northwestern is so solidly in…” And then that tweet was actually followed up with this reply from SI.com’s Glockner (@AndyGlockner) – “Not true. They are a solid choice to lose to any t50 oppt on any floor. :)”
Andy Glockner/SI.com – OUT – Last Four Out
- Mr. Glockner knocked Northwestern out of his bracket after having them as one of his “Last Four In” all week. He replaced the Cats with Drexel. Andy tweeted earlier today that he thinks Seton Hall’s resume is stronger than Northwestern’s. As I stated earlier, I respectfully disagree. I didn’t see any further explanation in Andy’s Bubble Watch as to why he dropped the Cats from his field, so I tweeted him to find out more. His response – “Looked at their resume again and adjusted.” As to why Drexel – “Not sure why. Gut.” (Thanks to Andy for being so responsive.) I respectfully disagree, both with Andy and Joe Lunardi’s “course” that we mentioned earlier that placed Drexel in the field. Drexel’s Strength of Schedule is awful (200+), and as Joe Lunardi pointed out earlier this week (subscription required), and we highlighted in an earlier post, “would be — by far — the worst such mark to earn an at-large bid in at least 10 years.”
Andrew Bottoms/FoxSports.com – IN – 13 seed, “First Four” vs. Dayton, Last Four In
- No change here from Andrew. He still has the Cats playing Dayton in Dayton.
Games to Watch
Big day for Bubble Teams today, starting with the one who you might be a bit familiar with…
- Minnesota vs. Northwestern, Big Ten Tournament, 1st Round, 4:30 pm CT on ESPN2 – As if I needed to tell you.
- South Florida vs. Notre Dame, Big East Tournament, Quarterfinal, 8 pm CT on ESPN – South Florida is in the bracket for Lunardi, Palm, and Bottoms, all as a 12 seed, and among the “First Four Out” for Glockner. A win over a nationally ranked Notre Dame team would probably lock up a bid for USF, and they may not need it anyway to get in. Perhaps a loss by a large margin to Notre Dame could give the Selection Committee second thoughts about the Bulls.
- Stanford vs. Cal, Pac-12 Tournament, Quarterfinal, 8 pm CT on FSN – A quick look at Cal’s record (23-8, 13-5 Pac-12), and they sound like a lock. However, the Pac-12 was unbelievably weak this year (#10 Conference RPI, according to CollegeRPI.com (subscription required), behind all the big boys plus the Mountain West, Atlantic 10, Missouri Valley, and Conference USA), and there’s a pretty good chance the Pac-12 may only get one team into the tournament. So, while Cal holds a spot in everybody’s bracket right now, an early round loss to their hated rival could push them onto the Bubble.
- Texas vs. Iowa State, Big 12 Tournament, Quarterfinal, 8:30 pm CT, ESPN2 – Texas has been all over the Bubble all week, bouncing in and out of the brackets of the bracketologists (say that three times fast) – currently in for Lunardi and among the “First Four Out” for Palm, Glockner, and Bottoms. A win over a tournament-bound Iowa State team would definitely strengthen their resume, while a loss could keep them on the outside come Sunday.
- Colorado vs. Oregon, Pac-12 Tournament, Quarterfinal, 10:30 pm CT on FSN – The case against Oregon begins with the same one we just laid against Cal. On the surface (22-8, 13-5), looks good, but peeling back the onion, not so good because of the incredible weakness of their conference. Plus, they’ve lost to Cal twice, have an RPI of 49, and have 0 wins vs RPI Top 50 (CollegeRPI.com). So, Oregon likely needs to win at least this game, and probably more, to get into the Field of 68. The Ducks currently reside in all four of the followed bracketologists “Last Four Out.” Root for the Buffaloes to knock Oregon out of the Bubble equation entirely.