The Grand National Championships

February 20, 2009

Knockout Saturday…

Now this weekend, you have to watch the majestry of the mid-majors. Illinois State and Niagra fighting to get on the outside looking in of the bubble and whatnot. But while you look and notice that Siena is really kind of awesome, there are eleven major teams playing for their tournament lives. Now sure, some are on the super periphery, but if they pull the upset? The bracketologists have to consider them.

It is a list post, I will order them according to the bracketological implications.

10) Providence vs. Notre Dame

Why even list this game? Notre Dame is an NIT team, Providence’s computer numbers are marginal at best. They still would need to steal one of at home vs. Pittsburgh or at Villanova to even be considered. So why list the fighting Keno Davis’ as a knockout game? Because a win here likely gets Providence to ten conference wins. And if they can swing eleven? There’s a definite chance of Keno Davis winning a coach of the year.

9) Nebraska at Kansas

Now sure, asking for Nebraska to take down Kansas on the road is a tall task. But the fact of the matter? If they can get it done, it’s a top notch win in their last ten games over a potential two seed that was on a 38 game home winning streak. Put it this way. If Abe Dagundro and Paul Velander can get that done? Of all the potential 19 win teams, they have to climb the ladder of contention.

8) Kentucky vs. Tennessee

Patrick Patterson’s limited play is something that makes this game not as much of a gimme as it could have been. The Vols are strong like Bull in the low post, and you saw what Vanderbilt did with a team that couldn’t be at full strength down low. With only one guaranteed win from here on out, Kentucky could find themselves in some trouble if the Vols come out fired up. Remember, Meeks kicked their ass the last time they played.

7) USC vs. Washington

Southern California needs to win one of their next two. Otherwise? They will find themselves in the morass. It would be a resume too similar to Baylor, Georgetown, Miami, Oklahoma State, and Wisconsin. Now maybe they get in, and maybe they stay out. But if they can get to 19 off of a quality win? Then if they go into Stanford and win? That equals twenty.

6) UNLV vs. BYU

Losing at Wyoming just might be a killshot for the Rebels chances. Sure, they will get 20 wins. But beating Air Force is an RPI killer for marginal computer numbers. (Check how Kansas State’s RPI fell off the cliff after they beat North Carolina Central.) And they have to beat the top three in conference. BYU does come to Vegas, but they have to go to San Diego State and Utah. (I will say this now. They need to beat BYU to stay alive.)

5) New Mexico vs. San Diego State

New Mexico has a very razor thin margin to work with. But that being said? They have a better chance to get any potential fourth berth for your Mountain West Conference than the aforementioned UNLV. They do play the top two teams. But they have to come to Las Cruces. And that is worth at least five points for the Lobos. Win out? It’s 21-10, 12-4 and an RPI that isn’t indefensible with an 8-2 record in their last 10 games. But they have to steal two.

4) Georgetown vs. Marquette

Georgetown has a chance of winning four out of his last five. Now this and Louisville will be tough games, but Georgetown is a young team. Losing seven of eight was bound to happen. The thing is? If they can get past that and find a way to use their low post to dominate Marquette? It’s a quality win in their last ten. It may only mean a stay of execution, but they thread the needle, it’s an 18-win team with good computer numbers (37/3) and a lot of quality wins (UConn, Memphis, Syracuse, Marquette and Louisville).

3) Vanderbilt at Florida

I know, the computer numbers for the Commodores should belie them from any real consideration at this point (91/107), but they also have they eye of the tiger for this game. They got dropped by 25 at home versus the Gators. So yeah, a win here means upset city.

That being said? They steal it and hold serve the rest of the way? They will be on the cutline come selection Sunday. And as for Florida? They still are on the safe line right now. And a loss here doesn’t mean death, but their last four are a strong challenge. (@ LSU, Tennessee, @ Mississippi State, Kentucky), so they need this one to feel safe.

2) Boston College at Miami

Why I kept Miami in the Tournament teams bracket is the fact that this game starts a run of four consecutive games for the Hurricanes that they should win. (After this it’s @ Virginia, @ Georgia Tech and vs. North Carolina State). But Boston College has their swagger back after they beat Duke last Sunday. And a win here clinches 20 wins overall and a .500 record in conference play. And it would knock out Miami from any real tournament consideration.

1) Baylor at Oklahoma State

The winner of this game has an excellent shot of running themselves back to at least .500 in conference, the loser is very likely going to have to steal one if they want to get there. (Though Baylor’s needle is a lot easier to thread than Oklahoma State’s. Winning at Texas looks a lot easier than winning at Oklahoma, even if Baylor has a minimal low-post presence.) My gut says that Baylor is going to win this game, but it should be very fun to watch. Tournament atmosphere, two teams that run and gun, and a game that promises to be in the 80’s.

So you see? This is going to be one of the truly great weekends of college basketball. The Mid-Majors are shining, teams are fighting for their lives. God love it kids.

Get ready for March.



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