Wednesday, February 10, 2010

NCAA Basketball Weekly: Maryland Sleeper for Final 4, Kentucky, Bubble Watch, Who's In and Who's In Trouble

1. Kansas .984 (315)
2. Duke .979 (76)
3. Syracuse .971 (239)
4. West Virginia .965 (162)
5. Wisconsin .962 (162)
6. Kentucky .957 (162)
7. Purdue .957 (308)
8. BYU .956 (178)
9. Maryland .956 (178)
10. Kansas St .955 (10)

Comments: Kentucky (6), as expected, is moving it's way up the rankings and now has a high enough Overall Efficiency ranking to match their Final 4 hype. Depending on how they finish and what bracket they end up in, I would expect to see them in the Final 4. I do not think they are good enough to win it all at this point though.

Maryland (9) is one team that nobody is talking about as a Final 4 contender. This is because they have just a 16-6 record. However, their Overall Efficiency ranking suggests they are much better than that. Maryland is the type of team that if you don't pay attention they can sneak up on you and ruin your bracket by making a run to the Final 4 and right now I like them as my "sleeper" pick to do that. They have a tough schedule the rest of the way, but it will also be a good test for us to see just how good they are. We all know about Greivis Vasquez (18.1 Points, 4.5 Rebounds, 6.3 assists), but they also have Sean Mosley (84th in the country in offensive efficiency), Landon Milbourne (14.5 Points & 5.4 Rebounds), sharp-shooter Eric Hayes (46.1% 3P%), and freshman big man Jordan Williams (8.4 Points & 7.9 Rebounds). If they finish strong then watch out for this team in the NCAA Tournament.

Bubble Watch:

I came up with a list of teams for my own little version of bracketology based on Overall Efficiency Rankings. For the auto-bids, I used the team with the best efficiency ranking and then I filled in the remaining spots by whatever teams had the highest efficiency rankings as well. I thought this would be a good way to identify which teams have some work to do before they secure an NCAA bid.

Check out the list below:

Rank Team Conference Champs

1 Kansas Big 12 Conference

2 Duke Atlantic Coast Conference

3 Syracuse Big East Conference

4 West Virginia

5 Wisconsin Big Ten Conference

6 Kentucky Southeastern Conference

7 Purdue

8 Brigham Young Mountain West Conference

9 Maryland

10 Kansas St.

11 Villanova

12 Missouri

13 Texas

14 Ohio St.

15 Georgetown

16 Baylor

17 California Pac 10 Conference

18 Marquette

19 Vanderbilt

20 Georgia Tech

21 Clemson

22 Florida St.

23 Utah St. Western Athletic Conference

24 Louisville

25 Tennessee

26 Michigan St.

27 Old Dominion Colonial Athletic Association

28 Xavier Atlantic 10 Conference

29 Butler Horizon League

30 Pittsburgh

31 Wake Forest

32 Minnesota

33 Nevada Las Vegas

34 Arizona St.

35 Virginia Tech

36 Texas A&M

37 Texas El Paso Conference USA

38 Mississippi St.

39 New Mexico

40 Mississippi

41 Dayton

42 Gonzaga West Coast Conference

43 St. Mary's

44 Washington

45 Temple

46 Florida

47 Illinois

48 Northern Iowa Missouri Valley Conference

49 Siena Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference

50 Kent St. Mid American Conference

51 Montana Big Sky Conference

52 Pacific Big West Conference

53 Wofford Southern Conference

54 Murray St. Ohio Valley Conference

55 Western Kentucky Sun Belt Conference

56 Cornell Ivy League

57 Belmont Atlantic Sun Conference

58 Sam Houston St. Southland Conference

59 IUPUI Summit League

60 Vermont America East Conference

61 Lehigh Patriot League

62 Coastal Carolina Big South Conference

63 Morgan St. Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference

64 Quinnipiac Northeast Conference

65 Arkansas Pine Bluff Southwestern Athletic Conference

I highlighted in red the teams I feel still have work to do. I began by highlighting every team between # 38-47. However, I eliminated Gonzaga and St. Mary's because I think they are both getting in. So that leaves Mississippi State, New Mexico, Mississippi, Dayton, Washington, Temple, Florida, & Illinois. Pretty solid choices for "bubble teams" because one bad losing streak would definitely put each team in jeopardy.

I then added projected conference champions UTEP and Old Dominion because I think there will be some doubt of whether they get in or not if they finish the season poorly and fail to win an auto-bid. That gives me 10 true bubble teams.

However, there are also 4 other teams, who have solid Overall Efficiency rankings, but I feel like they are underrated in the eyes of the public right now and would probably not be locks to make the tournament if it started right now: Marquette (17), Louisville (24), Minnesota (32), & Arizona State (34).

That leaves me with essentially 14 at-large bids that are currently available and that's only if some team doesn't come out of nowhere to steal a conference tournament in one of the larger conferences.

In addition, to the 14 bubble teams already listed, there are several other teams that clearly have work to do if they want to make the NCAA Tournament. These are the teams that I feel are in serious trouble right now and probably have to win at least 75% if their remaining games and pick-up some quality wins along the way. Here's a list of those teams who will be in the mix but still have lots of work to do (overall efficiency rank in parentheses):

VCU (49)
Virginia (50)
Memphis (51)
Northeastern (53)
UConn (54)
Richmond (55)
San Diego State (56)
Miami (58)
UAB (59)
Oklahoma State (60)
Northwestern (62)
UNC (63)
South Florida (65)
Rhode Island (66)
Cincinnati (73)
Notre Dame (74)
Arizona (75)
Charlotte (86)

Last year, Minnesota (45), Michigan (49), Texas A&M (52), Maryland (54), & Dayton (83) had the lowest Overall Efficiency rankings of any of the at-large teams and Georgetown (26), Washington State (32), San Diego State (34), Notre Dame (37), New Mexico (38) had the highest Overall Efficiency rankings of the teams who did not secure an at-large bid. So it's entirely possible that a UConn (54), UNC (63), URI (66), etc. could get an at-large bid over someone like a Louisville (24) or Minnesota (32).

Expect more updates like this now that we are getting closer to the NCAA Tournament.

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