Friday, March 9, 2007

The Overtime is Unkind

Did Edgar Sosa travel? Did the time-keeper make a mistake? Does the NCAA tournament committee consider moral victories? No, I don’t see a spot for moral victories on the form. And by my calculations West Virginia is headed for the NIT. Even if I’m right, you still have to give the Mountaineers a lot of credit this season. They lost over 80% of their scoring from last year and were picked to finish dead last in the Big East. They exceeded expectations and proved that John Beilein’s unorthodox system works even when not anchored by a Pittsnogle.

Elsewhere in overtime, Duke lost to NC State. Gerald Henderson’s suspension proved costly as the Blue Devils could have used his production in a close loss. Duke finished 4-6 in the last 10 and will likely get an uncharacteristically poor seed in the NCAA tournament. But how low can Duke go? Would you like to be a 1-seed and look and see Duke seeded 8th in your bracket? Duke does have a number of quality wins so they should not slip too far; my gut says a 6 seed.

Elsewhere in overtime, Georgia Tech lost to Wake Forest despite scoring 112 points in the double overtime tilt. Did this send Georgia Tech to the NIT? I don’t think so. Georgia Tech finished 7-3 in its last 10 games and was playing well at the end of the season. They also had some solid non-conference wins against Memphis, Purdue, and Georgia. But now they get to sweat a little on selection Sunday.

Elsewhere in overtime, UCLA lost to Cal. Did UCLA lose its number 1 seed? No, UCLA can thank Florida and North Carolina for making their late season two game losing streak seem insignificant. With the most quality wins in the country, UCLA remains a 1 seed.

Elsewhere in overtime, Stanford lost to USC. Stanford ended the season 4-6. Does this mean Stanford is headed to the NIT? No, Stanford can now expect a very bad seed, but they have enough quality wins to stay in the field, barely.

Elsewhere in overtime, co-A10 champion UMass fell to St. Louis. UMass was close to earning an at-large bid, but is headed to the NIT after losing early in the A10 tournament.

With all the bubbles bursting in overtime and all the seasons ending, there was one bright spot in overtime Thursday, as LSU edged Tennessee. Big Baby Glen Davis overcame a bloodied nose and converted a number of three point plays late to keep his team’s NCAA hopes alive. Much like George Mason on Monday, you cannot help but root for last year’s NCAA heroes to just keep playing, if only for one more day.

But wait! There were some non-overtime games on Thursday. Most significantly, Air Force lost to Wyoming in the MWC semifinals. It was their 4th loss in a row and they ended the season 4-6 in their last 10. Two of those final losses came to teams outside the top 100. Let me be the first person to say that Air Force is officially "out" of my bracket. While most major media outlets have been listing Air Force as a lock, I mentioned this possibility in my Thursday Preview. Look for a full bracket update Friday around noon.

In the meantime, here is my Friday Express Preview. Let’s keep it short and simple. The following are must win games for teams close to locking up an at-large bid:

Florida St. must win vs North Carolina

Michigan must win vs Ohio St.
Purdue must win vs Iowa
Illinois must win vs Indiana

Kansas St. must win vs Texas Tech

Miss St. must win vs Kentucky
Arkansas must win vs Vanderbilt
Georgia must win vs Florida
Ole Miss must win vs LSU

Even with these wins, some of these teams will still have work to do.