-It has taken over a week, but I think I'm over Georgetown losing to Ohio now. Thank you Xavier-Kansas St.
-When we think of classic games, we always think of big comebacks and buzzer beaters. But what about ties and lead changes? When a game goes back and forth in the last 5 minutes, when a team won’t go away in overtime, now that’s a great game.
What more can you say about Xavier? They never gave up in regulation when it seemed like they should. After Denis Clemente hit the three pointer (and one), after Jacob Pullen made that three to take a 3 point lead in the final minute of regulation, after free throws put Kansas St. up by 4 in OT, Xavier never gave up. Terrell Holloway was ridiculous. Jordan Crawford was taking shots that would normally qualify as bad shots. But they kept going in.
But in the end, Jacob Pullen was just too good. No one can match these stats. Jacob Pullen maintains one of the top Offensive Ratings in the country (119.2) while playing in a major conference, using over 25% of his team’s possessions, taking and making a lot of threes (over 100 makes on the season), and posting an assist rate over 20%. For a college guard, he is the total package. If you watched the Big 12 this year, you knew it. Three losses to Kansas soured many of us on Kansas St.’s tournament chances, but we knew how good Pullen and Clemente could be. And now, so does the rest of the world.
-On Monday I looked at how teams had played in their last 7 games. I didn’t read much into it, but the recent numbers suggested Syracuse vs Butler was a toss-up. And John Gasaway has written at length earlier this year about Syracuse’s turnover problems. Still, Butler’s ability to keep Syracuse at arms length was a bit of a surprise.
So who were Thursday’s winners and losers?
(Note: I’m using kenpom.com’s Pythagorean Winning Percentage through Wednesday’s games without any of my amusing adjustments.)
Initial = Odds of winning national title heading into Thursday
Self = How outcome of own game impacted national title odds
Others = How outcome of other results impacted national title odds
New = New odds of winning national title after Thursday
-Among winners, Kentucky's title odds increased the least because they were "supposed" to beat Cornell.
-The biggest winner on Thursday was obviously Kansas St., which not only won one of the most exciting games in this year’s tournament, they saw Syracuse go down.
-Syracuse losing had only a minimal effect outside the West, but it did minimally increase Ohio St. and other Midwest bracket team's chances of winning it all.
-On the flip side, Duke was not happy to see Kentucky and West Virginia advance, ensuring a tougher Final Four opponent if Duke gets there.
-Xavier’s odds had actually been ticking up during the week thanks to the success of the A-10 in the NIT. And while Syracuse may have lost an even better chance at the national title, Xavier’s loss hurt a lot.