Saturday was a huge day across the country. For many teams it was their last opportunity in the regular season to make a big impression. My final 6 teams in the bracket all came out with big wins, further solidifying their status as an NCAA Tournament team. Here’s a list of some of Saturday’s big winners:
Saint Joseph’s: Any time you can knock off a ranked team this late in the season is a huge step. Saint Joe’s is now up to #78 in my rankings, but have now accumulated 7 wins against RPI top 100 teams. The Hawks have performed pretty well against some solid competition. The only knock on this team is the lack of quality wins away from home. Duquesne, Richmond, and GW are all under .500 in conference. There are also a couple bad losses, but at this point in the season most bubble teams are in the same position. I’m moving this team up to my last 4 out, but with some more wins down the stretch could make a run.
VCU: Although George Mason is not ranked nationally, they still appear in the top 70 of my rankings. The Patriots were 23-7 entering Saturday’s action, which is a very impressive record. VCU still took care of business and got another quality win to add to the resume. As I’ve stated here before, I thought VCU was in before Saturday’s win, and I still think that will be the case. It would be best to avoid an early round upset in the CAA tournament, but this team is too good to keep out. I really wonder if the Final Four run last year may have changed some minds in the committee room. There were doubts about the Rams last year, and I think that maybe some members will be more willing to put teams in that didn’t go 8-10 in conference. Either way, VCU is looking good.
Drexel: It is never easy to win in Norfolk. Drexel kept the nation’s second longest winning streak alive with a 1 point victory over Old Dominion. They will be the #1 seed in the CAA tournament, which should prove to be very beneficial. I can guarantee that nobody wants to play this team right now.. anywhere. Drexel currently sits at #40 in my rankings, and I think it is well deserved. The win over Old Dominion was Drexel’s 11th on the road. Numbers like that prove very beneficial in the tourney. Drexel is still 4-2 against the RPI top 100, which is much more than can be said for other bubble teams. I think this team is right in the thick of the Bubble Hunt.
Arizona: The Wildcats needed to beat UCLA at home. The road loss at the beginning of January probably is holding them back right now, but the road wins over Cal and New Mexico St. may be big helpers when determining this team’s tourney fate. They are 8-1 in February and with the only loss being away from home to Washington, Arizona is doing everything possible to be one of the final tourney teams in. The road game next weekend at Arizona St. is a MUST win. At this point in the season, losing to a team with an RPI of 250 is a killer. If they can win, and then win a couple games in the P12 tournament, they should be in. Arizona actually ranks higher in Crotistics than fellow bubble team Washington.
Washington: Speaking of the Huskies, they pulled out a road win at Washington St. in what was likely a must win game for them as well. Washington should smoke USC on Thursday, but the real test comes Saturday at UCLA. Washington doesn’t have any bad losses, but they really don’t have any quality wins either. A home win over Oregon and a season sweep of Arizona is really it. The UCLA game is a must win, hands down. Wins in the final two and a deep conference tournament run should be enough, but anything absent of that will have this team in real danger.
Texas: The case of Texas may be the most interesting of all. Many statistical systems have Texas rated very highly, and this is one of the reasons I wanted to start Crotistics. At some point, you just have to win games. Texas is 3-8 against RPI top 50 opponents. Those wins being at home over Temple, Iowa St., and Kansas St. Some good wins are on the resume, but it remains to be seen whether that will be enough. Escaping Texas Tech with a victory yesterday was absolutely necessary. Texas resume looks awfully similar to Northwestern and Illinois, so we’ll see what happens down the stretch. The game at Kansas is a gigantic opportunity.