Sunday, April 19, 2015
This wasn't a big week for change; most if not all of the top 8 seeds are in the same place they were last week. Even Cornell, which took a big Brown dump this week. The biggest effect of that loss is to put Princeton in the Ivy lead this week, bid-thieving Marquette in the process. The Tigers lurk as a dangerous bubble team in what is basically a fight between Ivy (Brown, Princeton, Yale) and Big East (Georgetown, Marquette) teams for the last few bracket slots.
Prognosticators suggest that a UVA loss to Penn next week could knock the Hoos out of hosting duties. Don't you buy it. Cornell is still the #9 RPI team and thus still a strong win, and Georgetown is only a couple spots behind. The Hoos have nothing to show against the major national contenders, but have still firmly established themselves ahead of the rest of the pack. Simply put, the resume isn't wonderful, but there's nobody else to knock them out of the top eight.
-- Towson also suffered a bad loss, and while they're still in the CAA driver's seat, it put them behind the Patriot League rep in RPI and thus forced them to the play-in game.
-- Look who's back - kinda. Hopkins is 6-6 and now technically eligible, but they're further from real consideration than that graphic implies.
Last week's games of interest:
-- Maryland 10, Ohio State 9: The third one-goal win in a row for the Terps - this one in OT - is starting to raise a few questions about their ability to compete for the title. You don't almost lose to Rutgers. Their resume is largely unimpeachable, though, with only the Yale loss to blemish it.
-- Duke 15, Marquette 8: Marquette is a decent candidate for a berth and could certainly make it, but they don't inspire a lot of confidence they can upend their eventual host. This could hurt them in the committee room.
-- Virginia 12, Georgetown 9: That should seal up a tournament game at Klockner. No, scratch "should" - it absolutely will.
-- Brown 15, Cornell 6: This game was in Providence, so it's not that surprising Cornell lost; it is surprising they lost by nine. Fortunately for UVA, Cornell stays in the RPI's top 10.
-- Notre Dame 15, North Carolina 14: My system doesn't give the Domers that big of a lead over Cuse and the Heels for the #1 spot, but that's because it doesn't take into account the size of the gap in various stats, only whether Team A is ahead of Team B or vice versa. Also, the committee takes into account "average RPI of your losses" and Notre Dame's RPI is so flippin' high they're skewing the teams they beat way upwards. None of that matters; ND is in fact so far in first place that I think they'd keep the #1 seed even if they lost in the ACC tournament.
-- Albany 12, Yale 11: I said last week UVA wanted the Danes to win, and they delivered. The threat that Yale might move up to a top-8 spot is all but eliminated. Albany, meanwhile, got a little insurance against losing the A-East tournament. It's not ironclad, but it'll help.
Next week's important games:
-- Patriot League tourney: It's a 6-team affair with Bucknell playing Lehigh and Army against Loyola, with Colgate and Navy awaiting the winners. (I've been erroneously assuming four teams, but nope.) Not one of these teams is even a remote threat to get an at-large, so there are no bid thieves here; just one spot on the line between a lot of evenly matched teams.
-- ACC tourney: Notre Dame vs. Duke and UNC vs. Cuse. The system churns out all four of these teams as the top four in the country; I moved Denver ahead of Duke for the head-to-head result. Even so, you can see the implications; Duke could easily move up by winning this shindig. This tournament is obviously going to help decide the seeding at the top of the bracket, and that's no small thing because the top six seeds are clearly a cut above everyone else. The 7 and 8 seeds - at the moment, Cornell and UVA - are much less of a threat, while nobody wants to play Maryland at #6, nor Denver either. Being top two will matter.
-- Denver at Marquette: Yet another chance for Marquette to prove themselves.
-- Princeton at Cornell: Princeton looked finished after bad losses to Stony Brook and Lehigh, but they could earn a lot of redemption here.
-- Brown at Dartmouth: You wouldn't think Dartmouth would ever figure into tournament seeding, but here's the deal: Brown is 3-2. So are Cornell and Yale, and Penn is 3-3. Brown loses every possible tiebreaker combo among all these teams but one: Brown-Cornell-Penn, which would come down to goal differential. There's no way they get into the NCAAs if they don't make their conference tourney, which makes Dartmouth a must-must-win.
-- Johns Hopkins at Maryland: A Hopkins win here would light a fuse. Would a 7-6 Hopkins team, with losses to six tournament teams (as long as Towson is one) and one marquee win, be worthy of inclusion? Hopkins fans are so fed up with their team they probably wouldn't consider it a snub if the answer was no - but if the answer was yes, you can count on a lot of furious talk about protecting the old guard and TV ratings and such. I think they'd still have a hard time getting past teams like Brown (assuming Brown takes care of business) but for the sake of sanity it's probably best for everyone if Maryland wins. (A phrase I can't believe I just said.) Hopkins would then be forced to get the autobid or nothing, and the decision would be out of the committee's hands.