Sunday, April 26, 2015
Upsets this week conspired to shake the hell out of the bracket, and temporarily shrink the bubble. Autobids this week are now handed out either to actual winners of them (Syracuse and Colgate) or to conference #1 seeds (everyone else.)
That includes everyone's favorite looming specter over the proceedings: Hopkins. Yep, and not only that but they're in position to get an at-large invite if they don't win the B1G tournament, thanks to finally earning the signature win they lacked all season. Their work isn't done, though. Say they beat Penn State and lose to Maryland in the B1G tourney. The RPI bump from that would be very slight, and some of their other metrics would drop. The Ivy results will matter to Hopkins, too. If, say, the Ivy final is Princeton over Yale, Hopkins would be sweating it out - Yale has the same signature win as they do, and very comparable metrics, better ones in some cases, worse in others.
The bubble is awfully interesting. It doesn't include any of the "next four out" teams - the line is heavy and bold between "first four" and "next four." It also doesn't include Harvard, which despite beating Yale this weekend can do nothing to improve their position. It's basically seven teams: Hopkins, Georgetown, Yale, and Brown on the good side for now, and Marquette, Princeton, and Ohio State on the wrong side. And all of them but Hopkins have excellent opportunities in their conference semis. Brown and Yale face each other, as do G'town and Marquette. Ohio State drew Maryland. Princeton has Cornell. Hopkins got Penn State, but if they win, they'll get their shot at a quality opponent too. It's one of the most interesting bubble weekends in memory.
Last week's important games:
-- Patriot League tourney: Won by Colgate.
-- ACC tourney: Won by Syracuse, but Duke's semifinal win over Notre Dame was enough to boost them past Denver - even with the win by Denver in head-to-head. With Duke playing Boston U. this week and Denver getting busy in the Big East tourney, I think Denver is a near sure thing to move back up to #4.
-- Denver 18, Marquette 11: Denver's been unstoppable in the Big East this year.
-- Cornell 15, Princeton 10: Nice win for Cornell, helps to solidify them among the seeded teams (and UVA, too) but the rematch next weekend will be more important. They could lose that seed with a loss and a good showing by certain other teams.
-- Brown 17, Dartmouth 8: The Bears had no trouble, and earned their shot at their first tourney bid since 2009.
-- Johns Hopkins 15, Maryland 12: The Hop just couldn't leave well enough alone. Not that I'm sorry to see Maryland lose, but bracketology is easier without a team with a resume like Hop's. They've now guaranteed that they'll at least be at-large eligible; we'll see how the committee likes them. Or not, if they win the B1G tourney.
This week's important games:
-- CAA tourney: Drexel / Towson, and Fairfield / UMass. One bid, with Towson being the only one with a shot at hostig a play-in if they win. Anyone else would go on the road barring a major upset in another one-bid league.
-- NEC tourney: Hobart / Bryant and St. Joe's / Mount St. Mary's. St. Joseph's is the favorite, but no matter who wins they're going on the road for a play-in.
-- MAAC tourney: Detroit / Quinnipiac and Marist / Monmouth. A surprise to see Siena completely out of the title picture, but they haven't been good all season and Marist has been just shy of dominant in conference play. Marist could host a play-in game, depending on the results in the other conferences.
-- SoCon tourney: Richmond / Furman and Mercer / High Point. Richmond and Marist are both hosting games in the bracket above, but that's because Fairfield is the CAA #1 seed. If the actual favorite - Towson - wins the CAA, they'll take a hosting slot and leave the Spiders and Foxes to duel it out. Edge to Marist because their RPI is currently higher, and it should stay that way if both win.
-- America East tourney: Stony Brook / Vermont and Albany / Hartford. Albany's been so utterly dominant in their conference that it's hard to see them losing. This is the only plausible location for a bid thief, though. Albany currently slots between Georgetown and Yale in the at-large race - which means they're currently in, and could be even if they lose to, say, Stony Brook in the final.
-- Big East tourney: Now for the really interesting conferences. Denver and Villanova, nobody cares; Villanova is no obstacle. But Georgetown and Marquette is a huge bubble game. The loser almost definitely doesn't dance. The winner probably does, though that's slightly more likely if it's Georgetown.
-- Big Ten tourney: Ohio State / Maryland and Johns Hopkins / Penn State. You're rooting for OSU here. Their inexplicable loss to Rutgers - a blowout at that - put them at the bottom of the bubble. They can rectify that with a win over Maryland, but it's not for their sake that we want them to win. UVA is very securely nestled in the #7 slot, because Maryland has a win over UNC that UVA can't do anything about. The one possibility for UVA to move up? If the committee decides Maryland is on a late-season slide and penalizes them as a result.
-- Ivy League tourney: Brown / Yale and Cornell / Princeton. Oh, the possibilities. The big dance only has room for three Ivies at the most, and Cornell is definitely one. Somebody is going home disappointed after being in contention all season.