Tuesday, February 10, 2009

And Down the Stretch They Come

It is less than 5 weeks until Selection Sunday and there are less than 4 weeks remaining in the regular season. It's time to look at what races are going to the wire and which ones have a Secretariat-like leader.

SoCon: Davidson. Eat. Their. Dust. They are 3 games clear with 6 to play.
Big Sky: Weber State. They are 2 clear with 6 to play and finish with 4/6 at home including their toughest challenger (Portland St). Not a lock, but it will VERY hard to catch them.
CUSA: Memphis. Two games clear and apparently much better than the rest of the league.
MEAC: Morgan State. They are two clear of everyone and drilled 2nd-place Bethune-Cookman by 34 at B-C. They are also the only MEAC team with an overall winning record.
Northeast: Robert Morris. Three clear with six to play.
Summit: North Dakota State is two clear with just five to play. Only ORU is withing striking distance.
WAC: Utah State is four clear with five to play. It's been domination to this point.
WCC: Gonzaga is two clear of Portland who they swept with six games left.

Front Runners
ACC: Duke and UNC. These two are a game in front, but four teams sit one game back.
Am East: Should be a nice finish as Boston U (1 game lead), Vermont, and Binghamton have traded punches all season.
A10: Xavier. Definitely the fave, tied with St. Joe's at the moment. Dayton is one back and Temple and Duquesne lurk two back.
A-Sun: East Tenn St, Belmont, and Jacksonville have swapped the top spot a number of times already. It will likely be one of these three.
Big 12: Oklahoma. Kansas is just one back, Mizzou is two back, but it's the Sooners' to lose.
Big South: VMI and Radford. Tied, and they have been the two best in this league all season. They are +3 with 6 to play.
Big Ten: Michigan State is two games clear in the rough-and-tumble Big Ten.
Big West: Long Beach and CS-Northridge are two games clear of the field.
Colonial: Northeastern is a game up on VCU and 2 up on Mason. It's likely to be one of those three.
Horizon: Butler is a game up on UW-Green Bay who is only one game back. It's unlikely than anyone other than UWGB can catch the Dogs.
Ivy: Princeton is a game up on Cornell, but there are lots o' games left in the Ivy.
MAAC: Siena is two up on Niagara but still must visit the Purple Eagles.
MAC: Buffalo is one up on Miami-OH. Those two have been the top MAC teams all season.
Valley: UNI is 2 clear, but just lost at home to 2nd place Creighton.
Pac-10. UCLA has some challengers, but they have nosed ahead and are the clear favorite.
Patriot: American and Holy Cross are tied and two clear of the field with 6 to play.
Southland: SFA, TAMU-CC, and Sam Houston lead the way and seem to be a cut above the rest.
Sun Belt: WKU, UALR (tied with 2 losses each with WKU holding the tie-breaker), and Troy (3 losses), have the inside track for the tournament byes with Middle Tennessee lurking.
SWAC: Alabama State leads Jackson State by one game with seven left. Any other contender will have to come from way off the pace.

Big, Muddy Field
Big East: UConn, Louisville, Marquette are tied with Pitt one back and Nova two back. Not everyone plays the same schedule and this league is tough, so it's still up for grabs.
Mountain West: The best race going right now. Utah, BYU and UNLV have been in the mix all along, but San Diego State and New Mexico are pushing hard now. It's still wide open.
Ohio Valley: No dominant team and six teams within two games of the lead.
SEC: It's a four-team race in the East and two in the West and any of the six could wind up being the top team in this league.

Last Night's GOI
--at Missouri 62, Kansas 60. Tigers knock KU from a first place tie and get a nice resume booster.
--at Pitt 70, West Virginia 59. Pitt stays a game back in Big East, while 'Eers fall to 5-6 in league.
Tonight's GOI
--Clemson at Boston College. Eagles would have to feel good about their position if they hold serve at home here. Tigers need bounce back from that home loss to FSU.
--Florida at Kentucky. UK needs it badly. Gators are no lock, but the Cats cannot afford home losses at this stage.
--Michigan State at Michigan. In-state rivalry alert!
--Oklahoma State at Texas. Bubbly Cowboys take on a Texas need in need of a win themselves.
--Marquette at Villanova. This will tell us a little more about Marquette as a legit 2-seed possibility.