Monday, January 30, 2006

Bracket/Bracket Buster Pairings

I. Tops Dispatch Beleaguered New Orleans, 72-57
You know, I just do not have it in me to talk about New Orleans' shortcomings as a team. Some considered them the second best team in the Sun Belt West over the summer, but Hurricane Katrina, a season-ending injury for All-Sun Belt first team PG Bo McCalebb, and the loss of their leading scorer this season just a couple of weeks ago has turned this group into a gritty, tough, admirable club that has little chance of winning more than two or three more games. UNO, my prayers are with you. I hope next season brings better things.

After a lackluster first half, the Tops combusted on a 28-7 run at the start of the second half. The Topper bench played the last eight minutes of the game and reserves Butch Jointer and Daniel Emerson played valuable minutes, which bodes well for the stretch run. Superstar swingman Courtney Lee took a horrible spill at the 12-minute mark and did not return citing a hip contusion. Hopefully, he will be OK. The Tops travel to Florida International tomorrow night and then will enjoy (endure?) a nine-day layoff before their next game on February 9 at Denver.

II. Bracket Buster
The Tops are right on the bubble for a TV game. They did indeed secure a broadcast from ESPN, but we do not know if it will be on TV or on ESPN 360 online. WKU will play 12-6 (D-I games) and Big Sky-leading Northern Arizona. View the rest of the TV match ups here. I'll have a full breakdown tomorrow.

III. Bracket Update
This is the first week where we saw some real continuity in the bracket from last week. No major players fell out this week. Syracuse fell a lot but landed at a 9-seed, and Vandy fell out, but I have not been as high on the 'Dores as others have. Wake Forest also fell out, but I do not think that surprises anyone. They have been on that path for a long while.

1. Boston College seems to have answered the bell. They have won five in a row including three road wins. Their RPI is a robust 24 and they now have a winning record in the ACC.

2. Oklahoma also solidified their status with a big win over Texas yesterday. That will go a long way on their resume.

3. Kentucky continues to find a way. They have a very telling four game stretch starting on Wednesday at Mississippi State, then at Florida, host Tennessee, and at Vandy. A good run over those four likely will solidify the Cats.

4. Missouri State was the big loser in the MVC this week. They lost to fellow Bubbler Bradley and their profile is now clearly the sixth best. That's trouble for the Bears.

Multi-bid Conference Breakdown
Big East (9): UConn, Villanova, Pitt, West Virginia, Syracuse, Georgetown, Cincinnati, Marquette, Seton Hall
Big Ten (7): Illinois, Indiana, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Iowa, Michigan
SEC (5): Tennessee, Florida, LSU, Kentucky, Alabama
ACC (5): Duke, NC State, Maryland, Boston College, North Carolina
MVC (4): Northern Iowa, Creighton, Wichita State, Southern Illinois
Big 12 (4): Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas
Pac-10 (3): UCLA, Arizona, Washington
CUSA (2): Memphis, UAB
A-10 (2): George Washington, Xavier
Colonial (2): George Mason, Old Dominion

Last Four Teams In: Old Dominion, Seton Hall, Alabama, Temple

First Four Out: Bradley, Vanderbilt, Iowa State, Arkansas

IV. Tonight's GOI
--Samford at Murray State. Huge game in the OVC. These two lead the OVC at 10-2.
--Hawaii at Utah State. The 'Bows desperately need road wins (0-5).
--Louisville at Villanova. Cats won the first meeting in the Ville. Cards are close to the brink at this point.