Monday, January 09, 2006

WKU Bludgeons MTSU; 1/09 Bracket Update

I. Hilltoppers Stomp a Mud Hole in Blue Pegasi, 80-48
Seventeen minutes and six seconds. Many things can be accomplished in such a span. One could drive approximately 20 interstate miles. One could watch nearly all of a Seinfeld episode (sans commercials). Many track athletes can run a 5K (3.1 miles) in less time. That's how long Middle Tennessee went without a field goal in the second half. I cannot remember a stretch as long in ANY game I've ever watched. Brick after brick, airball after airball, the dry spell seemingly would never end. Give much credit to the active and pesky Topper defense, but a good part of this was just a statistical anomaly.

It was a 1-point contest near the end of the first half, as MTSU trailed 32-31. But, an 8-0 run to end the half and the Drought That Would Not End in the second half fueled an eternal 48-17 Topper run over the last 21:06 of the game. All this with sharpshooting guard Anthony Winchester going 0-4 from 3-land for the Tops. He still managed 14 points. Super-consistent G Courtney Lee paced the tops with 19 points. The Diddle crowd of 6k was also treated to two monster dunks by The Great Red Pretodactyl. One was a ridiculous left-handed follow-up dunk; the other was a full court breakaway that concluded with Wilborn leaving the planet just 6 inches inside the free throw line and ramming it home. Despite MTSU's struggles, this was clearly WKU's best outing of the season. Read more about the game and stats here.

II. Bracket Update!
Today's bracket is up and there are quite a few changes from last week.

Multi-bid Conference Breakdown
A couple of weird things are happening right now due the lack of conference games played. For example, Fresno State is in because they have no conference losses and have the lowest RPI among unblemished WAC teams. Therefore they win the projected automatic bid. Same with Manhattan (instead of Iona) in the MAAC. These things sort themselves out over the course of the season.

Big East (9): Villanova, UConn, Pitt, Cincinnati, DePaul, Syracuse, Louisville, West Virginia, Marquette
Big Ten (6): Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Michigan State, Iowa
ACC (6): Duke, NC State, North Carolina, Wake Forest, Maryland, Boston College
SEC (5): Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, Vanderbilt
Pac-10 (4): UCLA, Arizona, Washington, Washington State
MVC (3): Northern Iowa, Missouri State, Southern Illinois
Big 12 (3): Texas, Iowa State, Texas A&M
WAC (3): Nevada, Hawaii, Fresno State
CUSA (2): Memphis, UAB
A-10 (2): George Washington, Xavier
MAAC (2): Iona, Manhattan

Last Four Teams In: Texas A&M, Hawaii, West Virginia, Iona
First Four Out: Michigan, Oklahoma, Creighton, Bradley

Others: Seton Hall, Houston, Kansas State, Georgia Tech, Colorado, Rutgers, Auburn, LSU, Georgia, Colorado State, George Mason, Wichita State

Some Notes:
1. As of today, Oklahoma is out. Sorry Sooners, but you have NO top 50 RPI wins and a sub-100 loss. As a matter of fact, you only have one win against the top 100 (Samford)!

2. Nine Big East teams made it in today, and Seton Hall was close. This does not include Georgetown, Rutgers, or Notre Dame who are all very much alive. It is going to get wild.

3. With Florida's dominance, Tennessee's legitimacy, and the resurgence of both Georgia and Vandy, Kentucky has to be a little worried. The Wildcats looked positively horrid at Kansas on Saturday.

4. In addition to Big East, the Missouri Valley and Colonial conference races are going to be a LOT of fun to watch. The MVC has six NCAA contenders (Northern Iowa, Missouri State, Southern Illinois, Bradley, Creighton, and Wichita State). At this point, it is hard to imagine the MVC getting any less than three teams in this season, with a good shot at four and an outside shot at five. The CAA currently have two legitimate at-large contenders in Old Dominion and George Mason, and good teams (though probably not at-large contenders) in Drexel, VCU, Hofstra, and UNC-Wilmington. It could be a multi-bid year for the CAA.

III. Tonight's GOI
--Cincinnati at UConn. The Huskies need a marquee win and an RPI boost (currently 42). This would provide both.
--Texas at Iowa State. For an early statement on who is the favorite in the Big 12.
--Gonzaga at Santa Clara. This game and at St. Mary's-CA are probably the only two conference games that the Zags even have a chance of losing.

A Bracket Buster update is coming tomorrow.