Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Lockboxing 1/24

Auburn's shellacking of Alabama boosted my Upset Pick record to 4-0. With any more success, my ego might reach Stephen Colbert/Bill O'Reilly proportions. The dirty secret is that it was not that big of an upset. OK, no one likely saw an 81-57 piledrive coming, but the fact is that Bama is not playing that well. They are just not that good. Auburn is not great, but they are improving.

The Lockbox is updated and I did not make any IN/OUT changes from Monday. I did place a few more teams in lower case black text and a few more in blue text. Several more teams appear to be nailing down their slots early.

There are several TV Land and poll darlings that are nothing more than Bubble Boys in familiar clothes. Roll out the red, bubbly carpet for Alabama, LSU, and Maryland. Even though hordes of writers and coaches (read: SID's) are voting for these teams, they are mere bubble teams. Believe it. Look at their RPI, lack of quality wins, and conference records. Gonzaga is also a bubble team. These preseason darlings have plenty of work to do. UConn and Washington are not even on the radar right now.

The Bubble by the Numbers
--31 Automatic Bids. That number will not change this season.
--34 At-Large Bids. That also is a static number.
--20 teams look to be on track barring an apocalyptic event. They are listed as "virtual locks" in lower case black font in the Lockbox. Ten of them are conference leaders. That means that 10 At-Large bids are virtual locks at this point. It is hard to imagine any of these teams missing at this juncture. This could change, but most if not all of these teams are not going anywhere. I did downgrade Tennessee from "virtual lock" to "win games it should" because of Chris Lofton's injury. Losing Lofton for multiple games in the meat of the SEC slate would qualify as "apocalyptic."
--11 other teams look pretty safe, but need more validation--mostly because it's only the midpoint of the conference season. Those teams are listed in blue. That accounts for 21 At-Large bids that are not "bubble slots." Hence, 13 slots are up for grabs.
--The Bubble Boys who made it in are in green and those left out are in red in the Lockbox.

Last Night's GOI
--at Auburn 81, Alabama 57. The Tigers romp in a TBB Upset Pick.
--at Boston College 85, Florida State 82. BC holds serve at home and forces FSU further toward the line.
--at Illinois 51, Indiana 43. Illini got the quality win that they desperately needed. Backing this up with a win at Purdue this weekend might make them bracket-viable.
--Villanova 82, at Providence 73. Nova gets a nice roadie. Cats are rolling a bit.
--at SIU 56, Northern Iowa 54. Valley continues to bloody one another. This makes for a three-way tie for first in the loss column (SIU, UNI, Creighton).

Tonight's GOI
--VCU at George Mason. Rams will get a test from a GMU that has won five straight.
--Kentucky at Georgia. After letting Bama off the hook in Tuscaloosa, the Dawgs have a chance for a big win at home.
--Vanderbilt at LSU. Both Bubble Boys need this one badly.
--Georgia Tech at Maryland. The Terps simply cannot start 1-5 in the ACC and call themselves an NCAA team.
--Tennessee at Mississippi. Danger time for UT without Chris Lofton.
--Florida at Mississippi State. Bulldogs could get their hat in the ring with an upset here.
--Creighton at Missouri State. Every Valley game is big.
--UMass at Rhode Island. Two of the three A-10 teams tied for first right now.
--Arkansas at South Carolina. Always have to be careful on the road, Hogs.
--Texas A&M at Texas Tech. In-state rivalry alert! Carries Big XII and NCAA ramifications.
--Michigan at Wisconsin. Wolverines with a chance to greatly bolster their resume.