Under The Microscope: Memphis, Florida State, and Gonzaga


Image courtesy of microscope.com

As we enter the final three weeks of college basketball’s regular season, a few schools definitely helped their cause in hoping to hear their name called on Selection Sunday.  Conversely, there are still a few schools that are going to need at the very least a lot of help–or else, they would have to win their conference postseason tournament outright come the first two weeks of March.

Memphis Tigers, American Athletic Conference

I guess you can put this under the headline of (with all apologies to Elvis Presley), “Tigers Fans All Shook Up”

Good Wins:  January 13 vs. Temple

Bad Losses:  November 17 vs. Oklahoma, January 2 at South Carolina, January 30 at SMU, January 9 at Connecticut, plus February 4 at home vs. Connecticut.

RPI Breakdown:  overall rank 139, with a 14-11 overall record and 5-7 record in AAC play.  The Tigers have two wins against the RPI’s Top 50 and their lone road win came against the RPI’s Top 100.  Their Adjusted Offensive Efficiency ranks 125th behind Richmond and Tennessee at 106.4 points per game.  Meanwhile, their Adjusted Defensive Efficiency per 100 possessions is at 99.5 ppg, which is at 90th place.

Brief Analysis:  A team that entered the year with such high hopes and it may turn out to be another re-run of “Heartbreak Hotel”.  Their defense has allowed an average of 71.4 ppg, which is towards the bottom of the conference in 8th place.  A home date with SMU on February 25 and a key road game at Temple on March 3 might help their already fragile bubble status before the AAC postseason tournament.

Percentage chance of reaching the Big Dance:  20 percent, unless they can get on a run and snatch that automatic bid.  Otherwise, this season may not be enough to save Josh Pastner–even though the school did send out a statement earlier on Tuesday that his coaching status will be under review once the season ends.

Florida State Seminoles, Atlantic Coast Conference

Good Wins:  December 6 on neutral court vs. VCU, December 29 at Florida, and January 17 vs. Virginia.

Bad Losses:  December 2 at Iowa, January 4 vs. North Carolina, January 9 at Miami (Florida),  January 20 at Louisville, January 23 vs. Pittsburgh, February 11 at Syracuse, and February 14 vs. Miami.

RPI Breakdown:  54 overall, including one win vs. the RPI’s Top 5.  Their Adjusted Offensive Efficiency ranks 44th behind UALR and Tulsa at 109.9 points per game (65th in the nation).  Meanwhile, their Adjusted Defensive Efficiency per 100 possessions is at 96.2 ppg, which is at 46th place.

Brief Analysis:  The Seminoles have been in the mix for the longest time, and as long has loyal alumni like Burt Reynolds and 2005 Playboy Playmate of the Year in Tiffany (Fallon) Rooney keep doing their Tomahawk Chop–will it be enough to get them into the Dance?    A challenging game at Duke awaits on the 25th before closing out the home portion of the schedule in Tallahassee with Notre Dame on the 27th and Syracuse on March 5.

Percentage chance of reaching the Big Dance:  25 percent, since they currently sit in tenth place in the always rugged ACC and it is not helping their cause giving up an average of 72.8 ppg, which is near the basement in that category (13th place).  Also, can they regain their once great stroke from long distance?  Something to keep an eye on before the calendar leaps into March 24 hours later than normal here in 2016.

Gonzaga Bulldogs, West Coast Conference

Good Wins:  November 25 on neutral court vs. Washington and November 27 on neutral court vs. Connecticut.

Bad Losses:  November 26 on neutral court vs. Texas A&M, December 5 vs. Arizona, December 12 vs. UCLA, and February 13 at SMU

RPI Breakdown:  56th overall, 65th in non-conference games going 7-4 in that span, in 30th place behind Valparaiso for Adjusted Offensive Efficiency (112 ppg, good enough for 35th in the nation), while their Adjusted Defensive Efficiency per 100 possessions is 96.3, good enough for 48th place.

Brief Analysis:  When I profiled them a few weeks ago, the ‘Zags were an interesting case study.  The only glaring problem is that they are 0-2 against the RPI’s Top 25.  Their last four regular season games won’t amount to much in terms of pecking order, so they will have to bank on winning the WCC postseason tournament in Las Vegas in order for them to return to the Big Dance.

Percentage chance of reaching the Big Dance:  55 percent, in an otherwise up-and-down year for the league without any true dominant team–any one of 5 or 6 teams could reach up and snatch that automatic bid come March 12.



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