Welcome to my final edition of UTM for the 2015-2016 basketball season.
As crazy and unpredictable this season has been, the margin for error could not be any slimmer. I took out at least some of the guesswork in deciphering each key school’s RPI rankings and their quality wins and losses. This is what I have come up with for two schools hoping to do some damage during their respective conference tournaments:
Cincinnati Bearcats, American Athletic Conference
Good Wins: December 19 at VCU.
Bad Losses: December 2 vs. Butler, December 12 at Xavier, December 22 vs. Iowa State, February 18 at Tulsa, home and home to Temple.
RPI Breakdown: 38 overall, 75 during non-conference
Brief Analysis: With all things being equal, the chances of Cincinnati running the table at the AAC Tournament are slim to none at best. Friday, they get things going against UConn, a team they have beaten twice already this season. A Saturday date with Temple looms, presuming the Owls get past either East Carolina or South Florida. Along with Tulsa and Memphis, which play each other in the late game on Friday night–the outcomes of these games will go a long way to determine the last teams into the Big Dance, and the first teams to enter the NIT.
Percentage chance to reach the Big Dance: 20 percent, because of their non-conference schedule being less than flattering. You simply are not tournament worthy going 6-2 in those games, 2-1 while on the road, plus going only 1-3 against teams in the RPI’s Top 25. Similar to Gonzaga on Tuesday night, they would have to win this tournament just to get in.
Michigan Wolverines, Big Ten Conference
Good Wins: November 27 on neutral site vs. Texas, January 12 vs. Maryland, and February 13 vs. Purdue.
Bad Losses: November 20 vs. Xavier, January 7 at Purdue, home and home to Iowa, February 2 vs. Indiana, February 6 vs. Michigan State, February 21 at Maryland, and February 28 at Wisconsin.
RPI Breakdown: 67 overall, 92 during non-conference play.
Brief Analysis: Without leading scorer Chris LaVert suffering a leg injury in the final week of the regular season, Michigan will have to run the table in Indianapolis against some really good quality teams. But going 3-8 against the RPI’s Top 25 instantly spells red flags in my mind. Also, winning only 5 out of 11 games away from Ann Arbor does not indicate a tournament team in my estimation. But again, it will be an interesting quandry for the ten member Selection Committee to decipher this weekend when they convene in New York City.
Percentage chance of reaching the Big Dance: 15 percent, even though they get some kudos for reaching 20 wins for the season. As I alluded to, after their opening round game Thursday at noon against upset minded Northwestern, the top seed of Indiana awaits. If somehow they squeeze past Big Red, then Purdue and maybe Michigan State would linger on the final Sunday just hours before the brackets are released. More than likely, expect the Wolverines to get a 1 or 2 seed for the NIT next Sunday night.
Before I bid adieu to this portion of the blog for the season, I present my final edition of “Stock Up, Stock Down” as the meat of the conference tournaments are taking place in a span of five days:
North Carolina, Michigan State, Villanova, and Kansas–you are looking at your four number one seeds, ladies and gentlemen (barring a upset in the next few days).
Kentucky, LSU, Duke, and UCLA–wow, how the mighty have fallen. Taking some big time lumps at times this season, can these schools recapture the magic as we are less than 100 hours until the brackets come out.
Again, I will chime in between now and the 14 automatic bids slated for Saturday if and only if there are major upsets in any of the conference tournaments.
See you later tonight with a brief recap of the Patriot League final between Holy Cross and Lehigh.