Can It Happen? Absolutely…

(BTW: we didn’t forget the games last night. Hold tight.)

Will it happen? Depends. Blaine Taylor said it on Tuesday, and though it is a cliche, it is also very true: “There’s a lot of basketball to be played.”

He’s right, but we’d be violating one of the CAA: LAMM cardinal rules if we did not look at the chances for a second CAA bid to the NCAA Tournament. The rule? We’re fans. We get to look down the road at more than The Next Game. Leave the one game at a time stuff to the coaches and players. (Side note: one day we’re going to write down those rules.)

Anyway, here’s what I’ve got. I’ll start by saying I’ve restricted this to discussion about George Mason and VCU, the only two teams that really have a chance to earn an at large bid. I’m not going into the scenarios of The Dub getting hot, winning out, and confusing things. Nor will I concern myself with Old Dominion or another middle-of-the-pack team winning the conference grindfest.

Oh, both could happen. But honestly, those scenarios are too damn complicated for January 31. (Or, easy…) We’ll worry about that stuff on February 31. You see, Blaine Taylor is right. Lots of hoops to digest.

Here’s the other assumptions: both teams finish 8-1 in the regular season, losing a tough conference game. Both win tough road BracketBusters games. The CAA is 14th in the RPI this year. Last year, it was 13th. We’ll call that a marginal loss at worst and not factor it into the thoughts.

VCU

8-2, 15-5

RPI: 65; SOS: 165; Noncon RPI: 65; Noncon SOS: 116

Impressive: Maryland, Houston

Depressive: Hampton

Toughies Left: home ODU, home UNCW, at Nor’easter

Comparables: Last season VCU was the conference regular season champion and entered the CAA final at 26-6. The RPI was low 40s and the Rams had no impressive wins nor bad losses. VCU was squarely on the bubble but also probably 95% out had they lost to Mason. This year, VCU would repeat as CAA regular season champs and enter the CAA title game at 25-6. The RPI would be a simdgen better and they have a good win or two. Enough to carry over the “right side” of the bubble? Who knows…

 George Mason

7-3, 15-6

RPI: 49; SOS: 96; Noncon RPI: 22; Noncon SOS: 23

Impressive: Kansas State, Dayton, and to a lesser extent Cleveland State. The committee looks at comparables and forgives in-conference banana peel games on the road. Therefore, Cleveland State looks pretty good as long as they keep winning in the Badlands Conference, and Kent State and Georgia State aren’t “bad” losses.

Depressive: East Carolina.

Toughies Left: at ODU, home The Dub, at Nor’Easter.

Comparables: Last season ODU was 15-3 (2nd), 24-7 with an RPI around 35-40. The Monarchs’s SOS hovered around 100. ODU had Georgetown and Bracketbusters Toledo on its slate as wins, and only a bad conference loss to JMU, which as we said wasn’t factored against them in a large way.

If Mason goes 8-1 the rest of the way and wins its way to the CAA finals, the Patriots will be 14-4 (2nd) and 25-7. I’ve got to think the RPI and the “good” and “bad” games are similar to ODU.

Well within reach.

***

The summ: I think, I mean I think, the best scenario is both teams only losing one more time and meeting in the CAA finals. And based on the number, I think VCU will need to win that game and give Mason the at large. The Patriots have the better credentials.

Then again, let’s all listen to Blaine. Lots of hoops to be played. Plus he’s more fun with the quotes.

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~ by mglitos on January 31, 2008.

4 Responses to “Can It Happen? Absolutely…”

  1. Oh, man…you’re sooo going to hear from the UNCW fans…

    But, thanks for the Mason love. I don’t see us winning out, but I hope we don’t lose to a below-average CAA team…like Towson or Drexel on the road. We always have a tough time at ODU.

    I tend to think about it this way…Mason and VCU has both been magical in the Big Dance the last two years…we both have TV-friendly stars that the nation now knows…I’m thinking if we’re both there at the end on March 10 in Richmond, it’s gonna be hard to ignore us both. But, the A-10 is back this year, and there’s plenty of other conferences with plenty of talent.

    Mason and VCU both have a lot of work to do before this season ends.

  2. Just don’t see how VCU’s RPI can jump high enough for an at large possibility. GMU has the best chance, and they certainly can’t afford any bad CAA losses from now to the tournament. JMO.

  3. dont look now but uncw is hot as a pistol, playing their best bball of the season. if uncw can win the next two games on the road and come back to trask with a 7 game win streak, we have a whole scenario. heres to hoping.

  4. The crazy RPI jump occurs when you least expect it. On Sunday, Mason was 62 in the RPI. They were in the mid-50s after winning against VCU. After last night’s K-St. triumph over Kansas, Mason is sitting at 49.

    One stat that jumps out re: VCU’s at-large chances is their 0-3 record against the RPI Top 50 (though I think MD will be in the top 50 come March, so 1-3). Not to be Debbie Downer, I want the CAA to have as many bids as possible and to have Duke lose on a last-second shot. A VCU at-large bid isn’t realistic.

    I wish UNCW was hot as a pistol back in Nov/Dec. Maybe this discussion would be more of a reality.

    Lastly, when the haters were hating on Drexel as the 65th team in the NCAA tournament (and not the 3rd CAA team), they were citing a February loss to William & Mary (RPI 196). Perhaps, the Tom O’Connor committee may forgive a January 2nd Mason loss to Georgia State (RPI 284).

    Ok, finally, one depressing point for the alma mater. Mason is the only squad in the RPI Top 73 to have 2 losses to sub-RPI 200 teams. 😦

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