by Ken Pomeroy on Monday, March 9, 2015
One of the things that has come out of doing preseason ratings is that a team can survive a lot of attrition is they return a high usage player. Oregon’s roster was gutted in the offseason for a variety of reasons, but they still had Joseph Young. They were preseason #34 and enter the Pac-12 tournament the 2-seed. (Though, their overall ranking is #49.)
When historians look back on this season, they’ll be puzzled by Wisconsin’s loss to Rutgers. I know Frank Kaminsky missed the game and Traevon Jackson got hurt in the middle of it, but that doesn’t come close to explaining the outcome. Even without those two, the Badgers should have been able to preserve a 12-point lead that they owned with 17:30 left. Wisconsin has better than a 1-in-2 chance of winning the Big Ten tournament. Rutgers has a 1-in-97478 chance of doing so. And that includes the result of Rutgers beating Wisconsin.
The Big East tournament has been held in Madison Square Garden every year since 1983, the longest-running show in college hoops. While being excluded from “Power 5” status, the conference is currently ranked second in my system and is going to be well-represented in the NCAA tournament. But that doesn’t mean it couldn’t use more publicity.
Boise State was brought into the Mountain West for its football talents, but look at its hoops team, earning the top seed in the basketball tournament. Not bad for a team that started 0-3 in conference play and needed overtime in their fourth game to beat UNLV at home. James Webb III went from a guy who could barely get on the court early in the season to someone who should make the all-MWC preseason team next year, providing head coach Leon Rice with some desperately needed size and athleticism in the paint.
by Ken Pomeroy on Sunday, March 8, 2015
The Southland Conference led the country in pace this season, leading the second-fastest conference by a comfy 1.6 possessions per 40 minutes. Nine of the 13 teams in the league finished in the top 100 of adjusted tempo.
The favorite in Conference USA is Old Dominion, where Jeff Jones is trying to guide the Monarchs to the tournament just two years after a 5-25 season. But the more interesting story to me is Charlotte. With a 2% chance of winning the title, the 49ers check in as the double-digit seed most likely to win its tournament.
Davidson rolls into the Barclays Center having won nine in a row, earning sole possession of the regular-season crown in one of the biggest surprises this season. They were picked to finish 12th in the league in the preseason. In their first year in the Atlantic 10, the Wildcats were expected to struggle, but maybe the idea needs to die that there’s some additional challenge of moving to a better conference.
Single-elimination basketball is always a fun time, but there’s not much at stake in the ACC tourney. There’s some NCAA seed jockeying possible, but at this point in the season, only so much movement is possible. If N.C. State loses to Pitt in the quarterfinals, the Wolfpack will have some anxious moments on Selection Sunday, but the consensus indicates they’re pretty safe.
For the fifth consecutive season, the SWAC is rated as the worst conference in the land. The conference’s top seed is Texas Southern, who you may remember from such upsets as Michigan State and Kansas State in December. The Tigers also took Auburn and New Mexico State to the wire. But even though they went 16-2 in the SWAC, it wasn’t easy. Three of those wins were in overtime and the gap between TSU and second-seeded Alabama State is small.
by Ken Pomeroy on Saturday, March 7, 2015
Welcome to the MAC tournament, home of the triple-bye. If you’re one of the top two seeds, you get a free pass to the semi-finals. And if you’re not in the top four, you have to win five games to secure the automatic bid. This the fourth year of the format and the three previous events have produced a championship matchup of 1 vs. 2, 1 vs. 2, and 1 vs. 3. The only team outside the top four to make it to the semifinals was last season when sixth-seeded Eastern Michigan made it.