Back on January 5th, I jotted down some of the more unusual developments in our little Pythagorean baby. Let’s go back and look at how some of the surprising conference frontrunners have fared now that the regular season is drawing to a close. All preseason predictions cited come from Blue Ribbon.
Nice collapse by Xavier. You have to consider their season a disappointment.
Big Ten: Illinois, with Indiana a close second.
Illinois has struggled of late, but I wouldn’t give up on them just yet. But Ohio State has made a good case as the Big Ten’s best. And Indiana is right up there with Xavier in terms of collapses. Another point is that Pythag was down on Michigan State and they haven’t consistently shown themselves to be of Final Four quality.
Big XII: Texas by a lot, but Colorado is a comfortable second.
Sheesh. Well, Colorado was picked for 10th and should finish no worse than 6th. So the stats will do at least as well as the preseason prediction.
Big East: Villanova, with Pitt second.
Up to that point Marcus Williams had not suited up for UConn. Pitt was picked for 6th and I think has proven to be the 3rd best team in the conference.
Big South: Winthrop is so far ahead of its competition, they should go undefeated.
And they did go undefeated. Except for three games. I think this is partly explained by the gravitational pull that a conference has. Any team that is a strong outlier, either good or bad, tends to come back to the pack during the season.
CAA: George Mason.
Chalk one up for Pythag. GMU was picked for 5th, and much of the press was still going to ODU in early January. A win on Saturday against lowly JMU, and Mason gets a share of the CAA title.
Another winner. Even Butler fans were selling their team short in early January. If they win at Detroit on Saturday, they tie preseason-favorite UWM for the regular season title. Butler was picked for 6th.
MAC: Miami (East), Toledo (West).
And back to the crapper. Actually, Miami is 12-3 and has outplayed everybody’s favorite in the East, Ohio. Toledo is another story. The Rockets started 1-6, partly due to a front-loaded schedule. They’ve clawed back to 7-8 and have a realistic shot at finishing 10-8.
MVC: Missouri State.
It took the Bears a while to play up to their numbers, but Mo State gets Creighton at home on Saturday to try and finish with a share of 2nd in the conference. They were picked for 6th in the preseason.
Mo. West: Air Force, with BYU a surprising second.
San Diego State will probably take the conference, but they added the services of a key transfer in the 2nd semester. Air Force should finish 2nd, and BYU is currently tied for 3rd with a favorable remaining schedule after being picked dead last by Blue Ribbon. Not bad.
Pac-10: Arizona, with Washington State 3rd?
I recently had a nightmare that I said some really good things about Washington State at some point.
SEC: Florida (East), LSU (West).
LSU was picked 3rd in the preseason, but now has a three game lead in the West. Florida has been dusted by Tennessee in the East, yet still leads in Pythag.
WAC: Utah State.
Nevada was still getting the press in early January, but the Aggies – the spurtiest team in the country – have a home date with Wolf Pack on Saturday for all the conference marbles.
Overall, efficiency wasn’t without its tremendous failures, but I think on balance it was insightful early on. There will still be some more judgments to make in the coming weeks as we see how the current outliers perform.
Line o’ the Night
FG 3pt FT Reb Min M-A M-A M-A O-T A F S TO BLK Pts Randy Foye 37 8-17 3-6 6-9 6-14 3 2 0 3 2 25 Result: Win. Villanova 74, Cincinnati 72.