counting to 65, part II
[quick ed. note: a change to my ACC entry is necessary because BC is now definitely in while Georgia Tech still has some work to do. i still think they beat BC to make it 7 from the ACC, but we'll see. Clemson or Florida St. could still overtake them with a strong showing in the conference tournament. these are the perils of doing these so early, but i would never finish them otherwise, so oh well.]
It was just a few years ago (2004, to be exact) that the A10 had 4 teams in the NCAAs, including St. Joseph's as a #1 seed (the other teams were Xavier, Dayton and RIchmond). Back in the 90s and early 00s, teams like UMass, Rhode Island, GW and Temple all had several good years to get the conference some respect and produce NBA-caliber players. Now they're looking like they might be a 1-bid conference with a chance to "steal" a bid from someone else if Xavier doesn't win the tournament this year. I even read something calling the A10 a mid-major which seems a better fit here than for the MVC or Mountain West. Even last year the conference got little respect, as GW went undefeated through the conference schedule, then got bounced from the A10 tournament and ended up with an 8 seed despite a 26-2 record. Of course, Duke housed them in the 2nd round.
The Hopeless: Richmond, St. Bonaventure, LaSalle, Temple, Charlotte, Duquesne
These teams are all terrible, but with the exception of Charlotte, they all return their best players next year which should improve the league as a whole. Duquesne had a 5K fun run mid-season with 5 straight victories including wins over Dayton and Xavier. LaSalle lost to UMBC, Coppin St. and Delaware, but did manage to beat the NJ Institute of Technology (motto: I Can't Believe They're Not D-III!).
The Dreamers: Fordham, Dayton, St. Louis, GW, St. Joseph's, Rhode Island
GW played well early, beating Virginia Tech and clobbering USC for a half (before folding in the 2nd half), but they don't have a real quality win or a consistent scorer. St. Joe's was on a bit of a run before a loss to rancid Richmond and another to Xavier tonight. Dayton beat Louisville and Creighton back in the fall, but even after winning at Temple tonight, they're 2-10 on the road. The most interesting thing about URI is that they have a player named "Parfait Bitee." Fordham is just happy not to be in the "Hopeless" category.
The Contenders: Xavier, UMass
One of these teams should win the conference tournament and UMass better hope it's them because an away win over Louisville will not be enough for an at-large bid. Xavier should be in with non-conference wins over VCU, Villanova, Illinois and Kansas St. (all of whom they could be battling for bubble spots). Both are veteran teams with a chance to sweep through Atlantic City (with TSOA in attendance! Reports to follow, I hope.), but I think UMass may fall victim to an upset by a hot team, leaving Xavier to collect the hardware and the bid.
I'm skipping the Big East for a second because there's 16 goddamn teams in that league to bring you....
The Big South
Hey, the Big South has an at-large contender! And a bunch of other teams I don't know much about. But since when has that ever stopped me?
Who The Hell Are These Guys?: Charleston Southern, Radford, VMI, Liberty, UNC-Asheville, Coastal Carolina
4 of these teams were eliminated from the conference tournament last night so they're sort of irrelevant, though I will mention that Coastal Carolina's nickname is the "Chanticleers" which I thought was some sort of pirate, but is actually a rooster named Chaucey. I think that's what the other knights on the jousting team called Geoffrey Chaucer. VMI's claim to fame is their #1 Tempo rating thanks to a full-court-press-and-hockey-style-substitution game plan that resulted in them losing 7 games in which they scored at least 100 points. Asheville is famous for being the only gay-friendly city north of Florida and south of the Mason-Dixon line (and also as the birthplace of Shirley Hemphill of What's Happening!! fame).
The Contenders: Winthrop, High Point
High Point really has no at-large shot with no quality wins and bad losses to the likes of Longwood, so they have to hope they can knock off Winthrop (or have someone else do their dirty work). I'll go ahead and predict that that will happen. But if Winthrop makes it to at least the conference final, they should be in (and I would put them iun regardless). Their 4 losses are to UNC, Wisconsin (in OT), Texas A&M and Maryland. That's 3 top-10 teams and another team in the top 20 (after tonight's sweep of Duke). Plus they beat Mississippi State, ODU and Missouri St. all on the road. That - plus they're undefeated conference record - should put them in at a #10 or so and give them a chance to win a game against someone.
TSOA's picks thus far:
ACC: UNC, Va. Tech, Virginia, Maryland, Duke, BC, Ga. Tech
Big South: Winthrop, High Point
Spots awarded: 24 out of 65 (including 14 conferences that will definitely only get 1 bid)