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Archive for the tag “bubble”

Syracuse Plays Itself Back Onto the Proverbial “Bubble”

Heading into Syracuse’s matchup with Florida State, Syracuse may have been on “the bubble,” but it was sitting pretty nicely on the right side of same.  A win over a mediocre Florida State team would be enough to start planning for one of the eight nice destinations reserved for the Big Dance.  Instead, Syracuse lost–for the same reasons that it often lost this year–placing itself right on the bubble and allowing other teams to share control of the Orange destiny.

This is what ESPN’s Bubble Watch had to say about Syracuse before the FSU game:

Syracuse [19-11 (9-8), RPI: 52, SOS: 37] When your career wins tally runs just shy of four digits, you don’t much go in for moral victories. Were Jim Boeheim inclined, even briefly, to entertain such a heretical notion, Monday night’s 75-70 loss at North Carolina would be a fine time to do so. The Orange played a very good team to a near-draw on the road; they even cut a 13-point second half lead to only one with two minutes left to play. And they did so despite guards Michael Gbinije and Trevor Cooney’s combined 3-of-13 effort from 3 and 9-of-27 night overall. Even forward Tyler Roberson — who spent the past week in the deepest and darkest recesses of Boeheim’s doghouse — grabbed 11 rebounds. It was a good night in every way but the final score. Whether that will mean much to Syracuse’s currently solid but nonetheless still vulnerable odds of making the NCAA tournament probably will have more to do with Saturday’s trip to Florida State (and, most likely, how the ACC tournament unfolds). But if the eye test can be graded on a curve — and really, isn’t that the whole point — Monday was a win.

ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, meanwhile, had Syracuse fairly comfortable as a 9-seed.

With the loss, Syracuse drops to 19-12 overall and 9-9 in ACC play.  This is 10th in the ACC, as Virginia Tech and Clemson each got to 10-8, while Pitt’s 9-9 includes two wins over the Orange.

If that was not bad enough, Syracuse now has to play that very same Pitt team in the ACC tournament.  Even when Syracuse is dominant, Pitt gives it trouble.  With a middling Syracuse team, the law of averages is not quite what it might ordinarily be–a third loss is far from unlikely.  If so, Syracuse will be merely 19-13.  That makes for some short nails on selection Sunday.

If Syracuse can beat Pitt, it will get more comfort, but then have to face the #1 seed in the ACC.  Whomever that is, it will be a daunting matchup, leaving Syracuse very likely to lose and end up at 20-13.  So there it is–a best case scenario of 20-13.

But this is not shocking.  For a good shooting team, Syracuse does not shoot well consistently.  This is because you can count on several poor shots from a shot-selection standpoint every game.  These might as well be turnovers–which are also on the rise.  With spotty rebounding and very little inside presence on either side of the court, all there is most night is a hope that they will out shoot the opponent.  Which brings things back to the aforementioned inconsistency and shot selection.

To be sure, if Syracuse was to get into the Big Dance and then get into the 2nd round, some higher seeds would have to be pretty nervous about Syracuse having a great shooting night and pulling the upset.  Even that is only likely to happen once, meaning that the prospects of a deep march into March are as slim as for those who win the tiniest of conference automatic bids.  It will be nice to be on the bracket, but a second weekend would be the upside and a not very likely one at that.

For a down year muddied by NBA defections and NCAA suspension follies, the season could have been much worse.  Much much worse.  Nevertheless, this is a team that is doing everything it can to not control its own destiny, which usually ends poorly.  This team is on the bubble because it is a bubble team.

Confidential Bracketology

It is Super Bowl week.  With football coming to a conclusion, this means that basketball–particularly college basketball–takes center stage.  And that means the Big Dance, brackets, and more.  With the countdown to March Madness looming, who is already on the bubble?  Check out Confidential Bracketology below:

Read more…

The ACC and the March “Bubble”

It’s that time of year, again.  Mediocre basketball teams all across the United States are making the case as to why their 10-loss season is superior to someone else’s 10-loss season.  It was an annual ritual for Virginia Tech, until they decided to fire Seth Greenberg and avoid the whole hassle altogether.  Expected disappointment is better than shocking disappointment, perhaps.  In any event, with March Madness around the corner, there are plenty of ACC “locks”: Louisville, Duke, Miami, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, North Carolina, North Carolina State, and Notre Dame.  That is a TON of talent.  So who is left on the proverbial “bubble,” right now?

ESPN believes that there are two, but only two, ACC teams on the bubble:

Virginia [20-10 (10-7), RPI: 63, SOS: 132] The Cavaliers are good. They just seem determined to prove otherwise. That is the best explanation I can come up with for Virginia’s past three games, which began with as promising an RPI victory as a bubble team can get in last week’s win over Duke. UVa looked great against the Blue Devils, not only controlling pace but playing some really deep, smart defense, and all of the positive efficiency trends we’ve seen from Virginia for so much of the season were on full display. And then, of course, the Cavs lost at Boston College, and followed that up with Thursday night’s loss at Florida State. That all but deletes whatever positive profile boost they got from the Duke win, and will keep them mired in the bubble mess even with a win over Maryland in the ACC regular-season closer Sunday.

Maryland [20-10 (8-9), RPI: 84, SOS: 121] As soon as Maryland fell to UNC at home Wednesday, the pronouncements started coming far and wide (OK, maybe just on Twitter): Maryland’s done! They’re going to the NIT! Loud noises! I wouldn’t discount them so fast. Sure, the Terps’ profile isn’t great and they were already on the wrong side of the bubble before Wednesday’s loss. But I’m not sure how much a loss to UNC hurts you at this point, and the bubble doesn’t really operate on opportunity cost. Is Maryland really in worse shape now? Either way, the Terps weren’t in a great spot before the night started, and now they almost certainly need to win at Virginia this weekend in what could end up being a do-or-die bubble showdown. It’s a race to the finish.

Jerry Palm of CBS Sports, unfortunately, has Virginia and Maryland on the wrong side of the bubble.  Joe Lunardi of ESPN had Virginia in, but Maryland out.  But then Virginia lost to Florida State on Thursday, apparently causing them to drop out.

Interestingly, Maryland plays Virginia on Sunday–a 6:00 pm start and a great way to finish the ACC regular season.  What do you think?  Is this essentially a “play-in” game?

Or do both teams need to each do serious damage in the ACC tournament to have a chance?  Or are both doomed, absent winning an automatic bid?


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