So I've been lazy this week. I'm a couple of days late, but here it is, this week's mid-major roundup. Again, we're doing something a little different this week. I'm going to talk about ALL mid-major squads (which I haven't been doing recently), and give a final decision on the in-out for them prior to conference tournaments. This week I'll be discussing the big names, in addition to a couple holdovers from my last few posts.
The teams I'll be discussing this week:
3) St. Mary's
Discussion and final decisions after the jump.
1) Gonzaga is a squad that is in. There isn't much discussion necessary. Lunardi has them in as a 6 seed, and I think they could come in a bit higher as they are 10th in the Pomeroy Ratings and 36th in RPI. They've knocked off top-100 squads OK State, Maryland, Tennessee twice, and St. Mary's twice. Depending on their draw, they could be a Sweet 16 team, or even an Elite 8 squad, but I wouldn't go that far until watching them in the WCC tourney and seeing if they can knock off St. Mary's again with Patty Mills.
2) Butler is another squad that has locked themselves into the tournament. They snuck by Cleveland St. the other night, which was their last hurdle. While their schedule wasn't as strong, they still knocked off top-100 teams Northwestern, Cleveland St. twice, Xavier, UAB, Wright St. twice, and Davidson in their bracketbuster game. Lundardi has them in as an 8 seed, which seems about right to me. They are 38th in the Pomeroy Ratings and all the way up at 18 in the RPI. I see them winning a game in the tournament, but this team just isn't as strong as the past few Butler squads, and they could make an exit as early as the round of 32.
3) St. Mary's is a questionable call. If Patty Mills is healthy, they are a team that can win against anyone on any night. If he is not, they are mediocre. Lunardi and I stray on this one. They may only have 3 top-100 wins, but I think that they are too solid a squad with Mills to keep out of the tournament. They have two other guys in double figures nightly aside from Mills, and a double-double guy in Simpson. They are 54 in the Pomeroy Ratings and 53 in the RPI, neither of which would give them the At-Large bid, but their two losses to Gonzaga could have easily gone the other way with Mills playing (he only played the first half in the first game on 1/29...and they were winning at the half). I have this team in based on the reemergence of Patty Mills.
4) I think Creighton has done enough recently to put themselves into the tournament as an At-Large, which gives both the MVC and the WCC a chance to be multi-bid leagues this year. Lunardi has them in as an 11 seed, but if they win the MVC I see no reason why they shouldn't be an 8-9 seed with a chance to make a run. Of all the teams listed here, I think that Creighton is most poised to make a run. People seem to forget just how competitive the MVC is on a year-by-year basis, and this team has run off nine straight wins (eight in the MVC). They have top-100 wins over New Mexico, Oral Roberts, Dayton, Northern Iowa, George Mason, and Illinois State. Those wins over Dayton and UNM are huge for them. They are 49th in the Pomeroy Ratings and 39th in RPI. Look for this team to win a tournament game or two as well. They have a great TO percent (37th nationally) and have the 39th most efficient offense.
5) I hate saying it, because I love Davidson, but they are out of the tournament at this point unless they take the SoCon, which isn't a guarantee with C of C, The Citadel, and Western Carolina all playing good basketball (shoutout to all those Catamounts out there). Yeah, they played some good teams, but only have two top-100 wins to show for it, which isn't going to cut it. That, coupled with two home conference losses, and a loss to Butler, keeps them out. They are all the way down at 64 in the Pomeroy Ratings and 67 in the RPI. That really just is not good enough, which is too bad, because we all know what Curry can do on the big stage.
Lunardi does have them taking the SoCon, and coming in as an 11 seed, which is a bit generous. Now what makes this team different from St. Mary's? They both have a clear cut star, and both teams struggled when their star got hurt. Truthfully, it comes down to two things: the conference, and the teammates. St. Mary's supporting cast trumps Davidson's, even though Lovedale is a solid PF. Also, the WCC is just stronger than the SOCON. Remember, the WCC had 3 tournament teams last year. When was the last time the SOCON had two? I don't think Davidson gets an At-Large, but I do think they take the SOCON. If they get a good seed and Curry gets going, don't be surprised to see them right back where they were last year, but don't expect it.
6) Siena is the closest of calls in that they were in, and then lost by 15 at Niagara. They rebounded with a win at Canisius to keep their hopes alive. Lunardi has them taking the MAAC and arriving at an 11 seed in the tourney. I disagree. I think Niagara has been playing better basketball lately, and they will take the MAAC. What does this mean for Siena? They are 72 in the Pomeroy Ratings, but will the committee look at that? I don't think they will. They are 28 in the RPI, which usually is a sure-fire tournament team position, along with the 71 ranked SOS, which is good enough. However, they have exactly two top-100 wins, against Niagara and Northern Iowa (Pomeroy Ratings). They have 3 RPI top-100 wins, Niagara, UNI, and Boise State. That said, they return four of five starters from a team that won a tournament game last year, and whether they admit it or not, that comes up in discussion by the committee. Given their RPI, and the SOS they put together, I give them the At-Large bid. Am I saying the MVC, WCC, AND MAAC will be multi-bid leagues this year? Yes. That's what I am saying.