Friday, March 13, 2009

Bubble Trouble for Minnesota

I should state from the outset that I don't consider Minnesota to be a bubble team--over their last 12 games, they have gone 5-7, with wins at home against Indiana, Northwestern, Wisconsin and Illinois.  The one road victory was in the tournament, which isn't a true road game, but a neutral court, and they beat sad-sack Northwestern to get that 5th win in twelve games.  But the TV people tell me that Minnesota is in.  Or at least, they were, before the tournaments started.  Minnesota acquitted themselves well against potential #1 seed Michigan State, but still lost.  Here's their problem--in the other conference tournaments, things are not going according to plan.

Consider the Atlantic-10, a conference that I love, simply because you never know when a team out of there is going to do major damage.  Remember how Calipari made his bones?  It was with UMass, and Marcus Camby.  Remember Chaney's Temple Owls and Eddie Jones and Pepe Sanchez?  St. Joe's with Jameer Nelson?

Of late, it has felt like that conference has been Xavier and a bunch of also rans (much like Conference USA and Memphis).  But the Dayton Flyers have been good enough to punch a ticket to the dance, too.  So we knew we were getting two teams from the A-10, the aforementioned Dayton and Xavier.  Guess what--neither team is playing in the tournament final for the automatic bid--that's going to either Temple or Duquesne.  There's one spot gone.  

Consider Baylor, who were 1-4 in their last 5 games in Big 12 regular season play, but have knocked off both Kansas and Texas, two teams that are definitely going to the Dance, and face a Missouri team that is also going to the dance but is beatable.  Baylor was 6 games under .500 in conference play, but are very very close to winning the Big 12 Conference Tournament Title.  Minnesota fans better root for Missouri in that one.

Consider Maryland:  remember when Gary Williams' job was in trouble?  They are some enigmatic Turtles, having beaten Michigan State, but losing to Georgetown and Gonzaga (and uh, Morgan State).  Even at the end of the regular season, there was no figuring the Terps--they beat UNC, lost to UVA.  But they have two wins in the ACC tournament, one of them against Wake Forest.  I don't know how they don't go in ahead of Minnesota.  And if they should beat Duke (something Gary Williams is really good at) then that's a definite ticket. 

Friday morning, the bloggers at The Dagger had 3 Big 10 teams on the good side of the bubble.  Those fine lads had Maryland on the bad side of the bubble.  I'm guessing that will not be true Saturday morning.  Same for Temple.  If you follow that link you'll notice there is no mention of Baylor or Duquesne.   But there will be.

Bad news for the Gophers, and really, the other borderline, kind of crappy Big 10 Teams (Penn State, I'm looking at you).

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