Jerry Palm Handicaps Our Top Seven
Since Jerry Palm of CollegeRPI.com is the Official At-large Prognosticator of the Washington Post, and since the calendar seems to have flipped to February somewhere along the way, I figured it was time to get Palm's take on the Local Atlantic 11 Poll, or whatever it's called. I spared him the dregs at the bottom of the Poll, and asked only for his take on the Top Seven. He hardly quibbled with our order at all; off the top of his head, he would have flipped No. 4 VCU and No. 5 Maryland entering this week, and he would have flipped No. 6 GW and No. 7 ODU, and possibly No. 1 Georgetown and No. 2 Virginia, but other than that he had no complaints. Here are his NCAA tourney thoughts:
No. 1 Georgetown (7 seed): They're in pretty decent shape. They've done well in the Big East, and they don't really have any bad losses off the top of my head. ODU is a conference challenger; that's not like losing to Coppin State at home. As long as they avoid bad losses they'll proably be ok. If they can steal one or two somewhere, they can play for a better seed, but I think Georgetown's ok.
No. 2 Virginia (4 seed): Boy, that's the hottest team in the country just about. They're just on fire, but the thing about them was before they beat Clemson they were home-court heroes. Now they win at Clemson, now they win at Maryland. That's a couple of pretty good teams. Clemson is probably in the field, Maryland is still trying. The Cavs are as hot as you can be, and the committee loves hot. They still probably can't lose four out of five or five out of six, with some of those coming at home. Avoid bad losses and avoid losses at home and they should get in, and they could play for a high seed.
No. 3 Virginia Tech (10 seed): I don't know what it is with them. They didn't really play all that well at the beginning f the year, then all the sudden they get hot and win a bunch of ACC games, then they lose at home to N.C. State? What's with them? They need to make up their mind if they want to be good. They should be in ok shape if they don't screw it up down the stretch, but losing to N.C. State at home, that is screwing it up. Consistency would really be a good thing from them, and we're not seeing it. If the tournament was today yes [they get a bid], but I don't think it's out of the question that they could play themselves out. And I have less confidence in them than I do Georgetown or Virginia right now, because of the inconsistency they play with.
No. 4 VCU (12 seed): I think their at-large chances rest on winning the league's regular season title. They can share it, but they probably couldn't' share it with more than three losses, that's probably not going to be good enough. 17-1,16-2, I think that they'd probably get in. If they lose in the conference tournament, that's a home loss, so that's not good, but if they get to the final and lose to, say, ODU, I think they'd probably get in at that point. But it depends what other teams do. They didn't do enough out of conference to make them a sure thing, so they'll have to win the conference title.
No. 5 Maryland (10 seed, prior to last night): That was a big loss in terms of their at-large chances. They've got to take care of business on their home floor, and last night they just didn't do that. Their schedule is relatively difficult in the ACC. They're going to have to beat Duke at home, that might be what they're looking at. They beat Michigan State out of conference, they beat Illinois out of conference, and they're both borderline, so that might work in their favor. But right now they're muddling through. They've got to do better than muddle through. I think if [the selection] were today, they might not make it.
No. 6 GW (out): Long shot at best. Once again, winning the league would really help them and be really important for them. The A-10 is not real good. They're not really on my radar at the moment. I'm aware of them, but only tangentially aware of them. The [A-10] regular season champion, if it was someone like Xavier, would have a shot, but otherwise, it looks like a one-bid league.
No. 7 Old Dominion (out):They've got the win at Georgetown; that's nice. Same thing for them as it is for VCU, have to win the league. The committee likes regular season champions. Generally speaking, if you win a decent league's regular season title, the committee is going to have you on the board and the committee is going to give you a good, long look. They win the league and they have a win at Georgetown, the committee's going to give them a look. Then they have to be strong in the conference tournament, too. I like ODU's chances better than GW's, because I think they could win their league and I'm not so sure about GW. Wining the league is key, even if you share it.
I didn't offer him voting rights, but I did promise to call back frequently.
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