March 10, 9:30 a.m.: It was not just that Saint Mary’s lost last night, it was how the Gaels lost to Gonzaga in the WCC final. It’s safe to say that selection committee members were watching closely because Saint Mary’s is one of the more difficult teams to assess.
The Gaels have two top 50 wins. They have lost to Gonzaga three times. They are a better team with Patty Mills. Now they have Patty Mills back, but he clearly was not himself last night. Steve Lavin says Saint Mary’s is “squarely” in the tournament field. But at best this will be a very close call. At worst for the Gaels, they are out. It’s hard to see this as clear-cut when the team is now a different version of the team that thrived for much of the season.
On a related note, I’ll likely keep my preseason Final Four pick of Gonzaga unless it encounters Pittsburgh or Louisville before Detroit.
What to watch on Tuesday:
Georgetown (vs. St. John’s) and Notre Dame (vs. Rutgers) need to start winning streaks in the Big East tournament, an event that now seems about five-weeks long.
Cleveland State vs. Butler in the Horizon Conference tournament final. Can Butler afford a loss and still earn an at-large berth? Probably, but national coach of the year candidate Brad Stevens may be sweating some this Sunday if Butler loses tonight.
Each morning, I will post my last four teams in the field and my first teams out. As you can tell, it is very difficult to separate one team from another, and selection committee members often differ on which credentials they value most. (SOS means strength of schedule; all records reflect Division I competition; all data courtesy of Jerry Palm’s Web site, www.collegerpi.com)
LAST FOUR IN
Nevada-Las Vegas (21-9, 9-7)
Pros: won at Louisville, swept BYU
Cons: Got swept by San Diego State, 9-7 MWC record
Florida (22-9, 9-7)
Pros: Beat Washington, 22 overall wins
Cons: 2-6 vs. top 50, 2-7 on road
Miami (17-11, 7-9)
Pros: Beat Wake Forest, Florida State
Cons: 7-9 ACC record, 2-7 vs. top 50
South Carolina (21-8, 10-6)
Pros: 21 overall wins
Cons: 281 non-conference SOS, 1-5 vs. top 50
FIRST TEAMS OUT
Saint Mary’s (23-6, 10-4)
Pros: Mills is back, 8-3 road record
Cons: 145 SOS, 0-0 vs. top 25
San Diego State (19-8, 11-5)
Pros: Swept UNLV
Cons: 1-5 vs. top 50
Providence (18-12, 10-8)
Pros: Win vs. Pittsburgh, winning BE record
Cons: 70 RPI, 2-8 vs. top 50
Maryland (18-12, 7-9)
Pros: two top five victories
Cons: 2-6 on road, 11-12 vs. top 200
Virginia Tech (17-13, 7-9)
Pros: two top 25 road wins
Cons: 2-8 vs. top 50, 1-6 down the stretch
Creighton (26-7, 14-4)
Pros: three top 25 wins, 26 overall wins
Cons: 10-0 vs. 200 or worse, 107 SOS
March 10, 2009; 9:39 AM ET
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