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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Looking Back: Last Chance for Quality Wins

Happy Holidays everyone!  This week marked the last opportunity for many teams to make a statement before the conference slate begins this week.  Here are several games from last week that caught my eye:

Resume Building Wins

  • Creighton 87 - Northwestern 79: Creighton is now 3-0 against the best conference in the country, the Big Ten.
  • Oklahoma St. 69 - Alabama 52: This is a big victory by a team who's expected to finish in the middle of the Big 12.  Alabama is a strong contender for the SEC West crown but this loss should only provide further evidence about how much better the Big 12 is than the SEC.
  • Indiana St. 61 - Vanderbilt 55: Another big win for the MVC over a sure thing NCAA Tournament team.
  • Davidson 80 - Kansas 74: This is the biggest win for any team this season.  Davidson is now a legit mid-major at-large team.  
  • UNLV 85 - Cal 68: The Runnin Rebels have effectively moved on after being humbled at Wisconsin.  This is a team that could win a couple of games in March.

Missed Opportunities

  • Illinois 74 - Missouri 78: The Illini hung tough for the entire contest but never could get over the hump. If they struggle in BIG play then this loss will hurt.
  • Missouri St. 68 - West Virginia 70 (OT): This game is one that not only hurts Missouri St. but also affects the entire MVC.  Getting a win versus a quality Big East foe on a neutral court would've added to the credibility of the entire conference.
  • Dayton 64 - Seton Hall 69: Dayton will have a hard time finishing in the top three of the A10 this season so non-conference wins are a great opportunity to prove they're still an NCAA team. Losing at home to a bottom half Big East team does not help.
  • Northwestern 79 - Creighton 87: I know I've already mentioned this game but for a team who has NEVER (seriously, this is the only BCS school to have never made the NCAA Tournament) qualified for the Big Dance marquee wins are important. Finishing in the middle of the Big Ten won't be enough.

Damaging Losses

  • Xavier 82 - Hawai'i 84 (OT):  Their two losses to Oral Roberts and Long Beach St. shouldn't come as a surprise after the fallout from their fight with Cincinnati.  The loss to Hawaii, however, hurts. Xavier is an NCAA Tournament team, no doubt, but this one will hurt their seeding.
  • Purdue 65 - Butler 67: Losing a game you've led for 39 minutes to a team who is not expected to qualify for the NCAA Tournament hurts.
  • Washington 72 - South Dakota St. 93: This loss could really affect the RPI for the entire Pac 12.  Washington is arguably one of the top three teams so a bad loss to an average DI team in a non-power conference could have ugly ramifications.
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