The waiting game
Missouri State, Drexel among teams sweating it out
Posted: Monday March 5, 2007 10:19AM; Updated: Monday March 5, 2007 1:12PM
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It's going to be an agonizing week of waiting for Missouri State and Drexel. Better win a couple more games before Sunday, Purdue and Florida State. Heading into conference-tournament week, the NCAA bubble is as tight as I can remember it.
In the past when I've filled out this week-before-Selection Sunday bracket, everyone from the eight seeds on down was still considered a bubble team. This year, however, even the nines and 10s are in pretty good shape regardless of what happens in their conference tournaments. Teams such as Creighton (No. 9 seed), Georgia Tech (No. 9), Syracuse (No. 9) and Xavier (No. 10) have stepped it up in recent weeks to alleviate much of the suspense. A team like Stanford (No. 10) may not be seeded very high but it's hard to imagine the Cardinal, with a 10-8 Pac-10 record and five top-50 wins, getting left out.
Realistically, there are only about five at-large bids still in play, and that number will shrink with the inevitable emergence of a couple party-crashers -- teams that aren't even on the radar right now but wind up winning their conference tournaments (i.e. if someone other than Memphis wins C-USA or if, say, Washington wins the Pac-10).
Here is a look at the five teams that currently occupy those final spots in my bracket as well as five teams that could supplant them with a deep run this week:
Last Five In:
1) Old Dominion (24-8, 15-4 in the Colonial, No. 33 RPI): The Monarchs seemed safe prior to their blowout loss to George Mason in Sunday's Colonial semifinal. The committee does not judge teams by conference affiliation, but ODU, in addition to winning at Georgetown, swept fellow Colonial bubble team Drexel and finished ahead of the Dragons in the standings.
2) Drexel (23-8, 14-6 in the Colonial, No. 42 RPI): The Dragons really could have used a win over top-seed VCU in Sunday's tourney semifinal but instead fell 63-56. Drexel beat Villanova, Creighton and Syracuse on the road, but it finished fourth in its conference and is unlikely to get picked ahead of regular-season champ VCU or second-place Old Dominion.
3) Florida State (19-11, 7-9 in the ACC, No. 46 RPI): It's hard to predict how the committee will treat the 'Noles, which went 1-4 without injured PG Toney Douglas (who returned for Saturday's win at Miami). FSU has solid wins over Florida, Maryland, Virginia Tech and at Duke but likely needs to win at least two ACC tournament games to be safe.
4) Missouri State (22-10, 13-7 in the MVC, No. 38 RPI): After suffering a lopsided loss to Creighton in the MVC semis, the Bears appear unlikely to survive this week with their bid in tact. A 66-64 win over Wisconsin on Nov. 24 represents their lone signature win, having finished 0-5 against MVC tourney teams Southern Illinois and Creighton.
5) Arkansas (18-12, 7-9 in the SEC, No. 48 RPI): The long-forgotten Razorbacks played their way into this spot last week with wins over Mississippi State and at Vanderbilt, but their work is far from done. To their credit, the Hogs have beaten Southern Illinois, Vandy and West Virginia away from home, but their pure road record is just 2-8.
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