Monday, March 9, 2009

The Sound of Bubble(s) Popping

(And no, it's not another depressing economic post -- unless you are an Arizona fan.)

Casual fans of the NCAA tournament may be confused next Monday morning, when millions of Americans participate in a true annual-rite-of-spring: when the NCAA brackets are announced, heartthrob Davidson is likely to be on the outside looking in.

Davidson ran away with the Southern Conference's regular season, finishing 18-2 (26-7 overall), and winning the Southern Division by 3 games. But in the Tournament semifinals last night, the Wildcats were upset by the College of Charleston (26-7, 15-5), and the CofC Cougars will play Chattanoga tonight for an automatic NCAA bid.

Ranked #70 on the Pomeroy computer, and with only a single win over likely-NCAA teams (over WVU on neutral floor; losses to Duke, Purdue, and Oklahoma, albeit all on the road, plus Butler (loss at home)), Davidson seems unlikely to earn a second-life thanks to the NCAA Committee.

Moreover, since spraining his ankle in mid-February, All-American guard Stephen Curry has been operating with somewhat reduced effectiveness -- his scoring is down slightly since the injury (27.1 ppg vs. 28.9 before the injury) and his accuracy has been down slightly as well (48-109 (44.0%) FG in last six games, vs. 244-532 (45.8%) prior.)

But Davidson is undoubtedly the type of "mid-major" team that casual -- and potential "Cold Case" -- viewers love to root for. Davidson is on-the-bubble, which means it's getting warm in the room for BCS middlers like Michigan, Providence, and Arizona.

And finally, tonight's "Championship Week" also features Siena vs. Niagra, in a match-up of the two best in the Metro Atlantic. While Siena attempted to schedule itself into an at-large bid, it was only able to beat two NCAA-bound teams (Cornell and Northern Iowa), with losses to Pitt, Kansas, Tenn); tonight is likely a play-in game for the two evenly-matched teams (#68 and #69 on the Pomeroy computer).

Finally, about Cornell: while this year marks the first time since 1958-59 (Dartmouth) that a non-Princeton/Penn team has repeated, Big Red fans should still act as though "they have been there before."

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