Both teams SHOULD be safely inside the NCAA Tournament field, but Rhode Island can make it official with a win over the VCU Rams today in the A-10 Tournament Final. Can they get the big victory, or will VCU prevail yet again?
The ball is now in the Committee’s metaphorical court. Two and a half of the number one seeds are easy. Villanova and Gonzaga are no-brainers, and Kansas is pretty solid despite a loss in the Big Twelve quarters to TCU. They won an excellent league by three games and played a dynamite schedule.
But what to do with the fourth number one seed?
North Carolina seemed to be the obvious choice, but should they be? They won the regular season title in the best conference in the country, one of the best conferences EVER. But they are just 27-7. The ACC Tournament champion is 27-8, with an equal or even slightly better schedule and holds a 2-1 edge over the Tarheels head-to-head this season. I am referring to, of course, the Duke Blue Devils.
We afford most teams some evaluation latitude when accounting for injuries and suspensions. If we afford the Devils the same latitude; the early season injuries to Jayson Tatum and suspension/injury of Grayson Allen, the three weeks without their coach, etc, it is pretty EASY to make the case for Duke sneaking in to the final #1 seed. And while that may seem “unfair” the national chorus of Duke detractors, what would REALLY be unfair is landing as the #2 seed in a bracket where Duke is a #3…
We shall see this evening. All the hay is in the barn as far as the top seeds and who is getting in as the Big Ten, A-10, and SEC Championships should only affect some minor seeding (I’m assuming Arkansas is in regardless, so if they were to upset Kentucky, no bids are won/lost), so the Committee has likely been hard at work since late last night.
Final day of the regular season and let’s grab one last winner to build on last night’s straight-up winner with Arizona.
Today’s College Basketball Pick:
Rhode Island Rams vs. VCU Rams – Pick em
Rhode Island has finally looked like the team people were expecting all season this week, and it was JUST in the knick of time. Two weeks ago, the Rams (URI) looked like they might fall just short. Today, they should be safely in regardless of the outcome, but as teams like St. Mary and Valpo can tell you, when you aren’t in a Power Six conference, you best leave little to chance.
So I suppose there is a slight “motivation” edge if you subscribe to that philosophy, but I am finding that to be a bit overrated in conference tournaments. Sure, it matters to Bracketologists and handicapper and talking heads and you and me, but to the kids on the court, a conference championship is still a conference championship. It matters. A LOT.
With all things being equal; motivation, health, rest, neutral floor, the line – I lean towards “who is the better team.” And in this instance, I think the answer if VCU. VCU enters today 16-4 in league play and winners of eight of ten. They did drop a tight game to URI on the road, but have won by more comfortable margins lately than the Rams. They have also won five of their last six against URI, telling me their road loss might have been a little of an anomaly.
This should be a good game, but I think VCU will edge them out. Rhode Island did well to get themselves back in the Dance, but I think they will still have to be a little nervous tonight as the Bracket is unveiled.
Today’s Pick: VCU Rams – pick ‘em