While Kentucky gets pub for being a hotbed of college hoops; it’s neighbor to the east isn’t doing too shabby itself. The commonwealth of Virginia is having a great this season with mid-majors and Virginia Tech.
In the Colonial Athletic Association, Virginia Commonwealth, Old Dominion and George Mason all harbor at-large hopes after performing well in the non-conference. All have sub-60 RPIs and sit atop of the conference.
George Mason has the highest RPI with 29 with a resume, which on the surface, seems to be a bit inflated. However, the OPatriots’ wins against Harvard and Duquesne may become key parts of their profile.
Old Dominion is the second of the three with a RPI of 32, but it has stumbled a bit out of the gate in league play. That still does not fully diminish an extremely impressive non-conference resume which includes wins over Xavier, Dayton, Clemson and Richmond.
Virginia Commonwealth has a rather low RPI for a mid-major trying to get into the tournament as an at-large at 58, but don’t be fooled. This team beat UCLA on a neutral floor and won at Old Dominion. The Rams uptempo style is tough to prepare for and will put them in consideration Selection Weekend.
Virginia Tech checks in with a RPI at 63, but it’s set up so well for the home stretch. This extremely talented squad has a great opportunity to stack up a lot of wins in a power conference. The ACC is indeed down this year, but not to the point where five league losses won’t get you the tournament. That’s realistic for the Hokies in a year they may get them off the snide.
Now we come to Richmond. The Spiders have an RPI of 66, but has one of the best non-conference wins of anybody when the shocked Purdue in Chicago. They also lay claim to a win over Virginia Commonwealth and are sitting pretty in second in 3rd place in the Atlantic 10. This team hasn’t fully lived up to expectations so far, but it is capable of taking home the A-10 regular season championship.
Stock Up: Ohio St. I didn’t believe in the Buckeyes before the season started, but Jared Sullinger has made a believer out of everybody. He may be the toughest cover in college basketball and gives them so many options offensively. Last year was the Evan Turner show in Columbus, but Sullinger and company maybe in for an even better year.
Stock Down: Wake Forest. My apologies to the Auburn Tigers who I incorrectly called the worst BCS conference basketball team in the country last week. It’s clearly Wake Forest. I hope there’s a plan in place, but I didn’t think Jeff Bzdelik was a good hire and so far I’m being proven right. I know he has to get his players to fit his system but the Demon Deacons lost by 35 to Georgia Tech. That’s downright pathetic.
Stock Up: The Showdown in Provo. It might be the biggest game in the history of the Mountain West Conference on Jan. 26 when San Diego St travels to face BYU. Two top-ten teams and one of the best players in the country in Jimmer Fredette will take the national stage in the clear game of the night. So sad that it won’t happen next year with BYU moving on the West Coast Conference.
Stock Down: UCF. It was all good just two weeks ago. It’s not now. UCF has lost four of its five conference games and, in the process, ruined any at-large hopes it was harboring. The Knights have a chance to salvage their season, but they probably need an automatic bid to go dancing.
This Week’s Bracket Projections:
Last Four In: UCLA, Colorado, Richmond, Gonzaga
Last Four Out: Colorado St, Kansas St, Butler, Dayton
Good for games through 1/24/2011
1.Ohio St16.Tennessee St/Texas Southern Cleveland
8.Utah St9.Boston College
7.Tennessee10.UNLV Washington, DC
1.Kansas16.Florida Atlantic Tulsa
5.Florida12.Virginia Commonwealth Tampa
6.Florida St11.Wichita St Charlotte
7.Michigan St10.St. John’s Tucson
2.San Diego St15.Northern Colorado
1.Duke16.Long Island Charlotte
5.Minnesota12.Old Dominion Chicago
6.Vanderbilt11.Virginia Tech Chicago
7.Xavier10.Oklahoma St Washington, DC
1.Pittsburgh16.Long Beach St/Lamar Cleveland
6.West Virginia11.Memphis Denver
7.Louisville10.St. Mary’s Tulsa