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Monday, January 31, 2011

Bracket Busters: Why St. John's Could Burst The NCAA Tournament Bubble of Several Smaller Schools

Last night's 93-78 blowout win over Duke was huge for St. John's University.  Huge, not just because they beat the number 2 team in the college basketball.  Huge, not just because of the margin of victory(15points).  But huge because with that victory, St. John's took one step forward in trying to punch its ticket to the NCAA tournament. Which is not to say if the season ended today they would be in the tournament.  Because at 12-8 overall (including 4-5 in their own conference), their resume is not that impressive.

But they do own two victories over the nationally ranked Blue Devils, Georgetown, and Notre Dame, as well as a season opening victory over #24 St. Mary's College.   Factor into that equation they still have to play UConn, Pitt and Villanova(all ranked).  If they can win at least one, if not two, of those three games while finishing around .500 in the Big East, it may make it tough for the selection committee to keep them out.  Then think about what a victory in the Big East Tournament would do for their resume.

So the Red Storm seem to control their own destiny when it comes to the NCAA Tournament this March, but at the expense of what other smaller schools?

Well, one school in particular that might suffer from this is the College of Charleston. The Cougars do own a win over Tennessee and UNCCharlotte, but squandered opportunities to enhance their resume by not beating either Maryland, North Carolina, or Rhode Island.  The Cougars are currently a half a game behind Wofford in the South Division of the Southern Conference.  It's looking more and more like Charleston will have to win the Southern in order to make it to the tourney.

Another team that saw its chances dwindle when the Red Storm beat the Blue Devils is last year's national runner up, Butler.  The Bulldogs do own victories over Florida State, Stanford and Utah, but ended up losing by 12 to the Blue Devils at home and do not own a victory over a top 25 team.  It looks like they might have to win the Horizon in order to have a chance to make it back to the final four.

Now, after its all said and done, St John's may not get in, and these two schools might just get in.  But if it comes down to it, and all three of these schools have similar records, my money is on St. John's.  The Red Storm not only have the impressive victory over Duke, but they also play in the Big East.  Add on top of that they play near media mecca New York City, and they would be almost a lock.  Which would be a shame, because at least two of these schools should play for the chance to get in rather than the play-in game we have now that 98% of fans could care less about.

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