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PURDUE WOMENS BASKETBALL:
Gazing into the Crystal Bubble, Part III: The Big East / ACC / Big 12
© Old Gold Free Press Columnists
Installment 2: Bubble Teams from the Big East, the ACC and the Big 12
Rutgers The Scarlet Knights had the misfortune this year to draw Syracuse as their lone home and home opponent. The Orange match up very well with Rutgers, as they know how to score, something that seems as difficult as passing kidney stones to the Scarlet Knights. Having lost both games to Syracuse, Rutgers is at home vs. St Johnís, @Providence and home vs. Louisville. Nobody is hotter in the Big East right now than St Johnís. Although they have zero wins in eight attempts against Top 25 RPI teams, they are battle tested, and they can boast a formidable SOS, currently third best in the country. And they have fared well against the above average Bubble teams, with wins against Boston College (ACC), USC (Pac 10), Mississippi St (SEC) and DePaul (Big East). But, as the Syracuse games have shown, they have not figured out how to keep pace when they face teams with offensive firepower.
DePaul Of all the Bubble teams, the Blue Demons may have the easiest path. Their final four games are against teams that are currently in the bottom half of the Big East. They started off with a win @Marquette, pretty much closing out the Golden Eaglesí chances. At this point, DePaul would have to stumble very badly to not secure another invite for the Big East. But Pittsburgh is on a three game winning streak (albeit against lesser completion), Syracuse just defeated Rutgers, again, and South Florida could be tough at home on Senior Night.
Syracuse It will be most interesting to see how the NCAA Selection Committee handles this one. The Orange close out the regular season vs. UConn, @DePaul, then back home vs. West Virginia. It is almost unheard of for a BCS conference team to have 19 wins and an RPI of 92 and a SOS of 166 this late in the season. They only had three non-conference games against teams with RPIs below 200, none against the Top 50. And yet they have six conference victories, theyíve beaten Rutgers twice and more than held their own against the best in the Big East, losing to Georgetown in overtime, to St Johnís by three and to Notre Dame by a single point.
NC State The Wolfpack finish the season with four games in nine days. True, they will do this without leaving the state of North Carolina. But still, when will they find time for classes? They started out with a win at home against Boston College. Two days later they travelled to UNC and came away with a huge 74-63 victory over the slumping Tar Heels. Next up, a bus trip to Wake Forest, before returning home to host Georgia Tech. At 16-11, and 6-6 in the ACC, every game is a must win game. As is true for most every team on the Bubble right now, win out and watch your position float to the top. If only it was that easy.
Boston College BC has, by far, the most quality ACC conference wins, with back-to back victories over Duke and UNC, as well as earlier victories over Georgia Tech and NC State. But their 64-69 loss to Virginia Tech did not help matters. Now at 14-13 overall, and 5-7 in the ACC, the Eagles may have run out of time. But wait. The Eagles host Maryland next, and then close out the regular season on the road against Miami, Fl. The importance of their upcoming rematch with Maryland is obvious. But can they handle the pressure?
Maryland Recent losses to Georgia Tech, Virginia and Duke (twice), underscore the fact that the Terps have not fared well against quality teams. Their 61-60 victory at Virginia stands as their only significant win of the year, and that was somewhat diluted when the Cavaliers returned the favor a month later, beating them by 14 in College Park. With a very weak non-conference schedule, and a possible sub-.500 winning percentage in the ACC, Marylandís final two games could not be more important: @Boston College and at home vs. Florida St. Lose these two games and they would end up 5-9 in the ACC, and 3-7 in their last ten. Not exactly a persuasive body of work to present to the NCAA Selection Committee.
Miami, Fl While their overall record of 16-10 may look OK, the fact is that they have lost seven out of their last eight ACC Conference games. On top of that, they face Florida St and Boston College to finish the season. If the Hurricanes want to salvage any value from their early quality conference wins (Florida St, Maryland and UNC), they will need to win their final two games. And then join the ever growing list of teams hoping for that magical deep conference tournament run.
Kansas With the loss to Texas Tech, the Jayhawksí Bubble may be bursting. If they lose to Iowa St, they might find themselves in deep du-du, with games @Baylor, @Nebraska up next and then at home against Texas A&M to close out the regular season. With seven, maybe eight Big 12 teams already ahead of them, and with Sr Wing Danielle McCray lost for the season, Kansas is desperately looking for someone to fill the void. That is a pretty tall order, looking at their bench and their remaining schedule.
Texas Tech After losing eight of their first nine Big 12 conference games, the 2009-10 season looked over for the Lady Raiders. But consecutive victories over Texas A&M and Oklahoma St have breathed new life into their NCAA Tournament dreams. But letís not get ahead of ourselves. There is a lot of basketball yet to be played in the Big 12. Despite losing at Baylor on February 17th, they bounced back and won a critical game against Kansas 68-51.With four games remaining, their home game vs. Oklahoma St is the one to watch. Unlike most other teams on the Bubble, Texas Tech may be playing their best basketball at the right time.
Next: Installment 3: Bubble Teams from the SEC, the Big 10 and the Pac 10