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Quick Takes: Tough day in the Sun Belt

Dave2015If you’re a fan of the Texas-Arlington Mavericks or Arkansas State Red Wolves, it’s a tough Sunday morning.  And if you’re a “Mid-Major” fan who hopes to see non-power conference teams earn at-large bids in March, it was a tough Saturday in the Sun Belt.  Teams lose conference road games, regardless of conference.  But we also know there’s a greater impact when those losses are to teams toward the bottom of the league – or in the RPI (and other metrics).  So when Arkansas State drops at game at Coastal Carolina (No. 205, RPI) and UT-Arlington one-ups them by falling at Texas State (No. 290), it makes the path toward an at-large bid that much tougher.

That said, it’s one game for both teams, which doesn’t define either’s season.  The Mavericks still own an impressive win at Saint Mary’s (and at Texas) and Arkansas State won at Georgetown and beat Chattanooga.  For those to hold up on Selection Sunday, both of these programs need dominant league performances.  Saturday’s losses just make the margin for error that much thinner.

Other Quick Takes from Saturday …

  • Michigan State lost to Penn State (neutral site), and Michigan lost at home to Maryland.  If you’re looking for separation in the Big Ten, it might be hard to find.
  • Indiana looked more like Indiana on Saturday. The Hoosiers made shots and created a fast-paced tempo against the Illini in Bloomington.  On the flip side, Illinois hasn’t been a good road team thus far.  That will have to change if they want to Dance in March.
  • Baylor keeps finding ways to win.  If there’s any type of asterisk on the Bears’ resume it’s that they’ve played only one true road game (at Oklahoma). Three of their next four are on the road (at West Virginia, Kansas State, TCU).
  • Oklahoma State has put itself in a tough spot by opening B12 play 0-3.  There’s talent in Stillwater, but the Cowboys’ best wins are Georgetown and Wichita State.  And this year’s Shockers’ team isn’t quite the same (RPI of 114 this morning).  The next two weeks could well determine if OSU remains in the NCAA race.
  • Kentucky looks like it’s going to win the SEC (again) by a wide margin.  They may lose a game (or two), but beating UK in Lexington probably isn’t going to happen.
  • Florida State also continues to impress.  But like Baylor, if there’s any asterisk, it’s that FSU has only played on true road game – albeit a win at Virginia.  The latter half of the Seminoles ACC slate will likely determine their final spot in the ACC hierarchy.
  • Cincinnati took an important step toward an American title by winning at Houston. The Bearcats have now beaten Temple and Houston on the road.  SMU is UC’s top remaining challenger.  As if on cue, SMU comes to Fifth-Third Arena this week.

Enjoy your Sunday afternoon of college hoops and the NFL playoffs.

 

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