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Quick Takes: Appreciating Butler, SDSU while unpacking Saturday’s takeaways

Dave2015Before we walk through our bullet-point takeaways from the first full Saturday of college hoops in 2020, let’s take a moment to appreciate Butler and San Diego State.  Neither team was picked to win its conference, let alone be in contention for a protected seed on Selection Sunday.  Looking back, Butler was picked to finish eighth in the Big East and SDSU was slated second behind Utah State in the Mountain West.

This morning, both the Bulldogs and Aztecs hold Top 5 ratings in the NCAA’s NET metric. They are a combined 10-1 vs. Quad 1 teams with that single loss being a one-pointer by Butler against Baylor in Waco.  While the numbers will continue to evolve, only Butler, SDSU and Kansas have five wins vs. Quad 1 opponents as of this writing (per Warren Nolan).

The fact that Butler and San Diego State would be legitimate No. 1 seed contenders were today Selection Sunday is an incredible accomplishment – especially given preseason expectations.

Now, on to Quick Takes …

  • If there’s a chink in Gonzaga’s No. 1 seed armor – beyond an improved West Coast Conference – its a non-conference SOS number in the mid to upper 200s.  Outside Atlantis and trips to Arizona and Washington, the Zags non-league slate was subpar.
  • If Florida State continues to make shots at the rate the Seminoles did Saturday at the KFC Yum! Center, they will be a tough out in the ACC.
  • Louisville, on the other hand, needs someone other than Jordan Nwora to make shots.
  • Penn State held off Iowa in a terrific game at the Palestra in Philadelphia.  It’s looking more and more like this is the year that Pat Chambers and PSU reach the NCAAs.
  • Florida needed two overtimes to escape Alabama in Gainesville.  The Gators continue to be an enigma without a clear trajectory.
  • Virginia did its thing while dismantling rival Virginia Tech.  The question is … can the Cavaliers do the same against the top tier of the ACC?  UVA has yet to beat a team that would currently be in the Field of 68.
  • Marquette handled Villanova at home.  Then again, both teams have done their best work in friendly environments.  We’ll see how they manage life on the road in the weeks ahead.
  • Texas Tech might be finding a groove.  We’ll know a lot more about TTU after its next two games: Baylor (home) and West Virginia (in Morgantown).
  • Georgia picked up a momental road win at Memphis, giving the Bulldogs a legitimate NCAA-level victory in the process.  Next up: Kentucky at home and a trip to Auburn.  Split those and UGA’s early January profile will have more depth.
  • Utah State missed its chance at home against San Diego State – following a surprising loss at UNLV earlier in the week.  The Aggies’ NET rating is diving and other than a trip to SDSU on February 1, NCAA-level wins may be hard to find in the MWC. Right now, the Aggies’ best assets are neutral-court victories over Florida and LSU.  They’ll be rooting hard for both in SEC play.
  • Saint Mary’s added a Quad 3 loss to its resume by falling at Pacific; the Gaels lost to Quad 4 Winthrop at home in early November.  Two dates with Gonzaga may still loom large for SMC’s tournament plans.  They’ll also be hoping that Wisconsin continues its improved play, too.
  • DePaul dropped to 0-2 in the Big East following a loss to Providence.  More troubling for the Blue Demons, their first two league games were at home.  DePaul has some nice early wins, but its overall NC SOS is in the mid 270’s; not ideal if the Blue Demons end up near the bubble.
  • It’s looking more and more like Memphis and Wichita State are the only sure things in the American Conference, with Houston in the mix.  Cincinnati added Tulane to its loss quotient of Bowling Green and Colgate; Temple’s road loss at Tulsa wasn’t ideal; neither was Connecticut’s negative tally at South Florida.  And SMU’s record is deceiving, the Mustangs are 10-0 vs. Quads 3/4 with a victory over Vanderbilt as it’s only other measure of note.
  • Still not sure what to make of NC State; the Wolfpack dropped what should have been a winnable game at Clemson.
  • Indiana has lost its two true road games by a combined 36 points.  That’s not a particularly good look for a team that finished 3-9 in road games last season (and missed the NCAA tournament).

If current trends continue, the Selection Committee is going to have some tough and delicate decisions to make in a couple of months.

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