Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Before and After, 2/25



Dayton at Rhode Island: Thanks to their traditional status as a multi-bid league, I don't really consider the A-10 a mid-major conference. I mean, Xavier? They're a multi-million dollar program in a glitter palace that rubs shoulder with Cincinnati every year for dominance of a major metropolitan area. There's nothing mid-major about them save that they happen to share a conference with the likes of La Salle, Duquesne, and Fordham.

So I'm a little hesitant to cover Dayton vs. Rhode Island in this space, but I am anyway because a) It's a stunningly light slate for good mid-major action for a Wednesday b) I'm intrigued by both these teams. Dayton because as long as they have Chris Wright healthy, they're a genuinely dangerous team--just ask Xavier, why don't you--but are an unbelievable 85th in the Pomeroy ratings, easily the worst mark I can remember for a team generally agreed upon the be an NCAA lock if they can just hang on through these final few games. The "lucky, or good?" question is going to haunt the Flyers until ... well, until either their season comes to an early end via a stretch collapse or they pull off a couple of NCAA tourney upsets and prove conclusively the answer was "good."

Meanwhile, Rhode Island is one of the few mid-majoresque teams that ... well ... I kind of don't like. Consider: 1. They employed college hoops' king sleazebag Jim Harrick 2. They took on Lamar Odom back when Odom wasn't a solid NBA cog but a destructive me-first Terrell Owens-like menace 3. They beat Valpo in the Sweet 16 back in '98, two rounds after the Bryce Drew miracle shot.

Sorry, Rams: I'm sure your current group of players has no resemblance to the transgressions of years past, and it's only fair to note that your late surge should be the fourth big story of the A-10's season (after Xavier, Dayton, and the annual late Temple charge) now that you're 20-8 overall, 9-4 in-conference, and can boast wins over Penn St., VCU, and Temple. I should just note that after losing five games by either three points or less or in overtime, you're as likely as anyone to emerge from the A-10 tourney scrum with the auto-bid, and ignore the thin permanent coating of slime that remains from association with scum like Harrick.

But honestly? I don't want to, because then I wouldn't have a rooting interest in this game ... and besides, Dayton needs the win for their at-large chances more than Rhody needs it for theirs (which happen to be nonexistent). Go Flyers.


Nevada 71, VCU 70: Man, you know VCU was already steamed about having to travel to Reno on short notice. I don't even want to think about how savagely they were cursing their BracketBuster fate after letting an eight-point lead with 4:18 left turn into a one-point defeat. The Rams still lead the Colonial by a game, but unless their two stars play a little more consistently--Eric Maynor shot 7-of-16 from the field, Larry Sanders an ugly 2-of-11--it's hard to see them negotiating the incredibly crowded CAA tournament field.

As for Nevada, the good news for the WAC comes in double doses here--not only did they get the nonconference win over a potential league champion, but Nevada didn't look so impressive that we'd expect them to upset Utah St. and spoil the Aggies' potential run to an at-large bid. Good times all the way around.

No comments: