Welcome to the latest edition of Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis. The best month of the year is upon us and the NCAA Tournament is not far away. In fact, conference tournaments have begun, and we get into that along the way.
First, we look back to a few days earlier, with two games that stood out. One was Kentucky’s convincing win over Florida, which showed just how good the Wildcats can be – not unlike how the Gators’ convincing win over the Wildcats earlier showed just how good they could be.
We then talk about the shocker of Saturday, which came in one of the last games as BYU beat Gonzaga in Spokane. It’s actually the third straight win in Spokane for the Cougars, who at this point are a long shot to reach the NCAA Tournament unless they leave Las Vegas as West Coast Conference champions. Gonzaga ran out to a big early lead on their Senior Night, but the Bulldogs were unable to head into Las Vegas without a blemish.
From there we go into what I noted on Monday morning will be a big topic of discussion the next couple of weeks: the last at-large bids to the NCAA Tournament. The primary way teams have been evaluated for it over the years revolves around evaluating primarily the quality wins and bad losses a team has on its resume. However, using that same formula this year seems questionable given the way the bubble is shaping up. If ever there was a time to evaluate candidates differently, this is it. Teams like Wichita State, UT Arlington and others ought to be evaluated differently this time around, but will it happen? As I note, I have plenty of doubts.
There is even some irony in all of this: while there is a concern that the NCAA Tournament field will feature a bunch of high-major teams that aren’t so good and some of whom have sub-.500 conference records, at least one high-major team has at best a tall order to work their way into the field as of now. Utah has a nice 9-7 Pac-12 record, but who have they beat to get to that point? Who have they lost to? On the latter count, they are the only Pac-12 team Oregon State has knocked off this season to date. So while the traditional way of evaluating teams often weeds out mid-majors, it appears it will weed out Utah as well.
We then talk about conference tournaments that have begun, notably the Atlantic Sun and Patriot League. Only one road team has won thus far in these two campus site-only tournaments.
In closing, we look ahead to the next week, with the final regular season games and then conference tournaments, as well as postseason awards and our podcasting plans during the big week leading up to the NCAA Tournament.