Notre Dame looked impressive in their victory tonight over the visiting West Virginia Mountaineers, 69-56. Of particular note was the 29 point, 16 rebound performance of Luke Harangody, both career highs. Near the beginning of the game it seemed like West Virginia would dominate the boards, but somehow Notre Dame managed to neutralize their big guys. Throughout the game it felt like Notre Dame was in control, and the momentum West Virginia gained when they went up 14-11 was quickly neutralized by a pair of Ryan Ayres threes. Tonight was not a perfect game by a long shot - we had more than twice as many turnovers as WVU (20-9), with most of those being coughed up by Jackson, Hillesland, and Kurz. I was afraid that without the student section behind the team the game would play like a neutral-court game, but over 8000 showed up, and were quite vocal in support of the Irish. I encourage all Irish fans to come out and support the Irish Saturday night against UConn.
The other Big East games of the night went as expected, with the exception of Depaul upsetting 16th ranked Villanova. While many people find this shocking, I feel that this validates my refusal to put Nova higher than a 9 seed in my previous bracket. They had not beaten anyone of note, and had a loss to NC St. Although a loss to Depaul will hurt their resume, they still have a shot this year, what will the weakness of the mid-majors.
Speaking of the mid-majors:
- Xavier added an impressive win to its collection tonight. The A-10 will get several bids to the tournament - unless they self-destruct, Xavier, Rhode Island, and Dayton are almost assured of making it, and UMass is firmly on the bubble.
- The CAA has returned to one-bid status, with George Mason inexplicably losing to Georgia St on Wednesday.
- The Horizon could be a two-bid league, if Butler continues to do well and loses in the conference championship. Which could happen.
- The same goes with the WCC and St. Mary's or Gonzaga, though Gonzaga has to do a lot more to end up with an at-large than St. Mary's. I suppose that it could be a 3-bid league if someone else wins the conference tourney, but i don't think that will happen.
- If the Valley elite keep on getting beat, the MVC could send only the conference champion to the tourney this year. After two games, we've learned that Creighton is not as good as believed. Nor is Southern Illinois. SIU needs an outstand conference record to make the tournament, while Creighton needs to just win the games it should. Only Drake seems to be in good position for an at-large bid.
- I admit I was wrong about Georgia Southern in the SoCon. Davidson showed that they will win that conference. However, if they falter in the conference tourney, don't expect an at-large bid.
- I still believe that if UCSB runs the table in-conference, they will receive an at-large level bid. Although they have no outstanding wins, they would have no bad losses. Their RPI and SOS would be pitiful, but the committee might overlook that. However, losing ANY conference game will send their seed plummeting.
- The Mountain West is still a mystery. BYU, New Mexico, or UNLV might be able to garner an at-large... but probably not.
Thus I count only 4 mid-major at-larges: 1 to the MVC, 3 to the A-10. With so few, the MWC might sneak one in, but that still leaves 29 for the 6 major conferences, and the SEC is having a down year.