The Blog Squad

Friday, March 14, 2008

Bet The Mortgage, The Rams Are In (well maybe lunch money instead)

I was on a weekend drive last Sunday when Linus Kiselius banked in a game-winning shot to lift William & Mary over Virginia Commonwealth University in a stunner. The victory advanced the Tribe into the finals of the Colonial Athletic Association tournament finals against George Mason, which eventually won the title and the automatic bid.

The Rams, however, were left questioning how they could lose in such a crucial time of the season when they had played so well during most of it. When there were really no answers, VCU was reduced to scoreboard watching and hoping for favorites to win and high-major bubble teams to lose.

I’m here to tell you today, given what’s happened over the past week, the Rams are in. No doubt about it.

There are 34 at-large bids. It’s a given that the Big East will get six teams in not including the conference tournament champ. The Atlantic Coast Conference will likely get three at-large invitations.

That leaves 25.

The Big Ten will take up four more slots and the Pac-10 five at-larges. The SEC also will earn five bids, and this does not include two-time champs Florida.

The total now of at-larges is 11.

The Mountain West will only get one bid beside the conference tournament winner after New Mexico was beaten in the quarterfinals. The West Coast Conference, however, will get two at-large bids because St. Mary’s lost to San Diego, which beat Gonzaga in the finals. Those three teams are in.

We are down to eight.

The Atlantic 10 will likely just have one at-large after Massachusetts lost in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament. I’m giving the Big 12 the benefit of the doubt and slotting that conference for four teams, even though Baylor is definitely on the bubble and lost in its first tournament game.

So we’re down to three.

The Sun Belt will get one of those bids because South Alabama fell early in its conference tournament. I have a hard time giving Illinois State of the Missouri Valley Conference an invite because it lost in the title game to Drake by 30.

Now there are two.

Here are the teams remaining vying for those spots, though it might change depending what happens over the next three days in conference tournaments.

I have VCU (24-7), Miami (22-9) or Virginia Tech (18-12), Villanova (20-12) and Oregon (18-13). I’ll even throw in Florida (21-11) and Illinois State (24-9). Miami and Virginia Tech play each other today. My guess is the winner of that ACC clash will get the bid.

That leaves one.

Though VCU’s RPI is 61 compared to Illinois State’s 36, I believe the Rams and the CAA have earned tiebreakers. The CAA has had multiple bids in consecutive years now and is the only mid-major conference to have a school reach the Final Four. Add the VCU victory over Duke last year and its near upset of Pittsburgh, the selection committee should take history into account.

That’s why I believe the Rams will be dancing as a 13th seed. And like I predicted in a previous week, I see VCU winning a first-round game.

OUT AT HOME: Like I said, I drove west last weekend. Took the family to Farmville to eat at a country diner. We got lost and ended up at KFC at the corner of Huguenot and Robius.

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: Good for Billy Crystal! Fouling off a major-league pitch is as good as roping one into center.


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