College hoops insider: Georgia State as an at-large team? Nah

If Georgia State doesn't win the CAA tournament, it won't be celebrating on Selection Sunday. (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin)

No CAA tournament title would mean no Selection Sunday glee. (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin)

(Again, let me note that these, er, nuggets are part of our weekly college basketball package, which runs every Tuesday in the print AJC. I offer them for your digital delight.)

Hoops Hysterics

1. What’s the best conference in the land? It’s not the ACC (too top-heavy) or the SEC (too Kentucky-heavy), and it’s not the Pac-12 (nary a team in the Top 25). That leaves the Big Ten (five teams in the Top 25), the Big East (also five in the Top 25) and the Big 12 (three in the top seven). For quality at the top, we’ll say the Big 12. For overall depth, we’ll say the Big Ten.

2. Who’s the best freshman in the land? Take your pick between Kentucky Wildcats. Center Anthony Davis — he of the unibrow so famous it’s already a feature on Bluegrass T-shirts — could be the first player drafted this summer, but forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has been the Big Blue’s MVP to date, scoring 24 points against Louisville and 17 against Tennessee.

3. Does Georgia State, which is tied for the Colonial Athletic Association lead, have to win the conference tournament to reach the NCAA? Yes. Even though the CAA received three NCAA bids last season, Georgia State can’t make it as at-large team. Its RPI is, according to ESPN Insider, tied for 172nd in the nation, and its non-conference strength of schedule is dead last. The NCAA committee, which makes a big deal of non-conference strength of schedule, would never reward such a team. (In cheerier news, the Panthers cracked the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 this week; they’re 24th.)

My Super Sweet Sixteen

1. Syracuse: It’s hard to imagine a team staying undefeated much longer in the brawny Big East, but the Orange isn’t scheduled to play a ranked team until the day after the Super Bowl.

2. Kentucky: The Wildcats struggled in road wins at Auburn and Tennessee last week, but their biggest test of the young SEC season will come when Alabama visits Saturday.

3. Baylor: This week could serve as proof positive that the unbeaten Bears are bona fide, or it could suggest the opposite — at Kansas on Monday, at home against Missouri on Saturday. (Update: Baylor lost at Kansas 92-74.)

4. Missouri: The Tigers handled Texas rather easily Saturday, but this Saturday will offer an even bigger test for the men of Frank Haith — Baylor in Waco.

5. Duke: The Blue Devils are 3-0 in ACC play and stand alone atop the conference, but it’s worth noting that the biggest of those three victories has come by seven points.

6. Ohio State: Last week the Buckeyes whipped Indiana at home, which you’d expect, but they also lost at surprising Illinois, which is tied with Michigan State for the Big Ten lead.

7. North Carolina: Even Roy Williams lamented the incongruity — a Florida State team that scored 10 points in a half against Princeton managed 54 in a half against his Tar Heels.

8. Michigan State: The Spartans’ 15-game winning streak was halted Saturday at Northwestern. Tuesday brings another difficult road test: Michigan in Ann Arbor.

9. Kansas: This was considered a lesser bunch of Jayhawks entering the season, but there has been nothing small about the play of big man Thomas Robinson. (Update: Robinson scored 27 points in KU’s defeat of Baylor.)

10. Murray State: Up next for the 18-0 Racers is Morehead State, which took down Louisville in the NCAA tournament last spring, on the road Wednesday night.

11. Indiana: The Hoosiers climbed to No. 7 in the Associated Press poll on the strength of some stirring victories, but they backslid by losing to Minnesota and Ohio State last week.

12. Georgetown: The Hoyas lost at home last week to unranked Cincinnati, but the Georgetown losing streak ended at two games. It beat St. John’s on Sunday.

13. Connecticut: Normal service was restored last week. The Huskies rebounded from two losses in New Jersey to beat West Virginia and Notre Dame.

14. San Diego State: The 15-2 Aztecs won a huge game Saturday by beating UNLV. They’ll face another Wednesday in Albuquerque, where 15-2 New Mexico awaits.

15. Mississippi State: The Bulldogs beat Alabama in Starkville on Saturday, which would have given State the edge in the SEC West if the SEC West still existed. Which it doesn’t.

16. Virginia: The Cavaliers played Duke tough at Cameron Indoor Stadium, having (and missing) a last shot to tie. Next up is Georgia Tech at Philips Arena on Thursday.

By Mark Bradley

60 comments Add your comment

slimseville

January 17th, 2012
9:52 am

norman

January 17th, 2012
9:57 am

What about Mercer? Belmont? The Atlantic Sun Conference teams are not pushovers!

Sluggo

January 17th, 2012
10:06 am

Good Job Mark. I really hope State can finish strong and at least get an opportunity for post season play.

Ted M

January 17th, 2012
10:06 am

Does the Colonial Athletic Association get an automatic bid for conference champs?

Panthersville.com

January 17th, 2012
10:13 am

So say GSU finishes first in the regular season but comes in second in the CAA tourney…they don’t get in? Unless the CAA is only sending one team (not likely), GSU should be in the mix.

KevinM

January 17th, 2012
10:23 am

Nothing better than Mark talking basketball…but Mark, Morehead St beat UL last year on the tournament……you’re a UK guy, come on! And yes, I know you have little love for the UK program.

And speaking of UNC, yes, they do look ready to get to the Sweet 16….walking off the court during the FSU game always makes you feel good about your chances going forward.

I didn’t think GSU in the headlines would push the ratings up much…..what, no faith in Tech at this point? I understand as KSU might be outdrawing Georgia this time of year minus the UK visit next week.

KevinM

January 17th, 2012
10:25 am

GSU has to win their tournament to get in, and it will always be that way unless you start getting ranked regularly in the polls.

KevinM

January 17th, 2012
10:26 am

My bad, Mark, I read that wrong, you do know your basketball in Kentucky!

Mark Bradley

January 17th, 2012
10:34 am

They don’t get in, Panthersville.com.

Mark Bradley

January 17th, 2012
10:36 am

It’s not so much the polls, KevinM. It’s the RPI, which is largely a function of schedule. Rarely does a team with an RPI above 50 receive an at-large bid.

Andy

January 17th, 2012
10:36 am

Tough college basketball year for the state of Georgia when the most promising team is Georgia State. Kudos to them but tough years for the much more followed Jackets and Bulldogs.

Mark Bradley

January 17th, 2012
10:36 am

Roger that, Andy. But I think most everyone assumed it would be a down year. The Panthers have been a huge shock.

Kev Ice

January 17th, 2012
10:38 am

Agreed that GSU needs the auto-bid to get in…look no further than 2004 Utah State (25-3) in reg season w/ weak non-conf that didn’t get in. The committee rewards solid scheduling and punishes weak scheduling. To be fair, I don’t think GSU looked at the 11-12 season as one where the non-conf strength would be a factor for an auto-NCAA bid.

Really Who Cares About This?

January 17th, 2012
10:42 am

The sports news must be real slow today!

Adam Banks

January 17th, 2012
10:54 am

Thanks for the continued back-handed compliments, Mark!

GSU will have to win the CAA tournament because their OOC Pac 10, A-10, etc. opponents have not been very good this year. I would’ve taken a 20+ win season in a “re-building” time and an NIT selection any day of the week in early October. Can’t argue the facts though, best team in the state

Sluggo

January 17th, 2012
11:08 am

The goal is to finish in the top four and receive a first round bye. Then put together a nice three-game winning streak. Definitely doable. Both Tech and Georgia will need an auto-bid as well in order to dance in March.

Seriously?

January 17th, 2012
11:09 am

@Mark, if GSU goes 15-3 or better in the CAA and loses the conference championship game to VCU, ODU, or GMU, they are in, definitely, for sure, hands down, no doubt! With the ACC down and the SEC, well, being the SEC, there will be plenty of spots available!

DetroitBraves

January 17th, 2012
11:21 am

@seriously? as much I would like it if you end up being right, I gotta go with Mark on this one. I can’t remember ever watching Selection Sunday and seeing the bubble teams discussed with RPIs greater than 60, much less 100+. And of those with RPIs in the 50-60ish range it is a very, very small number that make it in and of those you’ll almost always find that they beat someone of real consequence at some point (thinking Kentucky rather than VCU). As great a story as GSU is, and may continue to be the committee isn’t charged with finding the best stories and objectively they would have a hard time making a case that GSU is one of the better at-larges in the country. But again, I hope you’re right and Mark’s wrong.

D

January 17th, 2012
11:35 am

@DetroitBraves I thought this was Facebook for a sec and was looking for the “like” for your comment. As much as I love GSU, you hit the nail on the head.

Dawgington

January 17th, 2012
11:37 am

Please....

January 17th, 2012
11:54 am

“Its RPI is tied for 172nd in the nation, and its non-conference strength of schedule is dead last”

The hype train can stop now..

Seriously?

January 17th, 2012
11:55 am

@D, it’s not all about RPI, in fact I believe the “eye test” towards the end of the season is an even bigger factor. Like I said, with a 15-3 record in the CAA, an ESPN game during Bracketbusters two weeks before selection Sunday and many other TV games against the top rated teams in the CAA, coupled with an undefeated home record, Ron Hunter’s National exposure, and a close loss in the CAA Championship……..GSU is in. With a highly rated RPI braketbusters win and wins against VCU and ODU, along with UW’s continued improvement, GSU’s RPI could break the 100 mark by the point anyway! GO STATE!

Please....

January 17th, 2012
11:56 am

@ Sluggo “I really hope State can finish strong and at least get an opportunity for post season play”

Why is it that State fans are the most delusional I have seen in sports…?

Please....

January 17th, 2012
11:57 am

@ Seriously? “GSU’s RPI could break the 100 mark by the point anyway! GO STATE!”

No…

Seriously?

January 17th, 2012
11:59 am

@Please….. assuming you’re a UGA or GT fan, your comment @Sluggo is hilarious!!!!!

Please....

January 17th, 2012
12:02 pm

Tar Heel Baby…. you still can’t escape the fact you will never make it to the post season.

glsjunior

January 17th, 2012
12:03 pm

We might not get an NCAA bid if we don’t win the conference tourney but we would almost assuredly get an NIT bid, which is not bad considering our preseason predictions.

Seriously?

January 17th, 2012
12:06 pm

Even more hilarious, Tar Hell Football may be the definition of delusional dreams and underachieving (always have lots of talent though). Nice game on Saturday. Got my undergrad @FSU……did you have nightmares of Dulkys on Saturday night? BTW, I think Sluggo is referring to “postseason play” not just the Big Dance. If you think GSU will not qualify for the CBI or NIT with a nice finish, you really are delusional!

Mark Bradley

January 17th, 2012
12:07 pm

Yes, when you’re on a new coach and you were picked to finish 11th in your league, simply having a discussion about RPI is a victory.

Seriously?

January 17th, 2012
12:09 pm

@Please…. So you are willing to say the GSU will not be invited to any postseason tournament?

Please....

January 17th, 2012
12:10 pm

None that really matter.

glsjunior

January 17th, 2012
12:12 pm

Just wait til R.J Hunter and TJ Shipes show up on campus. Final Four 2014.

Please....

January 17th, 2012
12:13 pm

@glsjunior “Just wait til R.J Hunter and TJ Shipes show up on campus. Final Four 2014.”

hahahahahahhhahahahaha

Seriously?

January 17th, 2012
12:14 pm

@Please….OK, sounds good, like gls mentioned, when you’re picked 11th preseason and make a postseason tournament and @Mark Bradley is writing about you, you’ll take it. BTW, nice game in the TLC-CC on Saturday……Chop it Up! (My undergrad institution)

Mark Bradley

January 17th, 2012
12:25 pm

As for Georgia State’s RPI breaking 100 — that still wouldn’t be nearly good enough to be an at-large team, and that non-conference RPI of 341 isn’t going to change much. (Georgia State does have a BracketBuster game upcoming in February.) I hope I’m wrong about this, but I’m pretty sure I’m not.

RidgeRunner

January 17th, 2012
12:38 pm

For Panther fans your article is pretty good and we welcome your comments. As far as RPI goes, in theory it quantifies your record but only if you have a representative schedule as compared to other schools. That said, we will just have to suck it up and take it like a Pantherman whether or not it is indicative of our relative strength. The NCAA selection committee does have a hard job and this is one way of them explaining why things turn out as they do. No matter what criteria is chosen some will profit and some will not – unfortunately GSU does not profit with the RPI this year..

Fake GSU still has better football.

January 17th, 2012
12:42 pm

Hey, if they go to the CAA championship game and lose they’d be in line for the NIT.

That’s not a bad season for a program with 12 winning seasons since the program’s inception.

GSUAlumBaseball81

January 17th, 2012
12:54 pm

We are PANTHER PROUD and yes GSU is in the ATL for sure! The PANTHERS will win the CAA and 1st in the CAA tourney. No worries as we were picked dead last by the skeptics. Bring on those GT and UGA boys in 2013 and forward!!!

Brian 98

January 17th, 2012
1:02 pm

Next year it won’t even be close who’s the best conference with the acc getting syrapitt

CoachInTheStands

January 17th, 2012
1:17 pm

IF GSU wins the regular season CAA championship, but loses in the conference tournament, they are in the NIT. It is part of the NIT selection process “all teams that won regular-season conference championships but failed to earn NCAA tournament bids are guaranteed places in the NIT.”
That would be a huge accomplishment for this program and team considering how they were picked at the beginning of the year.

Really?

January 17th, 2012
1:22 pm

Dawgington
January 17th, 2012
11:37 am
zzzzzzzzz
—————————————————–
that’s the sound of the Bulldog basketball team and coach during a game!
LOL
Can’t take the lack of interest in the Dogs eh?

Dawgington

January 17th, 2012
1:25 pm

Your still State….zzzzzzz……

Adam Banks

January 17th, 2012
1:56 pm

‘Your’

lol

Gordon Bombay

January 17th, 2012
2:00 pm

And ‘your’ an idiot

DawgNation

January 17th, 2012
2:02 pm

At the end of the day, you’re a team with a terrible RPI and a good record.

That and $50 will get you a ticket to the tournament…to watch.

GStateBen

January 17th, 2012
2:20 pm

Thanks Mark! So few understand the flawed RPI and yet the Selection Committee puts so much weight on it.

If we schedule a Florida State team with an RPI of 44 and lose by 20+ it helps our RPI than beating a Georgia Southern team that has an RPI of 258.

Onward and upward! Northeastern is next in the cross hairs.

GSU is in Atlanta

January 17th, 2012
2:26 pm

So we have to win the CAA tournament to get a bid, I’ll take make chances with this team winning that tournament. However, if we don’t I still see us getting a postseason bid, albeit nothing to really brag about, is still a great accomplishment for a team that was picked 11th in the CAA.

Go GSU!

Tim

January 17th, 2012
2:43 pm

Mark – I hope you don’t buy any of the stocks that I own.

AB

January 17th, 2012
2:56 pm

GSU also has 7 of it’s final 12 games on the road. But the tourney is where it matters.

Stan

January 17th, 2012
3:03 pm

Doesnt help that gt beat vcu who you narrowly beat. No good ooc wins for that league and gsu’s 0-3 start hurt. Had they finished with say 1-3 losses and not what is likely 5-7, then they might have an argument.