As the 2011 NCAA basketball regular season came to a close today for power conference teams, mid-major and low-major conferences are beginning to wrap up their conference tournaments. For teams that have a permanent position on the NCAA tourney bubble watch, this weekend has featured some big wins and even bigger losses. A team like St. Mary’s, currently leading Santa Clara in the WCC semifinals, will be looking to win their conference tournament but will need some help if they are knocked out today or tomorrow.
Today was no exception for the upsets around the country. The two biggest upsets of the day involved the Colonial Athletics Association and Missouri Valley Conference tournaments. The MVC championship game saw third-seeded Indiana State upset the top-seeded Missouri State Bears. Indiana State was ranked No. 95 in the RPI so they’ve grabbed a bid they wouldn’t have otherwise received. Missouri State entered the game ranked No. 37 in the RPI. Their biggest wins were conference victories over Wichita State. With no top-50 RPI wins Missouri State could have trouble getting an at-large bid. If Missouri State does get an at-large bid, that’s one less bid than expected for the rest of the country.
In the CAA tournament semifinals, the nationally ranked George Mason Patriots were knocked off by the fourth-seeded Virginia Commonwealth University Rams. VCU will face Old Dominion in the championship. ODU and George Mason seemed set as NCAA teams, while VCU was on the wrong side of the bubble heading into the CAA tournament. If they knock off ODU, that’s one more bubble burst elsewhere.
Given the results today and the rest of this weekend, it’s becoming more and more important for St. Mary’s to win the WCC tournament and take the decision away from the selection committee.