The First Annual AoG Bubble Team Draft: Final Results

Tensions inside the AoG war room heat up in the minutes leading up to the first ever bubble team draft.

March Madness is upon us. With only a week to go until we find out the NCAA Tournament field, the staff  here at Anchor of Gold has taken it upon ourselves to push our college basketball knowledge into an ultimate competition to see who understands the NCAA Selection Committee the best. Today marks the dawning of a new era; one that will crown the AoG king of bracketology. Behold - the first ever Bubble Team Draft.

The rules are simple. Five authors will pick their teams. Every team that lies outside the AP Top 25 as of March 1, 2010 is eligible for selection - all Top 25 teams are considered locks. Authors pick their teams based on how strongly they feel each team will make the field of 65. The draft is run like a standard fantasy draft; each participant can select one team per pick, and picks will run in a serpentine fashion - i.e. whoever picks last in the first round picks first in the second round and vice versa. Once the NCAA Tournament field is final, scoring will be as follows:

Correct pick: 5 points
Incorrect pick: -2 points
Seed 1-6: 1 bonus point
Seed 7-9: 2 bonus points
Seed 10-11: 4 bonus points
Seed 12+: 7 bonus points

The participant with the highest score earns eternal college basketball bragging rights and a gift basket filled with a variety of essential Krebstar products. The author with the lowest score - from here on to be referred to as the "loser" will have his AoG salary suspended until he can prove his worthiness in meaningless fantasy games. The system rewards risky picks, but also punishes dumb ones (i.e. my eventual homer pick of the University of Rhode Island), so participants are warned to choose wisely. The draft as currently planned will cover six rounds - 30 teams in all. The draft order?

GM  Round 1  Round 3  Round 5
Vandy10  Marquette  Wake Forest  Memphis
KingJamesIV  Texas  Virginia Tech  Georgia Tech
Vandy Dan  Louisville  Utah State  San Diego St.
Train Island  Richmond  California  Rhode Island
bloggywo  Mississippi State  Ole Miss  Harvard Arizona St. (lame)
Round 2  Round 4  Round 6
bloggywo  Florida  Notre Dame  Illinois
Train Island  Oklahoma State  Missouri  Washington
Vandy Dan  Old Dominion  Florida State  Dayton
KingJamesIV  Saint Mary's  UAB  Kent State
Vandy10  Clemson  UNLV  Miami (Fl.)

Without any further delay, let's move on to the inaugural pick of the Anchor of Gold Bubble Team Draft:

With the first pick in the 2010 Draft…

Vandy10 selects: Marqet_medium

the Marquette Golden Eagles

RPI: 48
SOS: 52

At 20-10 (11-7 Big East) the Marquette Golden Eagleshave had an up and down season in Milwaukee, where eight of their losses were by 5 points or less. With quality wins over Xavier, Georgetown, and Louisville, Marquette definitely deserves an NCAA tournament berth. They can play with the top teams and where they were losing close games early in the season, they are now winning the close ones, including three overtime wins in a row at Cincy,  St. Johns and Seton Hall. Lazar Hayward is having a big year for the Golden Eagles, leading the team in both points per game and boards. They could be a dangerous team in the first two rounds.

With pick #1 in the books, a weary country turns its eyes to KingJamesIV for his selection at #2. KJ4, you're officially on the clock.

With the second pick in the 2010 Bubble Draft…

KingJamesIV selects: Marqet_medium

the Texas Longhorns

RPI: 27
SOS: 36

At 23-8 (9-7 Big 12) the Texas Longhorns were once ranked #1 in the country, before a string of  losses and some injuries derailed what looked to be a final four-capable team. Since starting 17-0, they've gone 6-8. Over that stretch, they swept fellow bubbler Oklahoma State but lost every other single game against NCAA-quality conference opponents (Kansas, K-State, Baylor, Texas A&M, and Mizzou). Quality wins include Pitt, SoCal, UNC, Michigan State, Texas A&M, and Okie State. If Texas can get back to what made them so successful earlier in the season, they have the size and talent to be one of the lower seeded major conference teams that nobody wants to play.

Two things that just became facts: 1) VandyDan's law school alma mater just sniped by KJ4. 2) He's on the clock.

With the thid pick in the 2010 Bubble Draft…

Vandy Dan selects: Lou_medium

the Louisville Cardinals

RPI: 30
SOS: 4

I was hoping that KJ4 would take a little longer, so I could wait to see if Florida finds a way to beat Kentucky.  Instead of waiting on Billy Donovan’s team, I’ll take a team coached by the guy that apparently forgot to teach Donovan that the season does not end in January.  Since losing to St. John’s to drop to 15-9 on February 11, Rick Pitino’s Louisville squad has beaten Syracuse twice, Notre Dame, and UConn to improve to 20-11 (11-7 Big East).  Thanks to yesterday’s win over (soon to be former) #1 Syracuse, Louisville belongs on the bubble about as much as Texas belongs in the Top 25 (way to go, Coaches/SIDs!).  The only question with this pick is whether it gets me 1 point or more.  

Three lessons from this pick:  1) New Jersey sucks – Rumors connecting Rick Pitino to the New Jersey Nets caused more damage than rumors that he cheated on his wife and paid for an abortion; 2) Never bet against Pitino in March; 3) Christian, you’re on the clock. 

With the fourth pick in the 2010 Bubble Draft…

Train Island selects: Rich_medium

the Richmond Spiders

RPI: 24
SOS: 67

I'm going off the grid to take the draft's first non-BCS selection with the formerly tough Atlantic Ten's third best team. The Spiders have a solid tournament resume with wins over Temple, Missouri, Florida, and Mississippi State and don't have a loss against a team outside the RPI Top 100. They've got a sick backcourt tandem in Kevin Anderson and David Gonzalvez who can shoot them past almost any team in the country and into the Sweet Sixteen. Their one issue may be interior play, but 6'10" Justin Harperhas shown major improvements finishing around the rim and pulling down rebounds. With the rest of the A-10 fading away (thanks, Rhode Island and Dayton!), the Spiders are looking like a sure thing for a NCAA Tournament bid. Even if they lose in the early rounds of the tournament, they're practically a lock.

The early-round Richmond pick should win points for originality, and for choosing the team with one of the hardest mascot costumes to control. Manuevering eight legs takes some dexterity. Also requiring dexterity? Making back-to-back picks (Segue!). BloggyWo is on the clock with picks 1-5 and 2-1.

With the first pick of the second round...

Train Island selectsOkst_medium

the Oklahoma State Cowboys

RPI: 28
SOS: 30

The Cowboys have four wins over teams ranked in the top 12 of the RPI, which might be enough to qualify them on its own. Six of their nine losses have been against tournament locks or bubble teams, while their worst loss was to arch-rival Oklahoma in the Bedlam game, which is a forgivable offense. The team shook off a three game losing streak at the end of January to bounce back into tournament talk with wins over #1 Kansas and  #21 Baylor. James Anderson has been a terror in their big wins, scoring 27 against Kansas, 31 against Baylor (with 12 rebounds), and 30 against Kansas State. However, like Richmond before them, the Cowboys lack of a dominant big man could spell disaster for them in the NCAA Tournament.

Two Big East and Big Twelve teams are off the board, as is one of the esteemed panelists. Gentlemen, please find time in your day to pour out a bit of your Laser 40sfor dear friend bloggywo's bubble draft team. After a moment of silence, Vandy Dan is back on the clock.

With the second pick of the second round...

Vandy Dan selects

295_medium

the Old Dominion Monarchs

RPI: 33
SOS: 95

Old Dominion has a chance to lock up the CAA’s automatic bid with a win over William & Mary tonight, but the Monarchs will benefit from a soft bubble regardless of tonight’s result. ODU(25-8, 15-3 CAA) is 8-7 against the RPI Top 100 with only one loss outside of the RPI Top 100 – at George Mason. While a little bit of the shine has come off of a 61-57 win at Georgetown in December, the Monarchs are the only team since 1982 to beat the Hoyas in the 2,400-seat McDonough Arena (ODU has won there twice, likely ensuring they will never get a shot at win number three). Whereas a lot of mid-majors get it done with one player or an offensive gimmick, ODU wins with smothering team defense. They have held opponents to 40% shooting, while grabbing nearly 10 extra boards per game (42.7 to 33.2). In other words, this is not a team that Vanderbilt wants to see in the first or second round.   

Two of the first 6 picks have come from the Commonwealth of Virginia. In all likelihood, one other Virginia team will join them soon with another one possible in the later rounds. The University of Virginia should be ashamed. KJ4 is on the clock.

With the third pick of the second round...

KingJamesIV selects 2608_medium

the Saint Mary's Gaels

RPI: 43
SOS: 131

Saint Mary's is Aussie tough. They've got like fifteen Boomerson their team. Okay...only two, but the Australia-St. Mary's pipeline is churning out some great players. Matthew Dellavedova gave the Commodores fits early in the season when Vandy traveled to McKeon Pavilion in Moraga, CA to take on the Gaels. Omar Samhan has been a force of nature on the interior, averaging 21.3p, 11.1r, and 2.9 b per game. The Gaels have good guards in Mickey McConnell, Dellavedova, and Wayne Hunter, strong post play with Samhan, and capable forwards in Wayne Hunter, Ben Allen, and Clint Steindl. Their outside shooting prowess (4th in nation in 3P%) coupled with a very physical scorer in Samhan makes them a tough team to defend. If they get hot, watch out. They can lock up a bid tonight versus Gonzaga (20.30 CT on ESPN). They needed to get to the WCC Finals to put them in better standing with the Committee and they did. They can end the speculation tonight with a win over their rivals.

Awful segue alert: Speaking of Saint Mary's, Vandy 10 is on the clock!

With the final pick of the second round...

Vandy10 selects Clem_medium

the Clemson Tigers

RPI: 27
SOS: 24

Clemson’s (21-9, 9-7 ACC) only out of conference losses came at the hands of Illinois and Texas A&M.  Sitting in a tie for 5th place with Wake Forest, Clemson is one of the more balanced teams in the ACC, with 10 players  averaging three or more points per game. Oliver Purnell plays his deep bench and has had good results with quality wins over Butler, Maryland and a season-sweep of FSU.  They have struggled on the road, but the inside/outside game of Trevor Bookerand Demontez Stitt can give any opponent fits.

Excellent. The first sure first-round loss is now off the board. And now, with the serpentine draft rules, Vandy10 is up again to open up the third round.

With the 1st pick of the third round…

Vandy10 selects Wf_medium

The Wake Forest Demon Deacons

RPI: 31
SOS: 29

I’ll keep it in the ACC and go with Wake (19-9, 9-7 ACC).  Coming off a win over Clemson, Wake has all but wrapped up a slot in the tournament with wins over Maryland, Xavier, Richmond and Gonzaga. Late in the season Wake struggled against the lower-tier ACC teams with losses to Miami and NC State away, and UNC at home.  The win over Clemson proved huge to them as it followed a four-game losing streak.  However, they are 6-5 against the RPI top 50 and if they can get back to their earlier season form during the ACC tournament, they could make it out of the first round.

Another solid choice amongst the war-room rumblings that a guest appearance may be made by bloggywo on day two of the draft. Updates will follow, but for now, KJ4, you're on the clock...

Twist! Due to scheduling conflicts, bloggywo has been given two picks to make up for his earlier misses:

BloggyWo selects Msst_medium

the Mississippi State Bulldogs

RPI: 69
SOS:105

This could be a home-run pick, since if the Bulldogs make a deep run in the SEC tournament they could very well end up with a 12 seed. Mississippi State is definitely talented but have been unable to pick up any big wins on the season. Aside from Old Dominion and Ole Miss, the Bulldogs haven't beaten anyone significant for the season and have lost to such NCAA luminaries as Rider and Auburn. If Jarvis Varnado can power this team to three wins this week, they'll have an outside shot at an automatic bid.

BloggyWo selects Fl_medium

the Florida Gators 

RPI: 51
SOS: 32

Another home run possibility, as the Gators are probably on the outside looking in today. They have one of the best collections of talent in the SEC, but haven't been able to translate that talent into teamwork on the court. The team is only 2-8 against RPI Top 25 teams, and much of the goodwill they built with an early season win over Michigan State has been lost. The Gators were inching close to "lock" status until dropping their last three games heading into the SEC tournament. If Chandler Parsons can suddenly reappear on the court to hit some miracle buzzer beaters, this team could be headed to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since their last championship in 2007.

When reached for comment, bloggywo said "I am totally happy with these picks, which came of my own volition and were not chosen for me as a punishment for being too busy to post today. Anytime I can support the SEC, I am proud to. I am only sad that Kentucky and Tennessee weren't available options to join the bloggywo squad."

With his selections in, the clock remains on KingJamesIV for his third pick...

With the second pick in the third round...

KingJamesIV selects 259_medium

the Virginia Tech Hokies

RPI: 50
SOS: 128

It's starting to get a little more interesting. Virginia Tech certainly has the record of a quality at-large team at 23-7, 10-6 in the #1 (kenpom) ranked ACC. Of course, that triple digit strength of schedule is the elephant in the room. It's easy to go 23-7 when 18 of your wins are against sub-100 RPI teams (3 are 150-200, 5 are 200-300, 3 are 300+). The Hokies only top 100 non-conference win (they went 13-1) was against fellow bubbler Seton Hall. Obvious observation: the reason why the selection committee rewards strength of schedule is so that a tough schedule actually helps them, you know, measure the quality of a team. Sometimes it's in a team's best interest to play a weaker schedule. I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt, and I think the selection committee will as well (hopefully begrudgingly with a high seed).

VandyDan predicted Virginia Tech to be the next state of Virginia team to come off the board. Therefore it is fitting that he is now on the clock.

With the third pick in the third round...

Vandy Dan selects Utst_medium

the Utah State Aggies

RPI: 32
SOS: 104

Vanderbilt fans know what it is like to get left out of the Tournament with a sub-40 RPI.  But whereas Vandy sputtered down the stretch, Utah State (25-6, 14-2 WAC) rebounded from consecutive losses to start conference play by winning its last fifteen regular season games. The Aggies also stand to benefit from weaker than usual competition out West. The Pac 10 and MWC might put ten teams in the Big Dance in better years, but they will be lucky to get six in this year. That leaves room for the WAC regular season champions - even if they suffer a loss in the WAC Tournament. Utah State counts on contributions from its entire roster, but is led by two all-WAC upperclassmen, junior forward Tai Wesley and senior guard Jared Quayle. Nobody averages more than 13.7 ppg (Wesley), but the Aggies are still a threat to take down a heavyweight in the NCAA Tournament.    

Has one team swept a regular season series against a conference foe with an inferior record in conference play, but still finished the regular season ranked below that other team?  Shockingly, I'm not referring to Utah State and Nevada.  Whatever.  Christian, you're on the clock. 

With the fourth pick in the third round...

Train Island selects Ca_medium

the California Golden Bears

RPI: 20
SOS: 11

This is the riskiest pick on my end so far. The Golden Bears are the Pac-10 regular season champs, but even that might not be enough to get them into the tournament. A recent winning streak has pushed them to the top of an entirely mediocre league, and the team only has one win against a RPI Top 50 team - Washington (they split the series). That said, their RPI is surprisingly solid, even though their closest loss against a good team has been a six point deficit. Ugh. On the bright side, the Bears sport a balanced attack with four starters averaging over 11 points per game and have been building momentum throughout late February/early March so far. They could be a dangerous 7/8 seed in the Big Dance.

Somehow, the regular season champion of a major conference falls to the third round of a draft of bubble teams. Man, the Pac-10 really sucks this year. Hopefully the 2009 SEC will be holding a vigil to honor its fellow fallen brethren. Now up - bloggywo with two picks. Rumor has it he's high on the SEC's 6 and 7 seeds. Let's see if the wait pays off...

With the final pick of the third round...

BloggyWo selectsMs_medium

the Ole Miss Rebels

RPI: 56
SOS: 73

Ole Miss has followed a 1-5 stretch with a four game win streak to put themselves back on the bubble. They have a marquee win over Kansas State on a neutral court, but haven't been able to make any waves in the SEC - their best conference win is against South Carolina. Chris Warren and Terrico Whiteare a solid backcourt duo, but the rest of the roster lacks the size and talent for this team to be a major threat.

With the first pick of the fourth round...

BloggyWo selectsNd_medium

the Notre Dame Fighting Irish

RPI: 59
SOS: 53

Notre Dame is in a similar position at the Rebels, who had a 2-5 run before reeling off four straight wins, though their recent wins have all come against bubble teams or better in Pitt, Georgetown, Connecticut, and Marquette. Luke Harangody's return for the Big East Tournament could be a blessing or a curse, as the team's recent win streak came without him. The league tournament will give the Irish plenty of chances for more big name wins, as they'll get another shot at Pitt with an opening round win and then possible chances against West Virginia, Louisville, Villanova, or Syracuse. Three tournament wins could be enough to punch their dance ticket.

Wo's picks 3 and 4 may be more fruitful than his picks in 1 and 2, but there are still lots of good teams out there. Train Island is on the clock.

With the second pick of the fourth round...

Train Island selects Mo_medium

the Missouri Tigers

RPI: 39
SOS: 40

Nice to see a good team like Missouri still available, as they've got a pretty solid resume thanks to the overall nastiness of the Big 12 this year. While they can't necessarily beat the best teams (1-7 against top 25 teams), they can top the other bubble teams (5-0 against teams ranked 26-75). The team's 10-6 league record puts them ahead of Oklahoma State, and their balanced attack (seven players averaging over seven points per game - led by Kim Englishwith 14 ppg) makes them a tough out in the first round. They aren't top 25 worthy, but they should get a bid.

With two picks to go, my team is shaping up stronger than Charlie Kelly in a dance off:

34j8xs2_medium

Speaking of great, drunken dancers, Vandy Dan is on the clock (Segue!).

With the third pick of the fourth round...

Vandy Dan selects Flst_medium

the Florida State Seminoles

RPI: 35
SOS: 46

The Seminoles (22-8, 10-6 ACC) are in a perfect position to benefit from the soft bubble. First, they benefit from hitting all of the traditional targets. 20 wins? Check. 10 major conference wins? Check. No bad losses? Check – an away loss to NC State (RPI 103) is the only RPI sub-50 loss on their resume. Second, and more importantly, the Seminoles benefit from playing in the most overrated power conference in America. Would Duke or Maryland win any major conference other than the Pac 10? No chance. But since the media and fans alike still want to pretend that the ACC is ruled by titans, Florida State should take advantage of the delusion. Forget that Florida beat them by 16 early in the season or that a 4 point win over Wake Forest (RPI 33) is the best win on their resume - the Seminoles will get in because they are good enough when measured against the other members of the most overrated conference in America. I could write about Solomon Alabi– Vandy fans might remember him from the World Juniors, aka the tournament where AJ peaked (prove me wrong, Big Fella) – or Chris Singleton, but there really is no point. If they get into the Big Dance, the Seminoles will not make it past the first weekend.

Instead of addressing that disturbing video posted by Christian, I think this is an appropriate time to highlight the absurdity of expanding the NCAA Tournament to 96 teams. Do we really need to give teams worse than Florida State a shot at a national title? (Yes, I realize this probably guarantees that the Noles will win the ACC Tournament or knock Vandy out of the Big Dance, but all that would show is that the ACC or Vanderbilt was vastly overrated.) KJ4, I hope you can get as enthusiastic for your next pick as I was for Florida State. You’re on the clock.

With the fourth pick in the fourth round...

KingJamesIV selects 5_medium

the UAB Blazers

RPI: 40
SOS: 94

If you hadn't figured it out by this point, my main criteria are that a team be 23-7, or that they have a connection to Vanderbilt. UAB is 23-7, so that fulfills one criteria and makes them selectable in my eyes. At the same time, they feature a former Vanderbilt player (must have played more than one season for this to qualify -- sorry Keegan Bell, I will not be choosing UTC -- [the previous statement is known as a Moc mock]) in George "The Drake" Drake. Also, I watched VandyDan shake Mike Davis' hand, in the stands, mind you, after Vandy beat them in Memorial in 2004, which most likely infused him with a small gift of Memorial Magic that he may sprinkle upon his team's chances on Selection Sunday. As far as their resume is concerned, UAB only has 4 RPI Top 100 victories! 19 RPI 100+ wins isn't exactly the best way to ensure the selection committee believes you "got it done." Still, the team meets both of my bubble draft mid-round draft criteria which I have just patented. Huzzah!

Vandy10 is back on the clock for the final pick of the fourth round.

With the final pick of the fourth round…

Vandy10 selects Unlv_medium

The UNLV Rebels

RPI: 47
SOS: 101

UNLV (23-7 11-5 Mountain West) ended the regular season hot, winning four in a row after dropping three prior to that.  Lon Kruger’s club is sitting at 4-4 against the RPI top 50 and will have a chance to improve that mark in the MWC Tournament.  The two losses to Utah are a slight cause for concern, and with the Rebs facing Utah for a third time in the first round of their conference tournament, they will need to pull out a win to make the Dance.  However, the Rebs pass the eye test with wins over New Mexico (Away), BYU, Louisville and San Diego State.

Picks are tightening up as we cinch the bubble a bit closer and head into the final two rounds.  Without further ado...

With the 1st pick in the fifth round…

Vandy10 selects Mem_medium

The Memphis Tigers

RPI: 46
SOS: 80

The Tigers (23-8, 12-3 C-USA) may just pull off an at-large bid if they can do a little work in the conference tournament.  Their two point loss to Kansas looks good as do their wins over UAB.  However, there is not much after that.  They will probably have to win their first game over either Houston (split the season series) or East Carolina, and perhaps move on to the final.  Memphis could definitely benefit from the proverbial soft bubble, and a couple of conference championships happening tonight could make or break this pick. 

Now back to KJ4 where we can see if his patented mid-round draft criteria will have to be replaced with the late-round dimensions… he’s on the clock.

With the 2nd pick in the fifth round...

KingJamesIV selects 59_medium

The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

RPI: 44
SOS: 19

The Yellow Jackets are 18-11 which sadly does not conform to my mid-round bubble draft criteria of 23-7. Fortunately, the fifth round is in the final 3rd of the draft, which qualifies it as an end-round jeopardy pick! The Yellow Jackets have one of the freshmen that enjoyed an extra heaping of hype in the preseaon in Derrick Favors, along with an impressive lineup that includes Gani Lawal, Zach Peacock, and Iman Shumpert. Why 18-11? Check out that 19th ranked strength of schedule. Wins over NCAA teams Duke, Clemson, Wake Forest, and Siena help mitigate the plethora of losses on the GT resume, including 3 to RPI 100+ teams (Georgia strikes again!). 7-9 in the ACC isn't exactly inspiring, but at least the ACC is ranked #1 according to Kenpom.com. Don't fail me, Ramblin' Wreck!

And with that, VandyDan is back on the clock...

With the 3rd pick in the fifth round...

Sdgst_medium

VandyDan selects

The San Diego St. Aztecs

RPI: 36
SOS: 69

While he is best known for his work at Michigan (three national championship games - despite what the NCAA record books might claim - and one national championship), Steve Fisher has built a solid program at San Diego St. Like last year's team - which advanced to the NIT semifinals - this year's SDSU squad won over twenty games and went 11-5 in the MWC. But with the MWC looking strong and the PAC 10 opting out of the 2009-10 season, the Aztecs might be able to upgrade their postseason tournament this year. Two wins in Vegas should leave SDSU feeling pretty good about its chances, while a win over Colorado State at least puts the team anxiously in front of a TV on Sunday evening. Meanwhile, a loss to CSU likely lands the Aztecs back in the NIT. It's too bad this is not a keeper draft, since SDSU is led by four players in double figures, none of whom is a senior. They went 8-2 down the stretch with the only two setbacks coming on the road against BYU (-14) and New Mexico (-2). If Fisher does not get back to the NCAA Tournament this year, look for his team to be there (and maybe make a run) in 2010-11.

It has been over 20 years since Michigan won the national championship with Steve Fisher taking over after the regular season. Why hasn't another school copied this winning strategy? Kentucky fans saw Calipari coach away a championship for Memphis against Kansas; Villanova fans know that a 1 or 2 seed guaranteed nothing for Jay Wright; West Virginia fans know that Huggins succeeds in the NCAA Tournament about as frequently as his players graduate; and countless other schools rely on even shakier coaches in big games. Wouldn't it be worth it for one of those schools to hire Fisher to coach their team during the NCAA Tournament? After all, it worked for Michigan. Christian, you're up...

With the fourth pick of the fifth round...

Train Island selectsRi_medium

the Rhode Island Rams

RPI: 42
SOS: 89

Aaaaaaannnd there's the homer pick. As a native Rhode Islander, I had to go with my heart for this one. Gone are the days of Tyson Wheeler, Luther Clay, Antonio Reynolds-Dean, and even big Ed Brown. In their place is a team that finds a way to surprise everyone for the first three months of the season before falling apart in February/March. Each year, Jim Baron looks like a lock for A-10 coach of the year until February, when the team drops out of bubble contention with losses to teams like St. Bonaventure, Duquesne, and UMass. This year the team was supposed to sputter after the loss of Jimmy Baron and Kahiem Seawright, but guys like Lamonte Ulmer, Keith Cothran, and Delroy James have kept the team afloat. They're two wins away from a bid - a game tonight against Saint Louis and then likely against Temple - so the light of hope is dim, but I'll buy it. Turns out I'm Rhode Island born and Rhode Island bred, so when I die I will likely be Rhode Island dead (URI's fight song, colors, and mascot all courtesy of the University of North Carolina).

Well, I'm not sure if I should feel good or dirty about that pick. My worst case scenario is that the Rams somehow pick up a 12/13 seed and end up seeing Vandy in the first round, causing my head to explode. I also wanted to fit another unrelated .gif into the thread, so here you go:

14ilzj5_medium

I'm saving the "Let's Chop Cats" one for a potential UK/Vandy finals match-up. Bloggywo, you're on the clock.

With the final pick of the fifth round...

bloggywo selects Harv_medium

the Harvard Crimson

RPI: 96
SOS: 262

A sure-fire slam dunk pick.

"Jeremy Lin, bitches."

the Arizona State Sun Devils (lame) Azst_medium

RPI: 54
SOS: 70

The pick has changed, but the write-up remains the same. "Jeremy Lin, bitches."

with the first pick of the final round...

bloggywo selects Il_medium

the Illinois Fighting Illini

RPI: 73
SOS: 41

They were tough enough to beat Vandy, and have the opportunity to create some havoc in the Big Ten tournament. They have four wins over RPI Top 30 teams, but also four losses against teams ranked 100 or higher. They're currently riding a three game losing streak and have lost five out of their last six after a 9-3 start to conference play. Illinois is a balanced team with moderate talent in the paint and beyond the arc.

And with that, bloggywo's team is complete: Florida, Ole Miss, Notre Dame, Mississippi State, Harvard, and Illinois. The team is a strange mix of academic schools and some SEC garbage that he got stuck with for missing some picks. We'll see if the strategy can come back to bite us all in the ass when Ole Miss, Florida, Notre Dame, and Illinois all get 12 seeds.

with the second pick of the final round...

Train Island selects Wa_medium

the Washington Huskies

RPI: 49
SOS: 60

Yes, the Huskies suck - they're a Pac-10 team. But they have momentum (8-2 in their last 10, including a four game win streak) and a much easier conference tournament than any other bubble team that remains on the board. They finished a close third in the league standings and the toughest test they'll face is Arizona State before a potential showdown with Cal in the Pac-10 Tournament Finals. Those are two teams they've already beaten this season, and they also have another good win against Texas A&M to help pad their resume. Quincy Pondexter and Isaiah Thomas are one of the country's nastiest duos, but the team doesn't have much else to support those two with. Still, if they catch fire, they could be a dangerous underdog.

Besides, something good has to happen to Seattle, right? Well, that seals it for my BTD team, which includes four solid picks and two wild cards. My lineup? Richmond, Oklahoma State, Missouri, California, Rhode Island, and now Washington. Good luck trying to find a uniting theme between those six. Alright, I'm just about ready for some basketball now. I'll spare the blog another .gif...for now.

VandyDan is up with his final pick...next.

with the third pick of the final round...

VandyDan selects 2168_medium

the Dayton Flyers

RPI: 51
SOS: 35

Dayton (20-11, 8-8 A10) presently sits on the wrong side of the bubble. A loss to Xavier on Friday night ends the meaningful portion of their season (sorry, NIT). While a win over Xavier puts the Flyers squarely on the bubble, they likely need two wins to feel safe. Dayton is a better team than its record indicates, but close losses were a theme all year. Thanks in a large part to a defense that held opponents below 40% shooting, the Flyers did not suffer a single loss by more than 8 points. In non-conference play they lost close games to New Mexico (-2), Kansas State (-8) and Villanova (-6). If they win even one of those games, they are not waiting to get picked as a fringe bubble team in the sixth round of this draft. All-A10 junior forward Chris Wright (14.1 ppg and 7.2 rpg) leads the Flyers on offense, while senior London Warren (36 steals, 4.5 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 4.1 apg) serves as their glue guy and a defensive pest. It’s worth noting that with Wright in foul trouble and limited to 10 points (on 2-7 shooting) in 14 minutes of action, Dayton lost to Xavier by four. In the February 6 rematch with Wright playing 31 minutes and scoring 17 points (on 6-13 shooting), Dayton beat Xavier by 25.

Well, that wraps it up for me. Let us all raise a glass to the last meaningful bubble team debate ever. Next season, 6-10 in any major conference punches a ticket to the Big Dance. Good times.

KJ4 is on the clock for his final pick…

With the fourth pick in the sixth round,

KingJamesIV selects 2309_medium

Kent St. Golden Flashes

RPI: 42
SOS: 86

To be completely honest, I'm not sure that many of the remaining major conference bubble teams have a shot at getting in from their positions on the outer fringes of the bubble. I'm going with Kent State because they are the favorite to be the AQ out of the MAC. At this point, I think this strategy has the highest probability of success. Plus, if they qualify, I'm sure to get the 12-seed or higher bonus points that accompany these high risk picks. We'll see if the strategy pays off.

With my final selection in the history books, Vandy10 is on the clock for the final pick of the First Annual AoG Bubble Team Draft...

With the final pick of the First Annual AOG Bubble Team Draft,

Mia_medium

Vandy10 selects

the Miami Hurricanes

RPI: 122
SOS: 133

Well at this point in the draft, we basically face two options, pick a long-shot major conference team to run the table and win their tournament, or choose an automatic qualifier like my esteemed colleague has in Kent State.  My understanding of the rules of this draft were that the second strategy was foul as otherwise each one of us could have picked the underdog in the championship games for small conferences, such as picking North Texas in the first round.  Anyway, after seeing Memphis lose by a point to Dayton, my team is not looking so good, so I am picking the team that upset Wake today to run the ACC table and earn the conference's automatic bid.  The Canes are pretty horrible, but so is the ACC and I can't figure out why they get talked up so much.  Miami will have to go through Virginia Tech and either Duke or Virginia (lets gooooo Cavs) to get to the championship game but in the words of that little kid from Angels in the Outfield... Hey, it could happen!

It looks like the picks of Miami and Kent State may have upset the fragile balance of the game...but hell, they'll probably just blow up in KJ4 and V10's faces anyway, so we'll allow it. The surprise is that teams like Minnesota and Saint Louis, two teams with actual bubble resumes that are still alive in their conference tournaments, weren't picked. In those cases, they'd just have to win a few games and not even earn their conference titles to likely get a bid. Plus, they'd be actual, you know, bubble teams with at-large bids. Oh well. We'll sort it out for next year.

Thus concludes the 2010 AoG Bubble Team Draft. Roster reviews and general mocking of picks to follow. Maybe.

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