Here’s an Update on three teams that have been playing well recently.
Saint Mary’s had a disappointing time in the Wooden Legacy tournament earlier this season. The Gaels went 1-2 as they lost games to Washington St and Georgia. They have been on cruise control ever since.
They’re 18-2 and 7-0 in league play – already beating top challengers BYU and No. 13 Gonzaga on the road. Tomorrow they travel to Pacific in what will be a trickier game than most people know. However, the Gaels have set themselves up for a huge finish.
They’ll have opportunities for more quality wins at home and their Kenpom rating of 15 is the best for any team not in a power conference. I thought the Gaels would be the best team in the West Coast Conference before the season started and right now they’re proving that to be true.
Western Kentucky is quietly doing work in Conference USA. The Hilltoppers are 6-0 in league play and are building a solid NCAA tournament resume.
Their RPI is 34 and their Kenpom rating is 46. They have neutral-court wins over SMU and No. 3 Purdue. They have a non-conference strength of schedule (SOS) of 12 with their overall SOS expected to drop to 79 by the end of the regular season due to the competition within the league.
They have two tilts with Middle Tennessee remaining, including at home tomorrow, and have already beaten Old Dominion and Louisiana Tech in league play with another game with Old Dominion coming next month. The Hilltoppers can probably take at least 2 losses and still be ok for an at-large bid.
There was much hand-wringing about Florida Gulf Coast’s non-conference struggles. The Eagles lost to Florida International, Florida Atlantic, Oral Roberts and Bowling Green during non-league play.
All those concerns have been put to bed as they’re in sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Sun at 4-0 after beating Lipscomb 88-83 last night.
Those struggles may hurt them a seed line or two on Selection Sunday, but with a conference tournament that’s played on the home court of the higher-seeded team; the Atlantic Sun title will once again go through Fort Myers. They’re still the team to beat.