Wednesday, January 26, 2011

It's Foe Week

One of the biggest unknowns in bracket prediction is trying to guess which small conference bubble teams are going to be in the tournament if those teams lose their conference tournaments. Teams like Gonzaga, Middle Tennessee, Bowling Green and Green Bay are all good teams. Their non-conference schedules have shown they can compete with the big conference teams, and in some cases win. But they have to be almost perfect against the conference spread if they want any sort of insurance policy against an unusual loss in their conference tournament.

These teams all have foes, teams from within their conference that are good enough to steal a win away. For Gonzaga the foe is usually St. Mary's, and this year is no exception. Middle Tennessee State's intra-conference foe is the very good team from Little Rock, which made the tournament last year as an at-large team to the surprise of many. Green Bay's foe is Butler this year; like Green Bay, Butler is undefeated in the Horizon. And the MAC has evolved to create two foes for Bowling Green this year: Kent State and Toledo both share Bowling Green's 5-1 conference record.

Foe games are important because they are the only challenges these elite small-conference teams have between December and March, a sparse data point or two for bracketologists.

This week is setting up to be quite a week for foe games. Gonzaga plays St. Mary's for the first time tomorrow, Bowling Green plays Toledo tonight for the only scheduled time this season, and Green Bay travels to historic Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis tomorrow to challenge Butler for sole Horizon League supremecy.

Now in: (same as yesterday)
Now out: (same as yesterday)

Conferences with multiple bids:
Big East: 9
Big Ten: 8
ACC: 7
SEC: 5
Big 12: 5
PAC-10: 4
Atlantic 10: 2

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