Commentary: Men’s hoops postseason fate still anyone’s guess
Published: Sunday, February 26, 2012
Updated: Sunday, February 26, 2012 16:02
Five days ago, the wheels came off.
At Rice on Wednesday, the Knights followed a first half where they shot 70 percent and played some of their best basketball with some of their worst, ultimately falling to the Owls, 83-74. That blow likely killed the hopes of an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, hopes that were already on life support.
Then, through one half of play on Saturday, it looked like the fallout from that loss had had a hangover effect, spilling over into a first half where the Knights scored only 25 points against a mediocre UTEP team.
Come on, who wasn't thinking that the second half Saturday night was going to be a back-and-forth battle showcasing some of the worst basketball ever played?
Head coach Donnie Jones said himself that he and UTEP coach Tim Floyd agreed in the hallway after the game they'd collectively set the game of basketball back about 20 years with the way their programs played in the first half.
But if the Knights have been anything this year, it's inconsistent. They haven't been consistently great, consistently good and no, they haven't been consistently bad, either.
So what'd UCF do in the second half? It outscored the Miners, 38-22, en route to an 18-point blowout.
Now, of course, things get really interesting for the Knights, following win No. 20. There are a whole lot of variables that are going to pan out over the next two weeks.
The Knights can't win the regular season Conference USA Championship, but they do still have seeding to play for in the C-USA Tournament starting next week. UCF is also playing for a likely National Invitation Tournament seed. As it stands now, the Knights are in good shape to be a high seed in the tournament, meaning UCF could possibly host a first-round game.
Finally, there's always the chance the Knights win the C-USA Tournament, securing a NCAA bid.
Variables are confusing, though, so here's the really simple math of it – UCF needs to keep winning.
That starts Tuesday, in a nationally televised game against Memphis. UCF got one monkey off of its back when it beat the Tigers for the first time earlier this season. Now it could get rid of another by beating Memphis for the first time in Memphis.
Sweeping the Tigers, one league power, could atone for getting swept by Southern Miss, another league power.
Win or lose on Tuesday, though, the math gets even simpler when UCF takes on UAB at the UCF Arena on Saturday – don't lose.
When the C-USA tourney tips off, don't lose – at least not in the first or second round.
In fact, in a season that's been anything but simple, here's a very simple statement summing up the rest of the season for UCF:
From here on out, losing just complicates things.