Sunday, January 25, 2015

Is the Big Ten "Soft"?

I use the word soft in the most generic way possible. The conference is tough and competitive but one thing we can't call the play is physical. The league once known for physical play and stifling defense, is lacking in both this year.

Just glancing at KenPom's AdjustedD and there's only 1 team in the top 30 and that's an offensively challenged Nebraska team. Maryland is 31st but just let Indiana drop 89 points on them.

Typical defensive stalwarts Wisconsin & Michigan State are in the 60's and neither has been impressive on defense. Wisconsin allowed Michigan 1.22 PPP in the 2nd half last night. This without Caros LeVert.

Soft is an unfair term but this isn't a league with great defenses.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Tulsa, Haith & The American

If you haven't been paying attention to the American and who can blame you, you might have missed that Tulsa is currently leading the conference with a 7-0 record. picked to finish in the middle of the conference and maybe make the NIT, the Golden Hurricane have positioned themselves for a potential NCAA bid.

Tulsa has a nice basketball history. It's been a bit of a cradle of coaches for college hoops. Nolan Richardson won a NOT title before moving onto Arkansas. Tubby Smith, Buzz Peterson & Bill Self all found success at Tulsa before moving onto greener pastures. Frank Haith has overachieved in his first year at new jobs. He guided Miami to the NIT his first year when the Hurricanes were picked to finish last in their 1st season in the ACC. He took an undermanned Missouri team to a 2-seed in his first year there. There is some history here.

The question is, is Tulsa for real? probably not. They come in at 58th in KenPom after today's win over ECU and are 114th in AdjustedO and 41st in AdjustedD. We don't have to dive that much further in the numbers to know while they may win the American, they'll need some breaks to do any damage come March. Effective FG% on defense for them is 45.5%, 63rd in the nation and they limit second chance points, with a a defensive rebounding % of 25.4%. That's 12th best. They guard without fouling but don't create a lot of turnovers to push the offense. On offense, they get to the line which is good but shoot only 66% from the charity stripe.

Prior to league play, Tulsa lost at home to Oklahoma and Southeast Oklahoma State. One of those is unlike the other. They also lost at Oral Roberts and Wichita State. Again, one is not like the other. It could be a team finding itself in conference play or it could be the conference is a hot mess.

Tulsa has a good basketball history and should be a good team in the American for years to come. This wasn't expected to be one of those years. A good story thus far, a regression is likely. They don't profile as a team built for a deep run in March but they've got a nice foundation.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

DePaul

A big road win against a ranked team tonight.  It may only be Seton Hall but this is a big step for them.  Usually I don't feel remorse for any team that I don't root for but DePaul is a different story.  I remember as a youth when Marquette would play them and it would be a big deal.  DePaul hasn't been relevant in decades.  It's a good bounce back for the Blue Demons and I'd love to see them be a player in the coming years.  Not at the expense of the Warriors of course, but relevant non the less.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

No O in Luisville

If you watched the Duke-Louisville game this past Saturday, it would have been impossible to note just how bad the Louisville offense is. The commentary hovered around duke's use of a zone to stifle Louisville, but Louisville had plenty of good lucks and just can't shoot. They shot 18-61 from the field in a 60 possession game and started 7-31, going a 6 minute stretch in the 1st half without a bucket.

This isn't an isolated incident. Coach Rick Pitino admitted as much during his halftime interview that his team is offensively challenged. They're 80th in AdjustedO which isn't terrible but it's a clear indication this team isn't a serious threat in March. They shoot 29.4% from 3, that's 311th in the nation. It's a team wide epidemic. Their best deep threat is Terry Rozier who only shoots 34%. Wayne Blackshear has chucked 101 attempts, making only 31, a cool 30%. My pre-season POY Montrezl Harrell has been okay but hardly a candidate for that award. Teams have been able to limit his game without any long range threats and little production from the post helping him.

Louisville doesn't help themselves at the line, making only 66.5% of their freebies. They do a fair job getting to the charity stripe, too, and they're one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the land (Though, missing a lot probably helps!).

While Louisville has been a solid defensive team, 4th best in tempo-free, the offense will be a limiting factor. Unless it improves dramatically over the next few weeks, Louisville isn't a real threat come March and would be a prime choice as a potential upset victim.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Duke Back To a 1 seed

With Villanova getting pounded by Georgetown and Duke showing they are finally willing to adapt to the zone to protect their weaknesses flip flops the two between a 1 and 2 seed.  Kansas gets a solid follow up win after losing to Iowa State over the weekend.  Oklahoma's loss doesn't hurt much but Georgetown's win is big for their "computer" numbers.
Now that I don't care about football daily updates will be plentiful.  8 week and 2 days to March Madness, unless you count the play in games....which I don't.

Monday, January 19, 2015

OFF TOPIC: RANKING THE PACKERS PLAYOFF LOSSES IN CRUELTY

To this day, I can remember family members telling me on opening Sunday of 1988 as the Packers were being shutout by the Los Angeles Raiders, I'd never see a Packers Super Bowl victory and to give up being a fan. Yes, they told me that at age-12. I told myself all i ever wanted was one Super Bowl title in my life and I'd be satisfied. And I am. Fan bases out there have had far more painful experiences. Since 1993, the Packers have made 17 playoff appearances and won 2 Super Bowls and played for 6 NFC Titles. Packer fans are blessed beyond belief, anyone of my age knows how bad it can be. That's why I'm satisfied with 1. I know the darkness (Plus, I'm a Brewers and Bucks fan). Anyway, yesterday still stung. I started thinking about which losses were the worse. These are part personal and part calculated in my mind. Away we go.

15. 1993 NFC Divisional Round at Dallas- The Packers somehow beat the Lions at Pontiac on the opening Saturday despite being thoroughly whipped in that game. Expectations were low. They hadn't won a playoff game in a decade and hadn't been to the playoffs in a non-strike season since 1972. They played better than expected and weren't embarrassed against the defending champs.

14. 1994 NFC Divisional Round at Dallas- The '94 Packers snuck into the playoffs winning their last 3 games including the Dongslinger closing the Packers era at County Stadium in dramatic fashion over the Falcons. Once again, they beat the Lions this time at home with a defensive masterpiece. The Cowboys routed them but the Packers were without Sterling Sharpe who would be forced to retire. The prevailing thought after was this team had a LONG way to go but would be in the NFC title game a year later.

13. 2001 NFC Divisional Round at St. Louis- The Packers needed to be perfect against the "Greatest Show on Turf". Instead, the Dongslinger had gone full Dongslinger and tossed 6 interceptions, 3 of which were returned for touchdowns. To this day, Dongslinger apologists blame the wide receivers, the turf, the refs and even Barack Obama.

12. 2002 NFC Wild Card vs. Atlanta- The Michael Vick game as it's known. This one was a disaster at every level. The Packers were depleted by injuries. Darren Sharper, Terry Glenn & Chad Clifton were among the missing for the Packers who had blown a bye the previous week getting routed by the Jets. 3 more Dongslinger turnovers, special teams gaffes and more injuries through the course of the game ended the Packers season with a whimper.

11. 2004 NFC Wild Card vs. Minnesota- Though the Packers had swept the Vikings during the regular season, this team wasn't very good. The Dongslinger continued his terrible post-season tossing 4 picks and threw the worst illegal forward pass in NFL history that led to a missed FG. Randy Moss did moon the Packers fans. Joe Buck was not amused.

10. 2013 NFC Wild Card vs. San Francisco- I suppose this could be higher but this was an 8-7-1 team with a shaky defense. They had their opportunities as Micah Hyde dropped a potential game winning interception but for the 2nd straight year, Colin Kaepernick defeated the Packers leading the Niners on a drive at the end of the game tos et up a game-winning fg.

9. 2012 NFC Divisional Round at San Francisco- After a lackluster win over the Joe Webb run Vikings, the Packers journeyed to the west coast and were thoroughly dominated by the 49ers who unleashed the zone read on a completely unprepared team. Kaepernick set one record after another and the lasting image of this game is a bewildered Erik Walden chasing ghosts.

8. 2011 NFC Divisional Round vs. New York- If there has ever been a less impressive 15-1 team in the history of the NFL, I can't think of one. Maybe the 2004 Steelers. The defense was a ticking time bomb and the offense was uncharacteristically sloppy, a bad mix against a Giants team who made few mistakes. The game was over at half after a hail mary was answered. Laughingly, I remember arguing on twitter who was a better foe in the NFC title game the day before, the Saints or Niners. Never mind.

7. 2009 NFC Wild Card at Arizona- The Cardinals jumped all over the Packers who had whipped them the week before in a meaningless game to close the season. They lead 31-10 & 38-24 before the Packers forced a tie at 38. The teams traded touchdowns with the Packers scoring with 1:52 left. Neal Rackers missed a 34-yard fg at the end of regulation. The Packers won the toss (This was the last year of the old overtime rules before Peter King got sad about the Dongslinger game against NO) and Rodgers had a chance to win the game but missed a streaking Greg Jennings (I think it was him) for a potential game winning TD. Shortly after, the Cardinals sacked Rodgers who fumbled and the Cards returned it for a game winning TD.

6. 1998 Wild Card at San Francisco- I know for some, this game really sticks out. I've heard a lot of people say if the Packers win, they were going to their 3rd straight Super Bowl. Not so fast. I have my doubts they were beating Minnesota the following week who had torched them during the regular season and Holmgren was already packing his bags for his next job. Though the Dongslinger had 2 picks, he also lead the Packers down the field to take the lead late in the 4th quarter. The Packers had a chance to stop the Niners and since instant replay wasn't available, an apparent Jerry Rice fumble wasn't called as such and a few plays later, the Catch II happened and the rest is history.

5. 1995 NFC Championship at Dallas- The Packers lead the game heading into the 4th quarter and had played valiantly against the favored Cowboys. Emmitt Smith scored a TD after a long drive to give the Cowboys the lead but the Packers responded with a good drive that was thwarted by a pre-Dongslinger interception by Larry Brown. Two plays later, the Cowboys had a 38-27 lead and were on their way to their 3rd title in 4 years. This one stung, knowing the Packers were 1 quarter from the promised land and because they had lost to the Cowboys for the 3rd straight year. Also, I had to drive 4 hours back to Eau Claire in my awfully unsafe 1983 Ford Escort with no heat.

4. 2003 NFC Divisional Round at Philadelphia- Any last shred of "like" I had for the Dongslinger was forever lost after his colossally stupid interception in overtime that gave the Eagles the victory. Oh, sure 4th and 26 to FedEx Freddie Mitchell was so egregious 4th and 26 actually means something. Oh, sure Mike Sherman mismanaging goal line situations was preposterous but that interception was so bad and so so unnecessary it still burns me to this day.

3. 2007 NFC Championship Game vs. New York- I had a business overnight that week in Fond du Lac and despite being two billion below zero, I still gamely hit the happening bar scene. eventually, the discussion came to the game. I told my boss the only way the Packers lose is if the Dongslinger plays like the Dongslinger and is careless. Yes, it was cold. Yes, the Giants abused Al Harris but the Packers were given so many breaks in the game but still found a way to lose when the Dongslinger threw another terrible overtime interception ending his Packer career fittingly. I had a Packers party that night and immediately kicked everyone out.

2. Yesterday- Fuck Russell Wilson and Fuck Badger fans that worship him

1. Super Bowl XXXII vs. Denver- No loss can ever be as devastating. The game began like everyone expected, the Packers marched down the field and scored on a pre-Donsglinger to Freeman pass. And then, disaster. The Packers coaching staff was fully unprepared for the onslaught the Broncos defense unleashed in the first half and the defense couldn't contain Terrell Davis. Big fat idiot Gabe Wilkins begged out with an injury depleting the d-line depth as he protected pending free agent status. It's little consolation he was a bust after. Mike Holmgren couldn't keep track of downs and let Terrell Davis score the winning TD late. With the game on the line, Holmgren called a play the team hadn't run all year and pre-Dongslinger's pass fell incomplete. The game plan was a disaster, the NFC's 14 year streak of dominance ended and I went to bed probably in a clinical state of shock. People too young to remember this have no idea what a monumental upset this was. It's easily the 2nd greatest upset in Super Bowl history.

Thanks for reading

Bracketology

1 seed vs 16 seed
Kentucky (SEC) vs G.Canyon(WAC)/Albany (Aest)
Virginia (ACC) vs Monmouth(MAAC)/Colgate (Pat)
Villanova (Beast) vs Oral Roberts (Summit)
Gonzaga (WCC) vs North Florida (Asun)
2 seed vs 15 seed
Duke vs T.Southern(SWAC)
Arizona (P12) vs Monroe (Sbelt)
Wisconsin (B1G) vs St.Francis-NY (NEC)
Kansas (B12) vs Sam Houston (Sland)
3 seed vs 14 seed
Wichita State (Valley) vs UC-Davis (Bwest)
Maryland vs Murray State (OVC)
North Carolina vs High Point (Bsouth)
Iowa State vs NC-Central (MEAC)
4 seed vs 13 seed
VCU (A10) vs Northeastern (Colonial
West Virginia vs W.Kentucky (Cusa)
Oklahoma vs E.Washington (Bsky)
Utah vs Green Bay (Horizon)
5 seed vs 12 seed
Seton Hall vs Wofford (SoCon)
Northern Iowa vs Buffalo (MAC)
Texas vs Harvard (Ivy)
Louisville vs Xavier/St.Marys
6 seed vs 11 seed
Butler vs LSU/St.Johns
Providence vs Syracuse
San Diego St (Mwest) vs Tulsa (AAC)
Notre Dame vs Colorado State
7 seed vs 10 seed
Baylor vs Oklahoma State
Arkansas vs Georgia
Georgetown vs George Washington
Old Dominion vs Indiana
8 seed vs 9 seed
Dayton vs NC State
Iowa vs Cincinnati
Stanford vs Ohio State
SMU vs Michigan St


First Four Out
Miami
Wyomng
BYU
Connecticut
Next Four Out
Tennesee
Kansas State
Davidson
Washington
Also Considered
Texas A&M
Ole Miss
Alabama
Rhode Island
Illinois
Boise State
Temple
UCLA
Umass
Pittsburgh
Florida
Loyola
UTEP
Oregon State
Michigan
Louisiana Tech
Oregon
New Mexico
TCU