Saturday, November 21, 2015

Northern Iowa beats UNC

Great game if you could find it as North Carolina went to Northern Iowa and lost by 4.

No reason for Carolina to hang their heads about this one. Incredibly tough atmosphere and a good UNI team. Ben Jacobsen is such a good coach.

I give Carolina credit for scheduling this, mostly as a gesture to Marcus Paige who is from Iowa. Unfortunately for him, he missed the game due to injury. 

Fun early season game for those who saw it 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Early Season Overreactions

The Good

1- Ben Simmons of LSU looks like the best freshman since Anthony Davis. The Nets could get the 1st pick but alas, the Celtics own that pick. That's Celtics fans cheering for each Nets loss.

2- George Washington downed Virginia and will be favorites in the rest of their games until they enter A-10 league play. Might be the A-10 favorite 

3- Indiana and Butler are representing the Hoosier state nicely to start the year. Indiana might have the most dynamic offense in the land and Butler looks like Villanova's top competition in the Big East

The Bad

1- Rhode Island saw their A-10 title hopes take a massive blow before the season really began with the loss of EC Matthews. The Rams were poised for a breakthrough but will be hard pressed to make that move now.

2- UCLA losing to Monmouth at home, Georgetown losing to Radford at home, FSU losing to Hofstra. Lots of bad losses early.

3- The state of Wisconsin's top two programs are off to poor starts. Wisconsin lost at home to Western Illinois and continue a recent trend of playing mediocre defense. Marquette needed overtime for their one win over IUPUI. They've been terrible on defense and offense so they've been consistent. 

One Week In - Let's Overreact!

So, what have we learned.


Yep, that's right, we haven;t learned a whole lot.  All these pundits want you to believe this team is overrated or that team doesn't have enough depth, or this team doesn't have a point guard.  Let me be the person to tell you none of it means anything for the first 3-4 weeks.  I'm not saying it's not true but this is what makes College Basketball better than College Football.  In College Football you are not allotted any time to experiment or work different rotations.  You are on your A game from the first kick off until bowl season or you end up in the Blue Bonnet Bowl.  In College Basketball you have the luxury of having a break in period.  Let me use a couple real world examples that are close to my heart.

1.  Duke can't win it all because they don't have a point guard or Duke can't win it all because Greyson Allen can only play against Siena/Bryant types.

Well it may end up being true that they are weak at point guard the real truth is that because Derrick Thornton reclassified he had to spend the summer catching up and wasn't able to participate as much as a normal recruit.  He's behind and you can see Coach K slowly bringing up to speed using Matt Jones and Allen at the point.  If he's not averaging 30 minutes by conference then we may still have a problem.  As for Allen, he just dominated a very good Wisconsin team to win a title.  He had a bad game against a very long and good Kentucky game.  Bad games happen.  This weekend's VCU and Wisky/G'Town tilt should shed more light on this myth

2.  Wisconsin is terrible as they lost to Western Illinois

Wisconsin had to replace there top 2 players and other bit players.  Everybody has to take on a new role and that doesn't happen overnight.  Wisconsin is not Duke or Kentucky bringing in players who can just step in.  Koening needs to be a leader, a distributor, and a scorer.  That's one extra burden on a player.  Hayes has to produce every night now.  That's pressure.  Vitto Brown basically has to fill Hayes spot from last year.  Don't focus on just one game.  As much as I dislike Bo Ryan, he'll have this team in the tournament come March

3.  Marquette needs better guard play and is very confusing to watch

Truth is they are confusing to watch.  Wojo has always been a great recruiter but now he has to coach a game with new players.  That takes time.  Personally I have them as a bubble team and they haven't looked that close but the season is young.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Jon Rothstein

Jon's been running with this one for two days. 

1. Belmont is a good team. Would have preferred opening with Western Illinois, but hey, part of a opening season tournament

2. Oh, yeah. It's a tournament, not a buy-in game.

3. It's March

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Our First Bracketology

1 seed vs 16 seed
North Carolina (ACC) vs AlaSt(SWAC)/Hampton(MEAC)
Kentucky (SEC) vs UMKC(WAC)/Lehigh(Pat)
Maryland (B1G) vs Bob Morris (NEC)
Villanova (Beast) vs Stony Brook (Aeast)
2 seed vs 15 seed
Duke vs Yale (Ivy)
Kansas vs N.Florida (Asun)
Gonzaga vs Weber St(Bsky)
California vs Furman (SoCon)
3 seed vs 14 seed
Oklahoma vs Louisiana (Sbelt)
Virginia vs S.Dakota St (Summit)
Iowa State vs High Point (Bsouth)
Michigan State vs Iona (MAAC)
4 seed vs 13 seed
Vanderbilt vs C.Michigan (MAC)
Wichita St (Mvalley) vs Belmont (OVC)
Arizona vs UC-Irvine (Bwest)
Florida State vs Valparasio (Horizon)
5 seed vs 12 seed
Cincinnati (AAC) vs Northeastern (Colonial)
Indiana vs SFA (Sland)
Xavier vs Iowa/North Carolina St
LSU vs Ohio State/Syracuse
6 seed vs 11 seed
Connecticut vs Miami
Wisconsin vs Oregon
Baylor vs UAB (Cusa)
Butler vs Tulsa
7 seed vs 10 seed
Georgetown vs San Diego St
Notre Dame vs VCU
Purdue vs Providence
Utah vs Rhode island (A10)
8 seed vs 9 seed
Louisville vs BYU
Michigan vs Boise State (Mwest)
Texas A&M vs Davidson
UCLA vs Dayton

First Four Out
Old Dominion
Next Four Out
West Virginia
Also Considered
George Washington

Monday, November 9, 2015

Marquette and the Bubble

Marquette takes to the court in a pre-season scrimmage tonight and begins the second season of the Wojo era.

A year ago, expectations were low. They had lost their best players and expectations were the most improved player would be Deonte Burton. By league play, Burton and John Dawson were gone and a team with little depth to begin with slogged through its worst season in decades.

There were signs of hope, though. Wojo had secured a commitment from 5-star F Henry Ellenson of Rice Lake over Michigan State and Kentucky. Along with Matt Heldt of Neenah, Wojo would also land Haanif Cheatham, Traci Carter & Sacar Anim. Marquette will also have Henry's brother Wally added to the mix.

Where does that leave us heading into 2015-16? For starters, the team should be vastly improved. KenPom has them 54th and Luke Winn and Dan Hanner have them as one of the Final 4 in. Brian has them on the outside looking in and they'll certainly be a bubble team all year. 

The roster should be more dynamic. The front court has the potential to be very good. Luke Fischer returns healthy after playing most of last season injured. Henry Ellenson is a projected lottery pick and will often be the best player on the court. Depth is an issue. Freshman Matt Heldt will see some minutes but any contribution will be a bonus. Early reports indicate freshman Sacar Anim may see time at the 4 and Sandy Cohen and Jajuan Johnson can play the 3. 

The back court will be all new. Matt Carlino and his barrage of 3's are gone and as is much maligned PG Derrick Wilson. Duane Wilson will play the 2. I wouldn't be surprised if he's the 2nd best player on the roster. From what I've read on Marquette, I really think he's being undervalued. Freshmen Traci Carter and Haanif Cheatham seem the most likely to run the point. That'll be a heavy burden for them. Carter's makeup and game remind me some of Trey Burke. That's big boy comparison at this level and probably wishful thinking but I think he'll be very good sooner than later.

The bench should be more productive. Wally Ellenson should be the energy guy. Sandy Cohen will likely come off the bench and he shot it well this summer. He's also an explosive player to the rim. He can be an offensive spark plug. By the end of the year, I suspect Anim and Heldt will have pretty limited minutes barring injury.

Marquette has an issue and it's the schedule. It's a pretty awful non-conference slate and will be an issue come March. They can't afford a bad loss during the stretch. Anything less than 10-8 in conference and they'll be hard pressed to return to the tournament.

This should be a really fun team to follow. At the beginning of last year, they were one of the worst defensive teams in America. This year, early models show them being much better defensively and much better offensively. Ellenson and Fischer will be loads in the paint and Ellenson can drag defenders out as he can shoot the rock. They have guys that can get to the rim. If Cohen and Wilson can shoot from deep consistently, they'll be dangerous working inside-out.

The guys that can take this team to a higher level will be Fischer, Johnson & Carter. We didn't see a healthy Fischer last year and he was pretty productive despite that and constant double teams. He shouldn't have that issue with Henry around. Jajuan Johnson was a top-50 recruit. Some project a bit of a breakout from him. If that's the case, that makes them more potent. That said, until we see it, counting on him to take a jump isn't a lock. Carter will have to protect the ball running the point. He turned it over too much during their summer tour of Europe and we shouldn't be surprised if he has bad games. The hope is, there are more good nights than bad.

I have them at 5th in the Big East. That spot is over Providence based on seemingly better depth. It'll take an effort to break the top-4. Fans will have to be patient. I can see some bad nights and unexpected losses in conference but with a young team, that'll be expected. With that, there will probably be some bonus wins in league, too. 

After a dip, the arrow is pointed up for Marquette

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Big East Predictions

1. Villanova - After his Final 4 appearance, Jay Wright sort of wondered the wilderness a few seasons but has got this program humming again. They'll be a bit undersized but ooze talent on the outside. They're a legit Final 4 contender and the clear favorite.

Tournament Bound

2. Butler - Chris Holtmann is a natural heir to the machine that is Butler coaching. After a blip in the radar in 13-14, Butler is back to being a very good basketball team. Good enough to make a trip to the Sweet 16. 

3. Georgetown - The Hoyas have a chance to be a very good team this year. With the return of D'Vauntes Smith Rivera and a talented front court, the Hoyas have a great opportunity to make it out of the first weekend. 

4. Xavier - Brian asked why doesn't Chris Mack get more love nationally and get linked to open jobs. Truth is, the Xavier alum does. He may leap someday but for now, he's doing a great job in Cincinnati. Look for big seasons from Jalen Reynolds and Trevon Blueitt.


5. Marquette - More to come

6. Providence - Kris Dunn is good enough to lead them to the tournament. The question is, who steps up to help. I like Ben Bentil and Rodney Bullock to help ease the loss of Ladontae Henton.

7. Creighton - The Bluejays are a bit of a mystery. Transfer Mo Watson joins a talented back court. Don't sleep on this team who after a down year look to be getting their Big East bearings. I love what McDermott has been doing in recruiting.


8. Seton Hall - Last year's most dysfunctional Big East team enters the season with low expectations but are a talented squad. They have a nice back court with Isaiah Whitehead and Khadeen Carrington and a solid big man in Angel Delgado. Pirates will be a pest in league play.

The Bottom

9. DePaul - DePaul has some nice players but are still way behind the rest of the league in talent. The Oliver Purnell years were a disaster and will take a few years to overcome. Dave Leitao needs to upgrade the talent.

10. St. John's - The Red Storm could go winless in league play. It's unlikely, but possible. They return no player who averaged 10 minutes a game last year. It'll be hard to judge Chris Mullin as a coach. He has a really good staff and great recruiters. They'll need to be to turn this around.

Player of the Year: Kris Dunn, Providence 

Newcomer of the Year: Henry Ellenson, Marquette

Coach of the Year: Chris Holtmann, Butler

All Big East Team
Kris Dunn, Providence
D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Georgetown
Kellen Dunham, Butler
Roosevelt Jones, Butler
Jalen Reynolds, Xavier