Monday, February 8, 2016

Hook 'em Havoc

Quietly, Shaka Smart has gotten the Texas Longhorns to a 5-seed line in Brian's latest bracket. They also check in at 26 today in KenPom. 

The Longhorns are 16-7, with one bad loss, a loss at TCU. They split a pair with Washington in non-conference and own a win over UNC. They have a big week ahead of them, traveling to OU and ISU. A split this week would be huge.

They're 37th in AdjustedO and 30th in AdjustedD. They are a middle of the road team with an effective fg% of 50.3%. This is due in large part to a so-so 3-pt shooting mark. The best thing they do on offense is protect the ball. Their turnover % is only 15.9%, 36th. They are a slow tempo team, 317th in average possessions. 

On defense, they hold opponents to an effective fg% of 45.2%, 24th overall. Opponents only shoot 43.1 from 2, 23rd best. Despite havoc, the turnover % is 19.1%, 134th. And the steal % is 7.9%, 241st overall. They get hammered on the defensive glass. Opponents rebound 32.6% of misses. That's 286th. 

Big man Cameron Ridley has been out with a broken foot since December but the Longhorns have survived. Fellow big man, Prince Ibeh is 6th in the nation in block %. They also get solid minutes inside from senior Connor Lammert. The back court has junior Isaiah Taylor and senior Javan Felix, so the experience is there. Taylor is a solid ball handler and can get ton the FT line. Felix shoots 49% from deep.  

Expectations were mild for Shaka in his first year at Austin. If they can incorporate Cameron Ridley back into the lineup this month, they could be an intriguing team next month. They are projected to go 3-5 over their final 8 games, so they'll probably slide down the seed line. Still, things have gone pretty good thus far as Texas basketball starts a new era.

Bracketology

1 seed vs 16 seed
Iowa (B1G) vs TSouth(SWAC)/Wagner(NEC)
Xavier vs Hampton(MEAC)/Bucknell (Pat)
Kansas vs Montana (Bsky)
Oklahoma vs N.Florida(Asun)
2 seed vs 15 seed
Villanova (Beast) vs UNC Ashville(Bsouth)
Maryland vs SFA (Sland)
Virginia vs New Mexico St (WAC)
Michigan State vs UAB (Cusa)
3 seed vs 14 seed
Oregon (P12) vs Belmont (OVC)
Iowa State vs UNC-Wilmington(CAA)
North Carolina (ACC) vs UC-Irvine (Bwest)
Miami vs Yale (Ivy)
4 seed vs 13 seed
West Virginia (B12) vs Stony Brook (Aest)
Dayton (A10) vs UALR (Sbelt)
Kentucky vs Akron (MAC)
USC  vs S.Dakota St (Summit)
5 seed vs 12 seed
Texas A&M vs Chattanooga (SoCon)
Purdue vs Oregon State/Washington
Providence vs Florida State/George Washington
Texas vs LSU (SEC)
6 seed vs 11 seed
Arizona vs Gonzaga
Notre Dame vs Butler
Duke vs St. Joseph's
Pittsburgh vs San Diego St (Mwest)
7 seed vs 10 seed
Baylor vs California
Wichita St (Mvalley) vs Monmouth (MAAC)
Indiana vs Valparasio (Horizon)
Utah vs Syracuse
8 seed vs 9 seed
South Carolina vs Seton Hall
Colorado  Florida
Connecticut (AAC)  VCU
St. Mary's (WCC) vs Michigan
First Four Out
Clemson
Texas Tech
Wisconsin
Cincinnati
Next Four Out
Georgetown
UCLA
Vanderbilt
Ohio State
Also Considered
Georgia Tech
Georgia
BYU
St. Bonaventure
Mississippi
Davidson
Tulsa
Kansas State
Stanford
Boise State
Temple

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Would Someone Step Up Top 10

1. Villanova - They won at Providence yesterday in fairly convincing fashion without Daniel Ochefu. Darryl Reynolds has played nicely in Ochefu's absence.

2. Virginia - Still losing to a 15 seed.

3. Iowa - Interesting game at Indiana this Thursday. Big Ten is weird.  Think Iowa, Maryland, Sparty & Purdue are good squads. The middle, 4-6 is meh and then after that is a lot of bad. Conference could have a good March but it's not a deep league. Similar to last year.

4. Xavier - Took Marquette's best shot yesterday and still won. Deep squad can have different guys beat you. Defense is becoming a concern.

5. Oklahoma - Like Xavier, defense has been sketchy lately. Could not get a stop at the Octagon of Doom yesterday. Will be interesting to see how the defense plays out the rest of February.

6. Michigan State - Routed a mediocre Michigan team yesterday. Will probably make the Final 4 and Izzo this, Izzo that with nary a story on Title IX investigations under his watch. Whatever, coaches are heroes.

7. North Carolina - What a maddening team. Can win it all or lose in Round of 32. Get it together, Huckleberry.

8. Maryland - Wouldn't it be great if Diamond Stone has a magical March and leads Maryland to a Final 4? I think it would be.

9. Oregon - My kiss of death did not haunt the Ducks against Colorado but they get a very good Utah team today. Pac-12 is a really fun league this year. There isn't a title contender in the group but the games are fun.

10. Arizona - They got back Allonzo Trier yesterday and went into Washington and beat the Huskies. 5 of their last 7 are at home with the Utah/Colorado trip waiting. They looked really good yesterday.

Coming: Texas

Going: Texas A&M

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Hypocrisy and Outrage, the Life of a College Sports Journalist

As soon as the Louisville news broke yesterday, there were a few guarantees.  First, the media would be scold Louisville and then take shots at the NCAA. Secondly, the media would move onto lamenting the "poor kids" at Louisville who wouldn't get to play in the NCAA Tournament.

It's a cycle that repeats itself. It happened when Syracuse did the same thing. Not surprisingly, the media never takes itself to task for missing the story or deifying these coaches and programs.

The problem starts closest to home. Those that cover these programs need access to do their jobs and getting access becomes a problem if you or your news organization starts sniffing around a potentially damaging story. To me, this excuse rings hollow. It's not your job to be a PR person but to report and investigate. 

Following the 2012 Rose Bowl, Wisconsin's senior associate athletic director John Chadima resigned following accusations of sexual harassment during the trip to Pasadena. This would seem a big story but after March of that year, the story disappears. Neither the Wisconsin State Journal nor Milwaukee Journal Sentinel have anything on it. These events happen at universities because there is no accountability unless a disgruntled person airs their grievances.

Nationally, the media are the ones that cultivate a network of contacts that allow them to break stories. Buzz Williams used the national media to get his name thrown out for job openings on a regular basis. When he finally decided he was leaving Marquette on the first thing smoking, he leaked his TeamBuzz functions to the national media to soften the blow. Glowing stories of his charity ran at CBS Sports and then the day of the Selection Sunday. It's how the game is played.

That leads us back to Louisville. This isn't an apology for Louisville. They deserve what they got and are going to get. We can rip the NCAA all we want but this isn't an NCAA problem. This is a Louisville problem and a culture problem. We'd have to be pretty stupid to think this type of thing doesn't happen elsewhere but how would we know when blind eyes are turned to it all the time?

As a Michigan fan, I often see accusations of bag men when it comes to the SEC and their recruiting prowess. Is it true? Probably but I may as well shake my fist at the cloud. Until an aggrieved bagman comes forward or a player or group of players expose something, it's an excercise in futility.

The national media is now universal in their disgust with Louisville and the poor plight of Damion Lee and Trey Lewis. Lee and Lewis both wanted a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament before their careers ended. Looking at the landscape, Louisville gave them a great opportunity, but as we know, trouble was lurking. It's a tough spot they're caught in along with their teammates. Perhaps we should explore if any of them were persuaded to attend Louisville with questionable tactics before we have a pity party. Perhaps that's unfair to them, but given what we know now, it seems pretty naive to not at actually ask and explore that question.

The legend of Louisville and Rick Pitino is partly built upon the worship and glowing stories by the same media now upset at the NCAA and Louisville. The people assigned to cover this sport are part of the failure. That hero worship is even greater at the local level. Think about the legend built around guys in Wisconsin at both Madison and Marquette. Why don't we know more about Bo Ryan's retirement? Why did Buzz Williams get a pass after the Chicago Tribune reported sexual assaults involving possibly a player on his team?

George Orwell wrote, "Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed. Everything else is public relations." Sadly, when it comes to the media and college athletics, public relations is exactly how it's covered. Outrage after the fact from the media is window dressing for the failure to do their jobs.

This March, the coach whose team wins the national championship will be showered with glory and their program held up. Maybe deservedly so, but if not, we'll probably never know.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Bracketology now featuring not Louisville

1 seed vs 16 seed
Oklahoma (B12) vs TSouth(SWAC)/F.Dickenson(NEC)
Xavier vs Hampton(MEAC)/Bucknell (Pat)
Kansas vs Weber St (Bsky)
Iowa (B1G) vs New Mexico St (WAC)
2 seed vs 15 seed
North Carolina (ACC) vs N.Florida(Asun)
Villanova (Beast) vs UNC Ashville(Bsouth)
Maryland vs SFA (Sland)
Virginia vs UNC-Wilmington(CAA)
3 seed vs 14 seed
Michigan State vs Akron (MAC)
Oregon (P12) vs UAB (Cusa)
Iowa State vs Belmont (OVC)
Texas A&M (SEC) vs Yale (Ivy)
4 seed vs 13 seed
Purdue vs Stony Brook (Aest)
Providence vs Chattanooga (SoCon)
Miami vs UC-Irvine (Bwest)
Dayton vs S.Dakota St (Summit)
5 seed vs 12 seed
West Virginia vs UALR (Sbelt)
Kentucky vs Texas Tech/Connecticut
USC  vs Florida State/George Washington
Baylor vs Washington
6 seed vs 11 seed
Wichita St (Mvalley) vs Valparasio (Horizon)
Arizona vs Cincinnti (AAC)
Indiana vs Syracuse
Texas vs San Diego St (Mwest)
7 seed vs 10 seed
Notre Dame vs Seton Hall
Utah vs Monmouth (MAAC)
Duke vs Gonzaga
Pittsburgh vs Butler
8 seed vs 9 seed
South Carolina vs California
Florida vs Michigan
VCU (A10) vs St. Joseph's
Colorado vs St. Mary's (WCC)
First Four Out
Clemson
LSU
Wisconsin
Oregon State
Next Four Out
Georgetown
UCLA
Vanderbilt
Ohio State
Also Considered
Georgia Tech
Georgia
BYU
St. Bonaventure
Mississippi
Davidson
Tulsa
Kansas State
Stanford
Boise State

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Mid Majors, RPI, and At-Large Bids

When it comes to At-Large Bids the highest RPI to ever receive an At-Large is right around the mid 60’s based on which RPI model you use.  Currently I have 2 teams higher than that getting bids.  UCLA at 71 and Gonzaga at 69.

Now, all RPI’s are not created equal as 50 for a top 6 conference is almost a lock for an at large while it’s almost a a guarantee NIT berth for a low to mid major.  That being said let’s look at the sub 50 mid majors right now and their chances at getting an at large bid come Selection Sunday.  For simplicity sake and to make it more uniform let’s assume all of these teams win out and then lose in their conference championship as most would fall out of the top 50 if they lose 1 or 2 more games.

UA-Little Rock, RPI 50, 17-2 .  Currently 1-1 against the top 50 but they have no more chance to pad that stat.  UT-Arlington falling off the map gives them no more top 50 chances.  30-3 would be solid

Chattanooga, RPI 46, 17-3.  Big Win over Dayton which looks better every day.  2 bad losses probably leaves them out.

St. Mary’s, RPI 42, 17-2.  Are they a Mid-Major?  Nobody thinks Gonzaga is but St. Mary’s still gets little brother treatment.  Wins over the Zags, BYU, and Stanford.  If they win out they would be locks.  They have some wiggle room for a bump in the road.

William and Mary, RPI 36, 13-6.  Flat out too many losses.  3 is probably the breaking point for a low major

Valparaiso, RPI 35, 17-4.  0-1 against the top 25 but 3-1 against 50-100.  That’s going to look good on the resume come March.  Their conference is going to hold them back as the next highest team is Oakland at 136.  I think they are a big loser if they can’t win the conference title.


Monmouth, RPI 28, 18-5.  Just a couple lines ago I said the cutoff was 3 losses but Monmouth is a curious case.  Not only did they schedule non-conference difficult but they went out and won a bunch of them.  USC, Notre Dame, UCLA, and Georgia all fell to the Mountain Hawks.  They are 6-2 against the top 100 and could have 1 more chance in their conference tournament.  The only blemish is 3 sub-200 losses.  If they make it all the way to the conference tournament without a loss the committee could reward them for scheduling such a difficult non-conference.

Hurricane Warning

The Miami Hurricanes throttled Notre Dame last night to improve to 17-4. The Canes are up to 16 in KenPom this morning. 

The Canes are a better offensive team than defensive team this year. They're 17th in efficiency buoyed by an effective fg% of 54.2%, 26th best. They shoot 54.2% from 2, 23rd best. They also protect the basketball. They're 33rd in the nation in turnover %. They get to the line at an average clip. When they do, they are a 76.3% foul shooting team. That's 9th best.

Defensively, they're 34th in efficiency, so it's not as if they're weak on that side of the ball. Opponents have an effective fg% of 46.5%, 55th best. The Canes don't force many turnovers, though and are an average team on the defensive glass. What they do well on defense is not foul. Opponents have a FTA/FGA rate of 29.4.  That's 38th best.

Senior guard Angel Rodeiguez runs the show. The K-State transfer scores 11.7ppg and 4.1apg. Joining him in the back court is fellow senior Sheldon McClellan. McClellan is the Canes leading scorer and 21st in Ortg. He has an effective fg% of 60%. Senior big man Tonye Jekiro does the heavy lifting on the glass and provides solid minutes patrolling the lane. The best of the underclassmen is Ja'quan Newton. Newton is possibly the next big thing for Miami and isn't afraid to shoot the Rock and can get to the FT line.

Miami is probably a borderline Sweet 16 type team. The guard play gives them a chance to do that and make some more noise in March. Jim Larranga's team doesn't look as good as his 2013 squad but is still a factor in the ACC.