Sunday, February 19, 2017

Weekly Top Ten Likes What It Sees

After a few weeks is all over the place action, the better teams are starting to seperate themselves.

Special thanks to Virginia for that performance yesterday, just a few days after "NBA Insider" Gery Woefel pitched Tony Bennett as a Bucks coach.

10. Purdue: Best team in the Big 14 now has a chance to win the league as Wisconsin's offense finally catches up to it. 3 of their final 4 are on the road though, including trips to Ann Arbor and Evanston.

9. West Virginia: KenPom still loves them. They play an enjoyable style. I just don't trust them.

8. Duke: Defense should still scare you. It's quite a bit worse than 2015. Pieces are coming together, though.

7. Kansas: Finding ways to win. The comeback against West Virginia and the survival at Baylor. Like Duke, defense is the worry. Held Baylor to 65 but that's as much a product of Baylor's offense.

6. Oregon: Still behind by the numbers, this is an eye test team. Offensive number holds them back a bit but I've seen enough to know the offense is figuring things out.

5. Kentucky: Still haven't figured them out. By the numbers, they strike me as a clear Final 4 favorite. Watching them, I don't see it.

4. Louisville: Defensive numbers took a beating after Virginia Tech's barrage yesterday. More impressively, they figured out how to match it and win.

3. North Carolina: The systematic beat down of Virginia was a thing of beauty. 3 of their final 4 include Louisville, Duke and Virginia. Buckle up, Tar Heels.

2. Villanova: Josh Hart and Jalen Brunson are humming like a beautiful machine. The other sophomores have been outstanding. Really clicking after going through the motions.

1. Gonzaga: Playing beautiful basketball. Seth Davis tweeted San Francisco was up half way through the first against them like there might be an upset brewing. Zags won by 35. High level hoops in Spokane, regardless competition.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Friday Bracketology

1 seed vs 16 seed
Gonzaga (WCC) vs Mt.St.Mary(NEC)/Weber St (Bsky)
Villanova (Beast) vs NCCU(MEAC)/UC-Irvine(Bwest)
Kansas (B12) vs New Orleans(Sland)
North Carolina (ACC) vs Texas Southern (SWAC)
2 seed vs 15 seed
Arizona (P12) vs Cal-Bakersfield (WAC)
Baylor vs Furman (SoCon)
Louisville vs ND State (Summit)
Florida State vs Bucknell (Pat)
3 seed vs 14 seed
Oregon vs Florida Gulf Coast (Asun)
Duke vs Princeton (Ivy)
Florida(SEC) vs UNC-Ashville(Bsouth)
UCLA vs Valparasio (Hor)
4 seed vs 13 seed
Kentucky vs Belmont (OVC)
West Virginia vs Vermont (Aeast)
Purdue vs Monmouth(MAAC)
Virgina vs Akron (MAC)
5 seed vs 12 seed
CincinnatI vs Nevada (Mwest)
Maryland (B14) vs UT-Arlington (Sbelt)
Butler vs UNC-Wilmington (Col)
Notre Dame vs Kansas State/Arkansas
6 seed vs 11 seed
St. Mary's vs Clemson/Wichita State
Wisconsin vs Syracuse
SMU (AAC) vs Illinois State (Mvalley)
Minnesota vs TCU
7 seed vs 10 seed
Xavier vs California
South Carolina vs Seton Hall
Creighton vs Middle Tenn St (C-USA)
Dayton (A10) vs Michigan State
8 seed vs 9 seed
Virginia Tech vs Michigan
Oklahoma State vs Miami
USC vs Iowa State
Northwestern vs VCU
First Four Out
Wake Forest
Providence
Marquette
Georgia Tech
Next Four Out
Texas Tech
Tennessee
Rhode Island
Houston
Also Considered
Ohio State
Alabama
Indiana
Georgia
Boise State
Georgetown
Illinois
Utah
Mississippi
Pittsburgh
Colorado State

Thursday, February 16, 2017

2011 Big East, 2017 ACC and More 1-Seed talk

After thinking more about Brian posing the question about 1-seeds relative weakness, I decided to a closer look at the ACC of 2017 vs. the Big East of 2011.

My hypothesis was, the 1-seeds this year will appear weaker because the ACC is so loaded and their overall records won't reflect how much better they are than teams with better records. 

College basketball town crier Jon Rothstein has called the 2017 ACC the greatest conference in history. That's dubious at best but it's best by leaps and bounds this year. What can we learn from the 2011 Big East, called the same at the time? Let's compare.

First, the Big East had 16 teams compared to the ACC which has 15. We could drop DePaul to even it out but let's not and just compare apples to apples. 

Both leagues have 11 top 50 KenPom teams. We're using the final 2011 rankings and the current 2017 rankings. The average score for the ACC is 24.6, the Big East was 16.5. The Big East had 9 top 30 teams with another at 31. The ACC has 6.

Pitt won the Big East at 15-3 and earned a 1-seed and promptly lost in the Round of 32 to Butler. Notre Dame finished 2nd at 14-4. 3 .500 clubs made the tournament including UConn who would win the title. UConn garnered a 3-seed, largely on an unprecented run through the Garden. Nova was a 9 and Marquette was an 11, making the Sweet 16, albeit at the expense of fellow league mate, Syracuse.

Brian has 10 ACC teams in. That seems the likely number. Clemson is loved by the computers but needs to win out or the ACC tournament to make it. The ACC is currently projected to have 5 teams in the top 4-seed lines. That would match what the Big East had in 2011.

What will probably happen this time around though is, the ACC won't likely flame out in March. Only two Big East teams made the Sweet 16. Every team seeded on the 4-line or above failed to make the second weekend except UConn. For whatever reason, the league bombed in March.

Though the numbers may not say it, the ACC probably is better this year and I think it'll show in March. They may also not get a 1-seed and it won't matter.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Bubbly

Not much movement in the bracket the past couple days.  Clemson and Wake have switched spots after the Tigers beat the Deacons.  I tentatively moved UNC into the 1 spot vacated by Baylor but we’ll see how they play tonight at NC State.

Lots of games tonight with Bubble Implications:

Xavier vs Providence – The Friars are on the outside looking in.  A win here doesn’t get them in but would be a nice boast to the resume
Arkansas vs South Carolina – Arkansas is the first team out and a road win over a top 25 RPI would probably boast them over Rhode Island
Fordham vs Rhode Island – speaking of RI, they need to hold court here
Iowa State vs Kansas State – both in and neither drop out with a loss but the winner separates themselves from the loser
Wichita vs Southern Illinois – not much room for error for the Shockers
Georgia Tech vs Miami – big road game for Georgia Tech, currently the 2nd team out
Creighton vs Seton Hall  - the Pirates are probably still in with a loss….probably….
Indiana vs Minnesota – a loss here for Indiana and they may not be able to recover.  Fire Crean now

Oklahoma State vs TCU – see Iowa State vs Kansas State.

Weakest #1 seeds?

Brian posed the question and here's what I think at the moment.

I believe we have two strong 1-seeds in Villanova and Gonzaga. While I don't know that I believe in Kansas a whole ton, their resume will add up to a strong 1-seed. Let's say they finish 4-1 down the stretch to end with a 27-4 record and Big XII title. They'd have a neutral court win over Duke and a road win at Kentucky. We can argue how good those teams are but they're both top-15 KenPom teams. If Kansas wins the Big XII tourney as well, that's a good 1-seed.

The 4th 1-seed might come out of the ACC. I'm basing this on the assumption someone runs the table down the stretch. There are plenty of opportunities for someone to take that 4th 1-seed by the throat. If they do, that's a good team. 

My initial thought was 2011 had weak 1-seeds but in reality, even though the Final 4 was weak, the 1-seeds were good teams.

What's hurting this year is a weak Big 14, the ACC depth & Pac-12 mystery. The Big 14 simply doesn't have a dominant team or teams. It's one of those years. The Pac-12 could have someone earn a 1-seed as well. Any of those 3 top teams (UCLA, Arizona & Oregon) win out and they'd be good 1-seeds.

I think we need to wait and see before declaring these the weakest 1-seeds in recent history. A lot is going to change this month.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Tuesday Morning Notes

Kansas makes a comeback for the ages which was awesome to watch but it reinforces two things:

 1. West Virginia is a vulnerable giant susceptible to long minutes of poor decision making and plays
 2. That was more a of a WV collapse than anything special about Kansas.  I still have Gonzaga ahead of them.

Syracuse lost at home to Louisville in a heartbreaker and even though they were one of my last 4 in they will survive for at least one more night.

Baylor has now lost 3 of their past 5 games.  Sure it's been against Kansas, Kansas State, and Texas Tech but 3 out of 5 is still 3 out of 5.  I don't believe any team that does that belong on the top line.  I am though, having a hard time making a solid case for any of my #2's to take their spot.  I may leave them on the 1 line behind the scenes and see how the week goes for Arizona, UNC, and Florida State.
I default to my partner, Eric, to comment on whether these are the weakest #1 seeds in a while.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Look at you, Ponyboys

As I was perusing KenPom, it caught me off guard SMU had risen to 12. At 22-4, the Mustangs all of a sudden look like a team to take serious. 

They're 21st in offensive efficiency and 13th in defensive efficiency. They play at one of the slowest paces in the nation. In yesterday's win against Cincinnati, it was a 54 possession game. Good lord.

They're one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the nation, at 39.7%. They're also fifth in offensive rebounding. At 76th overall in effective fg%, the 3-point shooting and rebounding is a huge advantage for them. 

Defensively, they're 24th in effective fg%. They're 17th in rebounding percentage and 8th in defending without fouling. You're going to have to earn your buckets against them.

Duke transfer, Semi Ojeleye has been fantastic for the Mustangs. Credit to Tim Jankovich this year as he took over for Larry Brown unexpectedly.

SMU will be favored heavily in 4 of their last five games. Brian has them as a 6-seed based largely on a weak non-conference slate. But they've improved as the season has gone along and wouldn't be a team I'd like to see on a short turnaround. Strong enough to be a Sweet 16 team.