Thursday, January 23, 2020

Thursday Bracketology

1 seed vs 16 seed
Gonzaga (WCC) vs R.Morris(NEC)/Monmouth(MAAC)
Baylor (B12) vs NorfolkSt(MEAC)/ND St (Summt)
SanDiegoSt (Mwest) vs UC-Irvine(Bwest)
Kansas vs Winthrop (Bsouth)
2 seed vs 15 seed
Florida State (ACC) vs Wright St (Horizon)
Dayton (A10) vs Austin Peay (OVC)
Duke vs UALR (Sbelt)
Louisville vs Tex Southern(SWAC)
3 seed vs 14 seed
Michigan St (B1G) vs SFA (Sland)
Villanova vs Montana (Bsky)
Oregon vs Colgate (Patriot)
Seton Hall (Beast) vs Loyola-Chi (Mvalley)
4 seed vs 13 seed
Maryland vs William and Mary (Col)
West Virginia vs W.Kentucky (Cusa)
Auburn vs New Mexico St (WAC)
Kentucky vs Stony Brook (Aeast)
5 seed vs 12 seed
Butler vs Akron (MAC)
Wichita St vs Yale (Ivy)
Colorado vs ETSU (SoCon)
Marquette vs Richmond/Cincinnati
6 seed vs 11 seed
Iowa vs Xavier/Oklahoma
Arizona vs BYU
Memphis vs St. Mary's
LSU (SEC) vs Liberty (Asun)
7 seed vs 10 seed
Penn St vs VCU
Wisconsin vs USC (P12)
Stanford vs NC State
Indiana vs Northern Iowa
8 seed vs 9 seed
Michigan vs Arkansas
Ohio State vs Texas Tech
Creighton vs Rutgers
Illinois vs Houston (AAC)


First Four Out
Florida
Minnesota
Mississippi State
Georgetwon
Next Four Out
SMU
DePaul
Texas
TCU
Also Considered
Utah
Virginia
George Mason
St. Louis
Pittsburgh
St. John's
Virginia Tech
Tennessee
Utah State
Georgia
Washington
Purdue

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

So, San Diego State

San Diego State is the last undefeated team in the nation and currently projecting as a 1-seed. Welcome to college hoops in 2020. Are they actually good?

The schedule isn’t very helpful in deducing how good they are. The best win is a neutral court win over Iowa. Iowa is up to 14 in KenPom but don’t play defense. The Aztecs stomped Creighton on a neutral court as well, winning by 31. Their best win might be a win at BYU early in the year.
I’m not sure we’ll learn much the rest of the season. The Mountain West isn’t terrible but it’s not as strong as it has been in the past. The only other Top 100 KenPom team is Utah State who is 65 and they already won at Utah State. It’s fair to say, anyone running through any league undefeated accomplished something incredible and that’s correct. The WCC is rated higher but not by much and we don’t blink an eye when the Zags get a 1-seed.

A lot of that is goodwill. By that, Gonzaga has proved they belong. The Aztecs, while very good under Steve Fisher and a perennially tourney team, they weren’t a regular final four contender. It isn’t fair to hold that against San Diego State. If they go undefeated, they’re a 1-seed.

The team itself is 29th in offensive efficiency and 14th in defensive efficiency.  They’re 9th overall in KenPom. They do everything well on defense except foul too much. They’re 8th in effective defensive fg%, 40th in turnover % and 36th in rebounding %.

Offensively, they’re 26th in 3-point shooting, so they can outshoot you and defend you. The only thing they do poorly is get to the line. They protect the ball and get enough offensive rebounds. It’s a very solid team if we look at just the numbers.

Junior guard Malachi Flynn is the best player on the Aztecs. He’s a 6’ 1” guard with nearly a 54% real shooting %. He has a nifty 30.6% assist rate and protects the ball. Kid is a great college basketball player. They get contributions from quite a few other guys and the other names to know are big man Yanni Wetzell, an efficient offensive player and good rebounder on both ends. Junior Jordan Schakel is a good shooter and junior Matt Mitchell is another very efficient player. This a team full of good basketball players.

I wanted to dismiss them based on the schedule but this is a pretty good team. As the season progresses, they will be solid favorites in the rest of their games.  Chances are, they’ll slip up somewhere. Either way, with no clear cut favorites this year, dismiss them at your peril.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Friday Bracketology

1 seed vs 16 seed
Gonzaga (WCC) vs Grambling(SWAC)/Quinnipac(MAAC)
Duke (ACC) vs NCA&T(MEAC)Albany (Aeast)
Baylor (B12) vs UC-Irvine(Bwest)
SanDiegoSt (Mwest) vs Robert Morris (NEC)
2 seed vs 15 seed
Butler vs Neb-Omaha(Summit)
Kansas vs Wright St (Horizon)
Dayton (A10) vs Charlotte (Cusa)
Florida State vs Austin Peay (OVC)
3 seed vs 14 seed
Michigan St (B1G) vs Radford(Bsouth)
Louisville vs Montana (Bsky)
West Virginia vs Colgate (Patriot)
Auburn vs William and Mary (Col)
4 seed vs 13 seed
Oregon vs New Mexico St (WAC)
Villanova vs SFA (Sland)
Seton Hall (Beast) vs Georgia State (Sbelt)
Maryland vs ETSU (SoCon)
5 seed vs 12 seed
Michigan vs Akron (MAC)
Wichita St (AAC) vs Yale (Ivy)
Colorado vs Xavier/VCU
Kentucky vs Texas/Georgetown
6 seed vs 11 seed
Ohio State vs USC
Arkansas vs Florida
Stanford (P12) vs NC State
Wisconsin vs Oklahoma
7 seed vs 10 seed
Arizona vs Purdue
Memphis vs N.Iowa (Mvalley)
Marquette vs Liberty (Asun)
Iowa vs BYU
8 seed vs 9 seed
Penn St vs Creighton
Indiana vs Houston
Rutgers vs Texas Tech
LSU (SEC) vs Illinois


First Four Out
St. Mary's
Georgia
Virginia
Washington
Next Four Out
Richmond
Minnesota
Oklahoma State
Cincinnati
Also Considered
Utah
TCU
George Mason
St. Louis
Pittsburgh
Nevada
New Mexico
St. John's
SMU
Virginia Tech
Tennessee
Utah State

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Best Teams of the Decade Who Fell Short

For every champion, there is a team or two good enough to be champions but fell short. Let’s find out the ten best teams of the past decade that fell just short. For this, I used best KenPom Adjusted Efficiency Margin by teams that didn’t win a title.

10. 2015 Villanova, +30.65 AdjEm, 4th AdjO, 12th AdjD, 5th KenPom
2015 will be a recurring theme. This Villanova team garnered a 1-seed but got upset by NC State in the second round. It did launch a viral moment with crying flute girl. Villanova would get their revenge.

9. 2019 Michigan State, +30.81 AdjEm, 5th Adj O, 9th AdjO, 3rd KenPom 
If anything, I found it surprising this was Michigan State’s best team of the decade. They earned a 1-seed and would make the Final 4.

8. 2013 Florida, +31.18 AdjEm, 9th AdjO, 3rd AdjD, 2nd KenPom
The Gators were very good between 2011-14, but usually underperforming their computer numbers. The exception was their Final 4 year in 2014. In 2013, Florida finished the year 2nd in KenPom but earned just a 3-seed. They eventually made the Elite 8 but were blown off the court by Michigan.

7. 2010 Kansas, + 31.85 AdjEm, 2nd AdjO, 8th AdjD, 2nd KenPom
Kansas entered the tournament 32-2 and a favorite to cut down the nets. They were a 1-seed and got beat in the 2nd Round by Northern Iowa and spawned a March memory for the ages, “You can’t be serious with that shot!”

6. 2017 Gonzaga, + 32.05 AdjEm, 16th AdjO, 1st AdjD, 1st KenPom
This was Mark Few’s best squad up to this time, better than the 2006 or 2013 team. Not surprisingly, this was his squad that broke through to the Final Four and ultimately, the final where they lost to North Carolina.

5. 2015 Arizona, +32.36 AdjEm, 7th AdjO, 3rd AdjD, 4th KenPom
The Wildcats happened to have their best season under Sean Miller when a lot of teams had great seasons. It wasn’t the worst thing to happen to Arizona over his tenure but this was a deep and talented squad who earned a 2-seed but lost to Wisconsin in the regional final.

4. 2019 Gonzaga, +32.85 AdjEm, 1st AdjO, 12th AdjD, 2nd KenPom
The Zags were even better a year ago than 2017, though I’d argue the numbers are so close, the 2017 team was better. The Zags were a 1-seed that lost in the regional final to Texas Tech.

3. 2011 Ohio State, +33.47 AdjEm, 1st AdjO, 12th AdjD, 1st KenPom
2011 was a wreck of a tournament. All the 1-seeds lost before the Final 4, including Ohio State who lost in the Sweet 16 to Kentucky, a 4-seed. In their defense, Kentucky finished the year 7th in KenPom and were much better than a typical 4-seed.

2. 2015 Wisconsin, +33.72 AdjEm, 1st AdjO, 35th AdjD, 2nd KenPom
I wrote after they lost that it was likely UW would never have a team this good again. With the most efficient offense of any team this decade, the Badgers were undone by an okay but not great defense. They earned a 1-seed but lost in the title game.

1. 2015 Kentucky, + 36.91 AdjEm, 6th AdjO, 1st AdjD, 1st KenPom
Despite coming up short of their perfect season, this Kentucky team was the best team of the decade. They had the 2nd best defense of the decade, trailing only last years Texas Tech team. Had they cut the nets down, they’d have an argument as the greatest team of all time.


Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Team of the Decade

I’m a little late to the game when it comes to those end of the decade lists but I wanted to look back at who were the best champions of the past decade. I started with the 2009-10 season and end with last years Virginia team. I was going to use KenPom Adjusted Efficiency Margin, but instead used the total between a teams adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency. Later, I’ll do the ten best teams not to win a title this past decade. Let’s start.

10. UConn, 2014, AdjEm 15th, AdjO 39, AdjD 10
I doubt it’s a surprise a team that made March as a 7-seed is the worst champion of the decade. 2014 was a mess as we recall, Kentucky was their opponent and they were an 8-seed. Louisville was the number 1 KenPom team at the end of the year but Arizona or Florida were probably the nest teams that year.

9. UConn, 2011, AdjEm 10th, AdjO 18, AdjD 15
We remember the 2011 tournament for the awful title game between Butler and UConn. UConn had probably the greatest single post-season of the decade, running the Big East gauntlet and then through the NCAA Tournament, lead by Kenna Walker. The top 4 teams of that year according to KenPom were Ohio State, Duke, Kansas and Pitt. Of those 4, only Kansas reached a regional final.

8. North Carolina, 2017, AdjEm 3rd, AdjO 9, AdjD 11th
The Tar Heels team won a title over Gonzaga in a pretty non-memorable game. Gonzaga was the number 1 KenPom team this year. Can you name more than one starter on this team? Of all of Roy Williams title teams, this is the most nondescript.

7. Duke, 2015, AdjEm 3rd, AdjO 3, AdjD 11th
This team holds a special place in the heart of all Americans with a soul but is K’s weakest champ.

6. Villanova, 2018, AdjEm 1, AdjO 1, AdjD 11
One of the great offensive teams of the decade, if we went just by AdjustedEm, this is the 2nd best title team of the decade. This Nova squad won every tournament game by double-digits and blew out Kansas and Michigan in the Final 4. This feels low and if someone told me this was the best team of the decade, I’d listen.

5. Kentucky, 2012, AdjEm 1st, AdjO 2nd, AdjD 7th
This feels low, too. It’s probably skewed by the memories of Anthony Davis dominating his solo year in college. Davis had a good team around him but he was a singular force, the best of the decade.

4. Villanova, 2016, AdjEm 1st, AdjO 3rd, AdjD 5th
Higher than the ‘18 squad, this team epitomized they Villanova culture under Jay Wright. They blew out Oklahoma in the Final 4 semifinals and then outlasted a favored UNC in the final.

3. Louisville, 2013, AdjEm 1st, AdjO 7th, AdjD 1st
Save your bible thumping for politics. This Louisville team won 16 in a row to close out the season and 19 of their last 20 with the only loss coming on the road in 5 overtimes to Notre Dame. They can get knocked for getting Wichita State in the National semifinals instead of Gonzaga or Ohio State.

2. Virginia, 2019, AdjEm 1st, AdjO 2nd, AdjD 5th
I don’t like it anymore than you guys but this is the way it is. They had an incredible amount of luck winning in March but champions don’t apologize after cutting down the nets. Plus, they were loaded with NBA players. It wasn’t fun but it was a great team.

1. Duke, 2010, AdjEm 1st, AdjO 1st, AdjD 5th
This was the least talented Duke title team. It was. Look at the roster but it was a great basketball team. Deadly efficient if somewhat boring. They also had a great draw in March.

My eye test rankings would look a lot different. I’d probably put Villanova 2018 number one and Kentucky 2012 number two. The bottom 3 would remain. That 2017 UNC team really isn’t memorable for non-Tar Heels.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Monday Bracketology

1 seed vs 16 seed
Gonzaga (WCC) vs Grambling(SWAC)/Quinnipac(MAAC)
Duke (ACC) vs NCA&T(MEAC)Radford(Bsouth)
Butler (Beast) vs UC-Irvine(Bwest)
Baylor (B12) vs Robert Morris (NEC)
2 seed vs 15 seed
SanDiegoSt (Mwest) vs Neb-Omaha(Summit)
Auburn (SEC) vs Montana (Bsky)
Kansas vs Charlotte (Cusa)
Dayton (A10) vs Austin Peay (OVC)
3 seed vs 14 seed
Oregon vs Wright St (Horizon)
Florida State vs Colgate (Patriot)
Louisville vs Stony Brook (Aeast)
West Virginia vs W. Carolina (SoCon)
4 seed vs 13 seed
Wichita St (AAC) vs New Mexico St (WAC)
Maryland vs William and Mary (Col)
Michigan St (B1G) vs Georgia State (Sbelt)
Villanova vs SFA (Sland)
5 seed vs 12 seed
Michigan vs Akron (MAC)
Seton Hall vs Yale (Ivy)
Colorado vs Rutgers/Florida
Kentucky vs USC/DePaul
6 seed vs 11 seed
Ohio State vs Purdue
Memphis vs Tennessee
Arizona vs Creighton
Penn St vs LSU
7 seed vs 10 seed
Arkansas vs BYU
Indiana vs N.Iowa (Mvalley)
Stanford (P12) vs Liberty (Asun)
Texas Tech vs Wisconsin
8 seed vs 9 seed
Marquette vs Oklahoma State
Iowa vs Houston
Virginia vs Xavier
Oklahoma vs NC State


First Four Out
Illinois
Utah State
Georgetown
Washington
Next Four Out
St. Mary's
VCU
Texas
Cincinnati
Also Considered
Utah
Richmond
Minnesota
Miami
ETSU
Georgia
TCU
George Mason
St. Louis
Pittsburgh
Nevada
New Mexico
Wake Forest
SMU
UTEP
St. John's

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Musings on Sunday, January 12th

- Michigan State was on a roll, having won 8 in a row, all by double digits save a road game at Northwestern and lost by 29 at Purdue, managing a mere 42 points. They were favored by 3 by KenPom heading into the game. They had also risen to number one in offensive efficiency. Get used to me writing this, there’s more mediocrity than parity in college basketball.

- The Big Ten will be a meat grinder this year.  Ten teams are projected at .500 or better in the league entering today. Two other teams are projected at 9-11. Ohio State is 1-4 and still projected to go 11-9. Get back to me in 6 weeks after it’s all played itself out.

- Baylor went into Kansas yesterday and won for the first tome ever at Phog Allen. They were up by 13 at halftime and Kansas never really seriously threatened in the second half. Devon Dotson was injured for most of the second half but I’m not sure he makes a difference. Baylor controlled the game and imposed their will. They looked like a Final 4 team.

- How bad is it in Chapel Hill? They lost for the first time in 60 attempts at home against Clemson.

- Syracuse and Virginia played to a regulation tie of 43-43. It's an epidemic in college basketball, games like this. It took Penn State nearly 10 minutes to score against Wisconsin yesterday. It’s garbage basketball.