Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Brian and I are in disagreement over the 2 and 3. But he's at one of the Disney places so, tough break, ACC.

DANCING: Dook, North Carolina, Florida State, NC State, Miami, FL

BUBBLING: Virginia, Maryland

The computers don't like Maryland very much putting them somewhere between 100-150 and I like them based on potential. Oddly enough, they may not make the tournament this year but could be Final 4 good next year. Some people in the Maryland family and area were underwhelmed by his hire but like Gottfried at NC State, he's doing a good job rebuilding/reinvigorating Maryland. Maryland has two nice pieces in big man Alex Len and swingman Nick Faust. FROSH big man Shaquille Cleare will team with Len to give the Terps an intimidating post. Good things here and a team worth watching.

The Cavaliers lose do everything Mike Scott but still have Joe Harris and 3 top 100 recruits coming in. I guess they'll hover around .500 in conference and that'll put them on the bubble. They've started strong the last few years but faded. Time to be more consistent.

BC, Wake Forest and Georgia Tech look to bring up the rear of the conference with only Tech seemingly having a bright future. Steve Donahue gutted BC two years ago and has a very young team. Failure to improve could spell trouble for him.

Clemson has only 2 upperclassmen on their roster. While that may fly at Kentucky, it doesn't at Clemson. Nonetheless, Clemson has a very good coach in Brad Brownell and his teams are similar to Virginia in they'll be tough matchups capable of springing an upset or two. Seth Greenberg is out at Va Tech but he didn't leave the cupboard totally bare. Led by PG Erick Green, the Hokies ahould be better than 4-12 in conference play this season and like Clemson could surprise some people this year and play themselves onto the bubble. Or they could both struggle. Taking a stand!

I don't see a true Final Four team in this conference. The Wolfpack are a trendy pick before the season. North Carolina seems a little young to be real national title contenders. Dook will be the conference favorite and if things break right and they can get consistent PG play, they'll have a chance to contend deep into March. If they can't get solid PG play, they'll struggle to get past the Sweet 16.

The ACC is down but trending up. Duke and Carolina are Duke and Carolina but with improved recruiting at Maryland & NC State, it's only a matter of time before the ACC is back on top. Oh, and getting Pitt and Syracuse won't hurt either.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Good night, Sweet Big East

It's hard to imagine a Big East without Syracuse but we are one year away from that. Prior to the past decade, Pittsburgh's best years in the Big East were from 1986-88. And until Mike Brey, Notre Dame was largely considered an underchiever but still...while adding Temple and Memphis in basketball is nice, the reality is adding Houston, SMU & Central Florida waters it down (Granted, SMU will be interesting depending on how long Larry Brown is there). And, it seems hard to believe Louisville, Cincinnati, UConn & Rutgers aren't sought after down the road. Rumors already persist Georgetown will be invited to join the ACC in hoops only but I digress to this season.

Louisville is a pre-season favorite and history has been relatively kind to highly regarded Pitino teams, as they have rarely disappointed. I think Siva has grown up and can be a true college PG leader (Maybe not at the pro level, but that's okay). Louisville also adds George Mason transfer Luke Hancock who could end up being their best player along with Gorgi Dieng who became a real force last March. They'll defend as well as anyone in America, their achilles heel could be offense. Can Russ Smith and Wayne Blackshear become reliable scoring options? Last year's Final Four team was one of the worst offensive teams in recent memory to make a Final Four.

I'm also not sleeping on Syracuse who while losing a lot of talent, might be better despite losing so much. Brandon Triche and CJ Fair are capable of leading this team and keep an eye on SOPH PG, Michael Carter-Williams. There's still enough talent to win the conference and make a Final Four.

Notre Dame can get teabagged.

Marquette, Georgetown, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh will all dance. Marquette is underrated heading into the year and the numbers guys really like them. Same with Pittsburgh who has what Basketball Prospectus calls elite talent.

South Florida seems like another NCAA team but I'll take a flyer and pick Rutgers over them. Basketball Prospectus has them going 10-8 in the conference which would certainly get them a bid. They add former K-State High School All-American F Wally Judge. FWIW, that same projection has South Florida 7-11 in conference. Rutgers currently has a 21-year NCAA drought.

Boomer Sooner

Though their football team continues to underachieve and let left America to another month of Notre Dame nonsense, their basketball team could be one to overachieve this year and steal a bid into the dance.

Coach Lon Krueger has been a bit of a nomad but let's review his record at the collegiate level. Few remember but before taking Florida to the Final Four in 1994, he had some good success at his alma mater, Kansas State making 4 tournaments including an Elite 8 making him the most successful coach there not named Frank Martin in the last 25 years. After Florida, he took Illinois to 3 dances in 4 years before a side trip to the NBA. He came back to the collegiate level at UNLV and brought the Rebels their most success since Tark.

He's now on his second year at Oklahoma. He inherited a real mess in Norman. Some even thought they deserved a death penalty for their transgressions. They expect big things from transfer 6'9" F Amath M'Baye and 3 freshmen perimeter players, Buddy Hield, Je'lon Hornbeak and Isaiah Cousins. All of them have been getting rave review in practice thus far.

In a conference with a big dog in Kansas, a talented but erratic Baylor team and a bunch of good but hardly great teams, Oklahoma has the coach and maybe enough talent to be in the mix.

Not As Big, East...Number 4!

Conference #4 is the Big East.  Now, I know what you're thinking here.  The Big East is going to get the most bids out of any conference, how can they only be 4th?  The answer is as much as the magazines are trying to sell Louisville and Syracuse as Final Four teams, I just don't see it.  Syracuse will be good but they lost a lot and while I do think Louisville will be a top 10 team all year I don't believe in Peyton Siva like everybody else.   In fact, I'm not picking either of them to win the conference.  That accolade will be going to surprise team of the year, Notre Dame.  Mike Brey brings back a ton from a tournament team last year and Jack Cooley continues his Luke Harangody impression to march right to the top the league.  Following them are the previously mentioned Cardinals and Orange of Louisville and Syracuse.  After those three teams there's a slight drop off to the next tier of teams.  Tier two contains Marquette who has to replace DJO and Jae Crawder and Cincinnati who has to replace Yancey Gates.  How well those teams do that will dictate how they finish in the Big East.  Buzz Williams probably has more talent so I'll slide them into 4th and Cincinnati in a close 5th.  Tier 3, which involves teams getting bids but more in the 10, 11, 12 seed spot goes to Pittsburgh and Georgetown.  These two are coming from different directions.  The Panthers had a horrible season but their health is back and a nice recruiting class it there to build on.  Georgetown on the other hand is rebuilding but Otto Porter will be a stud.  I think he carries them to a bid.  The X-factor once again appears to be South Florida who snuck in last year with an excellent RPI and no offense to speak of.   This year should only be slightly different as they look to pick the pace up a bit.  Their defense should once again be stellar and they might backdoor a bid again.  For now, they are on the outside looking in.

Hey! It's the Big 12!

Conference #5 is the Big 12. Starting at the top there is a clear cut #1, Final Four contender, the Kansas Jayhawks. They will miss Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson but there is plenty of depth and Jeff Withey looks like the real deal. A return to the Championship game is not out of the question. After them it looks to be anybody’s shot at the #2 team in this conference. Texas is without J’Coven Brown but has plenty of talent. West Virginia lost it’s top two players but brings in LaSalle transfer Aaric Murray to shore up the inside. Kansas State changes coaches but has plenty of talent. Baylor lost a bunch but returns their guards and a solid recruiting class. Oklahoma State has two studs in Smart and Nash but might be too young to contend this year.

When the dust settles I think the Big 12 ends up with 5 bids with Oklahoma State falling into the last 4 out category. After Kansas I think it goes Kansas State, West Virginia, Texas, and then Baylor. Even with 5 bids I don’t see anybody outside of Kansas with a seed higher than 6.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Conference #6...

Finally, the best conference in the West, the Mountain West.  Some may disagree with slotting the Mountain West above the Pac-12 due to tehe numbers involved but from a Final Four perspective I think They have a better chance of sending one than the Pac-12 does.
Starting at the top is UNLV who's primed for a big year.  Mike Moser is a player of the year candidate and this team is built for a strong run.  I don't think a Final Four is out of the question and they are my "Mid-Major" surprise pick to win it all.  If I were a gambling man I would have grabbed their earlier 30-1 odds with a dime of my own.   Closely behind the Rebels come the Aztecs of San Diego State.  What a job Steve Fisher has done, turning this team into a perienial tournament team.  I think their ceiling is Elite Eight and with the right bracket perhaps Final Four.  The last bid from this conference comes from Colorado State who's head coach left but all starters remained.  Now coaching for the Rams is Larry Eustacy who continues his own personal rebuilding project.  This team may have to adapt to a new philosophy but there's enough talent to make a run.
To recap and pin some numbers on these teams I have UNLV as a 3 seed, perhaps even a 2, San Diego State a 5, and Colorado State an 11.  New Mexico wins the CBI.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Pac-12 Disagreement Time, kind of

While I agree with Brian on Arizona and UCLA, if this a four-bid league (Likely), I will take Colorado and California over Stanford.

A few thoughts on Arizona and UCLA. I like Arizona's future better than UCLA but they have a few issues in Tempe, namely the run-ins with the law. Sean Miller has brought back high expectations on the court but off the court issues could slow that momentum. Take a gander at the rap sheet. It isn't pretty. As for UCLA, Ben Howland brought in a Calipari-esque class, one capable of going deep in March. How much will they play? Beats me and super Frosh Shabazz Muhammad is hurt and missing practice and game time with the NCAA investigating him as well. I'm not nearly as sold on UCLA as many others are. Probably means 30 wins but...

I'm higher on Colorado than Brian because I think Tad Boyle is one of the best kept secrets in the coaching ranks nationally. The Buffs have arguably their best class ever coming in and are building a real home court advantage.

If Arizona and UCLA are ascending, the Pac-12 should be moving back towards respectability. Washington and USC could make noise as well giving the Pac-12 at least 7 teams in the discussion for a dance spot. Doubtful they'll be this low on the conference totem pole in the future.

Ah, The Pac-12

The best conference on that side of the Mississippi! Oh, wait….have we gotten to the Mountain West conference yet? No? Umm, ok then how about the second best conference that side of the Mississippi (Just keep an eye on the WCC while you’re at it Pac-12).
Last year was a mess for the Pac-12 as they added two new teams and barely sent that many to the dance. This year looks a little better but with UCLA’s prized freshman not cleared to play yet it looks like another down year. Only 1 team looks to be legit Elite Eight material but they might be able to squeeze a few more bids out of the committee in 2013.
Starting at the top it looks like a two horse race between UCLA and Arizona. Of course this depends on Shabazz Muhommad and Kyle Andersons eligibility. If they miss significant time it’s Arizona all the way. After that it’s a tightly packed race for bid 3 and possibly 4 between California, Stanford, Colorado, and Washington. Washington doesn’t seem to have enough bigs to contend so let’s drop them right now. Colorado seemed to over achieve last year but Andre Robinson is a stud. Will the lure of the NBA cloud his judgement on the floor? California lost their two leaders but Allen Crabbe is back. Stanford…well, they have Johnny Dawkins coaching. Take that as a plus or a minus.
In short the Pac-12 continues to be a mess and one of the next 4 (California) wins the auto-bid to join UCLA, Arizona, and let’s say Stanford in the dance.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

More A-10

Four bids out of this conference seems like a stretch save a run from someone ala, the Bonnies in 2012. Brian nailed the five faves plus St. Joe's.

St. Louis also loses SR. G, Milwaukee native Kwamain Mitchell for the beginning of the season to injury. It's a shame Majerus doesn't have the opportunity to coach this team. They'd be an intriguing team to watch next spring and maybe they still will be.

It's hard to believe the A-10 discussion this year doesn't include Sweet 16 regular, Xavier. The Musketeers have made the Sweet 16, 4 of the last 5 years but lost a good chunk of their talent from last year's team. Despite a Sweet 16 run, some thought maybe they underachieved last year following the Crosstown Shootout brawl. I'm not sleeping on them. They may start slow but let's see how they're playing in February.

St. Bonaventure and LaSalle will also be capable of a A-10 tournament run. The team to keep an eye on will be Rhode Island. The Rams tabbed Dan Hurley to take over the program and he brought along brother Bobby. They're short of manpower, only 8 players currently eligible but they have a player from Michigan named Jordan Hare (How he didn't end up at Auburn) who at one point was a top-50 player. The Hurley brothers have been snagging some solid recruits and have some good transfers ready to play next year. Again, they might be ugly this year but look for a much improved team as the season moves along. They'll be contenders sooner than later

Conference #8 - Atlantic 10, err 16

This isn’t your Grandpa’s A-10…this isn’t even 2011’s version of the A-10. This year’s mid-major darlings will come from this new souped up group which added 3 of the last 12 final four participants Butler and VCU to an already formidable group that includes St. Louis, Temple, Xavier, UMass, and St. Joseph’s.

Starting at the top I think the new guy, VCU, is the team to beat. With Rick Majerus stuck in his hotel dreaming about Ashley Judd all season St. Louis will probably be slow out of the gate and have to settle for 2nd place. Coming in third, in their swan song before sliding to the Big East are the Temple Owls. Yes, they’ve lost a little from last year but Fran Dunphy always seems to bring a winner. After those three it gets a little muddier. I think the A-10 will be a 4 bid league but it’s tight to see who Team #4 might be. Butler brings back 4 starters and adds Rotnei Clark but this is a big step up in class from the Horizon. UMass looks poised to finally break on through and St. Joe’s brings back basically it’s whole team from last year. It wouldn’t surprise me to see all 6 of these teams in the hunt come March but I’m going with a minor upset in the conference tournament as Butler secures the auto-bid to join VCU, St. Louis, and Temple in the big dance.

The Best in the West?

Conference #9 isn’t going to be much of a surprise as we look to the West Coast conference for three more bids in the NCAA Tournament.  Strong at the top the WCC will be led again by Gonzaga after a 1 year hiatus of not winning the league.  St. Mary’s and BYU, which seem very evenly matched, will battle for 2nd and 3rd.  With each of these three beating on each other I foresee high enough RPI’s to warrant 3 bids out of the WCC this year.  The Zags are projected in the 4-6 range while BYU and St. Mary’s hang around the 10-11 spots.  The WCC is ready to make some more noise this year.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Valley Counterpoint

The A-10 and Valley are going to be my conferences du jour this year. I like Brian's thinking on the Valley. Recent history shows Creighton will need a special season to move up the seed line. Can they?

Their non-conference schedule includes home games against North Texas (A Sun Belt favorite with returning player of the year Tony Mitchell) and a home game against St. Joseph's. They have road games at California (Bubble team) and Nebraska (in-state "rival"). Creighton is also playing in the *ahem*, Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational. They include fluffer games against Longwood and Presbyterian before heading to Vegas on 11-23 to take on Wisconsin. They will either play Arkansas or Arizona State after that. Beating Bucky and California would be good wins and they must beat North Texas and St. Joe's.

Both Drake in 2008 and Wichita State last year achieved 5 seeds and both got rewarded with playing other "mid-majors", WKU and VCU respectively. I really like Creighton this year but think Sweet 16 is their ceiling.

The other 3 contenders are, as Brian noted, Wichita State, Illinois State and UNI. I'll lean towards UNI as the other bid. Wichita State lost their 3 top scorers, though they add Oregon transfer Malcolm Armstead and top 100 prospect Fred Van Fleet. Illinois State lost head coach Tim Jankovich to SMU but replaced him with Dan Muller, a respected assistant at Vandy. UNI brings back most of their top players and have a tough schedule the computers should like.

Creighton and who and where on the line for the BlueJays?

Top Ten Baby!

Our countdown continues with Conference #10, the Missouri Valley.  Not long ago the Valley was a perennial 3-4 team bid league but over the past couple of years those bids have dwindled.  This year doesn’t seem to be the break through they are looking for either.  Creighton is by far the top team again this year, led by Doug McDermott.  They have the pieces to not only make the tournament but make some noise in March.  A Sweet Sixteen is a starting point for them.  After Creighton there’s a three team battle for a second bid.  Wichita State, Illinois State, and Northern Iowa all look like they will be battling in the conference tournament for an auto-bid should their profiles not be enough.  When the dust settles I see the Valley as a two bid league represented by Creighton and Illinois State.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Now We're Getting Somewhere

Conferences 11 through 15 are up next and this is the point in time where you start to get some real At-Large potential teams. These are still low to mid-major’s but I can see 1 or two teams from each of these conferences (except the Summit) still being in the conversation come March 1.

11. Conference USA Winner: Memphis; Potential At-large: Marshall – will they find a point guard?
12. Ohio Valley Winner: Murray State; Potential At-large: Belmont and the race will be real close
13. MAC Winner: Ohio; Potential At-large: Akron. Is the MAC making a comeback?
14. WAC Winner: Denver; Potential At-large: Utah State
15. Summit Winner: South Dakota State and they will get serious at-large consideration if they lose in their conference tournament

Where have you gone, offense?

ESPN, in partnership with the SEC, ran some fun documentaries about the conference in the past year. Topics ranged from the creation of the Conference championship game, the Auburn/Alabama rivalry and Arkansas and Nolan Richardson's 40 minutes of hell.

The latter showed clips from an Arkansas-UNLV game played in February 1991. UNLV went to Fayetville full of swagger as the defending champ while Arkansas, #2 in the nation, looked at the game as an opportunity to declare to the world they had arrived. Instead, UNLV overwhelmed them in the 2nd half, never losing a double-digit lead until a meaningless 3 at the end of the game, winning 112-105.

112-105 in a game that matched up 1 and 2. No overtime. Let that sink in for a moment. Wouldn't happen today. Can't happen today. And that's a shame.

As an aside, we know Duke beat UNLV in the national semifinals but they were a better offensive team with a healthy Bobby Hurley and explosive Grant Hill. Duke was able to run and score with UNLV in 1991.

I'm going to link a post to a story that was written by Sports Illustrated's Luke Winn that looks back at a game from February of 1990 between Loyola-Marymount and LSU. The score of that game was 134-134 at the end of regulation. It's a fascinating game and game recap recalling how the play-by-play typist couldn't keep up with the action and her typewriter literally froze from overuse.

Loyola's offense was uptempo similar to what Chip Kelly incorporates at Oregon. Paul Westhead was the coach at Loyola and he now coaches the women's team at Oregon. Westhead's offense was simply known as "The System". Westhead has been a bit of a vagabond since then but it makes one wonder why this hasn't been used since? Winn gives the answers we'd expect about coaches being afraid to be contrarians given the money involved. But all it takes is one coach at one school willing...we can dream.

Today's best teams are usually amongst not only the most efficient but most proficient offensive teams. Look at the numbers inside the story on scoring and possesions, it's remarkable the drastic differences from today's best offensive teams to those of 25 years ago or so. It's a shame, because the game isn't better today at all. Today's game is too much of a slugfest, barren of athleticism bottled up by coaches and the media's cliche ridden defense wins championshps. Today's athletes are bigger, stronger and faster. There's a real contradiction there. It isn't better defense or more "fundamentally sound" teams, it's conservative coaching. Unleash them.

Here's the link

Friday, October 19, 2012

Three Week to Tip-off

And Conferences 16 through 20 on the way. We’re starting to get to possible at-large consideration. It’s a long shot but the Horizon League could surprise with both Detroit and UW-Green Bay in addition to the projected champion.

16. Southern – Davidson Wildcats
17. Colonial – Drexel Dragons
18. Horizon – Valparasio Crusaders
19. Sun Belt – North Texas Mean Green
20. Patriot – Lehigh Mountain Hawks

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

In Honor of Marshall Plumlee’s stress fracture today’s post features conferences 21 through 25 and their auto-bid qualifiers.

21. Big West – Long Beach State 49ers

22. MAAC – Loyola Greyhounds

23. Southland – Oral Roberts Original Golden Eagles

24. Atlantic Sun – Mercer Bears

25. NorthEast – Long Island Blackbirds

Monday, October 15, 2012

Coaches on the Hot Seat


Jeff Bzdelik, Wake Forest - Good class coming in but his team has been dreadful. Thought it was an odd hire and with NC State on the upswing, Wake will need a significant improvement this year.

Big 12:

Maybe Travis Ford but his team would have to bomb this year. Seem like a good bet to dance.

Big East:

Jay Wright will hear whispers but given the state of the conference, you'd think they'll be contenders sooner than later. Oliver Purnell left Clemson for DePaul and so far, that seems like an iffy career move, again, given the flux of the conference, who knows what DePaul is thinking.

Big 10:

Bill Carmody, Northwestern - Couldn't make it with John Shurna, one wonders if Northwestern will ever dance prior to tourney expansion. Vanderbilt can find success and talent, it seems Northwestern should, too

Tubby Smith, Minnesota - He's had some bad luck with injuries and transfers but even with all his players, they've been a middle of the road B1G team. Trevor Mbawke is back and anything less than a trip to the tourney and Tubby may be TV bound.

Pac 12:

Craig Robinson, Oregon State - Who knew Oregon State had a basketball team?

Herb Sendek, Arizona State - ASU has fallen quite a bit the last two years and Arizona is ascending again. There's some talent there but with a new AD, anything short of some real improvement could result in moving in a new direction.


Andy Kennedy, Ole Miss - Consistently average, sniffing the dance and always coming up short. It's far from an easy gig but remaining mired in mediocrity alone will likely merit a change.

Mark Fox, Georgia - Where have you gone, Domonique Wilkins? Doubt anything happens in 2013 but the seats getting warm. It's a football conference anyway except for you dirty bastards in Kentucky.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Let The Countdown Begin....

In honor of Midnight Madness and the fact that we are exactly 4 weeks to the first games of the year I present to you the bottom 6 conferences and their projected League Champion:
26. Ivy – Princeton Tigers
27. Big South – Charleston Southern Buccaneers
28. America East – Vermont Catamounts
29. Big Sky – Montana Grizzlies
30. MEAC - Savannah State Tigers
31. SWAC – Prairie View A&M Panthers

Monday, October 8, 2012

CBS Top 100 Players is Out

Otto Porter of Georgetown is on the list and in his bio, it says he didn't play AAU ball. You can kill your liver this season by drinking everytime that is mentioned. The season is just around the corner and Midnight Madness kicks off the season across the country this Friday.