Monday, December 31, 2012

Almost 2013

Well, here we are, the last day of 2012.  Fantasy Football is over and the bowls will start to come to an end.  Time to focus entirely on the landscape that is March Madness.  It's an exciting time, Duke is #1 and there's a log jam at #2 between some pretty good teams.  Time to ratchet up the Bracketology and get to work.

Monday, December 17, 2012


Duke is #1 in basketball,  Notre Dame is #1 in football.  If somehow the Lakers can get it together and the Yankees win the world series we could hit the haters superfecta.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Nate Silver & The Catholic 7

Nate Silver takes a look at how leaving the Big East helps the 7 schools.

Silver uses Sagarin ratings to compare how the 7 would be dragged down by the future Big East versus forming their own conference. Silver hypothesizes like Brian this new conference could be on par with or just a notch below the Pac-12 or SEC.

Silver gets some grief over his election predictions even though he's spot-on. This look at the new conference gives us an idea why on the court this makes sense. Dollars are still an issue. At this moment, these 7 will have to play in the bastardized Big East next year.

- The 7 schools can leave w/o paying an exit fee if they leave as a group

- The 7 schools would have to wait 27 months to move but that can be negotiated by lawyer$$$$

- They could take the name, but that's unlikely and while the originals feel you have to keep it for branding purposes, it's not the Big East.

- Will they get an auto-bid to the NCAA? Pretty safe bet this will happen

- The conference tournament could be kept at MSG. MSG has a deal with the "Big East" but can end it at any time. Marquette is pushing for a rotating host. Options would abound depending on membership but you'd have access to D.C., Chicago, New York (Barclays), Philadelphia and maybe Indianapolis (doubtful with B1G their).

Thursday, December 13, 2012

New Conference Division Names - Just Leaked!!

While the demise of the Big East as a basketball conference is now being reported everywhere, what has not been reported is that the 7 Catholic schools are writing a clause into the legal contract that will require the new conference to be divided into two divisions. Reportedly the original 7 schools would be placed into an aptly named "Holy Rollers" division, while additional teams would become part of the "Heathens" division. If somehow Notre Dame were to jump in, it is yet to be determined which division they would be placed into.

The Catholic 7 Continued

EDIT: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting this new league will include Xavier & Butler.

I say they add 3 teams and call themselves the Big 14 and then change it to Big 16 when the B1G expands again but I digress.

I want to follow up on what Brian posted earlier and take a closer look at the "others" that could be invited. An invitation doesn't mean they'll accept. And the 7 could just go join the A-10 and make all of this moot.

We know the 7:

1. Georgetown
2. Villanova
3. Seton Hall
4. Providence
5. St. John's
6. DePaul
7. Marquette

At this point, I'd like to note they could conceivably keep the Big East moniker but I have to believe it's best to leave that in the past and for other reasons we'll explore. Also, I see Notre Dame as a complete no-go, for now. The ACC is the next conference to go kaput and if Notre Dame keeps football independence, they might have little choice but to look at this league but I doubt it (there's also a possibility that at some point, the BCS super conferences could LEAVE the NCAA and then Notre Dame would almost be forced to join a league and Jim Delany would dance naked.). Finally, the league could keep its contract with MSG and have its conference tournament in NYC. They keep the NCAA auto-bid as well.

The potential invitees:

1. Xavier:

Location: Cincinnati, OH
Enrollment: 6945
Founded: 1831
Endowment: $117.4 million

Xavier is a natural fit based on geography and basketball success. The new conference will certainly like the Ohio footprint and Kentucky is just a jump across the border. Check Sweet 16 appearances in the last decade. You'll see a lot of Xavier. They are currently affiliated with the A-10.

2. St. Louis:

Location: St. Louis, MO
Enrollment: Over 10,000
Founded: 1818
Endowment: $880.3 million

St. Louis history with basketball is not as rich as other potential members. They have not made a sweet 16 appearance since 1957. The geography helps. St. Louis isn't necessarily a basketball hotbed but obvioulsy is a major city. They are currently affiliated with the Atlantic-10. They were founding members of the Great Midwest with Marquette and DePaul.

3. Dayton:

Location: Dayton, OH
Enrollment: 10,000
Founded: 1850
Endowment: $598.4 million

I've seen some reports indicating wherever Xavier goes, Dayton is somehow joined at the hip. I guess we shall see. Dayton was the national runner-up in 1967 but hasn't made a Sweet 16 since 1984. They are currently affiliated with the Atlantic-10.

4. Creighton

Location: Omaha, Nebraska
Enrollment: 7,730
Founded: 1878
Endowment: $375.2 million

The alma mater of Benoit Benjamin, Creighton has been very successful as a member of the MVC. This type of move would be a step-up for them from the MVC. There is no guarantee they'd actually jump, though. Omaha market isn't great, either. They do have a good baseball history but basketball rules. Not a must have, IMO but a good fit.

5. George Mason

Location: Fairfax County, Virginia
Enrollment: 33,320
Founded: 1957
Endowment: $51.6 million

Recent success and a dedication to fielding a competetive basketball team makes them worthy of discussion. I'm not certain Georgetown would be hip to this but I'd guess they'd be considered. They are currently affiliated with the Colonial Atheletic.

6. Virginia Commonwealth

Location: Richmond, Virginia
Enrollment: 31,899
Founded: 1838
Endowment: $349.7 million

Like GMU, VCU is a public university. Like GMU, they are also located in Virginia. they have made 6 tournament appearances since 2004 as members of the Colonial Athletic. They recently moved into the A-10. We are all aware of their recent success. It would be a significant jump for them to go from a league that fights for 2-bids to a league that would probably be expected to get 4-5 on a regular basis.

7. Butler

Location: Indianapolis, Inidana
Enrollment: 4500
Founded: 1855
Endowment: $155 million

I feel Butler's strongest appeal isn't their recent history but their location. Indiana & Purdue will get the most recognition in Indiana but Butler being in Indianapolis is a plus. And Indiana is basketball-crazy as we know and full of top flight talent. Like VCU, it would be a leap in a short time from Horison to A-10 to this new conference but they have a great coach and national attention at this moment.

8. Gonzaga

Location: Spokane, Washington
Enrollment: 7764
Founded: 1887
Endowment: $121 million

If expansion has taught us anything, we need to ignore geography. In this case, that might be easier said than done. Can the east coast schools afford to travel across country for non-revenue sports? Could the 'Zags be a basketball only member? Hard to say. But the pedigree is similar and is a footprint out west bad? There is alot of talent in Washington to be mined. They are currently members of the WCC.

9. St. Mary's:

Location: Moraga, California (Outside the Bay area)
Enrollment: 4100
Founded: 1863
Endowment: 4127 million

The Gaels have made 4 tournaments since 2000, including a Sweet 16 in 2010. They play at McKeon Pavillion which only holds 3500. I'm not sure that's something that can just be ignored. Carrier Dome to this? Hard sell but again, geography helps. The Bay Area is rich in talent. They are currently members of the WCC.

Also considered: St, Joe's, LaSalle, Richmond, Fordham, Siena, Old Dominion

The schools I would target would be:

1. Xavier
2. Dayton
3. Creighton
4. Gonzaga
5. St. Mary's

You'd have a western contigent with DePaul, Marquette, Creighton, Gonzaga, St. Mary's, Dayton & Xavier. I think St. Mary's arena is a very real concern.

If georgraphy is an issue, then I'd do the following:

1. Xavier
2. Dayton
3. Creighton
4. Butler
5. VCU

St. Louis seems to be a popular choice from what I've been reading but I actually think they're a better fit for the Valley than the A-10 anyway. Creighton may not feel comfortable leaving the Valley. If that's the case, I'd probably pursue SLU over GMU. Or get Notre Dame somehow.

How good would this conference be? I'm not as generous as Brian. It isn't better than the SEC or Pac-12. Currently, only G'Town & Marquette dance from the 7 and you get maybe 3 from the others listed. Good, solid but not great. BUT plenty of potential to BE great.

Ultimately, these schools leaving the Big East are between a rock and hard place. Stay, and see their league diluted for middling football revenue. Leave and wander into the unknown but control where you go and with who. I'll take the latter. I'm nervous as a Marquette fan. But I'm also excited as a basketball fan. I'd much rather see Butler at the BC than SMU, Xavier than Houston, VCU than Tulane. I'd love Syracuse and Pitt and Sarah Shahi...but reality is what it is and the 7 are making the best of it they can.

The Big Great Super Atlantic Midwestern East Conference USA

So it looks like it’s inevitable that the 7 Catholic Big East Schools will break away and form their own conference. CNN/SI is reporting that a new 12 team league will be created with those 7 and 5 additional teams from various other conferences. CNN/SI has their own list but I’d like to offer up 5 that fit the best.

1. Notre Dame – a no brainer outside of the huge dollar downside. It’s a pipe dream but the best fit otherwise.
2. Dayton – no football and regionally a logical fit. A solid mid-major over the past couple years they wouldn’t hurt RPI.
3. Xavier – A BCS team hidden in a Mid-major league. Time to step up in class.
4. George Mason – already recruits on the high end of the mid-majors. The step up in conference would help the cycle of better recruits into a better team.
5. Butler – goes from mid-major to high-major to ???? in 3 years

Other teams that have been mentioned are St. Louis, Creighton, Richmond, and VCU but I’d also like to offer up the idea of taking in LaSalle, Temple, and St. Joseph’s to try and build the big 5 connection in Philadelphia (Penn will always be in the Ivy league).

Taking Notre Dame out of the equation and sorting by most likely the new conference would be comprised of the following teams:

1. Georgetown
2. Marquette
3. St. John’s
4. Providence
5. Seton Hall
6. DePaul
7. Villanova
8. Xavier
9. Dayton
10. St. Louis
11. Butler
12. Creighton

Looking at that list brings two things to mind. First, what do you call it? The Big Atlantic Midwest? Conference USA Part 2? The Great Mideast plus DePaul? Secondly, how does that conference rank amongst the current conferences? It’s would already be in front of the Big East so were starting at 6th. They are better than the A-10 and Pac-12 easily. The SEC? The top 3 are better but is the new conference deeper? The Big 12? It’s close.

Is it possible to create a conference and instantly be the 3rd best conference in College Basketball? If that’s the case I do it, and I do it now.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Is the reckoning upon the Big East?

On Sunday, the Big East Catholic schools or non-BCS schools held a meeting to discuss the future of the Big East and their future as well. These schools include Villanova, Seton Hall, Providence, Georgetown, St. John's, DePaul & Marquette.

It was reported a week ago by CBS' Dennis Dodds the projected TV deal for the newly constituted Big East would be about $60-80 million. As we know, that's a far cry from what the other conferences are getting. Some schools receive $20 million + in TV revenue from conference deals. This reported deal would net non-football members about $1 million or so in TV revenue.

Leaving the Big East would be a net loss financially but staying may hurt on the court. What do I mean? Losing Pitt, Syracuse, Louisville, Notre Dame, West Virginia and replacing them with SMU, Houston, Tulane and others doesn't help you build a resume for March. So, does staying for the extra money outweigh the negative of weaker competetion? Temple and Memphis are nice opponents but the rest are anchors.

Rumors of a so-called Catholic league have hinted that along with these 7 schools, George Mason, VCU, Butler, Xavier, Dayton, St. Louis and Creighton could be targeted as members. Some reports came out today Gonzaga could be interested in such a league as well. The Chicago Sun-Times mentioned Notre Dame as a member as well but their ACC affiliation is far better for exposure so I'd say that's a pipe dream.

The kind of money that such a league could generate in regards to a TV deal would probably be similar to what the A-10 schools are getting from their current deal which is around $350,00 a year per school, maybe more.

There's also the possibility the 7 schools could migrate into the A-10 and form a conference with 21 teams.

Big East blue bloods fear a decrease in attendance would also hurt the schools financially but I don't see how Tulane or SMU put butts into seats anyway. They're not getting home games against Syracuse and former rivals back. No doubt the real losers are the original members of the Big East and they face a difficult decision.

Money will decide how this goes. Is the purported TV deal enough to keep current non-BCS members? Hard to say. Traveling for basketball to Texas and Florida is one thing. Traveling to play other sports is another. From the sound of things, it appears Marquette is finally trying to decide its own fate the best it can.

Mid-December Bracketology

1 seed vs 16 seed
Indiana vs PrairieView(SWAC)/WeberSt(Bsky)
Duke (ACC) vs NorfolkSt(MEAC)/Albany(Aeast)
Florida (SEC) vs William & Mary (CAA)
Michigan vs W.Illinois (Summit)
2 seed vs 15 seed
Louisville vs Gardner-Webb (Bsouth
Kansas (Big12) vs CS-Northridge (Bwest)
Ohio State vs Robert Morris (NEC)
Syracuse vs Canisius (MAAC)
3 seed vs 14 seed
Illinois (B1G) vs Ill-Chicago (Horizon)
Arizona (Pac12) vs Stephen F. Austin (Sland)
Minnesota vs Florida Gulf Coast (Asun)
UNLV vs W. Kentucky (Sbelt)
4 seed vs 13 seed
Gonzaga (WCC) vs Utah State (WAC)
Cinncinati (Beast) vs Harvard (Ivy)
North Carolina vs Bucknell (Patriot)
Notre Dame vs Davidson (SoCon)
5 seed vs 12 seed
Georgetown vs SMU (CUSA)
Michigan State vs Ohio (MAC)
Missouri vs MurraySt/MidTennSt
Creighton vs Oregon/Maryland
6 seed vs 11 seed
New Mexico (MWC) vs California
Kentucky vs Wyoming
North Carolina State vs Belmont (OVC)
Pittsburgh vs Charlotte (A10)
7 seed vs 10 seed
Oklahoma State vs Colorado State
San Diego State vs Temple
Kansas State vs St. Joseph's
Wichita State (MVC) vs Alabama
8 seed vs 9 seed
Butler vs Miami
Marquette vs Memphis
Colorado vs Wisconsin
VCU vs Baylor
First Four Out

Florida State
Next Four Out
Virginia Tech
Iowa State
Boise State
Also Considered
St. Louis
West Virginia
Oregon State
Illinois State
Georgia Tech
St. Mary's
Louisiana Tech
Seton Hall
Texas A&M
St. John's
Arizona State

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Coming Tomorrow...

A new bracketology.  Be warned with so little data, things are a little skewed.  Feel and the eye test mean more this early in the season then computer, RPI, and KenPom numbers.  For instance, the #14 ranked team according to RPI is Stephen F. Austin and at #23, Northwestern State whose record is 2-3.  On the flip side we all know Notre Dame and San Diego State are safely in the field but are currently 61 and 83 in RPI.  It’s a strange science in early December but we can’t just ignore it and move on to March can we.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Early Season Surprise: Illinois

After letting go of Bruce Weber, Illini fans had visions of Brad Stevens or Shaka Smart dancing through their heads. After flirtations with both of those coaches, Illinois eventually hired Ohio Bobcat coach, John Groce. Groce had taken Ohio to the Sweet 16 last year.

At the time, sports radio in Chicago was lukewarm on the hire largely bemoaning not getting Shaka Smart. My reaction at the time was more positive. Groce had been a successful assistant at Ohio State, being the lead recruiter on most of the Buckeyes recent stars. The concern was whether or not Groce could recruit in Chicago and repair a fractured relationship between Chicago HS and the Illini program. That's still up for debate but a 10-0 start for a team picked to finish in the bottom half of the B1G shows the man can coach.

Here's a quick look at what Illinois is doing better this season (I know it's a small sample but the trend is encouraging).

Illinois is 17th in ADJ O this season. They finished last season 126th. They're down on the defensive side from 39th to 67th but the increased efficiency on offense is a more telling stat.

2011-12 FOUR FACTORS Offense Defense
Effective FG %: 49.4 -156th 49.2 -181st
Turnover %: 20.6 -191st 20.4 -160th
Offensive Rebounding %: 31.3 -206th 29.0 -55th
FTA/FGA: 30.4 -309th 36.2 -174th

2012-13 FOUR FACTORS Offense Defense
Effective FG %: 54.6 -23rd 47.9 -163rd
Turnover %: 18.1 -55th 23.5 -71st
Offensive Rebounding %: 35.4 -86th 33.2 -203rd
FTA/FGA: 29.7 -284th 34.9 -147th

A lot of this offensive improvement is due to the better play of Brandon Paul. Not many players have vexed Illini fans more than him. After shooting 39% last year, he's now shooting 48.1%. His 3-pt shooting is better as well up from 33.3% vs. 41.2% this year. His effective FG% is up from 46% to 58%.

It's early and the B1G will be a SEC -like meat grinder but Illinois has been much better and a win at Gonzaga is not a fluke.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Marquette 60 Wisconsin 50

That sums up the game quite well.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Best team so far?

On Saturday, Florida travels to Arizona for a big early season test, but thus far, they have been running roughshod on their opponents. Every win has been by double digits with the closest being by 13 over Central Florida. They beat Wisconsin by 18 and that score was closer than it really was. They also destroyed Marquette by 33 where the score does indicate how dominant they were.

Last night was their first true road test and they smoked Florida State by 25, holding them under 50, the 5th time in 7 games they've done that. Only UCF managed to break 60. I'm not sure how good FSU will be but impressive nonetheless.

Duke and Indiana certainly can make a claim to title of early season "best team" but the Gators have been pretty damn impressive.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Rick Majerus

A little late with this post but thought I'd post some links on what people wrote about one of the last, great characters of college basketball. Warts and all, most people remember an honest, demanding man who knew basketball more than most.

It's a shame he never got a longer opportunity at Marquette but he certainly left his mark at Ball State, Utah and St. Louis. His '98 Utah team with Michael Doleac and Andre Miller to name a few took out #1 Arizona and UNC before succumbing to Kentucky in the National title game.

Jeff Goodman takes a look at the coach who gave Doc Rivers his nickname.

Andy Katz calls him a basketball treasure.

St. Louis Post Dispatch Bernie Miklasz writes a touching column about the man and his impact on others.

And we'll end with this collection from Deadspin with stories of Rick Majerus, child squatter and serial nudist.