Monday, December 30, 2013

Worst Game of the Year

There is a game being played by Southern University and some school known as Champion Baptist.

Southern leads 57-6 at halftime.  At one point, they led 41-0.  In basketball or something resembling it.

UPDATE:  Southern is on a 16-0 run and lead 73-6.  Single-digit watch is FO REAL

UPDATE 2:  Champion Baptist playing like champions the last few minutes have reached double-digits.  Now down 82-10

FINAL UPDATE:  Southern 116 Champion Baptist 12

And then, there's this:

Utah led this school 71-14 at one point.  That's just good scheduling

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Marquette: Recalibrated

Looking at Brian's last bracket of 2013 is a bit depressing for Marquette basketball fans. Being 8-5 with no significant wins of note outside of conference can do that. Marquette's best win to date is handing George Washington their only loss of the season. GW looks like a team that can hang around the bubble but are no lock to dance.

Marquette was getting blown off the court by Arizona State before having a chance to tie or win at the end. They lose in what was, quite frankly, embarrassing fashion at home to Ohio State prior to that. They lost at the Kohl Center which isn't a bad loss. The two losses that hurt are the loss to San Diego State and against New Mexico who beat them without Hugh Greenwood in what was probably Marquette's worst game of the year.

Despite this, Marquette still ranks 42nd overall in KenPom which shows there is room for growth. Problem is, they've been beset with more bad news seemingly on a weekly basis. Vander Blue announced his going pro last spring seemed to catch the coaching staff off guard and they haven't quite figured out how to replace him. Prior to that, Jake Thomas had announced he would transfer but after Vander's decision, he decided to stick around.

Two heralded newcomers won't play a single minute for the Golden Eagles this season. JUCO transfer Jameel McKay decided shortly after October Madness, he would transfer, eventually ending up at Iowa State. Freshmen PG, Duane Wilson, a player many thought would see significant minutes and possibly even start by conference play, suffered a stress fracture and was eventually redshirted.

McKay's loss probably hurts more next season but Duane Wilson was expected to be Derrick Wilson's primary backup this season. Derrick does okay running the point but at this point, simply isn't any kind of threat offensively. His predecessor, Junior Cadougan took a while to turn into at least a bit of a threat to attack the rim but Wilson the Elder hasn't yet. He is a very good rebounder for a small guy but the Golden Eagles need more offensively and I'm not sure he can provide it. His running mates have been Jake Thomas and Todd Mayo for the most part. Entering today's game, Thomas was 1-14 shooting from 2 and 22-53 from long range. He's a one-trick pony who is a sieve on defense. Mayo is easily Marquette fans most polarizing player. Exceptionally athletic, the ball far too often disappears when he gets it.

The wild card in conference play will be freshmen JaJuan Johnson who has flashed what made him a top-50 type recruit. His shot is akward from deep and he's light but given the lack of overall production in front of him, one wonders if Buzz will trust him enough to give him more minutes as the season goes on. Historically, Buzz doesn't play freshmen very much.

The frontcourt has been a strength as expected. Otule and Gardner combine to give Marquette a versatile and tough duo inside while Jamil Wilson plays in and out. Wilson continues to be erratic and needs to step up as Marquette's best player in the Big East this season. Depth is an issue. Deonte Burton is starting to get more minutes but has a lot of work to do defensively but is an energy guy offensively and will be a highlight regular throughout his career attacking the rim. More and more, it looks like Steve Taylor is suffering through a lost season as his knee injuy persists. Will be curious to see whether Taylor plays much more, if at all this season. Juan Anderson looks like a more conident player and off everyone, is the most improved. He's a fantastic rebounder. When healthy, Taylor has been a rebounding machine as well.

The numbers bear out the issues plaguing this unit. They're a good rebounding team on both sides of the ball amd they protect it for the most part. Like last season, they're atrocious from deep, shooting only 31%. They shoot a respectable 50.5% from 2 but that number should be much higher given the effectiveness of Gardner and Otule. Defensively, teams typically don't shoot well against Marquette. Scoring inside against them is very tough but teams have been able to find open deep shooters. Teams making 3's will almost certainly beat this team. The backcourt needs to better on this side.

Bottom line, the backcourt will determine whether this team dances or not. The Big East is littered with solid backcourts that will make this tough. As hard as Derrick Wilson plays and tries, he's limited and the shooting guards have been unreliable. Not having Vander Blue for his senior season has been a huge loss. And losing Cadougan at the same time has been far more crippling than imagined. 12-14 wins in conference will be needed to be a lock and I'm not sure they're guaranteed.

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Last Bracketology of 2013

1 seed vs 16 seed
Arizona (P12) vs Bama St(SWAC)/Norfolk (MEAC)
Syracuse (ACC) vs Radford(Bsouth)/Colgate(Pat)
Ohio State (B1G) vs Elon (SoCon)
Wisconsin vs St. Francis (NEC)
2 seed vs 15 seed
Louisville (AAC) vs SFA (Sland)
Oklahoma State vs Stony Brook (Aeast)
Oregon vs Manhatten (MAAC)
Michigan State vs N.Colorado (Bsky)
3 seed vs 14 seed
Baylor vs E.Kentucky (OVC)
Villanova (Beast) vs UW-Green Bay (Horizon)
Duke vs Mercer (Asun)
Iowa State (B12) vs N.Dakota St (Summit)
4 seed vs 13 seed
Wichita State (MVC) vs Hawaii (Bwest)
Florida vs Drexel (Colonial)
Kentucky vs W.Kentucky (Sbelt)
Kansas vs New Mexico St (WAC)
5 seed vs 12 seed
Gonzaga (WCC) vs Toledo (MAC)
Connecticut vs LSU
North Carolina vs Dayton/St. Mary's
UCLA vs Notre Dame/Arizona State
6 seed vs 11 seed
Iowa vs Boise State
San Diego St (MWC) vs Minnesota
New Mexico vs Indiana
Massachusettes (A10) vs Florisa State
7 seed vs 10 seed
Colorado vs Southern Miss (CUSA)
Cincinnati vs Virginia
VCU vs Oklahoma
Memphis vs Harvard (Ivy)
8 seed vs 9 seed
Missouri (SEC) vs Georgetown
Pittsburgh vs Illinois
St. Louis vs Texas
Virginia vs Creighton

First Four Out
Next Four Out
Utah State
St. John's
Also Considered
George Washington
Central Florida
Wake Forest
North Carolina St
Louisiana Tech
Missouri State
Mississippi State

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

ACC-Big 10 Challenge Day 2

Well, those predictions went well, 6-0 on day 1 of the Challenge. Let’s see how day 2 goes.

Maryland vs Ohio State – I still contend that Ohio State is overrated; however Maryland isn’t on their level.
Winner – Ohio State (ACC 4-3)

Virginia vs Wisconsin – in years past this would have been an unwatchable 43-42 game. There will be more scoring but I’m not sure it watchable.

Winner – Virginia (ACC 5-3)

North Carolina State vs Northwestern – home team, that is all
Winner – NC State(ACC 6-3)

North Carolina vs Michigan State – which UNC shows up? The UAB losers or the team that beat Louisville?
Winner – Michigan State(ACC 6-4)

Boston College vs Purdue – BC’s having a rough start to the season
Winner – Purdue (ACC 6-5)

Miami vs Nebraska – I’d rather watch Big Sky action.
Winner – Nebraska (It’s a tie 6-6)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

ACC-Big 10 Challenge

Day 1 of the ACC-Big 10 Challenge is today. The ACC hasn’t won it since 2008. Let’s take a quick glance at the matchups for tonight.

Indiana at Syracuse – this would have been a bigger game last year but Indiana isn’t a push over.
Winner – Syracuse (ACC 1-0)

Illinois at Georgia Tech – blah. I’ll take the home team
Winner – Georgia Tech (ACC 2-0)

Penn State at Pittsburgh – the battle for state of Pennsylvania. I’ll take the more physical team here.
Winner – Pittsburgh (ACC 3-0)

Michigan at Duke – the marquee game of the evening. I expect a ton of offense. Should be close but I’m siding with the home team.
Winner – Duke (ACC 4-0)

Notre Dame at Iowa – Iowa is no longer a sleeper; everybody sees what they are capable of.
Winner – Iowa (ACC 4-1)

Florida State at Minnesota – some of these games are dreadful. File this one in that bucket.
Winner – Minnesota (ACC 4-2)

Monday, December 2, 2013

A-10 Keeps Humming Along

With all the conference re-shuffling this off-season, one of the conferences expected to take a bit of a hit was the A-10. Early in the season, the A-10 looks as strong as it was last season when it sent 5 teams to the NCAA Tournament. It's early - way too early - but they have an outside shot at 5 again this year, with 4 well within reach. Can the A-10 put as many, or more in the dance than the new Big East or American? Maybe. Let's take a look at the early results.

- VCU:

Virginia Commonwealth started the season as the consensus A-10 pick and was a top-15 team. They may still be the class of the A-10 when it's all said an done but a bit of the shine has worn off. They have a nice win at Virginia and at Belmont but were manhandled by Florida State. The Seminoles look better than expected but the game wasn't close on a neutral court. They also lost to Georgetown in that same tournament. VCU isn't the clear favorite anymore but still a very good team.

- UMass:

The Minutemen are on a long NCAA drought that should end this season. I've been high on them since the pre-season and they haven't disappointed. They're 6-0 with neutral court wins over New Mexico and Clemson and a home court win over LSU. They also ran away from Boston College. That's two ACC scalps for UMass. LSU is probably a year away from dancing but still a good win.

- St. Louis:

I'm a bit bullish on the Billikens this year. They had an opportunity to make a statement with a win over Wisconsin or Wichita State but lost both, to the Badgers in Cancun and to the Shockers at home. The rest of the non-conference schedule doesn't have a team on it that will be a great win and they can't afford to slip up against Indiana State at home and winning at Vandy would be recommended.

- Dayton:

The Flyers stand at 6-1, with their only loss coming to Baylor by 1. Baylor figures to land in the top 4 of the Big 12. So, no shame in that loss. They have a very good neutral court win over Gonzaga and beat Georgia Tech by 10 at Tech. The Flyers also pounded Cal on a neutral court. Dayton travels to Ole Miss in early January. Win there would be very helpful and they need to keep winning the games they should in non-conference. They should be in a good place heading into the A-10 season. They need to play better in conference this year and if so, a return to the dance will be there.

- George Washington:

The Colonials had a big win over Creighton last night. Creighton has a couple of early hiccups but should finish in the top 4 of the Big East. That being said, Marquette whipped them on Saturday. GW is probably not a legit NCAA team but theyy'll have something to say about who is in the A-10.


Richmond is 6-2 with its best win being over Belmont. Its two losses were to a mediocre Minnesota team and an erratic North Carolina team. Richmond still travels to Wake Forest and Florida. They'll be underdogs at both and Florida would be a real long shot but a win over Wake would help the resume of them and the conference.

St. Joe's is 4-2 and plays Temple and Villanova this week. KenPom has them losing both. At the very least, they need to split. It isn't far-fetched for them to win both but is unlikely. They also play Drexel on the 18th. Drexel is the early favorite in the Colonial and would be a good win.

The disappointment is LaSalle. Fresh off the Sweet 16, the Explorers are 3-4 with losses to Manhattan, UNI & Providence. The Manhattan loss sounds bad but the Jaspers are favored in the MAAC. They also lost to Penn State who will probably win a few games they aren't expected to this season. Still, the Explorers are going to need to be real impressive in the A-10 to have a chance at back-to-back Sweet 16's. It won't be easy.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

A Quick Glance at How Conferences are Faring

Hard to believe we're nearly a month into the season and it's been full of some really good basketball. Hopefully, that holds through the remainder of the season. Doubt it can top yetserday in college football but that's almost impossible.

It's hard to rank conferences at this point. The ACC has had some close calls and bad losses but is it a bad conference? Let's take a quick look at KenPom's Top 40 heading into play today by conference:

1. ACC (7 teams):

Pitt leads the charge at 4 with Clemson at 28 and FSU at 34 as the surprises. I highly doubt Clemson stays in the Top 40 but I expect FSU will. Pittsburgh has always done well in these rankings so this isn't a surprise. They not hold the mantle of the ACC version of Wisconsin. Duke checks in at 27 and given their early struggles, that looks correct to me. Maryland is on the fringe and will be a very good team and a tough team in conference play.

2. B1G (6 teams):

The B1G has 3 teams in the top 10, no surprise as based on results, the B1G has been the best conference to the naked eye this year. Indiana at 29 is maybe the only slight surprise but they've gotten a lot of nice play from their youngsters. Will be worth a follow through conference play, even with the Crean factor. Though Iowa lost to Villanova last night at the Battle of Atlantis, I can see a team with a ceiling of a 2 or 3 seed.

3. (TIE w/4 teams): The American; Big 12; A-10:

Louisville is the top dog despite its loss to North Carolina and the rest of the Amercan teams are the usual suspects with Memphis, UConn and Cincinnati. Big 12 has two top-10 teams in Oklahoma State and Kansas. Those two matchups between those two ought to be must-see TV. The A-10 continues to be impressive. St. Louis and VCU are joined by UMass and Dayton. I really liked UMass heading into the season and should have stuck with them. Dayton has a good slate of wins thus far. I'll take a better look at these 4 tomorrow.

6. (TIE w 3/teams): Pac-12; WCC; SEC; Big East:

Before we declare the Pac-12 back, let's see how things play out. Arizona looks the part of a title contender but how's the rest of the conference? UCLA checks in at 22, Oregon at 35. Too early to draw a conclusion and I think Oregon is a real good team but how good is the rest of the league? The WCC checks in with 3 teams but I think only BYU and Gonzaga are tournament teams. Top 3 in the SEC are no surprise with Kentucky, Florida and Tennessee. The Big East has been okay so far with 3 teams in the Top 25. Villanova has been the most impressive winning the Battle of Atlantis, beating Iowa and Kansas. Their win over Towson is a good win, too. Creighton is 17 with Georgetown at 24.

The rest include Harvard (IVY) at 31, Wichita State (Valley) at 15 & San Diego State (MWC) at 40. Harvard has a chance to be a sleeper Sweet 16 type team this year though college basketball people already know this.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Week 3: Top Ten

1. Michigan State
2. Kansas
3. Oklahoma State
4. Kentucky
5. Arizona
6. Duke
7. Louisville
8. Ohio State
9. Syracuse
10. Wisconsin - yuck

Provided Duke and Arizona can win their semi-final games on Wednesday we'll have another top 10 matchup on Friday night at MSG. Duke-Arizona, Jabari Parker-Aaron Gordon, Coach K-Lute O...Sean Miller.

Just in Case Brad Is Reading....

AP Rank

24 Duke 9-2

25 Notre Dame 8-3

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Jabari Parker, Duke's Superstar

Kyrie Irving was a one-of-a-kind point guard. So was Jason Williams. Elton Brand was the polished paint player. But the best Duke player of the Coach K era was and has been Grant Hill. A high-riser who could defend, run the court, rebound and shoot, Hill played in 3 title games in 4 years. Duke has had loads of talent come and go since then but they haven't had another Grant Hill.

Until now. Say hello to Jabari Parker, superstar.

Over at Deadspin, they lay out the case as to what makes Parker the new star of college basketball. If you haven't seen him yet, take time out and watch him. It's worth it. Yes, he plays for Duke and and Duke backlash is a time honored tradition but this kid is above that. Unlike Hill, he won't play in 3 tite games. He may not play in one at all but sit back an enjoy him while he is at Duke.

Social media was abuzz about Frank the Tank dropping an incredible 43 on North Dakota, Marcus Smart toying with Memphis and Arizona State's super soph Jahii Carson putting 40 on UNLV but look for the highlights of Parker last night against East Carolina. Polished with confidence and playing with joy. This Duke team is going to be fun, so get use to it, anti-Duke-ites.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Revised Top 10

It’s too early to update a bracket each Monday so for now you get my top 10.

1. Michigan State
2. Louisville
3. Kansas
4. Oklahoma State
5. Duke
6. Kentucky
7. Arizona
8. Syracuse
9. Michigan
10. VCU

Moving On Up - Big Time

Brought to you by the Bracket Matrix - the site that monitors and ranks bracketologists. Looks like I'm busting into the top tier.
The 2014 Bracket Matrix Links

All the links used in the 2014 Bracket Matrix are listed here. Please email me if you want to add your site.
Tiers are based on the Bracket Matrix rankings page.

Tier 1 (At least 3 years in the matrix; above average)
Bracket WAG
Busting Bracketologists - CJ
CBS Sports - Jerry Palm ESPN
Bracketology - Joe Lunardi Jabesblog
Oak Creek's March Madness
SBNation's Blogging the Bracket
The Sports Bank - Patrick Stevens

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Things We've learned in the First Week

1. The Champions Classic is an awesome idea. Michigan State-Kentucky and Duke-Kansas were great games and it won’t matter who won or lost these games in the grand scheme of things.
2. Every year everybody hypes up the Freshman but this year it might actually be worth hyping up. Nevermind the fact that Michigan State probably looked the best in Chicago and aren’t led by freshman.
3. BYU can put up a lot of points…112 at Stanford. Putting up 112 against Grambling just isn’t the same.
4. Kentucky’s problem won’t be talent but it might be chemistry and free throw shooting
5. Central Florida’s black court is god awful

Friday, November 8, 2013

Bracket Comparison

Before the season tips off this evening let’s take a look at my preseason bracket compared to CBS’s Jerry Palm and ESPN’s Joe Lunardi. Taking out the low major conference winners as who really knows who’s going to win the MEAC our team selections are strikingly similar. Both Palm and Lunardi have4 different teams than I do. Stanford is in both and in my first four out. Lunardi also has Providence (my firs out), Alabama (AC), and Kansas State. Palm has Indiana State (NFO), UMass (NFO) and Purdue. The teams I have in are Missouri, both have as FFO, California, Southern Miss, and Xavier. I admit Xavier is a reach but I have faith Southern Miss will be there come March. As for seeding there are similarities although my 7 seeds are a point of contention. My 7 seeds are Memphis (Palm has 4, Lunardi 5), Connecticut (4 and 4), North Carolina (3,3) and Ohio State (2,3). Now, I’ve been clear that I believe UNC and Ohio State will be the most overrated top 20 teams this year so I don’t have issue with them. As for Memphis and UConn, I don’t see how the newly formed AAC gets 3 of the top 16 seeds.

On the flip side the teams I have higher than then those two are Marquette at a 3 (5,5), St. Louis at 4 (8,7), Virginia at 4 (5,6), and Wisconsin at 4 (6,6).

For the most part it’s a crap shoot to project a bracket before the season starts but it will be interesting to see how it all shakes out in the end.

2013-2014 Preseason Bracketology

1 seed vs 16 seed
Michigan State (B10) vs T.Southern(SWAC)/Boston (Pat)
Kentucky (SEC) vs NCCentral(MEAC)/H.Point(Bsouth)
Oklahoma State (B12) vs Northwestern St (Sland)
Louisville (AAC) vs Vermont (Aeast)
2 seed vs 15 seed
Kansas vs Manhattan (MAAC)
Michigan vs Oakland (Bsky)
Duke (ACC) vs UWGB (Horizon)
Florida vs Elon (SoCon)
3 seed vs 14 seed
Arizona (P12) vs Mt St. Mary's (NEC)
Syracuse vs Mercer (Asun)
VCU vs Cof Charelston (Colonial)
Marquette (Beast) vs UC-Irvine (Bwest)
4 seed vs 13 seed
Wichita St (MVC) vs E.Kentucky (OVC)
St. Louis vs Georgia State (Sbelt)
Virginia vs N Dakota St (Summit)
Wisconsin vs Southern Miss/Xavier
5 seed vs 12 seed
New Mexico (MWC) vs Toledo (MAC)
UCLA vs St. John's/LSU
Georgetown vs New Mexico St (WAC)
Villanova vs Harvard (Ivy)
6 seed vs 11 seed
Gonzaga (WCC) vs LaSalle
Baylor vs Louisiana Tech (Cusa)
Tennessee vs California
Oregon vs Missouri
7 seed vs 10 seed
Memphis vs Indiana
Connecticut vs Colorado
North Carolina vs Notre Dame
Ohio State vs Pittsburgh
8 seed vs 9 seed
UNLV vs Iowa
Iowa State vs Boise State
Cincinnati vs San Diego State
Creighton vs BYU
First Four Out
Fresno State
Boston College
Next Four Out
Indiana State
St. Mary's
Arizona State
Also Considered
Florida State
Northern Iowa
Mid Tennessee St
Utah State
Kansas State

Monday, November 4, 2013

Eric's Wildly Inaccurate Season Picks

Player of the Year:  Andrew Wiggins, Kansas

Freshmen of the Year:  Andrew Wiggins, Kansas

Underachieving Team:  Florida Gators
Runner-Up:  North Carolina Tar Heels

Overachieving Team:  Providence Friars
Runner-Up:  San Diego State Aztecs

(I used KenPom pre-season rankings.  UNC & Florida are top 10 - Florida has discipline issues that I think linger and Huckleberry Roy is Huckleberry Roy.  Providence & SDSU are out of the Top 40)

Elite 8 Matchups: 
Georgetown vs. Louisville
Oklahoma State vs. Kentucky
Duke vs. Arizona
Michigan State vs. Kansas

Final 4:
Kansas vs. Louisville
Duke vs. Kentucky

Title Game:
Kentucky over Kansas

The story of the year will be the play of freshmen across the country.  You haven't seen this many skilled freshmen in years and that'll be the story at the Final 4 where we'll see Parker, Wiggins & Randle shine.

Season Preview

Now that the conference previews are done it’s time to look at the year as a whole. My preseason bracket is just about filled out but all the major pieces are done. Time to unveil the season predictions:

Player of the Year: Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State

Freshman of the Year: Andrew Wiggins, Kansas

Underachieving Team: Ohio State
Runner up: North Carolina

Overachieving Team: Virginia
Runner up: Iowa

Elite Eight Matchups:
Louisville vs Florida
Oklahoma State vs VCU
Virginia vs Duke
Michigan State vs Kansas

Final Four Matchups
Florida vs Michigan State
Oklahoma State vs Duke

Championship Game
Michigan State over Oklahoma State

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Another View on Duke

In Brian's look at the ACC, he expressed doubts about Duke as a legit National Title contender because of a lack of size.  It might be an issue but I think potential depth and definite athleticism will overcome any concerns and Duke will be threat in March.

The pieces in the middle will include SOPH Amile Jefferson and redshirt sophomores, Marshall Plumlee and Alex Murphy.  Plumlee and Murphy have battled injuries and inconsistency but have the skills and game to contribute.  They have to do it, though.  I like Jefferson's game and think he's a breakthrough player for the Blue Devils this season.  Reports indicate he's bulked up and if so, he'll provide some heft inside.

The big reason I like Duke, though, is super freshman Jabari Parker.  Before his last season in high school, Parker was thought by some to be the best of the incoming freshmen.  He has the ability to carry Duke as a freshmen this year and has the body to be a dominant player anywhere they play him on the court.  He's that versatile and polished.

Finally, if Rodney Hood can stay healthy, he should be motivated to put up a big season.  After sitting out last season, it's believed he's one-and-done at Duke.

The backcourt should be solid and efficient and with a couple of elite players, I still believe Duke is a definite threat to win the whole thing

Conference Rank #1 - Big 10

Our #1 ranked conference of the year is not much of surprise. The Big 10 sent Michigan to the champion game last year and has a good a chance to send another team this year. In fact, not only am I predicting that they send a team to the championship game, I’m predicting that they win it. That’s right, this year I have Michigan State pegged as my team to take it all come March. Not far behind the Spartans is Michigan, who should be a top 10 team as well. Wisconsin always falls in the top 3 or 4 regardless of how painful it is to watch them play “basketball”. Coming in next will be Ohio State, who I have as one of the most overrated teams this year. The Buckeye’s are ripe for a 13-4 seed upset in the first round. Rounding out the Big 10 bids are Iowa and Indiana with Purdue hanging around the bubble. Iowa is going to be a team on the rise; watch out for them as a 10 seed or so in March.

Conference champion: Michigan State
At-Large: Michigan
At-Large: Wisconsin
At-Large: Ohio State
At-Large: Iowa
At-Large: Indiana
Bubble: Purdue

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Conference Rank #2 - ACC

I've gone back and forth on this rank since I started weeks ago. For most of the time I had the ACC ranked ahead of the Big 10 but ultimately I put the ACC #2 for reasons I will explore in this and the next post. As for this conference they look good from the top down. Duke is a preseason top 5 team and both Syracuse and North Carolina are hanging around the 10-15 range. The darkhorse in the division is Virginia, who I have finishing ahead of UNC and just behind Syracuse. Joe Harris has the ability to the POY in the ACC this year. Rounding out the bids are Notre Dame and Pittsburgh with Boston College, Maryland, and Florida State in Bubbleland. Let it be know that although Duke is #4 in the preseason I don't view them as a serious contender for the championship. I need to see how they are going to handle not having anybody taller than 6'8" play serious minutes before throwing them in that mix.

Conference Champion: Duke
At-Large: Syracuse
At-Large: Virginia
At-Large: North Carolina
At-Large: Notre Dame
At-Large: Pittsburgh
Bubble: Maryland
Bubble: Boston College
Bubble: Florida State

Friday, November 1, 2013

Conference Rank #3 - Big12

As mentioned earlier I have the Big-12 ranked #3, ahead of the SEC. One reason is my low regard for Kentucky but another reason is my high expectations of Oklahoma State. When Marcus Smart made his announcement that he was coming back I pegged them as a definite Elite 8 team with an outside chance of a Final Four. I’m not sure I’m picking them there yet but one thing I am sure of is that they will be taking the Big-12 title away from Kansas. The Wildcats lose all 5 starters and bring in a nice class of freshman, including Andrew Wiggins, but I still think Smart one ups him. In fact, I’m picking Marcus Smart as my Player of the Year even though most magazines have Wiggins as the POY. Either way it should be a battle when these two teams get together. Outside of these heavyweights I only see 2 more At-Large bids for the Big-12. Baylor and Iowa State should make it in around the 7-8 and 10-11 range and Oklahoma looks like the lone bubble team.

Conference Champion: Oklahoma State
At-Large: Kansas
At-Large: Baylor
At-Large: Iowa State
At-Large: Oklahoma

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Another View of Kentucky

Whether the SEC or Big 12 goes above one another doesn't much matter to me (Kentucky or Kansas are legit threats to win it all, OSU & Florida are Final 4 capable) but I believe Kentucky is as good as it was two years ago and much better than last year.

You don't ignore Alex Poythress and Willy Cauley-Stein but the key player in this team will be freshmen Julias Randle who rivaled Andrew Wiggins for best incoming player (Riggin' for Wiggins or Riggin' for Randle works for me Bucks).  The Harrison twins, C Dakari Johnson & SF James Young were all top-10 recruits as well as future pros.  The depth on this team will be incredible.  Talking undefeated is a bit much but this group is way closer to 2011-12 than last year. 

Also, keep an eye on this kid, Derek Willis a 6'9" freshmen who has looked good thus far for Kentucky, according to various reports. 

Florida is good but they have issues keeping kids on the floor for a variety of reasons.  It's easy to hate Calipari and Kentucky.  This year, though, I think it's going to be tough if you don't like them because they are going to win a lot.

Conference Rank #4 - SEC

Our 4th ranked conference is sure to spark controversy as most pundits would have the SEC at 3rd due to the relative strength of the top two. One of my reasons for putting them behind the Big 12 is unlike most people I see Kentucky’s “greatest” recruiting groups closer to last year’s freshman than the year before. When Kentucky won the tournament everybody left and got drafted. Last year not everybody left…I wonder why? Perhaps its because everybody sees the holes in Alex Poythress’ game and know better. He wasn’t a good teammate or leader last year; what makes everybody think he’s not going to bring this team down as well. And Willie Cauley-Stein is no Daniel Orton . Now, don’t get me wrong, they will still be good, 3-4 seed good but I have Florida winning the SEC ahead of them. Rounding out the bids in the SEC are in order, Tennessee, LSU, and a last four in Missouri. Bubble worthy teams are Alabama and Arkansas with the Tide probably falling in the last 8 out category.
Conference Champion: Florida
At-Large: Kentucky
At-Large: LSU
At-Large: Tenneesse
At-Large: Missouri
Bubble: Alabama
Bubble: Arkansas

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Conference Rank #5 - Pac-12

Teh Pac 12 sneaks in ahead of the Big East only because I see Arizona as a possible Elite Eight candidate while I don't see anybody from the Big East with that kind of ceiling. So, starting at the top with Arizona, how does the rest of the conference fall into place? UCLA starts fresh with Steve Alford but how will the players respond? There's talent but can they gel? Oregon brings in another bunch of transfers and it makes me wonder what kind of person Dana Altman is. This can't be the same guy from Creighton! Colorado returns 4 of 5 starters but the seems to be lacking in the middle. I think the top 3 get in easy with Colorado grabbing a bid along the 11 seed line. If the Pac-12 gets a 5th bid it will likely come down to California or Arizona State. We'll leave them on the bubble for now

Conference Champion: Arizona
At-Large: UCLA
At-Large: Oregon
At-Large: Colorado
Bubble: California
Bubble: Arizona State

Conference Rank #6 - Big East

Conference #6 is bound to bring up questions as I see little difference between 5 and 6. At this point I rank the Big East slightly behind the Pac-12 even though they may get more bids. My top pick is the hometown Warriors of Marquette. Yes, they lose Vander Blue, Trent Lockett, and Junior Cadugan, but they bring back plenty of firepower including 9th year senior Chris Otule. Jamil Wilson is the X-factor and as long as they get some point guard play they should rise to the top. 2nd and 3rd are interchangeable in my mind between Georgetown and Creighton. Doug McDermott is my pre-season player of the year. 4th is Villanova and that’s where the bids will end for the Big East. If they do scrap out a 5th pick I’m looking at St. John’s or Providence and newcomers Xavier and Butler. St. John’s returning players puts them slightly ahead of the other three.

Conference Champion: Marquette
At-Large: Georgetown
At-Large: Creighton
At-Large: Villanova
Bubble: St. John’s
Bubble: Providence
Bubble: Xavier
Bubble: Butler

Monday, October 28, 2013

Mountain West and the American: Counter-ish Points

Not that it ultimately matters at all, but I'd put the American ahead of the Mountain West Conference simply because the top half of the American has 3 of KenPom's top 20 teams and a 4th in Cincinnati in the 40s that I think will be better by the end of the season.  The 5-10 of the American will be better as well.  Brian mentioned SMU who is trending up and keep an eye on Central Florida.  UCF could be a surprise team this year.  Houston, Temple and Rutgers will be capable of winning some games they shouldn't as well. 

The top 3 teams are Louisville, Memphis and UConn.  Louisville is a legitimate threat to win back-to-back titles and Memphis and UConn are Sweet 16 caliber teams.  The conference is a bit of a jumble and Louisville is in for only one season and the rest would bolt as soon as another BCS conference would call, but at least for this season, it should be an interesting conference with lots of good basketball.


The Mountain West puffed its chest throughout 2012-13 as its RPI reigned near the top.  Justifiably so, 5 teams went dancing and then...SPLAT.  New Mexico and perennial underachiever Steve Alford got bounced in its opening game against Harvard as a 3-seed.  UNLV, a sleeper Final 4 contender by many, including yours truly, lost its opening game to California.  Boise State lost in the play-in and San Diego State got run off the court by Florida Gulf Coast.  Only Larry Eustachy's Colorado State could hold their heads high, beating Missouri before getting trounced by eventual champ, Louisville.

Four bids seems likely.  New Mexico is the clear favorite with new coach Craig Neal and POY candidate, Sr. G, Kendall Williams.  The Lobos also return, big man Alex Kirk who lead the league in rebounding and blocked shots.  They lose Tony Snell but have JUCO All-American, Deshawn Delaney joining the roster.  Look for Delaney to be a big key to Lobo success.  The Lobos can be as good as last year.  The fans would like a few wins in March, though.

Boise State is the next team on KP's rankings (His rankings don't include frosh or transfers).  UNLV is probably more talented but questions exist in my mind about the coaching.  Dave Rice has accumulated talent but no success out of the Mountain West.  Boise State has five starters returning.  Between the two, I'd look for Boise State to be a bigger thorn in the side for New Mexico than UNLV.

San Diego State loses Jamal Franklin and Chase Tapley but Xavier Thames returns and the Aztecs add transfer Josh Davis from Tulane.  Look for SDSU to rely on some young players, so a sluggish start shouldn't surprise anyone.  More importantly will be whether they improve through the conference slate.

Utah State is the wild card.  The former WAC-member was a constant WAC contender and have some pieces that should allow them to contend this season as a first year member of the Mtn. West.  Jarred Shaw has an opportunity to be an All-Conference player and will be a force in the post for the Aggies.

I'm not counting out Colorado State who may have the league's best coach in Larry Eustachy.  They lose nearly everyone but look for a big season out of Mountain West 6th Man of the Year, Daniel Bejarano.  Wyoming faded in conference play last year but has enough talent to beat some of the top of the conference teams and keep themselves in the conversation.  Neither is likely to dance but will have something to say about who does out of the MWC.

This is a put up or shut up type of year throughout the conference.  Can they find success in March as a whole?  Can New Mexico break through the first weekend?  Can UNLV have results that match the perceived talent?  The league continues to attract good coaches and good players.  Time to get some results.

Conference Ranking #7 - Mountain West

The 7th ranked conference, the Mountain West, surprised many by getting 5 bids last year. This year shouldn’t be much difference. New Mexico has a new coach but outside of Tony Snell return most of their lineup. This conference is their’s to lose. UNLV has some turnover but has enough talent to safely snag a bid. Boise State returns most of their team as well and I believe has the best chance to give the Lobo’s a run for their money. San Diego reloads and Steve Fischer always has them ready to go. I have all 4 of these teams getting a bid. On the bubble we have Utah State, new to the MWC, and Fresno State which made big strides last year. If everything works perfectly 5 bids is not out of the question.

Conference Champion: New Mexico
At-Large: Boise State
At-Large: UNLV
At-Large: San Diego State
Bubble: Utah State
Bubble: Fresno State

Conference Rank #8 - American Conference

The 8th ranked conference is also the newest conference, the ill named American Athletic Conference. Starting at the top is last year’s champion, the Louisville Cardinals. Their stay in the AAC is brief, 1 year, but there’s little doubt they win the conference in that 1 year. Second place is a different story. A case can be made for either Memphis, Cincinnati, or Connecticut, fresh off suspension. I’m giving the slight edge to the Huskies due to their guard play. Memphis and Cincinnati will thug it out for 3rd and 4th, rounding out the At-Large bids. The sleeper in this conference is SMU which I can see making a push but ultimately coming up short.

Conference Champion: Louisville
At-Large: Connecticut
At-Large: Memphis
At-Large: Cincinnati
Bubble: SMU

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Conference Rank #9 - Atlantic 10

Conference number 9, the Atlantic 10, has already been previewed by Eric earlier. Our analysis isn’t much different. The top seed belongs safely to VCU and I expect a 5 or 6 seed out of them. The second team is also very secure as St. Louis is poised for another bid. The third team from the Atlantic 10 comes down to either LaSalle or UMass. I’m giving a slight edge to the Explorers in a very interesting race. Come March I expect the A-10 to have 2 locks with LaSalle ultimately beating out UMass for an 11 or 12 seed.

Conference Champion: VCU
At-Large: St. Louis
At-Large: LaSalle
Bubble: UMass

Friday, October 25, 2013

Conference Rank #10 - West Coast

And then there were 10. Our top 10 conferences begin out west with the West Coast Conference. Outside of the Patty Mills era this has been all about Gonzaga and this year doesn’t look much different. The Zags may not be a top 10 team like most years but they will remain heads and shoulders above the rest of the WCC. While paging through the magazines this fall I was surprised to see many experts peg this conference as a 1 bid league. I don’t quite see it that way as BYU and St. Mary’s should be in the running for a 2nd and possibly 3rd bid. At this point I give the edge to BYU who will rely heavily on Tyler Haws to carry a Fredette like scoring burden. If he can get some quality help BYU should be safely on the right side of the bubble.
Conference Champion: Gonzaga
At Large: BYU
Bubble: St. Mary’s

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Conference Rank #11 - Conference USA

Our 11th ranked conference looks to be the first in the multiple bid category. There doesn’t appear to be much difference between the top 2 or 3 teams but the bottom of the conference will really bring down these teams’ RPI. On paper Louisiana Tech looks like the front runner with most of last year’s firepower back. Southern Miss appears to be slightly ahead of Middle Tennessee State in the pecking order with UTEP on the outside looking in.
Conference Champion: Louisiana Tech
At-Large Bid: Southern Miss
Bubble: Middle Tennessee State
Bubble: UTEP

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Ever Changing A-10

There is a lot to dislike about conference realignment.  Mis-matched divisions, lost rivalries and the constant shifting in the non-BCS leagues.

A year ago, the A-10 had a fantastic season.  VCU, St. Louis, Butler, La Salle & Temple all repped the A-10 in the NCAA Tournament with each winning its opening matchup and La Salle made the Sweet 16 while Butler & Temple lost in the final minute in the round of 32.

Flash forward to today and Butler, along with A-10 perennial contender Xavier have left for the new Big East and Charlotte and Temple left for Conference USA and the AAC to chase football dreams.  George Mason moves  from the Colonial and Davidson joins next year.  More change could be afoot as rumors still swirl the new Big East could be eyeing St. Louis, Richmond, Dayton and/or VCU.  But that's later.  Here's a brief look at this year.

The Sleeper:  I've been high on Rhode Island from the day they hired Dan Hurley who spurned Rutgers in the off-season to stay with the Rams.  Will the Rams make the NCAA tournament this year?  It's doubtful but they should get on the bubble for a portion of the season.  They have the league's returning leading scorer in G Xavier Munford and add 3 transfers to the roster that should give them depth and better talent.  Keep an eye on Texas Tech transfer, sophomore Biggie Minnis and freshmen G, E.C. Matthews, a top-100 recruit.  The Rams probably don't dance this year but by next year will be a legit title contender in the A-10.  Buy now,

The Middle:  A conference is sometimes only as good as its middle and the A-10 has plenty of talented teams that fall into this category.  These teams should hover around the bubble and could go either way.  I wouldn't be surprised if two of the following 5 make the A-10 a five-bid league again.

Those teams in no general order are George Mason, UMass, Dayton, Richmond and St. Joe's. 

George Mason moves over from the Colonial and coach Paul Hewitt has the Patriots trending upwards.  They return all five starters, all of which are juniors or seniors.  UMass is lead by senior PG Chaz Williams, a likely 1st team A-10 player and add Western Kentuicky transfer G Derrick Gordon who was the Hilltoppers leading scorer in his only season.  Dayton lost a lot of close games last year which saw them shut out of all post-season play but have the A-10's top recruiting class.  A lot of their minutes were played by freshmen last year.  Look for a step forward.  Richmond and St. Joe's round out the group, both coming off .500 seasons.  The Hawks may be more talented of the two but if Richmond can figure out how to win on the road, both figure to be in the mix.

The Top 3:  Heading into the season, the top 3 are not in doubt.  They are expected to be VCU, SLU and La Salle.  VCU is the clear-cut favorite, remarkably for the first time under Shaka Smart.  Will they handle expectations?  It'll help to add graduate transfer Terrance Shannon from Florida State who was cleared to play immediately.  They still have plenty of recognizable faces in Rob Brandenburg, Treveon Graham, Briante Weber and Juvonte Reddic.  They look like the easy front runner to me.

That's not to say St. Louis won't be a formidable foe.  The Billikens are a bit more settled as head coach. Jim Crews had the interim tag removed.  He has Jordair Jett and Dwayne Evans back as well.  The Billikens calling card is defense and will be again this season.  There weren't many better on that side of the ball last year.  Bonus fun:  They have Tanner Bronson on staff.

La Salle was the surprise of the group last year, in that they made the Sweet 16 when you'd probably have guessed one of the other 4 but the Explorers rode a 3-headed backcourt monster of Garland, Duren & Galloway.  Ramon Galloway has graduated but Tyreek Duren and Tyrone Garland return as does senior guard, Sam Mills.  Look for La Salle to make back-to-back dances for the first time in decades.

Bottom Line:  The A-10 looks like a certain 3-team league.  I think UMass is pretty certain as well but we will have to see how the losses of Butler and Temple effect the league.  Xavier leaving hurts as well but Butler sort of took their spot in the pecking order last year as Xavier had a rare down season.  I originally thought 5 bids wouldn't shock me but it seems unlikely.  Possible?  Yes.  Likely?  No.  Still, the A-10 should be a fun league for people who love college basketball. 

Conference # 12 - Missouri Valley

Our 12th ranked conference of the year has been previewed already on these pages; it’s the Missouri Valley conference. As Kurly correctly pointed out the projected winner of the conference appears to be heads and shoulders above the rest of the league. Wichita State, which made the Final Four last year is poised to make another run to the tournament. The big question is whether the Valley is a 1 bid conference this year. Time will tell but as for now we are projecting only 1 seed come March.
Conference Champion: Wichita State
Bubble: Northern Iowa
Bubble: Indiana State

Monday, October 21, 2013

Conferences 17 Through 13

The last of the surefire single bids
17. Summit - North Dakota State
16. Colonial - College of Charleston
15. Sun Belt - Georgia State
14. WAC - New Mexico State (check out the 7-5 and 7-3 brothers)
13. MAC - Toledo (but watch out for Akron)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Valley

I'm jumping in on Brain's countdown and doing a quick peak at the Missouri Valley Conference.

Like so many others, the Valley finds itself in a period of transition, losing long-time member Creighton and adding former horizon member, Loyola (IL).  On the court, the swap is a net loss but a trip to Chicago probably surpasses a trip to Omaha.  The Valley had arguably its best seasoni n history as Wichita State joined Butler & VCU as a party crasher at the Final Four, more than holding its own against eventual champion Louisville.  Creighton takes POY Doug McDermott with it to the new Big East but the Valley should still be a competetive and talented conference.

The general consensus is, the top of the Valley should look like this:

1. Wichita State
2.  Indiana State
3.  Northern Iowa

Evansville and Missouri State should make up the middle with Bradley in the mix as well.  Don't be surprised if the top 3 slip up and lose a game to one or more of these teams.

Northern Iowa will be led by two juniors, G Deon Mitchell and F Seth Tuttle.  Northern Iowa has Iowa State on the schedule in Cedar Falls as part of the Iowa Hy-Vee Classic (Iowa will play MVC member, Drake that night), VCU a week later at Cedar Falls and then travel a week later to Virginia.  UNI will also play at George Mason and have Iona at home prior to conference play.  It's a good test before to conference play. 

Indiana State will be led by potential Valley POY, Jake Odum.  Joining him will be F, Manny Arop.  The Sycamores have a rebuilding Belmont on the schedule at Belmonth a return date and travel to Notre Dame, both before Thanksgiving.  They're playing in the Great Alaska Shootout as well but the participants are mediocre.  Should they make the final, they'd get probably Harvard or UWGB.  Winning here would be recommended should they need an at-large.  They also travel to St. Louis in December.  I like UNI's non-conference schedule better.

The schedule and how those teams play in those games will go a long way to determine whether the Valley gets two bids this year.  Of course, either team will be capable of winning Arch Madness.

The clear favorite will be Wichita State.  The Shockers return plenty of key pieces and add a few as well.  Coach Gregg Marshall brings back pre-season Valley POY, F Cleanthony Early and will have a talented and experienced backcourt with sophomore SG, Ron Baker, PG Fred VanFleet and junior G, Tekele Cotton rounding out the triumvarite.  The frontcourt should be bolstered by 3 newcomers, UL-Lafayette transfer Kadeem Coleby, JUCO transfer Darius Carter and talented freshman, Shaquille Morris.

I don't think Wichita State will struggle with success or a "target" squarely on their back.  They have the most talent but a few head scatching losses in conference won't surprise me.  When it's all said and done, it'll take a pretty epic collapse or a slew of injuries to keep Wichita State from the tournament.

Whether or not the Valley gets two entrants into March Madness this season probably centers around how Indiana State and UNI play out of league.  If they struggle, it'll probably take a win at Arch Madness for the league to get two bids.  I don't see another team surprising anyone and taking a leap towards the top.  The league is still very good but there is no Creighton to pair with Wichita State this season.  Still, if you're a hoopnik, Valley basketball should be lots of fun.

Conferences 18-22

With a little over 3 weeks until the season starts we nail down conferences 18 through 22. Still 1 bid territory but we're getting closer to at-large country.
18. Big West - UC Irvine
19. Ivy - Harvard
20. Atlantic Sun - Mercer
21. SoCon - Elon
22. Northeast - Mount St. Mary's

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Our Next Five Conference Winners

23. Horizon - UW-Green Bay, followed closely by Oakland 24. Big Sky - Weber State 25. Ohio Valley - Eastern Kentucky 26. MAAC - Manhattan 27. American East - Vermont Catamounts

Marquette Recruiting Update

After Marquette Madness on Friday, Marquette's top target for the 2014 recruiting class, Ahmed Hill of Augusta, GA committed.  Hill is a consensus 4* SG and and top-60 recruit.  He compares to Vander Blue but with a better shot.  It came down to Marquette and Missouri with Indiana in the mix as well. 

He joins Seymour, WI SF, Sandy Cohen and Orland Park, IL F Malek Harris.  All 3 are top-100 recruits.  To give you an idea of how well the Big East has been recruiting, Marquette rates 11th overall nationally according to 24/7 Sports, but 4th in conference. 

Marquette has one spot available.  Two other targets were on campus on Friday, SF Marial Shayok who is expected to announce this week between Marquette, Providence and Virginia and New Hampshire PF, Tory Miller.  Marquette may also be in the running for Ohio C, Satchel Pierce as it was reported they offered him last week.  They could use another big in the class since they lose Chris Otule, Jamil Wilson & Davante Gardner.  Shayok rates higher than Miller or Pierce but Miller has been rising the charts this past few months.  Whatever way it ends up going, Buzz Williams has landed another solid class on top of a great class.

He also has one of the nations top PG committed for 2015 in Sun Prarie's Nick Noskowiak.

Exciting times for Marquette basketball fans

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Big East Predictions Sure To Be Wrong

Here are my final predictions for the Big East this season.  They are sure to be wrong.  * indicates Tournament team, ** indicates NIT

1.  Marquette *
2.  Villanova *
3.  Georgetown *
4.  Creighton *
5.  St. John's *
6.  Xavier*
7.  Providence **
8.  Seton Hall
9.  Butler
10.  DePaul

Player of the Year:  Doug McDermott, Creighton
Newcomer of the Year:  Brandon Austin, G, Providence

All Big East First Team
F:  Doug McDermott, Creighton
F: Davante Gardner, Marquette
F:  JaKarr Sampson, St. John's
G:  Semaj Christon, Xavier
G:  Bryce Cotton, Providence

All Big East Second Team

F:  Jamil Wilson, Marquette
F:  JayVaughn Pinkston, Villanova
G-F:  Fuquan Edwin, Seton Hall
G:  Markel Starks, Georgetown
G:  D'Angelo Harrison, St. John's

All Big East Third Team

F:  Kadeem Batts, Providence
F:  LaDontae Henton, Providence
C:  Chris Otule, Marquette
G:  Ryan Arcidiancono, Villanova
G:  Grant Gibbs, Creighton

All-Freshmen Team

F:  Reggie Cameron, Georgetown
F:  Kris Jenkins, Villanova
G-F:  Deonte Burton, Marquette
G:  Brandon Ausin, Providence
G:  JaJuan Johnson, Marquette

Get To Know The New Big East: Marquette Golden Eagles

Lost to Syracuse in the Elite 8

Head Coach:  Buzz Williams - Hired after Tom Crean left for the Indiana job in April of 2008, little was known of Buzz and questions abounded amongst Marquette faithful if he could match Crean's record or keep the program trending in the right direction.  Six years later, his name is now mentioned when any major job opens across the land and has surpassed Crean's achievements save one, taking the Golden Eagles to the Final Four.  Please read this if you want to know about what made and who Buzz Williams is - It's a six-part series.  This link takes you to part 5

NCAA History:

National Champion:  1977
Final Four:  1974 (Runner-Up), 1977 & 2003
Elite 8's:  7
Sweet 16's:  16

2013-14 Glance:  Expectations are high entering the new year despite losing 3 key backcourt performers in Vander Blue, Trent Lockett & Junior Cadougan.  Countering those losses are arguably Marquette's best recruiting class since Jerel McNeal, Wes Matthews & Dominic James.  Todd Mayo and Derrick Wilson reurn for their Junior seasons and will team with newcomers, FROSHES Duane Wilson, Deonte Burton & JaJuan Johnson.  Derrick Wilson is expected to start at the point and was quite efficient last season when he played but hasn't shown a great offensive game.  Duane Wilson, on the other hand despite being a freshmen may be more polished offensively and should see plenty of minutes.  Mayo will be pushed by JaJuan Johnson, a top-50 recruit and Burton, a top-100 recruit should see plenty of time as well.  Jake Thomas was largely ineffective last season save the Syracuse regular season game.  Reports indicated he bulked up and may see more time.

While the backcourt appears to be in a state of transition, the front court should be a major strength for the Golden Eagles.  Davante Gardner and Jamil Wilson, who both came off the bench last season, return and should be all-league type players.  Gardner was one of the best shooting big men in the nation last season and Wilson was arguably the team's best player not named Vander by the end of the season.  Chris Otule will man the middle as he was granted a 6th year of eligibility.  Otule was very efficient from the field last year in his minutes.  Juan Anderson was the starter, though he saw less minutes than the other frontcourt players.  Anderson thought of transferring but decided to stay and will give Marquette plenty of minutes.  They also add JUCO player and local product, Jameel McKay who is the latest of Buzz's JUCOs to join the team.  Don't be surprised if he is a big contributor this season.

Marquette will be tested in the backcourt but has plenty of talent and depth throughout the lineup where another Sweet 16 isn't a reach.  Had Vander Blue returned, they'd be a Final Four contender.  Even without him, they'll be the favorite heading into this Big East season and if the Freshmen and McKay live up to the hype, have a shot at playing in the Final 4, though expectations of that should be tempered.  It should be a fun year at the BMO Harris BC.

Marquette blogs:,,

Friday, October 4, 2013

Let The Countdown Begin!

We are officially 5 weeks out of College Basketball season. As Kurly has started his Big East breakdown I’ll start counting down our Conferences from 32 to 1. Note that this year there is 1 less auto-bid as the new American Conference….awful name by the way…gets a bid. 28. Southland – Northwestern State Demons 29. Patriot – Boston Terriers 30. Big South – High Point Panthers 31. MEAC – NC Central Eagles 32. SWAC – Texas Southern

Monday, September 30, 2013

Get To Know The New Big East: Georgetown Hoyas

Losto Florida Gulf Coast in the NCAA 2nd Round

Head Coach:  John Thompson III - JT3 has been the coach at Georgetown since 2004.  He played at Princeton and was an assistant their before being the head man from 2000-2004.  JT3 has one Final Four under his belt but his Hoyas have been eliminated from the NCAA tournament the last 5 seasons by double digit seeds. 

NCAA History:

National Champion:  1984
Final 4:  1943, 1982, 1984, 1985, 2007
Elite 8's:  9, most recently 2007

Georgetown was national runner-up in 1982 & 1985, losing in two of the most famous games ever.  In '82, they lost to the North Carolina Tar Heels and Michael Jordan's late shot followed by Freddie Brown's turnover and in 1985 to fellow Big East member, Villanova who played a near-flawless game to beat the heavily favored Hoyas.  Last season, Georgetown became the latest 15-seed to lose as they were run off the court by Florida Gulf Coast.

2013-14 Glance:  Georgetown wasn't expected to be as good as they were last season, so it may be a bit unfair to criticize them too much for their loss to FGCU.  Still, five straight losses to double digit seeds leaves Hoya fans a bit antsy.  Losing Otto Porter probably doesn't help.  Porter was all-everything for Georgetwon last season but the cupboard is far from bare.

The Hoyas lost a lot of pieces from the 2011-2012 team and did just fine last season and should survive the loss of Porter.  They'll have SR. PG, Markel Starks back and his running mate in the backcourt will be SOPH D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera who averaged 8.9 ppg.  Smith-Rivera had a 33 point game against DePaul last season.  Shouldn't surprise anyone one if Smith-Rivera is a breakout player in the Big East this season.  JR Jabril Trawick will see plenty of time as well. 

SR. F Nate Lubick retuns to lead the frontcourt.  Lubick shot 59.1% from the field last year to go with about 5 boards per game.  Lubick is known more for his defense but may get more looks inside this year sans Porter.  He'll be joined by JR. Mikael Hopkins and Freshmen Reggie Cameron.  Also expected to see time will be SOPH Stephen Domingo and JR. Moses Ayegba.

Georgetown has two wild cars in UCLA transfer big man Josh Smith and JR Greg Whittington.  Smith was a productive player for UCLA as a freshmen but has battled weight issues the last two years.  If he's in shape, he can be a key player for the Hoyas.  Whittington was suspended at the beginning of Big East play and missed the rest of the season.  To make matters worse, he tore an ACL and his availability is uncertain and one would guess, his effectiveness.  Probably best case scenario would be rounding into form by the Big East tournamnet.

Most pundits are picking Georgetown in the top 3 of the conference.  Sounds about right and a battle for the top spot wouldn't surprise.  It'll be important for the conference moving forward that Georgetown is a factor and perennial contender.

Georgetown Basketball Blogs:

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Get To Know The New Big East: Villanova

Lost to North Carolina in the NCAA 2nd Round

Head Coach:  Jay Wright - Doesn't seem like it, but Jay Wright has been the coach at Villanova since 2001.  Prior to coaching at Villanova, Wright was the head man at Hofstra.  Wright has one Final Four to his name taking the Wildcats to the Final Four in 2009.

NCAA History:

National Champion:  1985
Final Four:  1939, 1971 (vacated), 1985, 2009
Elite 8's:  12 in total, most recent in 2009

Villanova has been to the NCAA tournamnet 33 times, 8th most in NCAA history.  The Wildcats are most famously remembered for their 1985 win over Georgetown where they played a nearly flawless game in defeating the heavily favored Georgetown Hoyas. 

2013-14 Glance:  Depth is the name of the game this year at Villanova.  They are deep.  They may be missing a dominant post player and a true go-to-guy but they will be capable on a given night and should contend for a Big East championship.

The backcourt will be led by SOPH. PG Ryan Arcidiancono.  As a freshmen, he scored 12 ppg.  That was coming of major back surgery that cost him his senior season in HS.  Look for him to be one of Villanova's main players this season and one of the better players in the Big East.  His shooting guards will be Darrun Hilliard who averaged 11 ppg last season.  Rice transfer Dyan Ennis provides defense and someone that can score.  Tony Chennault provides d and depth.  Freshmen Josh Hart will also see time on the court. 

The frontcourt will have SR. James Bell likely starting at SF.  Bell averaged 8.6 & 4.2 boards per game.  Joining him willbe Jayvaughn Pinkston who is the Wildcats leading returning scorer and rebounder.  At C will be SOPH Daniel Ochefu who replaces Mouphtaou Yarou.  Ochefu isn't the presence but he played well as a freshmen.  FR. Darryl Reynolds will probably see some minutes as well.

Freshman Kris Jenkins should see some solid minutes, too.  Jay Wright thinks he could end up being the Wildcats best shooter.

Don't be surprised if Villanova wins the Big East this season.  They'll definitely be in the mix and should easily make their way into the NCAA tournament.

Villanova basketball Blogs:

Get To Know The New Big East: Xavier

XAVIER MUSKETEERS, 17-14 (9-7 A-10)

Head Coach:  Chris Mack - Mack is a former Xavier player who served as an assistant under both Sean Miller & the late Skip Prosser.  Xavier has become a bit of a cradle of coaches.  The previous coaches were Pete Gillen, Skip Prosser, Thad Matta and Sean Miller who all found success at Xavier.

NCAA History:

Xavier has not made a Final Four in its history but has made two Elite 8's since 2004 and 5 Sweet 16's since 2004.  They've been to 6 Sweet 16's overall and have won or shared 17 conference titles since 1981.  Xavier has been trending up for quite awhile and will give Cincinnati a challenger to best team in the Queen City.

2013-14 Glance:  2012-13 was a step back for Xavier who had been un a great run.  Graduation, player dismissals and ultimately ineligible players equaled Xavier not playing in the post-season for the 1st time in years. 

The new season has much more promise.  Returning SOPH G, Semaj Christian, 2013 A-10 Rookie of the Year, will be the go-to-guy for Xavier.  Last season, he scored 15.2 ppg to go with 4.6 assists per game. Joining him in the back court will be likely PG, Dee Davis.  Xavier was one of the A-10's least frequent 3pt shooting teams but redshirt FR. Myles Davis is expected to provide some lang range firepower.  He did have some minor knee surgery at the beginning of the month bnut is expected back shortly.

Up front, Xavier has some returning faces and some new ones that will be expected to contribute.  Returning are Isaiah Philmore and Justin Martin.  Both were good for 8 & 5 and 7 & 5 last year.  Joining them will be Western Michigan transfer, Matt Stainbrook who has two years of eligibility left.  Two years ago, Stainbrook averaged 11.4 and 6.8.  Another academic casualty from last year will be getting his first playing time.  That will be Jalen Reynolds.  Stainbrook should be a solid complement to Christian.

Xavier has a chance to get back to the NCAA tournament this season and will probably be in the mix to finish in the upper half of the Big East.  I'd imagine they'll fall into the 4-6 range and will be a tough game for all the Big East.

Xavier Basketball Blogs: (I'm looking for other suggestions)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Get To Know The New Bog East: Butler

BUTLER BULLDOGS, 27-9 (11-5, A-10)
Lost in the 3rd Round of the NCAA tournament to Marquette

Head Coach:  Brandon Miller - Miller follows a long line of first time coaches at Butler and looks to recapture their magic.  Miller was on the 2003 Sweet 16 team and was a special assistant at Illinois under John Groce last season.  Miller came back aboard prior to Brad Stevens leaving.  Matt Graves probably would have gotten the job had he not taken the South Alabama job.

NCAA History:

Final Four:  2, National Runner-up in 2010 & 2011
Elite 8's:  Both those same seasons
Sweet 16's:  5

Butler has 17 NCAA tournament wins since 2001 alone.  That encompasses the coaching tenures of Thad Matta, Todd Lickliter & Brad Stevens.  Current AD Barry Collier was the coach prior to those 3 and is considered the father of the current successful run by Butler basketball.

2013-14 Glance:  The off-season started with a bang for Butler as they began their transition into the new Big East.  Just two years ago, they were playing in the competetive but less glamorous Horizon league but were a very attractive program to incorporate into the new conference.  Then Brad Stevens left.  Stevens had been courted by nearly every opening in the last few seasons but was seemingly waiting for possibly one of the Tobacco Road jobs or maybe Indiana should it ever open.  Instead, he jumped to the NBA and the Celtics who could be the worst team in the NBA this season.  Following that, Butler's leading returning scorer, rebounder and assist man, Roosevelt Jones was lost for the season to injury.  To add insult to injury, beloved Bulldog mascot, Blue II passed away.

Jones was expected to be the Bulldogs all-everything but they still have some pieces to play with.  SOPH G Kellen Dunham returns and reports are he looks stronger than he was last year.  He scored about 10ppg and hit 34.5% from deep, a number that will need to improve.  Also in the backcourt with him wiill be JR. Alex Barlow.  Of all the Butler newcomers, Elijah Brown looks the most ready to contribute according to reports and should see time in the backcourt rotation.  As was an issue last year, who will run the point needs to be addressed.  Butler's biggest issue last season was ball control.  If we recall, VCU hounded them when they played taking advantage of that Butler weakness.

Despite losing Andrew Smith, Butler should have decent production out of their frontcourt.  JR. Khyle Marshall returns.  Marshall scored 9.6 ppg last year and shot 56.6%.  You should see his scoring increase this season.  Joining him will be seniors Erik Fromm & Kameron Woods.  Woods got 4.9 boards per game in 17 minutes per game.  More will be expected of him this season. 

The Jones loss is big. It's hard to know what they have in Brandon Miller but the Bulldogs have seamlessly transitioned from hot commodity to assistant the last 4 coaching changes.  The hire was largely received as a positive move.  Their 3 leading scorers are gone and the level of competetion, like for Creighton, will be better but that hasn't bothered the Bulldogs in the past.  We just don't know how this group will respond.  Even if Jones is healthy, Butler was probably going to finish in the lower half of the conference.  Miller will be challenged to recruit at a higher level while he gets his feet wet as a head coach.  A challenge awaits Butler this season and in the future.  Look for them to likely finish 7th or 8th this season.

Butler Basketball Blogs:;

Get To Know The New Big East: Seton Hall

SETON HALL PIRATES, 15-18 (3-15)

Head Coach:  Kevin Willard - Willard begins his 4th season at Seton Hall and prior to a week ago, was squarely on the hot seat (We'll get to that later).  A disappointing 2012-13 beset with injury and followed with Aaron Cosby's defection is into the past and Willard looks to begin anew.  He was an assistant under Rick Pitino at Louisville for 6 years before taking the Iona job and helping turn the Gaels around.

NCAA History:

Final Four:  1, 1989
Elite 8's:  2, 1989 & 1991
Sweet 16's:  4, most recently under Tommy Amaker in 2000

Seton Hall's greatest success came under P.J. Carlesimo who guided the Pirates to the 1989 title game and 3 of their 3 Sweet 16 appearances.  Since then, Seton Hall has been up and down while mostly muddling in the middle behind a variety of coaches.

2013-14 Glance:  Despite the aforementioned departure of Aaron Cosby, the Pirates do return swingman Fuquan Edwin who is their best player.  Edwin played nearly every spot on the court last season as the Pirates were ravaged by injury, largely in their frontcourt.  Edwin averaged 16.5 ppg and 5.8 boards per game while shooting 41% from beyond the arc.  He should play the 2 for the most part this season and will be SHU most dynamic player.

Joining him in the backcourt will be the twosome of Sterling Gibbs who has bounced around the nation from Maryland-to-Texas-to the Hall and FROSH PG, Jaren Sina.  Big things are expected of the local product Sina who also had an offer from Indiana and was Northwestern bound until Bill Carmody was let go.

The frontcourt was a mess due to injury last season as 3 of the 4 key players in this year's rotation missed time due to injury.  Returning at C is Gene Teague who put up a respectable 11 & 7 last season.  In 25 games last year, F Brandon Mobley averaged 9 and 5.5 on 49.6% shooting but missed time with a seperated shoulder.  SR. Patrik Aura should give the Pirates plenty of minutes after playing only 5 games last year with a broken foot.  Swingman Brian Oliver figures to see time as well. 

Seton Hall will likely finish in the bottom 3 of the Big East this year.  Luckily for Kevin Willard, he was able to secure the services of Isaiah Whtehead, a top SG out of NYC.  He was believed to have been St. John's bound but Whitehead committed to SHU instead.  Didn't hurt his coach got an assistants job with the Pirates.  Whitehead is expected to try and bring a top-level big with him.  Willard had already reeled in a pretty impressive class before that, so the future is brighter.  Just don't expect great things this season.

Seton Hall Basketball Blogs:

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Get To Know The New Big East: St. John's

ST. JOHN'S RED STORM, 17-16 (8-10), NIT

Head Coach:  Steve Lavin- Lavin is most remembered for his stint at UCLA where he took over for ousted Jim Harrick.  Despite some success at UCLA, Lavin never took them to a Final Four despite some very talented teams.  Lavin cut his teeth under Gene Keady and considers Keady a mentor.  This is Lavin's 4th season at St. John's.  In his first season, he took St. John's to their 1st dance in nearly a decade,  He missed most of his 2nd season with prostate cancer but was back on the sidelines last season.

NCAA History:

Final Fours:  2 (1952 runner-up & 1985)
Elite 8's:  6, most recent in 1999

The legendary Frank McGuire coached St. John's to a national runner-up in 1952 before leaving for North Carolina.  The most famous face of St. John's or sweater some might say is Lou Carneseca.  Carneseca won 6 Big East titles between 1980 & 1992.  His most famous team was the 1985 team that went to the 3 Big East Final 4 behind Walter Berry & Chris Mullin.  Overall, St. John's ranks 7th all-time in total NCAA basketball wins.

2013-14 Glance:  St. John's has been getting a lot of love from some of the talking heads at ESPN and the east coast basketball media.  Part of me thinks part of this is Lavin's time at ESPN and a bit of a desire by east coast media members to see a rejuvenated St. John's and NYC college basketball scene.

Setting that aside, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic for the Johnnies.  Lavin returns a lot of talent.  Can Lavin piece it together and find success?  Failure to do so and you'll hear some of he whispers about his coaching acumen you heard at UCLA.  His most talented pice is probably SOPH G D'Angelo Harrison who Lavin had to suspend for the last 6 games of last year.  A motivated and interested Harrison could be a devastating player.  Harrison has averaged 17 points per game his first two seasons.  

Other returnees include swingman and do everything Sir'Dominic Pointer.  Pointer led the Johnnies in assists, steals and fg%.  If things work out correctly, Pointer shouldn't be the lead assist man again.  St. John's has plenty of options at PG.  JR's Phil Greene IV and Jamal Branch return and will be pushed by St. John's most heralded newcomer, Rysheed Jordan.  Jordan is probably the most talented of the 3 but Greene and Branch will see plenty of court time.

The Red Storm have plenty of bodies on the interior.  SOPH JaKarr Sampson returns along with his 15 & 7 per game.  Sampson could be an all-conference type player in his second season.  Fellow SOPH, Chris Obekpa provides a menacing presnce averaging 4 blocks per game last season.  They have depth with SOPH big man Christian Jones and SR. redshirts, Orlando Sanchez and God'sgift Achiuwa.  Again, can Lavin get the most he can out of this group?

Just looking at the talent, reading about the talent, you can see why St. John's fans and pundits have reasons to be excited.  With a year of experience under their belts, this team should be better in 2013-14.  It really could go either way, contend for a title or fall in the middle of the Big East and be on the bubble.  St. John's has two early season games worth paying attention to.  First, they play Wisconsin in South Dakota in a game that should show what type of maturity they have or don't have given Wisconsin's style and a game in the Garden against Syracuse.  I'm sold on the talent, not sold on it playing together well.  Big challenge for Steve Lavin.

St. John's Basketball Blogs:

Get To Know The New Big East: Creighton

CREIGHTON BLUEJAYS, 28-8 (13-5, MVC Tournament Champ)
 Lost in 3rd Round of NCAA Tournament

Head Coach:  Greg McDermott -  McDermott begins his 4th season as head coach at Creighton having found success early this century at Northern Iowa, taking UNI to 3 consecutive NCAAs.  He left his alma mater to become head coach at Iowa State where he found less success.  He has taken the BlueJays to 3 straight tournament appearances.

NCAA History:

Creighton has never advanaced past the Sweet 16 and haven't made it that far since 1974 and have a total of 3 Sweet 16's in their history.  Prior to McDermott's arrival, Dana Altman helped set Creighton on its course to the Big East making numerous NCAA tournamet appearances.  Creighton has made 7 dances since 2000 and have made the tournament in 9 of the last 15 years out of the competetive Missouri Valley Conference.

2013-14 Glance:  Creighton jumps to a much tougher conference but will still be one of the favorites heading into the season.  Returning for his SR. season is All-American Doug McDermott.  McDermott averaged 23 points and 8 boards per game.  Can he repeat this numbers in a tougher conference and without big man Gregory Echenique?  There's little reason to think he can't as he has a lot of good players returning to help him.

The NCAA granted G Grant Gibbs a 6th year of eligibilty and he should run the point along with JR Austin Chatman.  Gibbs averaged nearly 6 assists per game and Chatman was 3rd in the MVC, with 4.2 per game.  Rounding out the backcourt will be SR. SG Jahenns Manigat.  Avery Dingman provides another shooter and some depth.

Coming off the bench for Creighton will be sharp-shooter Ethan Wragge.  Wragge shot 44.6% from deep last year, making 78 3's overall.  Creighton's issues will be in the frontcourt next to McDermott.  McDermott could rely on Echenique as a defensive presence.  Who will step up to replace him this season.  Creighton will look to JR. big man, 6'11' Will Artino and 7' SOPH C, Geoffrey Groselle to try and bring the defensive intensity Echenique did and help clean the glass.  6' 9" FROSH Zach Hanson should get a look as well.

Creighton should compete for the regular season league title and Doug McDermott will probably make his way into POY discussions.  Most national writers are cautious on just how well Creighton will do.  Bus trips to Wichita and Carbondale will be replaced with plane trips to NYC and Providence.  Not knocking the Valley, but Creighton will have a uch tougher league schedule this season.  They have some inexperience and questions in the frontcourt but solid guard play and the all-everything McDermott should help ease those growing pains.  Creighton could very well win the league title and should finish no worse than 5th. 

Creighton Basketball Blogs:

Monday, September 23, 2013

Get To Know The New Big East: DePaul

DePaul Blue Demons, 11-21 (2-16)

Head Coach:  Oliver Purnell - Purnell enters his 4th season as head coach of the Blue Demons.  When he was hired, it was viewed by some as a bit of a head-scratcher.  He had success at Old Dominion, Dayton and Clemson prior to taking the DePaul job but locals thought they might get someone that could connect with Chicago recruits.  Depending on what happens in this current recruiting cycle (DePaul is in on a package deal for two of Chicago's top HS players) and on the court, Purnell needs something good to happen.

NCAA History:

Final Fours: 2, 1943 & 1979
Elite 8's:  3
Sweet 16's:  10, none since 1987 and no NCAA appearance since 2004

DePaul was where the first great big man of basketball played, George Mikan.  DePaul was coached for decades by the legendary Ray Meyer.  Meyer took the Blue Demons to the Final Four in 1979 lead by Mark Aguirre. His son Joey Meyer had some success but recent history hasn't been so kind to DePaul.  A program once great, looks to recapture past glory.

2013-14 Glance:  You'd like to think things can only get better but most pundits are picking DePaul to finish last in the new Big East.  The top two players returning are SR. F, Cleveland Melvin who averaged 8 boards per game and SR. G Brandon Young.  Young averaged 16.7 ppg and 4.7 assists per game.  Purnell is looking for more contributions from JR. G's, Charles McKinney and Jamee Crockett.

The Newcomers:  There is a fair amount of turnover on theroster.  FROSH G's RJ Carrington and Billy Garrett, Jr. are expected to contribute immediately along with big men Tommy Hamilton, Jr. and Forrest Robinson.  DePaul also adds JUCO transfer big man Greg Sequele and Purdue grad transfer, Sandi Marcius.  Marcius provides depth.

There's some interesting pieces on this team.  Can Purnell piece it together and take a step forward?  Best case scenario for DePaul appears to be a NIT bid and that seems generous.  DePaul hasn't won more than 12 games in the last 5 years.  Off-court happenings are brighter.  As I mentioned earlier, if Purnell can add Cliff Alexander and JaQuan Lyle, it all but assures he'll be back next year.  Chicago also appears to be going forward with a new arena for the Blue Demons that is quite spectacular looking.  Given the mausoleum they play in now, it would be a massive upgrade.  It is designed to hold 10,000 fans but to get them, DePaul needs to become relavent again in Chicago.

DePaul Basketball Blogs:

Get To Know The New Big East: Providence

This is the first in a series of 10 looking briefly at the new Big East.  I'm pretty stoked about the new conference despite its big losses.  No one can say with a straight face taking Syracuse, Pitt, UConn, Cincinnati and Louisville off your schedule helps you but with the realities of TV and the college sports landscape, the Big East did well in re-positioning itself as a basketball only conference.  It isn't as good as what it was but what it will be is one of the best conferences in the nation when it comes to basketball.  One or two schools will have to become the new face of the conference.  One will have to rise up and become the most hated school, ala, Syracuse of the old Big East.  And we'll get to see it from its birth to where ever it may go.  First up, the Providence Friars.


Head Coach:  Ed Cooley -Ed Cooley was the head coach at Fairfield for 5 seasons and was an assistant under Al Skinner at Boston College before taking the Providence job prior to the 2011 season.

NCAA History:

Final Fours:  1973, 1987
Elite 8:  4 times, most recently in 1997
Sweet 16:  5 times, most recently in 1997

Providence found enormous success under Dave Gavitt, 1st Big East Commissioner, during the 70's, making a Final 4 behind Marvin Barnes and Ernie DiGregorio.  The 1987 team was coached by Rick Pitino and lead by Billy Donovan, making a Final 4 run as a 6 seed.  The 1997 team almost made a similar run under Pete Gillen losing in the Elite 8 in overtime to Arizona in a wild contest.

2013-14 Glance:  Heading into this season, Providence has been viewed as a tournament team by some, while others see them finishing as low as 8th.  I'm a bit more bullish on this team than most.  Providence had a small chance at reaching the tournament last year but finished the season losing at UConn and then getting trounced in the Big East tournament in the second round.  They needed a run in the Big East tournament but after starting the season 1-4 in conference play, they rebounded nicely.

They never had the services of Ricky Ledo who eventually entered the NBA draft and lose their PG Vincent Council but have quite a bit of last year's team back to go along with a few newcomers.  The frontcourt is in the solid hands of SR, F Kadeem Batts and JR. F ladontae Henton.  Batts averaged 15 & & and shot 48% from the field.  Henton added 13 and 8 and should be a bruising duo.  The Friars also add Wake Forest transfer big man, Carson Desrosiers.  The 6'10" big man, listed at 7' in some spots, was a 4* recruit coming out of high school.

In the backcourt, the Friars return last year's leading Big East scorer, Bryce Cotton.  Cotton scored 19.7 ppg.  Cotton had an effective fg% of 54.7% while shooting 36.4% from 3.  Cotton likely won't lead the conference in scoring again but will be a dynamic scorer.  SOPH Josh Fortune should see more playing time as well.  SOPH G Kris Dunn will take over the point guard duties and has big shoes to fill.  He missed time last year due to injury but expectations are high for him.  His play will be something to watch for the Friars.

Top frosh newcomer is a 6'6" Philadelphia native Brandon Austin. 

I can see Providence finishing as hig as 3rd in the Big East this season and as low as 7th.  Look for the Friars to be in serious discussion to return to the dance for the first time since 2004.  The Friars are trending up in the new Big East.  Cooley has demonstrated solid recruiting ability and now it's time for his collection of talent to produce. 

Providence Blogs:,

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

2012-13 into the Rearview Mirror

With the coronation of Louisville, college basketball for 2012-13 comes to an end.  For the 2nd consecutive year, the number one overall seed walked away with the hardware.  The other Final Four teams included two teams that spent chunls of the season in the Top 5/10 and Wichita State, arguably the best mid-major to make the Final Four ever.

What do we take from this season?

Narratives written by the national media are often wrong, for starters.  We had the notion of parity shoved down our throats all season when the reality was, this season was pretty much a carbon copy of most seasons.  Sure, the top spot was juggled amongst many teams but by the opening tip of the tournament, we didn't need a computer to know who the best team was.  As the tournament moved along, the top teams kept moving along for the most part.  Parity?  No, more like more of the same.

Another disturbing trend was the continued decline in scoring.  We're finally starting to see more top level coaches speak out against this and acknowledging it is a problem.  On twitter on Monday, everyone celebrated the offensive battle between the two teams.  It was 38-37.  In 2009, UNC scored 55 against Michigan State who managed 34 themselves.  Truth was, I think we've become immune to offense as fans.  We've had the concept of "defense wins championships" crammed down our throats by coaches and the media that low scoring contests while derided by the press and fans, have become accepted as "it is what it is".  If you follow any of the Wisconsin media on twitter, you'd understand why it's so accepted.  Louisville is mocked as some "gimmick" defense that relies on turnovers to legitimize it's status as a top defensive team, one not capable of matching up to the man-to-man half court defenses of the Big Ten.  This is done while completely ignoring why Louisville plays the way they do, to generate easy offense and wear down opponents.  Notice Michigan's shots late in the game?  They couldn't match Louisville's conditioning.  That's not a knock on the Wolverines, that's how Pitino coaches and practices. 

Not everybody can do what Louisville does but there are ways to generate offense in the game.  Officials can be directed to call the game closer, especially in the Big Ten and what was the old Big East.  Eliminate the clutching, holding and undercutting.  The concern is no one wants to see 3 hour games that would ensue but like coaches that coach to the contact that's allowed now, the good ones will adjust.  The physical play would subside.  And enforce the charge/block correctly.  Far too often, the offense is unfairly penalized.

Finally, we say good-bye to the Big East and welcome back to the ACC.  With the addition of Syracuse and Pitt for next season and Louisville the following, the ACC should take the path the old Big East took and get back to the top.  The ACC should open next season with 3 teams in the Top 10 in Syracuse, Duke & UNC.  And we'll welcome back Kentucky who will almost assuredly open 2013-14 back at number one.

Congrats to Louisville on winning it all and sending the Big East out with a bang wrapping up one of the better seasons in recent memory.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Title Game Historical Notes

The Big East & Big Ten have had teams meet for the National title twice before.

  • 1987 - Indiana 74 Syracuse 73
  • 1989 - Michigan 80 Seton Hall 79, OVT
Louisville has played in two national title games, winning both times.
  • 1980 - Louisville 59 UCLA 54
  • 1986 - Louisville 72 Duke 69
Michigan has played in 5 national title games, going 1-4.

  • 1965 - UCLA 91 Michigan 80
  • 1976 - Indiana 86 Michigan 68
  • 1989 - Michigan 80 Seton Hall 79
  • 1992 - Duke 71 Michigan 51
  • 1993 - North Carolina 77 Michigan 71
In the 1965 Final 4, UCLA defeated Wichita State in the national semi-finals in Wichita State's only other Final 4 appearance.  Use that for what you may.