Thursday, January 31, 2013

Bye Bye January

As January ends and February begins we begin to look at how teams close out the year.  The Selection committee came out last year and said they don’t put a lot of weight on the last 10 or last 12 games played but history does show it can affect seeding.  Most teams have between 10-12 games left plus 1-3 in their conference tournament.  We’ll be keeping a close eye on teams to see how they finish up the season.  For those of you interested in how teams fare in the tournament based on momentum there is an interesting article at BracketScience.Com.  Here’s a hint; momentum means more for some teams or conferences than it does for others.

Today's Bubble Games

Illinois – Michigan State

Can Illinois stop the free fall? No, they are not supposed to win this game but it would go a long way to keeping them in the bracket. A loss and they are probably replaced by one of the last 4 out.

Penn State – Iowa
Neither are in, or close but Iowa can’t afford to lose any easy games at 2-5 in the Big Ten.

Butler – St. Louis
St. Louis is one of those last 4 out that could take Illinois spot should they lose. The Billikins need to defend their home court for a big RPI boosting win

Arizona – Washington
Another team not close to being in, the Huskies that is. A win would do wonders for their computer numbers and probably at least get them to the final 4-8 out instead of the Also Considered bucket.

Arizona State – Washington State
ASU is currently one of the First Four Out. A road win against Wazzou won’t do much for their profile but a loss would be devastating.

Eric's Kiss of Death Continues Unabated

UMass 61 LaSalle 60

Damn you, Explorers

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


What is Bo Ryan yelling in this picture?

A. Free Throws? Free throws?!

B. FIVE PASSES THEN SHOOT!

C. Did I miss the early bird?

D. All of the above

Tonight's Bubble Games

Villanova at Notre Dame

The Wildcats squeak into the bracket with a phenomenal week but can they keep up the momentum on the road against the Fighting Irish?


Richmond at Temple
Richmond is almost dead in the water while Temple’s time in the bracket may be short lived. One more loss and they are probably out. Can they defend their home court tonight?


UMass at LaSalle
Outside of Villanova, the Explorers may have had the second best week of any team on the bubble. In fact, they went from hardly being considered to in. A third win in a row against fellow bubble team, UMass, would be huge.


Iowa State at Oklahoma State
Neither team should be drop out with a loss tonight but the loser will be a 12 seed and probably the last one in.


New Mexico at Wyoming
Wyoming needs to stop the bleeding as they’ve fallen all the way out of the bracket. A win against a top 10 RPI team would do wonders for their resume.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Monday Bracketology

1 seed vs 16 seed

Michigan (B1G) vs Southern(SWAC)/C.Southern(Bsouth)
Kansas (B12) vs NorfolkSt(MEAC)/W. Illinois (Summit)
Florida (SEC) vs Robert Morris (NEC)
Arizona vs Florida Gulf Coast (Asun)

2 seed vs 15 seed
Indiana vs Northeastern (CAA)
Duke vs Montana (Bsky)
Syracuse (Beast) vs Niagara (MAAC)
Gonzaga (WCC) vs Stony Brook (Aeast)

3 seed vs 14 seed
Miami (ACC) vs Long Beach State (Bwest)
Butler (A10) vs Valparasio (Horizon)
Louisville vs Davidson (SoCon)
Michigan State vs Harvard (Ivy)

4 seed vs 13 seed
Ohio State vs Akron (MAC)
Wichita State (MVC) vs Louisiana Tech (WAC)
Minnesota vs Stephen F. Austin (Sland)
N. Carolina State vs Bucknell (Patriot)

5 seed vs 12 seed
Oregon (Pac12) vs Villanova/BYU
Creighton vs Illinois/Temple
New Mexico (MWC) vs Southern Miss (Cusa)
Cinncinati vs Mid Tenn State (Sbelt)

6 seed vs 11 seed
Missouri vs LaSalle
Marquette vs Oklahoma
Colorado vs North Carolina
San Diego State vs St. Mary's

7 seed vs 10 seed
UNLV vs Belmont (OVC)
Mississippi vs Iowa State
Kansas State vs Kentucky
Wisconsin vs Memphis

8 seed vs 9 seed
VCU vs Colorado State
Baylor vs Georgetown
Pittsburgh vs Oklahoma State
Notre Dame vs UCLA

First Four Out
Maryland Alabama
Arizona State
Iowa

Next Four Out
Wyoming
Indiana State
St. Louis
Massachusettes

Also Considered
Texas A&M
Washington
Charlotte
Florida State
California
Arkansas
Murray State
Santa Clara
Rutgers
Xavier
Virginia
North Dakota State
St. John's
Stanford
LeHigh
Boise State
Purdue

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Team of the Week: LaSalle

Okay, Villanova had a pretty damn good week, too, beating two top-5 teams. But...did you know who already beat the Wildcats this year? LaSalle and LaSalle beat #9 Butler and #19 VCU on the road last night.

LaSalle currently has a RPI of 27 and is 55 in KenPom. They're 63rd in AdjO and 55th in AdjD. They're not special on offense but they protect the ball, 17.3% TO% on offense which is 27th in the nation. They struggle to get to the line, 31.4% FTA/FGA, which is 273rd in the nation and they're below average on the offensive glass with an offfensive rebound# of 30.1%, 228th. They average 71 pts per game.

They're a solid defensive club. They can guard without fouling. They're defensive FTA/FGA is 29.1%, 52nd best. They're TO% is 22.8, above average and 63rd overall. Teams don't make 3's against them. Defensive 3PA/FGA is 24.9% which is 5th best. Teams only make 20% of them. Teams only get 17.2% of their points at the line against them. They're average on the boards and VCU was able to get to the glass against them last night.

The Explorers best player is a South Carolina transfer, Senior G Ramon Galloway who scores 17.2 ppg and gets about 2.5 steals per game. Galloway has and effective fg% of 51.7. They also have another transfer, Tyrone Garland (VaTech) who has played only 12 games this year and is averaging 13.2 per game. Another G, JR. Tyreek Duren scores 14.5ppg. SOPH F Jerrell Wright gets 10 & 6 a game and shoots 54%. Garland was held to single digits the last two games but a quick look at his numbers along with Galloway and they could have a nice 3 headed guard attack as they move through conference play.

LaSalle has a chance to stay in the mix for an at-large bid if they can keep playing well in conference (No small task in the A-10). They have a real bad loss on their resume to Central Connecticut State who is in the 200's for RPI but other losses are to top 75 teams including at Bucknell & Miami(FL). The win at home against Butler and at VCU are very good. They'll need to follow it up, though. There is no let up the rest of the way and the margin for error in the A-10 looks to be small with many good teams.

Parity?

One of the overiding themes up to this point of the season has been "parity". Teams that ascend to the top spot, lose. Indiana lost to Butler, Duke lost to NC State, Louisville lost to everyone they played, Michigan lost to Ohio when they had a chance to be #1, etc.

Interestingly, though, KenPom tweeted this nugget yesterday:

"Gotta call BS on this season's parity narrative. AP top 10 at start of week had 15 losses. Last year at same time: 24"

Last year, Kentucky was the top team and there was plenty of "parity" right behind them. Jay Bilas likes to talk about the lack of great teams in college basketball and he's right but there are plenty of very good teams and the one's currently in the top 15 are a cut above the rest.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday Bracketology

From an at-large point of view BYU and Wyoming drop out while Iowa State and Alabama jump in.  Lehigh replaces Bucknell from the Patriot League and Montana grabs the Big Sky auto-bid.

1 seed vs 16 seed
Michigan (B1G) vs Southern(SWAC)/C.Southern(Bsouth)
Kansas (B12) vs NorfolkSt(MEAC)/W. Illinois (Summit)
Syracuse (Beast) vs Stetson (Asun)
Florida (SEC) vs Northeastern (CAA)
2 seed vs 15 seed
Indiana vs Stony Brook (Aeast)
Duke vs Bryant (NEC)
Louisville vs Montana (Bsky)
Arizona vs Niagara (MAAC)
3 seed vs 14 seed
Minnesota vs Long Beach State (Bwest)
Michigan State vs Valparasio (Horizon)
Gonzaga (WCC) vs Davidson (SoCon)
New Mexico (MWC) vs Harvard (Ivy)
4 seed vs 13 seed
Miami (ACC) vs Akron (MAC)
Ohio State vs Louisiana Tech (WAC)
Butler vs Stephen F. Austin (Sland)
Wichita State (MVC) vs Lehigh (Patriot)
5 seed vs 12 seed
N. Carolina St vs Iowa State/Alabama
Creighton vs S.Miss/Boise State
Oregon (Pac12) vs Maryland
Cinncinati vs Mid Tenn State (Sbelt)
6 seed vs 11 seed
Missouri vs Temple
Marquette vs Belmont (OVC)
Kansas State vs St. Mary's
UCLA vs Kentucky
7 seed vs 10 seed
VCU (A10) vs Illinois
Colorado vs Colorado State
San Diego State vs Memphis (Cusa)
UNLV vs Georgetown
8 seed vs 9 seed
Baylor vs North Carolina
Pittsburgh vs Oklahoma State
Mississippi vs Wisconsin
Notre Dame vs Oklahoma


First Four Out
Iowa
Wyoming
BYU
LaSalle
Next Four Out
Bucknell
Charlotte
St. Louis
Rutgers
Also Considered
Texas A&M
Washington
Villanova
Florida State
California
Arkansas
Murray State
Santa Clara
Massachusettes
Arizona State
Indiana State
Xavier
Virginia
North Dakota State
St. John's
Eastern Kentucky
Stanford

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Quick Look at the Mountain West

Most college basketball people believe the Mountain West is probably one of the top 3 or 4 conferences in the land this year. Here's a quick look at the top 5 teams, all in Brian's last bracket.

1. NEW MEXICO, 16-2 (3-0):
The Lobos currently lead the league. They're RPI is a robust 8th in the nation. Outside of league, their best win is at Cincinnati and have a win over Indiana State on the road.

2. COLORADO STATE, 15-3 (2-1):
The Rams lost Head Coach Tim Miles to Nebraska but hired Larry Eustachy to replace him and keep humming along. Out of league, their best win is at Washington. RPI is 17.

3. WYOMING, 15-2 (2-2):
Former Clemson coach Larry Shyatt has done a fantastic job in Laramie with the Cowboys. Currently, they have a RPI of 34 with their best non-con win being at Colorado.

4. UNLV, 15-4 (2-2):
The Rebs were a trendy pick as a Final 4 sleeper pre-season. They certainly have a lot of talent. Their RPI is a healthy 20. As of now, the best wins were vs. Iowa State and at California.

5. SAN DIESGO STATE, 14-4 (2-2):
RPI of 32, Steve Fisher's team has had a sluggish conference start but should be in the mix for a league title. A very talented team, they knocked off UCLA before the Bruins got everyone eligible and also beat Indiana State.

We'll take a closer look at these teams as we move into February. UNLV and SDSU are the most talented teams and some still call them good enough to go deep in the dance. This is a great conference and worth paying attention to.

B1G Fun

After last night's battle of great chest passes and fundamentally sounds cuts between Michigan State & Wisconsin, here's some fun factoids courtesy of ESPN Stats & Info via Jason King and his King's Court. Since 2000, here are the number of players each BCS conference had chosen in the 1st Round & currently the number from each playing in the association:

LEAGUE.........1st Round......NBA
ACC...............51............63
SEC...............42............60
Pac 12............43............50
Big East..........49............44
Big 12............42............35
Big Ten...........28............25

Make of that you will.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tonight's Action

Lots of good games tonight highlighted by Kansas versus Kansas State. In a big battle for first place in the big 12 I expect Kansas to out last Kansas State.



There are also big games in the Big Ten. Iowa travels to Ohio State and Wisconsin hosts Michigan State. Iowa needs this to stay in the bracket while Wisconsin needs to protect their homecourt. Illinois hopes to end their slide at Nebraska tonight. A loss here and they are probably on the outside looking in.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Monday Bracketology

1 seed vs 16 seed

Duke vs Southern(SWAC)/C.Southern(Bsouth)
Michigan (B1G) vs NorfolkSt(MEAC)/Stetson (Asun)
Kansas (B12) vs Northeastern (CAA)
Syracuse (Beast) vs Bryant (NEC)

2 seed vs 15 seed
Arizona vs Albany (Aeast)
Louisville vs Weber St (Bsky)
Indiana vs Long Beach State (Bwest)
Florida (SEC) vs Niagara (MAAC)

3 seed vs 14 seed
Minnesota vs Valparasio (Horizon)
Michigan State vs Davidson (SoCon)
Butler (A10) vs Stephen F. Austin (Sland)
Gonzaga (WCC) vs Harvard (Ivy)

4 seed vs 13 seed
New Mexico (MWC) vs Akron (MAC)
Creighton vs Louisiana Tech (WAC)
Cinncinati vs North Dakota St (Summit)
N. Carolina St vs Bucknell (Patriot)
5 seed vs 12 seed
VCU vs BYU/Iowa
Ohio State vs Temple/Boise State
Wichita State (MVC) vs St. Mary's
Miami (ACC) vs Mid Tenn State (Sbelt)

6 seed vs 11 seed
Oregon (Pac12) vs North Carolina
Missouri vs Iowa State
Notre Dame vs Oklahoma
Kansas State vs Belmont (OVC)

7 seed vs 10 seed
UCLA vs Illinois
Colorado vs Memphis (Cusa)
San Diego State vs Wyoming
Marquette vs Colorado State

8 seed vs 9 seed
UNLV vs Pittsburgh
Baylor vs Georgetown
Mississippi vs Wisconsin
Oklahoma State vs Kentucky

First Four Out
Maryland
St. Louis
Indiana State
Southern Miss

Next Four Out
Xavier
Virginia
Arizona State
Stanford

Also Considered
Washington
Rutgers
Villanova
St. Joseph's
Florida State
California
Arkansas
LaSalle
Murray State
Alabama
Santa Clara
Dayton
Lehigh
Massachusettes
Charlotte
Texas A&M

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Saturday's Updates

Ton's of great games hightlighted by Butler's buzzer beater over Gonzaga.  What a game!  Here are a few more to highlight.

Good Wins:
Iowa over Wisconsin - It was a let down spot for the Badgers but this probably puts the Hawkeye's in the bracket come Monday
Oregon over UCLA - huge road win.  The Ducks look for real in the Pac-12
Southern Miss over UAB - Is it possible C-USA is a two bid league?  Not yet....but close.
Colorado State over UNLV - MWC continues to be a four bid league.
Wyoming over San Diego State - see above

Bad Losses:
St. Louis to Rhode Island - might push the Bilikins out of the bracket.
Maryalnd to North Carolina - the Terripins might be out of the bracket as well.
Temple at home to St. Bonaventure - Temple is probably still in but barely
Missouri by 30 to Florida - There's no shame in losing...but by 30?
Boise State to Air Force - bye bye Broncos
Florida State by 20 to Virginia - and they only scored 36.  Last Four Out?  Maybe not even that.
Charlotte by 20 to Richmond - just as you start to take them seriously for a bid they get clobbered.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Saturday afternoon musings

- The ACC is terrible. NC State beats Duke, loses to Maryland and then UNC smokes Maryland. At least the UNC student base didn't rush the court. And Virginia beat FSU by 20. Virginia scored 56. Do the math of awful.

- Interesting tidbit from Jimmy Dykes of ESPN while calling the Florida romp of fading Missouri. Florida entered today 14-1 doing Thursday/Saturday turn around games in their last 15 instances. Something to remember in March. Florida was dominant today. Game was over at the tip.

- Kansas won at Texas despite being down double digits in the 2nd half. Really like watching this Kansas team. From ESPN Stats Info: Since its only loss to Sparty, Kansas has outscored its opponents 48-24 in the final 5 minutes of games within 5. Starting to get a Carmelo vibe from KU Frosh, Ben McLemore.

- Syracuse isn't dead, even w/o James Southerland which show you how talented they are. Michael Carter-Williams plays a bit out of control too often and played one possession in the final 4 minutes 1-on-5 but he's a playmaker. He's one of the top steal men in the country. Louisville fans had flashbacks today to bad Peyton Siva. Has to be his worse game of the year, yet, they almost won. Great battle between two very good teams.

- Wichita State held serve at home against Creighton. Carl Hall of WSU had a huge game. File that name away when we get to the tournament. There was a bad flagrant foul called against Creighton G Grant Gibbs at about the 9:00 minute mark of the 2nd half. Turned out huge at the end.

- Finally, Oregon is cementing itself as a tournament team with a win over UCLA at Pauley Pavillion. I'm not sold UCLA is a great team but it's a good road win for the Ducks, nonetheless. I always liked the hire of Dana Altman. They swung for the fences and went after Izzo but Altman was a good back-up plan.

I can't un-see this.




- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, January 18, 2013

Friday Morning Bracketology

Texas A&M falls out....way out.  St. Mary's is in, barely.  Mercer replaces Florida Gulf Coast as the Atlantic Sun Automotic Qualifier.

1 seed vs 16 seed

Louisville (Beast) vs N'Eastern(CAA)/C.Southern(Bsouth)
Duke vs NorfolkSt(MEAC)/Southern (SWAC)
Michigan vs Long Beach State (Bwest)
Kansas (B12) vs Bryant (NEC)

2 seed vs 15 seed
Syracuse vs Wright State (Horizon)
Arizona vs Weber St (Bsky)
Indiana vs Mercer (Asun)
Florida (SEC) vs Iona (MAAC)

3 seed vs 14 seed
Gonzaga (WCC) vs Stony Brook (Aeast)
Creighton (MVC) vs Davidson (SoCon)
Minnesota vs Louisiana Tech (WAC)
Ohio State vs Harvard (Ivy)

4 seed vs 13 seed
New Mexico (MWC) vs Akron (MAC)
Michigan State vs Stephen F. Austin (Sland)
Butler (A10) vs North Dakota St (Summit)
N. Carolina St vs Bucknell (Patriot)

5 seed vs 12 seed
Cinncinati vs St. Mary's
VCU vs Mid Tenn State (Sbelt)
UCLA (Pac12) vs Maryland/St. Louis
Missouri vs UNC/Iowa State

6 seed vs 11 seed
UNLV vs Memphis (Cusa)
Miami (ACC) vs Wyoming
Wichita State vs Boise State
Marquette vs Belmont (OVC)

7 seed vs 10 seed
Notre Dame vs Colorado State
San Diego State vs Pittsburgh
Oregon vs Temple
Oklahoma vs Kentucky

8 seed vs 9 seed
Georgetown vs Mississippi
Wisconsin (B1G) vs Colorado
Baylor vs Oklahoma State
Kansas State vs Illinois

First Four Out
LaSalle
Arizona State
BYU
Iowa

Next Four Out
Massachusettes
Charlotte
Indiana State
Texas A&M

Also Considered
Washington
Rutgers
Southern Miss
Utah State
Villanova
St. Joseph's
Florida State
California
Arkansas
Stanford
St. Mary's
Murray State
Alabama
Santa Clara
Dayton
Lehigh
Xavier
Virginia

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Predicitions Revisted, Two, er, too?

Like Manti Teo's dead girl friend, all my predictions were made up.

I sort of spitball teams at the beginning of the season throwing some against the wall without any rationale thought, sort of like how March Madness can go but of the 8 teams I picked, I'd be confident imagining only 3 of them getting as far as I "predicted".

ELITE 8 ORIGINAL
Kansas
Missouri
Syracuse
UNLV

FINAL FOUR ORIGINAL
Louisville
Kentucky
Indiana
Arizona

ORIGINAL FINAL
Louisville over Kentucky

Missouri has been wildly inconsistent and quite frankly, I have no faith in Frank Haith. I'm still bullish on Syracuse if they get James Southerland back they could still get hot at the right time. I wouldn't rule them out but I'm not confident they can win twice in March, much less 3 times. I am going with the eyeball test on UNLV. The games I've seen show me an undisciplined team that will be fodder for someone in round "2" or "3". In Kansas, I believe.

In Louisville, I believe. In Indiana, I grudgingly believe but they need more from their bench and for Cody Zeller to go from nice player to great player. Keep an eye on Yogi Ferrell. He can't have games like he did last night and shrink against pressure. As for Kentucky, Brian correctly notes they're trending the right way but the eyeball test tells me they're a bubble team that aren't going "to get it." Who is the guy to take over games? Arizona has been real lucky this year and are good enough to make a run but I could just as easily see them losing to a Bucknell.

ELITE 8 REDUX
Gonzaga
Florida
Creighton
Indiana

FINAL FOUR REDUX
Michigan
Louisville
Duke
Kansas

FINAL REDUX
Kansas over Louisville

All 8 of these teams are top 20 KenPom offensive teams and have the best players and talent. That can be argued, of course but Gonzaga and Creighton are more than mid-majors at this moment. Creighton has a POY, maybe the leader, in Doug McDermott and have talent around him. The 'Zags have big man Kelly Olynyk along with solid guard Kevin Pangos, two guys good enough to start anywhere in America. Florida hasn't been as impressive as they were in November and early December but they've had guys in and out. They've also made the last 2 Elite 8's.

I added Duke and Michigan. Duke is incumbent upon Ryan Kelly returning. If he doesn't, c'ya! Reports differ on his return with Seth Davis convinced he won't be back. With him, they can beat anyone. Without him, they need more from Amile Jefferson. The one thing they'll have is plenty of time to get guys into a rotation and figure out a game plan without Kelly and Curry. I stand by Michigan despite defensive deficiencies. Great guard play and I believe John Beilein will fix their defensive issues. Just remember, they shutdown Ohio very well in the second half on Sunday.

Final Four Revisited

As we are halfway through the season now is a good time to look back at my preseason’s predictions and tweak them as necessary. To recap here’s my Elite Eight, Final Four, and Championship from November:


Elite Eight:
Duke
UNLV
Louisville
Kentucky

Final Four:
Notre Dame
Indiana
Syracuse
Kansas

Championship Game:
Syracuse over Kansas


The predictions don’t look too bad at the halfway point. Duke is certainly Elite Eight worthy and if Kelly comes back are championship contenders. UNLV has been rocky at times but I still expect a Sweet Sixteen at a minimum. Louisville is #1 right now and possibly the favorite to win it all. Kentucky is the big miss at this point although a lot of their efficiency number have them trending up (their lackluster performance last night not withstanding). At the Final Four level Kansas is right where I predicted them and although Indiana lost last night they are still a top 8-10 team. Syracuse is missing Southland and just don’t look right. As of this morning they look like an Elite Eight team only. Notre Dame was a predicted reach on my part any way and although they are ranked 20th they are nowhere near that when it comes to KenPom and other efficiency measurable. The Irish look like a huge miss on my part.

So, now that we’ve touched on who I picked, let’s get into who I missed on. The biggest mistake looks to be not taking Michigan, however, I’m still not on board with them due to their poor defensive efficiency (39th). Minnesota is another top 10 team that came out of nowhere. I still don’t know what to make of them. Gonzaga is steam rolling everybody and may be a team to keep an eye on. That being said here are my new predictions.


**Note, these are based on Ryan Kelly and Seth Curry coming back for Duke by March.
Elite Eight:
Indiana
Michigan
Arizona
Miami (Jim Larranaga plus great computer numbers)

Final Four:
Louisville
Duke (replace with Indiana if Kelly is out)
Kansas
Gonzaga

Championship Game:
Kansas over Duke (replace with Louisville if Kelly is out)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tuesday Night Basketball

There’s not a whole lot of games this evening but a couple caught my eye that have bubble potential.

Wisconsin at Indiana
Yes, Wisconsin will be expected to lose and probably will but it’s going to be how they lose that’s going to be the story. If they can hang and stay within 5-6 that can be big. If they get spanked early and often it will legitimize most people’s thoughts on the Badgers chances come March
Prediction:  Indiana 65, Wisconsin 58

Mississippi at Vanderbilt
We all know Vanderbilt is awful this year but a road win in the SEC is still worth something. Mississippi is slowly building a solid resume and can’t afford a slip up against the SEC road kill.
Prediction:  Mississippi 66, Vanderbilt 61

Tennessee vs Kentucky
Tennessee is no where near a bid but do you believe Kentucky is a lock at this point? I have them as a 10seed right now and they don’t have too much room for error. Last time they played at home Texas A&M smoked them. It would be in their best interest to win this one going away.
Prediction:  Kentucky 71, Tennessee 52

Monday, January 14, 2013

Monday Afternoon Bracketology

It’s still too early for a daily bubble watch but I am going to try and get a Bracketology in twice a week, Monday and Friday afternoon.  There was a lot of movement this weekend with the final undefeated teams going down.  This season is starting to trend towards a wild March Madness….

1 seed vs 16 seed

Louisville vs N'Eastern(CAA)/C.Southern(Bsouth)
Duke vs NorfolkSt(MEAC)/Southern (SWAC)
Michigan vs Long Beach State (Bwest)
Indiana (B1G) vs Bryant (NEC)

2 seed vs 15 seed
Kansas (B12) vs Wright State (Horizon)
Syracuse (Beast) vs Weber St (Bsky)
Arizona vs Florida Gulf Coast (Asun)
Florida (SEC) vs Iona (MAAC)

3 seed vs 14 seed
Gonzaga (WCC) vs Stony Brook (Aeast)
Creighton (MVC) vs Davidson (SoCon)
N. Carolina St (ACC) vs Utah State (WAC)
Minnesota vs Harvard (Ivy)

4 seed vs 13 seed
Ohio State vs Akron (MAC)
New Mexico (MWC) vs Stephen F. Austin (Sland)
Michigan State vs North Dakota St (Summit)
Butler (A10) vs Bucknell (Patriot)

5 seed vs 12 seed
Cinncinati vs UNC/Iowa State
VCU vs Mid Tenn State (Sbelt)
UCLA (Pac12) vs Mississippi/St. Louis
San Diego State vs Wisconsin

6 seed vs 11 seed
Notre Dame vs Memphis (Cusa)
UNLV vs Pittsburgh
Miami vs Texas A&M
Missouri vs Belmont (OVC)

7 seed vs 10 seed
Colorado vs BYU
Baylor vs Kentucky
Wichita State vs Colorado State
Illinois vs Temple

8 seed vs 9 seed
Georgetown vs Boise State
Oklahoma (B12) vs Wyoming
Oregon vs Oklahoma State
Marquette vs Kansas State

First Four Out

LaSalle
Arizona State
Maryland
Massachusettes

Next Four Out
Virginia
Charlotte
Iowa
Indiana State

Also Considered
Washington
Rutgers
Southern Miss
Louisiana Tech
Villanova
St. Joseph's
Florida State
California
Arkansas
Stanford
St. Mary's
Murray State
Alabama
Santa Clara
Dayton
Lehigh
Xavier
LSU
Tennessee


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Saturday afternoon musings

- NC State beats Duke and the students rush the court. So, Duke is playing this game without Ryan Kelly and NC State was the pre-season favorite to win the conference. Weak rush the court. Wolfpack, little brother indeed.

- I'm not sure what to make of Marquette. They went 5-8 from 3 in the 1st half and then got shutout the rest of the way behind the arc. KenPom gave them a 9% chance to win today and they had the lead the entire second half until they decided to not defend Pitt's only real outside threat. Despite this, they dominated overtime and start the Big East season with wins over Georgetown, UConn & Pitt. They have no natural scorer but move the ball well enough to get plenty of open looks and attack the rim and get to the line. They defend very well for the most part but have moments of colossal mistakes. They're actually more efficient with Derrick Wilson at PG but Junior Cadougan can break down a defender. I'm not sure what the rest of this year holds, but they'll be Top 15 in 2013-14.

- Lon Kruger will get oklahoma to a Final Four while at Oklahoma. Won't be this year but if he stays, he'll get them their.

- One of Kruger's former teams, Illinois, got whitewashed by Wisconsin today and their offensive deficiencies are getting exposed now. Wouldn't be surprised to see them fall precipitously. Wisconsin was lights out. Stil, bet on John Groce long-term.

- North Carolina got a much needed win at Florida State today but still look disjointed. Does Roy's team improve or does it idle? Has his non-super teams improved through the course of a season? Good thing to watch this year. As for FSU, so much for building on last year.

- Indiana held off Minnesota at home. Indiana dominated for 35 minutes and then quit playing. Not concerned about IU but kudos to Minnesota for making it a game. This Gopher team is really good. Shades of 1996-97.

- And finally, Syracuse suspended 2nd-leading scorer James Southerland for academic reasons. Now we can officially start Big East play with that.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday Afternoon Bracketology

1 seed vs 16 seed

Duke (ACC) vs N'Eastern(CAA)/C.Southern(Bsouth)
Michigan (B1G) vs NorfolkSt(MEAC)/Harford(Aeast)
Louisville vs Cal Ploy (Bwest)
Indiana vs Southern (SWAC)

2 seed vs 15 seed
Kansas vs Eastern Kentucky (OVC)
Syracuse (Beast) vs Wagner (NEC)
Arizona vs Florida Gulf Coast (Asun)
Florida vs Iona (MAAC)

3 seed vs 14 seed
Minnesota vs Weber St (Bsky)
Gonzaga (WCC) vs Detriot (Horizon)
Creighton (MVC) vs North Dakota St (Summit)
North Carolina State vs Utah State (WAC)

4 seed vs 13 seed
Ohio State vs Akron (MAC)
Missouri (SEC) vs Harvard (Ivy)
Wichita State vs Stephen F. Austin (Sland)
New Mexico (MWC) vs Davidson (SoCon)

5 seed vs 12 seed
Michigan State vs Mississippi/Maryland
Notre Dame vs Mid Tenn State (Sbelt)
Cinncinati vs Wisconsin/Virginia
Butler (A10) vs Bucknell (Patriot)

6 seed vs 11 seed
VCU vs BYU
Illinois vs Belmont
UNLV vs St. Louis
Colorado vs Memphis (Cusa)

7 seed vs 10 seed
San Diego State vs Temple
Baylor (Big12) vs Colorado State
Oklahoma State vs Marquette
UCLA (Pac12) vs Wyoming

8 seed vs 9 seed
Georgetown vs Boise State
Kentucky vs Oklahoma (B12)
Pittsburgh vs Kansas State
Miami vs Oregon

First Four Out

North Carolina
California
Illinois State
Iowa State

Next Four Out
Murray State
Massachusettes
Alabama
Tennessee

Also Considered
Florida State
LaSalle
Southern Miss
LSU
Seton Hall
South Florida
Arizona State
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers
Stanford
West Virginia
Lehigh
Iowa
Washington
Arkansas
St. Mary's
Xavier
Northwestern
Texas
Georgia Tech
Richmond
Oregon State
Charlotte
Indiana State
Dayton
Santa Clara
St. Joseph's


North Carolina

Out of the bracket after last night's home loss to Miami?  Could be....

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Game of the Night

Forget the BCS conferences, I’m looking at the Mountain West who currently has 6 teams with solid at-large prospects.  At 9pm Boise State travels to undefeated Wyoming in a game pitting two teams who weren’t expected to complete this year in the highly regarded MWC.  Wyoming is one of four teams that still have zero losses and Boise State holds top 50 rankings in both the RPI and KenPom.  This is the first game of many to create separation in what is shaping up to be a top 5 conference.  If you get this game on your TV sit back and enjoy a couple over-achieving teams and see who can keep it up.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Hello, A-10 Season

As we move into conference play, the A-10 begins league play this week and hasn't disappointed up to this point. Entering league play, the A-10 looks to have 4 teams primed for auto-bids and could maybe sneak another team if things fall right. They are 7 in conference RPI.

Here's where we stand as of today.

1. Butler, 18 RPI, 53 KenPom:
Butler enters league play having won 9 straight games and its tally of victories include North Carolina, Indiana & Butler. Butler tends to play to the level of its competetion and could lose a few head scratchers but should be a team to be reckoned with in March.

2. Charlotte, 84 RPI, 96 KenPom:
Charlotte needs to play well and finish at least top 3 to steal a bid. Their best win is Davidson and they have a 30pt loss to Miami(FL) on their resume.

3. Temple, 28 RPI, 55 KenPom:
Barring a mediocore conference showing, Temple looks like a lock. They beat Syracuse at MSG and took Kansas to the wire yesterday at Phog Allen. If you don't know the name Khalif Wyatt, you will soon.

4. VCU, 31 RPI, 12 KenPom:
Wake up the space, son. The move to the A-10 should make a trip back to the dance easier for VCU who already have wins over Belmont and Memphis. They also have wins over Lehigh and Alabama. Their 3 losses have been to Missouri, Duke & Wichita State, all very good teams.

5. St. Louis, 58 RPI, 40 KenPom:
St. Louis has been rolling with 8 straight wins. They have wins over New Mexico and Texas A&M. They also got back Sr. G Kwamain Mitchell who missed the first 11 games of the season.

6. LaSalle, 51 RPI, 60 KenPom:
The Explorers best win was over intra-city rival Villanova. Losses include Miami(FL) and Bucknell. There is a bad loss on their resume to Central Connecticut. Like Charlotte, they'll need at least a top 3 finish in conference. Still a solid team.

7. Umass, 47 RPI, 123 KenPom:
I just read the Big East might bring UMass in. Jim Calhoun is rolling over in his grave. He's not dead? Whatever. UMass has won 7 straight but needs a solid top 3 finish to dance. Again, a solid team, nonetheless.

8. Dayton, 82 RPI, 71 KenPom:
Dayton has beaten Murray State and Alabama but has home losses to Illinois State and Weber State. On the outside looking in but worth watching as they work their way to another 20 win season.

St. Joseph's was a trendy pick to start the year to be a top quarter team in the A-10 but has struggled with consistency. Richmond has had a good start as well and will be a tough matchup and should steal a few wins they shouldn't. Xavier has been wildly inconsistent but still has enough talent to make things difficult in league play.

Realistically, the A-10 will probably top out at 4 bids but a bid stealer via the conference tourney wouldn't be all that shocking possibly garnering 5 spots. I think Butler, VCU, St. Louis & Temple are the class of the league and good bets to play in the tourney this year.

Let's Look At Some Low-Major Teams

At the end of the regular season there are always 2-3 low to mid-major’s who have a case for an at-large bid after falling in their conference tournament. Let’s look at the top 5 candidates early in conference play. The caveats being that these teams can only come from historically 1 bid leagues (the WCC doesn’t count) and these teams must stay clean for most if not all of their conference play. 1 loss won’t doom them but two might.
1. Belmont: RPI of 29, KenPom of 21. Yes, the darling who almost did to Duke in 2008 what Lehigh did last year as a 15 seed are back. Both RPI and KenPom are almost in the automatic at-large range but with only the OVC conference schedule ahead these are almost sure to take a hit. Only 1 game against Murray State almost seems like a must win. A bubble win against Middle Tennessee State already may break a tie down the stretch.

2. Bucknell: RPI of 29, KenPom of 37. If only they could have beat Mizzou on Saturday. Even with that loss their computer numbers are good but unfortunately there’s no place to go but down with the Patriot league schedule. They do have good wins at Purdue and against George Mason but at this point an undefeated run to the conference championship might be the only way to get an at-large.

3. Murray State: RPI of 29, KenPom of 85. Last year’s darlings don’t quite have the heft they did last year but the RPI still looks good. Good wins over Auburn and St. John’s offset the losses to Dayton and Valparasio. A loss to Colorado is nothing to be ashamed with but a win there would have done wonders. If Belmont and Murray State win all their conference games except their games against each other and then meet in the Conference final I think the Ohio Valley is a two bid league.

4. Middle Tennessee State: RPI of 29, KenPom of 44. A big win over Vanderbilt doesn’t look as good as it sounds and the afore mentioned loss to Belmont will hurt come March. The SunBelt’s RPI isn’t as bad as some so as long as they win all but 1 conference game they should be in a good position come March. They’ll be cheering for Mississippi to come on strong as they own a win over them already.

5. Stephen F. Austin: RPI of 29, KenPom of 66. A team of mystery, nobody is talking about them, yet they only have 1 loss, an 8 point setback against Texas A&M. Good wins are limited to at Oklahoma but right now that’s a huge game. The Southland doesn’t have a ton of competition but they do get Oral Roberts twice while both Northwestern State and McNeese State are top 75 RPI. I think they can afford 1 loss in conference and need to make the Southland Championship game. By that time they’d still need to hold a top 40 RPI. Not sure that’s going to happen
A special shout out goes to Lehigh who has a high RPI of 91 and KenPom of 68. They just lost their best player and leading scorer in the NCAA’s, CJ McCullom, to a broken foot for 8-10 weeks. If they can keep it together and split with Bucknell the NCAA Committee may make a special case for them based on their play with CJ as opposed to without him. This would be dependent on him being healthy for the tournament. It’s a stretch but not impossible.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

HAIL


Not only is Michigan as good as their record, they might be the best team in the nation at ths moment.

Led by POY candidate, Trey Burke, Michigan has steamrolled Northwestern and Iowa to open B1G play. Burke and Tim Hardaway form one of the nations most lethal backcourts. Both can shoot the ball and both can break down their opponent one-on-one. As a PG, Burke does a great job protecting the ball and running the offense.

As impressive as those two have been, Freshmen Mitch McGary, Nik Stauskas & Glenn Robinson III have been equally impressive. McGary struggles with fouls but provides another inside option to go with Jordan Morgan and is active on the glass on both sides of the court. McGary and Morgan have both been excellent at handling the rock and starting fast breaks as well.

Big Dog's kid is a better defender than his old man (I know, not that difficult) and is a more complete overall player. Not the natural scorer like his dad, Robinson works well without the ball and can attack the rim. Stauskas is the best shooter in the B1G and possibly in the nation. He's shooting 58% from 3 and has begun to attack the hoop to keep defenders honest.

The head coach is John Beilein who has adapted his coaching style to match the talent on the court and the Wolverines have played effortlessly and unselfish thus far.

The Wolverines are back and are a definite National title contender.

First Big Day of Conference Play

And there's plenty of shake ups.  Cincinnati loses at home to St. John's, Ohio State loses to Illinois (is it possible they are for real?), Pittsburgh loses to Rutgers?  The Big East is a mess already.

The biggest almost upset goes to Bucknell who almost won at Missouri.  That would have a been a huge resume builder for a low major with a top 35 RPI already. Also in the Patriot league Lehigh takes VCU to the buzzer without leading scorer CJ McCullom, who appears to have broken his foot.  Wins by both teams yesterday would have led the Patriot, yes the Patriot, League towards a potential two bid league.  Perhaps it's time for my yearly love affair with the Colonial to move to the Patriot (or perhaps Ohio Valley).

Duke wins again but there seems to be some cracks in their armour.  I think one of either Marshall Plumlee, Alex Murphy, or Amile Jefferson need to step up and be a 10-12 minute guy by the end of the year for them to be contenders.

Arizona also squeaks out it's second straight win to remain undefeated.  I'm not ready to annoint them a top 5 team even with 0 losses but a win is a win.  Michigan on the other hand just might be as good as their record....

Friday, January 4, 2013

Friday Afternoon Bracketology

1 seed vs 16 seed

Duke (ACC) vs Will&Mary(CAA)/G-Webb(Bsouth)
Indiana vs NorfolkSt(MEAC)/Vermont(Aeast)
Michigan (B1) vs UC-Irvine (Bwest)
Louisville vs W.Illinois (Summit)

2 seed vs 15 seed
Kansas (Big12) vs Weber St (Bsky)
Syracuse vs F.Dickenson (NEC)
Arizona (Pac12) vs Mercer (Asun)
Florida vs Southern (SWAC)

3 seed vs 14 seed
Illinois vs Loyola-Ill (Horizon)
Minnesota vs Fairfield (MAAC)
Gonzaga (WCC) vs Akron (MAC)
Creighton (MVC) vs W. Kentucky (Sbelt)

4 seed vs 13 seed
Ohio State vs Utah State (WAC)
North Carolina State vs Harvard (Ivy)
Missouri (SEC) vs Stephen F. Austin (Sland)
UNLV vs Davidson (SoCon)
5 seed vs 12 seed
Georgetown vs MidTennSt/MurraySt
Michigan State vs Marquette/California
Wichita State vs Wisconsin
Cinncinati (Beast) vs Tennessee

6 seed vs 11 seed
New Mexico vs Bucknell (Patriot)
Butler (A10) vs Maryland
Oklahoma State vs Oregon
Colorado vs Memphis (Cusa)

7 seed vs 10 seed
Wyoming (MVC) vs BYU
San Diego State vs Kansas State
VCU vs UCLA
North Carolina vs Oklahoma (B12)

8 seed vs 9 seed
Baylor vs Pittsburgh
Notre Dame vs Belmont (OVC)
Kentucky vs Temple
Miami vs Colorado State

First Four Out
St. Louis
Illinois State
Boise State
Indiana State

Next Four Out
Iowa State
Mississippi
St. Joseph's
Alabama

Also Considered
Florida State
North Dakota State
Massachusettes
LaSalle
Southern Miss
LSU
Seton Hall
South Florida
Texas A&M
Arizona State
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers
Stanford
West Virginia
Lehigh
Iowa
Washington
Arkansas
St. Mary's
Xavier
Northwestern
Texas
Georgia Tech
Richmond
Valaparsio
Virginia
Oregon State
Charlotte


Thursday, January 3, 2013

My Bad: SEC Edition

Brian was more cool on the SEC at the beginning of the year while I looked at them and saw 3-4 potential Final Four teams. Brian was right and I was wrong. As we enter conference play, we see 1 team with Final Four potential in Florida while Kentucky, Tennessee & Missouri find themselves with as many questions as answers. The middle of the conference - Ole Miss, Arkansas, Alabama, LSU & Texas A&M all look like NIT or worse at this point. Let's take a closer look at what the non-coference schedule has brought us.

THE RANKINGS:

The conference RPI is currently 8th behind the B1G, BEast, MWC, ACC, Pac-12, Big 12 & A-10.

RPI BY SCHOOL
16. Florida
34. Missouri
51. Ole Miss
54. Tennessee
58. LSU
61. Texas A&M
62. Kentucky
78. Alabama
89. Arkansas
159. Vandy
219. Georgia
231. South Carolina
238. Auburn
262. Mississippi State

KenPom
4. Florida
8. Kentucky
21. Missouri
30. Ole Miss
65. Tennessee
74. Alabama
78. Arkansas
99. LSU
117. Texas A&M
132. Georgia
134. Vanderbilt
156. Auburn
202. South Carolina
247. Mississippi State

Where would the SEC be without Texas A&M and Missouri this year? Maybe a two bid league.

THE RESULTS - GOOD, BAD & UGLY

GOOD WINS
Florida over Wisconsin,FSU & Marquette - And these wins aren't that good now as they were at the time as Wisconsin & Marquette are curently finding themselves as bubble teams and who knows what to make of FSU.

Auburn over FSU

Missouri over Stanford, Illinois, VCU

Tennessee over Wichita State

Kentucky over Maryland

That's not exactly an impressive collection of victories.

BAD LOSSES
Georgia to Youngstown State & Iona

Mississippi State to Alabama A&M - MSU may be the worst team in all the BCS conferences but a loss to a SWAC team is still a loss to a SWAC team

South Carolina to Elon

Auburn to Winthrop & Rhode Island

Alabama to Mercer & Tulane - Tulane is 11-3 but has a 131 RPI

Ole Miss to Middle Tennessee & Indiana State - ISU is 28th in RPI but not expected to be a serious contender in the Valley

Vanderbilt to Marist & Middle Tennessee - MTSU is 41st in RPI. But again, they're in the Sun Belt, SEC teams should beat the Sun Belt

Texas A&M to Southern - Another SWAC loss

That's a collection of bad losses

UGLY LOSSES

Georgetown 37 Tennessee 36
Virginia 46 Tennessee 38

The Ugliest?

Marist 50 Vanderbilt 33

The outlier is Kentucky. Kentucky's best win is over Maryland but every other key game has been a loss for them. They set the bar so ridiculously high last year playing freshmen it's impossible for them to match that level, probably ever. The press seems to think they'll be a team to watch in March and KenPom likes them so there's certainly a chance they could be. But as of today, they're just another team.

Finally, Tennessee is probably better than they've shown. They've been missing Jeronne Maymon. Even still, the SEC is having a struggle thus far.