Sunday, March 30, 2014

Deciphering Your Badger Final 4 Week

A lot of us are unfamiliar with the type of basketball Wisconsin plays, so let me define the terms that will be used to describe them in the week leading up to their tip-off in the Final Four.

FUNDAMENTAL BASKETBALL: Fundamental basketball can be interchanged with, "doing it the right way". Fundamental basketball includes playing something called "defense". Most teams can't play defense because they don't play defense on the playground. On offense, this means "extra passes" and "good shots".

UNSELFISH: Unlike 99% of the teams in the tournament, Wisconsin is one of the few, probably the only, that plays unselfish. Most teams don't share the ball or play help defense. Aaron Craft is unselfish.

GRITTY: Arguably the only team that will dive for a loose ball left in the tournament. That type of effort is "unselfish". Scrappy is another term that can be interchanged or out hustles.

HARD WORKING: Nobody outworks the Badgers on the court or in the classroom. Most teams are lazy in practice and the weight room and most teams have players that skip classes and have tutors do their work for them because they are not hard working.

HIGH MOTOR: The Badgers are always working because they have high motors. You won't see any Florida Gators being accused of having high motors. Sometimes "has a lot of heart" is used in its place.

SNEAKY ATHLETIC: The Badgers have guys that can run fast and jump high but you wouldn't expect it. "Deceptive speed" is similar in meaning. "Faster than he appears" is another option.

SOMEONE YOU'D LOVE YOUR DAUGHTER TO DATE: They have no clue how to navigate a major metropolitan city. Free of tattoos. Wear their hats straight with the brims properly bent. Enjoy Darius Rucker.

Hopefully this well help you

Saturday, March 29, 2014



Michigan State vs. UConn- KenPom has Sparty as a 2-pt. favorite in this game. Between the two, UConn has looked more impressive in the last two games playing with confidence and swagger. They haven't played a team nearly as physically and intimidating as the Spartans. If you watch Sparty, though, you see if you're patient, you can attack them and get good looks. UConn has the best overall player in Shabbaz Napier but I think his career ends at MSG.

The Pick: Michigan State 68 UConn 62


Kentucky vs. Michigan - According to KenPom, this is basically a pick 'em game but that doesn't take into account no Willie Cauley-Stein. You'll have a good idea how this game goes based on Michigan 3-pt shooting. If they're making them, Kentucky will have a tough time winning. They simply can't match that firepower. I thought Tennessee would give Michigan more trouble in the paint but Michigan got a great night out of Jordan Morgan who has ably replaced Mitch McGary.  To think Kentucky will easily manhandle Michigan in the paint seems foolish. If Louisville could hold their own, Michigan can. Kentucky has the talent but I've been underestimating Michian all year. No more.

The Pick: Michigan 72 Kentucky 67

Friday, March 28, 2014

Saturday Elite Eight


Florida vs. Dayton - You don't often see such a mismatch based on the numbers in the Elite 8 but according to KenPom, Florida is favored by 9 with an 84% win probability. In a one game setting, though, anything goes and Dayton looked great on Thursday night. That said, Florida is the best team in the land. VCU took out Kansas in 2011 in a similar setting so it's not impossible. I don't see it. Great run by Dayton ends and Billy Donovan goes back to the Final 4

Pick: Florida 71 Dayton 62


Arizona vs. Wisconsin - Arizona is a 3-pt favorite according to KenPom, with a 64% win probability. This'll be a de facto home game for Arizona similar to Wisky in Milwaukee last Saturday. Not sure that matters. I'm going with the numbers on this one and the numbers pegged Bucky a Sweet 16 team with an Elite 8 ceiling and Zona a Final Four team, Final game ceiling. 

Pick: Arizona 65 Wisconsin 61

Sweet Sixteen - Friday

Tennessee 61 – Michigan 59
Michigan was one of the teams we had pegged as an early exit possibility.  Here is where that happens.  Tennessee dominates inside and squeaks out a low scoring victory.

Louisville 79 – Kentucky 66
I suppose the National Media is looking forward to this game; I’m not.  I’m just hoping whoever wins this game loses their next.

Iowa State 73 – Connecticut 66
I’m looking forward to this game the most.  It should be a back and forth affair with some great play between Shabazz Napier and DeAndre Kane.  In the end Iowa State gets a little more production from their supporting cast.

Michigan State 49 – Virginia 47
Advert your eyes, do not look directly at this game.  A grind it out fest that bring Dick Bennett to his feet applauding nobody gets 50.  He doesn’t even care if Tony loses; just keep the scoring down.


Thursday, March 27, 2014



Michigan vs. Tennessee - Time for did you know. Did you know Tennessee is top 20 in KenPom in offense and defense? The Vols are better defensively than offensively and will lose some problems for Michigan if their  outside shots aren't falling. Tennessee will probably dominate the glass in this game. The Vols are a weird team pretty capable of winning this region. Michigan is far better on offense than defense and if shots are falling, good luck Vols. I honestly have no idea which way this game goes.

Pick: Michigan 60 Tennessee 55

Louisville vs. Kentucky- Wow, Louisville is playing Kentucky in the Sweet 16 in Indianapolis. How did that happen? The Kentucky team you saw on Sunday was devastating. Shooting, defending aggressively and monsters on the glass. Louisville has looked ordinary thus far after cake walking through the American. Kentucky won the regular season meeting. Which Kentucky team shows up?  That's the question

Pick: Louisville 59 Kentucky 58


Iowa State vs. UConn- Here's something to give you an idea why this might be such an intriguing game. Iowa State is 19th overall in KenPom. They're 10th in offense, 57th in defense. UConn is 20th overall, 58th in offense and 10th in defense. How's that?  Should be a great game. If Niang is playing, I'd take ISU. Without him, I give UConn a slight edge.

The Pick: UConn 66 Iowa State 65

Virginia vs. Michigan State- Tickets for this regional are dwarfing others in terms of value. Part of it is MSG being the host but these are two tremendous games. Michigan State is the media darling right now while Virginia is almost still a mystery. This is another game where defense meets offense. Virginia is efficient on the offensive side but more known for defense. Sparty is probably perceived as a defensive power but have been much better on offense. Harvard really got a lot of good looks against MSU. Virginia is not going to take bad shots. Can Sparty defend?

The Pick: Virginia 69 Michigan State 67

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Tursday Sweet Sixteen - My Picks

Stanford 63 – Dayton 52
Dayton closed the year hot but it end tomorrow.  Both teams are pretty even but Dayton has been living on the edge in each tournament game.  Johnny Dawkins takes this team to the Elite 8.

Florida 68 – UCLA 53
Bad UCLA shows up and Florida stops screwing around and flexes its muscles.  I’m expecting a blowout.

Wisconsin 77 – Baylor 67
Wisconsin gets a quick lead and Baylor falls apart early. 
San Diego State 55 – Arizona 54
The game of the night with the Aztecs pulling the upset.  Arizona goes through one of its scoring lulls against a stout SD State defense and Steve Fisher returns to the E8.

Sweet 16, Thursday Session


Stanford vs. Dayton - Stanford enters a slight favorite. It's somewhat amusing if we think about Dayton's success. On two occasions, they could have been sent home but survived to live another day. Luck is always such a real thing in sports. That's not a shot at Dayton but a reminder how unpredictable things can be. Stanford looks like every Stanford team of my life except Johnny Dawkins is coaching it. In all these picks, I haven't looked at the numbers so it's all my fat gut.  

Pick: Dayton 61 Stanford 56

Florida vs. UCLA - Florida played indifferent in the opening round and in the first half against Pitt before dismantling the Panthers in the 2nd half. They'll have to bring it for 40 minutes against the Bruins. This is Steve Alford's first Sweet 16 since 1999. He's done a great job this year and a Bruins win won't shock me. I'm taking the Gators simply because Scottie Wilbekin has that look of that guy that we remember as the heart of a title team.  A Cleaves, Battier, May, etc. I'm buying the cliche.

Pick: Florida 63 UCLA 60


Wisconsin vs. Baylor - This could be the best game of the night or one of these teams could blow the other out. Baylor looks fantastic but bad Baylor is always lurking. I was intrigued by a Badgers-Bluejays matchup because I figured that would be like a 90-85 type game. Baylor's zone is long and active but the Badgers can shoot it if given space. I think the difference is Kaminsky from mid-range and I don't trust Baylor not to be bad Baylor.

Pick: Wisconsin 75 Baylor 68

Arizona vs. San Diego State - I've seen some arguments that Sean Miller is the best coach never to make a Final Four. Eh, seems pretty young in his career to anoint him that. Whatever the case, his Wildcats looked dominant late Sunday night. SDSU making the Sweet 16 is pretty remarkable. They were expected to be a team like this next year and this a rebuilding year. It'll probably be a low scoring tilt and I'll stick with Arizona.

Pick: Arizona 59 San Diego State 51

Monday, March 24, 2014

Wisconsin, Bo Ryan and Success

As a Marquette fan, I've often heard the joke about Badger fans discovering the game of basketball in 1994 and claiming it as their own. 1994 would be the year Dick Bennett took the job. It's a jab at an in-state rival but the truth is, Wisconsin fans didn't have any reason to be excited about basketball prior to that. Trust me, at one time I followed them religiously as they would fatten up on cupcakes under Steve Yoder in the 80s and then get beat down in Big Ten play.

Prior to Bennett's arrival in 1994, The Badgers had exactly 3 NCAA tournament appearances. 1941, 1947 & 1994. That's bad. In fact, between 1954-95, Badger basketball produced only 8 winning seasons and only 2 winning seasons in the real Big 10. Their best conference finish in that time was 4th, which they achieved on 4 seperate occasions.

Bennett guided the Badgers to tourney appearance 3 times, culminating with an unlikely Final 4 appearance in 2000 that rivals VCU & Butler (at the time) as one of the more unlikely runs in recent memory. Bennett resigned a year later citing burn out and assistant Brad Soderbergh lead Buckt to an opening round loss in the 2001 tournament.

After Soderbergh was not retained, the Badgers hired Bo Ryan who proclaimed it "his dream job'. Today, Badger fans would accept a coach saying that given their recent run of success but even with the 2000 Final 4, there was no guaranty of sustained success. That wasn't a shot at UW, it was reality. The program benefited from better facilities certainly but Wisconsin doesn't have the history or pedigree of the blue bloods. 5 stars don't traditionally grow in state and those that do often leave. Sustaining success, even at a school in a power league, was no given.

That's what makes what Bo Ryan has done at Wisconsin remarkable and worthy of praise. Since he took the reins, the Badgers haven't missed the tournament. Blue bloods have and often. UCLA, Kentucky, Indiana & North Carolina all have multiple misses since then. He's won 3 Big Ten titles during the reign of Izzo. This week, they embark on their 6th Sweet 16 appearance since 2001. Here's the list of teams that have bettered or matched that:

- 10: Duke, Kansas
- 9: Michigan State
- 8: Kentucky, Arizona
- 7: UConn
- 6: Florida, UNC, Louisville, Syracuse, UCLA

That's impressive company. One could nitpick and point out only one Elite 8 appearance. Go ahead and do that. You'd be a fool to question what has been accomplished and what a great coach Bo Ryan has been.

I don't know if Bo Ryan will ever make a Final 4 but I'm not betting against him. This year's team has to go through Baylor which we'll preview later and either San Diego State or Arizona, two stout defensive teams, one athletic enough to score against Bucky. Next year's team should be a top 10 team at least entering the season and a favorite to make the Final 4 barring some unforseseen roster attrition.

As a Marquette fan, I won't be sad to see him leave. But as a fan of the game, it's pretty easy to appreciate just what he has done 90 minutes to the west.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Marquette and the Coaching Search

I fully expected a coaching search for Marquette in our near future. Travis Ford is coaching himself out of Oklahoma State and I fully expected Buzz to end up there after next season. I did not expect him to take a job at Virginia Tech. Good luck.

Here's a list of names being bandied about and some I threw in knowing the chances are less than naught.


The dream list can also be renamed the no way in hell list but let's run three names mentioned.

Shaka Smart- Could he be interested in moving on? Sure. Will he? Seems doubtful at this point and he'd be a target for the blue bloods once their coaches move on. Duke & UNC are most commonly named in regards to Smart but I bet those schools hire from the family, at least in the first instance after K and Roy retire. I think Kentucky or Kansas would be more likely, maybe Louisville. I believe Calipari will try the NBA again and maybe sooner than later.

Gregg Marshall- Jeff Goodman of ESPN hinted this isn't as unlikely as one would think. Neither is me dating Kate Upton.

Tony Bennett- This isn't my dream but for some I guess it is. He might leave Virginia but it isn't going to be now and it isn't going to be for Marquette. Best thing I saw about Buzz getting hired was someone claiming Buzz was great hire for Tech, partly because he might scare Tony & Shaka out of Virginia. Uh, huh.


This list is more realistic and I'll put it in what would be my order of prefrence.

1. Steve Masiello- Masiello lead Manhattan to a near upset of mentor Rick Pitino and Louisville. Masiello is 36 amd has been the Head Coach at Manhattan since 2011. Prior to that, he was a guard on Kentucky's team from 1996-2000 before embarking on a coaching career. Pitino has said he recruited Masiello knowing he'd be a coach someday. He served as an assistant at Manhattan from 2001-04 and then with Louisville from 2005-11. He'd bring a high level of intensity and attitude. Marquette dipped into the MAAC to hire Mike Deane. Previous Manhattan coaches to move on to bigger jobs include Fran Fraschilla and Bobby Gonzalez, so the results have been mixed. It is rumored he is the front runner for the job at South Florida. Age, entusiasm and pedigree are my favorites. I do not believe he is in the mix at all.

2. Archie Miller- The darling of the 2014 NCAA tournament, he has lead Dayton to its first Seet 16 in 20 years. Miller is the brother of Arizona's Sean Miller and served as an assistant under him for 3 years before taking the Dayton job. Miller is only 35 and has worked at NC State (2004-06), Ohio State (2007-08) and started at Western Kentucky from 2003-04. Miller is a rising star and would be a great hire and has experience in lots of different locations. May not be inclined to move at this point as he has done a great job building Dayton to this level. Wake Forest may target him. FWIW, Jeff Goodman tweeted Miller was coaching for the Marquette job last night. I'll say this, Dayton's winning margin has been razor thin. Would he be a hot commodity if a bucket went in for Ohio State or Syracuse? Something to think about but I've liked him for a while.

3. Saul Phillips- The North Dakota State head man is a Bo Ryan disciple so Marquette fans may not like this but Phillips knows the landscape and anyone that watched his team and him saw a good team and great energy from Phillips. Phillips was born in Reedsburg and played under Bo at Platteville and coached for him until 2004 before taking an assistants job at NDSU. He became the head man in 2007 taking them to the dance in 2009, the first year the Bison were eligible. At 41, he's young enough to be a guy that could be at Marquette for years if successful. He has been quoted as talking about the importance of having a solid foundation starting with a University President and AD. Marquette has neither. So...

4. Ben Howland- I believe he is the favorite and will get the job. I'll save thoughts on him for later. It's a long look.

5. Brian Wardle- I don't think he's the guy given the issues that plagued him after last season. He was cleared of any wrongdoing but I'm not sure he energizes the fans. He was an assistant under Tom Crean from 2003-05 and some ex-players have expressed support in him for the job. He coached as an assistant at UWGB until getting the head job in 2010. He's only 34 years old and if it's Howland, he could get a look later, post Howland.


I don't think they go this way but here are 4 names I'd consider.

1. Brad Autry- Autry has been an assistant under Buzz Williams since 2008. Autry has been considered by some the man did most of the work at Marquette the last few seasons. Autry coached at Baylor pre-scandal and was part of some success there. He was also an assistant under Bill Self at Tulsa. He has 20 years experience and might help keep the recruiting class here. Isaac Chew who is on the staff may get a look, too, but i think Autry is the most likely if it comes from within.

2. Greg Gard- A Bo man and Wisconsin man, there is zero chance he even gets a call, much less the job but I'd be intrigued by him. Gard could be the coach in waiting should Bo step down anytime soon and that is more likely than we think. Gard's experience has been all Bo, as a player at Platteville and as an assistant at Milwaukee and Madison. My guess is he'll be a good head coach once given the chance.

3. Orlando Antigua- At some point, he's going to get a head coaching job. He is an assistant at Kentcuky who could be a fall back option for South Florida. Antigua played for Pitt and was an assistant under Jamie Dixon at Pitt until 2008 when he joined Coach Cal at Memphis and followed him to Kentucky. He's been a great recruiter for the Wildcats.

4. Mike Hopkins- Hopkins is the lead assistant for Syracuse and has been rumored for numerous jobs the last few years. Hopkins has been named the coach in waiting so that may scare schools off. Would know the landscape for the most part and would be hungry to establish his own identity away from Boeheim.

The tea leaves are reading Ben Howland and Marquette is going to happen. It isn't a done deal by any means and it's possible Marquette is patient and does its due diligence. I hope it does but in today's world, a slow process is seen as being weak, unsure & unattractive. Make the right choice, not the fast choice.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Character Revealed

I wrote a long piece lamenting being a sports fan. I deleted it. Bottom line on being a sports fan? It's stupid. Read a book or collect stamps. You'll be a lot less pissed off. Probably.

And being dark without your technology sucks. How did I ever survive?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Bracketology Final

Well, I ended up getting 67 of 68 teams correct, only missing North Carolina State.  My Paymon score was 333 which was 10 points below last year.  I finished below Joe Lunardi at ESPN but above Jerry Palm at CBS Sportsline.

I went back and reviewed the teams that I had over seeded and there is a direct correlation between NCSOS and seeding.  I will remember that for next year.  Even potential Final Four teams felt the effect, see Cardinals, Louisville.


Monday, March 17, 2014

East Breakdown #2

East Region:

 Here it was, laid out for me, my pre-season pick to win it all, Michigan State ready to go.  Then, what happens?  Every analysis in the world starts on them and Louisville.  I can’t take them at this point.  Lucky for me, my darkhorse team was sitting right there as a 3 seed, Iowa State.  I do think Michigan State gets by Virginia in a game that will barely be watchable.  The Cavs deserved a 1 seed but I don’t think they will do much with it.  On the bottom side Villanova will be lucky to win more than 1 game.  I instantly looked to see which 7 or 10 will knock them off and ultimately either Uconn or St. Joseph’s will do so.

 This region is riddled with upset potential.  The easy one is Harvard over Cincinnati but everybody has that one.  I’m starting to second guess it.  St. Joe’s is capable of taking down Connecticut and both should reach the Sweet 16.  I wouldn’t count out Delaware’s chances should Sparty have another off night from the field.

Connecticut/St. Joe’s over Villanova
Harvard over Cincinnati

Final Four:
Iowa State over Michigan State

East Region

Re-Seeded by KenPom

1. Virginia
2. Villanova
3. Michigan State
4. Iowa State
5. Cincinnati
6. UConn
7. North Carolina
8. Harvard
9. Providence
10. Memphis
11. George Washington
12. St. Joseph's

Overseeded: Iowa State, North Carolina, Memphis, GW, St. Joe's

The State swap on the 3-4 lines is a bigger swap on KP. MSU is up to 10 (14 entering B1G title game) while ISU remained at 23. The bottom 3 are 2 seeds higher in this region. Some people are questioning St. Joe's as a 10 seed, thinking they should be higher. To me, 10 is the ceiling. That's not to say they can't or won't beat UConn but UConn will be a decent favorite.

Underseeded: Michigan State, UConn, Harvard, Providence

Ivy League teams can be higher than a 12-seed and have been in the past. Should Harvard be higher? The committee and their formula says no but they're 33rd in KP. That could get them in a 8-9 but I bet they like drawing Cincinnati. We discussed MSU. Providence is lower than should be in this particular region and get UNC.

- Again, we have no teams that have top 10 ratings in offensive and defensive efficiency. Sadly, this region has no top 10 offensive units. Michigan State is here at 11, up from 14 yesterday morning. Iowa State is next best at 15. You do have two top 10 defenses in Virginia at 3 and Cincinnati at 9. UConn is 11. Villanova is the most well-rounded team at 16 in adjO and 14 in AdjD. Virginia is 25th in adjO. They're capable of some offensive stinkers, though. I'm willing to bet when they lose, they don't get to 50. Get the feeling this will be a grinders bracket based on the numbers.

Random Observations:

You have 3 top 10 teams in this region and interestingly enough teams 23-26. That should make for some entertaining games...This region is weird because you could have 2 AAC teams play one another in the Sweet 16 and have 2 Big East teams play in the Sweet 16. Good work by the committee...The Harvard-Cincinnati game will be a popular 5-12 upset. That should give us pause. Either way, I'm guessing its a game decided by a bucket or two...Michigan State is the resounding favorite according to America and will probably be my pick but they have concerns on defense and Gary Harris hurt his shoulder yesterday. Either way, the round of 32 game they play will be a bruising game...NC Central is capable of beating Iowa State who I really like but they got a tough draw

Best Choice(s):

Michigan State is the consensus favorite but a case can be made for both Villanova and Virginia

South Breakdown #2

South Region:

This one was easy because you put Florida in the Final Four and back fill everything else.  Kansas is a tough team to call…they could give Florida a run or lose to New Mexico in the “Round of 32”.  My wife took them to win it all.  Do what you will with that information.  Syracuse looked like a world beater 6 weeks ago.  Speaking of 6 weeks ago, if I told you Kansas, Syracuse, and Florida would all be in the same region you would have laughed at me.  UCLA is a weak #4.  If either Syracuse or Kansas get hot they could go on a run.  I don’t think they will.

I didn’t pick many upsets but I could see them happening.  Dayton WILL beat Ohio State and Aaron Craft is just crafty enough to score 4 points and make a bunch of hustle plays.  I could see New Mexico beating Kansas without Embiid.  I think VCU beats SFA but it should be a good game.  I’m considering taking Danny Manning and Tulsa over UCLA.

Dayton over osu
Tulsa over UCLA

Final Four:
Florida over Syracuse

South Region

Re-Seeding by KenPom:

1. Florida
2. Kansas
3. VCU
4. Syracuse
6. Pittsburgh
7. Ohio State
8. New Mexico
9. Stanford
10. Dayton
11. Stephen F. Austin
12. Colorado

Overseeded: Syracuse, Ohio State, New Mexico, Colorado

Nothing is really out of whack here except Colorado. At this point, I'd argue Utah would have been a better team from the Pac-12. That's a bit unfair to Colorado who lost Spencer Dinwiddie, though. Syracuse is a 3-seed in name only at this point. The rest are one-line differences in this region only.

Underseeded: VCU, Pitt, Dayton, Stanford, SFA

The big difference here is Pitt. Pitt is often a KP favorite. Low possession and solid defensively, Pitt doesn't wow you and often leaves you underwhelmed and deservedly so. There is an eye test and Pitt is the perfect example. No one can argue their 9 seed. VCU moves up two slots largely due to their 2nd national ranking in defensive efficiency. They'll have a tough matchup against SFA. Not a lot of movement here.

- There are no top 10 teams in both offensive and defensive efficiency. The only top 10 offensive team is Kansas. They are without Joel Embiid but Andrew Wiggins is showing us Carmelo-like glimpses. The aforementioned Rams are 2nd nationally in defense. Ohio State is 4th but a paltry 122nd on offense. Florida is the best overall team, 5th on defense, 15th on offense.

Random Observations: When this bracket came out first yesterday, the number nerds proclaimed it a beast because you have 7 teams in KenPom's top 18. Ohio State has played better on offense but still finds itself in large scoring droughts. If Smith and Scott play well, they can make a run but they haven't been consistent. Remember, Aaron Craft is a role player and nothing more...I mentioned Pitt who often is in this spot in the numbers. Do you and have you believed in Pitt the last half dozen years or so? They should beat Colorado but I can't see them beating Florida...UCLA enters "hot" having won the Pac-12 tournament but lost by 20 at Wazzu on the 8th of March. Tread lightly...VCU has a real tough team in SFA. Both rely on turningthe opposition over. Could very well be the best 5-12 game...New Mexico lost to Kansas in December. Good thing they might play in the round of 32...If Syracuse and Ohio State play, one team may not see 40 points...

Best Choice:

Florida seems a prohibitive favorite to me in this region

West Breakdown #2

West Region:

Here’s a region that went relatively quickly with disappointing results.   Anytime a year full of analysis ends with Wisconsin in the Final Four it feels like you’ve wasted 5 months of your life.  Sometimes you just have to roll with it though.  I see a lot of chalk in the first round of this region but after that it breaks down.  I don’t expect Arizona to get to the Elite Eight and think they will struggle against Oklahoma State in round 2.  Not sure I’m picking it but I might.  San Diego State gets an easy road while Wisconsin should get right through as well.  Baylor has been hot of late and they might be able to make a sweet 16 run.  As I mentioned right up front, I have the Badgers in the Final Four…I’m just not happy about it.

As for upsets I don’t see any double digit seeds winning in the first round.  Oklahoma State could make a run, as could Baylor.  Nothing crazy here.

Baylor over Creighton
Oklahoma State over Arizona

Final Four:
Wisconsin over Oklahoma State

West Region

Re-seeding by KenPom

1. Arizona
2. Creighton
3. Wisconsin
4. Gonzaga
5. San Diego State
6. Oklahoma State
7. Oklahoma
8. Oregon
9. Baylor
10. Nebraska
11. BYU
12. North Dakota State

Overseeded: Wisconsin, SDSU, OU, Baylor, Oregon, BYU

There's nothing super egregious in this region. Wisky earned that 2-seed and are eerily similar to Creighton so there's no real issue there. BYU should probably be in a play-in game and definitely not a 10 seed. In this region, they'd be an 11 in my world so they're not that far off. What it shows is the relative weakness of this region overall. Baylor had a typical Baylor year. I'm not sure where they really belong. A lot of people jumped on the bandwagon whch makes me leery of them this week. I think Oklahoma had a nice season but won't be shocked if they get knocked out early and if it's by NDSU.

Underseeded: Creighton, Gonzaga, OSU, Nebraska

As for Creighton, see Wisky. We have a real good matchup on the 8-9 line between Gonzaga and Oklahoma State. Oklahoma State was seen as a legit threat to ending Kansas Big XII streak of titles but then the season happened. Gonzaga quiety put together a solid season by the numbers but underwhelmed in its schedule. A lot of people assume Arizona has to get past Oklahoma State in the round of 32. Don't assume Gonzaga is a "W" for the Cowboys. Gonzaga is 20th and OSU is 22nd so it should be a whale of a game.

- There are no teams that are in the top 10 for both offensive and defensive efficiency. Creighton is 1 in offensive efficiency and Wisconsin is 5th. A potential Sweet 16 game would be intriguing. Baylor is 7th. Oregon is 12th. On defense, Arizona is 1st and they are the only top 10 team in that regard. Gonzaga is close at 13.

Random Observations:

Arizona was flat out dominant in the Pac-12 tournament until they played UCLA. The game was tied in the final minute and UCLA is 16th in KP and on a neutral court. They have a win at UCLA on the resume. They're a legit title contender...I see a lot of chaose in this region but not at Arizona's expense...Oregon was the hottest team in the Pac-12 entering the conference tourney. Their matchup against Wisky in the round of 32 is an intriguing game...A Creighton-Wisky game would be great theater. McBuckets went wild on them on a neutral court last November. Zones give Creighton issues but Wisky will not zone...

Best Choice(s):


Midwest Breakdown #2

Midwest Breakdown:

I think this region gave me the most headaches to fill out.  From before Sunday I was eager to put Wichita State in the Final Four but after going through it I felt Louisville would be the team to get there.  Of course, Louisville is the hot trendy every analysis pick to make it.  I always make it a point to ignore that team and this year will be no different.  I don’t like Michigan, I’d be surprised if they make it past Texas/Arizona State.  Next in line is Duke, who’s defensive inefficiency is troublesome.  If they play Mercer then Tennessee, and then Michigan it’s possible their toughest opponent will be Mercer.  I like them to make the Elite Eight and run into a tough Shocker team.

As for upsets I love Iowa or Tennessee over Umass and I think Xavier gets past NC State and Saint Louis.  I don’t think the Jaspers will win but I bet they give Louisville a game for about 30 minutes.

This region is still up in the air right now but here’s the preliminary thoughts:

Tennessee over UMass
Xavier over St. Louis

Final Four:
Wichita State over Duke

Midwest Region

Re-seeding by KenPom:

1. Louisville
2. Wichita State
3. Duke
4. Michigan
5. Tennessee
6. Kentucky
7. Iowa
8. St. Louis
9. Texas
10. Xavier
11. Kansas State
12. Arizona State
13. UMass

Overseeded: UMass, ASU, KSU, Texas, SLU, Michigan, Wichita State

UMass started the season on fire and slowly slid towards the middle through A-10 play. An argument can be made they don't belong in the field. As a 6 seed, they're 25 spots behind potential 2nd round opponent Iowa and 40 spots behind Tennessee. Can UMass win that game? Duh. anything can happen but the numbers suggest otherwise. The other outlier is St. Louis whose 5 seed probably is one of the more surprising seedings from yesterday. Xavier is 24 spots ahead of NC State and 8 behind SLU. Xavier is a bit of a mystery because of the injury to Stainbrook. NC State is the weakest, by far, of all the at-large teams. The other overseeded teams are a line or 2 off in this particluar region. Be wary of michigan in this group who is 103rd in defensive efficiency. They're ripe to get beat.

Underseeded: Xavier, Iowa, Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisville

Xavier is better by the numbers than the last four in but have been inconsistent all year. If Stainbrook is healthy, they will be a decent favorite over the Wolfpack, who as I mentioned really don't belong. Tennessee has been the outlier in KenPom all season. They have the look and talent of a team you expect to do be better but the results don't always show it. The same holds true of Iowa. Of all play-in games, arguably in history of play-ins, this is the best and most intriguing. Whoever wins should be a decent sized favorite over UMass and would give Duke a headache in the round of 32. Youth is Kentucky's biggest issue. I think they roll Kansas State but Wichita State will be licking their chops to get a shot at them. I'd expect a motivated and relentless Wichita team in that game. Louisville is a 4 because they had to spend a year in the American and a weak non-conference schedule but the numbers and eye-test love them.

Top 10 Offensive and Defensive Efficiency Teams:

- Wichita State, 5th overall (8th O, 10th D)
- Louisville, 2nd overall (10th O, 6th D)

Duke is 2nd in offense and Michigan is 3rd but both are in the 100s on defense. They do not profile as Final 4 teams. St. Louis is 8th on defense but 175th on offense and that number has been sliding for a month.

Random Observations:

Duke is the only team on the same line and will have atough matchup against a veteran Mercer team. I believe it will be a close game...Louisville is the trendy pick to come out of this bracket. I like them a lot, too...Michigan is bad defensive team that can't afford to have a bad shooting game. Don't be shocked by an early exit...

Best Choice(s):

- Louisville or Wichita State

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Final Bracket

I believe the committee spent the last week on a coke-fueled, alcohol infused stripper fest.

The seedlings are fine for the most part but there are two monster regions and two weak regions.

In the east, not that it will happen, but you could have a Sweet 16 where two American schools and two Big East schools meet conference foes. There's no reason for that.  Wisconsin could see Nebraska in the Sweet 16, too.

Just poorly constructed

A lot of this has to do with geography to sell tickets.  Still (edit)

Not much change

Virginia stays a 2, duke is a 3.  Vcu remains a 6 and st .joes a 9.  UL-Lafayette replaces Georgia St on the 14 line

Bracket Buster: Stephen F. Austin

From the Southland comes the team with the 28 game winning streak, the Lumberjacks of Stephen F. Austin. The Lumberjacks currently sit 60th in KenPom rating 47th in AdjustedO and 83rd in AdjustedD. Probably a 13-seed, they will make whatever 4 that gets them, very nervous.

They have an effective fg% of 52.4%, 50th in the land. They shoot 52.3% from 2. They're good at protecting the ball, with a turnover % of 16.8%, 70th in the land. Where they really excel is on the offensive glass. They're 11th in the nation in offensive rebounding %, at 38.5%. They can generate second chances and longer possessions.

Defensively, teams shoot well against them. Opponents have a 50.2% effective fg% and shoot 49.5% from 2. That's 204th in the nation. What they do well on this end is, force turnovers. Teams turn it over 24.4% of the time, 3rd best. If they match up with a team loose with the ball, they'll get some transition looks. They do a foul a lot, 332nd in FTA/FGA on defense. Like Manhattan, a good free throw shooting team should get some easy points. They're decent on the defensive glass. Opoonents offensive rebounding % is 29.3%, 78th overall.

The two players to know are senior Desmond Haymon and junior Jacob Parker. Haymon scores 14.3ppg while Parker gets 14.2ppg and 7 rebounds per game.

Stephen F. Austin sort of reminds me of Davidson a year ago, riding a long winning streak into the tournament. Davidson by all rights should have beaten Marquette. I think the Lumberjacks can do the same. They should be a tough opponent for whoever they draw, especially if it's a team prone to sloppiness.

Final Bracketology.

Unless something comes up this will be the final bracket for the year.  There are 5 games still left to be played so here are the contingency plans should I not be able to reach a computer in time.


Sun Belt – Georgia State or UL-Lafayette with be seeded in the 14 slot regardless of who wins.  Obviously the loser does not get a bid

Big 10 – I have Michigan locked in as a #1 win or lose and Michigan State a 3 win or lose

A-10 – St. Joe’s is a 9 win or lose.  VCU is a 6 seed and the only way I see them moving up to a 5 would be if they switch with Kentucky.

SEC – Florida is a 1 seed no matter what.  Kentucky is a 5 seed and as mentioned can only flip with VCU if they get crushed  by the gators

ACC – My bracket as Virginia as a 2 and Duke as a 3.  Whoever wins this game gets the 2 and the loser a 3.


1 seed vs 16 seed
Florida (SEC) vs TexSthrn(SWAC)/Cal-Poly(Bwest)
Wichita State (MVC) vs MtStMary's(NEC)/CoastCar(Bsouth)
Arizona vs Albany (Aeast)
Michigan (B1G) vs Weber St (Bsky
2 seed vs 15 seed
Villanova vs Wofford (SoCon)
Wisconsin vs American (Pat)
Kansas vs UWM (Horizon)
Virginia (ACC) vs Eastern Kentucky (OVC)
3 seed vs 14 seed
Duke vs NC-Central (MEAC)
Iowa State (B12) vs Georgia St (Sbelt)
Louisville (AAC) vs Western Michigan (MAC)
Michigan State vs Delaware (Colonial)
4 seed vs 13 seed
San Diego St vs New Mexico St (WAC)
Syracuse vs Manhatten (MAAC)
Creighton vs Stephen F. Austin (Sland)
Cincinnati vs Mercer (Asun)
5 seed vs 12 seed
UCLA (P12) vs Tulsa (Cusa)
Connecticut vs North Dakota St (Summit)
Ohio State vs Harvard (Ivy)
Kentucky vs BYU/SMU
6 seed vs 11 seed
VCU (A10) vs Tennessee
North Carolina vs Nebraska/Dayton
Oklahoma vs Providence (Beast)
New Mexico (MWC) vs Xavier
7 seed vs 10 seed
Texas vs Arizona State
St. Louis vs Kansas State
Baylor vs Pittsburgh
Memphis vs Iowa
8 seed vs 9 seed
George Washington vs Oklahoma State
Gonzaga (WCC) vs Colorado
Massachusettes vs Stanford
Oregon vs St. Joseph's


First Four Out
Southern Miss
Next Four Out
North Carolina St
St. John's
UW-Green Bay
Also Considered
Florida State
Luisiana Tech


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Bracket Buster: Manhattan

The Jaspers are no strangers to busting brackets having done it in the past. They just haven't done it in awhile. They upset Oklahoma in the 1st round in 1995 and knocked off Florida in 2004. Those victories helped propel Fran Fraschilla and Bobby Gonzalez into new jobs that didn't go as well. Current coach Steve Masiello is expected to be a hot commodity this off-season.

Manhattan currentlt sits 67th in KenPom and are a defensive minded team. They're 137th in offensive efficiency and 41st in defensive efficiency. They hold opponents to 45.6% effective fg%, 36th in the nation. They also force turnovers. Opponents turnover % is 21.8%, 18th best. They're soft on the glass. They are 257th in opponent offensive rebounding %. FTA/FGA is usually the least important of the four factors but for Manhattan, it could decide whether they win a game or two next week. They foul alot. Opponents FTA/FGA is 52.5%, 331st. They'll put you at the line.

They're not as good on offense. They shoot okay, with a 50.8% effective fg% but turn it over way too much. They have a turnover % of 19.7%, 266th in the land. Decent on the offensive glass but remarkable in getting to the line. Their FTA/FGA is 55.9%, 2nd best in the nation. They get 26% of their offense from the FT line. That's 18th most. What's remarkable about that as well is they shoot a terrible 66% from the line, 292nd in the nation. If they made their free throws at a better clip, that number would be even higher.

Manhattan also has the super special secret weapon. That would be senior leadership. The Jaspers 3 best playesr are all in their 4th year lead by George Beamon who scores 18ppg and gets 6.6rpg. Beamon is the guy you want to see on the line, as he shoots 82%. This matters on this team. Fellow seniors, Michael Alvarado and Rhamel Brown aren't so good at that. Alvarado shoots 66% from the line, 134-203. Brown is a putrid 51%, 75-146. Alvarado and Brown give you 12 and 10 respectively with Alvarado facilitating the offense and Brown also getting 6 boards per game.

Manhattan doesn't have great wins on their resume heading into the dance. Their best wins are an 18 point drubbing of South Carolina and an opening night win over LaSalle. If they match up with a foul happy, turnover prone team, they'll have a chance to win a game from the 12 or 13 line.


1 seed vs 16 seedFlorida (SEC) vs TexSthrn(SWAC)/CoastCar(Bsouth)Wichita State (MVC) vs MtStMary's(NEC)/WeberSt(Bsky)Arizona (P12) vs Wofford (SoCon)Michigan (B1G) vs American (Pat)2 seed vs 15 seedVillanova vs UWM (Horizon)Syracuse vs Stony Brook (Aest)Kansas (B12) vs Eastern Kentucky (OVC)Wisconsin vs Utah Valley (WAC)3 seed vs 14 seedSan Diego St (MWC) vs NC-Central (MEAC)Virginia (ACC) vs Georgia St (Sbelt)Duke vs UC-Irvine (Bwest)Creighton (Beast) vs Delaware (Colonial)4 seed vs 13 seedIowa State vs Western Michigan (MAC)Cincinnati (AAC) vs Manhatten (MAAC)Louisville vs Mercer (Asun)Michigan State vs Stephen F. Austin (Sland)5 seed vs 12 seedSt. Louis (A10) vs Louisana Tech (CUSA)Ohio State vs North Dakota St (Summit)North Carolina vs Harvard (Ivy)Connecticut vs Providence/BYU6 seed vs 11 seedTexas vs Tennessee/SMUOklahoma vs St.Joseph'sVCU vs DaytonUCLA vs Xavier7 seed vs 10 seedKentucky vs NebraskaMassachusettes vs Arizona StateNew Mexico vs Kansas StateBaylor vs Oklahoma State8 seed vs 9 seedMemphis vs ColoradoGonzaga (WCC) vs PittsburghGeorge Washington vs StanfordOregon vs Iowa

First Four Out
Southern Miss
Next Four Out
St. John's
UW-Green Bay
Also Considered
North Carolina St
Florida State

Morning Update

There are a ton of automatic bids going out today with 14 conference championships going on.  Not a ton of bubble action as most teams out have ended their season.  Our last 4 teams in the bracker (posted soon) will be watching Georgia, St. Bonaventure, and North Carolina State as they are the most likely bid stealers.
Our current last 4 in include BYU, Nebraska, Providence, and SMU.  SMU's surprise appearance has to do with their 300+ NCSOS.  Providence can lock up a bid with a win over Creighton and push Tennessee into the last 4 in.  They'll have their hands full with Florida early today.
The last #1 seed remains in flux and I still think it's Michigan's to lose.  I am going to take a second and third look at Louisville again today.

Friday, March 14, 2014

#1 Seeds

Assuming Florida, Arizona, and Wichita State have locked in a #1 seed the big question is who gets the 4th one?  Alive going into Thursday were 6 teams that could get there.  With loses Villanova, Syracuse, and Kansas have eliminated themselves.  So, who's left?  Multiple sources say Duke, but even with an ACC tournament title they'll still only have a 12-5 record against the top 100.  I wouldn't eliminate them but it's a reach.  The other two have a chance at playing each other.  If Wisconsin and Michigan meet in the Big 10 title game I think it'll be a 1 seed they are playing for.  Michigan is 14-6 against the top 100 with top 10 numbers in KenPom, Sagarin, and RPI.  Wisconsin has the same numbers and is 17-5 against the top 100.  If it gets down to those two I think the winner gets a 1 and the loser a 2.

Evening Update

Russ Smith goes off for 42 and Louisville looks like a 2 seed all of the sudden.  Syracuse loses to NC State and they are probably a 3 seed while the Wolfpack look like they are making a move for a last second bid.
Southern Miss got smoked by Louisiana Tech and their bubble got popped.
Dayton deserves a bid. That is all.

More News..

Nebraska gives up an 18 point lead and loses to Ohio State.  There will be some sweat from them but I think their 3 top 25 wins should be enough to secure an 11 or 12 seed.
Tennessee wins as well and looks like they are close to a bid.  They have a top 15 NCSOS but only 1 top 25 win.  Let's see what they do tomorrow before moving them up.
Kicking off in about an hour is the Conference USA semi-final between Louisiana Tech and Southern Miss.  This has the look of an elimination game with the winner still not a lock.  Each only has 1 top 50 win and neither have a top 150 NCSOS.  In fact, LaTech's is hovering around 300.  It should be a solid game either way.

Bubbles Go Pop

Both Missouri and Florida State lose this afternoon and they look like they're done. Dayton and St. Joseph's is a solid game. Both might be able to get in regardless of who wins and loses.

Bubble Stuff

2 days left until Selection Sunday and the bubble begins to tighten.  Right now I have 60 locks including automatic bids.  Everybody from Arizona State down in this morning’s bracket is locked in.  That leaves 8 spots for 20 teams, not including any non-bubble teams winning major conferences.  The 20 teams can be split into 5 groups.

Group 1 – In and somewhat comfortable:  Xavier, Dayton, Nebraska, St. Joseph’s
These teams just need to avoid getting blown out and they should be good.  The tricky teams are Dayton and St. Joe’s who play each other.

Group 2 – In and need a win: Providence and Tennessee
It’s all about momentum

Group 3 – In with no games left:  BYU and SMU
Nothing they can do but sit and watch

Group 4 – Out but can play their way in: Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina State, Florida State, Toledo*, Southern Miss*
We’ll be watching these games closely today

Group 5 – Out and just watching with little hope:  Arkansas, St. John’s, UWGB, California
This is not the group you want to be in.
*Most likely need the auto-bid.


1 seed vs 16 seed
Florida (SEC) vs TexSthrn(SWAC)/CoastCar(Bsouth)
Wichita State (MVC) vs MtStMary's(NEC)/WeberSt(Bsky)
Arizona (P12) vs Wofford (SoCon)
Michigan (B1G) vs American (Pat)
2 seed vs 15 seed
Villanova vs UWM (Horizon)
Syracuse vs Stony Brook (Aest)
Kansas (B12) vs Eastern Kentucky (OVC)
Wisconsin vs Utah Valley (WAC)
3 seed vs 14 seed
San Diego St (MWC) vs NC-Central (MEAC)
Virginia (ACC) vs Georgia St (Sbelt)
Duke vs UC-Irvine (Bwest)
Creighton (Beast) vs Delaware (Colonial)
4 seed vs 13 seed
Iowa State vs Western Michigan (MAC)
Cincinnati (AAC) vs Manhatten (MAAC)
Louisville vs Mercer (Asun)
Michigan State vs Stephen F. Austin (Sland)
5 seed vs 12 seed
St. Louis (A10) vs Louisana Tech (CUSA)
Ohio State vs North Dakota St (Summit)
North Carolina vs Harvard (Ivy)
Connecticut vs Providence/BYU
6 seed vs 11 seed
Texas vs Tennessee/SMU
Oklahoma vs St.Joseph's
VCU vs Dayton
UCLA vs Xavier
7 seed vs 10 seed
Kentucky vs Nebraska
Massachusettes vs Arizona State
New Mexico vs Kansas State
Baylor vs Oklahoma State
8 seed vs 9 seed
Memphis vs Colorado
Gonzaga (WCC) vs Pittsburgh
George Washington vs Stanford
Oregon vs Iowa

First Four Out
Southern Miss
Next Four Out
St. John's
UW-Green Bay
Also Considered
North Carolina St
Florida State

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Thursday Afternoon

The big story so far is Villanova losing and thus no longer on the top line.  Multiple teams are poised to grab that last #1 including Syracuse, Duke, Wisconsin, Michigan, or Kansas.  I'd bet on Syracuse at this point.

Florida State hangs on to the hope for a bid.  They'll need at least 1 more win, if not two.  Missouri is in the same boat.  SMU lost but they should be safe.

Dayton wins again and looks to clear the bubble.  I'm not willing to move them into lock status yet.

Utah is getting smoked....

Thursday, Let's Get This Going

Congrats to American who took the Patriot title last night.  They slide into the 16 seed.

As for bubble action last night every team that was supposed to win did except for Georgetown.  They are no longer considered in the bracket and will have to settle for the NIT.

There are no bids going out today or tomorrow but there will be a lot of bubble action with all of the major conferences kicking off today.  Look for updates throughout the day.

On a side note, BYU is going to be the most talked about team in/out of the bracket for the next couple days.  Most people had them in but with Collingsworth out with a torn ACL will the committee drop them 4-5 spots and exclude them altogether?  There numbers are solid, RPI of 35, NCSOS of 3, but they were only 1-5 against the top 50.  I have them as one of my last 4 teams in but will take a second look at them as other conferences finish.  I could see a team getting hot and taking their bid.  A couple to look out for are Utah, Southern Miss/Louisiana Tech, or California.