Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Is Dick Bennett Back

Michigan State and Maryland 17-14 at half.  12 of them scored in the last 3 minutes of the half.  13-7 at the 17 minute mark.

Poke my eyes out now.


Don't put a lot of stick in this first one; it's mostly based on RPI and unbalanced records.  Got to start somewhere though!

1 seed vs 16 seed
Kentucky (SEC) vs G.Canyon(WAC)/T.Southern(SWAC)
Duke (ACC) vs Chattanoa(SoCon)/SDState(Summit)
Wisconsin (B1G) vs Florida Gulf Coast (Asun)
Virginia vs Canisius (MAAC)
2 seed vs 15 seed
Arizona (P12) vs Stony Brook (Aeast)
Villanova (Beast) vs Belmont (OVC)
Gonzaga (WCC) vs UC-Davis (Bwest)
Louisville vs Northeastern (Colonial)
3 seed vs 14 seed
Kansas (B12) vs NC-Central (MEAC)
Wichita State (Valley) vs St.Francis-PA (NEC)
Texas vs Gardner Webb (Bsouth)
Utah vs Lafayette (Pat)
4 seed vs 13 seed
VCU (A10) vs E.Washington (Bsky)
North Carolina vs Harvard (Ivy)
West Virginia vs Incarnate Word (Sland)
Iowa State vs Georgia St (Sbelt)
5 seed vs 12 seed
St. Johns vs Buffalo (MAC)
Arkansas vs TCU/NC State
Northern Iowa vs Green Bay (Horizon)
Colorado St (Mwest) vs Boise State/Illinois
6 seed vs 11 seed
Maryland vs Temple (AAC)
Baylor vs Michigan State
San Diego State vs Syracuse
George Washington vs Minnesota
7 seed vs 10 seed
Dayton vs Notre Dame
Oklahoma vs Butler
Washington vs Providence
Old Dominion (Cusa) vs Stanford
8 seed vs 9 seed
Seton Hall vs UNLV
Penn State vs Georgia
Georgetown vs SMU
LSU vs Ohio State

First Four Out
Next Four Out
Oklahoma State
Rhode Island
Also Considered
Illinois State
Ole Miss
St. Mary's
South Carolina
Georgia Tech
Oklahoma State
Texas A&M

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Changing Landscape Needs More Change

My first bracketology of the year will be out sometime in the next 48 hours and it got me thinking about how much the landscape of College Basketball has changed over the past 20 years.  

Right around 1995 we had the 6 power conferences and a bunch of mid-majors.  Sure, it was a nice story when there was a first round upset but none of those Mid-Majors really did anything.  Then along came Gonzaga, who not only won a couple games but became mainstay’s in the top 25 and the tournament.  With this, the term Low-Major sprung out of the Mid-Major teams.  It was easy to distinguish teams now.  The Power conferences were the big 6, the conferences that could possibly send 2 teams and maybe win a game or two became the Mid-Majors, and everybody else was a Low-Major.  The Mid-Majors were still thought of as a secondary conference and really only consisted of the Atlantic 10, the Missouri Valley, Conference USA, and at the time the WAC (And later the Mountain West).  Everybody else was a Low -Major.  Ah, but then came the glory years of the Colonial Conference who broke through that Low-Major ceiling by sending George Mason and then VCU all the way to the Final Four.  And what about Butler reaching the finals two years in a row?  What to do with them?  We can’t have 6,7,8 or more Mid-Majors running around?  A solution was upon us quickly.  These new conferences that were making waves, the Coloinials, WCC’s, and Horizon’s would become the new Mid Major’s and the old Mid Major’s would become the High Majors.  Now the NCAA was back in business with your easy 4 division breakdown, the Power Conferences (who were about to shrink from 6 to 5), the High Majors, the Mid Majors, and the Low Majors.  They had their hierarchy and the Internet, specifically ESPN, was ready to lay it all out for people accordingly.  Big Monday?  Gone, nobody wants to see the Big West.  Let’s show them Power team after Power team.  Super Tuesday, ACC Wednesday, and Super Crappy SEC Thursday.  It was all right there labeled for every Tom, Dick, and Harry.  You don’t want to see any of these other 300 teams.  Let Fox Sports 1 show these unwatchable teams.

But, a revolution is starting.  Real fans don’t see Gonzaga and say Mid Major.  Nobody looks at Wichita State as a cute little abnormality.  The A-10?  Sending more teams then the SEC to the tournament.  Does any true College Basketball fan really look at Dayton, Butler, San Diego State, BYU, and VCU and say it’s surprising when they do well?  And are those same fans labeling Northwestern, Rutgers, Wake Forest, and Virginia Tech “Power” teams?  The landscape is changing and the constant realignment isn’t covering up the gaping holes at the bottom of these top conferences.  It’s time the NCAA, and the talking heads on ESPN quit trying to bury these “smaller” schools and embrace what each team brings to the overall table.  Sure, the Blue Bloods, Duke, Kentucky, UCLA, Kansas, and UNC will always be there but the future after that are the Gonzaga's, the VCU's, and the Butler's...not TCU, Nebraska, Auburn, and Northwestern.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

A-10 Struggling

Earlier this week, George Washington defeated Wichita State to win the Diamond Head Classic. At this moment, that could be the best win for the A-10 this year in non-conference play. Multiple bid league? Probably, but hardly a lock.

The top 5 teams in the league by record are Davidson (9-1), Dayton (9-2), VCU (9-3), George Washington (9-3) & Rhode Island (7-3). Davidson doesn't have any good wins though they get a crack at Virginia on Tuesday. That's an unlikely win but Davidson probably chose the correct road in scheduling in their first season in the A-10. there is a good sized difference playing in the SoCon vs. the A-10. I wouldn't expect them to be a team in consideration for a bid, though.

Dayton has wins over Texas A&M and Boston College but neither of those teams will be playing in the big dance. They lost by 14 at Arkansas and lost by 11 on a neutral court to UConn. The Flyers should be finish in the top 3 but probably don't have much wiggle room come March. The road has been made tougher with the dismissal of starting C Devon Scott and backup F Jalen Robinson. The Flyers currently have 8 scholarship players and none taller than 6'6".

VCU was the pre-season pick and will be the favorite going into conference play. VCU has two good wins the last two Saturdays, outlasting Northern Iowa in double ovt. two weeks ago and defeating a Mick Cronin-less Cincinnati team last Saturday. What hurts VCU is a loss to a good Old Dominion team and two blowout losses to Virginia and Villanova. Given a chance to make a statement, VCU laid an egg on both occasions.

GW had a good week. In addition to the win over Wichita State, they also beat Colorado in Hawaii. Those wins help offset losses to Seton Hall, Virginia & Penn State. Look for GW to be the biggest threat to VCU in conference play.

Rhode Island was my team to watch and at 7-3, they're still in the discussion but don't have a good win. they won at Nebraska but everyone is winning at Nebraska. They lost to a mediocre Georgia Tech team and at Providence. The Rams get home games against GW and VCU while avoiding them on the road. Win those, and they'll put themselves into consideration. They need to avoid bad conference losses, though.

It's possible a Richmond or St. Bonaventure makes a move in conference as well. UMass needs to make a move struggling to a 6-6 start, going 3-6 in their last 9. Overall, the A-10 has been a bit of a disappointment thus far. Conference play should be a battle with little room for error.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Time Changes Over

The time changes every year right at this point.  Focus turns from the day to day NFL events and Fantasy Football to the ever changing landscape of College Basketball.  Sure there is still one week of the regular season left and playoffs, and let's not forget about those bowl games, but really as teams start to play conference games in basketball the tide changes.  Every year I say I'm going to get into the blog earlier but I get lost in Fantasy Football playoffs and such.  But, now, Now! it's on.

The first thing I'd like to get into this season is the top seeds.  Preseason I had Arizona, Kentucky, Wisconsin, and Duke as my 1 seeds.  Gonzaga, Texas, Villanova, and Kansas were my 2 seeds.  Looking through what's happened so far those 8 aren't that far off.  Kansas's loss to Temple drops them out and Louisville and or Virginia certainly should be considered but I'm not sure if there are any other teams worthy of a top 2 seed.  Louisville will be tested on Saturday against Kentucky but unless it's a blowout they both stay up here.

This season looks top heavy at this point.  The top 6-7 teams look heads and shoulders above the next 10-15 teams.  We will see what conference season brings but right now I'm predicting a chalking March Madness.

As promised, this blog is kicking into gear....Merry Christmas All!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Maize and Very Blue

Though they're my football team, the Michigan hoops team has always been more of a secondary follow. I wrote at length a few years ago about the renaissance they have had under John Beilein. It's pretty remarkable how low they had sunk and then risen with the arrival of Beilein.

It's been my belief, John Beilein is the best coach in the B1G. That probably goes against conventional wisdom but no one can argue how players have developed under him and how successful the team has been on the court. Trey Burke and GRIII weren't viewed as NBA type players before they got to Ann Arbor.  That's where both now reside. He helped make Nik Stauskas a lottery pick in two years. Guy has done wonders.

The one problem with the recent success, has been the defection of the aforementioned players. None of those guys were five star prospects and none of the current players are either. Unlike Kentucky, Beilein hasn't replaced McDonald's All-American's with similar players.

If we look at the roster, we see a team with lots of talent. Zak Irvin, Kam Chatman, Derrick Walton & Mark Donnal are all consensus 4* guys. They're all underclassmen, though and unlike Burke and company, they haven't come in and become instantly reliable. They still have to develop. Coupled with the losses of a Mitch McGary and big men Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford, Michigan has some growing up to do.

The two upperclassmen expected to be the leaders are former unheralded recruits, Caris LeVert & Spike Albrect. Neither was heavily recruited out of high school. Albrecht is struggling with an injury. LeVert is the go-to-guy and is being billed as a likely 1st round pick. At this point, though, LeVert has not had anyone step up and loosen the load. Zak Irvin in particular has had a rough season thus far. Without an inside presence, teams have suffocated the outside shooting.

The numbers aren't pretty. Defensively, the Wolverines are 286th in defensive effective fg%. They sit 86th in defensive efficiency. Under Beilein, the offense has been pretty good. This year, while sitting 46th in adjustedO, they have not been very good. They can't get to the free throw line at all and the offesne has been a one trick pony, relying almost exclusively on the 3 ball. That can be fine but the inability to score in the paint os going to be an issue all season.

Michigan has a lot of good players. They've just lost a lot of good players the last two years to early entry. Unlike Kentucky, they haven't replaced them with the five star types. In a lot of ways, they resemble Wisconsin in how the team is made up. Unlike Wisconsin, they've suffered from early defections. 

Losing Mitch McGary was tough. Without the NCAA suspension, it's possible he'd be back and the team would be more balanced on offense. From early appearances, LeVert will be the only defection from this squad. This season could be tough but the future is fine. Donnal, Doyle and Chatman can be good college players. It just won't be this year

Monday, December 8, 2014

Early December Musings

- While the Big East continues to ascend, the American Athletic Conference continues to underwhelm. Defending national champ UConn just lost at home to Yale. SMU toughened up their schedule and promptly lost to SMU, Arkansas & Indiana. They did beat a good Wyoming team this weekend. I bought high on Memphis and they paid it off by losing to Wichita State, Baylor and at home to Stephen F. Austin. Tough start. Oh yeah, the Big XII will almost certainly be poaching somebody soon (I'm looking at you Cincinnati & Memphis).

- Ken Pomeroy did a piece with Deadspin last week saying we'll probably have the slowest pace of play season ever. Yay!

This weekend we had the following results:  

Yale 45 UConn 44
Wisconsin 49 Marquette 38
Washington 49 San Diego State 36

That's some ugly hoops

- Pleasant Surprises

Pretty much the whole Big East, even DePaul.

Northern Iowa has entered the top 25 with early season wins over VPI, Northwestern and Stephen F. Austin. Looks like the Valley has another team to matchup with the Shockers.

- Biggest Disappointments

The ACC other than the top 3 looks pretty mediocre. On Saturday, VPI lost to Radford and Georgia Tech lost to USC-Upstate. Miami lost at home to UWGB by 13. The same Phoenix team that got run off the court by Georgia State earlier in the week. Syracuse followed a loss to Michigan with a loss to St. John's.

VCU opened the season in the top 25 and proceeded to get waxed by Villanova, lose to Old Dominion and Virginia. 

Michigan lost Saturday to NJIT. At home.