Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Return of Badger Basketball

After two great offensive seasons, have the Badgers returned? Let's go to the tale of the tape from today's loss at Oklahoma.

16-68 shooting overall (.235)

7-33 from 3 (.212)

That's not good.  16 made shots in 40 minutes 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Northern Iowa beats UNC

Great game if you could find it as North Carolina went to Northern Iowa and lost by 4.

No reason for Carolina to hang their heads about this one. Incredibly tough atmosphere and a good UNI team. Ben Jacobsen is such a good coach.

I give Carolina credit for scheduling this, mostly as a gesture to Marcus Paige who is from Iowa. Unfortunately for him, he missed the game due to injury. 

Fun early season game for those who saw it 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Early Season Overreactions

The Good

1- Ben Simmons of LSU looks like the best freshman since Anthony Davis. The Nets could get the 1st pick but alas, the Celtics own that pick. That's Celtics fans cheering for each Nets loss.

2- George Washington downed Virginia and will be favorites in the rest of their games until they enter A-10 league play. Might be the A-10 favorite 

3- Indiana and Butler are representing the Hoosier state nicely to start the year. Indiana might have the most dynamic offense in the land and Butler looks like Villanova's top competition in the Big East

The Bad

1- Rhode Island saw their A-10 title hopes take a massive blow before the season really began with the loss of EC Matthews. The Rams were poised for a breakthrough but will be hard pressed to make that move now.

2- UCLA losing to Monmouth at home, Georgetown losing to Radford at home, FSU losing to Hofstra. Lots of bad losses early.

3- The state of Wisconsin's top two programs are off to poor starts. Wisconsin lost at home to Western Illinois and continue a recent trend of playing mediocre defense. Marquette needed overtime for their one win over IUPUI. They've been terrible on defense and offense so they've been consistent. 

One Week In - Let's Overreact!

So, what have we learned.


Yep, that's right, we haven;t learned a whole lot.  All these pundits want you to believe this team is overrated or that team doesn't have enough depth, or this team doesn't have a point guard.  Let me be the person to tell you none of it means anything for the first 3-4 weeks.  I'm not saying it's not true but this is what makes College Basketball better than College Football.  In College Football you are not allotted any time to experiment or work different rotations.  You are on your A game from the first kick off until bowl season or you end up in the Blue Bonnet Bowl.  In College Basketball you have the luxury of having a break in period.  Let me use a couple real world examples that are close to my heart.

1.  Duke can't win it all because they don't have a point guard or Duke can't win it all because Greyson Allen can only play against Siena/Bryant types.

Well it may end up being true that they are weak at point guard the real truth is that because Derrick Thornton reclassified he had to spend the summer catching up and wasn't able to participate as much as a normal recruit.  He's behind and you can see Coach K slowly bringing up to speed using Matt Jones and Allen at the point.  If he's not averaging 30 minutes by conference then we may still have a problem.  As for Allen, he just dominated a very good Wisconsin team to win a title.  He had a bad game against a very long and good Kentucky game.  Bad games happen.  This weekend's VCU and Wisky/G'Town tilt should shed more light on this myth

2.  Wisconsin is terrible as they lost to Western Illinois

Wisconsin had to replace there top 2 players and other bit players.  Everybody has to take on a new role and that doesn't happen overnight.  Wisconsin is not Duke or Kentucky bringing in players who can just step in.  Koening needs to be a leader, a distributor, and a scorer.  That's one extra burden on a player.  Hayes has to produce every night now.  That's pressure.  Vitto Brown basically has to fill Hayes spot from last year.  Don't focus on just one game.  As much as I dislike Bo Ryan, he'll have this team in the tournament come March

3.  Marquette needs better guard play and is very confusing to watch

Truth is they are confusing to watch.  Wojo has always been a great recruiter but now he has to coach a game with new players.  That takes time.  Personally I have them as a bubble team and they haven't looked that close but the season is young.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Jon Rothstein

Jon's been running with this one for two days. 

1. Belmont is a good team. Would have preferred opening with Western Illinois, but hey, part of a opening season tournament

2. Oh, yeah. It's a tournament, not a buy-in game.

3. It's March

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Our First Bracketology

1 seed vs 16 seed
North Carolina (ACC) vs AlaSt(SWAC)/Hampton(MEAC)
Kentucky (SEC) vs UMKC(WAC)/Lehigh(Pat)
Maryland (B1G) vs Bob Morris (NEC)
Villanova (Beast) vs Stony Brook (Aeast)
2 seed vs 15 seed
Duke vs Yale (Ivy)
Kansas vs N.Florida (Asun)
Gonzaga vs Weber St(Bsky)
California vs Furman (SoCon)
3 seed vs 14 seed
Oklahoma vs Louisiana (Sbelt)
Virginia vs S.Dakota St (Summit)
Iowa State vs High Point (Bsouth)
Michigan State vs Iona (MAAC)
4 seed vs 13 seed
Vanderbilt vs C.Michigan (MAC)
Wichita St (Mvalley) vs Belmont (OVC)
Arizona vs UC-Irvine (Bwest)
Florida State vs Valparasio (Horizon)
5 seed vs 12 seed
Cincinnati (AAC) vs Northeastern (Colonial)
Indiana vs SFA (Sland)
Xavier vs Iowa/North Carolina St
LSU vs Ohio State/Syracuse
6 seed vs 11 seed
Connecticut vs Miami
Wisconsin vs Oregon
Baylor vs UAB (Cusa)
Butler vs Tulsa
7 seed vs 10 seed
Georgetown vs San Diego St
Notre Dame vs VCU
Purdue vs Providence
Utah vs Rhode island (A10)
8 seed vs 9 seed
Louisville vs BYU
Michigan vs Boise State (Mwest)
Texas A&M vs Davidson
UCLA vs Dayton

First Four Out
Old Dominion
Next Four Out
West Virginia
Also Considered
George Washington

Monday, November 9, 2015

Marquette and the Bubble

Marquette takes to the court in a pre-season scrimmage tonight and begins the second season of the Wojo era.

A year ago, expectations were low. They had lost their best players and expectations were the most improved player would be Deonte Burton. By league play, Burton and John Dawson were gone and a team with little depth to begin with slogged through its worst season in decades.

There were signs of hope, though. Wojo had secured a commitment from 5-star F Henry Ellenson of Rice Lake over Michigan State and Kentucky. Along with Matt Heldt of Neenah, Wojo would also land Haanif Cheatham, Traci Carter & Sacar Anim. Marquette will also have Henry's brother Wally added to the mix.

Where does that leave us heading into 2015-16? For starters, the team should be vastly improved. KenPom has them 54th and Luke Winn and Dan Hanner have them as one of the Final 4 in. Brian has them on the outside looking in and they'll certainly be a bubble team all year. 

The roster should be more dynamic. The front court has the potential to be very good. Luke Fischer returns healthy after playing most of last season injured. Henry Ellenson is a projected lottery pick and will often be the best player on the court. Depth is an issue. Freshman Matt Heldt will see some minutes but any contribution will be a bonus. Early reports indicate freshman Sacar Anim may see time at the 4 and Sandy Cohen and Jajuan Johnson can play the 3. 

The back court will be all new. Matt Carlino and his barrage of 3's are gone and as is much maligned PG Derrick Wilson. Duane Wilson will play the 2. I wouldn't be surprised if he's the 2nd best player on the roster. From what I've read on Marquette, I really think he's being undervalued. Freshmen Traci Carter and Haanif Cheatham seem the most likely to run the point. That'll be a heavy burden for them. Carter's makeup and game remind me some of Trey Burke. That's big boy comparison at this level and probably wishful thinking but I think he'll be very good sooner than later.

The bench should be more productive. Wally Ellenson should be the energy guy. Sandy Cohen will likely come off the bench and he shot it well this summer. He's also an explosive player to the rim. He can be an offensive spark plug. By the end of the year, I suspect Anim and Heldt will have pretty limited minutes barring injury.

Marquette has an issue and it's the schedule. It's a pretty awful non-conference slate and will be an issue come March. They can't afford a bad loss during the stretch. Anything less than 10-8 in conference and they'll be hard pressed to return to the tournament.

This should be a really fun team to follow. At the beginning of last year, they were one of the worst defensive teams in America. This year, early models show them being much better defensively and much better offensively. Ellenson and Fischer will be loads in the paint and Ellenson can drag defenders out as he can shoot the rock. They have guys that can get to the rim. If Cohen and Wilson can shoot from deep consistently, they'll be dangerous working inside-out.

The guys that can take this team to a higher level will be Fischer, Johnson & Carter. We didn't see a healthy Fischer last year and he was pretty productive despite that and constant double teams. He shouldn't have that issue with Henry around. Jajuan Johnson was a top-50 recruit. Some project a bit of a breakout from him. If that's the case, that makes them more potent. That said, until we see it, counting on him to take a jump isn't a lock. Carter will have to protect the ball running the point. He turned it over too much during their summer tour of Europe and we shouldn't be surprised if he has bad games. The hope is, there are more good nights than bad.

I have them at 5th in the Big East. That spot is over Providence based on seemingly better depth. It'll take an effort to break the top-4. Fans will have to be patient. I can see some bad nights and unexpected losses in conference but with a young team, that'll be expected. With that, there will probably be some bonus wins in league, too. 

After a dip, the arrow is pointed up for Marquette

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Big East Predictions

1. Villanova - After his Final 4 appearance, Jay Wright sort of wondered the wilderness a few seasons but has got this program humming again. They'll be a bit undersized but ooze talent on the outside. They're a legit Final 4 contender and the clear favorite.

Tournament Bound

2. Butler - Chris Holtmann is a natural heir to the machine that is Butler coaching. After a blip in the radar in 13-14, Butler is back to being a very good basketball team. Good enough to make a trip to the Sweet 16. 

3. Georgetown - The Hoyas have a chance to be a very good team this year. With the return of D'Vauntes Smith Rivera and a talented front court, the Hoyas have a great opportunity to make it out of the first weekend. 

4. Xavier - Brian asked why doesn't Chris Mack get more love nationally and get linked to open jobs. Truth is, the Xavier alum does. He may leap someday but for now, he's doing a great job in Cincinnati. Look for big seasons from Jalen Reynolds and Trevon Blueitt.


5. Marquette - More to come

6. Providence - Kris Dunn is good enough to lead them to the tournament. The question is, who steps up to help. I like Ben Bentil and Rodney Bullock to help ease the loss of Ladontae Henton.

7. Creighton - The Bluejays are a bit of a mystery. Transfer Mo Watson joins a talented back court. Don't sleep on this team who after a down year look to be getting their Big East bearings. I love what McDermott has been doing in recruiting.


8. Seton Hall - Last year's most dysfunctional Big East team enters the season with low expectations but are a talented squad. They have a nice back court with Isaiah Whitehead and Khadeen Carrington and a solid big man in Angel Delgado. Pirates will be a pest in league play.

The Bottom

9. DePaul - DePaul has some nice players but are still way behind the rest of the league in talent. The Oliver Purnell years were a disaster and will take a few years to overcome. Dave Leitao needs to upgrade the talent.

10. St. John's - The Red Storm could go winless in league play. It's unlikely, but possible. They return no player who averaged 10 minutes a game last year. It'll be hard to judge Chris Mullin as a coach. He has a really good staff and great recruiters. They'll need to be to turn this around.

Player of the Year: Kris Dunn, Providence 

Newcomer of the Year: Henry Ellenson, Marquette

Coach of the Year: Chris Holtmann, Butler

All Big East Team
Kris Dunn, Providence
D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Georgetown
Kellen Dunham, Butler
Roosevelt Jones, Butler
Jalen Reynolds, Xavier

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Bolder Predictions

Player of the Year:
Buddy Hield, Oklahoma

Freshman of the Year:
Ben Simmons, LSU

Overrated Teams:
Iowa State

Underrated Teams:

Elite 8:
North Carolina

Final Four
Kansas over North Carolina
Duke over Villanova

National Champion:
Kansas over Duke

Bold Predictions

We are 1 week away from the season starting and it’s time for some bold, and not so bold predictions/

Player of the Year:
Perry Ellis – Kansas

Freshman of the Year:
Jaylen Brown – California

Overrated Teams:

Underrated Teams:

Elite Eight:
North Carolina

Final Four:
Kansas over Duke
Villanova over Kentucky

National Championship:
Kansas over Villanova

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Conference #2 - B1G Whoops!

Seems I skipped the Big Ten.  I had it written but just not saved.  I blame my secretary.

Conference Winner : Maryland

I still can’t get the Maryland in the Big 10 thing down.  I see Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and Duke all in the top 5 and think Wow, the ACC is stacked. Ultimately it doesn’t matter much as Maryland would be the class of any conference.  There’s a nice blend of Upperclassmen, Jake Laymen, Super Sophs, Melo Trimble, and impact Freshman, Diamond Stone.  It’s not hard to see why this team is a lot people’s pick to not only win the Big Ten but the whole tournament as well

At-Large: Michigan State

It really doesn’t matter where you put them in the preseason rankings you know Tom Izzo will have them peaking come mid-march.  This team is the same thing.  I  have them second but can see them being a slow starter and finishing in the 3-5 spot in the Big Ten.  It won’t matter as this team will exceed expectations and probably finish in the Elite Eight

At-Large: Indiana

It pains me to put them this high but I’m going off of talent and they certainly have enough of that.  I’m exicited to see how Tom Crean ruins the teams and flames out as 4 seed to Stephen F. Austion.

At-Large: Wisconsin

To be honest it wasn’t as painful to watch Wisconsin basketball last year as Evil Bo Ryan decided that Dick Bennett “style” may not be right for Dekker, Kaminisky, and the group.  This year I can see them regressing and falling in to the bump and grind that makes me want to poke my eyes out.  Nigel Hayes is a star and his stock is sky high.  No matter what I think Ryan will have this team in the top 20 and ugly.

At-Large:  Purdue

The big news is that star freshman Caleb Swanigan is finally eligible.  His addition to the already huge Boilermakes make this team a force to deal with.  AJ Hammonds and Isaac Haas form a solid front court to go with him.  The big question again this year is point guard where they went the transfer route with Johnny Hill.  If he’s serviceable the ceiling is high.

At-Large: Michigan

Injuries decimated the Wolverines and this is a big bounce back opportunity.  As long as LeVert, Walton, and Irvin stay health there’s no doubt in my mind that John Beilein can’t coach this team to a top 25 finish

Possible At-Large:
Ohio State

The "Final 3"

My heart would say Evansville, Richmond & Old Dominion but if I follow what I believe, here's how Brian's list would look according to KenPom's pre-season.

34. Texas
36. Iowa
41. NC State
42. Ohio State
44. Florida
51. Northwestern
52. Georgia
54. Marquette
58. George Washington
64. Richmond
71. Memphis
73. Evansville
90. Pepperdine
102. Old Dominion
106. UNLV 

I actually think the top 3 choices are the top 3 in this list. All 3 strike me as bubble teams anyway. I'm not so certain this isn't the year Northwestern breaks their streak, too. On this list, I see Ohio State as the most overrated.

I'll talk Marquette later

Eagle Eye Readers

For those of you who read and counted the at-large bids you would realize I only have 65 teams currently in.  I did this on purpose to let my counterpart respond with what he believes are the 3 biggest misses I had.  My current list of maybe’s are below.  If forced to choose three I would go with Ohio State, Georgia, and Old Dominion

Old Dominion
Geo Washington
North Carolina St
West Virginia
Ohio State

Conference #1 - ACC

Conference Winner:  North Carolina

It just kills me to type this but there’s no doubt they have the talent to win the ACC.  The only loss is JP Tokoto and that may actually be a plus giving some others players more playing time.  Marcus Paige is looking to have a bounce back year as last year was a bit of a disappointment.  The only solace I take is knowing they aren’t going to win the entire thing.  Roy Williams only wins championships when his teams are heads and shoulders above all other teams.  This team is good but comparable to the other top teams like Maryland, Kentucky, and Villanova.  I look forward to them falling flat again

At-Large: Duke

Yes, I know they lost 3 freshman from last year’s championship team and everybody is up in arms about 3 one and done’s but realistically only one of those players was a true start to finish one and done guy.   Winslow was better than advertised and Tyus Jones went out at his peak….and you ALWAYS TAKE THE MONEY…right Harrison twins?  Coming in to replace this team is another outstanding class of freshman to mesh with the returning upperclassman.  I still think point guard is a question mark but I love the combination of Plumlee, Jefferson, and Rice transfer Sean Obi.  Those three won’t score more than a combined 12 points per game but they will provide leadership, rebounding, and defense.  This team’s ceiling is one again a national championship.

At-Large: Virginia

Virginia loses two starters but like his Dad, Tony Bennett doesn’t need basketball players to succeed.  All he needs is a couple football players and a speed bump.  Oh,  and some old Big Ten refs that allow the putrid scheme he runs.  A great defensive team will get a high seed but eventually they will run into refs who call it tight and boom.  Upset

At-Large: Florida State

The Seminoles have a nice mix of returning stars and an incoming freshman class that should produce a top 6 seed.  Highly underrated this team has the potential to make a splash come March.  Xavier Rathan-Mayes is an all-conference player and Devin  Bookert is a solid senior leader.  All they need is some production out of there 3 7-footers and they will push Virginia for #3 in the conference

At-Large:  Notre Dame

It will be hard to replace Jerian Grant and Pat Connaughton but Demetrius Jackson is great guard and there are a lot of returning role players who should thrive with an expanded role.  Zach Auguste is a solid center and Steve Vasturia should be able to step up take on a larger scoring spot.  It’s not all doom and gloom for the Fighting Irish

At-Large:  Miami
Jim Larrinaga has a great one-two punch with Angel Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan but after that there’s not much else.  Those two are enough to lead Miami to a bid but it’s a low ceiling come tourney time

At-Large:  Louisville

Truth be told I had them higher when I first did my write up’s but I think the Stripper Scandal is going to wear down on Pitino and his crew and this year may not be as good as first thought.

At-Large: Syracuse

Speaking of Scandal’s I present to you Jim Boeheim on the bench for the first 9 conference games.  The Orange aren’t as talented as they used to be either and lack that big star that you are accustom to.  I think they make the tournament but it’s a double digit seed for me.

Possible At-Large
North Carolina State

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Conference #3 - Big 12

Conference Winner:  Kansas

I went back and forth on this one as I’d really like to pick Oklahoma to finally unseat the Jayhawks at the top of the Big 12 but I just can’t do it.  Last year was a disappointment for Kansas as their freshmen didn’t seem to mesh well with the upperclassmen.  Well, those freshmen are gone but Wayne Selden, Perry Ellis, and Frank Mason III all return and get another go round with a respectable freshman class.  Cheick Diallo is the best of the incoming class spurning home school St. John’s to mix it up in the Midwest.  This team is solid top to bottom and has Final Four potential

At-Large:  Oklahoma

Buddy Heild surprised some by coming back but I think it was a smart move.  The Sooners have a solid bunch of players with experience and I really think they can push Kansas for the conference title.  This is one of my preseason sleeper Final Four picks

At-Large:  Baylor

It’s a bounce back year for the Bears after being upset in the 1st round by Georgia State.  Rico Gathers is back and is an all-conference player.  A couple younger players are going to have to take a step up in minutes but this is a defense first team that is going to be able to lock down just about anybody.  Can they score enough to hang with the big boys though?

At-Large: Iowa State

Fred Hoiberg is gone but Steve Prohm steps in and the Cyclones shouldn’t miss a beat.  Monte Morris and Georges Niang are as potent as any 1-2 punch in the nation and there is quality depth with transfers becoming eligible.  Watch for Marquette’s Deonte Burton to make some noise right away.

Possible At-Large: Texas

It all depends how quickly the Longhorns adapt to Shaka’s style

Possible At-Large: West Virginia

I’m a bit more bullish on Huggy Bear’s team than most.  I think he did a good job of covering up his weaknesses with his crazy full court pressure team but he got exposed terribly by Kentucky.  I see teams adapting quicker this year and this being a bubble team