Saturday, December 26, 2015

Big East Conference Play Preview

As of today, the Big East has three teams in the top 10 (Xavier, Butler & Providence) and a 4th in the top 20 with Villanova. Xavier and Butler were expected to be good, probably not this good, though. Providence continues to perform well under Ed Cooley and have a National POY candidate in Kris Dunn.

More important than the rankings, let's see where the league falls in KenPom.

7. Villanova (10th AdjO, 12th AdjD)
8. Xavier (21st AdjO, 4th AdjD)
20. Butler (7th AdjO, 99th AdjD)
38. Providence (47th AdjO, 53rd AdjD)
47. Seton Hall (76th AdjO, 44th AdjD)
64. Creighton (30th AdjO, 153rd AdjD)
74. Georgetown (63rd AdjO, 108th AdjD)
85. Marquette (143rd AdjO, 56th AdjD)

Providence isn't long for the Top 10 as they're projected as a .500 club in the Big East.

Georgetown has been the biggest disappointment. The return of D'Vauntes Smith Rivera had expectations high but barring a run through the Big East, any postseason talk is of the alphabet variety.

Xavier has been the most impressive. The Musketeers are deep and versatile. Senior big man James Farr has been a monster. Xavier is a legit Final 4 team, maybe the best option from the league.

The question to be answered is how many teams will make the tournament come March. Villanova, Xavier, Butler & Providence look like locks. Seton Hall & Marquette look like teams that could get in but both will probably need 10 wins in conference. Creighton and Georgetown need that and maybe more.

Villanova was a prohibitive favorite entering the season but it looks like a 3-team race. Every game will be important, even against DePaul and St. John's where a slip up can be fatal. The Big East will be a lot of fun in 2016.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Pop some corn, things about to get real!

Just going to leave this here.  A cursory Google search will help you with some leads if you're interested where this thing might be headed

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Bo Ryan: My Thoughts

I don't hide my disdain for Bo Ryan.  I think he whines too much (see last year's loss to Duke) and outside of the last two years his basketball teams are almost unwatchable.  I give him credit for opening it up in 2013 and 2014 but the talent almost forced his hand.
As for his quitting in the middle of the season nobody can convince me it wasn't just to screw over Barry Alvarez who wouldn't back his Greg Gard replacement move.  Now, I'm not saying Barry is right but to screw over your boss and your team just to make a point about who you feel should be replacing you is a d*ck move no matter how you paint it.  I've never had much respect for Bo Ryan but this cements my thoughts.
The thing being lost in the shuffle is that as much as Bo Ryan thinks he's getting his way with Gard finishing out the season he has not put more focus and pressure on him as he's under the microscope that will not only effect his standing with Wisconsin but any other head coaching job.  If Ryan would have finished the year Gard would have had a shot at many different jobs, even if it meant starting at a small school.  Now, if this doesn't go as planned he may have to settle for another assistant job.
I appreciate what Bo has done for the program but I won't miss his complaining and contempt for offense.

And don't bring Tony Bennett in either.  I want better basketball, not worse.

When the going gets tough...

The tough quit?

Bo Ryan has earned the right to retire however he sees fit, I suppose but the narratives being spun 90 miles west of us are pretty hilarious.  

Selfless, loyal, etc. Yes, Bo Ryan wants Greg Gard to take over "his" program. Gard has been a loyal assistant for years and is highly regarded within basketball circles. Bo says he wanted to quit after the Final Four. It would have been a grandiose send off. But there was one problem, Barry Alvarez wouldn't sign off on Greg Gard assuming the position.

Barry Alvarez isn't to be blamed. He circumvented state law by naming Bret Bielema his successor. Any position within state employment has to be posted, even head basketball coach. Also, Barry has national candidates he should inquire on. The lead name of course is Tony "Death to Basketball" Bennett. His new contract makes it unlikely. Given how cheap Barry is with football coaching hires, he isn't going to spend $3 million on Bennett's buyout.

There are other names to be considered. What about Wisconsin native Saul Phillips, now head man at Ohio?  Archie Miller? Ben Jacobsen? Just spitballing here. No, Uncle Barry should do his due diligence.

The one reality is this, it's almost certain we saw the greatest Wisconsin basketball team we'll ever see last season. Repeating that is going to be hard to achieve.

Finally, as for the debate between Al McGuire and Bo?  Please.  Al's run at Marquette was better than Bo's at UW. Both are great coaches but Al's 1970 NIT title, '74 runner-up and '77 title trump all. 

The media and fans make college coaches into these mythical, benevolent figures. Some are better than others. But when it comes to Bo, the story should include he left his team in the middle of a season when things were tough. Spin it however you want, but this was as much about Bo as it was about Wisconsin basketball and the "kids".

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Marquette 57 Wisconsin 55

Marquette had a 46-32 lead at one time but credit to the Badgers who fought back to tie it at 55 before a Luke Fischer tip-in gave Marquette a late lead that held up in the final :25.

Marquette missed a chance to ice it at the line but a huge offensive rebound all but sealed it. 

Wisconsin has lost 3 non-conference games at home for the first time since 1974-75. It's my suspicion their win over Syracuse won't look that impressive come March. They'll have work to do in the B1G. Bo Ryan needs to find depth fast.

Marquette moved to 67th in KenPom following the win which is only 8th best in the Big East. No, the Big East isn't the best conference but it'll be one of the toughest to navigate. The ten team round robin makes it that more compelling.

Let's finish with some words from Marquette's super frosh Henry Ellenson:

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Curious Case of Tom Crean

It's all over in Bloomington for Tom Crean. Probably. There's a chance he gets his Hoosiers rolling and this post looks dumb in 5 months but I doubt it. Talented and experienced, this should be one of his better teams. Last nights game shows this team is the same team it was last year.  It'll score at times and defend at none.

Duke put up its most efficienct offensive performance of the KenPom era against the Hoosiers. Duke is wildly talented but no one thinks this team at this moment this team is that good.  Yet, there they were eviscerating a Hoosier team with a senior point guard. Big man frosh Thomas Bryant was expected to be the inside presence they needed to shore up the interior defense. Maybe he will be but at this moment he is struggling.

Crean inherited a mess at Indiana and did an admirable job rebuilding. He did likewise at Marquette. Truth is, he hasn't shown capable of taking a program to a championship level. He rode a once in a lifetime talent to a Final Four and hasn't sniffed one since.

Look at the coaches of the Big Ten. Izzo can win in a variety of ways. Build and grow a roster or win young. Bo Ryan wins with 3 and 4 stars. John Beilein wins the same way and can win with one and two year types. Same with Thad Matta. Indiana was arguably the most talented team in the B1G in 2012-13. Bo Ryan and Wisconsin schooled them in the B1G Tournament. John Beilein went to the Final 4 and Indiana lost in the Sweet 16 in embarrassing fashion to a dysfunctional Syracuse team.

Indiana has been wondering the wilderness for far too long. Indiana is still Indiana. They shouldn't settle for mediocrity and as long as they employ Tom Crean, that's what they are.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Big Ten - ACC Challenge

Yes, I know if officially started yesterday and it tied 1-1 but the big games are coming up tonight and tomorrow.  Here's a quick fact before looking at a couple games.  Did you know the ACC has not won the Challenge since 2008?  Its been a tie or B1G win every year since.

Tonight's slate:

NC State  vs  Michigan - Michigan should be able to pull this one out at home (B1G 2-1)

Virginia Tech  vs  Northwestern - Buzz Williams vs Chris Collins.  I hope Buzz's head pops (B1G 3-1)

#10 Virginia  vs  Ohio State - Should be terrible to watch.  OSU is having a down year.  (B1G 3-2)

#21 Miami  vs  Nebraska - Nebraska always seems ready to turn the corner but doesn't.  Miami is playing out of their minds (B1G 3-3)

Pittsburgh  vs  #11 Purdue - Purdue is even better than I thought.  (ACC 4-3)

#9 North Carolina vs #2 Maryland - the jewel of the night, perhaps of the entire challenge.  Paige is back but is he rusty?  Should be a great game but we'll give it to the home team.  (B1G 4-4)

Tomorrow's slate:

#24 Louisville  vs  #3 Michigan State - State looks good.  Even better than I thought.  (B1G 5-4)

#14 Syracuse  vs  Wisconsin - The Badgers are bad and Syracuse's wins aren't cupcakes like normal.   (B1G 5-5)

Boston College  vs  Penn State - The game only bettors care about.   (B1G 6-5)

#7 Duke  vs  Indiana - Indiana isn't ranked but has shown some light.  Duke's Bigs have been the difference maker this year.  Yes, Marshall Plumlee included.  (B1G 6-6)

Notre Dame  vs  Illinois  - Illinois have been up and down between games and halfs.   Notre Dame lost to Monmouth.    (B1G 7-6)

Florida State  vs  Iowa  - Iowa's had a tough schedule and split their 4 tough games.  Florida State is still trying to find themselves.    (B1G 8-6)

Another Big Ten Win