Friday, December 29, 2017

Hi, 2018, Time to Recalibrate

Let’s rethink what we thought as we move into conference play. Yes, even in the Big 14 who began conference play weeks ago to avoid competing with Bowl games and still be able to play at the Garden in March. Morons

AAC: Looks like a five bid league even with the disappearing and disappointing UConn. KenPom loves Cincinnati but I call them a fraud and Thursday/Friday upset fodder. If there’s a Final 4 team, it’ll be Wichita State but only if they fix the defense

ACC: There are 3 teams in the top ten of KenPom right now but only two I take serious enough to make a March run and they’re Duke and North Carolina. The Tar Heels loss to Wofford confounds, Duke’s defense dumbfounds and Virginia offense is for the hounds. Notre Dame was a trendy pick at the outset, but defensive inefficiency has been an issue. The league looks wide open and like a year a team like Virginia Tech or Miami could steal it. Still, Duke is the most talented and scary team.

Big 12: Hands down, this is the most fun league and they begin conference play tonight. Kansas, as always, is the favorite but they’re vulnerable. Oklahoma has the early POY of the year in Trae Young. Texas Tech and West Virginia are both capable clubs. Sit back and enjoy the bloodbath that’ll be league play. 

Big East: Smart money remains on Villanova but Xavier looks as good, if not better than the 2016 squad that earned a 2-seed. The Musketeers defense isn’t as good and will hold them back, though. Seton Hall is nasty and capable and could also steal a crown or share a title. All that said, Nova looks like a national title contender. Mikal Bridges has emerged as a legit All-American candidate. Spots 4-6 will battle for 2, maybe 3 bids. This is the deepest the league has been since its reinvention but is still Villanova’s to rule.

Big 14: Michigan State has its best squad since the Flintstones and are overwhelming favorites. Purdue is Final 4 good while the rest of the league is “meh”. After Purdue, Maryland at 33 is the next best team on KenPom. That’s pretty mediocre. This will be a ridiculed league but come March, it could have two teams among the Final 4.

Pac-12: Reports of Arizona’s demise may have been premature. Though their desert counterparts remain undefeated, gun to my head, I’ll take Arizona to win the league. They’re still ahead of the Sun Devils in KenPom. USC has been a dud and disappointment. Still, if you’re looking for a squad to come out of nowhere, you could do worse. Give me Arizona to win the league but no one to be left standing by the Final 4.

SEC: The most improved league, is probably not the best league or most equipped to send someone deep in March. Florida had a nice start but has sputtered recently. They’ve dropped to 35 in KenPom. Kentucky oozes talent but haven’t figured out how to mesh it. The offense is at best, mediocre. The best team is probably Texas A&M and would be my bet to represent best come March. But kudos to Tennessee and Arkansas on a solid non-conference run. They’ve set themselves up nicely.

The Rest: Gonzaga chugs along and while St. Mary’s was a sexy pre-season pick, the Zags have looked far better. Only Nevada and Rhode Island are among those out of the big money leagues in KenPom’s Top 50. There are no middies poised for a big run.

Locally, Wisconsin looks terrible but can still right the ship as by the numbers, they’re not far off the rest of the teams they’d potentially battle for a bid come March. They don’t have any room for error, though. Marquette needs 9 wins in league play. That means no bad home losses and stealing a win against X or Villanova, probably. It’s doable but like Bucky, they have little room for error.

New Final Four: Michigan State, Villanova, North Carolina, Kansas, Purdue

Uh, that’s five. I cheated. As of today, these are the only 5 teams with top 20 offense and defenses. Quite honestly, Nova and Sparty feel safe are while the other 3 have bad losses. I hate it, but Sparty would be my national champ choice but there’s a storm brewing in East Lansing that could be a major distraction.


POY: Trae Young
Jalen Brunson
Miles Bridges
Grayson Allen
Tra Holder

Lots of guards, so what

Hello, 2018!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Nothing could be Finer

A Duke blowout and North Carolina loses to Wofford.  No analysis needed....just sit back and enjoy!

Monday, December 18, 2017

It's Getting Closer

Every year this is the week that closes out the Fantasy Football season and begins the march to um, March for me.  The posts are scarce and no braketology until after the first of the season.  Game watching is sporadic at best but the tide is turning.  It's coming......

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Random Weekly Stuff

- Bold prediction time: Archie Miller makes a Final 4 before his brother Sean.

- Kansas may be as vulnerable as they’ve been during the Bill Self era when it comes to winning the Big XII. There are 5 teams from the league in KenPom’s top 20 with Baylor at 22 as well. Regardless of Kansas winning the league or not, it should be a wildly competitive league. Even Oklahoma State who had low expectations put a nice w on the board yesterday by beating Florida State.

- Speaking of the Big XII, they might have the best player in the nation right now in Oklahoma freshman PG, Trae Young. 3rd in the nation in assist rate, draws fouls well, has a high steal rate while not fouling and is a volume shooter with a very good real shooting percentage. I saw a comparison to freshman Steph Curry yesterday and I went and looked at the stats. Hot damn, that’s an apt comparison. Young will face tougher competition in league play but as of now, Oklahoma has themselves a boba fide star.

- Nothing next Sunday as it’s XMas Eve but I’ll be back before the New Year with ten bold predictions for the league seasons

Monday, December 11, 2017

Quick Hitters

It's looking like I may have been wrong on the strength of the SEC.  The mid-tier teams are looking solid.

Duke lost and that's surprising only in that it was to Boston College.  They've dug too many holes early in games.  They probably should have 2-3 losses by now.

Villanova looks like the top team but I think the season is wide open.

I can't believe Kansas lost two in a row.  Wow!

Wisconsin is terrible.  End Communication.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

More Random Weekly Observations

- It was a good day again yesterday for the SEC as Arkansas boatraced Minnesota at home and Florida won on a neutral court over Cincinnati. Florida had a bad loss at home to Loyola earlier in the week, so it was a good bounce back 

- Duke’s loss at BC yesterday was reminiscent of their losses from the last few years. Defensive malpractice throughout the game. I still believe this team gets it figured out but I’m sure it caused Brian to twitch quite a bit.

- With a bunch of top teams losing the past few weeks to teams outside the KenPom top 75, I encourage you to go look at his rankings. Villanova has separated themselves a bit. Another analytics site, Bart Torvik’s T-Rank is a little less kind but still has them, 2 ( We’ll hear a lot of talk about no “great” team. Villanova might disagree. I’ll have more T-Rank usage as the year goes along. It’s a must bookmark for college hoops junkies, even if he is a Badger.

- Speaking of the Badgers, that was their worst performance against Marquette in a generation. The loss of D’Mitrik Trice exposed a dangerously thin team that lacks any reliable scoring outside Ethan Happ who will face a deluge of double teams for as long as Trice is out. They also lost Kobe King to a knee injury. It’s hard to know if that loss matters other than from a depth standpoint as he was a limited role player thus far. The Badgers are a mediocre defensive team relying heavily on pace to ugly up games. Marquette has none of it as they had wide open shots all game and took it to Wisconsin all day in the paint as well. Marquette shot 15 of 33 on 2’s and 14 of 22 on 3’s. That’s a cool 65.5% real shooting at the Kohl Hole. Marquette’s bad defense was a non-factor as Wisconsin’s lack of playmakers outside Happ were exposed. Yesterday was more an indictment on the current situation in Madison than on Marquette’s team.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Random Weekly Observations

Some thoughts on the past week...

- The Big 14 is bad this year. The ACC destroyed them in their yearly challenge. On the bright side, Michigan State can win the leagues first national title since 2000. The rest of the league? Woof

- Speaking of, Wisconsin is a dumpster fire. They could realistically be 3-7 heading into their game with Marquette at the Kohl Center next Saturday. Monday was a reminder of how bad the offense can be against teams with a pulse. Yesterday’s destruction at home to Ohio State saw a defense in total disarray. Chances are, they can fix things but they’re 3 years removed from back-to-back Final 4’s.  What should have been a recruiting bonanza for them was a failure as Bo Ryan had already checked out. This year’s freshman class is going to have to grow up fast.

- 90 miles east isn’t much better.  Coach Wojo had yet another December transfer as junior Haanif Cheatham joined Deonte Burton, John Dawson, Sandy Cohen and Traci Carter on the express out of Milwaukee. He benched Andrew Rowsey yesterday and is obviously unhappy with the senior’s play. Defense remains a disaster. They’re the 9th worse 2-pt defense in America. Harry Froling probably helps some, but it’ll probably be too late. The seat is starting to warm up.

- Xavier had a nice week, earning wins over Baylor and Cincinnati. Supervillain JP Macura managed to upset Cincinnati leprechaun head coac Mick Cronin so much, Cronin charged at him after the game. Appears Grayson Allen has a running mate. Chris Mack continues to be a national treasure.