Thursday, June 30, 2022

RIP: NCAA

 Died: Thursday, June 30, 2022


Cause of Death: Malpractice, incompetence, largesse, lack of vision and ultimately, greed


In lieu of flowers, enjoy a hike on your cable or streaming bills

Sunday, April 3, 2022

The Final

Well, it’s not the matchup certain folks wanted. In some ways, Coach K losing in the national semifinal is poetic as it matches what his nemesis Dean Smith had happen to him in ‘97. There’s a post-mortem to write about Coach K but today isn’t that day. I know this, the sport may march on but it won’t be the same.

As for the national title game, let’s get this out of the way. UNC would be the most unlikely national champ since 2014 UConn. UNC is 16 in KenPom, with the 18th best offense and 39th best defense. UConn was 15 when the season ended in 2014 and 39th on offense and 10th on defense. The numbers are inversed but there is some symmetry. 

While that may be the case, Kansas is better and fits the mold of a national champion. It is a one-game elimination tournament, so anything goes at this moment but it’s the Jayhawks time. It’s unlikely they shoot as well as they did Saturday but Carolina will allow looks similar to Villanova. KU isn’t a great defensive rebounding team and that’s be a place for UNC to steal some possessions.

This is a college basketball junkies final game. Two real blue bloods with a shared rich history. Still, it feels like the big game was Saturday night like it was last year. Will the results be similar? I think so and wonder if UNC can have the same emotional intensity as Saturday. If they do and somehow win this, it’ll be an incredible and unlikely title, regardless of who they are.


Kansas 76 North Carolina 66

Thursday, March 31, 2022

The Final Four

 1. Kansas vs. 2. Villanova 


Kansas is the most complete team left. They caught some breaks to get to this point, however. Injuries hampered Creighton, Providence was wildly overseeded and Miami was a 10-seed for a reason. Now they get Villanova who will be without Justin Moore. You take advantage of the breaks you get when you get them.

Villanova is hands down the best program in the nation at the moment. It’s too bad injuries have decimated them again. Pretty much 6-deep before the Moore injury, Jay Wright will have to conjure up some magic from the bench and get more out of his starters. If any team can do it, I’d bet on the Wildcats.

I told Brian this feels like a team that would or could win Bill Self his second title. Out of all the 1-seeds, they were the weakest and had some beat downs this year. Yet, here they are. They take advantage of an undermanned Nova team and get back to the final for the 1st time since 2012.

Kansas 74 Villanova 60


2. Duke vs. 8. North Carolina 

Speaking of lucky, the Tar Heels have caught some breaks themselves. They played the worst of the 9-seeds, a beat up Baylor team and then St. Peter’s. Before the tournament, they lost in the ACC semifinals by 13 to VaTech. There were still a lot more questions than answers two weeks ago.

To their credit, they’ve figured something out and taken full advantage of the opportunity. I’m not going to dive deep into the numbers but the closest comp to this team is 2014 UConn, the biggest outlier in the KenPom era to win a title. 

What that tells me is, it’s more likely midnight is coming soon for UNC. The narrative is, all the pressure is on Duke. Maybe it is, but there’s definitely some pressure on this UNC team to be the ones to end the Coach K era.

I think back to Georgetown in 2013 ending Syracuse regular season run in the Big East with a dominant performance over the Orange, only to lose to them a week later in the Big East semifinals. You think you ended an era, but there’s always a chance for the rematch.

Duke isn’t going to lose again to UNC. They have the better team and have run the tougher gauntlet. The stars are shining and the energy is as high as it’s been this time of year since 2015. Duke wins and I think they do so comfortably.

Duke 72 UNC 57


Saturday, March 26, 2022

Elite 8: Sunday

 Midwest: 1. Kansas vs. 10. Miami


This feels like a Kansas team that makes a Final 4 without the super heralded players. As good as Miami looked opening weekend, they looked more ragged last night. Iowa State will do that to you.


Kansas had to work to beat a feisty Providence team but made all the plays down the stretch. They’ll also have the overwhelming support of the crowd. Both teams shoot about the same but Kansas is the far better defensive team. They’ll frustrate the Canes enough to win late.


Kansas 76 Miami 69


East: 8. UNC vs. 15. St. Peter’s 

The Peacocks run ends here. Carolina is playing fast and loose and with a lot of confidence. Unlike big favorites Kentucky and Purdue, Carolina has some of the underdog swagger St. Peter’s does. I’m aware of the massive difference, but what I mean is, Carolina wasn’t suppose to be in this spot either. They’re quicker and more athletic across the board than Purdue.


UNC 81 St. Peter’s 63

Friday, March 25, 2022

Elite 8: Saturday

South: 2. Villanova vs 5. Houston

Houston is KenPom number 2 and Villanova is KenPom number 11. Houston has a slightly better offense and a better defense. Neither team goes very deep. Houston is an incredible offensive rebounding team, the 3rd best in the nation while Villanova is an average defensive rebounding team. Nova will have to work hard to make sure Houston gets limited second chances.

Houston fouls their opponents a lot and Nova is the best FT shooting team in the nation. Can Nova score enough at the line to make up for a potential deficit on the boards. It could be what decides this game as both teams are very evenly matched. I think it’s a toss-up and can go either way.

Villanova 64 Houston 62


West: 2. Duke vs. 4. Arkansas 

I mentioned this in the Gonzaga-Arkansas preview, this Arkansas team is good. Now 28-8, the Razorbacks only have 4 losses in 2022. I’ve seen arguments North Carolina was underseeded, I’d make the case that maybe Arkansas was.

So, all that said, Duke is still a 4-point favorite in KenPom. Unlike Gonzaga, Duke will be able to match the Razorbacks physicality and after beating Michigan State and Texas Tech in hard fought games, I don’t think Arkansas will scare them. Arkansas is still a bad shooting team. I think the only way Arkansas wins is if they turn over Duke like they did Gonzaga. Duke doesn’t turn it over, neither did the Zags heading into Thursday’s game. I don’t think that repeats itself for Arkansas.

Duke 77 Arkansas 71

Thursday, March 24, 2022

The Midwest: Sweet 16

1. Kansas vs. 4. Providence

This has to be the most nondescript Kansas team I can recall in sometime. That’s not meant to be a criticism by any means, I just find it interesting. The general consensus was, the Jayhawks were the weakest 1-seed. Not to be outdone, Providence was easily the most picked against 4-seed in round 1.

Kansas has a borderline National Championship profile. 6th on offense and 27th on defense in KenPom, about the only thing they do “poorly” is, defensive rebounding which is a fraction below average. Simply put, this is a solid team across the board.

Providence has been hated by the computers all year. They’re 31st in KenPom offense and 56th in KenPom defense. A weak effective fg% hurts the offense, though it’s quite good defensively. When they have lost this year, it has been ugly at times. It’s been a great year for the Friars but I think it comes crashing down tomorrow night.

Kansas 80 Providence 68

10. Miami vs. 11. Iowa State

I want to be surprised the weakest region has this as a Sweet 16 matchup, but I’m not. This is KenPom 38 vs. KenPom 45. Miami definitely looked better of the two, with a good win over USC and a throttling of 2-seed Auburn. Iowa State beat a defeated LSU team and an overseeded Wisconsin team minus their PG for 25 minutes.

Miami has the KenPom 18th best offense. Iowa State has the KenPom 5th best defense. Miami has the KenPom 124th defense. Iowa State’s KenPom offense is 160. Both play at about the same pace. That being the case, give me the team more likely to make some baskets.

Miami 61 Iowa State 59

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

The East: Sweet 16

 3. Purdue vs. 15. St. Peter’s


Sigh. Everyone loves Cinderella until we get this matchup in the Sweet 16. No offense to St. Peter’s but when you have the 225th KenPom offense, my excitement wanes. Good news? Purdue is 89th on defense. Bad news? Purdue is 2nd in KenPom offense and 4th nationally from 3. St. Peter’s opponents only shoot 30% from 3, so...it won’t matter

Purdue 79 St. Peter’s 60


4. UCLA vs. 8. North Carolina


UCLA is sneaky good. Top-15 KenPom offense and defense means they’re good enough to cut the nets down. The rest of their advanced and regular numbers are all good. As for UNC, they’re up to 20 in KenPom, up 20 spots since they went into Cameron and spoiled K’s farewell. They’re trending? Maybe. The win over Baylor was impressive and they throttled Marquette. Still, we're only 2 weeks out from them  losing by 13 to VaTech.


UNC loves to push tempo. UCLA loves the slower pace. UNC is 20th in KenPom offense and are a pretty efficient team.  They’re also a good 3-pt shooting team as Baylor found out. Can UNC push the tempo and  make some 3’s and force UCLA to score? The Bruins were simply more athletic than St. Mary’s but did give up some open looks that didn’t fall. I think the game is decided by whether UCLA’s defense can make UNC work and take tough shots.


If I’m going by the numbers, UCLA is a pretty comfortable favorite for a 4-seed in the Sweet 16. I think UNC matches them athletically. I think UCLA is the better team and Carolina doesn’t force turnovers, typically. UCLA doesn’t turn it over. With that and UCLA’s tighter defense, I think they prevail.


UCLA 72 North Carolina 68