Thursday, February 28, 2008

2008 NFL Draft: Positional Rankings

The 2008 NFL Scouting Combines concluded with the usual surprises and disappointments. NFL front offices tend to put way too much emphasis on the combines. Players like Mike Mamula come to mind when talking about players who put up amazing numbers. Players like Zach Thomas come to mind when talking about players who didn’t measure up to NFL standards. While the combines aren’t the ultimate test of NFL skills, they do provide the setting for relative no-namers to put themselves near the top of front office rankings.

Over the next few days, there will be a series of articles culminating with my first mock draft of the year. The list is as follows:

2/28: Positional Rankings
3/1: Impact Underclassmen
3/2: Sleeper Picks
3/4: 2008 NFL Mock Draft

Below are my rankings at each position. The rankings are based on combine performance, game performance and personal opinion. While these rankings are due to change as Pro-Day workouts commence, and players that may have done poorly at the combines have a last chance to shine.


1. Matt Ryan, Boston College
2. Brian Brohm, Louisville
3. Joe Flacco, Delaware
4. Andre Woodson, Kentucky
5. Erik Ainge, Tennessee

Running Back:

1. Darren McFadden, Arkansas
2. Jonathan Stewart, Oregon
3. Rashard Mendelhall, Illinois
4. Felix Jones, Arkansas
5. Chris Johnson, East Carolina
6. Jamaal Charles, Texas
7. Ray Rice, Rutgers
8. Steve Slaton, West Virginia
9. Matt Forte, Tulane
10. Chad Simpson, Morgan State

Wide Receiver:

1. Malcolm Kelly, Oklahoma
2. DeSean Jackson, California
3. Limas Sweed, Texas
4. Devin Thomas, Michigan State
5. Andre Caldwell, Florida
6. James Hardy, Indiana
7. Dexter Jackson, Appy State
8. Mario Manningham, Michigan
9. Earl Bennett, Vanderbilt
10. Jordy Nelson, Kansas State

Tight End:

1. Fred Davis, USC
2. Martellus Bennett, Texas A&M
3. Craig Stevens, California


1. Steve Justice, Wake Forest
2. John Sullivan, Notre Dame
3. Mike Pollak, Arizona State


1. Branden Albert, Virginia
2. Eric Young, Tennessee
3. Chilo Rachal, USC
4. Roy Schuening, Oregon State
5. Jeremy Zuttah, Rutgers


1. Jake Long, Michigan
2. Ryan Clady, Boise State
3. Chris Williams, Vanderbilt
4. Jeff Otah, Pittsburgh
5. Sam Baker, USC
6. Gosder Cherilus, Boston College
7. Heath Benedict, Newberry
8. Anthony Collins, Kansas
9. Duane Brown, Virginia Tech
10. Oneil Cousins, UTEP

Defensive Tackle:

1. Sedric Ellis, USC
2. Glenn Dorsey, LSU
3. Kentwan Balmer, UNC
4. Pat Sims, Auburn
5. Red Bryant, Texas A&M
6. Dre Moore, Maryland
7. Ahtyba Rubin, Iowa State
8. Trevor Laws, Notre Dame
9. Marcus Harrison, Arkansas
10. Frank Okam, Texas

Defensive End:

1. Chris Long, Virginia
2. Vernon Gholston, Ohio State
3. Phillip Merling, Clemson
4. Quentin Groves, Auburn
5. Derrick Harvey, Florida
6. Calais Campbell, Miami
7. Cliff Avril, Purdue
8. Chris Ellis, Virginia Tech
9. Lawrence Jackson, USC
10. Marcus Howard, Georgia

Inside Linebacker:

1. Jerod Mayo, Tennessee
2. Curtis Lofton, Oklahoma
3. Phillip Wheeler, Georgia Tech
4. Jonathan Goff, Vanderbilt
5. Beau Bell, UNLV

Outside Linebacker:

1. Keith Rivers, USC
2. Dan Connor, Penn State
3. Erin Henderson, Maryland
4. Gary Guyton, Georgia Tech
5. Xavier Adibi, Virginia Tech
6. Wesley Woodyard, Kentucky
7. Shawn Crable, Michigan
8. Ali Highsmith, LSU
9. Tavares Gooden, Miami
10. Ezra Butler, Nevada


1. Leodis McKelvin, Troy
2. Mike Jenkins, South Florida
3. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Tennessee State
4. Tracy Porter, Indiana
5. Aqib Talib, Kansas
6. Patrick Lee, Auburn
7. Tyvon Branch, UConn
8. Justin King, Penn State
9. Antoine Cason, Arizona
10. Zach Bowman, Nebraska


1. Kenny Phillips, Miami
2. Reggie Smith, Oklahoma
3. Josh Barrett, Arizona State
4. DaJuan Morgan, NC State
5. Quintin Demps, UTEP


1. Taylor Mehloff, Wisconsin
2. Steven Hauschka, NC State
3. Dan Carpenter, Montana


1. Durant Brooks, Georgia Tech
2. Mike Dragosavich, North Dakota State
3. Brett Kern, Toledo

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Mid-Major Block Party: 3 To Watch

A plethora of bubble teams, bracketologists and bloggers try their best to project who will be in and who will be out of the 65-team tournament field (link).

The most dire of situations have arisen in locations like Syracuse, St. Joe’s, Houston, Dayton, Florida, Ohio State and countless mid-majors leading their conference but perhaps requiring a conference tournament title to participate in the NCAA tournament (point and case: VCU out of the CAA).

Since we seem to flaunt a mid-major bias here at PHSports, let’s tackle 3 conferences and 3 tantalizing remaining matchups.

Colonial Athletic Association

Saturday, March 1st: Old Dominion at UNC-Wilmington
-Right now, the conference’s top five consists of VCU, UNC-W, George Mason, ODU and W&M. With the Rams only requiring one victory or a combination of losses to clinch the regular season title, seeds 2 through 5 are separated by 1-game. No game seems more vital to the tourney standings than a season-ending showdown in Wilmington. UNC-W boasts two tie-breaker-friendly victories over George Mason (and a Wednesday matchup @VCU), while ODU has won 5 in a row (including over VCU, Mason, and Patriot League staple Bucknell). Who walks away the victor on March 1st may slide into the 2-3 spot and avoid a semifinal matchup against the Rams in Richmond. Suddenly, it appears VCU is the conference’s only at-large candidate now. Yet, nothing is for certain as they may have to reach the CAA Final through a suddenly-crowded upper half of the CAA.

Big South

Saturday, March 1st: UNC-Asheville at Winthrop
-The Big South race has gone under the radar this season; however, Winthrop being throttled at home by Davidson may have opened a few eyes into the one-bid conference. Asheville trails the Eagles by 1 game for the conference, yet already owns the first of two crucial matchups between this year’s Big South heavyweights. Both teams should cruise through easier matchups Wednesday, leaving all of the regular season marbles on the table Saturday night.

Big West

Thursday, February 28th: CSU-Northridge vs. CSU-Fullerton
-Come tourney time, it might be a mistake to count out teams like Pacific and pre-season favorite UCSB; however, it’s all about the battle of California in the Big West. Despite Fullerton and Northridge not meeting in a climactic season finale, that doesn’t decrease the impact of their battle this Thursday. In fact, even further drama is added as both teams have “trap games” remaining on their schedule the next week plus. Who wins this Pacific Coast battle may very well have the momentum needed to carry into March Madness.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

NBA Mock Draft: Version 1.1

Earlier this month, Clement offered his inaugural 2008 NBA Mock Draft. For this mock draft, I am taking records as of games ending on Saturday, February 23, 2008. Like Clement, I am also going to have to assume several underclassmen and international talent are going to declare early for the draft. This will be a one-round mock draft and it shall be lots of fun.

If you have props, criticisms or concerns, I can take all three. Remember the Villanova fiasco? Neither do I. Let’s mock it up!

1) Miami – Michael Beasley [PF, Kansas State, Freshman]
Beasley is the best player overall and an immediate upgrade over Udonis Haslem and provides toughness down low for the putrid Heat. He’s a double-double waiting to happen, and he’ll revitalize the hopes of Dwyane Wade and Shawn Marion.

2) Minnesota – Brook Lopez [C, Stanford, Sophomore]
Not ready to give up on Randy Foye at the point, Minnesota has a larger, immediate need in the middle. While Al Jefferson is a great option on offense, Brook Lopez solidifies the middle with his stellar defensive prowess.

3) Memphis – Eric Gordon [SG, Indiana, Freshman]
If I were Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace, I’d seriously consider trading down. If forced to pick, DeAndre Jordan is not even close to a sure thing and Memphis drafted Mike Conley Jr. last season, so the Grizz will go with Gordon and seek to move Mike Miller [again, and maybe not with Brian Cardinal].

4) Seattle – Derrick Rose [PG, Memphis, Freshman]
All Seattle draft jokes aside, they will not take a center not named Brook Lopez if they are selecting in the top 5, because no one has else separated themselves yet. Rose is perhaps the most talented player in the draft and the type of player that makes the SuperSonics a candidate to make the playoffs.

5) New York – Jerryd Bayless [PG, Arizona, Freshman]
When defining team needs, I came to the conclusion that the Knicks need heart. Unfortunately, Shane Falco did not declare for the 2008 NBA Draft. For all the guards that the Knicks have, they lack a true point. Bayless fills that need and should start by mid-season.

6) Charlotte – Hasheem Thabeet [C, Connecticut, Sophomore]
Michael Jordan rarely makes sense with his personnel moves. The idea of two shot blockers seems tantalizing and that’s before you even factor Gerald Wallace. Thabeet has made a name for himself by improving his footwork on the offensive side.

7) Los Angeles Clippers – OJ Mayo [PG/SG, USC, Freshman]
Right now, any pick is a good one for the Clippers. OJ Mayo is the most talented player remaining on the board and gives the Clips some immediate scoring punch. His ability to play both guards allows for flexibility when negotiating with both Corey Maggette and Shawn Livingston. DJ Augustin may get a look-see if the Clippers decide to select a true point guard.

8) Milwaukee – DeAndre Jordan [C, Texas A&M, Freshman]
Approaching the end of the top ten, the Bucks need a defensive presence inside (sorry, Dan Gadzuric). With Hibbert’s 1-on-1 defensive skills called into question, the Bucks go with Jordan, who has drawn Dwight Howard comparisons.

9) Indiana – DJ Augustin [PG, Texas, Sophomore]
When Jamaal Tinsley was healthy this season, the Pacers were in playoff contention. Augustin shores up a major concern, but will need to get stronger in order to face the rigors of the NBA schedule.

10) Chicago – Blake Griffin [PF, Oklahoma, Freshman]
If John Paxson is to land Griffin, he will do backflips. That’s because Griffin is the low-post scoring threat that the Bulls have been dying for. With underrated athleticism, he is most recognized for his ability to never give up on a rebound.

Griffin: The man-crush will spread across Chi-town if Pax gets his way.

Credit: All Sport Live

11) Phoenix [from Atlanta] – Donte Greene [SF, Syracuse, Freshman]
The natural replacement to Shawn Marion, Donte Greene can step and out take the three with no one able to contest his 6’10” frame. Greene will need to become a better defender in order to win minutes and a ticket to Mike D’Antoni’s infamous eight-man rotation.

12) Sacramento– Nicholas Batum [SG/SF, France, International]
The agile and skilled Batum steps in for the soon-to-be departed Ron Artest, who has a player option. As a player who’s been known to let the game come to him, Batum will place his stamp upon the Kings without taking shots away from Kevin Martin.

13) Portland – Danilo Gallinari [SF, Italy, International]
With depth across the board and talent waiting in the wings, the Blazers continue to place the building blocks for a championship by selecting Gallinari. The Italian can play the 1,2 and 3 positions, and provides mismatches with his 6’9” 210-pound frame. Gallinari is a great shooter and intangibly gifted, but must improve his defense.

14) Denver – Darren Collison [PG, UCLA, Junior]
This is fairly obvious. Collison is a tenacious defender with tremendous ball-handling skills. Denver needs both ... badly.

15) Philadelphia – Roy Hibbert [C, Georgetown, Senior]
At long last, the first senior is selected, as the 76ers are growing frustrated with Samuel Dalembert’s continuing inconsistency. Hibbert offers size in the middle and a growing offensive game. Immediately, Hibbert can play 18-27 minutes for Philadelphia and gives a great outlet to Andre Miller and Lou Williams.

16) New Jersey – Darrell Arthur [PF, Kansas, Sophomore]
Despite the improved play of Josh Boone and trading for Stromile Swift, the Nets remain very weak down low. Darrell Arthur can post up, hit the mid-range jumper and run the floor with fluidity. Arthur may need to add 10 pounds, but he is near NBA-ready.

17) Washington – Kevin Love [PF, UCLA, Freshman]
Love is in the air and in the paint. Somewhere, Tim Brando is angry that I stole a cheesy line from his arsenal. With a need at the point should Arenas seek greener pastures in the summer, the Wizards should heavily consider selecting Ty Lawson or Kyle Weaver with a good ball-handler and a superb defender. Love’s strength and post-up skills will immediately gain minutes.

18) Toronto – Tyler Smith [SF, Tennessee, Sophomore]
The wiry Smith has a sickening level of athleticism. Strong and aggressive, Smith also fits the Raptors style of running the floor. To stay on the floor, Smith will need to reduce the turnovers and remember that he’s facing professionals.

19) Cleveland – Tywon Lawson [PG, North Carolina, Sophomore]
Finally, Cleveland selects a true point guard who can contribute immediately. The speedy Lawson can dissect defenses and stop on a dime to hit a 15-foot jumpshot.

20) Golden State – Chase Budinger [SF, Arizona, Sophomore]
Upset that Tyler Smith is off the board, the Warriors go with Mr. Instant Offense, Chase Budinger. Since the arrival of Kevin O’Neill to Arizona, Budinger’s defense has seen marked improvement.

21) Orlando – Kyle Weaver [SG/PG, Washington St., Senior]
One of my favorite college basketball players, Weaver is one of the nation’s best on-the-ball defenders. He’s a good ball-handler with an improving shot, to boot. That skill set makes him a perfect fit for a team that has lost all hope in Mr. Better Basketball himself, JJ Redick.

22) Houston – Tyler Hansbrough [PF, North Carolina, Junior]
At the 22nd pick, Houston has a myriad of choices on whom to add inside. Like Carl Landry last year, Houston takes the proven commodity in Psycho T. In the last two months, critics of Hansbrough have seen a more diversified game, but something remains left to be desired on defense.

23) New Jersey [from Dallas] – Brandon Rush [SG, Kansas, Junior]
Despite a junior season that has seen only a few ups, Rush is one of the most balanced and skilled players in the nation. Perhaps, Rush isn’t back to 100% following knee surgery, but he will impress at the pre-draft workouts.

24) New Orleans – Patrick Patterson [PF, Kentucky, Freshman]
The New Orleans Hornets are only as good as how they will react to their next unanticipated injury. By that operationalized definition of good, then the Hornets are not, so they will add beef to the middle in the form of Patterson. The freshman is limited around the perimeter, but has a NBA body at age 18.

25) Seattle [from Phoenix] – Richard Hendrix [PF, Alabama, Junior]
Having added Derrick Rose early, the focus shifts to the PF/C position. Tired of selecting project-type bigs, Richard Hendrix has proven himself in the SEC. Hendrix possesses a great deal of strength with solid post moves.

26) Philadelphia [from Utah] – Bill Walker [SF, Kansas State, Freshman]
A true upside pick, Philadelphia cannot lay off of Bill Walker, who has exhibited explosiveness in spite of knee problems. A great security blanket for the possible exit of Andre Iguodala, Walker still needs to improve on his jumpshot and maturity.

27) San Antonio – Ryan Anderson [SF/PF, California, Sophomore]
Set at the PF, SG and PG positions, the Spurs have gone the project center route selecting Mahinmi and Splitter in recent years. At 6’10”, Anderson presents serious matchup problems and is very effective when facing the basket. Critics of Anderson have pointed out a lack of foot speed and the need to upper body strength as weaknesses of his overall game.

28) Memphis [from Los Angeles Lakers] – DJ White [PF, Indiana, Senior]
Part of the Gasol thievery, Memphis will need to address the PF position while staying within Marc Iavaroni’s system. Enter DJ White, another Hoosier. The senior plays with enormous energy and passion for the game. White’s leaping ability and wingspan make him an attractive proposition for the Grizzlies; however, he must prove that he can stay healthy.

29) Detroit – Jason Thompson [PF, Rider, Senior]
Averaging a double-double for the last two seasons, Thompson’s productivity has not dropped off against BCS-school opponents. Thompson’s terrific foot speed allows him to hold his own on the perimeter on both ends of the floor.

30) Boston – James Harden [SG/SF, Arizona State, Freshman]
At pick 30, the Boston Celtics surprisingly have a great deal of options. They can go with a more experienced player like Chris Douglas-Roberts or go big with either AJ Ogilvy, Kosta Koufos or Davon Jefferson. Harden is explosive and can contribute as immediately as any one-year player not drafted in the top seven could.

And, that is a wrap! Inexplicably absent from this mock draft are international names like Serge Ibaka, Alexis Ajinca, Semih Erden, Ante Tomic and Omer Asik. Domestically, the likes of CDR, Ogilvy, Koufos, Wayne Ellington and Jamont Gordon can break into the first round.


Monday, February 25, 2008

2008 NCAA Projections - February 25, 2008

What happened to the confidence of Rhode Island in February? Perhaps, they need Tyson Wheeler.

With my favorite weekend of the regular season (i.e. BracketBusters Weekend) out of the way, let’s just cut to the chase.

After Tennessee’s win against Memphis, they catapulted to the top overall seed. Let’s fast forward to the final #1 seed. Texas has the credentials (wins v. Kansas, v. Tennessee on a neutral court and @ UCLA) but I see two losses (@ Kansas State on Monday and in the Big XII tournament) in their future and Kansas taking home the Big XII title because of depth and talent. Somehow, I have a feeling that I’ll get some lovely comments at around 11:05pm Eastern time on Monday night following their tussle against the Beasleys.

Now, let’s examine a few teams that are especially tough to predict.

Marquette – With a useless game against Florida Gulf Coast inside a sandwich of @ Villanova, v. Georgetown and @ Syracuse, the Warriors can either sweep or lose 3 of 4. Sweep and you’re 13-5 in a top 4 conference which suggests a #3 or #4 seed. Lose all 3 and you’re 10-8. Not to mention, you’re leaving it up to the devices of the tournament selection committee if you’re one-and-done at MSG.

Miami – After one of the greatest weeks in Miami basketball (an oxymoron, to say the least) in about a decade, the Hurricanes’ remaining schedule (@ Clemson, v. Virginia, v. BC, @ Florida State) will be as tough as they would like to make it. Eight wins in the regular season should be enough for the ‘Canes, but nine can garner a #7 seed or better because their current play further validates the non-conference wins that were considered to be flukes just two weeks ago.

Texas A&M – There’s nothing like a 5-game win streak bookended by 3-game losing streaks to drive a bracketologist crazy. Right when you think you have a team pegged after winning two away games in succession, they lose twice at home to Oklahoma State and Nebraska. Following a home bout with Texas Tech, A&M had better pray for at least one excellent performance with matchups forthcoming @ Oklahoma, @ Baylor and v. Kansas. I’m already targeting the March 5 game at Baylor as a bubble-buster.

Kentucky – A couple weeks ago, I drew some ire for shockingly predicting the Wildcats to win 11 in the SEC after coasting to a 6-2 conference record. Thankfully, the reader was gracious enough to listen to the logic. That said, I am now predicting Kentucky to go 3-1 in their final four games giving them 12 conference victories on the tougher side of the SEC. Impressive to say the least (Kentucky, not me). For two straight years, I’m eating my words about Billy Gillispie. I’ll learn one of these years.

Kent State - For all the critics who have either e-mailed or commented hastily about my liking for and overseeding of Kent State, they can look no further than this game recap. Despite two bad losses, one of which was in the season opener, the Golden Flashes are white-hot. At 23-5 overall and 11-2 in the MAC East, Kent State has almost assured itself of an at-large bid should they reach 25 wins.

Southern Illinois – Call me absolutely nuts, but the Salukis have a tournament resume given the playing field. With two brutal matchups this week (@ Bradley with a healthy Ruffin, v. Illinois State) leading into Arch Madness, SIU is playing its best basketball of the year. Though they have 12 losses and play in the 8th-rated conference, SIU has a neutral court victory over Mississippi State and home wins against Drake, St. Mary’s, Western Kentucky and Nevada. They also rate 10th nationally in strength of schedule.

That’s all for now. If you have any questions, comments, or just wish to send a shout, shoot me a line at

The Seedings
1: Tennessee (SEC), North Carolina (ACC), Memphis (C-USA), UCLA (PAC-10)
2: Kansas (Big XII), Texas, Xavier (A-10), Duke
3: Stanford, Louisville, Georgetown (Big East), Wisconsin (Big Ten)
4: UConn, Purdue (Big Ten), Indiana, Drake (MVC)
5: Notre Dame, Michigan State, Washington State, Marquette
6: USC, Vanderbilt, Butler (Horizon), Arizona
7: Kansas State, Clemson, Gonzaga (WCC), Mississippi State
8: Miami-FL, Kent State (MAC), Pittsburgh, St. Mary’s
9: Kentucky, Oklahoma, Arkansas, BYU
10: Texas A&M, UMass, South Alabama (Sun Belt), UNLV (MWC)
11: Maryland, Baylor, Villanova, Arizona State
12: Virginia Commonwealth (CAA), St. Joseph’s, Wake Forest, West Virginia
13: Southern Illinois, Davidson (Southern), Stephen F. Austin (Southland), Oral Roberts (Summit)
14: Siena (Metro Atlantic), Cornell (Ivy), Cal State Fullerton (Big West), New Mexico State (WAC)
15: Belmont (Atlantic Sun), UM-Baltimore County (America East), Winthrop (Big South), American (Patriot)
16: Morgan State (MEAC), Austin Peay (Ohio Valley), Portland State (Big Sky), Robert Morris (Northeast), Alabama State (SWAC)

Last Four In: St. Joseph’s, Wake Forest, West Virginia, Southern Illinois
Last Four Out: Rhode Island, Illinois State, Ohio, Syracuse
Next Four Out: Houston, Creighton, Florida, Dayton

IN: Miami-FL, Villanova, Southern Illinois, Stephen F. Austin, Morgan State
OUT: Syracuse, Rhode Island, Houston, Sam Houston State, Hampton

Seeding Summary (Multi-Bid Conferences Only in Order of Percentage)
Pac-10: 6/10
Big East: 8/16
Big XII: 6/12
ACC: 6/12
SEC: 5/12
Big Ten: 4/11
West Coast: 2/8
Mountain West: 2/9
A-10: 3/14
Missouri Valley: 2/10

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Pictures Say 1,000 Words

Don’t fret, I won’t make this column anywhere near 1,000 words (is that good or bad?).

Instead, I’m going to SHOW you a pick-six of important questions targeting key teams and conferences down the stretch of this college basketball season.

You ready? Either way, let’s roll!

Is Texas better off without Kevin Durant this season?

Pro: Texas isn’t simply waiting to see if Durant can carry them to another victory, especially when tourney-time arrives.

Con: With Duran’t shot-making ability from every spot on the court, Texas might’ve been anchoring for a top-seed with D.J. Augustin’s ascension to top-PG status and the consistent contributions of A.J. Abrams (17 ppg) and Damion James (13 and 11).

Will Indiana survive the firing of their head-coach come tournament time?
Credit: Yahoo! Sports

Pro: Controlling their own Big 10 destiny, the Hoosiers have only one ranked opponent (Mich. St.) on their schedule.

Con: Loaded with Final Four-talent (Gordon and White especially), Indiana isn’t savvy enough – then again, who is – to survive losing their head coach two weeks before their postseason life begins.

Is there enough room in America’s hearts to accept another WCC-darling?
Credit: Yahoo! Sports

Pro: At 23-3, it’s hard to deny the talent the Gaels have alongside the much more well-known Zags.

Con: Even if Gonzaga is swept by St. Mary’s (they already have 1 W), it’ll take a lot more than a WCC title (regular and/or post-season) for another non-major West Coast team to surface on the radar of America’s viewing pulse.

Can Louisville rejuvenate the spark led by last year’s post-season darling Edgar Sosa?
Credit: Yahoo! Sports

Pro: You take the good with the bad. Turnovers and inconsistent shooting aside, the Cardinal only need a spark here or there from their potential high-impact scorer.

Con: Appearing in only 10 games with less than 20 minutes per, more often than not Sosa is shooting well under 40% from the field.

Will the CAA’s best be able to use Bracketbuster weekend to propel the conference into potential multiple bids?
Credit: &

Pro: Bradley’s win over Drake only helps VCU (who won @Bradley earlier this season) and George Mason’s profiles. Mason and VCU might need a repeat performance of last year’s exciting CAA Title game for both to be considered for at-large status.

Con: The conference has seen down years from Drexel, ODU, and late-fades from Delaware, James Madison, and William & Mary. Not to mention, VCU is terrible on ESPN2 the last two seasons.

Gutted in recent years from conference-jumpers, is the A-10 ready to return to March Madness-relevance?
Credit: Yahoo! Sports

Pro: A top 10 team, name brands (Temple & UMASS), and up-and-coming squads (Rhode Island & St. Joseph’s) bring promise and potential to a potentially wild conference tournament.

Con: Outside of top-10 Xavier, nobody else has broken away in-conference (St. Joe’s stands at 7-4) despite several solid out-of-conference marks.

Any questions of your own you want answered???

Until next time...

Friday, February 22, 2008

CAA BracketBusters - How Much Can They Go Up?

That’s the question being asked by many fans of the Colonial Athletic Association, as it relates to the much-ballyhooed metric of Conference RPI.

Currently, the CAA stands at a humbling 14th (average overall RPI of 0.4949), behind the Mid-American and West Coast Conferences, which stand at an approachable average overall RPI rating of 0.4991. It’s been six years since a conference with an RPI of 14 or lower has had an at-large bid.

While the CAA has shown the propensity to be a conference that improves as the season moves along (7-2 in televised BracketBusters matchups in the last two years), their less-than-stellar play in November and December has dealt them the following matchups.

All RPI data from

CAA BracketBusters Matchups
VCU (60) @ Akron (91)
George Mason (67) @ Ohio (62)

Bucknell (197) @ Old Dominion (115)
Vermont (220) @ UNC Wilmington (137)
Loyola- Chi (232) @ William & Mary (164)
Northeastern (172) @ Holy Cross (139)
Delaware (182) @ Toledo (202)
Morehead State (196) @ James Madison (217)
Fairfield (175) @ Drexel (224)
Hofstra (243) @ Iona (205)
High Point (240) @ Towson (249)
Georgia State (286) @ Jacksonville State (338)

Other MAC/WCC BracketBusters Matchups
Kent State (40) @ St. Mary’s (26) – ONLY WCC representative
Miami-Ohio (86) @ Valparaiso (131)
Western Michigan (140) @ UW-Green Bay (136)
Central Michigan (173) @ Missouri State (157)
Bowling Green (209) @ Detroit (281)
Southeast Missouri State (278) @ Eastern Michigan (223)
Tennessee State (265) @ Northern Illinois (261)
Youngstown State (194) @ Buffalo (272)
Ball State (280) @ Eastern Kentucky (246)
  • Games in bold are televised
  • Games in italics identify those which include matchups between teams with a conference RPI of 12 through 14

For the CAA to move up the conference RPI charts, the following things must happen this weekend for the conference to gain an at-large bid:

  • The CAA’s Top 5 (VCU, GMU, UNCW, ODU, W&M) MUST win
  • The CAA MUST go 3-0 against the MAC
  • Kent State (who throttled George Mason) MUST defeat St. Mary’s
  • The MAC MUST go winless in its remaining televised games
  • The CAA MUST go at least 8-4
  • The MAC MUST win less than half of its games

Catch 22 ... and then some

According to several sources cited in an article by Gary Parrish of CBS Sportsline, a number of players reportedly threatened to quit the Indiana University basketball team if head coach and regular breaker of NCAA rules Kelvin Sampson is either suspended [for the remainder of the season] or terminated.

This is a Catch 22 for a number of reasons, of which I will provide only a few ...

First and foremost, college basketball is a business (goodbye, NCAA Tournament money), and athletic departments depend immensely on athletes. The fact that players are allegedly using the upper hand to stick up for a coach who has cheated is somewhat sickening yet understandable.

Second, IU is an unenviable position of either deciding to terminate or suspend a coach who has repeatedly committed NCAA violations at the expense of losing the existing players, or keeping a head coach in place who should be fired outright and being on the business end of more serious probationary measures doled out by the NCAA. For this position, the IU brass can only blame themselves because Sampson drew ire from the masses prior to gaining the Hoosiers post for red flags that went up while coaching at Oklahoma.

Third, no matter how this turns out, this saga will have a negative effect on the recruiting trail, such as 2008 Signing Commitments - SF Devin Ebanks (13th overall according to, PG Terrell Holloway (100th overall according to, C Tom Pritchard and SG Matt Roth - being able to get out of their commitments.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Wednesday Late Night Musings...

It's ironic how quickly a column can change after one night of college basketball. The major conferences all saw potential major shakedowns tonight.

So far only Lance Thomas has fouled out. So far.
Credit: Yahoo! Sports

1) Memphis (W @ Tulane) and Tennessee (spanked Auburn at home) avoided any sort of letdown before Saturday's #1 vs. #2 clash. Another 29-point outing for CDR and John Calipari nets W number 400.

2) There's a little under 2 minutes left in Miami and the Canes have the Blue Devils by 6, 90-84. Interesting indeed.

3) Carolina took care of State, in less embarrassing fashion though than their first outing. 32 for "Pyscho T" has him neck-and-neck with "Soon-to-be #1 Beastley" for MOP, who performed rather average on a night in which his Wildcats may drop out of the top 25 (and to 8-3 in Big XII play) with a bad loss at Nebraska.

4) Vasquez may have put up 25 for the Terps, but a bad loss to probably NIT-bound Va. Tech (still only 15-11 overall) won't help the ACC nor the Terps come Selection Sunday.

5) Shaq vs. Kobe Part 3,425. Grant Hill can't get a call to save his like (or ankles). Honestly, it's more about Shaq and Gasol's recent acquisitions, in the Western Conference's arms race, which matter more than whatever feud the Diesel and the Italian-speaking SG had. Ironically, it might be the Jazz acquiring Kyle Korver and the Spurs netting Kurt Thomas that means the most come playoff time. Anybody else notice CP3 and Deron Williams may be the best PG-pairing in recent draft history? My question: where might Mike Miller be going by 3pm tomorrow (Cleveland?).

Have a good night...

Courting the Conference Leaders: Major Conferences Edition

No, I won’t put this column into immediate peril targeting the supposed Big 6 ‘BCS’ conferences.

Not in college basketball, at least.

Instead, there’s been increased trepidation across the world of bracket projections – even from their creators – as to who should be “projected” as the conference champion. Remember, we’re talking conference title tournaments when WE project brackets, but for the sake of this column, we’re looking for the “best” (aka #1 seed in the conference tourneys) for the not-so-mid-majors.

Let’s dive in head-first!

Lawson's presence, and susequent return, from the bench
will have a ton to do with the final ACC standings.

Credit: Yahoo! Sports

Atlantic Coast Conference

Current Leader: Duke [22-2, 10-1]

PHSports Bracket Projection: It’s down to Duke and North Carolina [9-2]. SHOCKER. Of course, we all know the Dukies beat the Lawson-less Heels in Chapel Hill. However, it’s likely that two more matchups will follow for the in-state rivals.

Key Matchup: Sat. March 8th has the Heels traveling up Tobacco Road to revisit the Dukies.

Player to Watch: Ty Lawson [Assuming he’s around and near 100% in March 8th, true bragging rights and a #1 seed are likely on the line.]

Big East Conference

Current Leaders: Georgetown [21-4, 11-3] & Louisville [21-6, 11-3]

PHSports Bracket Projection: Georgetown and Louisville also meet during an action-packed March 8th in DC. Meanwhile, UCONN and Notre Dame both sit at 9-3 and plenty of others (Marquette, Cuse, Pitt) are primed to play spoiler.

Key Matchup: March 8th in DC should be all fireworks, and hopefully no white suits, as the Cards may need to sweep the Hoyas to capture their first Big East title.

Player to Watch: David Padgett [Double-doubles a-plenty had better emanate from the Louisville big man before this team is Big East tourney prepped.]

Big Ten Conference

Current Leader: Purdue [21-6, 12-2]

PHSports Bracket Projection: After losses to Wofford and Iowa State, the Boilermakers had been winners of 14 and 15 and passed by the if-nothing-else-unreliable Spartans, Badgers, and Hoosiers. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long with a loss at Indiana on Tuesday night. The Hooisers technically control their own Big Ten destiny, although the Sampson situation might be too much for even this talented roster to overcome.

Key Matchup: Now that Indiana held serve against Purdue, Sunday March 2nd (a popular weekend for big-time matchups in the conference) pits the potential “Sampson-less” Hoosiers against the Spartans in East Lansing.

Player to Watch: Eric Gordon [The freshman-of-the-year candidate might soon have to deal with the national title hopes of an entire Hoosier-nation without his head coach. Good luck, young man.]

Big 12 Conference

Current Leader: Kansas [24-2, 9-2] & Texas [22-4, 9-2]

PHSports Bracket Projection: Potential kinks in the armor have surfaced with recent losses to the Beasleys and the Longhorns in Lawrence. The two aforementioned teams are perched right behind Rock Chalk at 9-2 & 8-2 respectively; however, the depth of the Jayhawks is more than daunting in a conference with 2 teams in the top 10 4 teams in the top 25.

Key Matchup: Sat. March 1st may have more to say about Kansas than KSU and the aforementioned “Beastley”. Either way, it’s bound to be more than entertaining.

Player to Watch: DJ Augustin [Sophomore sensation has a few people calling the Longhorns “better without Durant” (not likely, folks) and may be the nation’s best overall PG (19 and 6 a game ain't too shabby).

Pacific-10 Conference

Current Leader: UCLA [22-2, 10-3]

PHSports Bracket Projection: Quietly boasting the nation’s top RPI, the Pac-10 has a ridiculous logjam near the .500 in-conference mark (Zona, Oregon, ASU, Cal, SC) and as surprising a top-10 team (Stanford at 10-3 in-conference) as any. Still, UCLA appears to be top dog again...barely.

Key Matchup: Mar. 6th may not pit two Top 1o teams between UCLA & Stanford, but it may have two Top 5 teams with the talent piling up on each roster.

Player to Watch: Brook Lopez [Bruin freshman Kevin Love has a TON of responsibility on his stout shoulders, but it’s the resurgent and rejuvenated Lopez that has the Cardinal pushing late in the season for a top seed come March Madness.]

Southeastern Conference

Current Leader: Tennessee [23-2, 10-1]

PHSports Bracket Projection: In a perceived down year for the conference, Tennessee appears the only reliable team. Not so fast. Mississippi State appears more than capable while Vanderbilt (40+-point win over Kentucky last week) is as unpredictable as anyone in the nation.

Key Matchup: Saturday’s matchup between Tennessee and Memphis could potentially help the conference, pitting its top team as close to the #1-seed…you’d think Pat Summit were their coach (ha!). Let's hope for no letdown on Wednesday night for either team.

Player to Watch: Shan Foster [Part of last year’s Sweet 16 run, and as a senior, must be the driving force for a team who could be as high as a 10-seed with Kevin Stallings’ cultivating potential 4-seed talent.]

Who knows, maybe the "mid-majors" will get some love as well soon.

Yeah, that sounds right up our alley.

Until next time...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Stripping "Mid-Major"

Here is an article by Jason King of Yahoo! Sports from yesterday that explains how many strong and emerging non-BCS conference programs have grown furious with the infamous mid-major tag.

To date, fears that have become realized as a result of the discriminatory nomenclature include the following:
  1. Loss of recruits to struggling programs in BCS Conferences
  2. Annual snubs from the NCAA tournament equaling foregone revenue
  3. Inability to leverage traditional "home & home" series against BCS schools, namely the powerhouse programs

Monday, February 18, 2008

2008 NCAA Projections - February 18, 2008

Last week, the state of North Carolina had two #1 seeds. This week, it’s the state of Tennessee who carries that distinction. Why? Because Duke lost to Wake Forest, who is now 6-5 in the ACC with a signature win. Also, Tennessee has 9 wins (1st nationally) against the RPI Top 50. The Volunteers’ tussle at Memphis will go a long way in determining at least one #1 seed.

Meanwhile, Michigan State and Georgetown have enjoyed better weeks. In two games, the Spartans (who I thought would win both games on the road this week) played exactly one decent half this week in their soon-to-be-forgotten visit to the state of Indiana. As for Georgetown, while it’s not a case of Hoya Suxa (i.e. The Esherick Era), optimism has quieted in the nation’s capital. A squeaker at home against a decidedly-weaker team aided by a widely-criticized call followed by a thumping at the hands of Syracuse in the Carrier Dome will do that.

Moving to the last four teams in, St. Joseph’s and Baylor have little room for error. With respect to UMass, they are in right now because of their 4-4 record against the RPI Top 50 and little more than that. Based on the eye test (i.e. how they play), Houston (0-4 vs. RPI Top 50) gained the nod over the likes of Ohio State (who exactly have they beaten and then losing to Michigan?), Dayton (solid resume, but a different team since the Chris Wright injury) and Florida (losing to LSU at home and then falling to Vanderbilt).

Among our projected teams that are not currently in first place by a full game or more, here are some quick hitters …

North Carolina – The decision was made before the Duke loss. The Blue Devils being exposed by Wake Forest freshman guard Jeff Teague may have very well provided the ‘blueprint’ (yes, the word is overused, but until I hear a better word, please accept my apologies) to other ACC teams, but UNC with Lawson wins the ACC Tournament in March.

New Mexico State – Utah State has started to crumble, Nevada is rising from the ashes and Boise State gets no love. Of course, none of those teams get to play their conference tournament at home. Additionally, New Mexico State (who does) is 6-2 with Herb Pope and recorded double-digit wins against Utah State and Boise State since his arrival.

Sam Houston State & South Alabama – It’s all about Thursday night. Both have return matches against the first-place teams in their divisions whom they beat in Round 1 – Stephen F. Austin and Western Kentucky, respectively.

Hampton – The Pirates were impressive in non-conference play and are now getting over a rough patch. Not to mention, Morgan State finally lost again in MEAC action.

That’s all for now. If you have any questions, comments, or just wish to send a shout, shoot me a line at

The Seedings
1: Memphis (C-USA), Kansas (Big XII), North Carolina (ACC), Tennessee (SEC)
2: Duke, UCLA (PAC-10), Texas, Xavier (A-10)
3: Stanford, UConn, Georgetown (Big East), Purdue (Big Ten)
4: Louisville, Wisconsin, Butler, Washington State
5: Kansas State, Indiana, Drake (MVC), Michigan State
6: Clemson, Notre Dame, Marquette, St. Mary’s
7: Arizona, Vanderbilt, USC, Texas A&M
8: Pittsburgh, Gonzaga (WCC), Mississippi State, Maryland
9: Arkansas, BYU, Rhode Island, Oklahoma
10: Arizona State, Kentucky, Kent State (MAC), Syracuse
11: Wake Forest, West Virginia, St. Joseph’s, UNLV (MWC)
12: Baylor, South Alabama (Sun Belt), UMass, Houston
13: Davidson (Southern), Virginia Commonwealth (Colonial), Oral Roberts (Summit), Siena (Metro Atlantic)
14: Cornell (Ivy), Sam Houston State (Southland), Cal State Fullerton (Big West), New Mexico State (WAC)
15: Belmont (Atlantic Sun), UM-Baltimore County (America East), Winthrop (Big South), American (Patriot)
16: Hampton (MEAC), Austin Peay (Ohio Valley), Portland State (Big Sky), Robert Morris (Northeast), Alabama State (SWAC)

Last Four In: St. Joseph’s, Baylor, UMass, Houston
Last Four Out: Ohio State, Dayton, Florida, Miami-FL
Next Four Out: Oregon, Western Kentucky, California, Southern Illinois

IN: Arizona State, Wake Forest, West Virginia, St. Joseph’s, Houston, Virginia Commonwealth, Winthrop, Belmont, Robert Morris
OUT: Florida, Dayton, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Illinois State, George Mason, UNC-Asheville, East Tennessee State, Sacred Heart

Seeding Summary (Multi-Bid Conferences Only in Order of Percentage)
Pac-10: 6/10
Big East: 8/16
Big XII: 6/12
ACC: 5/12
SEC: 5/12
Big Ten: 4/11
A-10: 4/14
West Coast: 2/8
Mountain West: 2/9
Conference USA: 2/12

Sunday, February 17, 2008

All-Star Weekend: Questions to Consider [Eastern Conference]

As All-Star Weekend comes to a close with tonight’s East vs. West battle, there are countless questions being asked of each team as we head into the second half of the season.

However, there are internal questions – whether from the GM to the coach to the players themselves – that ring even truer.

What might those be? I might be willing to venture a guess…

Check out the EAST ?s

Something tells me the "Larry Bird" rights weren't
meant for the likes of Devean "Piggybacked my way to Titles" George.

Credit: Yahoo! Sports

Southwest Division

Dallas – “If a deal with New Jersey can’t get done, will the Mavs have time to acquire a new addition before the deadline arrives?”

Houston – “Locked in a three-way race with Golden State and Denver for seemingly the final two spots in the West, is Houston capable of becoming an extremely dangerous 7 or 8 seed?”

Memphis – “How much longer will Mike Miller be a Grizzly?”

New Orleans – “#1 in the West, but how can they possibly keep up with little to no ammo during the current arms race?”

San Antonio – “Veterans with 4 titles in recent memory (none back-to-back, mind you). Yet, is too much stock being placed into them simply returning to prime form once the playoffs roll around?”


Denver Nuggets – “When will Carmelo Anthony take on a role other than scorer?”

Minnesota Timberwolves – “With plenty of youth, and even more losses, who on their roster - - other than the established Al Jefferson - is on the threshold of stardom and who will remain mired in underachieving status?”

Portland – “Seemingly running out of gas, what will the Blazers accomplish this season before next year’s arrival of #1-pick Greg Oden?”

Seattle – “What on Earth is this team planning to do at the center position in the future?”

Utah – “Perhaps as under the radar as any team in the West, is the acquisition of Kyle Korver the savviest move all season?”


Golden State – “Any chance we get a repeat opening round series of Mavericks v. Warriors?”

Los Angeles Clippers – “What team and head coach will Elton Brand and (hopefully) Shaun Livingston return to?”

Los Angeles Lakers – “Duh. What’s your opinion on the future of Kobe’s pinky and Bynum’s knee?”

Phoenix – “DUH! What’s your opinion on the addition of Shaq and the departure of the Matrix?”

Sacremento – “With Bibby now in Atlanta, will the team be able to dump Artest next?”

A ton of answers that we may not have for years to come. Especially out of Seattle (god bless their recent string of draft picks outside of Durant/Green).

Until next time…

All-Star Weekend: Questions to Consider [Eastern Conference]

As All-Star Weekend comes to a close with tonight’s East vs. West battle, there are countless questions being asked of each team as we head into the second half of the season.

However, there are internal questions – whether from the GM to the coach to the players themselves – that ring even truer.

What might those be? I might be willing to venture a guess…

Howard was all smiles en route to a Dunk Contest title.
Credit: Yahoo! Sports

Atlantic Division
Boston – “Is Rajon Rondo the point guard that will lead this roster to a championship?”

New Jersey – “Assuming Jason Kidd is finally moved, what is to be done with a 31-year old swingman named Vince Carter?”

New York – “What salaries can we dump on others, buy out, or sadly, pick up?”

Philadelphia – “Seemingly mired in the rebuilding process, what will this team do to make the step up into playoff contention?”

Toronto – “Who is the point guard of the future: TJ Ford or Jose Calderon?”

Central Division

Chicago – “Will the Bulls rally to become a dangerous low seed in the playoffs?”

Cleveland – “Will Larry Hughes finally realize the potential Cleveland has continued to believe he has?”

Detroit – “Will Detroit continue to be under the radar, quietly yielding the top balance of depth, experience and talent in the entire NBA?”

Indiana – “With the movement towards character firmly established, when does the winning begin?”

Milwaukee – “Underachieving with a youthful yet talented roster, when will the Bucks consider moving youth for savvy veteran leadership?”

Southeast Division

Atlanta – “Was the move for Mike Bibby a move for 2008 or the future in Atlanta?”

Charlotte – “What is Michael Jordan’s grand plan for allowing this team to shift from underachieving playoff pretender to actual playoff team?”

Miami – “Will the duo of Wade & Marion be further established with a contract extension for the Matrix?”

Orlando – “Will the seemingly vanquished tensions between Stan Van Gundy and Dwight Howard ever reach a boil?”

Washington – “Whose health is more important to the Wizards: Agent Zero or Caron Butler?”

See you in but for questions for the West...

Friday, February 15, 2008

Questions to Consider – The “Top Ten” of College Basketball

How much do the polls actually mean? Nevermind the fact that it’s nearly impossible to predict between the writers, the coaches and whatever goes into the RPI (link). Plenty of “experts” put little to no actual stock in the top 25. This is only illuminated more in the current top 10.

If anything, it’s just for fun, bragging rights and promoting heavyweight or underdog matchups on the four-letter network.

In the very least, it serves as a gauge for the top talent in America. Right?

While questions of the bubble might not be on the forefront for these teams, it’s far from set in stone that their seasons will end in greatness.

Let’s take a look at this week’s top 10, via the writers (although we’re noticeably absent from voting), and check out one key question facing each team as the season turns to the key stretch of conference play, Bracketbusters and eventual conference tournaments.

Note: Records are accurate as of Rankings being released on Monday.

Do you consider Hibbert's Hoyas beast of the Big East?
Credit: Yahoo! Sports

1) Memphis [23-0]

: Securing all 72 first-place votes, they’re the top team in the country. However, there are two glaring weaknesses on this team – free throw percentage (326th out of 328 in all of Division I) & shooting a rather soft 34% from behind the arc – that may cause their downfall.

Question: Can the Tigers overcome their own ineptness at the free throw line during close games in the closing stages of March Madness?

2) Duke [21-1]

Analysis: Outside of a loss to Pitt at the Garden back in 2007, the Blue Devils are 9-0 in the ACC and own a win at the Lawson-less Dean Dome. Deep with perimeter talent and slashers galore, Duke has seamlessly overcome a consistent lack of a big body dominating in the paint.

Question: Despite outscoring their opponents at nearly 19 points a click, can Duke battle with the “bigs” of the nation’s elite come March Madness without a solid interior rebounding (133th nationally in rebounding margin) and shot-blocking presence.

3) Kansas [23-1]

Analysis: Despite defeats to the Kansas State Beasleys and the Texas Trifecta, the Jayhawks have been labeled “Bill Self-proof” by our editor (subject to change after their loss to Texas). Darrell Arthur’s return from injury combined with the emergence of Darnell Jackson has the Jayhawks as balanced as they’ve ever appeared.

Question: It’s simple: Can Bill Self guide a team to a Final Four and avoid the constant streak of disappointment and underachievement that has haunted his past?

4) Tennessee [21-2]

Analysis: Potentially under the radar in an underwhelming year for the SEC, the Vols appear likely to be the greatest threat – even on the road – to the undefeated Tigers of Memphis. Lofton’s numbers are a little down this season (40% FG, 39 % 3-point), yet the Vols seem more than confident in their coach and their 10-man rotation.

Question: His size and stature a constant concern, can Chris Lofton guide this Vols team with consistent sharpshooting and tireless effort?

5) North Carolina [22-2]

Analysis: Battling back against Clemson may say more about the Tigers than the Heels (perhaps except that Danny Green can drain clutch 3s AND dance). However, the Heels are doing their best to keep their heads above water while PG Ty Lawson recuperates. With a top-heavy ACC, it may be easier than previously expected.

Question: Lawson’s ankle will be fine. The real issue at hand is whether or not North Carolina can beat out the Dukies for the “East Regional” #1-seed? Why does that matter, you ask? Not leaving the state until the Final Four, in San Antonio, may be too much of an advantage for two of the state’s best.

6) UCLA [21-3]

Analysis: Though star PG Darren Collision missed 6 games, UCLA has lived off of a combination of stiff scoring defense (6th best in the nation), outrebounding their opponents on both sides of the ball (3rd overall in the nation) and limiting both turnovers and fouls.

Question: With the Pac-10 resurgent in recent weeks – especially within the state of California – will the Bruins benefit or be deterred by the Pac-10 tournament as they grapple for a potential position in the “West Regional”?

7) Stanford [20-3]

Analysis: Winners of seven-straight, the Cardinal have quietly entered the top 10 behind the stellar play of big man Brook Lopez (18/8/2) and a balanced rotation. With only two ranked opponents on their schedule, the Cardinal appear ready to secure one of the tournament’s top seeds.

Question: Clearly undeserving of an at-large bid last season, how will the visit to the woodshed delivered by Louisville affect the tournament aspirations of this year’s roster?

8) Georgetown [20-3]

Analysis: Arguably the nation’s top defensive unit (NCAA-best 35.% opponent’s FG%), JT3’s squad has made a recent living surviving in the Big East (UCONN, Syracuse, and Villanova Ws have been by three points or less) in low-scoring affairs. Taking care of the ball and executing on high-percentage possessions (they shoot a surprising 6th-best 49% from the field) is key for the Hoyas to continue winning.

Question: While it’s unfair to do, wouldn’t it be fun to imagine this team with Jeff Green returning alongside Big Roy for his senior season? Returning to reality, can the Hoyas supply enough offensive firepower, or at least enough playmaking, to keep up in games when their suffocating slow-down defensive pressure is not yielding results.

9) Butler [21-2]

Analysis: Finally, we get into the wheelhouse of the mid-majors. Sorry Gonzaga, but the Bulldogs are in the best of the “rest” conferences. At 21-2 and first place in the Horizon League, the Bulldogs can boast victories over Ohio State, Texas Tech and Florida State. With a should-be household name like AJ Graves and four other contributing seniors, this is a dangerous squad come March.

Question: February 23rd has the “Mother of all BracketBusters”. Fourteenth-ranked Drake, also the Bulldogs, (22-1 and in 1st place in the Missouri Valley) visits Butler in a game that may go a long way in determining the seeding and respect given to either team. Question is: Who needs the win more?

10) Michigan State [20-3]

Analysis: Surprisingly, it’s Purdue that currently sits atop the Big Ten standings. However, most debates begin with the Spartans at or right near the top of the conference. Head-scratching losses to Penn State and Iowa (they only scored 36 points the entire game) have many wondering just how legit and consistent these Spartans can be come tourney time.

Question: Simply put, how will the Spartans deal with a final eight-game stretch that includes four ranked opponents, two matchups with Eric Gordon and return engagements with aforementioned Iowa and Penn State?

So there we have it. The supposed “top 10” of the writers. A brief analysis thus far and a question to consider for the coming weeks.

While all ten of these teams appear iron-clad locks to secure high seeds during March Madness, it remains to be seen if a national champion or even a Final Four berth shall emerge from this selection.

Until next time...or top 10.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Wednesday Night Hoops

Since the start of this blog, we have preached one thing: accountability. Whether it's calling ourselves out or those whom we write about, that has been one of our guiding aims.

That said, it's no surprise that we bring up Indiana head coach and serial texter Kelvin Sampson. If the allegations that swept today's breaking news alerts are true, then severe actions must be taken against Sampson. I'm not talking about the weak stuff that Roger Goodell levied on Bill Belichick. I'm talking about the severity of the punishment that befell former California and current Morgan State head coach Todd Bozeman. Somewhere, Gregg Doyel is smiling.

Stepping out of college for a moment, Devean George has put an effective stop to the feel-good story of Jason Kidd "returning home" to the team that drafted him. So, how many days will it be before the Dallas brass approaches Devean George and his 3.8 points per game, who will likely be booed at home games, about a buyout?

Returning to college basketball ...
  • Notre Dame is good, but they still cannot win an important game on the road.
  • Syracuse effectively signed up for the NIT this evening following an embarrassing defeat to South Florida. Even had they not won, it would have been very difficult .. but they have so much talent. C'mon Boeheim!
  • Drake finally loses (to perennial NCAA tournament fixture Southern Illinois) and the haters get to take a deep breath. How will they react at Northern Iowa on Saturday? That may very well decide the victor in their BracketBuster Main Event matchup at Butler.
  • While others have yet to sign up for the NIT, a number of non-lock teams in addition to those already mentioned - Kansas State, Baylor, Ole Miss, Florida, Creighton and Ohio - succumbed to defeat against double-digit losses.
  • Kudos to Wisconsin on their victory. The take-home lesson to the Hoosiers: The glass giveth (Eric Gordon 3-pointer to tie game in win at Illinois) and the glass taketh away (Brian Butch 3-pointer with 4.5 seconds remaining to put the Badgers ahead to stay).