Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Bracket Outlier Five-Pack ... and then some

This week, PHSports drew some ire for having a few unwelcomed predictions this week. Some of it was deserved. Some of it was passion-filled conjecture.

In this post, we look at our outliers and see how they stack up nearly a week following our predictions. Just so that we're all on the same page, our operational definition for an outlier will be a seed line difference of two or more in comparison with the average seed on the Bracket Matrix, brought to you by The Bracket Project (BPBM).

PHSports's outliers currently bears a very high number. Therefore, we will profile five and summarize the others.

Tennessee
BPBM Seed: 4
PHSports: 6
How we stack up? PHSports looks fairly prophetic. In our January 11 predictions, we docked Tennessee 3 seed lines for dismissing their best player. Since what was perhaps the biggest upset of the season against Kansas, the Vols have come down to earth and lost two games that they may not have with the services of Tyler Smith. The truth is, this is a team which will struggle away from Thompson-Boling, and they'll have to will their way just to be a 6 seed.
Decision: PHSports

Pittsburgh
BPBM Seed: 4
PHSports: 6
How we stack up? Pitt has a very impressive wins, but their loss to Seton Hall should have let you know that they were wildly overperforming and that the home loss to Georgetown let the air out of their tires. While I was not betting on South Florida, I was not shocked to see the scoreline.
Decision: PHSports

BYU
BPBM Seed: 5
PHSports: 3
How we stack up? If BYU is to earn a protected seed (i.e., 4 or better), then they need to win games like Wednesday's tussle at The Pit against the New Mexico. For those that were too engrossed with The State of the Union speech and the choreographed waste that came on after it to see the game, good job. That said, they were outplayed and lost.
Decision: The Field

Vanderbilt
BPBM Seed: 5
PHSports: 8
How we stack up? The Commodores are better than an eight seed after a series of wins in a row, which came to a screeching halt in Lexington yesterday. They have a tricky next 6 games ahead of them that will ultimately decide their fate.
Decision: The Field (by a whisker)

Ohio State
BPBM Seed: 6
PHSports: 4
How we stack up? With Evan Turner, Ohio State is a 4 seed or better. Without him, they are in the NIT (and generally look lost). And they'd be higher had they not blown a double-digit in Morgantown.
Decision: PHSports

*****
They Are Who We Thought They Were:

UAB (BPBM: 8; PHSports: not seeded): Perhaps, we were harsh and short-sighted to think UAB did not deserve a bid. Or, we thought they would start losing games now that they have the target on their chest. UAB can still make the tournament, but they will not make it as an 8 seed. That's ludicrous.

Butler (BPBM: 6; PHSports: 8): If you look at their resume, you will agree with me. And if you know that they beat Turner-less Ohio State, you'll really agree. If they win their BracketBuster, we'll talk, but the Bulldogs will not go undefeated in conference play.


We Should Re-Think Our Decision:

UConn (BPBM: 7; PHSports: 4): We thought they had turned the corner following a victory against Texas. We were very wrong. Despite having watched this team several times (once live), UConn is an unknown quantity, because you don't know what team is stepping onto the floor.

New Mexico (BPBM: 6; PHSports: 11): To be honest, I'm not sure how good this team is. They have one of the biggest home court advantages in college basketball, and their best win away from The Pit is against the 7th best team in the Big XII. If the Lobos lose 2 or 3 more games in conference play (@ UNLV, @ BYU, plus 1), they may candidates for an 8/9 game.

Mississippi State (BPBM: 10; PHSports: 5): At any moment, this team can get hot. That has not occurred and they will be lower than a 5 seed.

Memphis (BPBM: unseeded; PHSports: 11): The loss to SMU was a wake-up call. Gonzaga's loss to San Francisco was a compounder. Why? If Memphis defeats the Bulldogs (a win we still predict), then their win carries less value.

Let February Play Out:

Missouri (BPBM: 8; PHSports: 5): When you look at their resume right now, it's insane to think they're a 5 seed. The truth is, the Tigers' style, depth, and ability to play defense make them a chic pick to flourish in February.

Xavier (BPBM: 8; PHSports: 10): The Musketeers have a critical 5-game stretch (@UMass, @ Dayton, @ Florida, v. St. Joe's, @ Charlotte) that will determine what type of team this is. This program has a taking-all comers mentality, and that will help with seeding, but how much if they don't win them?

North Carolina (BPBM: 10; PHSports: 7): Yes, the Tar Heels have disappointed. And it's been public. More than anything, this was a good faith pick, because Roy Williams knows how to win games. On Tuesday night, the Heels took it to their in-state rivals at the defensive end -- something that has been foreign to UNC's arsenal all season. I think some of my colleagues forgot about their early season wins versus Ohio State and Michigan State. If they can hold form tonight against Virginia, then they will be on the better side of the 7/10 game.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Blind Resume - Bubble Edition

In what order would you rank these teams?

Team 1
Record: 16-3
Team RPI: 13
v. RPI Top 100: 5-3
v. RPI Top 50: 2-2
v. RPI Top 25: 1-2
v. RPI Sub 200: 3-0
Conf RPI: 6


Team 2
Record: 14-6
Team RPI: 50
v. RPI Top 100: 4-4
v. RPI Top 50: 3-2
v. RPI Top 25: 1-0
v. RPI Sub 200: 5-1
Conf RPI: 12

Team 3
Record: 16-4
Team RPI: 35
v. RPI Top 100: 6-3
v. RPI Top 50: 3-2
v. RPI Top 25: 1-2
v. RPI Sub 200: 7-0
Conf RPI: 7

Wednesday Night Dribbles

A few quick hitters to sum up the night in college basketball:
  • Temple and BYU both lost opportunities to strengthen their cases for a protected seed. Kudos to Chris / Craig on calling the Charlotte upset. Though, I still don't think they are or will be a tournament team.
  • Anyone who had William & Mary as an at-large team can gently take them out of the discussion. Tonight, they lost to CAA strugglers James Madison. David Schneider has shot 11-for-45 in their last three games - all losses. Ultimately, their demise comes down to their defense (246th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency). Meanwhile, my preseason pick, George Mason, is 9-1 in conference play.
  • If no one in the SEC West separates themselves from the pack, Vanderbilt may turn out to be the SEC's 2nd-best team despite a shaky start to the season. They now have wins over Missouri, Tennessee, Florida, South Carolina, Middle Tennessee St., St. Mary's, and Arizona. Not bad for the end of January. After their Rocky Top high, Tennessee is looking like a team without the services of its best player.
  • Oklahoma State is starting to normalize with another win at Texas A&M. The margin for error remains small for Travis Ford. Their next four are @ Missouri, v. Texas, @ Texas Tech, v. Oklahoma. So, that's 2 road games, 1 against a top 5 opponent, and another against your in-state rival who hates your guts and has a mental edge from a prior win. We'll know a lot more about this team's heart (Eaton and Harris were huge losses) very soon.

Monday, January 25, 2010

PHSports Field of 65 -- January 26, 2010

After an amazing NFC Championship game (and that thing that pays the bills), little time was left to do our bracket projections. But alas, they are complete. As a reminder, PHSports is of the brand that uses the projection / prediction model. In other words, we're a different cup of tea, and we wouldn't have succumbed to having UVa as the automatic bid from the ACC last week.

In the last two weeks, Kansas re-established the #1 overall seed, while Texas slipped to the 5th overall seed because of some lackluster team defense. Though I do not trust Duke or their 1-3 true road record, they get the #1 seed because the ACC is the nation's top conference and they have some solid non-conference wins. Kentucky and Syracuse complete the #1 seeds, though Texas may be the second #1 seed from the Big XII when this is all said and done.

There are a few teams that I like which other bracketologists or fans may not be too fond of. Some may BYU has no right being a #3 seed. I see a team that crushes the eye test with top 16 ratings nationally in adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency. The second is Missouri as a #5 seed. On paper, they are a 7 through 9 seed, but this team plays great defense and has depth -- two things that will be on their side come later in February. North Carolina at #7 seed may be seen as a homer pick, and that is fine. They have the talent, plenty of depth in the frontcourt, and they have the coach, though it hasn't quite gelled yet.

Moving down to our last four teams in the tournament, I was fairly confident about UNLV and Minnesota, despite the latter's internal turmoil. Prior to tonight's win against Northwestern (which was predicted), Minnesota lost 3 games in a row by 12 times, 2 of which were to Michigan State, who is undefeated in the Big Ten. If Harvard only loses to Cornell from this point onward (which is what we're predicting), and no bids are stolen from the multiple bid conferences, then they are worthy of an at-large. The same goes for St. Mary's. If they win out, except in games against Gonzaga, and the same principles apply, then they are our 65th team, due to some good out of conference wins. Ultimately, a 3rd team from C-USA or a 2nd team from the Pac-10 may be more realistic.

Last Four In: UNLV, Minnesota, Harvard, St. Mary's
Last Four Out: UAB, Illinois, Virginia Tech, Northwestern
Next Four Out: Arizona St., Rhode Island, Cincinnati, Notre Dame

Conference Breakdown (multiple bid conferences only)
ACC (7) -- Duke, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, North Carolina, Florida St., Clemson, Maryland
Big XII (7) -- Kansas, Texas, Kansas St., Missouri, Baylor, Oklahoma St., Texas A&M
Big East (7) -- Syracuse, Villanova, West Virginia, Georgetown, UConn, Pittsburgh, Louisville
SEC (6) -- Kentucky, Mississippi St., Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, Florida
Big Ten (5) -- Michigan St., Purdue, Wisconsin, Ohio St., Minnesota
A10 (3) -- Temple, Xavier, Dayton
Mountain West (3) -- BYU, New Mexico, UNLV
C-USA (2) -- Tulsa, Memphis
Ivy (2) -- Cornell, Harvard
WCC (2) -- Gonzaga, St. Mary's

Seedings
1: Kansas, Kentucky, Syracuse, Duke
2: Texas, Villanova, Michigan St., Purdue
3: West Virginia, Georgetown, BYU, Wisconsin
4: Kansas St., Temple, UConn, Ohio St.
5: Gonzaga, Mississippi St., Missouri, Georgia Tech
6: Pittsburgh, Baylor, Tennessee, Wake Forest
7: North Carolina, Florida St., Clemson, Northern Iowa
8: Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, Butler, California
9: Oklahoma St., Siena, Maryland, Cornell
10: Xavier, Texas A&M, Tulsa, Florida
11: Dayton, New Mexico, Memphis, Old Dominion
12: Louisville, UNLV, Minnesota, Murray St.
13: Harvard, St. Mary's, Charleston, Louisiana Tech
14: Oakland, Coastal Carolina, Northern Colorado, Akron
15: Sam Houston St., Arkansas St., Morgan St., Pacific
16: Lafayette, Stony Brook, Jacksonville, Prairie View A&M, Quinnipiac

(Bracket will be posted later in the week)

NEXT UPDATE: After results ending February 7

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Four Identities

Interesting take right HERE on the perceptions of whom CBS is rooting for. Any conspiracy theorists will find this all-too-juicy. All this is juicer.

While there may be different names, jersey numbers, or unsung heroes who rise to acclaim, here are the four names the media is immediately prepared to sell Super Bowl week.

Indianapolis: Peyton Manning (QB)
NY Jets: Rex Ryan (Head Coach)

New Orleans: Drew Brees (QB)

Minnesota: Adrian...oh who am I kidding? Brett Favre (QB)


However, here are the four names you might want to be singing instead. For their difference-making abilities are criminally unsung.

Indianapolis Colts
Jeff Saturday, despite the juxtaposition of this picture, is an all-too-forgotten staple in the decade-long run of the Colts. Calling out formations and MIKES, even before King Peyton at times, is just a part of the reason why he anchors this underrated offensive line to continued success. With a guy named Pouha lining up in front of him, Saturday won't make the mistake of breathing easy that Kris Jenkins isn't lining up this weekend. Jets fans (ahem) know that smacking around Peyton will only happen if his veteran center fails to keep things in order on the offensive line.

New York Jets
Alan Faneca was one of the biggest free agent fishes in the 2008 summer class. While 30-year old Pittsburgh Steelers who play the offensive line don't get much acclaim, he's perhaps the best guard the game has seen this decade. He's surrounded by Pro Bowlers and All Pros named Ferguson and Mangold, who owe a lot to Faneca for their continued steady play and recent "offensive line" stardom. Sometimes landing the best free agent, not just the biggest name, is the coup a GM needs to build and reputation and, of course, a winning football team.

New Orleans Saints
You want to beat quarterbacks like Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, and even (gasp) Mark Sanchez...put constant pressure on them. Hit them in the mouth - with or without the football - and make them think twice about standing tall in the pocket. Take their trusted offensive lineman and turn him into a giant question mark that annoys the quarterback like no other that Sunday afternoon. While the name Will Smith immediately conjures up anything but a 13-sack defensive end; nevertheless, this man will need to have a personal meeting (or 3) with Favre on Sunday, in order to let the aggressive Saint secondary make enough plays to allow their own QB enough possessions to put up the points necessary to secure the franchise's first ever Super Bowl appearance. What a run-on sentence that was!

Minnesota Vikings
We'll try to ignore that Favre-guy. (Trust me, it won't be too hard.) I'll stay away from Sidney Rice's emergence, Percy Harvin's migraines, and McKinnie memories triggering the Love Boat theme song. The Vikings, long before the 40-year old Golden Boy (dang!) and A.D. (or should it be A.P.) racked up double-digit touchdowns with relative ease, had a suffocating run defense and two interior lineman NOBODY wanted to see. They're All Pro-talent standing right next to each other. Scary, huh? Good thing the Saints rush to the outside quite a bit. Or is it? Eventually, you gotta test these guys. Unfortunately for you, Kevin and Pat Williams don't like losing the battle in the middle of the interior line.


A few more names are sure to pop up. I didn't even mention Revis Island...until now.

What names do you think will be mentioned more often than most might expect???

Friday, January 22, 2010

Good article on Coach Cal reaching out to John Wooden

Over the last year, I've had an opportunity to read a good amount about John Wooden and have come to admire his coaching styl,e and generally speaking, how he went about his life beyond basketball. Believe it or not, coaches and players reach out to the Wizard of Westwood.

I hope I'm half as sharp as Wooden at 39 as he is at 99.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Which Peyton do you prefer???

With enough analysis to shake something cool at (yeah, writer's block at 11:13 pm), I decided I wanted to tackle a pressing issue. An important issue.

Which kind of person are you?

Commercial A: On Fire
video


..or...

Commercial B: Chinese, Sucka

video

Well???


Personally, I gotta go with the FIRE-man (Timberlake in a role I actually enjoyed him in).

As for you...that remains to be told.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

UConn Seeks Craig Austrie Clone

After the insanity that Clement put you through Sunday night and yesterday, I bring you back down to earth.

While watching UConn blow a 19-point lead against Georgetown a couple Saturdays ago, two things were evident.

First, this team lacks a leader. That was to be expected given that AJ Price (and Hasheem Thabeet) is in the pros now. The production that these two players give you is irreplaceable.

Second, this team is missing Craig Austrie - an unheralded glue guy who was respected by teammates, and who also annoyed the heck out of the opposition. As for Austrie, he never averaged more than 7.5 points or shot more than 38% from the field, but he was the gritty type who'd change momentum by forcing a turnover or silence crowds with a contested 16-footer with only seconds to go on the shot clock and in the game. Apparently, the intangibles that Austrie brought have proved tougher to replace.

The season is by no means over. Yes, the team has lost 3 games in a row. Yes, Jim Calhoun is taking medical leave, but he's the type who would rather die than not coach. (And yes, I am loving every second of watching UConn fail.) That said, UConn has one of the 5 most talented front lines nationally, and should win four of their next six games. But, if they want to make noise at either MSG or during the NCAA Tournament, they will need a calming influence in the backcourt who has ice in his veins and never loses track of his defensive assignment during critical junctures of the game.

Monday, January 18, 2010

NSFW Content: F*** the Police

Attica!!!

Radio silence for several weeks and suddenly, after a Jet win (typical), I can't shutup suddenly, with 3 posts in less than 20 (not even 24!) hours.

Via the JetsBlog via Deadspin (worst guest hosts for the Dan Patrick Show ever)...

This overenthusiastic Jets fans was hauled out of Qualcomm Stadium yesterday for ...? We're not exactly sure, but when even the Chargers fans are defending his incessant hooting, you know something's fishy.

There is obviously something missing from this video, as we arrive in the middle of about half dozen security/police dudes trying to wrangle this guy to the ground. And he's not exactly being cooperative. But most of the fans around him don't seem happy to see him go. The police are heckled by what seems to be Charger fans and, at the end, one guy in a Chargers jersey appears to trade contact info with Jet Dude's female friend. Either to serve as a character witness or comfort her in her time of need, we may never know.

video

If you want a REAL laugh, check out the YouTube comments. It gets to a point where it sounds like the scene outside the courtroom in A Time to Kill. 90s flashback!!! 00s flashback may be better, though.

Side note: The best comment I saw from a Charger fan on a message board:
"They arrested the wrong guy! Kaeding was still on the field."


The "old" Nate Kaeding, sans the attitude.
Credit: BleacherReport.com

For a closing shot, isn't it funny how Mike Vamderjagt was Nate Kaeding 5 years ago. Regular season percentages, no matter how high, mean D*CK when you're talking playoffs.

Afterthoughts: MMQB

Straight from the horse's mouth. Of course, that horse is really a jackass. Except today, for some reason.

More "escaped inmates" on Revis Island this weekend.
Credit: Profootball.scout.com

A cornerback can’t play much better than Darrelle Revis did Sunday.
“We’ve got a ton of respect for Revis,” Philip Rivers told me Friday at the Chargers’ training facility, “but we’re not going to avoid him. We’ll take some shots at him.”

Oh really? Rivers went back to pass 45 times (40 passes, two sacks, three runs after being chased from the pocket), and I charted Revis’ coverage pattern on every one of Rivers’ pass-drops. By my count, Rivers threw four passes into the zone where Revis had primary coverage, or to the man Revis was playing man-to-man. One was complete, to LaDainian Tomlinson, for a loss of four yards. One, to Legadu Naanee, was batted down by a diving Revis on a cross route. One, to Vincent Jackson, a deep pass up the left seam, was overthrown, with Revis and Jackson running stride for stride. And the fourth, to Jackson, was up for grabs between the two, with Revis coming down with a juggled ball for an interception in a spectacular play.

Four times Rivers went at Revis in 45 pass calls. One completion, for minus-four. One interception. You cannot play the position better than Revis played it Sunday. I don’t care if you’re Deion Sanders or Night Train Lane. Revis put on a clinic, a masterful display of clinging coverage and bump-and-run when the situation called for it.
“We were playing a lot of man coverage on his side regardless who the receiver was,”Rex Ryan said, “and on the other side we were running some loaded zones and mixes and things like that. He had the tough guy most of the time.”

I told Revis the numbers in the tunnel after the game, just before he boarded the team buses for the airport. “I guess they gave me a lot of respect. It’s my job, to cover guys, and I hope I do it pretty well.”

More than pretty well.

Here We Come...

Despite anyone and everyone - this side of Mike Ditka and Keyshawn Johnson - picking against the Jets (yes, with good reason), today was most definitely a good day for the much (self) maligned Jet fan base.

A 17-14 win at "11 in a row" San Diego felt quite good. In the words of Rex (insert synonym for FAT) Ryan, "We'll see what happens in a matchup (vs. Indy) that probably nobody wanted, but here we come."

23 rushes for 128 yards and 1 TD. A nifty TD celebration at the end of a 53-yard run too (a playoff franchise record). Sounds great, right? Too bad it wasn't Canton-bound LT. It was Shonn Greene. You know, the Jets rookie RB drafted in the 3rd round.
12 rushes for 24 yards. That was LT's day. Solid!

Credit: SJMN.com


Man oh man, you should have seen Chris Berman's face today during Primetime. He was disturbed, perturbed, and mostly ticked off the Jets ruined his inevitable LT/Manning and Favre/Brees Sunday matchups next week. Poor bastard.


Indy will be (substantial) early favorites all week long. Duh. They do have that Peyton Manning guy, by the way. Although I feel more than a few in the national media - outside of this Jet-hating CLOWN - will be hitching a ride on the bandwagon. Kudos to Bill Simmons for tabbing this result, by the way. Wow, can't believe I just complimented Bill Freakin Simmons.

MAN! It feels good to be this douche/tool/douchetool.
Credit: Jetsblog.com

A few notable quotes from the "media" ensued shortly after the game went final...

CNNSI.com's John Lopez grades out the AFC Divisional Round

San Diego Special Teams: The best kick of the day by the Chargers was when Jackson kicked the challenge flag thrown by Rex Ryan. Nate Kaeding choked. Three times. There's no other way to put it when possibly the best kicker in the league blows three field goal attempts.
Grade: F
.

New York
Defensive backs: Jim Leonhard was all over the place, including forcing a fumble that was incorrectly overturned and picking off Rivers. Darrelle Revis was spectacular, which is getting redundant. Kerry Rhodes and Lito Sheppard were physical tacklers. This is the best secondary still playing.
Grade: A+
.

CBS "Sports'" Clark Judge and Pete Prisco battle weekly to see who can:
A) Hate the Jets more

B) Be more incompetent about the NFL


Judge feels the Colts are dancing in the streets about this week. Oh goodie for them!!!


The biggest winner in New York's 17-14 upset of San Diego wasn't Rex Ryan or Mark Sanchez or the New York Jets' lock-down defense. It was the Colts, and I'll tell you why: Because they won't face the Chargers.
Now it's the Jets in the AFC Championship Game, and while they're on a tear -- winning seven of their last eight -- they have to be the opponent of choice for Indianapolis. Sure, the Colts lost to them last month, but they also sat down their starters in the second half and, essentially, let the Jets into the playoffs. Well, now they can kick them out.

Yahoo! Sports' James C. Black (who?) knew the skinny on Revis this weekend...

However, as was expected, the Chargers decided to test Revis. And as the Bengals’ Carson Palmer did a week earlier in New York’s wild-card win over the Bengals, San Diego paid.

“Oh man it was crazy. I saw the ball thrown up and I tried to make a play,” Revis recounted. “And I saw Vincent try to cut in front of me to make the play. And I grabbed his hand a little bit so he couldn’t catch it. And as I’m going down I see the ball hit his foot and then it was in arms reach. And I decided to grab it.”

In the end, what happens will happen. But I want to make 3 important statements today:
1) Mike Tenenbaum is a top 5 GM in the league.
(See drafted players: Ferguson, Mangold, Revis, Harris, Sanchez, Keller, & Greene in the last 4 seasons.) (See free agents: Faneca, Woody, Scott, Leonhard, Richardson, Pace & Feely) (See diamonds in the rough: Pouha, DeVito, & Strickland) (Ignore: Lito Sheppard and (please) Vernon Gholston)
2) Darrelle Revis is a top 5 overall player (and the top defensive talent) in the league.
3) David Harris is the most underrated linebacker in the entire NFL.


See you all soon enough...
video
Credit: ESPN.go.com

Saturday, January 16, 2010

My Carolina Nightmare

Mike Patrick commentating + a 20-point Carolina deficit at the Dean Dome = My Carolina Nightmare

Keys to the Game for Carolina (from this point onward):
  1. Play physical in the paint at both ends of the floor
  2. Force Tech to shoot from the perimeter
  3. Mute Mike Patrick (really, he's that awful)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Quote of the Night on UNC's turnovers

"UNC has treated the ball like a grenade with the pin pulled out" - Jay Bilas

According to kenpom.com, the Tar Heels are a pedestrian 176th in turnover percentage. That will negate superior offensive rebounding any day against a competent opponent.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Potential Bubble Teams Who Have Shot Themselves in the Foot

Come mid-March, when the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee is holding its final deliberations on the last four at-large teams to get an invitation, one question is always asked.

How much did [insert school] challenge themselves in non-conference play? Last year, Penn State won at the Breslin Center and swept Illinois (with a healthy Chester Frazier in both games, no less). However, they had an awful non-conference strength of schedule (SOS) and some bad losses.

Below are some teams that you may want to take a look at now and remember in March.

School (Non-Conference SOS in parentheses)*
  • Marquette (291)
  • Tulsa (284)
  • Miami-FL (337)
  • Notre Dame (334)
  • Wichita State (344)
  • Oregon (294)
  • Virginia Tech (315)
  • Seton Hall (340)
  • Missouri State (309)
  • Illinois State (341)
* Non-conference SOS data from www.kenpom.com as of January 11, 2010

Monday, January 11, 2010

PHSports Field of 65 -- January 11, 2010

After a long break, we're break with some bracket projections. Despite five weeks of play since the last update, not much has changed at the top. All of the top teams have shown weakness in the new year, and it's very possible that we will have no undefeated teams in the next two weeks.

A few notes:
  • Given Tyler Smith's dismissal and the ongoing Renardo Sidney saga, Kentucky has the potential to win 14 games in the SEC, and that can net them a #1 seed.
  • The ACC could be the nation's most competitive conference, and for that reason, a 12-win conference winner may not be good enough to take the #1 seed cake.
  • The PAC 10 is awful. I watched some of Oregon / Oregon State, as I was on the fence about including the Ducks. I wanted my 30 minutes back.
  • It'll be interesting to see how injuries factor into seeding. Butler missed Matt Howard for a bit and Jon Leuer just suffered a wrist injury that will keep him out indefinitely for Bucky.
  • The upset of Kansas was extraordinary. I know Clement will say that it was 50% Bill Self. Needless to say, there is no way that a team with 6 scholarship players can remain consistent in the SEC. Because of Smith's dismissal and the suspension of several players, I dropped Tennessee by 3 seed lines.
Power 16
1: Texas, Kansas, Kentucky, Purdue
2: Villanova, Syracuse, Duke, Michigan St.
3: West Virginia, North Carolina, Wisconsin, BYU
4: Mississippi St., Missouri, Butler, UConn

LAST FOUR IN: UNLV, Miami-FL, Tulsa, Arizona St.

LAST FOUR OUT: Dayton, Notre Dame, Wichita St., Washington

NEXT FOUR OUT: Cincinnati, UTEP, Florida, Oregon













NEXT BRACKET PROJECTION: Monday, January 25

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Telling Stat


The Baltimore Ravens were 5-0 in the regular season when Willis McGahee got 10 or more carries. After a gritty 20+ carry performance from McGahee today, the Ravens earned a playoff win in Foxboro.

It's not a coincidence. This is not to say though that he's better than Ray Rice. However, the Ravens - when they want to win - are built to play smashmouth football. That is their identity, and McGahee completes that puzzle when he gets enough carries.

Observations from UConn @ Georgetown 1/8/10

Being a resident of the Washington DC metropolitan area, I had an opportunity to attend yesterday's UConn-Georgetown clash. We all know Austin Freeman was all-world and had a career-high 33 points. Below are some quick hit observations:
  • Greg Monroe is poorly utilized in the Princeton style offense as engineered by Georgetown head coach John Thompson III (JT3). It seemed that he was 17 feet away from the basket on nearly every other possession. If I have a 6'11", 250-pound stud on my team (who's the most talented player on the team, bar none) who's not afraid to take some punishment down low, I'm re-designing the offense to suit his strengths.
  • UConn has some freakishly talented athletes. I've watched Stanley Robinson many times on television. He was on another level in person.
  • The Huskies were especially effective in the fast break. When Georgetown was not able to set their defense, UConn was able to utilize their athleticism to exploit 1-on-1 matchups.
  • UConn's halfcourt set seemed to miss something when Gavin Edwards was not in the game.
  • JT3 should have pulled Chris Wright after he rushed a 20-foot two-pointer with more than 25 seconds left on the shot clock. While Wright's moxie is likable at times, Georgetown's offense is predicated on patience. JT3 needs to sit Wright down and have him watch film of former point guard Jonathan Wallace.
  • Georgetown's weak-side defensive rebounding is awful. And it's been awful for about two years. To make a real run in the Big East and in March, the Hoyas will need to shore this up.
  • This game reduced Jim Calhoun's life expectancy by a minimum of 3 years. There's a lot of opportunity for learning, but yesterday's game was a heartbreaker. It further demonstrated that the Huskies need some guard depth. Kemba Walker and Jerome Dyson are very good, but they lost a step in the 2nd half, and it was noticeable at both ends of the floor (Walker, especially on the mental side).
  • Georgetown needs one more "zone buster" on the team, or in their rotation. Last season, Nikita Mescheriakov showed glimpses of being that guy, but he proved to be a defensive liability, and eventually transferred. Freeman's performance was an anomaly, and his shots really opened up opportunities down low, and vice versa.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

How Will USC React to Postseason Ban?

I cannot believe I am saying this in January 2010, but the USC Trojans are a tournament-caliber team … in basketball. Just months after the program seemingly hit rock bottom and had a landmark home defeat to Loyola Marymount, who had won a whopping 3 games the previous season.

After starting 2-4 out of the gates, USC have won their last 8 games, which includes four over RPI Top 50 and six in the nation’s top third of teams. The difference is Mike Gerrity, the senior transfer who has buoyed the team to six straight wins.

Earlier this week, USC announced self-imposed sanctions for its basketball program because of NCAA rules violations related to OJ Mayo. (READ THIS FOR MORE DETAILS)

Honestly, I could care less what happens to USC. Their two major sports are in for a storm of epic proportions. I agree with the chorus of hatred coming from those who think the wrongdoers should suffer rather than the current crop of players.

At this point, I am more interested in how this team, picked to finish dead last in the Pac 10 by pretty much everyone, will play knowing that there will be no postseason.

Entering play on Wednesday, the Trojans only allow 80.7 points scored per 100 possessions (adjusted efficiency numbers – credit: kenpom.com). That is good enough for 1st nationally. On offense, it’s another story. USC is in the bottom-third nationally, and has trouble with ball security and long-distance shooting (both in the 300s).

With the Pac 10 seemingly wide open, will Kevin O’Neill be effective towards galvanizing the troops and re-adjusting the team to a new goal – winning a regular season conference title? A lot remains to be determined, but whether the Trojans battle with the same tenacity and grit on defense and continue to play with more resolve on offense will decide the direction of the program moving forward.