Saturday, February 27, 2010

Saturday's News, Notes, and Observations

Notre Dame becomes relevant to bubble talk?

Today, I had a chance to attend the Georgetown / Notre Dame debacle in DC. Before the game, I told the folks sitting next to me that the Irish are a better team without Luke Harangody for two reasons. First, they will spread the ball around more making them less predictable (look who's #2 in the nation in percentage of shots taken). Second, Harangody is a defensive liability, and Notre Dame actually tries to play defense. (For those keeping score, that means they reach in on every important possession and make like Wolverine on Greg Monroe's forearms.) Forty minutes later, Notre Dame had completed a great week and revived their at-large hopes. Even if they win their last two and finish 10-8, that does not qualify for lock status because of an abysmal OOC schedule.

Maryland, Minnesota win

Many have criticized the high seeds granted to Maryland (5) and Minnesota (12) by PHSports. Both earned wins away from home. Maryland is now 11-3 in conference play; they are not the same team that lost to William & Mary. Entering today's play, they are one of 10 teams who are in the top 28 in both offensive and defensive adjusted efficiency. The other teams include Kansas, Syracuse, Kentucky, Purdue, Duke, Kansas State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, and BYU.

After a shock win in Champaign, Minnesota are 8-8 in conference with a trip to Ann Arbor and a home bout with the Fighting Lickliters. By virtue of a neutral court win against Butler (and home wins against Ohio State WITH Evan Turner and Wisconsin WITH Jon Leuer), the Golden Gophers have a leg up on the competition from other major conferences.


We'll leave that to the networks. We agree with the assessment that Oklahoma State is a tournament team (unless James Anderson really hurt his back).

Texas :(

After seeing yet another poor showing on the road, I will be dropping Texas by a seed line (3 to a 4, at least). Rick Barnes is clearly second in the balloting for worst coach of the year. Roy Williams also delivered his victory speech during the 2nd half of North Carolina's loss to Florida State earlier this week.

The A-10

Anyone who thought that the A-10 would be a 5-bid league was on dream street. The only way that the A-10 is if Dayton wins out (@ Richmond, v. St. Louis) AND advances to the A-1o Tournament Final AND loses in the final to a team other than Temple, Xavier, or Richmond.

Question: Does Tennessee have the 2 best WINS this season???

As the final seconds tick down, despite a furious Kentucky rally, Tennessee appears on the verge of a HUGE victory (at home) against #2 Kentucky.

Pair that with a win over (former and now current) #1 Kansas earlier this season (the Jayhawks' only blemish)...and color me impressed.

Sure, both wins were at home. Sure, Kansas and Kentucky had to lose their 1st and 2nd games respectively eventually. Sure, this is the same Tennessee who kicked it's best player off the team...and also lost to Georgia.

Nevertheless, does any other team in the country have two more impressive victories this season??? I bet J.P. Prince (below) is also struggling to find one.

At least it helps them forget about this TOOL. No, not you JP.
Credit: Yahoo! Sports

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

5 Things I Would Do If Appointed College Basketball Czar

1. Hold a 64-team tournament with 33 at-large teams; 8 teams would meet on the Tuesday after Selection Sunday at the pod sites and play for four #13 seeds

2. Ban "Zombie Nation" and "Sandstorm" from all arenas

3. Eliminate pre-season rankings, and only institute them starting in the 2nd week of January

4. Find a way to get Mike Patrick off the air

5. Align the D-1 and NBA 3-point lines

Monday, February 22, 2010

NCAA Tournament Bracket Projections -- February 22, 2010

After two weeks, the biggest change was seeing Purdue's two road upsets in Columbus and East Lansing. The two wins put them as a clear #4 overall team, who can move even higher if Kentucky falters. Also, despite severe internal resistance, Kansas State was elevated to the final #2 seed. In no way am I big believer in the Wildcats, as I see them as that#2 seed who can go down to the 7/1o winner.

Meanwhile, we began to drink the Virginia Tech Kool Aid. This is a good team, but in no way are they home free. This is about the point in which Seth Greenberg's teams of the past have believed themselves rather than believed in themselves. A few miles west and south, Oklahoma State defeated Baylor at home to squeak into the field. Their key win was at Kansas State; if the Wildcats falter, then there will be collateral damage for James Anderson & Co.

This week, we had two minor victories. First, in a rare show of supporting anything related to Jim Calhoun, we have thought that UConn is an out-and-out tournament team. After some huge victories (and some team play for a change), the Huskies are back on pace to make the tournament. Second, though they still have a ton of work to accomplish, the Minnesota Golden Gophers have a real shot to finish 9-9. Despite failing the eye test (in my opinion), they have the key wins against tournament teams, something that their at-large bid competitors do not have.

One final note is that we again have some bid stealing in Conference USA (this time, Memphis taking the bid) and the Pac-10 (Arizona State). Just missing the mark are Dayton (Duquesne .. ouch), UAB (who can play their way in their last four), St. Mary's, and Rhode Island.

Last Four In: UConn, Oklahoma St., Minnesota, Mississippi St.
Last Four Out: Dayton, UAB, St. Mary’s, Rhode Island
Next Four Out: Cincinnati, Seton Hall, San Diego St., Charlotte

Conference Breakdown (multiple bid conferences only)
Big East (8) -- Syracuse, Villanova, West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, UConn
ACC (7) -- Duke, Maryland, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, Clemson, Florida St., Georgia Tech
Big XII (6) -- Kansas, Kansas St., Texas, Texas A&M, Missouri, Baylor, Oklahoma St.
Big Ten (6) -- Purdue, Ohio St., Michigan St., Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota
SEC (5) -- Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Florida, Mississippi St.
Mountain West (3) -- New Mexico, BYU, UNLV
A10 (3) -- Temple, Xavier, Richmond
C-USA (2) -- Memphis, UTEP
Pac-10 (2) -- Arizona St., California

Seedings (does not account for seeding conflicts)
1: Kansas, Syracuse, Kentucky, Purdue
2: Duke, Villanova, Ohio St., Kansas St.
3: West Virginia, Michigan St., Texas, Wisconsin
4: Pittsburgh Georgetown, New Mexico, Temple
5: BYU, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, Maryland
6: Gonzaga, Wake Forest, Missouri, Tennessee
7: Baylor, Xavier, Butler, Northern Iowa
8: Virginia Tech, Illinois, Richmond, Florida
9: Clemson, Florida St., Louisville, Georgia Tech
10: Marquette, Utah St., UTEP, UNLV
11: Old Dominion, California, Cornell, UConn
12: Oklahoma St., Minnesota, Siena, Mississippi St.
13: Arizona St., Memphis, Murray St., Kent St.
14: Oakland, Charleston, Sam Houston St., Coastal Carolina
15: Weber St., UCSB, Middle Tennessee St., Stony Brook
16: Morgan St., Lehigh, Robert Morris, Belmont, Jackson St.

Next Update: When time allows ...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

9 Teams Who Can Actually Win The National Title

We are now three weeks away from Selection Sunday, and the number of teams who are in the hunt for the national championship. Here is our list:

  1. Kansas - Most talented, deep team in the land.
  2. Syracuse - Boeheim's best coaching job to date. Boeheim may be wise to tinker with adding a man to his 7-man rotation.
  3. Kentucky - Wall. Cousins. Coach Cal. Need I say more?
  4. Purdue - Experienced, talented team who have specialists at both ends of the floor
  5. Villanova - 11-man rotation led by Big East POY Scottie Reynolds.
  6. Texas - The 2nd-most talented team in the country. If Bradley and Hamilton continue to grow up, Pittman finds himself, and Barnes finds out how to use his other talent, watch out.
  7. Michigan State - Never doubt Izzo in the tournament. This team has yet to put it all together. If they do, they are no worse than the 4th-best team in America.
  8. Ohio State - Evan Turner is the best player in America this season, and he has the potential to go 'Melo on everyone.
  9. Georgetown - With the right draw, anything is possible. Greg Monroe could be the most complete big man in America. He is athletic, intelligent, and skillful. The Hoyas will need a consistent 4th scorer (behind Freeman and Wright).
The detractors will point out that Duke (who I have consistently seeded #1 or 2 all season), Wisconsin, Kansas State, and West Virginia are all missing from this list and may discuss that Texas and Georgetown do not belong on the list.

Below is the reasoning for why I think each team is not worthy:

Duke - This Duke team's makeup reminds me a lot of last year's Duke makeup. Good guards, Kyle Singler, and bigs who are not game-changers. This team does not play well outside of Cameron or the Meadowlands. And they do not perform well against good teams without favorable officiating. This is why the Blue Devils have only lived up to their seed only once (2003) since their 2001 championship.

Wisconsin - The Badgers have overachieved all season. They're a great story and I love how Trevon Hughes plays. However, they also struggle A LOT away from home, and need production from all of their players every game to be successful. The chances of that happening are slim to none over a six-game stretch.

Kansas State - To be honest, this team lacks the pedigree needed to win the title.

West Virginia - Probably the toughest omission because they have the pieces, and the go-to guy in Da'Sean Butler. The point guard play is volatile at times. They will struggle (and likely lose) against teams who rebound well.

CBB Quick Hits

A few quick hits / notes:

  • When you watch CBS during the NCAA Tournament, you'll see promos for a "tradition unlike any other". I really hate those commercials, and the Viagra and Cialis commercials that play en masse over the course of that "tradition unlike any other".
  • Purdue made a huge statement for a #1 seed in our next bracket. Though, I still stand by my assertion that Robbie Hummel (after Kyle Singler) is the 2nd-most overrated player in college basketball. I am sick of hearing from the talking heads that these guys "play the game the right way". I'll stop short of calling it racist, but it's certainly arrogant.
  • I'm late to the party on this, but Utah State is a fine basketball team. They haven't lost since January 4. They're 11th in adjusted offensive efficiency, and in watching portions of their last two games, they really spread the ball around well.
  • After blowing a double-digit lead against Virginia Tech, Wake Mistake Forest played a stinker of a game against NC State. Word from Raleigh is that the Demon Deacons built a house faster than Habitat for Humanity. Good for them.
  • This was a pretty great two weeks for our at-large bubble teams. Louisville won at the Cuse, and is now 9-5 in conference. UConn, who nearly no one left in their bracket, went on the road and defeated Villanova. UTEP kicked ass and took names in Conference USA. Minnesota, who still has a long way to go, defeated Wisconsin with John Leuer. Mississippi State may have defeated Kentucky, had the Wildcats not brought their officials to the last 4 minutes of regulation and all of overtime (gotta love those John Wall gang signs). The tomfoolery offered up by their fans at the end of the game was embarrassing, and if it came down to them and another team for the 34th at-large position, I could see the the NCAA not extending an invite to the big dance. As for Ole Miss, they lost two must-win games, and are NIT-bound unless they win games that they are not supposed to.

Friday, February 19, 2010


So much for the CAA winning 4 of 5 TV matchups this weekend.

Old Dominion is kicking themselves for being outrebounded 29-22 and for giving up 10 three-pointers in a loss to Northern Iowa.

William & Mary is playing like the 11th-best team that Michael Litos predicted them to be. Great timing.

Now, it seems that the only way in which the CAA will earn two bids is if ODU wins out and loses in the final of the CAA Tournament. ODU's at-large candidacy also took a hit this week, as Georgetown - who they defeated at McDonough - has suffered consecutive defeats and is down to 8-6 in conference. Their next biggest OOC win was versus Charlotte, who has also slipped.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

What Happened to UAB?

In our January 26 edition of the PHSports NCAA Tournament projections, we left UAB out of the field. One reader took exception, using favorable statistics and insults to support his argument, such as beating "ranked" teams Butler (still ranked because they play in a weak conference) and Cincinnati (has not sniffed the rankings in 2010). To his credit, UAB was 18-2 (6-0) at the time and they had come off a big home win against Tulsa.

In my arguments, I shared that UAB had a low margin for error, because they had eked out wins against weaker competition, had a tendency to waste offensive possessions, and that they would lose to UTEP, to Memphis (twice), and to one another team before succumbing to defeat in the C-USA Tournament. After the discussion had exhausted itself, we agreed to let the basketball play out.
UAB has lost 3 of 4

And believe me, it has. After suffering a heartbreaker at home in double OT to UTEP, the Blazers lost at Memphis. Following a comeback win at basketball giants Rice, UAB faltered at home to Marshall, which dropped the Blazers to a record that we expected.

In short, PHSports did its research, spotted the trend before other sites and national columnists, and UAB fan is somewhere hiding with his tail between his legs.

Now, it's time to write about tournament teams ...

Friday, February 12, 2010

Bubble Teams: Stock Up, Stock Down

So far this week, we have seen a number of surprises, especially among our bubble teams. PHSports conducts a pulse check to determine where these teams are now.

Virginia Tech - The Hokies have defeated exactly 1 team in our field of 65. If they hold serve at home (win against UVa, Wake, Maryland, NC State), they are in with no questions asked. If they are 8-3 in ACC play after Tuesday, not only will they be in our field, they will be a 8 seed or better.

Mississippi State - Right when they needed a win, they came out strong against their rival (as we predicted). This team remains barely in the tournament.

Illinois - And off of the bubble they go. Everyone - and I mean everyone - outside of Champaign thought the Fighting Illini would be 7-5 in the Big Ten after two fatal blows to the ego against two of the conference's finest teams. Now, this team is clicking on all cylinders, and suddenly, someone other than Bo Ryan is in the discussion for Big Ten Coach of the Year. 11-7 in conference is very, very possible, which would make them a shoe-in for the tournament. As a result, the resumes of Missouri and Gonzaga improved.

North Carolina - a great performance for 33 minutes was not enough. If the Heels put in the same effort for 33 minutes at the defensive end in their last 7 games, they can win 6. They will not though. Off to the NIT ... or CBI.

The A-10 - We knew Charlotte was in for a difficult stretch, but a whopping 28-point loss to Dayton was not what we envisioned. The Flyers have some good OOC wins (v. Georgia Tech on a neutral court, @ George Mason, v. Old Dominion), and boast one of the most talented rosters in the conference. Rhode Island has the RPI numbers, but surprised us with a loss against the Richmond Spiders. U of R, who another PHSports contributor may call the 2nd best team in Richmond, has a strong resume thanks to some great scheduling. They will be one of the interesting case studies to examine come the weekend of March 14.

Louisville and Notre Dame - The Cardinals mailed it in against St. John's on Thursday night. As for Notre Dame, they fought hard against The Hall, but they lost in true Fighting Irish fashion surrendering 90+ points. To boot, 'Gody is injured.

UConn - They fought hard and fell short. Because ESPN did the game, some of the talking heads are raising a stink about poor officiating. Don't get me wrong, this team is very talented, and I like what George Blaney has done by widening his bench. If UConn goes 9-9, they are in. If they 8-10 with another signature win, they will make it in over a more deserving mid-major.

Minnesota - Shame on you, Golden Gophers. Way to lose on national television to a struggling Michigan team! They are in better shape than Northwestern, but not by a whole lot.

UTEP - A completely different team since Derrick Caracter entered the fray. If you get to watch this team, they are not the most crisp on offense, but they take no prisoners on defense. A trip to Tulsa may be among their toughest tests to date.

St. Mary's - A 19-point loss is close to exactly what we expected at Gonzaga. That's why they were on the outside looking in. For them to get in, they need to win a game that they are not supposed to win. Ultimately, they will need to win the WCC Tournament.

Monday, February 08, 2010

NCAA Tournament Bracket Projections -- February 8, 2010

In the last two weeks, the three best teams -- Kansas, Kentucky, and Syracuse -- have begun separating themselves from the pack. The most plausible situation is that if Duke wins the ACC regular season and conference tournament, then they will be the final #1 seed. Not far behind are Texas and Michigan State. Both have undergone a rough stretch, but both have not yet waved a white flag and will be in the hunt for a #1 seed all season. Unlike many projections we are seeing, we have left Georgetown off of the top two seed lines because they lack depth and are susceptible to performances like the one against South Florida.

The toughest problem in this bracket was selecting the final three protected seeds (i.e., teams 14-16). BYU, Maryland, and Wake Forest all lack the portfolio of a team that qualifies for that seeding. It is logical to think that the best team in the Mountain West and second-best team in the ACC are good enough for the #4 seed.

In the A-10, we sense that 4 teams in is a plausible option, but 5 (if we would have included Charlotte or Dayton) is too many. Though Charlotte has impressed of late, we are predicting that they will lose at least 3 games before the A-10 tournament. Further, it's worth noting that Louisville was missing 3 guards in their game against Charlotte earlier this year.

In C-USA, UTEP replaces Memphis as the at-large bid. In a two-week span, UTEP won in double OT at UAB and held serve at home against Houston and Tulsa. The Miners play great team defense and have played some of their best games away from home.

In the Pac-10, it has become increasingly clear that no one can predict this conference. That said, we are erring on the side of an at-large bid being stolen during their conference tournament.

Meanwhile, you will see that UConn is in our tournament field. We expect them to go 9-9 in Big East play, which is somewhat of a stretch. In the end, their SOS, name recognition and talent will get them in similar to the way that Arizona got in last year.

Among our last four in, Minnesota and UTEP were relatively simple choices. We think Mississippi State will right the ship and win 10 games in conference which should be enough. The final spot came down to Ole Miss, Virginia Tech, St. Mary's, and UAB. Given their relatively weak ACC schedule and their poor OOC SOS, the Hokies need to go 10-6 in conference, or go 9-7 with a signature win. We don't think they will do either. St. Mary's has some decent wins, but to be in the tournament, you have to beat tournament teams. As for UAB, though we called it, their recent form and results has us concerned. Ole Miss showed a lot of character in their comeback win against Alabama, and that was enough (along with a neutral court win against Kansas St.) to hang on by a thread.

Last Four In: Minnesota, UTEP, Mississippi St., Ole Miss
Last Four Out: Virginia Tech, St. Mary’s, UAB, South Florida
Next Four Out: Charlotte, Dayton, Cincinnati, North Carolina

Conference Breakdown (multiple bid conferences only)
Big East (8) -- Syracuse, Villanova, Georgetown, West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Marquette, Louisville, UConn
Big XII (6) -- Kansas, Texas, Kansas St., Baylor, Texas A&M, Missouri
ACC (6) -- Duke, Maryland, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Clemson, Florida St.
SEC (6) -- Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Florida, Mississippi St., Ole Miss
Big Ten (6) -- Michigan St., Wisconsin, Purdue, Ohio St., Illinois, Minnesota
A10 (4) -- Temple, Rhode Island, Xavier, Richmond
Mountain West (3) -- BYU, New Mexico, UNLV
C-USA (2) -- UTEP, Tulsa
Pac-10 (2) -- California, Washington

1: Kansas, Kentucky, Syracuse, Duke
2: Michigan St., Texas, Wisconsin, Villanova
3: Purdue, Georgetown, West Virginia, Kansas St.
4: Ohio St., BYU, Maryland, Wake Forest
5: Baylor, Vanderbilt, Texas A&M, Pittsburgh
6: Gonzaga, New Mexico, Temple, Georgia Tech
7: UNLV, Tennessee, Missouri, Cornell
8: Butler, Florida, Northern Iowa, Marquette
9: Clemson, Xavier, Rhode Island, California
10: Florida St., Siena, Louisville, Illinois
11: Richmond, Old Dominion, UConn, Mississippi St.
12: Minnesota, Utah St., UTEP, Ole Miss
13: Washington, Tulsa, Kent St., Murray St.
14: Charleston, Oakland, Sam Houston St., Coastal Carolina
15: UCSB, Middle Tennessee St., Montana, Morgan St.
16: Belmont, Stony Brook, Lehigh, Robert Morris, Jackson St.

Next Update: After games ending on February 21

(Bracket to be posted soon)

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Listen to Bob Knight...

A few weeks ago, following Kansas State's victory over then-#1 Texas (now #10, by the way with a HUGE home game against #1 Kansas upcoming this week), former coach and current ESPN commentator Bob Knight had a pearl of wisdom following the upset in Manhattan.

"Why chant overrated (if you're the home team's crowd)? That devalues the effort and performance of your own team. Instead, why not chant, 'Good job. Well done.'"

While Knight's alternative wasn't exactly poetic, it was true.

Enter today's impressive 40-minute effort from the Hoyas - despite an avalanche unleashing itself upon the nation's capital - against the 2nd ranked Wildcats of Villanova.

Despite epic winter conditions outside, the Hoyas were all business on the court today.
Wow, that was cliched and corny. Sounds like the AP wrote it, right?

Credit: Yahoo! Sports

Georgetown won this game, plain and simple. They outplayed, outhustled, and outexecuted one of the very best teams in the nation.

So don't cheapen it, no matter how easy or fun it is, by calling your opponent "overrated". Instead, embrace the victory, your team's stellar performance (100+ points!), and recognize how talented you are; instead of how your opponent just isn't that good.

I know it's a minor detail, but life is about the details.

On a side note, Villanova fouling down the stretch led to Georgetown making a run - with Monroe driving the length of the floor with 15 seconds to go - trying to score 100. A hard foul came in the paint and Monroe took obvious exception. Villanova followed suit.

A few quick memos:
A) To Villanova: If you continue to foul and try and lengthen the game - for whatever reason you want - with less than 70 seconds to go and a 14-point deficit...don't cry if Georgetown tries to score.
B) To Mr. Monroe: If you're going to play in the Big East and try and put 100 on an opponent...expect some physicality and some bruising.

Big East basketball isn't all the way back. If it were the mid-80s, Monroe would have come up bleeding or limping.

Here's a fun moment from Bob Knight, in closing...

Friday, February 05, 2010

Big East Bubble - You Make The Call

Currently, the Big East has five teams that are in great position to make the tournament. They include Villanova, Syracuse, West Virginia, Georgetown and Pittsburgh.

Arguably, there are six more teams that are vying for 2 to 3 additional at-large bids. They include Louisville, Notre Dame, South Florida, Marquette, Cincinnati and UConn.

Using data from,, and remaining schedules, PHSports made game-by-game predictions, leading to a determination of NCAA Tournament status. Additional Big East tournament scenarios are also considered.

So, who do you think will make the NCAA Tournament among these Big East teams? What seed line do you see them falling?

Louisville (14-8, 5-4)
RPI: 40
Pomeroy Rank: 25
Remaining Schedule: v. Rutgers, @ St. John's, @ Syracuse, v. Notre Dame, @ DePaul, v. Georgetown, @ UConn, @ Marquette, v. Syracuse Predicted Record: 19-12 (10-8)
Pomeroy Predicted Record: 19-12 (10-8)
PHSports Game-by-Game Prediction: W-W-L-W-W-W-L-L-L
PHSports Predicted Record: 19-12 (10-8)
Can the Cards lose their first game and still punch their ticket? If Louisville loses 3 in a row heading into the Garden, then a 4th may tip them over the edge. Unless they get blown away, the Cards will be in.

Notre Dame (16-7, 5-5)
RPI: 62
Pomeroy Rank: 77
Remaining Schedule: v. South Florida, @ Seton Hall, v. St. John's, @ Louisville, v. Pittsburgh, @ Georgetown, v. UConn, @ Marquette Predicted Record: 20-11 (9-9)
Pomeroy Predicted Record: 19-12 (8-10)
PHSports Game-by-Game Prediction: W-L-W-L-W-L-L-L
PHSports Predicted Record: 19-12 (8-10)
How far must the Irish go at MSG? A run to the finals, and perhaps winning it because of their poor OOC schedule

South Florida (15-7, 5-5)
RPI: 48
Pomeroy Rank: 66
Remaining Schedule: @ Notre Dame, @ Marquette, v. Cincinnati, v. St. John's, @ Villanova, v. Providence, @ DePaul, v. UConn Predicted Record: 20-10 (10-8)
Pomeroy Predicted Record: 19-11 (9-9)
PHSports Game-by-Game Prediction: L-L-L-W-L-W-W-L
PHSports Predicted Record: 18-12 (8-10)
If the Bulls go 9-9 or better, will they be in with a pre-round win? Honestly, it depends on how the teams that USF beat perform the rest of the way. If they finish 10-10, they are in.

Marquette (14-8, 5-5)
RPI: 65
Pomeroy Rank: 18
Remaining Schedule: @ Providence, v. South Florida, v. Pitt, @ Cincinnati, @ St. John's, @ Seton Hall, v. Louisville, v. Notre Dame Predicted Record: 19-11 (10-8)
Pomeroy Predicted Record: 20-10 (11-7)
PHSports Game-by-Game Prediction: W-W-L-L-W-L-W-W
PHSports Predicted Record: 19-11 (10-8)
Can Marquette get in with a loss in their first game at the Garden? Yes.

Cincinnati (14-8, 5-5)
RPI: 50
Pomeroy Rank: 69
Remaining Schedule: v. Syracuse, @ UConn, @ South Florida, v. Marquette, v. DePaul, @ West Virginia, v. Villanova, @ Georgetown Predicted Record: 16-14 (7-11)
Pomeroy Predicted Record: 17-13 (8-10)
PHSports Game-by-Game Prediction: L-L-W-W-W-L-L-L
PHSports Predicted Record: 17-13 (8-10)
How far must Cincinnati go to be among the last four teams in? Semifinals of the Big East Tournament

UConn (13-9, 3-6)
RPI: 52
Pomeroy Rank: 47
Remaining Schedule: v. DePaul, @ Syracuse, v. Cincinnati, @ Villanova, @ Rutgers, v. West Virginia, v. Louisville, @ Notre Dame, @ South Florida Predicted Record: 18-13 (8-10)
Pomeroy Predicted Record: 18-13 (8-10)
PHSports Game-by-Game Prediction: W-L-W-L-W-L-W-W-W
PHSports Predicted Record: 19-12 (9-9)
What if UConn finishes 8-10 in conference? How many wins do they need in the Big East Tournament? 1 or 2, depending on how the rest of the field shapes up

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Drew Brees or Peyton Manning: Who Dat???

So...who ya got???

Quarterbacks are generally the stars of their teams, so there's no real surprise why I'm coming to you from this angle (check the poll to the top right of the page).
However, it's still a fun question to ask. So we will. On our own terms, of course.
So...who do YOU think will come up bigger in Super Bowl XLIV???

No need to explain, unless you got the stones to comment. (Yeah, consider that a double-dog dare.) Just vote.

In the end, it's like choosing between Friday Night Lights' two resident hotties: Lyla Garrity (aka Mrs. Soon-to-be Jeter) or Tyra Collette. Do you really lose either way?

Tyra or Lyla??? In the end, you can't lose.

Minka or Adrianne???
Man, this decision may be the tougher one than deciding between two MVP-caliber quarterbacks.
Minka or Adrianne???

Time to dwell on that one a little longer...

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Age Old Debate: Who's #1???

There are four teams that are vying for #1 in the polls, various power rankings, and in the minds (not necessarily hearts) of America's college basketball electorate.

One of them is a team I have a particular fondness for. Duh.

Kris Joseph. You want me to depend nightly on Kris Joseph? Seriously? Seriously!?!?

Entering the season, I had tempered expectations. Maybe not to the tune of the Big East coaches - the Cuse were ranked preseason #6 - although I can't admit I figured them for such an impressive 22-1 start.

If you would have asked me which 5 issues were most pressing to the 2009-2010 edition of the Syracuse Orange, I might've sounded similar to this:
A) How do we replace three of our top contributors from last season (Flynn, Devendorf, & Harris) during a tougher-than-usual non-conference schedule?
B) Is Andy Rautins ready to be the on-court leader of this team?

C) Can Arinze Onuaku stay healthy during Big East play?

D) Who is this team's point guard and further more...who on Earth is the backup?

E) I've heard enough talk. How good is Wesley Johnson going to seriously be?

Fortunately, answers weren't as difficult as I thought they'd be. Even after the humiliation of exhibition losses to Le Moyne.

Rather than compiling answers on all 5, I'd be lying if I didn't admit the first question has lingered throughout the season first and foremost, until recently that is. The concept of addition by subtraction - especially with Devendorf and Harris - never rang so true for me.

A lot of eligibility was left on the table. Funny thing is, maybe their leaving (Devendorf, Flynn, & Harris) was the best thing for everyone involved. Even the Orange.

Devendorf and Harris were extremely gifted players, although the game didn't flow so smoothly through either of them. Devendorf was far too erratic off and on the court (to say the very least); meanwhile, Harris relied on physical talent, but lacked the mental toughness to ever truly be a standout. Both of them seemed to hinder the team as much as they helped it at times. Flynn was as talented a PG as this PG-rich school had ever seen. Problem was, he was a shoot-first point guard who didn't play a lick on defense. As soon as he was off, the team was in a funk they couldn't recover. Although I'll never forget their heart during Six in the City. Never.

Top Pro: The 2-3 zone looks as effective as it did in 2003.
Johnny Flynn, unlike Paul Harris or Eric Devendorf, certainly wasn't addition by subtraction on the offensive end. On defense though, Flynn isn't missed at all. Triche is strong and sturdy and Andy Rautins had better be a 1st-team Big East defender. The top of the zone is steady as a rock right now. Meanwhile, the post is clogged regularly by the extremely long and athletic Johnson, alongside big-men Onuaku and Jackson. Enter Kris Joseph's versatility and Jardine's quick hands and quicker feet and the Orange may be the best defensive team in the Big East. A far, far cry from a season ago.

Top Con: Depth. 7 deep and an injury away from trouble.
Pay already hinted at it earlier and he couldn't have been more right. Fortunately for Boeheim and Orange fans, their top 7 is pretty stacked. Especially if the duo of Jardine/Triche continues to play well at the point and Kris Joseph remains one of the nation's top reserves. I can't believe I just said that. If if I had to be picky, I wouldn't mind 5-6 minutes a night for Mookie Jones. Then again...

In the end, there's still far too much to learn in the next six-or-so weeks before tournament time officially begins. Nevertheless, I hope I can enjoy a few more of these from #4 along the way...

Monday, February 01, 2010

If You Were Wondering Why The ACC Ranks Highly, Look No Further Than Defense

Sometimes, the ACC often gets a bad rep for being a soft conference. When coaches and fans alike think soft, they think that a team cannot play defense. Au contraire, mon frere.

Entering Monday's play, the ACC had a whopping 7 of the 20 best defensive teams (by adjusted defensive efficiency).

Florida State 1st
Clemson 3rd
Georgia Tech 6th
Virginia Tech 11th
Wake Forest 16th
Duke 17th (despite committing zero stops against Georgetown on Saturday)
Maryland 20th

In comparison with other conferences using the same standard, the Big XII (Kansas, Texas, Missouri - all in the top 9) and the Big Ten (Wisconsin, Purdue, Minnesota) have 3 teams each.

BracketBuster Breakdown

Earlier this evening, the ESPNU BracketBusters were announced. Call me biased, but 5 of the 11 televised matchups include teams from the Colonial Athletic Association.

Top Matchup:
Siena @ Butler

Who has the most to gain?
Siena followed closely by Old Dominion

What will the CAA need to do in televised matchups to stake a claim at a 2nd bid?
Win 4 of 5 including Old Dominion @ Northern Iowa

What will the MVC need to do in televised matchups to get a 2nd bid?
Winning 2 of 3 televised matchups and 8 of 10 overall

How many BracketBuster participants will make the tournament? How many tournament games will the competition's participants win this year?
If a reprise of 2006 or something familiar does not occur, then this competition will continue to lack luster. We think Butler and Northern Iowa have a great chance to win a game, and we anticipate two more will. Sadly, this will be more like 2009 (3 wins) rather than 2006 (12 wins; 1 Final Four team, 3 Sweet Sixteen teams).