Wednesday, November 18, 2009

After 24 hours, it’s clear that this season is up for grabs

True, it’s just November but if you can read anything from the first 24 hours of the NCAA basketball season it would be that it’s even more up for grabs than usual. What makes college hoops so great is that even a powerhouse is not a sure thing to win the tournament (top seeds have won 58% of the time since 85’). Even though North Carolina was a consensus pick last year, there aren’t any Florida Gators (unanimous pick to win NCG at the beginning of the year) in hoop this year. Kansas is a solid number one to start the year, and not just because they were a rim away from losing to an unranked Memphis team, but many writers see four or five schools just as talented and just as worthy to wear the crown. With the mass talent depletion the NBA draft had on the conferences last year one could arguer that the talent is down, but I disagree. What you do have is more parity and rest assured there won’t be any teams rolling into the dance 32-3 this year. All in all it’s good for the game and emphasizes what makes the game great and their ‘playoff system’ (please take notes football) the greatest even in sports. Let us know who you think is the best team in the country out of the blocks here and in any of the quick links:

here is the top 25 to start the season:
AP Top 25
1. Kansas (58) 0-0 1,616
2. Michigan State (5) 0-0 1,520
3. Texas (1) 0-0 1,412
4. Kentucky (1) 0-0 1,370
5. Villanova 0-0 1,353
6. North Carolina 2-0 1,301
7. Purdue 0-0 1,297
8. West Virginia 0-0 1,139
9. Duke 0-0 1,078
10. Tennessee 0-0 938
11. Butler 0-0 859
12. Connecticut 0-0 830
13. California 2-0 792
14. Washington 0-0 783
15. Michigan 0-0 598
15. Ohio State 2-0 598
17. Oklahoma 0-0 490
18. Dayton 0-0 372
19. Georgetown 0-0 358
20. Louisville 0-0 344
21. Georgia Tech 0-0 320
22. Clemson 0-0 265
23. Illinois 0-0 261
24. Minnesota 0-0 170
25. Maryland 0-0 167
Who got left out of the top 25? Who is overrated? Let us know here and in any of the quick links:

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tar Heels have all the mo’ in Motown

I gotta admit, I was starting to drink the punch like everyone else and starting to think that this had all the components of the Villanova/Georgetown upset. That despite getting blown out in their first meeting that the Spartans were a different team, rested, motivated, with 60,000 supporters at their back, ready to give us one of the most memorable tournament finals in history on the 30 year anniversary of night that began their history. Surely this was fate, karma, prophecy, and destiny, but someone forgot to tell North Carolina as the ‘Heels handed out a beatdown that worse than the 300 Spartans received at the hands of the Persians. At least that band of brothers won a couple of skirmishes before succumbing to the pressure, this group simply froze in the Detroit snow and on the big stage at one point having more turnovers than points in the first half. Facing the biggest half-time deficit in the history of the NCAA tournament the last hope of the State faithful, and holders of the ‘nose bleed’ seats that they purchased/were given just to say they were there, had quickly diminished as the Spartans were down 16, with the ball and a chance to make Roy Williams call a timeout, promptly turned the ball over on consecutive trips, bringing the lead back to 20 and it was time to go back out into the snow. But enough of the failings of the Green Army and more of the domination of Carolina Blue, as the team that finished the year where it started, at number one, looked like they had been there before, exerting the pressure rather than being overwhelmed by it. It was clear they were on a mission to take the crowd out of the game early, put their foot on the necks of the Spartans and not let them back up. Lead by Tyler Hansbrough’s leadership, who would not let them get rattled as the Spartans took the floor, to a roar louder than what the Lion’s receive, or parlay it into some early game momentum. The Tar Heels compellation of talent who under the admission of Tom Izzo, “had more NBA ready players”, provided ‘psycho T’ with the championship ring (dividend check) he returned to Chapel Hill for his Senior season for. Kudos to Roy and the ‘Heels as they climb the ladder of NC’s with their sites on Kentucky, the next in line, perhaps it will be another 23 years to our next ‘feel good’ championship story. See all the NCAA, NBA and other Hoop news on the Smacchat Basketball Home Page.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Carolina attempts to hold off the Green Army

The stage is set, the largest crowd ever to see an ncaa championship game live (72k) and approximately 60k of them are Michigan State fans. As much as I want to see a good game this a bit of a home court advantage that the finals have never seen. North Carolina appeared to be bequeathed an invitation to this game at the beginning of the year, and have rolled through the tournament to this point, but if the heels can overcome a green wave sixty-thousand strong, they have lived up to all of the hype. Is this year’s final going to be competitive, a blowout, or an upset? Let us know here and in the blog and NCAA chat rooms.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Four worthy finalist remain, who will be left standing?

As the scene shifts to the motor city and sixty one schools are reduced to keg drinkin’, cheerleader chasin’, finals fakin’ students, four are still sweating (or playing craps) with a chance to cut the nets, NC, Nova’, State, and Uconn. The number one seeds, NC and UCONN, everyone expected to be here. The ‘Heels have spend the most time on top of the polls has any team this year (often unanimous #1), and increasing their legend as appearing in the most final fours. Uconn was also expected to be here with their potent inside outside game, but could are susceptible to foul trouble then they are much more manageable. Then there’s Nova, whom after a shaky first game have looked as good as anyone, but the most balanced team still dancin’. However with all of this talent, muscle, and speed, the great equalizer will be 50 of the 70 thousand fans in attendance cheering for the team that will be sleeping in their own beds 57 miles away. The Michigan St. Spartans will be hosting this years final four in one of the greatest examples of ‘the luck of the draw’ known to mankind, or just the greed of the NCAA to host the finals in a place so close to one campus. No matter how many tickets were allotted to each school by the time the final buzzer was sounded, they were all ready waiting in line for tics. Now it’s State’s tournament to lose as having more people screaming for them than do the Lions, Izzo knows even outmanned they could still be the team to beat. Who is your pick to win it all? Let us know here and in the NCAA Chat Rooms and Team Rooms.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Villanova plays one for the ages, again

It took 23 years but Villanova may have just played a more entertaining game than they did in the “upset of the century” in the 85’ final vs. Georgetown. The East Regional Final between (1) Pittsburgh and (3) Villanova is already being spoken in same breath as UK/Duke, NC/Georgetown, and NC State/Houston, some of the greatest college tournament games ever. This game not only had lead changes, momentum swings, and high stakes, but it was well played with few mistakes and great fundamentals. Nova answered that amazing shooting night over two decades ago with a similar performance from the line (22/23) that made all the difference in a 78-76 win. The third meeting between the two this year was for all the marbles. It was physical. It was defensive. It was just the way they like it in the Big East. After the game was tied at 30, no team would lead by more than six points the rest of the way. It was duress for the basketball fan and probably heart failure for supporters of the teams. An amazing game but now the rest of the final four is going to have a lot to live up to.

Battle of the Tigers provide plenty of gouging of the nets

After 40 minutes of shredding the nets as well as each other the Tigers from Memphis and Mizzou put up a regulation total of 193 total points as Missouri upset the National Runners Up from last year. Memphis who were winners of 27 straight games was on a mission to meet UCONN and defend their notion that they were snubbed of a number one seed, were derailed on the way to OK corral by a Mizzou team that battled from the opening tip, dominating the first half en route to opening up a 24-point lead (which they almost let slip away). The story of this game, as it was in last year’s finals, was the charity stripe. If Memphis ever learned how to shoot the ball straight, from 15 feet away, with NO ONE in their face, they would have one National Title to their credit and would be on their way to the Elite Eight this year. Let us know your thoughts here and in the NCAA Team Rooms and Chat Rooms

Nova, Big East continue to roll, and roll over anyone that gets in their way

Villanova has looked like a worthy component of the final four after rolling through the ghost of final four’s past (UCLA, DUKE) with 20-point wins in both, they actually got their toughest game from American University in round one where they found themselves down by 14. Nova’ has been one of the many representatives attempting to turn the Elite Eight into the Big East block party, and for good reason. As much as you don’t want to see NCAA hoops circum to the bias we see in the BCS with the SEC, but there is no refuting the conference dominance in the tournament thus far. There is much more to go, but you gotta’ count on The Ville’ taking care of biz-nis’ against Arizona who could not even advance in the Pac-10 tournament, finished 6th in the conference, and are the ONLY representative of the conference left in dance. Cuse’ has their hands full with Griffin and the Sooners in what will be a great game to watch but a tough ticket for the Orange to punch. Either way Nova’ and the East have sent their message and it well received.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Top Seeds adhere to warning and take care of business in round two

The big dogs flexed their muscle on Saturday after many were pushed to the limit over the preceding two days. Memphis (down 6 with 6 to Cal State Nortridge the ‘red headed’ stepchild to UCLA and USC) came back and looked like the school one ‘hail mary 3’ away from a National Championship and poised get back, as they disposed of Maryland in a game that was not as close as the score. Oklahoma battled with Clemson, never really enforced their will or superiority down low before pulling out a 3-point win. However, despite Michigan playing their best game of the year, looked like a team that spent most of the season in the top five with a double digit win. Lastly, Villanova should have been watching round two from a hotel room after being down 14 points to mighty American University but outscored the Eagles by 27 in the second half and then made UCLA, the three-time Final Four participants, look soft inside and slow on the perimeter, never trailing the entire game and rolling to a 20-point win. The jury is still out to see how Pittsburgh responds after being tested by ETSU. The flip side has been the dominance of top seeds North Carolina and UCONN with impressive wins in both preliminary contest looking worthy to take their respective regions. Will Memphis get their day in hoops court to vindicate their #2 seeding by taking out UCONN, with Lawson back can anyone knock off NC? Who has looked the best after two games? Let us know here and in NCAA chat rooms.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Strike up the band, it’s time to start dancin’

Now that the last student has left the court after a post game celebration, and the tears have been shed after a bubble was burst, the brackets have been selected, now let the rhetoric begin. Which bubble team got snubbed San Diego St., St. Mary's? Who should not have gotten in, Arizona? How did the Big-10 get 7 teams in? Memphis is the returning National Finalist and only lost THREE games, how are they not a number one? How do you think the bracket should have looked? Talk about it here and in the NCAA Tournament Chat rooms.

Midwest Region

1 Louisville - 16 Alabama St/Morehead St
8 Ohio State - 9 Siena
5 Utah - 12 Arizona
4 Wake Forest - 13 Cleveland St
6 West Virginia - 11 Dayton
3 Kansas - 14 North Dakota St.
7 Boston College - 10 USC
2 Michigan St. - 15 Robert Morris
West Region

1 UCONN - 16 Chattanooga
8 BYU - Texas A & M
5 Purdue - 12 Northern Iowa
4 Washington - 13 Mississippi St.
6 Marquette - 13 Utah State
3 Missouri - 14 Cornell
7 California - 10 Maryland
2 Memphis - 15 Cal State Northridge
East Region

1 Pittsburgh - 16 Eastern Tenn State U
8 Oklahoma St - 9 Tennessee
5 Florida St. - 12 Wisconsin
4 Xavier - 13 Portland St.
6 UCLA - 11 VCU
3 Villanova - 14 American University
7 Texas - 10 Minnesota
2 Duke - 15 Binghamton
South Region

1 North Carolina - 16 Radford
8 LSU - 9 Butler
5 Illinois - 12 Western Kentucky
4 Gonzaga - 13 Akron
6 Arizona St - 11 Temple
3 Syracuse - 14 Stephen F. Austen
7 Clemson - 10 Michigan
2 Oklahoma - 15 Morgan State

Sunday, March 8, 2009

First tickets issued for spring dance, VIP ticks next week

Selections for the greatest event in sports have begun with early invitations being sent out to conference winners that don’t have a tourney and the mid-majors that have completed theirs. Early attendees include:

Cornell………….Morehead St………E. Tenn St. …………..Radford
With more to come each day until the commencement of ‘Selection Sunday’ on March 12, where the VIP passes to the top seeds will be announced. Last year’s “all for one” final four where all top seeds made it to the finals for the first time in history was the quintessential example of how important it is to stay close to home. In a year where we have seen the top spot changed hands almost more than any other it is even more important as parity in the NCAA becomes the norm rather than the exception. Looking ahead the schools that seemed poised to take down the 4 VIP tickets are;

Pittsburgh – Two wins over the top seed in one year and 28-3 in the toughest conference should only need to show up in the Big East tourney to claim their prize.
North Carolina – After easily disposing of Duke to claim the ACC title, they too should just need to drive to the first round game, check in, without a car accident and notch a top seed in the South.
Oklahoma – Squeaked out a win over Ok St. to close the season but a 26-3 record (one loss coming without the services of Blake Griffin) will fit nicely into the third number one spot but will need to win at least one game in the Big-12 Tournament.
Uconn/Memphis – Uconn could have easily punched their ticket with a win over the afore mentioned Pitt Panthers but now must win a couple of games in the Big East Tournament to secure the last top gun position. On their heels are the Memphis Tigers who were supposed to be “rebounding” after their heartbreak finals loss last year but have impressively made a strong run. Unfortunately playing in a weaker conference hurts them this year and only a tourney win coupled with a Uconn stumble gets them the top seed. Just the same, how impressive have the Tigers been just to get back to where they were? Who are your top seeds? Let us know here and in the NCAA Tournament Chat rooms.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Pittsburgh fails in ‘rush to judgment’

Similar to rivalry week, the self proclaimed “Judgment Week’ started off with a thunderous roar as the defending national champions rolled into Norman and took down the “Griffinless” Sooners despite a fervent comeback. Tuesday he top ranked team in the nation got rolled in Rhode Island faster than took to drive through it. On the strength of a 44-26 first half lead the Friars preached defense and held on to an eight point win. The stat of the game may have been the foul trouble of DeJuan Blair and some questionable calls in the second half. Pittsburgh is the fifth team to reach the pinnacle this season only to fall off the top. Only NC and Uconn have managed a winning record during their stay as number one this year. With seven games on Wednesday and nine on Thursday there promises to be more shakeups to come this week. It’s not going to far out on a limb to call that last year’s first of all of the top seeds making it to the dance surely will not happen this year. In fact, look for probably two, if that, to advance to the final four based on what we’ve seen at the top of the table thus far. Who will be the last man standing? Let us know here and in the NCAA chat rooms.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Rivalries delivering memorable week

As if March Madness needed any momentum it continues to pick up steam as ‘Rivalry Week’ continues to deliver close and exciting games, and if this is a preview of what to expect in a few weeks, then don’t miss a single round. The week started off with a Pittsburgh looking like a top seed as they took care of a persistent West Virginia club by 11 and Missouri came back to upset the defending National Champions Kansas, 62-20 in the “border war”, as DeMarre Carroll dropped 22. Tuesday showcased numbers 12 and 13 matching up as Nova’ upset Marquette at home by 20, and Mich St. and Michigan hooked up again with the Spartans leading from start to finish. It wasn’t a ‘Red River Shootout’ but Texas looked awfully good against Ok. State. Surprisingly, in the SEC they play basketball as well, and watch out for sleepers like Kentucky (18-3) who played a back-n-forth game with the Gators and won by 3 in the last minute. The headliner took place at Cameron Indoor as North Carolina put the cuffs on Duke in the final 10 minutes, and dropped a century spot on them 101-87, winning going away to take over first place in the ACC and hush the naysayers who thought they peaked too early. Out west there’s a 6 v 16 matchup with UCLA and AZ St. in a rematch of the Devil’s upset win at Pauly Pavilion earlier this year. Did this week change your mind about who the top seeds are, or is it too early to call? Let us know here and in the NCAA chat rooms.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Political season will begin early for this year's dance

Just when the BCS has come under the most scrutiny since it’s inception (truly from the top down), the NCAA tournament will give the ‘pro BCS’ some fire because there will be many maidens ‘dateless’ for this year’s dance, and with a solid argument. Is it too early to call some “bubble teams”? The fact that no one can take ownership of the top spot is a harbinger that this March may be the maddest one ever. Add the balance of talent into the mix, cook on ‘high intensity’ for 3 weeks and you’ve got the making of a tournament that will have upsets in every round. Look at some the records of the top mid majors; Vermont at 16-6, could lose the America East Conf. after a solid body of work and not get in. Here are some others that may find themselves on a soapbox lobbying for a ticket and all will be 20-game winners; Dayton 20-2, Xavier 19-2,Northern Iowa 17-6, Illinois St. 18-4, Creighton 17-7, San Diego State 16-5, East Tenn St. 16-6, Virginia Military 17-4, Liberty 16-7, Charleston 16-5, Vir Com. 16-6, George Mason 16-6, and Saint Mary’s 18-3, and we haven’t even brought the major conferences into the conversation yet! Is the Big 10 going to send six in a year where they don’t have a team in the top 10? If not, are you going to keep Ohio State out at 16-5? Oh and almost every conference has a similar scenario, so maybe the BCS won’t be the only system under fire this year. What do you believe the reason for the parity is this year? Weak non-conference schedules? The very top being much better than the middle of the pack? Let us know here and in the NCAA chat rooms. Here is what is on tap for Wednesday:

9:00 PM ET Texas A&M at No. 2 Oklahoma
9:00 PM ET No. 3 Duke at No. 10 Clemson
7:30 PM ET No. 6 Wake Forest at Miami (FL)
10:30 PM ET USC at No. 12 UCLA
8:30 PM ET No. 19 Minnesota at No. 14 Michigan State
9:00 PM ET No. 15 Memphis at Southern Methodist
8:00 PM ET No. 16 Villanova at Providence
9:30 PM ET Missouri at No. 17 Texas
7:00 PM ET West Virginia at No. 20 Syracuse

Friday, January 30, 2009

Top seed changes once again

The “musical chairs” carrousel surrounding the top spot in the AP poll will surely change again this Monday after Wake Forest knocked off the newest claim to the throne, Duke on Wednesday. This will certainly be the pattern for the next month, leading into the madness that is the big dance. If the conference tournaments follow through with their promise to be the deciding factor in determining the top four seeds, then nothing is going to be decided for a while. In the meantime will do not have a dominant school, but we do have a dominant conference, the ACC. With NC, Duke, and Wake, not necessarily in that order, they have proven to be best top to bottom in the nation this year. Now will they follow in the footsteps of the SEC in football where the chinks in the armor became prevalent during bowl season, remains to be seen. Until then, no one would object to two number 1’s and perhaps a second seed, coming from one conference. Who do you think is the best conference? Who would be your new top team? Let us know here and in the Ncaa chatrooms.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A month away from March and the madness is starting already

Ok, now that league play has started and everyone sees that North Carolina is not ready to join the NBA, we can get an idea of what the brackets may look like come March. As we have seen two #1’s fall (NC and Pitt) and wait to see how long Duke can reign on top, it will be interesting to see what other contenders can survive their conference in order to hang on to a number one seed. The conference tournaments, that have often eclipsed a team’s regular season body of work, will be critical to capture one of the four top seeds this year. There is a lot of basketball still to be played but as of now here is the top 25:

1. Wake Forest 16-0
2. Duke 16-1
3. UConn 16-1
4. Pittsburgh 16-1
5. North Carolia 16-2
6. Oklahoma 17-1
7 Michigan St. 15-2
8. Syracuse 17-2
9. Louisville 13-3
10. Clemson 16-1
11. Marquette 16-2
12. Georgetown 12-4
13. UCLA 14-3
14. Texas 13-4
15. Xavier 15-2
16. Butler 16-1
17. Arizona St. 15-3
18. Purdue 14-4
19. Notre Dame 12-5
20. Villanova 14-3
21. Minnesota 16-2
22. Memphis 14-3
23. Gonzaga 12-4
24. Florida 16-2
25. Illinios