Sunday, December 26, 2010

Plenty of schools waiting, not so patiently, in line for Duke to fall

Now that we’re almost through the holidays it’s time for conference play to begin and see if anyone in the ACC can take out Duke. They may make it through the conference but there are plenty of candidates that have also made it through the pre-season tournaments and sleeper games where the students aren’t quite as loud, unbeaten and make their own case for being the best in the nation.

Ohio State (10-0) – A very impressive 10-0 record but only one win over a ranked opponent leads many to question whether the Buckeyes are for real, and they won’t really be tested until January 9th when they host #16 Minnesota, other than that, they don’t get a road test until Jan 22 when they travel to Illinois.

Kansas (10-0) – We’re still not quite sure what to make of Kansas as they can easily handle a very athletic Memphis(#14) team by 13 points but need the aid of a terrible call to beat an unranked UCLA team at home by 1, and also struggle to beat an unranked USC team by 2. Despite how their play can oscillate from one extreme to another don’t be surprised to see them sitting at 16-0 when they travel to Baylor but they had better be swigging near the top for that game.

UCONN (8-0) Big East play will not be an easy in itself and Calhoun’s struggles may have actually galvanized the team, and they’ll need to be together if they’re going to be able to travel into the “pit at Pitt” and get a win over the #6 Panthers. Already set up to be the game of the year in the Big East, it will be a great litmus test for both schools but more so for the Panthers who have not beaten an top 10 school so far this year.

San Diego State (12-0) Is it too early to talk of tournament Cinderellas? Probably so, but these guys are athletic, fun to watch, and they have a school excited that normally has nothing to cheer for this time of year. They will not get the respect they deserve as they’re only win versus a ranked opponent came at the expense of Gonzaga (#12 at the time) who is now nowhere to be found in the top 25 at 7-5 despite knocking off Baylor ( #9) last week, and if you still don’t know who they are you may not get a chance to see them play until March when they may just be a top seed. Now if you could stop laughing for just a minute you would see that they don’t play a ranked opponent the rest of the way and could very likely be a 2 or 3-loss team going into the dance and do I dare say …….unbeaten?

The Big-East firing squad of Syracuse (11–0), Pitt (11-1), and Georgetown (10-1) is this taking us back to the days of Patrick Ewing and Chris Mullen? All of these schools can and will give Duke problems come tournament time IF they don’t beat each other up too much before then. Unfortunately for all of them they play in the Big East which means no one will stay unbeaten for very long and will all have a couple of blemishes on their record come tournament time but they will all be battle tested and ready to go deep into the field.
Can you see Duke, or anyone else going unbeaten? Let us know here and in any of the quick links.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Schools look to stop Duke from repeating but no one from the West is on the radar

If you look at the top-25 to start the season as we’re six games in there are some things that you expect to see, such as Duke sitting atop the polls and bogarting all the first place votes in both polls and Tom Izzo and his green army looking to get back to another Final Four, but what is a total surprise is that six games into the new season there is only one school west of the Mississippi in the top TWENTY and they’re not even from the Pac-10. No powerhouse that starts 3 seniors, no sleeping giant like Gonzaga, waiting in the wings, just San Diego State sitting at 6-0. So what happened West Coat hoops? It’s one thing to claim East Coast Bias but you can’t make a case for being snubbed come tournament time and not have on team of substance to make a case. Now I know this is not the NBA and you don’t bring back a starting five from a playoff team but the flipside to that coin is that you can go from worst to first one good recruiting class so there is no reason to not be in the mix two years in a row. Conversely, to say that Duke just re-loaded would be an understatement as they may be better than they were last season and getting a chance to see Kyrie Irving and Nolan Smith play it’s amazing how they seem to be able to ‘select’ rather than ‘recruit’ each year. But if they are going to repeat it certainly won’t be easy and the remaining top five teams of Ohio St., Pitt, Kansas, and K State are no strangers to competitive play and have the strength of schedule to back up their undefeated records. So what to expect from the rest? Well, OSU has only had one game against a top 10 opponent (#10 Florida) and won’t face one until next year when conference play begins and they host Tubby Smith and Minnesota. Now if Pittsburgh gets through December after facing Texas (#22), Tenn (#17), and UCONN(#9) and still has a zero in on the right side of the ledger then they’ll be number two and stealing some votes from Duke if they haven’t jumped over them by that time. KU escaped at home against UCLA and was almost caught ahead looking towards Memphis but after that they should be able to stay up near the top as they won’t play a ranked school until well into January. KState has already had their litmus test and failed miserably vs. Duke last week and will need wins against Florida(#16) and UNLV (#23) to get back in the talk of the best in the nation. The good thing about hoops is, (and you know where this is going), than unlike their kinsport football the season is all about seeding and we’ll get a chance to settle this on the court with no speculation or conjecture. In the meantime hopefully we’ll get a chance to see what the tournament has in store for us with more games like the Missouri/Georgetown TO thriller. Which schools have been overlooked so far this season? Can anyone challenge Duke? Let us know here and in any of the quick links.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

David and Goliath couldn’t do this game justice

Now that everyone’s bracket has folded into eighths, torn up, and thrown in the air we can all actually sit back and enjoy what should be a great NCAA Championship Final. This game could easily go down in folk lore with Lorenzo Charles and NC State, Harold Jensen and Villanova, or Danny and the Miracles as one of the greatest games/upsets in history, or it could be banished to the depths fugue with the likes of Duke/Michigan in 92’. But if this turns out to be a close game, regardless of the eventual winner, then both the film Hoosiers and the book “The Greatest Game Ever Played” will both have to be recalled and some of their text changed because we would have seen witnessed the next Queen Cinderella. Ok, now back to reality. Duke has done exactly what a top-seed needs to do to hoist the trophy, mainly play their best ball of the year right around tournament time. They have rolled some very tough, and not so tough teams over the past month including winning their conference tournament. The only two things that would concern me as a Duke fan would be that they may have played their best game of the year in the semis and can’t expect to shoot as well from 3 in the final as they did on Saturday (52%), and the tidal wave of momentum that Butler is riding coming into a final that is stationed six miles from their campus. If there is anyone who bought a seat over the past 12 months thinking their school would be there will be a Butler cheering fool come Monday night creating a very tough place to play, even for a school as season as Duke. That’s what makes the mathup worthy as something better than the cliché, and if the home town boys can pull of a miracle then we’ll need to create a new one. Can the Bulldogs pull off the upset? Let us know here and in any of the quick links.
Chat live with fans from both schools in our In-Game Chat Rooms here

Saturday, March 27, 2010

As if the tourney can any better, the regional finals present great matchups

(1)Duke vs. (3) Baylor -When the brackets were announced my pundits believed Duke had the easiest path to Indianapolis, even before the wrath of the upsets. Now the Devils are in position to make prophets out of them as only Baylor stands in their way with every intension of shaking up people’s brackets even more. Ironically, Duke’s victory over the “Hummeless” Boilermakers was their first over a team ranked higher than 5 since 2004, coincidentally their last appearance in the Elite 8. On the flipside, Baylor has got to be the most disrespected 28-win, 3 seed, in the past decade, The Big-12 has earned plenty of ‘street cred’ in this tournament placing two team in the final 8, and Baylor finished second to only Kansas (may they rest in piece), so they’re used to tough competition and we think they’re going to surprise Duke.

(5) Michigan State vs. (6) Tennessee – Now it’s official that both participants on one side of the final four will be at least a 5 seed, and these are not “George Masons” as the Spartans are the only Final Four team from last year that’s still dancing this year, and Tennessee has overcome numerous adversity, much of which was their own doing, but baring that hiatus where they certainly would have won more games during the regular season and they still won 28. Obviously, both teams come in riding a lot of momentum but have had their lapses in the tournament as well, as the Vols busted brackets with an upset over second-seeded Ohio State, hard to believe the way they barley beat a very mediocre San Diego State team by 3 in their first game. Meanwhile State had to overcome a 7-point halftime deficit against a very disciplined UNI team. This game’s tough to call as there not as polarizing as the other matchups in regards to a consensus favorite. We look for this one come down to the final possessions but think Tennessee might be a little light after they go to the bench and like State’s tournament experience to come through as they win a close one.

(2)Kansas State vs. (5)Butler – Coming off the game of the tournament, a double-overtime thriller against Xavier the only question here is how much gas will they have left in the tank. The advantage for the Cats is that Butler isn’t an up-n-down fast breaking team that will pressure them 94 by 50. However the BDogs have shown they can create problems of a different sort when their outside game is working. Very underrated for their balance, if Butler can build a lead they take KState out of their game but we like the Wildcats because of their multiple scoring threats and tenacity on the boards.

(2)West Virginia vs. (1)Kentucky – The only 1 vs. 2 matchup in any of the regional finals also looks like the best game. The question going into the tournament was how would the youth of Kentucky handle the pressure of the tournament, particularly when they faced adversity of found themselves down by double digits or in crunch time. Well to this point no one has been able to put them in either of those positions but the Mounties may be the team to do it. They have both the size to match UK and the leadership to pull them through down the stretch. Once again, they will only go as far as their guard play will take them and unfortunately the loss of Daryll Bryant will be very evident in this one. We like Kentucky.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Are slippers going to break tonight?

(12)Cornell vs. (1)Kentucky – this game simply comes down to who can enforce their will on the other. If the BRed can slow the game down and do what they’ve been doing all year by hitting better than 40% from beyond the arch, they’ll either be in the lead or very close at the end of the game and their Senior leadership will take over. Unfortunately, that’s too many ifs for a John Calipari coached team with a week to prepare we like Kentucky.

(5)Butler vs. (1)Syracuse – Normally Cuse’ would be in big trouble with their big man out of the picture in a sweet 16 game but Butler’s game isn’t with an inside presence but rather from outside so they won’t really be able to take advantage of the situation. Kinda the same scenario as in the other 1-seed game, as the underdog is going to have to shoot well from outside if they’re going to stay in this one. Another marquis coach with a week to prepare breaks another slipper. Our pick Cuse’.

(11) Washington vs. (2) West Virginia – Losing Daryll Bryant will have more of an impact that people think, as it’s a fact that point guard play is tantamount to a successful tournament run and now Washington has a substantial edge with Pondexter and Thomas being able to control tempo and more importantly on the defensive end. We like Washington to pull off the first upset of the Sweet 16.

(6) Xavier vs. (2) Kansas State – KState came into the dance the second hottest team in the state of Kansas and now carry the flag for both the state and the conference as their inter-state rival was upset last week. They are one of the most complete teams in S16 and their need to be as so is Xavier, who is making their third straight appearance in the Regional Semis. If either of these teams were playing someone else they would probably be favored but as they both got a bad draw we like K State.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Are the Cinderella’s really wolves in sheep clothing?

As we approach the Sweet 16 this weekend much of the banter focuses on the number of high seeds still dancin’ and how exciting this is and good for the tournament. Even the Wall St. Journal is getting into the mix with an article Tuesday commenting on how the UK/Cornell matchup as “extremes at work”. Is this really the case or was the selection committee too enamored by the names on the front of some jerseys and the pedigree that accompanies them? Let’s look at the four teams that are considered the Cinderella party crashers more closely, and see if they’re peaking at the right time or if have just done a good job of slipping under the radar.

St. Mary’s (28-5 seeded 10th) may be the only true Cindy as they’re most impressive victory just happened last weekend over Villanova, prior to that their biggest win was a 2-point loss against Vanderbilt at home back in November. I realize they did beat Gonzaga in the conference tournament but they had lost to them twice prior and possibly would have been shut out of the dance for a second straight year had they not won it. This year’s performance certainly bolsters their argument from last year. They say you can’t expect a team to win the tournament if they haven’t won six in a row all season, well that’s what makes the Gaels so dangerous is, after the afore mentioned loss to Vandy, they have gone on win streaks of 8, 5, 6, and 7(current streak). When they go on runs their as good as anyone and most importantly, believe they can win.

Cornell (29-4) Playing in the Ivy League comes with many stereotypes both positive and negative. On the positive side no one would ever doubt your Basketball IQ, won’t expect you to ‘beat yourself”, bet that you’ll shoot free-throws well, and lastly will circle the schedule as a W in advance. That presumption cost many teams dearly this year as the Big-Red compiled 29 wins, and the mistake the selection committee made when they made them a 12 seed. But don’t forget this is also the team that pushed Kansas to the limit in THEIR building, and while on the subject of winning streaks has won 10, 8, and 9(current) in a row this season. This is what’s known in forensic accounting as a gross mis-representation as 12 seed equates to being at BEST the 48th best team in the nation, and Cornell was ranked in the top 25 during the year and received votes at the end of the year. We’re not doing triangular arbitrage here guys, we’re playing hoop and their body of work spoke for itself. I just wish I would have put my money where my mouth is because those were some healthy money lines on the Red during the first two games.

UNI (30-4 seeded 9) Ya know the committee gets what they deserve on this one. THIS SCHOOL WON 30 GAMES! If the dance has shown us one thing year in and year out it’s how tough it is to win 6 in a row on a neutral court, and how exposed some teams are that never travel for a tough non-conference game and insist that anyone that wants to play must come to their gym. I don’t care if they played in division II 30 wins is impressive and should be considered a formidable opponent. What this team does have that might go unseen is their senior leadership which is necessary to run the gauntlet of the NCAA tournament. I’m not saying that an upset of top-seeded Kansas was foreseeable, but it shouldn’t have been a question in the second round.

Washington (26-9) Don’t say a word, I know under section 12.B.1 in the Fairly Tail Code a team from a “power conference” can’t be a Cinderella, but I didn’t make them an 11 seed, so they go into the lot with the others and therefore eligible for my argument. That said, what ever they were partying with in the committee room, it must have been strong for them to put UW, winners of the Pac-10 tourney, down at an 11, 44th best in the nation, despite winning 26 games. It’s a bad draw for West Virginia as you get lucky to play a #11 in the Sweet 16 and you gotta’ figure they’re gonna be a dear in headlights, but the Huskies have been there before and will not get stage fright.

How many of the “Cindy’s” do you expect to move on if any? Let us know here, and in any of the quick links:

Monday, March 22, 2010

Aren’t you glad there’s no BCS in “Tournament”

A simple question, “how great has this tournament been so far?” And the funny thing is that the best is still to come. Now imagine if the BCS controlled the NCAA Basketball Tournament. Firstly, there would never be a Cornell or Northern Iowa because they wouldn’t have gotten in, even in a plus-1 format. We would never have the capriciousness of the annual 5/12 upset game like Temple, the drama of a 4/5 last second winner like Michigan State, or a team that would be ranked no higher than 52nd in the nation like Murray Sate (#13) within one basket of winning two games. Worst of all we would have Kansas and Villanova in the National Championship with nothing to say about it and the winner walking off with millions and the other 63 schools asking “what if”. AND IT ONLY TAKES 3 WEEKENDS! Damn, Ohio State has a month off every year before their bowl game! That is why this is the greatest event in all of sport, and every year it delivers. Once again we have some amazingly intriguing Sweet 16 matchups and with the top seed sobbing on the flatlands, it’s completely wide open. UNI/MSU – before this season most had not heard of Northern Iowa and I admit I had only seen them play once, but their in the mix against the only team that also participated in last year’s final four. TENN/OSU not the afore mentioned OSU football team that gets free passes to bowl games each year, the hoops team has worked and deserves their #2 seed but will have to give a better effort if they hope to beat a UT club that feels they have weathered the worst of storms to get here and are destined for greatness. Syr/But wow, a school from the “best conference” (wink) that is still playing! Butler has the longest winning streak going and this won’t be easy, even for someone from a Power Conference. Xavier/Kansas State a battle of two teams that possibly could have won their respective regions and screwed up everyone’s bracket but luck would have it they will face each other first. UK/Cornell does it get any more David vs. Goliath than this? The furthest advancement of an Ivy League school since Princeton and these guys are no fluke. They lead the nation in 3pt percentage and are very long. This would rival UK/Texas Western of “Glory Road” fame, better yet “Hoosiers”. West Virgina/Washington the Pac’s loan representative still standing who has already shown the committee they were wrong for tagging them with an 11 seed, now faces the winner of the BET. Duke/Purdue I guess the rumors of the Boilermakers demise was greatly exaggerated. As for Duke they’re better than anyone expected, and go figure they were a top seed. Baylor/St Mary’s in any other year the Gaels would be the media darlings of the dance but unfortunately they’re only one of three double digit schools playing that are the story of the year. I normally can’t wait until the next round of games begins but to be honest I need a week to recover, and then brace for the shocks that will surely come next week. I realize it’s barley been 60 days since the BCS championship (because they extend the bowl season so long) but if they’re done counting their money the BCS should tune in and see how it’s done.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

As most tear up thier brackets, remaining top seeds must adhere to warning

Kansas getting knocked off may be the shot in the arm many of the top schools needed, as if the National Championship wasn’t motivation enough, to wake and realize that they needed to bring their A-Game every night or they could be sent home. Syracuse and Duke, OSU, and WV are those on the hot seat today we’ll see how they respond. Here’s our preview of today’s games.

(8) Gonzaga vs. (1) Syracuse – I’ll tell ya the way the Big East is gettin’ played I’m not so quick to concede this game to the Orange. They have the better team on paper but there are some external factors like the short stretch between games. That shouldn’t be enough to make that big of a difference, but it may keep it close in the 2nd half. The Zags are 4-4 against teams in this year's tournament field; the Orange are 12-4 and that’s one of the reasons why we’ll take the orange.

(5) Mich St. vs. (4) Maryland – Finally a game most people had in their bracket. Seems like 4 and 5 seeds are an endangered species in this year’s dance but these are two good teams and this one will be close. An injured Chris Allen will be the difference as even if he plays he won’t be 100% so we like Maryland

(12) Cornell vs. (4) Wisconsin – I probably looking more forward to this game than any other. Should be a well played, discipline game that comes down to the end like so many others. Tough to call this one but The Big Red have eight seniors with three years of NCAA tournament experience. They lead the nation in 3-point shooting and have five regulars who shoot better than 42% from three. We’ve touted Wisconsin prior to the tournament here but we’re calling for the historical upset. Cornell.

(10) Georgia Tech vs. (2) Ohio State – The Jackets have their work cut out for them in this game and I for one am very skeptical of how they’re going to handle the Ohio State pressure. GT is going to need their best game of the year to win this one and save their coach’s job. But we don’t think they have it in them. We like OSU

(10) Missouri vs. (2) West Virginia – Another high seeded Big East team with enormous expectations takes the court after watching more of the conference brethren head back home. Will WV be the next to fall? After winning 7 games straight I’m not standing if fron t of this train.

(8) California vs. (1) Duke – The Bears come into the tournament on a roll after taking the winners of 10 of 12 as does Duke. With many of the marquis names disappointing thus far, this could be the game of the day. If Christopher can penetrate and dish to the Cal 3-point shooters then this could be another upset. I just can’t go out on a limb myself. There’s new motivation of the top seeds now that Kansas is out, I like Duke.
Get the complete NCAA tournament ODDS and betting lines for each game here.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Is the Big East becoming the “Big Easy?”

At the beginning of the tournament there was ubiquitous talk of the Big East returning to their ‘hayday’ of the 80’s when they had that incredible run and represented three of the final four teams. The Teens were supposed to begin that way as well but something happened on the way to Indy, half of the eight Big East teams lost, all were higher seeds, and one needed OT to take out a 15 seed. So that begs the question, is there even more parity than we knew existed or was the Big East a bunch of hot air? Well, we’ll have to finish out the weekend to get the answer to the first part of the question to see what percentage of the sweet sixteen the comprises, being that they utilized 6.23% of all of the invitations handed out. Now were not picking on the BE but if they weren’t tooting their own horn so many times thoughout the year they wouldn’t face so much scrutiny. But for all of the “smac” they laid on the Pac (10) to go 0 and Deuce is a mint flavored Nike, so fans of the “Big Easy” I hope you get your swagger back over the next two days. Here is the preview for Saturday.
(10) Saint Mary's vs. (2) Villanova – Speaking of the Big East, one of the main culprits of the poor showing was the afore mentioned Wildcats. Temporary suspensions, late game survival is hardly indicative of a top seed. However we’ve seen this from Nova’ before, mainly last year when American U pushed them to the limit then they came out and easily handled UCLA. So will this be the same against another So Cal school? We think so, but it will be close. Take Villanova.

(9) Wake Forest vs. (1) Kentucky – This is one of the games we wanted to see and are very curious how the kids from UK will do when they face a little adversity like finding themselves trailing in a game with 10 minutes to go. It’s a nice thought for Wake but they do have the guard play to stay in this one, just the same it’s about brackets and we like the Cats.

(7) BYU vs. (2) Kansas St. – Man, would this be an upset for the ages, but keep in mind the age and maturity of BYU, and the poise they’ll play with. But they’ll need to shoot their normal percentage from beyond the arch and neutralize the Wildcats’ athletic advantage. Much easier said than done, and we like the Purple Hawks in this one.

(13) Murray State vs. (5) Butler – I’m not sure if a 5-seed can be a Cinderella but if there was ever a top 20 team that will surprise people for making it up four spots to the Sweet 16, it’s Butler. This is a game many had in their brackets and should be one of the best games to watch on Saturday. That said, we do like the Bulldogs to gouge out a win.

(11) Washington vs. (3) New Mexico – No disrespect to the Lobos but shouldn’t these seeds be reversed. You can go back and check prior post if you like but we have been screaming that the Pac-10 was underrated and just because UCL A is home for the Spring doesn’t mean they don’t have some teams that can do some damage. Kudos to New Mexico for a great season and it may come down to the last possession but we like UW.

(14) Ohio vs. (6) Tennessee – Ok, I’m done pickin’ on the Big East but GTown got WORKED by these guys and I’m not sure if they used up all of their ammo in that game but if they come out with the same intensity as they did against the Hoyas then the Orange are in for a long day. However when all of the ether wears off you’ll see that it’s just a school that went 7-9 in a very easy league. All the same there’s something about em’ that I can’t figure and I think this is your first upset of the day. Welcome Ohio to the sweet 16.

(11) Old Dominion vs. (3) Baylor – Another good game that’s tough to call. OD has played well all year and rolled into the dance with some Mo’, while Baylor really struggled in their opener. Baring injuries this looks like another last possession game and in that event we’ll look for the upset with Old Dominion.

(9) Northern Iowa vs. (1) Kansas – Ok, no need to stray to far from reality by dreaming up scenarios on how NI could do this because it can’t be done. Jayhawks move on to the sweetness that is 16, when things really start getting tough.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Can Friday's action top what we saw on opnening day? I hope you have multiple screens.

I’m not sure it’s possible to top the action on day one but it won’t be because the matchups aren’t intriguing enough. There’s plenty on the board, so let’s get to the matchups.
(6)Xavier vs. (11) Minnesota – The X-men average 80 points per game and limit opponents to 41% shooting. Tubby Smith’s crew will have to get good guard play, if they’re going to control tempo and slow them down. We think they can do it and like Minnesota in this one.
(2) West Virginia vs. (15) Morgan State – The Mountaineers get a chance to exercise their frustration at not getting a top seed and Morgan may be the object of their anger today. However before you lay the 17, remember how their fellow conference members did yesterday. If it’s just to win, we like WV.
(5) Temple vs. (12) Cornell – By fare the most intriguing matchup of the day as it’s not often that you get an Ivy League vs. A-10 matchup in a tournament game, particularly one where the Ivy League school is the favorite of many to win. But these aren’t your grandaddy’s Bears s Cornell leads the nation with 43.4% shooting from 3. Conversely Temple holds opponents to 28% from the same distance. Something’s gotta give and we like Cornell in the upset.
(13) Siena vs. (4) Purdue – Everyone is jumping on the Siena band wagon as their upset special of the first round but the truth is that with no Robbie Hummel the Boilermakers are a double digit seed themselves and this is not that big of an upset. Although we normally swim against the tide, the current might be too strong for Purdue this time. We like Siena as well.

(14) Oakland vs. (3) Pittsburgh – All eyes will be on the Big East schools today as 1-3 record is the subject of much conjecture. It won’t be a laydown for Pitt but they’d better control Keith Benson or this could be much closer than people expect. The Pitt guards will control the flow in this one and we like Ptt.

(9) Florida State vs. (8) Gonzaga – This has all the makings of a classic 8/9 matchup even though the Zags are not going to sneak up on anyone anymore, particularly shooting about 50% from the floor. However the Seminoles have the best defense in the nation when it comes to FG %, so the only question is can they put up enough points to beat the Gonzaga and we don’t think so. We like the Zags.

(10) Missouri vs. (7) Clemson – Great game for a 7/10 as it’s the Big12 vs. ACC in the game of the turnover creators. Both teams force over 15 TO’s per game so this may be a sloppy low-scoring game but a close one. Tough to call, and the line reflects it at less than a bucket, we like the Tigers. Just kidding. Going with the dog, Missouri.

(4) Wisconsin vs. (13) Wofford – It was great to see how Wofford got it’s ticket to the dance and they don’t make many mistakes but the Badgers are huge up front, and have won some big games this year. A sleeper pick to make the sweet 16, we’re going that way.
(12) Utah State vs. (5) Texas A&M – Utah State will need all of their 42% from behind the arch if they’re going to sty with A & M who have a big advantage athletically. As the game wears on we expect that to show itself and like the Aggies.

(9) Louisville vs. (8) California – This could be the game of the first round and that’s saying something considering the games we’ve seen. Losing Amoke will hurt Cal but they might still have the advantage in the back court. However if they get into foul trouble all bets are off as the ‘The Ville’ has a deeper bench. We think the Pac-10 is still underrated and like Cal.

(1) Syracuse vs. (16) Vermont – Cuse’ will play without Onuaku but it won’t make a difference and it’s probably wise to give him the extra rest. The Orange has had a week to fester on their bad BET showing and will take it out on Vermont tonight. My only concern is the old axiom that if you come into the tournament cold, you’ll go out the same way, and they haven’t of late.

(10) Georgia Tech vs. (7) Oklahoma State – The Jackets might be battling to save their coaches job providing added motivation but they have to keep their turnovers down as they average 16 per game and that will be too many against a 7 seed from the B-12. Ok State can score so, the Jackets will have to D-up as well. The number on this game is 1.5 so that gives you an idea of how close it’s supposed to be. We like G-Tech to save a job. For at least another two days.

(12) New Mexico State vs. (5) Michigan State – New Mexico has the sympathy vote going for them in another 5/12 scare game but rebounding and defense will prove to be the deciding factor in this one and the Spartans will control both. - Michigan St.

(13) Houston vs. (4) Maryland – we think this one is going to be closer than people think. Maryland has played great down the stretch of the ACC season and we expect them to win the game but would apprehensive to lay 10 points in this one. Aubrey Coleman (26ppg) will have license to fire at will and if he gets hot this game could come down to a couple of possessions.

(16) Arkansas-Pine Bluff vs. (1) Duke – Duke gets the ‘play in winner’ for some reason and tune up for their tough second round matchup with Cal/Louisville so the 25 points might be a tough cover but the game will not.

(15) UC Santa Barbara vs. (2) Ohio State – If this was game was in the “Thunder Dome” I would like the Gauchos chances better but a neutral court is the best their going to get. UCSB doesn’t have anyone to match up with Evan Turner who should have a huge game. Ohio State wins big and sits people for Sunday.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

It's Tournament Time, Breaking down the Regions and top games

Here's our picks for the Second Session on Thursday:
(11) Washington vs. (6) Marquette – Great guard play and tournament experience should be the difference in this one. Washington should be a favorite in this game and could be the best 11 seed in the recent memory. Washington
(9) Northern Iowa vs. (8) UNLV – Mark my words that this game will be tight throughout. Don’t be surprised if neither team has a lead in this game by more that 6 points. It’s a toss-up but we like the Rebels.
(14) Montana vs. (3) New Mexico – We finally get a chance to see if New Mexico is worthy of a number 3 seed or if they’re fool’s gold. I am in the camp that they’re for real and it will begin tonight against Montana.

(11) San Diego State vs. (6) Tennessee – I’m not sure what Tennessee team will show up, if we get the team with the Orange Crush Defense then SDState is in a bit of trouble but conversely if the Vols get out to a slow start then the Techs’ will stay in this one but take Tennessee.

(14) Ohio vs. (3) Georgetown – Gtown has looked down the stretch although the lost the Big East final. As good as a #3 as you’ll see, this will be tight early but the Hoyas will pull away.

(9) Wake Forest vs. (8) Texas - Teams that are on a roll going into the dance tend to stay on a roll, conversely, teams that limp in or back in seem to go out early. The truth is weather someone figured these guys out and gave everyone the blueprint or they just have lost their legs late in the season, they have not looked good for a while. Take the Decons
(11) Washington vs. (6) Marquette – Great guard play and tournament experience should be the difference in this one. Washington should be a favorite in this game and could be the best 11 seed in the recent memory. Washington
(9) Northern Iowa vs. (8) UNLV – Mark my words that this game will be tight throughout. Don’t be surprised if neither team has a lead in this game by more that 6 points. It’s a toss-up but we like the Rebels
Ok, enough of the analysis, and quantitative banter let’s get to the first round picks:
(2) Villanova vs. (15) Robert Morris – The breaking news is that the starting back court for Nova’ of Reynolds and Fisher will not start in this game due to a coaches decision. It should make it much closer if you’re playing the line but other than that look for the Cats to move on.
(10) Florida vs. (7) Brigham Young – This is going to be a great game if the Gators can’t control the BYU back court scoring then look for the upset, but we like the athletes of Florida to move on. I guess this is the first upset of the dance, but you can’t really call it one.
(11) Old Dominion vs. (6) Notre Dame – This could be the best matchup of the first round. Any time you see a 6 seed that is only favorite by 3.5 that’s a red flag for your brackets. ND come is on a nice roll and they have Big East pedigree but don’t under estimate OD. That said, we like the IRISH in this one.
(13) Murray State vs. (4) Vanderbilt – This game will be closer than think illustrated by the small 3 point line for a 4/13 matchup. Ok, Vandy has UK, Georgia, South Carolina, and Miss St. play a similar game to Murray so don’t be surprised if they win this, but we like Vandy.
(1)Kansas vs. (16) Lehigh – No upsets the first time a 16 wins over a 1 isn’t gonna’ happen here. No stats necessary KU rolls as their journey of 1000 miles begins with this step.
(15) North Texas vs. (2) Kansas State – KState is one of those tournament teams that you just don’t know how they’re going to do playing on neutral court because of how big their home court advantage helped them during the regular season but don’t look for that make that big of a difference in this game. We like Kansas St.
(12) UTEP vs. (5) Butler – The first of the notorious ‘5-12 death games’ and it should be all of that and more. Butler has been in the top 25 most of the year, even scratching the top 10, while UTEP has battled for respect. This is another game illustrating the parity of this year’s tournament as it’s only a 2-point line. For a 5/12 are you kidding me? Just the same we think the difference in this one will be Butler’s experience and expect them to take control down the stretch.
Regional Breakdown:
South Regional - The Blue Devils enter the South Regional as the No. 1 seed for the tournament and Duke is the favorite to advance to the Final Four out of this bracket, which will conclude in Houston, Texas. Oddsmakers have made Duke a 1/1 favorite to win the South Regional. Other short odds to win are Villanova (3/1), Baylor (6/1), and Purdue (15/1). Duke is ranked No. 4 in the nation with a 29-5 record. The Blue Devils won both the ACC regular season and tournament titles. Duke holds five wins over ranked opponents this year. The Blue Devils have reached 14 Final Fours in program history, the last coming in 2004. Duke will face the winner of the Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Winthrop winner, which will take place on Tuesday. Villanova is the No. 2 seed in this regional. The Wildcats are 24-7 this year and they will face No. 15 Robert Morris in the opening game. Villanova has won reach four Final Fours, the last of which came last season. The Wildcats have lost five of their last seven games entering the tournament. Baylor is the No. 3 seed in the tournament with a 25-7 record. The Bears will face No. 14 Sam Houston State in their opener. Baylor has reached two Final Fours, the last came in 1950. Prior to losing to Kansas State in the Big 12 Tournament semifinals, the Bears had won five straight and eight of their last nine. Purdue will be the No. 4 seed in the South Regional. The Boilermakers will face No. 13 Siena in the tournament opener. Purdue has reached two Final Fours, the last of which came in 1980. Purdue has a 27-5 record this season, but the Boilermakers lost one of their top players, Robbie Hummel, with a knee injury in the last month. Purdue has since lost two of their last five games.

East Regional
- The Wildcats enter the East Regional as the No. 1 seed for the tournament and thus are the favorites to advance to the Final Four out of this bracket, which will conclude in Syracuse, New York. Oddsmakers have made Kentucky a 5/4 favorite to win the East Regional. Other short odds to win are West Virginia (2/1), Wisconsin (10/1), and New Mexico (15/1). The Wildcats are 32-2 overall and are ranked No. 2 in the country. Kentucky won the SEC regular season and tournament titles this season. Kentucky holds seven wins over ranked opponents as well. Kentucky will face East Tennessee State in its opening game. Kentucky has reached 13 Final Four’s in school history with the last coming in 1998. West Virginia has reached one Final Four, which came in 1959. The Mountaineers are 27-6 overall and 13-5 in the Big East. WVU is the No. 2 seed in the East after winning the Big East Tournament Championship. WVU will face No. 15 Morgan State in its opening game. Wisconsin is the No. 4 seed in the East and will face No. 13 Wofford. The Badgers have reached two Final Fours in history, the last of which came in 2000. Wisconsin is 23-8 on the season and were 13-5 in the Big Ten. The Badgers lost their Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal to Illinois, 58-54. New Mexico is the No. 3 seed in the East and the Lobos will face No. 14 Montana to open the tournament. New Mexico is 29-4 overall and was 14-2 in the Mountain West under coach Steve Alford. The Lobos had a 15-game winning streak snapped by San Diego State in the Mountain West tournament semifinals on Friday.

Midwest Regional - Obviously the books have Kansas as a 4/5 favorite to win the this one, but other short odds to win are Ohio State (7/2), Georgetown (6/1), and Michigan State (10/1). Kansas has No. 1 ranking in the polls and their 32-2 overall record. The Jayhawks won the Big 12 Conference regular season and tournament titles and they have seven wins over ranked opponents this season. Kansas has reached 13 Final Fours, with the last coming in 2008 when it won the NCAA Championship. The Jayhawks will face 16th-seeded Lehigh in the opening game of the tournament. Ohio State is the No. 2 seed in this region with a 27-7 record and Big Ten tournament and regular season titles. The Buckeyes have reached 10 Final Fours with the last coming in 2007, where the Buckeyes lost to Florida in the national championship. The Buckeyes will face No. 15 UC- Santa Barbara in the opening round. The Georgetown Hoyas are the No. 3 seed in the Midwest. The Hoyas are 23-10 overall and reached the Big East Tournament finals. Georgetown has reached five Final Fours, with the last coming in 2007. The Hoyas will face No. 14 Ohio in the opening round of the tournament. Michigan State is the No. 5 seed in the region with a 24-8 record. The Spartans were bounced in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament by Minnesota. The Spartans have reached seven Final Fours, five of which have come under current coach Tom Izzo. MSU lost to North Carolina in last year’s national championship game. MSU will face No. 12 New Mexico State in its opening game.

West Regional - What they're doing way out here to begin after losing in the first round of the BET is another story but the Orange are the No. 1 seed in this regional which will conclude in Salt Lake City, Utah, far from where Syracuse is stationed. The numbers on Cuse’ are 7/4 to win the region. Other short odds to win are Kansas State (3/1), Pittsburgh (8/1), and Butler (10/1). The Orange are ranked No. 3 overall in the country with a 28-4 record. The Orange won the Big East regular season championship, but lost their last two games of the season, including the Big East Tournament quarterfinal game with Georgetown. Syracuse has seven wins over ranked opponents this season. Syracuse has reached four Final Fours in school history, the last of which came in 2003, when the Orange won the national title. The Orange will face Vermont in the tournament opener. Kansas State is the No. 2 seed in this region and will face North Texas in the opener. The Wildcats are 26-7 on the season and have been to four Final Fours in school history, the last of which was in 1964. Kansas State has lost three of its last five games, but two of the losses came against top-ranked Kansas. Pittsburgh is the No. 3 seed in this region and will face Oakland in its opener. The Panthers are 24-8 on the season and are coming off a 50-45 loss to Notre Dame. Prior to that loss, Pitt had won eight of its last nine. The Panthers have been to one Final Four in school history, which came in 1941. Butler is the No. 5 seed in this region and will face UTEP to open the tournament. Butler has never reached a Final Four, but has been to the Sweet Sixteen three times, the last of which was in 2007. The Bulldogs are 28-4 this season with one win over a ranked opponent, as they defeated Ohio State, 74-66. Butler has won its last 20 games of the season.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Tournament Field Announced, let the debating begin

Firstly, you can view the entire board on the main site here. Here are the teams that are in and the seeds:
1)Kansas vs 16)Lehigh// 8)UNLV vs 9)No. Iowa// 5)Mich St. vs 12 New Mexico St.// 4)Maryland vs 13)Houston// 2 Ohio St vs 15)UCSB// 7) Oklahoma St. vs 10) Georgia Tech// 3)George Town vs 14)Ohio// 6)Tennessee vs 11)SD State//
1)Syracuse vs 16)Vermont// 8)Gonzaga vs 9)Fla. St// 5)Butler vs 12)UTEP// 4)Vandy vs 13)Murray St// 2)Kansas St. vs 15) North Texas// 7)BYU vs 10)Florida// 3)Pitt vs 14)Oakland// 6)Xavier vs 11)Minnesota
1)Kentucky vs 16)E.Tenn State// 8)Texas vs 9)Wake Forest// 5)Temple vs 12)Cornell// 4)Wisconsin vs 13)Wofford// 2)West Virginia vs 15)Morgan St// 7)Clemson vs 10 Missouri// 3)New Mexico vs 14)Montana// 6) Marquette vs 11 Washington
1)DUKE vs 16)Ark PB or Wintrop// 8)California vs 9)Louisville// 5)Texas A & M vs 12)Utah St// 4)Purdue vs. 13)Siena// 2)Villanova vs 15)Robert Morris// 13)Richmond vs 10)St. Mary's// 3)Baylor vs 14)Sam Houston St.// 6)Notre Dame vs. 11)Old Dominion
Like every year, now is about the time when the bridesmaids begin their letter writing campaign to the chairman complaining about ‘East coast bias’ or conference payola and why they were snubbed. Although there might be a couple of palatable arguments for them, here is the quantitative side for why the committee made the right decisions. Not in any particular order:

Memphis (23-9) Ok, this was the bleeding heart appointee as they were the victim of espionage as not only did their coach capriciously leave, but took the liberty of pillaging their recruits and stifling their future in the process. I’ll give you that but two facts you simply can not deny are that Conference USA was a terrible conference this year, on top that, they lost to EVERY ‘tournament team’ they played except Oakland (won their conf tourney), including Syracuse, Tennessee, Kansas, UTEP, Gonzaga, and Houston(twice).

Arizona St. – 22-10 – Once again, the Pac-10 was affull this year with NO TEAMS in the top 25!! When was the last time that has happened? This has nothing to do with ECB (east coast bias) which will always be prevalent, but getting fat on a weak conference, having a low RPI non-conference schedule, and then bowing out prior to the championship final as the #2 seed is a recipe for death.

Rhode Island (23-9) – The highest RPI of any non-participant (40), but they’re 23 wins did not comprise of ONE tournament team, and the at large team they supposedly were snubbed for (Richmond) did beat them in the head-to-head matchup back in February. 3 losses to Temple in one season was a pretty good gauge of how far they could go.

With only a couple of tickets still left teams begin the waiting game.

Kansas wins B-12, Duke and UK make finals, but Cuse’ gets knocked off early. In years past it made sense, however painful, to lose early in your conference tournament, stay healthy or get healthy, then roll into the big dance refreshed and ready to try and go on a six game winning streak. Although the committee couldn’t TELL schools that they couldn’t adopt that philosophy, but what they began to do is really giving the top seeds a big advantage by playing close to home, and at favorable times. In all actuality that is something that should have been done before, as the only opponents to the dance (coincidentally also supporters of the BCS) believe that a year-end tournament to decide the National Champion takes away from the regular season, however that advantage is the perfect seasoning to a perfectly baked cake. SO DON’T MESS with it! Ok, stole another opportunity to lobby against expansion. Now we have a couple of teams that have stolen seats from the Majors when the music stopped, particularly Richmond who would have been left at the door had they not won their conference tournament, but for the most part this year has been one where the mid-majors won’t shake up the board too much, at least in regards to selection. Now on the court will be a different story as I am going on record right now as stating that you will see at least 3 “non-ones” in the final four this year. We’ll see in three weeks. What do you think about the conference tournaments? Let us know here and in any of the quick links.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

PAC-10 and ACC have to go back to the drawing board

As the Pac-10 and ACC kick off their conference tournaments they both will take a minute to wonder how they got to this point. The ACC is considered to be having a down year after starting the year with two teams ranked in the top 8, but they would not see as many in the top 10 for the rest of the regular season. Perennial conference favorite North Carolina who started the year in the top 5 ( and with one first place vote) will not be participating in this year’s NCAA Tournament unless they pull off a ‘miracle on hardwood’ and win the ACC Conference Tournament, but stranger things have happened. Particularly to NC whom the last time were in this position (make or break it) made it all the way to the Final Four. Now if the ACC is having a bad year than the Pac-10 should be put out of their misery. This isn’t just bad, but possibly the worst the conference has looked since a wizard lived up the street. As it stands right now the Pac would be lucky to get two teams in the dance come next week, and if there is a major upset in the conference tournament perhaps one. Once again, much like the ACC the perennial powerhouse UCLA is scratching a mark on their prison cell each day, counting down the time until their mediocre season is over, and let’s face it their hasn’t been much to cheer for in Westwood for quite some time. Now, in their defense they did send their entire starting lineup to the show (all of which are in the rotation or starting) including names like Westbrook, Love, Farmar, Collison, MbahaMoute, and Afalo. But even so, that doesn’t explain some of the losses and their inability to close out bad teams, well, perhaps they are a bad team this year themselves. While Cal is a respectable 21-9 they lost both litmus test to Syracuse (22 points) and Ohio State, and the P-10 doesn’t have a team in the top 25 and no serious threat to go deep in the tourney. Is this a part of the new “circle of life” in college basketball, and is parity going to be the norm? Let us know here and in any of the quick links: And for the record, here are the schools who have punched their tickets to dance already. If you notice, not a lot of upsets from the mid-majors so far so the tournament is going to get the best that every conference has to offer.
Cornell, Winthrop, ETSU, Murray St., Northern Iowa, Butler, Robert Morris, Old Dominion, Siena, Wofford, Saint Mary’s, North Texas, Oakland, Montana

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Major conferences breathing a sigh of relief as 3 Mid-Majors top-seeds win their tourneys

After four good championship games on Monday the anticipation of the NCAA Tournament couldn’t be higher. Saint Mary’s (CA), Old Dominion, Siena, and Wofford all received invitations on Monday night. In the biggest upset of the mid-major tournaments thus far St. Mary’s not only upset Gonzaga but they gave them a royal beatdown, and this is after the pundits on ESPN stated that their resume need a big win to be worthy of a said invitation. This is despite the fact that SM has an RPI of 45 better than all of the ‘bubble’ Big East schools. Either way, the Gaels did what every school in their position needs to do, handle your biznis’ on the hardwood and take the decision out of the geeks hands who have never laced them up in their lives. A 19-point win over perennial tournament darlings Gonzaga to win the WCC Championship should address those concerns. How about them Terriers!? For the first time in the schools history the Wofford Terriers will be dancing after winning the SoCon title. After a 23-8 season it still would have been necessary for them to take down the championship as their flagship game was a 12-point loss to Michigan State. Still more good news for the major conferences as a top seed from the ‘mids’ gets the job done and doesn’t take an at large bit away. Old Dominion also fits this description as the top seed nearly was upset in OT in the semis but rallied to win then won a tough CAA final. Now OD takes their 26-8 record on the road and open up another at-large bid. Lastly, Siena will be making another appearance in the grand ballroom after escaping against Fairfield in overtime, making them the 3rd top-seeded mid-major to win their championship simply adding to the already packed drama of the upcoming conference tourneys. Which bubble teams have benefitted the most by the ‘mids’ not crashing the party this year? Let us know here and in any of the quick links:

Sunday, March 7, 2010

4 Tickets handed out Saturday more to come

I’m not going to retrace my steps now, as I was one of the loudest opponents to expanding the field of 64/5 to 90 and beyond. Simply put, if a 16 has never beaten a top seed, then why do we need to add an additional 30 “16 seeds” to the already crowed dance floor? And rest assured, if they expanded to 94, there would be some division II school ranked 95 who would be lobbying and crying foul. That said, how do you NOT get into some of these conference tournaments?? Despite the fact that in reality they’re probably just winning a two-day trip somewhere only to be send back home the next day with a 30-point loss and a story to tell. I mean Coastal Carolina playing in a gym smaller than my high school gym, holding students who slept outside to get ticks to what they thought would be the kickoff party to a wild campus weekend, but a funeral got in the way. Anyway, here are the 4 first invitees to the Grand Ballroom; Cornell, Winthrop, East Tennessee State and Murray State, and at the risk of sounding hypocritical, don’t be surprised if Cornell or Murray State pull off an upset in the first round. The parity in this years tournament is unlike any in recent memory and the difference between a 1 and a 5 is not much, (that translates to teams 16-20 in the polls being as good as 1-5) and I think that’s a fair assessment. Oh yea, didn’t Cuse’ lose Saturday, making them the 4th team from the top 5 to drop out just before crossing the finish line. I figure at this pace the top four seeds will read like something out of the 60’s with New Mexico, Ohio State, Butler, and Purdue taking down the top 4 top seeds. Ok, that’s a bit of a stretch, but if you think that is, wait until you see this year’s Final Four! Who do you think will settle in to the top 4 seeds? Let us know here and in any of the quick links:

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

All 3 top teams lose, prime seats for Big Dance now available

A little while back we posted that the traditional powerhouses were down for the year leaving the door open for sleepers to come in and help themselves to the spoils usually reserved for those with pedigree. However after last weekend, when in unprecedented fashion as 3 of the top 4 teams lost just two weeks before selection Sunday, all bets are off and teams as far back as 8 and 9 that normally are admiring from a far have a prime opportunity to sit in the front row and here’s why. The top 4 seeds right now would have to go to (Cuse’, KU, UK, and Duke), but two are on very shaky ground. Despite how good they have looked lately, Syracuse has two losses are at home, and one loss to a division II school was expunged from the record because it was deemed to be not a scheduled game, furthermore they still have to make it through the Big East Tournament without losing prior to the final game. With so many in that conference fighting for their invitations it’s a better than average chance they take another L before next Sunday. The other big question mark is Duke who may have the name on their jerseys but this is not your typical Tobacco Road monster. Get them away from the confines of Cameron Indoor and you’ve got a good shot as the ACC is not as strong, particularly without the presence of the 800-pound gorilla North Carolina who still gets one last shot on the final game of the season. Prior to that, Duke must deal with Maryland who might have a little revenge on their mind after getting woodshedded by 20 two weeks ago, and then the ACC tournament awaits. I can’t see duke getting through unmarked. The other two actually have a better chance of drawing a #16 as UK and KU have winnable scenarios. First is Kansas, as both of their losses have come on the road, and in very tough places, but Kstate won’t be hosting the B-12 tournament and there shouldn’t be anyone standing in their way. Kentucky will close out the season 2-0 and move into the SEC tourney with no one but Vandy to worry about, although they were tested in their last meeting, on a neutral floor their talent will carry the day. So who does that let in then? Well, as mentioned before we see Kstate losing to Kansas in the B-12 tourney, Ohio State be more overrated then their football team but Purdue will not get through the Big-10 tourney unless Hummel comes back so a top seed could be in the cards for OSU. Lastly, how about New Mexico, yes, New Mexico as a sleeper top seed to chap all of the ancestry? All it would take is an upset in the Big-10 tourney by Michigan State or Wisconsin (not that far fetched) and they slip in the back door. Regardless of who gets their name on the first line in each bracket one thing is certain, that there is NO WAY all of them will escape the regionals. This event will continue 2010’s streak of premium sporting events following in the footsteps of the Super Bowl and Winter Olympics as it promises to be one of the most competitive in recent memory, so buckle in early and take that first Thursday and Friday off. Who do you think will be the top seeds? Let us know here and in any of the quick links.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The mighty have fallen, while the NCAA talks about expanding the field

The one-n-done opponents will certainly have plenty of fuel to burn after this season as most of the traditional powerhouses that have had mass defections to the NBA are feeling the pinch now, starting with the defending National Champions. The North Carolina Tar Heels lost four starters off of last year’s NC squad including POY Tyler Hansbrough and are trying to climb up, just to get on the fence, for this year’s tournament at 14-11 (3-7). It’s also payback for UCLA who have just owned the West for 4 years including 3 consecutive Fianal-Fours are now feeling the payback of schools they’ve beaten down over that span struggling to stay above the waterline at 11-13 (6-6). The entire UCLA starting line-up from those years in not only in the show, but all are in the rotation, as only last names are needed, Love, Westbrook, Aflalo, Farmar, MbahaMoute, and Holiday. After such an exodus you would expect the cupboard to not be fully stocked, but right now its simply empty and how they let recruits like Larry Drew Jr. whose father played for the Lakers, and played ball in the summers literally on the UCLA campus, slip through their fingers, makes them very deserving of a national ranking of 104. In the East UCONN’s 14-11 4-8 record has them in the same boat(sinking ship) now the Huskies don’t have the components of the Rookie/Sophomore game as the afore mentioned schools, but certainly have hung banners in the last decade. Although playing in the Big East gives them ‘street cred’ with the selection committee, playin’ .300 ball does not. For the Dogs it was looking like it would come down to the 222 game vs. West Virginia as their last chance to knock off a ranked opponent, but then go figure, they would go into the house of the previously unbeaten at home, Villanova Wildcats, the third-ranked team in the country, and get a big win. They’re still going to need a good showing in the Big East Tournament to deserve the word, but with Calhoun’s illness, the 5th toughest schedule, and a late season surge, they’ve got the best argument of the three but at this rate the NIT will have more traditional powerhouse names than the big dance. So is the NCAA trying to compensate for the big names going to the Big Apple by increasing the tournament field to 96 of is it all about the Benjamins’? If there is one event in American sports that can be hailed as the most fair, competitive, and dramatic of all the sports we have, it’s the NCAA Tournament. Despite the fact that the event nets just over 6 Billion dollars and the participants to not participate in any ‘revenue sharing’ the athletes play with a passion that is rarely seen except perhaps during the World Cup. So despite their 100% margins and even greater ROI the NCAA has aspirations of expanding the field to as many as 96 schools, and for no other reason but to increase that 6Billion dollar take. Similar to the way a #16 has never beaten a #1 and a ‘play in’ winner has never won two games, the line that has been drawn in the sand has been very accurate as the dilution of talent once you get past that point is more than evident. Don’t get me wrong it would be great for everyone to experience the emotional highs/lows of the ‘Big Dance’ but it’s not practical to increase the journey even longer than it already is, as the finals have already reached well into April. Moreover, it doesn’t make the process any more ‘fair’ as there will always be a #66 school that feels they should have been #65, just like there would be a #97 that feels they should have been #96. Lastly, the NCAA is coming dangerously close to the textbook definition of exploitation and increasing the field for no other justifiable reason except to stuff their overflowing pockets more would eradicate all of the things that make this event the greatest show on earth. In the words of the immortal John Wooden it’s activity without accomplishment.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Parity will be the madness come March

As the madness is just over a month away teams seems to gearing up to try and put together the six-game winning streak that has immortality on the other end of it. One of the key components to putting together that streak is have a favorable draw and/or most importantly, a top seed. However, it doesn’t appear that anyone wants it or at least can hang on to it. The aberration that was the 07/08 tournament where all top seeds made it to the final four, will surely not be the case this year as no team has been able to separate themselves from the pack as a clear favorite as the normal party guest have yet to RSVP for this year’s party. North Carolina, UCLA, Memphis, UCONN, and Louisville are some of the party animals from the previous decade that are in danger of missing their invitation this year. Beginning this weekend there are some crucial games for teams that are trying to build their tournament resumes starting with the war at ‘the octagon’ between K and KState. This was unavoidable and was circled on the schedule as one of the tough games KU would have to overcome, but how padded would KState’s RPI be if they can come up with their second win over a top-ranked team in consecutive weeks? Kudos to Duke and Georgetown for putting it on the line with a tough non-conference schedule this late in the season. Gtown is in a better position but an upset win by Duke whom normally have their non-conference challenges in the confines of Tobacco Road surrounded by Cam Crazies, but this time they’ll travel to a hostile place in need of a big road win. Then there’s the Kentucky who took over as the Nation’s top team but had a shorter reign than Pope Uban VII, after losing at the same afore mentioned octagon. So with no clear cut favorites and possibly two top-seeds with multiple losses mean for the greatest show on earth? Probably the most competitive tournament that we’ve ever had and despite the absence of the some big names and traditional teams the parity of this years dance will more than keep the audience close long after the opening tip just over a month away. Do you think the tournament needs the big name schools or players to draw big ratings or attendance this year? Let us know here or in any of the quick links.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

As Conference play takes its first lap still no clear cut favorite

I’ll tell ya, we’ve been trying to gauge where this year’s tournament is going and almost 3 months into the season there is no clear cut team to beat. It’s pretty clear that this aint’ the BCS and teams don’t worry about padding their stats with non-conference cupcakes and occasionally they’ve gotten burned (ie; Syracuse) but for the most part they’ve been risk free. Now that conference play has begun until all of the top 10 goes on the road, AND WINS, I’m not ready to call anyone a number one seed. With that said there are some who have answered every challenge up to this point.

Texas – Weathered the storm of A & M and won in OT to remain unbeaten at 17-0 at on top of the mountain top. Now they catch a major break that the KU game is in their domain, but the way the B-12 is shaping up there are no sure things and don’t expect them to roll into the dance in UNLV type 30-0, but they should be the team to beat come March.

Kansas – Amazing how these guys just seem to reload and are competitive every year despite the success of the previous seasons (taking notes UCLA?). They’ve been upset by the hands of Tennessee but they’ve shown a copious amount of intestinal fortitude in several games that have been close near the end of the game, and every hoops fan in the country can’t until Feb 2nd.

Kentucky – John Calipari has done it again as UK is putting together a run that could conclude with a spot in the final four where they will be a very tough out. Although it’s tough to channel a wedge between any of the top three, what might give the Cats the edge is the way their getting it done on the defensive end. If it’s possible to erase the near disaster to Sam Houston State on the third game of the season where they gave up 92 points, only 3 teams have even seen the 70’s since then and that’s what wins games beyond the sweet 16.

Villanova – The other Cats have gotten off to the start they needed at 14-1 (as their schedule is back-end loaded) and ranked in the top 5 in a very tough and still underrated Big East. Now as they approach the ‘Back 9’ we’ll see what they’re made of as tough road games against GTown, WV, Pitt, ‘Cuse, and Cincy.

Syracuse – How bout’ the Big East with 3 teams in the top 10? Enough talk about the ACC the Big Beast is back. After have an early loss expunged for their record because the school was “undertalented” the Orange have put together an impressive run and might be boasting the strongest strength of schedule when Selection Sunday rolls around. Because of that if they can hold it together for just over a month and a half, now there gonna take a couple of losses, but limit it to just a couple, and they’re our pick for a sleeper top seed.

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