July 23, 2007

Random Thoughts about the 2007 season... Schedules

Yeah, I know it says 1983 - but it's time to nitpick the schedules, fools.

Each year some teams pop to the forefront with their schedule appearing soft. Sometimes a lightly regarded opponent turns into a Goliath. Other times there comes an unexpected stumble. For 2007, there are a lot of teams playing a shameful non-conference slate while others are playing meat grinders.

For now, let's focus on the BCS conference heavies and their non-conference slates...
The Big Ten

- Appalachian State (Sept. 1), Oregon (Sept. 8), Notre Dame (Sept. 15), and Eastern Michigan (Oct. 6). The defending I-AA champ and a MAC school countered with two BCS schools, all at Ann Arbor. I can respect the MAC team in light of the Ducks and Irish, but Appalachian State? Come on guys.

Ohio State - Youngstown State (Sept. 1), Akron (Sept. 8), at Washington (Sept. 15), and Kent State (Oct. 13). There must be a mandate about MACs and I-AAs through the Big Ten. This schedule is just shameful for a program coming off the heels of a home-and-home with Texas the past two seasons.

Wisconsin - Washington State (Sept. 1), at UNLV (Sept. 8), The Citadel (Sept. 15), and Northern Illinois (Oct. 20). Wazzu is a BCS opponent, fine. UNLV is a trip for the alums to the Strip. The Citadel and Northern Illinois are the requisite I-AA and MAC opponents.

Penn State - Florida International (Sept. 1), Notre Dame (Sept. 8), Buffalo (Sept. 15), and at Temple (Nov. 10). Notre Dame is a solid opponent while the Nittany Lions will double dip from the MAC with Buffalo and Temple. FIU is slightly above a I-AA opponent.

With Notre Dame being a bit weak this year expect these four to go 16-0 over these games. Oregon and Washington State aren't strong enough to win on the road at Michigan and Wisconsin respectively.

Florida - Western Kentucky (Sept. 1), Troy (Sept. 8), Florida Atlantic (Nov. 17), and Florida State (Nov. 24). All four at home with the required game with the Seminoles being the saving grace from a truly pathetic offering for Gator season ticket holders.

Georgia - Oklahoma State (Sept. 1), Western Carolina (Sept. 15), Troy (Nov. 3), at Georgia Tech (Nov. 24). Slightly above the Gator slate with Oklahoma State representing a second, non-conference BCS opponent.

Tennessee - at California (Sept. 1), Southern Miss (Sept. 8), Arkansas State (Sept. 22), and Louisiana-Lafayette (Nov. 3). The first two are very solid with the last two being Sun Belt specials. That's four Sun Belt games amongst the three SEC East teams.

LSU - Virginia Tech (Sept. 8), Middle Tennessee (Sept. 15), at Tulane (Sept. 29), and Louisiana Tech (Nov. 10). All four home games when you consider that the Tigers are receiving 40,000 tickets for the Tulane game at the Superdome. Virginia Tech game is one of the best, early, non-conference games in the country. Middle Tennessee makes it 4-for-4 for the SEC playing the Sun Belt.

Auburn - Kansas State (Sept. 1), South Florida (Sept. 8), New Mexico State (Nov. 22), Tennessee Tech (Nov. 3). Kansas State and USF are respectable BCS teams while NMSU and Tech are awful. Like many of the big boys, all four games are at home.

Alabama - Western Carolina (Sept. 1), Florida State (Sept. 29 in Jacksonville, Fla.), Houston (Oct. 6), Louisiana-Monroe (Nov. 17). The FSU game is intriguing for the masses. Houston won their half of Conference USA last season. WCU and ULM are fodder.

Arkansas - Troy (Sept. 1), North Texas (Sept. 29), UT-Chattanooga (Oct. 6), Florida International (Oct. 27). I-AA team plus an unofficial Sun Belt Championship awaits the Hogs in 2007. This is a program that played USC & Texas since the 12-game schedules became the norm.

The SEC continues to hide behind it's motto of the conference being too tough to worry about challenges outside the fold for years. Alabama gets a nod for playing Florida State and Tennessee and Cal will be a huge opening weekend game. Still, the SEC could do without propping up the Sun Belt.

The Pac-10 - They only play three non-conference games due to a true round-robin. Kudos to them.
USC - Idaho (Sept. 1), at Nebraska (Sept. 15), at Notre Dame (Oct. 20). I continually tip my cap to Pete Carroll and his scheduling habits. Trips to South Bend and Lincoln can have me overlook the Idaho warm-up.

California - Tennessee (Sept. 1), at Colorado State (Sept. 8), Louisiana Tech (Sept. 15). Tennessee is a return trip that the Cal players have been motivated to play since last September. At Colorado State would normally be tricky but the Rams are down. LA Tech is a filler.

UCLA - BYU (Sept. 8), at Utah (Sept. 15), Notre Dame (Oct. 6). No complaints as the Cougars were 10-game winners in 2006, Utes went bowling and Notre Dame is Notre Dame.

Texas - Arkansas State (Sept. 1), TCU (Sept. 8), at Central Florida (Sept. 15), Rice (Sept. 22). The UCF game is for recruiting in the state of Florida purposes. TCU is very solid while Rice and Arkansas State fill out the slate. This program played Arkansas and Ohio State the last few years so its a bit of a slide.

Oklahoma - North Texas (Sept. 1), Miami, FL (Sept. 8), Utah State (Sept. 15), at Tulsa (Sept. 21). Tulsa is a home game, don't kid yourself. Miami is delicious but North Texas and Utah State are very weak. I guess the Sooners learned their lesson losing to TCU in 2006.

Nebraska - Nevada (Sept. 1), at Wake Forest (Sept. 8), USC (Sept. 15), Ball State (Sept. 22). I can live with Ball State being on the sked with this collection, although I don't think the Nebraska brass thought they would get defending ACC champion, Wake Forest on the road. Nevada is a decent team out of the WAC.

Virginia Tech - East Carolina (Sept. 1), at LSU (Sept. 8), Ohio (Sept. 15), William & Mary (Sept. 22). The LSU game is great but the other three absolutely stink. Bill & Mary, come on!!?!?!

Florida State - UAB (Sept. 8), at Colorado (Sept. 15), Alabama (Sept. 29 in Jacksonville, Fla.), at Florida (Nov. 24). Salute the Seminoles for a very tough schedule. Colorado won't finish 2-10 this year and UAB is perfectly fine with Bama and Florida on the schedule. Is it the mid-80's again and FSU is back to being an independent?

Miami, FL - Marshall (Sept. 1), at Oklahoma (Sept. 8), Florida International (Sept. 15), and Texas A&M (Sept. 20). The A&M game coming five days after the FIU brawl rematch is interesting. I am guessing there will be a near military presence in the Orange Bowl for that game. OU and A&M are nothing to laugh at so this is a tough schedule.

Big East
Louisville - Murray State (Aug. 30), Middle Tennessee (Sept. 6), at Kentucky (Sept. 15), at N.C. State (Sept. 29), Utah (Oct. 5). Two roadies at BCS teams, a solid Utah team and two pathetic practices for openers. Going to be a lot of open seats at Papa John's this fall.

West Virginia - Western Michigan (Sept. 1), at Marshall (Sept. 8), at Maryland (Sept. 13), East Carolina (Sept. 22), Mississippi State (Oct. 20). At Maryland is the only problem here. I wish the Big East would challenge themselves a bit more, but with an automatic BCS bid why should they?

Rutgers - Buffalo (Aug. 30), Navy (Sept. 7), Norfolk State (Sept. 15), Maryland (Sept. 29), at Army (Nov. 9). Just awful with Buffalo and Norfolk State. Army/Navy are staple opponents for the Scarlet Knights while Maryland might have been the only team willing to be a part of the Knight resurgence.

Notre Dame - The last true independent with an AD who is trying to make them like the other bigs and only play four road games. There are 10 BCS conference opponents but Duke and Stanford shouldn't be much of a threat. Eight bowl teams from 2006: Georgia Tech, at Penn State, at Michigan, at Purdue, at UCLA, Boston College, USC, and Navy.


Bottom line we all got excited with the addition of the 12th game. Some regional games renewed their hostilities (UGA-Clemson, GT-Auburn, Texas-Arkansas, Missouri-Illinois, etc.) but the trend is for the 12th game just to be another money maker for the big schools - offering another home gathering for the alums to watch some poor team get a paycheck to be humiliated.

This only provides a snapshot of the toughest schedules as the conference slates have to be factored in for the true show of who has a killer slate or a weak walk through the park in 2007.

July 18, 2007

It's time to bring this back...

Let's skip ahead, shall we?

Amazing how you can get caught up after four months...


1. Gillispie-mania is rampant in Lexington. Here is a divorced, basketball junkie head coach coming to lead a program whose fans are itching to get back to feared status. To date he signed four recruits that Tubby would never have gotten. If he can coach as well as he recruits then UK is truly back.

2. Florida repeats and then Donovan double-takes. This will get spun as a good thing for Donovan, showing his love for his Gators and the College Game, but the truth is he realized he was messing with his happiness. Kudos to him for having the guts to reverse course back to Gainesville. The NBA is a grinder that eats coaches like Donovan for lunch.

3. The Irish will struggle this year with only returning nine players with real experience. That's 9 of an 85-man roster. Get your wins over the Irish now fiends, because in 2008 the talent in South Bend will rival that found in Los Angeles, Columbus, and Gainesville.

4. The plus one truly solves everything. I can't remember a year in which more than four teams could even conceive of laying claim to the national title. Let's make this happen and start crowning true national champions.

March 11, 2007

The Final Bracket

Texas has to move up over Southern Illinois to the 3-seed line. And Kansas for making a comeback down 32-13 has to stay on the #1 line. Here is the bracket. I think North Carolina is the odd man out amongst the 1's.

I think that will be my mistake from the earlier bracket today.

The only other thought is that I don't see how Illinois is out that I keep hearing. Their numbers are better across the board than Purdue's so either they both are out or something needs to be explained.

Three Colonial teams I have in: ODU, Drexel, and VCU (auto bid).

All other thoughts will come after the field is announced.

Cinderella is done.

We're now down to #1 seeds and shaking them out. My bracket in the last posting stays intact should Ohio State and Kansas win. However, should that not happen below are the scenarios with the #1's in order 1-4:

If Texas wins...

Ohio State (St. Louis), Florida (San Antonio), North Carolina (East Rutherford), and UCLA (San Jose)

If Wisconsin wins, and/or Texas wins...

Florida (San Antonio), North Carolina (East Rutherford), Wisconsin (St. Louis), Ohio State (San Jose)

Selection Sunday, 2:21 PM

It looks like Florida and North Carolina will end dreams for Arkansas and N.C. State and that surely makes the Tournament Committee's job much easier (mine, too).

So without further adieu here is my bracket.

And of course, in the 20 minutes it took me to slightly rearrange my bracket NC State is making a comeback, down 3 with only 5:47 left. Lovely.

St. Louis

(Lexington, KY)
1-Ohio State
16-Central Connecticut State

(Columbus, OH)
13-Holy Cross
12-George Washington

(Buffalo, NY)

(New Orleans, LA)
15-TAMU-CC / Southland

San Jose

(Sacramento, CA)
16-Weber State
8-Virginia Tech
9-Missouri State

(Buffalo, NY)
4-Notre Dame
12-Wright State

(New Orleans, LA)
3-Texas A&M
14-Oral Roberts
11-Old Dominion

(Chicago, IL)

San Antonio

(Chicago, IL)
16-Play In Game (Jackson State vs. FAMU)

(Sacramento, CA)
12-New Mexico State

(Spokane, WA)
3-Washington State
14-Long Beach State
6-Boston College

(Winston-Salem, NC)
10-Texas Tech
15-North Texas

East Rutherford

(New Orleans, LA)
16-Eastern Kentucky
9-Michigan State

(Spokane, WA)
13-Miami, OH
12-VA Commonwealth

(Columbus, OH)
3-Southern Illinois

(Winston-Salem, NC)
2-North Carolina

Selection Sunday Liveblogging

We head into today looking to clarify the picture of the NCAA Tournament. The SEC, Big Ten, Big XII, ACC, and Southland championships are today and two teams, NC State and Arkansas, are looking to mess up the process by claiming automatic bids into the tournament.

The #1 seeds are up for grabs after UCLA gagged in the Pac-10 Tournament. The sentiment out there seems to be favoring teams that can win their conference regular season and tournament. That would result in Ohio State, North Carolina, Kansas, Florida, Georgetown, and Memphis as #1 seed possibles. My favorite would be the first four with Georgetown and Memphis left out.

Personally, I think UCLA still gets the #1 seed in San Jose. Yes, they've lost their last two games and its been since 1991 since a team earned a #1 after losing two straight games to close their regular season. For me, I just can't ignore that the Bruins have won 17 games against Top 100 teams. They have also compiled a 10-1 record vs. the Top 50. All this while playing a Top 10 schedule by strength.

For now, these are my #1's:
Ohio State (St. Louis)
UCLA (San Jose)
Kansas (San Antonio)
Florida (East Rutherford)

North Carolina loses out due to them having the weakest conference record at 11-5. Remember, Carolina only gained control to win the ACC after Virginia and Virginia Tech lost their last games, each in an upset. Georgetown is coming on as of late, but they have six losses.

I am working on the rest of the bracket... stay tuned.

March 06, 2007


Mason loses a tough one, but you still have 2006 memories Patriot fans!!!

Alright, without further adieu, here is my bracket. I would love to say I am some web genius and I can post it in a fancy way, but Blogger requires you to be a master of HTML and I am not. So here is the rundown by region.

Read the bracket straight down the page, in that the first region would play the second region at the Final Four. Just like others, the teams with their conferences beside them indicate that any reasonable champion of that conference other than the team indicated would play in the same slot. Teams in bold have clinched automatic bids.

St. Louis

(at Lexington, KY)
1 - Ohio State
16 - Delaware State
8 - Texas Tech
9 - Stanford

(at Sacramento, CA)
4 - Nevada
13 - Long Beach State/Big West
5 - Duke
12 - West Virginia

(at Winston-Salem, NC)
3 - Georgetown
14 -Davidson
6 - Butler
11 - Illinois

(at Lexington, KY)
7 - Virginia
10 - Xavier
15 - Niagara/MAAC
2 - Memphis

San Jose

(at Sacramento, CA)
1 - UCLA
16 - Weber State/Big Sky
8 - Virginia Tech
9 - Indiana

(at Spokane, WA)
4 - UNLV
13 - Toledo/MAC
5 - Marquette
12 - Missouri State

(at Columbus, OH)
3 - Maryland
14 - Pennsylvania/Ivy
6- Tennessee
11 - Syracuse

(at New Orleans, LA)
7 - Arizona
10 - Gonzaga
15 - Arkansas State/Sun Belt
2 - Texas A&M

San Antonio

(at Chicago, IL)
1 - Kansas
16 - Play In Game (Jackson State vs. C. Connecticut State)
8 - Kentucky
9 - Villanova

(at Columbus, OH)
4 - Southern Illinois
13 - Winthrop/Big South
5 - Oregon
12 - Old Dominion

(at Buffalo, NY)
3 - Pittsburgh
14 - Vermont/America East
6 - USC
11 - BYU

(at New Orleans, LA)
7 - Georgia Tech
10 - Michigan State
15 - Oral Roberts/Mid-Continent
2 - Florida

East Rutherford

(at Chicago, IL)
1 - Wisconsin
16 - Belmont/Atlantic Sun
8 - Vanderbilt
9 - Boston College

(at Buffalo, NY)
4 - Texas
13 - Holy Cross/Patriot
5 - Louisville
12 - Virginia Commonwealth

(at Spokane, WA)
3 - Washington State
14 - Sam Houston State/Southland
6 - Notre Dame
11 - Purdue

(at Winston-Salem, NC)
7 - Creighton
10 - Air Force
15 - Eastern Kentucky/OVC
2 - North Carolina

March 05, 2007

My Bracket (Pre-Conference Tournaments)

Its been a while, but I get tired of Joe Lunardi hailed as an expert in brackets by ESPiN while he continually comes up with matchups that can't happen per NCAA Tournament Committee rules. His latest installment includes Sweet 16 games that would feature rematches, a no-no only to be allowed in extreme circumstances. According to Joe, Pittsburgh would advance to meet Wisconsin and Tennessee would meet Ohio State.

Does Joe watch basketball during the year or only what the ESPiN folks feed him?

Forget it. I can't stand the lunacy. Here is my best guess at what the Selection Committee will determine come Sunday:

Let's talk one seeds. Personally, I think winning your conference and subsequent tournament secures a number #1 seed. Teams good enough to accomplish this feat during the weekend include UCLA, Ohio State, Kansas, North Carolina, Florida, Georgetown, and Memphis. I put the Hoyas and Tigers last because they would need the most help. Georgetown has the weakest resume, while Memphis has only a Top 50 win over Kentucky in Maui as its signature win. The Tigers will curse the C-USA.

That said, UCLA and Ohio State have the most impressive resume if they all complete the feat. They are #1 locks in my book. Kansas, North Carolina, and Florida are fighting for the two spots along with two other teams that can win their Tournaments and jump into the picture: Texas A&M and Wisconsin. Either team would beat one of the teams listed above (Kansas & Ohio State, respectively) thereby earning huge points in my eyes. Basically put, these conference tournaments are going to be wars.

Mid-Major Infatuation. Missouri State & Bradley of the MVC along with Old Dominion & Drexel of the CAA will sweat out this entire weekend. These teams want status quo. (Beginning tonight - needing George Mason to quit being Cinderella.) All have decent RPI and SOS ratings but lack the punch with mainstream America because they don't get televised. Each could benefit with the memory of last year with two MVC teams in the Sweet Sixteen and George Mason's incredible run.

Duke, Duke, Duke. How good or bad are the Devils? Seth Davis, a Duke grad, had the Devils as a #3 seed prior to the UNC beatdown yesterday while Joe Lunardi (fine, I'll reference him here) has them at #7 in the aftermath. One thing helping the Devils is that they are the 7-seed in the ACC. What you ask? Help? They get NC State (bad), as well as Virginia and Virginia Tech who BOTH choked with the ACC title on the line this weekend. Duke is a tougher team mentally than these three teams. However, Virginia is athletic and mad and Tech did sweep the Devils. Their run in Tampa (I know, the ACC Tournament can be held outside of the state of North Carolina, shocking.) will determine anywhere from a 6 to a 9.

My Poor Old Kentucky Home. We're done. Tubby is worn out and really barring him resigning before the Tournament ala Joe B. Hall in 1985, this Cat team will be out in round one. The Cat faithful is hoping for a good showing this weekend in Atlanta, but it isn't coming. Heck, the Georgia Dome could be sparse by mid-day Thursday.

Seeds 7-10 are built upon sand. Any team in this nether region is on notice this weekend. You can greatly improve or damage your hopes with your performance this weekend.

The bracket will come tomorrow, sorry for the disappointment, but I gotta go watch Mason keep the dream alive. Break out the Bon Jovi - Living On a Prayer!

February 10, 2007

Weekend Samurai Shodown!!!

Yes, it is misspelled on purpose, giving props to a great arcade game back in my teens. However, the notion fits that this weekend is filled with teams going against each other with plenty of importance.

Without further adieu...

(31) Virginia at (36) Virginia Tech, 84-57 Virginia Tech
(137) Wake Forest at (2) North Carolina, 104-67 UNC
(27) Boston College at (18) Florida State - 68-67 BC
(90) Connecticut at (56) Georgia Tech - 65-52 Tech
(13) Duke at (37) Maryland - 72-60 Maryland

Interesting that UVA-Va.Tech is for the ACC lead whereas Duke-Maryland is an NCAA Tournament bubble game on Sunday. North Carolina will look to get back on track after an emotion win at Cameron on Wednesday. Boston College, co-leaders of the ACC, head to the snake pit that is Florida State, while Georgia Tech steps out of conference against Connecticut, needing the win to get some momentum for their fading hopes of an NCAA berth.

Virginia Tech comes through with the hammer at home, ditto for UNC, honoring their 1982 national championship team at halftime. Sunday's results produced a nice win for BC on the road, winning their second last-gasp game against Florida State. Duke now is completely on the bubble in the conference at 5-6. The Devils still travel to BC, Clemson, and Chapel Hill with home games against Georgia Tech and Maryland. They also head back to MSG to face St. John's. A 7-9 conference record will probably give the Devils their due. Anything less than that would be blatant favortism.

Big Ten
(42) Illinois at (15) Indiana, 65-61 Indiana
(83) Iowa at (6) Wisconsin, 74-62 Wisconsin
(180) Minnesota at (57) Michigan, Michigan 82-80
(38) Purdue at (4) Ohio State, 63-56 Ohio State

Illinois and Purdue could make a big jump with road wins, but all four home teams should hold serve. Four home games, four wins.

(216) Colorado at (43) Kansas State, 78-59 K-State
(129) Iowa State at (55) Texas, 77-68 Texas
(19) Kansas at (84) Missouri, 92-74 Kansas
(70) Oklahoma at (143) Baylor, 68-64 Oklahoma
(12) Texas A&M at (82) Nebraska, 66-55 A&M
(41) Texas Tech at (26) Oklahoma State, 93-91 OSU (2 ot's)

Gary Parrish of CBS Sportsline accurately states the stakes at hand for the Texas Tech-Oklahoma State game. The winner gets back into the NCAA talk, the loser is on the outside looking in. Kansas has a serious trap game in Columbia. Kansas State needs to keep this roll by locking up home court, ditto for Texas. A&M heads to Nebraska as conference leaders, and Oklahoma needs to prove that they belong after a win over OK State last week put them above .500 for the conference.

The Kings of Overtime (OSU) prevail again, erasing a six-point lead in the first overtime to get the win. Oklahoma gets themselves fully into the picture, while A&M and Kansas were road warriors.

Big East
(21) Marquette at (32) Georgetown, 76-58 Georgetown
(52) Providence at (3) Pittsburgh, 74-68 Pittsburgh
(152) South Florida at (72) Louisville, 83-63 Louisville
(1) UCLA at (46) West Virginia, 70-65 West Virginia
(17) Villanova at (118) Seton Hall, 78-69 Villanova
(90) Connecticut at (56) Georgia Tech - 65-52 Ga. Tech
(132) St. John's at (62) Syracuse - 76-74 Syracuse

The bottom five games involve higher ranked Big East teams that all need wins. West Virginia would force the country to look up their roster if they upset UCLA. Marquette and Georgetown is about conference tournament positioning. Providence could make a big splash but their 1-5 record in road and neutral games suggests they won't.

West Virginia got their tournament resume win over UCLA. Villanova avoided the stumble, while Georgetown continues their rise in my bracket with a strong win over Marquette. Georgia Tech hurts UConn's bounce back opportunity while Syracuse stays alive with the win.

Missouri Valley
(25) Creighton at (11) Southern Illinois, 72-68 Southern Illinois
(34) Missouri State at (81) Northern Iowa, 62-58 Missouri State

If Kentucky-Florida at 9:00 p.m. is the main course for today, then the heavy appetizer comes in the form of Creighton at Southern Illinois at 6:05 on ESPN 2. Enjoy. Missouri State could become lock city with a win over Northern Iowa, who themselves are trying to play their way back into consideration.

SIU goes to 52-1 on their homecourt since 2002 while Missouri State gets a strong road win. The Mo Valley has three teams clear at the top, locks for NCAA bids.

Mountain West
(14) Air Force at (110) New Mexico, 60-51 USAFA
(23) BYU at (189) Texas Christian, 85-72 BYU
(124) Wyoming at (10) UNLV, 80-70 UNLV

BYU leads the conference at 8-2 and needs to maintain focus on the road at TCU. UNLV comes home after a 90-63 loss at BYU earlier in the week. Air Force last went on the road earlier in the week and lost by 21 at San Diego State. The Pit is not a great place to be needing a bounce back win.

Air Force goes to the Pit and survives. BYU and UNLV survive and advance.

Pacific 10
(7) Arizona at (20) Oregon, 77-74 Arizona
(66) California at (28) Washington State, 59-46 Wazzu
(1) UCLA at (46) West Virginia, 70-65 West Virginia
(35) Stanford at (78) Washington - 64-52 Washington

The RPI says Arizona is a good to great team. I earlier called them elite. They need this game at Oregon to avoid negative perception that is starting to form that the Wildcats are good - on paper. Washington State needs to hold home court while UCLA runs into a trap at West Virginia. The Bruins could lose their #1 seed if they lose. Washington is trying to make a late run, so they need this game, but Stanford isn't a lock either. Both scenarios provide for a good game.

Arizona rises from the ashes to bury Oregon. Now its the Ducks who are slipping on perception. Washington State held serve at home, while UCLA will never again travel east for a 10 a.m. (PST) game. The Huskies have held serve at home pulling themselves back on the bubble with a 6-7 conference record. Washington can get in by beating Washington State and UCLA at home in the coming weeks while finding a road win either in-conference against Oregon or out-of-conference against Pittsburgh.

(9) Florida at (5) Kentucky, 64-61 Florida
(29) Alabama at (68) Mississippi, 75-69 Ole Miss
(33) Arkansas at (88) LSU, 71-67 LSU
(51) Georgia at (79) South Carolina, 73-54 Georgia
(48) Vanderbilt at (16) Tennessee, 84-57 Tennessee

Florida's chance at an undefeated SEC season vs. Kentucky's claim to legitimacy is at stake in Lexington. Mississippi is quietly moving up the standings while Alabama can't win away from Tuscaloosa. LSU is only a spoiler now and Arkansas is hanging by a thread. Georgia and South Carolina has the exact storyline. Tennessee, with Chris Lofton, needs to show the world that they can get it back on track. Vanderbilt is 6-3 in the SEC and they would make themselves a lock with a season sweep over the Vols.

Kentucky missed their chance, literally, going 4-of-22 from three-point land. Florida is beatable, but they will now run the table in the SEC regular season. Ole Miss is quietly a bubble team, while Alabama continues to lose on the road. LSU ends Arkansas' hopes of a bid and Tennessee gets back to life with Chris Lofton. Oh, and Georgia did the job over the Gamecocks.

February 05, 2007


Sometimes pictures leave nothing more to say...

February 02, 2007

Super Saturday...

The weekend is a huge day for ball... conferences all in action, fates decided each and every hour of the day. We're in February now, and admist the crucial "last 10" games that the NCAA holds so dear.

(23) Clemson at (65) Georgia Tech, 80-62 Tech
(30) Maryland at (114) Wake Forest, 79-72 Maryland
(165) Miami, FL at (39) Virginia, 81-70 UVA
(2) North Carolina at (118) N.C. State, 83-79 State
(34) Virginia Tech at (32) Boston College, 80-59 BC
(27) Florida State at (7) Duke, 68-67 Noles

A funny thing happened along the way to the Duke-UNC showdown with both programs losing the game before the matchup. It won't cost Carolina a #1 seed, but it might cost the Tarheels the #1 overall from ever being in their possession when factored in against UCLA and Wisconsin who now have much stronger SOS.

Three games feature teams with good RPIs heading on the road to play terrible teams - well, okay Georgia Tech isn't terrible, but they are 2-6 in the conference. Virginia Tech and Boston College represent the most even game of the weekend, with Duke needing to hold serve.

Big Ten
(13) Indiana at (94) Iowa, 81-75 Iowa
(164) Minnesota at (43) Illinois, 59-49 Illinois
(150) Northwestern at (4) Wisconsin, 69-52 Wisconsin
(6) Ohio State at (33) Michigan State, 63-54 Ohio State

The mark of a good team is when you can register a big home win over a Top 5 program and then go back out on the road and take care of business. As much as Indiana's win got them over Wisconsin, the loss to Iowa only puts them right back to where they were before. Illinois and Wisconsin held serve, while Ohio State is positioning themselves for a #1 seed if they can knock off Wisconsin at home later in the year.

Michigan State will look to bolster their resume, Wisconsin and Illinois should maintain status quo and Indiana will be on letdown alert after their win against Wisconsin.

Big XII Conference
(48) Kansas State at (46) Texas, 73-72 K-State
(12) Oklahoma State at (241) Colorado, 89-77 Colorado
(20) Texas A&M at (15) Kansas, 69-66 A&M
(29) Texas Tech at (87) Oklahoma, 75-61 Oklahoma

Texas will start from scratch to rebuild their resume as Kansas State climbs to third in the conference with a signature win. A five-win Colorado team destroyed Oklahoma State in a puzzling result that will damage State's seeding by a line or two. A&M got their big win on the road in Lawrence, conquering the fans, GameDay, and Bill Self's inept coaching. Oklahoma won big but they need a miracle to get in - a tough loss for Texas Tech.

Kansas State needs a resume win, Texas will look to keep climbing. Oklahoma State will take their act on the road, losers of their last two trips out. A&M and Kansas will be a great game, A&M needs it more. Texas Tech could start a slide putting them back on the bubble with a loss in Norman.

Big East
(69) DePaul at (57) Syracuse, 75-69 Syracuse
(59) Louisville at (22) Villanova, 57-53 Villanova
(38) Notre Dame at (163) South Florida, 69-63 South Florida
(53) Providence at (19) Marquette, 69-62 Marquette
(45) West Virginia at (107) Seton Hall, 81-70 West Virginia

West Virginia goes ahead of Notre Dame for securing a win on the road over a 100+ team. Notre Dame should not be ranked in today's poll (Monday). Marquette, Syracuse, and Villanova prove there is no place like home in the Big East.

The 'Cuse needs to make the Carrier Dome fearsome again. Louisville has the better conference record and could make an RPI jump over a good RPI, but losing conference record Villanova squad. Notre Dame and West Virginia need to maintain focus away from home, while Providence will seek a big win at Marquette.

Missouri Valley
(49) Bradley at (123) Illinois State, 70-62 Bradley
(28) Creighton at (119) Drake, 67-62 Creighton
(37) Missouri State at (89) Indiana State, 71-42 Missouri State
(61) Northern Iowa at (104) Evansville, 79-71 Northern Iowa
(11) Southern Illinois at (54) Wichita State, 54-46 SIU

Five-for-five. We now have a clear split in the Valley after all five teams hit the road and pick up wins. Creighton and Southern Illinois stand at 10-3 in the Valley, making them absolute locks for the NCAAs if they keep it up.

Saturday is a day for road warriors in the Valley. I would guess that all five teams will not get wins. Bradley and Northern Iowa can't afford to lose. Wichita State can jump back into the race with both feet by downing the Salukis.

Mountain West
(9) UNLV at (35) BYU, 90-63 BYU
(115) Wyoming at (18) Air Force, 88-43 USAF

UNLV gets destroyed, but they get the conference tournament on their home floor, while the Air Force posted the biggest win by margin in conference history.

UNLV-BYU loser will be in trouble, while Air Force should survive and advance.

Pac-10 Conference
(16) Oregon at (55) USC, 71-68 USC
(184) Oregon State at (1) UCLA, 82-35 UCLA
(40) Stanford at (56) California, 90-71 Stanford
(72) Washington at (8) Arizona, 84-54 Arizona
(27) Washington State at (234) Arizona State, 48-47 Wazzu

USC gets the season sweep over Oregon. UCLA holds OSU to 35 points. Stanford gets a nice win on the road, Arizona kills Washington's momentum as the Huskies had won three straight, and Washington State only needs 12 second-half points to hang on in Tempe.

Oregon seeks revenge for a home loss to USC earlier in the year. UCLA will cruise. Stanford and Cal each need the win. Washington catches a reeling Arizona, looking to conquer the Cats for an RPI jump, while Washington State needs to get it done against ASU.

(42) Georgia at (51) Vanderbilt, 66-61 Vandy
(7) Kentucky at (25) Arkansas, 82-74 Kentucky
(81) LSU at (90) Mississippi State, 85-78 Miss. State
(80) Mississippi at (85) Auburn, 82-59 Ole Miss
(78) South Carolina at (26) Alabama, 64-61 Alabama
(14) Tennessee at (17) Florida, 94-78 Florida

Vandy gets to 6-3 while Kentucky races past Arkansas in the second half to secure the status of the second-best team in the conference. Miss. State bombs LSU out of the picture as the Tigers now stand in last place in the West with a 2-6 conference mark. Ole Miss is quietly moving into contention. The Rebels are 15-8 overall, 4-5 in conference. Alabama wins and will remain the most overrated Top 25 team in the land, while Florida proves their dominance over Tennessee.

The Georgia-Vandy winner will stand at 6-3 in conference play, the loser will start to have doubts creep into their recent success. Kentucky needs the win to keep up their RPI, while Arkansas needs it to get to .500 in the conference. LSU is facing a must-gotta have-absolute-need win. Lose here and you won't be in the list next time. Auburn could get to 5-4 in conference play with a win. Alabama needs the win over South Carolina to get closer to .500 while Tennessee and Florida won't the showdown that their RPI's suggest with the Vols missing Chris Lofton.

(95) Hawaii at (31) Nevada, 69-68 Nevada

Nevada accomplishes the mission, barely.

Pack looks to keep rolling.

West Coast
(41) Gonzaga at (223) Pepperdine, 82-57 Gonzaga

Gonzaga's next/only statement game left is against Memphis in two weeks.

Zags will need to keep focus after an emotional, double-overtime win at Stanford.

February 01, 2007

Begin the games of February

Thursday is traditionally "Pac-10 Night" as the conference plays a Thursday-Saturday regimen for their conference tilts. There are a few other games sprinkled in, but generally Thursday is a light night for the East Coast.

(5) Duke at (48) Virginia

No home clock operator to save the Blue Devils here. For Virginia this would be a signature moment to give legitimacy to their 5-2 conference mark.

Big East
(38) Georgetown at (146) St. John's

Georgetown needs to avoid the bugaboo that is MSG and NYC. St. John's took out Syracuse and Notre Dame in their last two home games.

(18) Oregon at (1) UCLA
(187) Oregon State at (53) USC
(72) Washington at (231) Arizona State
(34) Washington State at (6) Arizona

The first game is a monster. Please tell me that the Columbus BlueJackets are off tonight so I can watch that on FSN Ohio. Please, please, PLEASE! USC just needs to protect home turf, while Washington has to prove they can beat anybody on the road. Washington State and Arizona is a sneaky good game. Both teams are coming in off losses so momentum is at stake.

(32) Nevada at (221) Louisiana Tech

Nothing dumb, Wolfpack.

January 31, 2007

Who needs wins... Wednesday, January 31st

I have decided to tackle the rest of the bracketing issue in the coming weeks. Things are too volatile right now to worry, just keep focusing on your Top 34 lists, determining those teams that regardless of getting the automatic bid for winning the conference tournament, would still have a resume strong enough to make the tournament.

That being said, tonight’s action on the hardwood is key for a bunch of teams. Let’s break it down, teams are listed with their RPI number in parentheses:

(233) Hartford at (31) Boston College, 94-60 BC
(170) Miami, FL at (2) North Carolina, 105-63 Heels
(147) North Carolina State at (23) Virginia Tech, 70-59 State

It should be a light night for the ACC – the powers are all at home and should cruise.
Oops, Virginia Tech blew it. North Carolina and Boston College romped.

Big Ten Conference
(115) Iowa at (45) Michigan, 69-62 Iowa
(8) Ohio State at (47) Purdue, 78-60 Ohio State
(3) Wisconsin at (19) Indiana, 71-66 Indiana

I excluded the Minnesota-Northwestern tilt. Michigan needs to hold serve at home, Purdue is playing their last chance to make an impression this large should they defeat Ohio State. The Wisconsin-Indiana game is all about seeding position as both teams are locks for the Tournament. A loss would put Wisconsin and Ohio State at one loss apiece with the return showdown in Columbus coming on Feb. 25th.

Michigan is done after blowing an 11-point halftime lead at home against Iowa. Purdue missed their chance while Indiana is now playing for a top five seed after taking out the Badgers.

(140) Iowa State at (26) Texas A&M, 73-49 Aggies
(69) Missouri at (57) Kansas State, 80-73 K-State
(56) Texas at (21) Texas Tech, 76-64 Texas

A&M needs to hold serve. Kansas State and Missouri is basically an elimination game for the loser with the winner promised nothing. Texas still needs a signature win. The Longhorns have played great against teams, with Kevin Durant putting up monster numbers, but each time they have lost.

A&M cruised, Kansas State won at home, and Texas is improving their stock after winning in Lubbock, thanks to Kevin Durant going for 37 and 23. Insane.

Missouri Valley
(35) Creighton at (41) Bradley, 82-71 Creighton
(90) Indiana State at (10) Southern Illinois, 61-48 SIU
(40) Missouri State at (107) Drake, 87-82 OT Missouri State

Creighton and Bradley is the showcase with the Jays standing at 8-3 in conference while the Braves are 6-5. Bradley needs this win at home. Southern Illinois needs status quo, while Missouri State can’t stumble on the road at Drake.

Creighton picks up a nice road win at Bradley, essentially putting the Braves on the outside looking in, Missouri State needed overtime but got the win. Southern Illinois held form at home.

(32) Alabama at (71) LSU, 73-70 Bama
(39) Georgia at (18) Tennessee, 82-71 Tennessee
(54) Vanderbilt at (17) Florida, 74-64 Gators

LSU is getting into “must have” territory, but Alabama needs to get above .500 in conference as well. (The Tide are the ONLY ranked team to not be above .500 in their conference.) Georgia needs to prove they can win away from home by defeating a reeling, Chris Lofton-less Tennessee team. Vanderbilt has done enough lately (Beating Kentucky and LSU on the road.) but this would make the ‘Dores a lock for the NCAA’s with a win – in short, Vandy has nothing to lose.

Bama gets the big win in Baton Rouge, putting LSU on life support. Tennessee without Lofton wins over Georgia, while Florida roars back from a double-digit halftime deficit to down Vandy.

(38) BYU at (159) Utah, 76-66 BYU
The Beehive Showdown is a trap game for BYU. Utah will bring everything in this game while it would be a bad loss for BYU considering Utah’s 159 RPI. BYU gets it done, not falling into the trap.

(50) Gonzaga at (28) Stanford, 90-86 Gonzaga in double OT
A month ago this would have been a trap game for Gonzaga, however Stanford is the better team standing at 6-3 in Pac-10 play and a 28 RPI. Gonzaga now needs this win to avoid a double-digit seed – a win over North Carolina in November can only get you so far. Great game missed by yours truly. The recap reads well and Gonzaga gets their win - they have Memphis in a couple of weeks.

(20) Butler at (166) Youngstown State, 71-58 Butler
(12) Memphis at (121) Central Florida, 87-65 Memphis
Butler fancies a top five seed in the NCAAs. It is my opinion that they can’t lose a conference game to reach their goal. Ditto for Memphis, but they are shooting for a 2-3 seed. Both keep rolling right along.

(62) George Washington at (74) Dayton, 83-69 Dayton
(44) Xavier at (215) Duquesne, 93-91 Dukes
GW has emerged as the conference elite to date, but not good enough for an at-large bid. They could start their way to a Top 34 ranking with a win here. X-men need not to lose in Pittsburgh at Duquesne. I am so through with the Atlantic-10. Basically put, the conference will only send its conference champ to the dance.

January 27, 2007

Duke vs. Clemson

I simply get tired of the refs not doing their job completely (click here for the YouTube video of the ending). You have video you can review and should know that there is no way a shot can only take 0.6 seconds to shoot from 20-feet. They could have reviewed more film than the Warren Commission, instead they sloppily determine that 4.4 seconds should be left and Duke wins when the Clemson defense breaks down.

Then today, I log on to CBS Sportsline and lo and behold there is the obligatory, "we messed up, but the game still stands" article from the ACC supervisor of officials as well as the "no comment" line from Duke University.

The good part is related to our discussion about the NCAA Tournament is that the Committee is a human element who will weigh the result with the clock error, in some cases throwing out the result of the game in their minds. Clemson won't be punished for the miscue, as well as Duke not receiving as much credit had McRoberts not thrown the ball away.

Duke travels to Littlejohn Coliseum on Thursday, February 22nd. I know I will be watching.

January 26, 2007

How to Project the Field of 65

For the past five years I've enjoyed trying to guess the 65 teams for the tournament. Usually I start around February 1st, by then major conferences have gone through round-robin play one time. I guess I am just not that clever, so without further adieu here are the rules.

First off, the Basketball Committee has a panel of 8-10 members on a selective basis. Each person gets assigned an area of the country to watch along with gauging the land. Near the time of the tournament, but before the conference tournaments begin, each member puts together a list of teams 1-34. These are supposed to represent the 34 at-large bids. Essentially, you are picking the 34 teams that would get in regardless of their conference tournaments. The 31 conferences each get an automatic bid, comprising the 65 teams selected.

There are several criteria used to determine one team versus another, for me I keep a spreadsheet with 11 columns of relevant categories.

Thank God for Ken Pomeroy. www.kenpom.com - click on "RPI" and then sit down and write a check to the man for having the site that will save you eons of time. The highlighted columns below are found directly on his site. The others are found elsewhere or by applying math formulas in your Excel sheet.

- Won/loss record (conference and overall), which omits wins/losses against non D-I teams.
- AP & Coaches polls ranking
- Strength of Schedule
- Record vs. Top 50
- Record vs. Top 100
- Total Record vs. Top 100 (just a simple addition of the two previous columns - so maybe I have 12 criteria)
- Losses vs. 101 and higher
- Last 10 record
- Record of road and neutral games

Most all categories are not stand-alone, sure fire ways to rank a team. Polls are biased. Won/loss records are inflated through easy games. Conferences are skewed to have a lot of members in the Top 50 whereas mid-major conferences don't, so the Top 50 wins will always be high for the Big Six (BCS) conferences. In short, you have to look at all criteria together as a whole picture.

In essence, you have to decide what is important and what are just stats. To me, the most powerful stat is a team's record in road and neutral games. The NCAA Tournament is played on neutral courts, teams that are tough at home but weak sisters on the road don't hold much appeal to me. All other criteria have a "yeah, but" quality to them. However, you win away from home and on a neutral court, then your doing something.

RPI and SOS are fairly reliable as well. Certain teams are known for loading up an easy non-conference and they get hurt in these ratings. They don't perform well in conference then they wind up on the bubble. Win big in conference and the gamble pays off with a high seed.

On the other end, my pet peeve are the polls. Yes, they are used to an extent, but I factor them in as the "human error bias" into the projection. Certain teams earn huge breaks thanks to the polls, while upsets happen every year by those teams overlooked by the polls. In the middle ground (trying to seed the 6-10 seeds) is where a ranked team will usually get the benefit of the doubt.

The Committee will also tell you that the Last 10 is very important. I say the record on its face is not enough. You have to delve into who they played in the last ten. Essentially, think of the college football season, there is a reason that Tennessee plays well in November, getting Kentucky and Vanderbilt on the schedule each year in the penultimate month.

While not a defined criteria, I tend to downplay the conference tournaments. They are good for teams on the bubble looking to get in, but realize that the upper echelon of teams are usually set by the committee before the tournaments. Flaming out early or running the table usually only improves or harms your seeding by one line either way.

To keep things moving, lets take a look at my current Top 34:

My list represents games through Thursday, January 25th. (The good part about college basketball season is that Friday is the weakest day for games, hence a good chance to take a snapshot of the country standing still.)

1. Wisconsin
3. North Carolina
4. Florida
5. Pittsburgh
6. Duke
7. Kansas
8. Ohio State
9. Oregon
10. Texas A&M
11. Arizona
12. Memphis
13. Oklahoma State
14. Clemson
15. Marquette
16. Washington State
17. Air Force
18. Kentucky
19. Indiana
20. Alabama
21. Butler
22. Nevada
23. Southern Illinois
24. Texas Tech
25. Virginia Tech
26. Vanderbilt
27. Boston College
28. UNLV
29. Michigan State
30. Villanova
31. Tennessee
32. Georgetown
33. Northern Iowa
34. Stanford

I could go into how and why, but really that is the point of the list and needing multiple people in the room. No two lists will look the same and what I think is important you might pass over.

Moving right along, the next task for the Committee is to fill out the bracket. 31 conference champions get automatic bids for winning their tournaments (only the Ivy League gives its bid to the regular-season champ). The best way to accomplish it for now is to determine that the lower conferences (SWAC, MEAC, Ohio Valley) will only get one team in the tournament. Seed your Top 34, then fill out the bottom of the bracket with the champions of the lower-ranked conferences.

Thank God for Ken Pomeroy, again. Write out another check.

Found in his spreadsheet is a whole other tab that ranks the conferences 1-31 by their RPI rank as a conference. Pretty much the conferences below the 12th or 13th are only going to get their conference champion in. To summarize, the highest ranked team out of a conference ranked in the conferences from 14-31 is Appalachian State at #44. Good luck boys.

What throws the committee into a topsy turvy is when you project a number of teams in a conference to win the tournament and they don't come through. There are only 65 bids, someone loses out.

Rank your 1-34, seed them, then rank your bottom 16-18. The hard part is filling out the last 10 or so teams. These are the teams that you see on your television on Selection Sunday waiting to be selected or screwed based on the opinions of eight people in a room since Thursday.

So you do it, you select the 65 teams. Take a big breath because your not done yet. You have to seed the teams, place the teams in one of eight pod sites (first and second rounds, first weekend) while assigning them to a region (four sites, second weekend) - all the while making sure that you don't put two same-conference teams in region before they could meet in the regional final, or likewise avoiding any kind of rematch between two out-of-conference teams before the same regional final.

You can check a team's entire schedule on Pomeroy's site. Who they played, where, the score, and their current RPI rank.

Write another check.

We'll venture into seeding and placement tomorrow.

January 25, 2007

This Could be the End for Me

Gotta show me something.

In 2002, we as a fanbase of the Kentucky Wildcats were told that the meltdown occuring on the court would be the last time. Fed up with high-maintenance kids, Tubby Smith grew tired of the drama off the court and decided that from now on he would get "his kids". No more whining about playing time, no more moping, the Cats would be a bunch of overachievers ready to run through brick walls for the sake of playing for the "KENTUCKY" on the front of their jerseys.

The notion worked in 2003-2005. The 2003 season would see a 26-game winning streak and a 16-0 SEC record. The Cats would go out in the Elite Eight after an all-world performance by D-Wade and his Marquette boys. I could live with that. In 2004, a smallish UK team featuring 6'6" Chuck Hayes and 6'7" Erik Daniels manning the paint turned in a stellar year leading the Cats to a #1 seed. UAB came along in the second round and put out the Cats. Overachievement, fine, a second-round loss stings as a #1, but with that small of a frontcourt we could look the other way. 2005 saw a talented group of freshmen arrive on campus and UK flourished, getting to the Elite Eight as a 2-seed and losing in double overtime to 5-seed Michigan State. Double overtime, thanks to a circus shot by Patrick Sparks in regulation, we could understand with the talented freshmen looking to only improve heading into 2006...

Then the wheels fell off again. Sparks and Rajon Rondo would have a falling out over a girlfriend, Randolph Morris would turn pro, only to not get drafted and return midway in the season thanks to NCAA suspension for improper benefits while he was an NBA draftee, and the Cats would sink to an 8-seed, losing to Connecticut in the second-round.

We had been told once that it would never happen again, but lo and behold, the Cats were failures. Fast forward to this year and the Cats play an ever plodding style, but work their way to a 15-3 record, losing only to Memphis, UCLA, and North Carolina. To this point, the Cats' NCAA resume was panning out to a 3/4 seed. Definite improvement for sure, but then came Vanderbilt into Lexington, and for the second year in a row the Commodores walked out winners. Prior to the previous two years, Vandy had never won in Rupp (opened, 1973).

The players were quick to tell us that the game was a fluke. The team had gotten comfortable with an 11-game winning streak and that this upcoming game at Georgia would show a confident bunch of Cats taking the floor to erase the Vandy loss.

Mission accomplished... if basketball were a 20-minute game. UK led 43-30 at Stegeman Coliseum on Wednesday night, but would be outscored 48-26 the rest of the way for a 78-69 overtime loss.

UK now stands at 15-5 on the year, 4-2 in SEC play. It should be pointed out that the Cats still have home and away games with Florida and Tennessee, as well as a trip to Arkansas, Alabama, and Vanderbilt. Mind you they still get LSU and Georgia at home down the stretch. Only a home game against South Carolina, whom UK defeated 87-49 in Columbia, looks safe.

In gloom and doom it looks like another "Ten Loss Tubby" year in the Bluegrass. I can't see a win at Florida or Alabama, and Tennessee could be an iffy proposition if Chris Lofton doesnt return from an ankle injury. As of this day, Lofton is scheduled to miss the UK-UT game in Lexington this Sunday, a boost for UK's spirits. That would leave UK, at best and with a win over Florida at home factored in, with only seven losses. The Cats would have to win the SEC Tournament or the NCAA Tournament at that juncture to avoid the 10 loss mark.

Kentucky basketball is a powerhouse. The Wildcats are the Cadillac of the sport, amongst UCLA, North Carolina, Indiana, Kansas, and Duke. While all those teams mentioned have fallen on hard times in recent years, they all appear to have the ship righted - or have made changes to ensure that they were put back on track.

Sadly for me, the rest of this season, Tubby Smith will have to prove his worth to remain in Lexington. I want to go into games not fearing a loss, but rather expecting to have a shot to win. Tubby's next 10 games - until the end of the regular season are crucial. The fanbase is already divided and after Wednesday's collapse, I think I have switched camps to the side that isn't seeing results that UK fans expect.

January 23, 2007

Our trip to the Dean Dome

It all started with ESPN College GameDay broadcasting from Chapel Hill that entire day, focusing on the Heels and their game with Georgia Tech that night. First impression is that Gameday is a "hurry up and wait" event. They tape segments, you go wild. Then you sit down and wait for 20 minutes for them to tape another one. We got there at 10 am during taping, but it wasn't until 11 am until they signed on. The coolest part of GameDay was watching Alex Bloom, a UNC student absolutely can a shot to win $13,000. I wish Blogger could post video, but I can't figure out how. But I do have a picture of him getting the check.

Then we got out of there in time to run back to the hotel. Some of the guys wanted to see Duke, so we went, but our next order of business was our game on the floor of the Smith Center at 6:00 p.m. against the North Carolina JV team. Before hand, we got to meet Coach Roy Williams. The background story is that our AD, Gary Kempf (guy to the side of Williams in the photo) worked with Roy at Kansas for 15 years until Gary retired from being the swim coach and Roy left for Carolina. It was a personal favor, but Roy gave us five minutes of his time only hours before his team would take the floor. My impression of Williams was of the lovable coach who perhaps cried too much at the end of NCAA Tournament disappointments, but just to hear him talk about loving the game and wishing us well changed my view of the man. He is a genuine, nice guy. He was the epitome of the class act treatment by all of the Carolina basketball family.

So we took to the floor in order to get some warmup shots. Let's just say we knew we weren't here for life or death (see first photo), but the boys did perform well considering the 9 hour drive only 24 hours before we were to play. The guys ate it up, constantly looking in the rafters at the retired jerseys and championship banner. Yours truly got a good shot of one of our guys throwing it down in the Dean Dome. Ian immediately asked to have that picture emailed to him.

The boys are still warming up, but lo and behold Dickie V shows up! Believe it or not, he comes over and asks me if I can take some pictures of him with the mob of kids when our game goes to half. Send to me he says... I get his business card and suddenly I became Dick Vitale's personal photographer for his halftime taping of a segment.

So, we go down in flames, 90-63 but the guys didn't care. We had so much fun just with the experience and everything. The last thing we waited on were the 30 free tickets we receive for the night's featured event, Georgia Tech at North Carolina. We get the tickets, hike up to our seats and go from courtside to nosebleed. Carolina won 77-61. It was just a great day.

January 16, 2007

Shows what I know...

This pretty much says it all.

Remember that entry about two back of the elite teams of college basketball? We might need a new entry after just a few days.

Arizona lost to Oregon at home, 79-77 and new #1 North Carolina lost at Virginia Tech 94-88. UCLA needed a last second shot by Arron Afflalo to down USC, 65-64, Ohio State needed the same luck on a three-pointer by Ron Lewis to beat Tennessee, 68-66. Kansas survived Iowa State, 68-64 in OT, while Wisconsin defeated a pesky, but game Northwestern squad 56-50.

That was just the weekend.

On Monday, the Jayhawks survived Missouri on their home court, 80-77.

Only Florida has won big since my "crowning" of the Super Seven, defeating South Carolina in Columbia, 84-50.

Maybe I should wait before making any other bold predictions, no?

January 14, 2007

We talked contenders, lets talk pretenders

Solid? Yes. Best band ever? No chance. Just like these teams below.

The beginning of this list must focus on those teams who are ranked solely based off preseason hype and 2006 results. We have plenty of candidates if I just talk about those who finished well last year or just those receiving hype this year. However, if you combine the two elements you see the full futility of these teams' hopes come March.

The Duke Blue Devils have scheduling down to a science. First step, schedule mid majors from strong conferences and play them at Cameron. Next up, play everyone else at home or in New York, but never on their home floor - that is for conference play. Watch your RPI soar while getting solid wins over teams that you beat before you walk in the door and parlay that into a ridiculously high NCAA seeding and bow out early. Duke circa 2007 is going by the book. The Dookies played all games at Cameron or neutral sites until January 10th - losing at Georgia Tech to start the year 0-2 in the ACC. What isn't going to script are the wins. Losses to Marquette in Kansas City and to Virginia Tech at home have stripped away the luster. This Duke team shouldn't be higher than a 6-seed, but the NCAA Committee will find a way.

Adopting the Duke Scheduling Method are the Connecticut Huskies. The only wrinkle in their system is to play absolute dogs while never leaving the state until after Christmas. The failed plot in their scheme is that they have begun conference play by proving their unworthiness. The Huskies only got their first true road win against a hapless St. John's team last night. In some years, Calhoun has missed the tournament completely after huge years. This could be another.

Texas A&M made a decent run in 2006 - coming within a whisker of defeating LSU and advancing to the Atlanta Regional. In 2007, they have won the games they should have, played close against some big boys, but show absolutely no win that will get you excited. Per their RPI, the Aggies best win to-date is a home victory over Winthrop. A&M needs to reverse its fortunes inside the Big 12 or face life as a double-digit seed in the tournament.

The NCAA Tournament Committee has a real problem. A couple of years ago they selected to have a first-and-second round site in Spokane, Washington. Gonzaga was a darling as they are now, and even Lorenzo Romar bringing Washington back to life made it appear as though the NCAA couldn't miss - either getting one or the other to be the main attraction. The problem this year is that the Huskies are 1-5 in conference, 11-6 overall. The Zags are 11-6 as well, and while they head into their conference play and should come out very well, it will be painfully obvious that the NCAA arranged this site to pay back the Zags for a few low seeds in past tournaments. Some 4 or 5 seed is going to wind up getting to play Gonzaga on their virtual home floor thanks to this gaffe by the NCAA. Shame on them.

January 13, 2007

The Official Beginning of College Basketball

Eventually life goes on and while college football has closed its book for the 2006 season, we now set our sights on the 2006-2007 college basketball slate. We've only been in conference play for two weeks, but already teams are aligning themselves into contenders and pretenders, underrated and overrated.

First, lets begin with the "Super Seven" schools who have their alumni booking hotels in Atlanta.

The Florida Gators are the champions until they are eliminated in March/April by any other team. So far this season, the Gators have fallen to Kansas in Las Vegas and Florida State on the road. Wins for the Gators have only come inside the state of Florida, 13 at home, two on netural courts within the state. The win that showed their rightful place as defenders of the crown was an 86-60 win over Ohio State at home. Florida will still be a tough one-game out. I don't think they'll navigate the SEC undefeated - but they will win the conference with only one or two losses. They'll win the SEC Tournament and enter the NCAAs as a #1 seed.

Next in line are the North Carolina Tarheels. Forget about what you think you know about the ACC. Clemson is undefeated for the moment but faces games at Maryland and home against North Carolina. Duke has started the conference slate 0-2 and plays a deliberate slowdown game in order to hide their weaknesses (point guard, swingman, true center). North Carolina will continue to run roughshod over the conference. They are like Florida - they won't go unscathed, but they will secure the ACC Tournament and the second #1 seed.

This is a bit of a trendy pick amongst my workplace, but in my opinion the Wisconsin Badgers are next. They have the player of the year to date in Alando Tucker. They have also secured a win over Ohio State at home with the return trip coming later in the year. Wins over Pittsburgh, Florida State, and Marquette on the road bolster the Wisconsin resume. Their only setback is a two point loss in South Padre, Texas against Missouri State on November 24th. This is a team that will win all games at home in conference. They face five away games that could set them back: Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan State, and Ohio State. They'll go 2-3 in those five at worst. I can't say they'll win their conference tournament with 100 percent surety, but I would tag them the favorites. Doing so puts them as the third #1 seed.

Defense wins championships is the adage, but my Kentucky faithful sure don't believe. However, if offense is the order of the day, then the UCLA Bruins play enough to get past a few shootouts. The Bruins won Maui, blew out Washington at home, and secured a "neutral" win over Texas A&M in Anaheim. Their only loss was a two-pointer at Oregon. The Bruins still face Arizona, the Washington schools, and a return trip to West Virginia (after playing in Pauley last year) on the road. The Pac-10 is better than you think and their tournament will be a war, but I think UCLA will be rewarded for the conference title and seeded as the final #1 seed.

Their losses look shaky, but a win over Florida and a 30-point blowout of a solid Oklahoma State team puts the Kansas Jayhawks back on the map. The rest of their slate is winnable. The teams they get at home they need while the road trips are against opponents who don't have the same talent. Bill Self is under a magnifying glass after back-to-back first round losses, so the faithful might not be booking hotel rooms just yet. Have some faith, KU fans, you're good.

Arizona waltzed into Seattle and put down the Huskies, 96-87. They have a lineup that I don't know without studying, but what I do know is that the Cats are 4-1, 13-2 overall in a tough conference. They own a win over Memphis at home, and a win over Illinois in Phoenix in which they trailed by 12 early and won by 12. The Cats could make a real statement on back-to-back weekends, playing at UCLA (Jan. 20th) then hosting North Carolina (Jan. 27th).

Greg Oden's presence simply puts the Ohio State Buckeyes amongst the elite, however the Buckeyes have crushed smaller competition but have yet to secure a win against anyone of note. So why are they here? They suffered possibly their only loss in conference against Wisconsin in Madison. If I am right about that, it would make them co-champions of the Big Ten headed into the conference tournament. Their first big chance comes today against Tennessee at home to prove they belong. They lose that, and I will be down to a Super Six list.

January 10, 2007

2006 Final Poll

This is the final ballot as we bid farewell to the college football season and say hello to 2007. Irish news is on the horizon, especially with rumors flying that Notre Dame might have an entirely new defensive staff. But this vote represents the close of college football for 2006. Move your seniors off the map and clear out the NFL-bound juniors, because everything from here is about the next year.

1. Florida (13-1)
2. Ohio State (12-1)
3. Boise State (13-0)
4. USC (11-2)
5. LSU (11-2)
6. Louisville (12-1)
7. Auburn (11-2)
8. Michigan (11-2)
9. Wisconsin (12-1)
10. West Virginia (11-2)
11. Rutgers (11-2)
12. BYU (11-2)
13. TCU (11-2)
14. California (10-3)
15. Texas (10-3)
16. Oklahoma (11-3)
17. Notre Dame (10-3)
18. Virginia Tech (10-3)
19. Wake Forest (11-3)
20. Boston College (10-3)
21. Hawaii (10-3)
22. Oregon State (10-4)
23. Arkansas (10-4)
24. Penn State (9-4)
25. Central Michigan (10-4)

Final Notes:

- Highlighted teams represent bowl winners. Its a good thing to close out your season strong.

- Only one team is in the Top 25 without 10 wins, Penn State.

- There is a sentiment around the nation to put Boise State at #2, but I can't ignore Ohio State's regular season despite the poor bowl season for the Big Ten (2-5).

- The Basketball Coach said something to ponder. Without the poll reversal after the Ohio State/Michigan game we would have been left with a rematch that would have stood for all-time as the best two teams in the country. If there was engineering in the polls to get Florida in, then the pollsters did their job, overriding the computers in favor of their eyes as Florida and USC cruised to wins over Ohio State & Michigan.

- How good is Auburn? Wins over LSU and Florida justify my #7 ranking for the Tigers.

- What should also be finally stated is that this poll should show no bearing for a pre-season poll for next year. I am not one for pre-season polls, however I can use this poll to think about who will be here at the end of 2007. I have four categories: teams that will return to a better position, a team that is ranked here but will finish much lower next year, a team not here that will be here, and a team here that won't be here. Got it? Here goes.

- Its a safe pick perhaps, but USC will return to at least the #4 ranking when the 2007 final poll is released next January. While there hasn't been fire to the smoke of the Carroll to Miami rumors, I reserve the right to negate this pick if he leaves. Otherwise, the Trojans bring back a ton of talent to take on a schedule that will feature road games against Oregon, California, and Notre Dame.

- Petrino left, Michael Bush declared, Harry Douglas, Brian Brohm, and a few others could follow. The Louisville Cardinals will NOT be the #6 or higher team in 2007. They might not even win the state championship.

- A team off this list that will be back are the Georgia Bulldogs. Matthew Stafford is your quarterback and will benefit from a full spring as the lead candidate. Georgia showed a ton of pride to win out after Kentucky dumped them to a 6-4 mark that included a home loss to Vanderbilt. The Dawgs rallied to beat Auburn at Auburn, Georgia Tech at home, and Virginia Tech in the Chik-Fil-A Bowl.

- Finally one team on here that you won't see in 2007 are the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. I know they have numbers back and that coach Jim Grobe is all-world. However, all those close wins in 2006 will turn against the Deacons in 2007. Just a hunch.

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Heavenly time period: College football season until the championship game of March Madness.