The Basketblog

Celebrating the love of the Game.

I need a soapbox (regarding college three pointers)

I have begun to hate college teams that shoot a lot of threes.  The shot is way too easy at the current line.  The top 50 shooting teams all hit at least 38.2% of their three-point attempts.  That is equal to 1.14 points per shot.  To do that from inside the three-point line, a team would have to shoot 57%.  I can’t find any stats for two-point percentage, but only four teams shoot better than 50% from the field.  I checked the two-point percentage for those four teams and found only one hit 57% inside the line; I can’t imagine many others did the same.  There’s certainly not 50+ teams that did it.

It’s also easier to get “hot” from beyond the line.  When a team hits over 60% inside the line, they are getting mostly dunks and layups (i.e. working for their points or taking advantage of mistakes more than making shots), but teams regularly make 50% of their three-point shots in a single game.  That’s like making 75% of their two-pointers!  How often does that happen?  It should be just as rare for a team to hit 50% of their threes.

Some teams shoot more than others, and that’s fine, but when you look at a lot of the biggest upsets or near upsets, the underdog either hit 50% or better or attempted more than 20 threes.  Look at the biggest wins by good teams and you’ll see that they didn’t shoot many threes.  The close three-point line is an equalizer unlike anything else seen in sports and allows teams to win despite not playing as well as the losing team.

But the good news is that the line is being moved a foot farther back for next year.  It will bring percentages down, but will it bring them down enough?  If not, I’m close to giving up on college basketball as a legitimate sport.

March 28, 2008 Posted by | Basketball, NCAA, Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

NCAA Tournament: Round 1 review

Wow…Let’s look at what we know after today.

  • Duke’s chances of winning the tournament are decreased quite a bit. Each of the last ten national champions have won their first round game by double-digits. Champions don’t struggle in the opening round, which means Tennessee and Xavier probably won’t win either.
  • Connecticut and Vanderbilt definitely will not be winning the tournament.  (For the record, I said San Diego would be the team most likely to get a big upset.)
  • 1-seeds are better than 16-seeds.
  • A 12-seed beats a 5-seed in the first round every year. (The first round last year never happened.)
  • Brackets are pretty tough to pick accurately.
  • Stephen Curry is pretty good.
  • The next round should be great!

[I had some Internet problems the last couple days, which is why I didn’t have any posts before now.  I don’t promise anything except that I’ll post when I can.]

March 21, 2008 Posted by | ACC, Basketball, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, CUSA, MVC, NCAA, Pac-10, SEC, Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NIT First round: Illinois State vs. Utah State

I headed down to see this game live tonight.  ISU won by four but was only up by two when Utah State missed an open three with seventeen seconds to go.

ISU won, but they did not impress me at all.  I had them as my last team in the tournament, but I’m glad they didn’t get in.  They would have brought shame and embarrassment to the Missouri Valley if they played Clemson in the first round.  I was also unimpressed with their crowd compared to Bradley’s crowds.  They couldn’t even sell out an 8,000-seat arena for a postseason game…Bradley sells out its 13,000-seat arena for non-conference games.  Step it up, ISU fans, or you’ll always be the inferior Central Illinois team…

March 20, 2008 Posted by | Basketball, MVC, Sports, WAC | Leave a comment

Tournament Breakdown: Part 4

East

North Carolina vs. Mt. St. Mary’s
I was sad that Coppin State lost. Two years ago when their entire team was freshmen and sophomores, I said they’d win a game in this year’s tournament. I was going to call the play-in game their one win and say I was right. Then I was going to talk about how they play some of the most difficult non-conference schedules each year but how the teams they play end up finishing much worse than they start each year, and then I’d make up a “Coppin Curse.” But they’re not in this game, so I won’t talk about them. Carolina wins.

Indiana vs. Arkansas
Indiana’s been average at best since Kelvin Sampson left. They’ve gone 3-3, including losses to Penn State and Minnesota and a 103-74 loss to Michigan State. Two of their three wins were by three points each over Northwestern and at home over Ohio State. Stories came out that players were still in contact with their old coach and would rather play for them than interim coach Dan Dakich. Well, they’ve been playing like it. That sounds like a first-round loss to me. Although Arkansas made it to the SEC championship game, all games played after the tornado shouldn’t count for much. Their win over Tennessee was after the tornado; their win over Vanderbilt was before, but Vanderbilt is bad away from home. Overall, they’re only 6-6 in their last 12 games. They’ll win though because they’re playing Indiana.

Notre Dame vs. George Mason
Notre Dame played an unimpressive non-conference schedule, playing zero road games and losing games to Baylor and Georgia Tech. Their conference schedule was about as weak as a Big East schedule can get. They only played two of the seven other tournament teams more than once. They split with Connecticut and Marquette and lost to Marquette again in their first conference tournament game. Notre Dame is somewhat overrated. George Mason isn’t as good as when they made the final four, but their two best players were key players in their final four run–Folarin Campbell and Will Thomas. They are both seniors and ought to play well in their last chance. Their final four team had two good big men and good shooters; this team has only one good big man and good shooters. They won’t make the final four, but I’m picking them to get out of the first round at least.

Washington State vs. Winthrop
I’m guessing Winthrop got this high a seed because they played good teams, even though they lost to them. They only went 10-4 in a bad conference and don’t have a top 100 rpi. Teams not in the top 75 rarely win games. This isn’t the same Winthrop that beat Notre Dame last year and nearly beat Tennessee two years ago. Their leading scorer and point guard are still with the team but the quality of the rest of the team is quite a bit lower. Washington state lost eight games this year to four teams. They went 0-3 against Arizona, 0-2 against Stanford, 0-2 against UCLA, and 0-1 against California. Other than the Cal loss, their losses were to the most talented teams in the Pac-10. Winthrop is not one of the three most talented teams.

Oklahoma vs. St. Joseph’s
This seems to be everyone’s favorite upset pick. I guess that’s because St. Joe’s beat a top-15 team twice in a week. Xavier is a guard-oriented team though, and St. Joe’s other “big” wins were over Villanova and UMASS, two teams without a key player over 6’8″. Oklahoma’s top three scorers are 6’10”, 6’11”, and 6’6″. That doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t beat big men, but Syracuse’s big men beat up on them; Gonzaga’s 6’10” forward Austin Daye led them in scoring when they beat St. Joe’s; Holy Cross’s big men did well; Creighton’s big men did well. I’m picking Blake Griffin to have a big game and Oklahoma to win.

Louisville vs. Boise State
Am I the only one really hoping Boise State plays Oklahoma in the second round? Can Louisville throw this game and make that happen? Boise State hasn’t had a really bad loss since early December, so they could be dangerous, and their best player Reggie Larry fills up stat sheets. Louisville may be another overrated Big East team. The only tournament teams they played twice were Marquette and Georgetown. They did beat Georgetown once and Marquette twice though, and beat West Virginia, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, and Villanova the one time they played each of them. Four of their eight losses were without David Padgett (or in his first game back). They are a solid team with him healthy and shouldn’t lose this one.

Butler vs. South Alabama
This one angers me, as does the fact that the winner faces Tennessee. I wanted to pick both of them to make the sweet sixteen but don’t have either of them doing that now. Butler is a great team, has their entire roster back after a sweet sixteen run last year, and is led by seniors. South Alabama has a good team, is playing in their home state, and is also led by upperclassmen. Usually if I think a team is underseeded, I’ll pick them every time, but I’m afraid to pick against the team in their home state as well. I’m picking Butler but could be convinced to change that pick.

Tennessee vs. American
Underseeded team vs. overseeded team. This ought to be a 1/16 game, and the 1s never lose those. American ought to be back for another try next year. Their top four scorers are all juniors. Watch for them to be like Vermont (from the same conference) a few years ago.

Round 2

North Carolina vs. Arkansas
Tyler Hansbrough is the best player in the nation. I haven’t been watching college basketball that long, but he is the best player I remember seeing. He’s not the most talented player ever (or even this year; there are a few more talented than he is), but no one combines his talent with his work ethic and toughness. Now take a great player who plays hard and tough all game and make him an 82% free throw shooter. Now look at the rest of his team: a great point guard, great shooters, and great athleticism. Arkansas doesn’t impress me, and no one has impressed me more than Carolina this year.

George Mason vs. Washington State
I think Mason’s seniors extend their career one more game. The three teams WSU lost to multiple times all have good inside players. I’m calling Will Thomas to have a big game and bring George Mason to the sweet sixteen.

Oklahoma vs. Louisville
I tried to come up with a good reason for picking Oklahoma here but couldn’t. Call it my obligatory “6 over 3″ pick. Louisville did lose to UCONN and Georgetown, teams with 7-footers. Oklahoma doesn’t have a 7-footer, but they do have 6’10” Griffin and 6’11” Longar.

Butler vs. Tennessee
Butler scared Florida last year and will scare Tennessee this year, but Tennessee is too good. This is a good an upset pick as any, though because Drake is led by seniors and was there last year. However, Tennessee is also led by seniors, was there last year, and almost knocked off a title-game team in the third round. Butler got a horrible seed and will pay for it by losing this game.

Round 3

North Carolina vs. George Mason
Even though he goes to the line ten times a game, Tyler Hansbrough is rarely in foul trouble. He’s only had four fouls four times. When have you seen a player who plays as physically as he does commit so few fouls? Will Thomas shoots almost 6 free throws per game and also commits few fouls. Both will stay in the game and battle the whole way. Hansbrough’s supporting cast is better though and will pull out a close game.

Oklahoma vs. Tennessee
I didn’t have a good reason for Oklahoma to beat Louisville. Who do you think I’ll pick in this one? Before the tornado game, which should not be held against Tennessee (even though it clearly was), their only losses were at Texas, at Kentucky, and at Vanderbilt. If you ignore Kentucky’s horrible non-conference season, those three teams lost a total of one home game all year. Tennessee did not lose a game that wasn’t in an opponent’s gym and won in many good teams’ gyms. They are as good as it gets and should have gotten a 1-seed.

Regional Championship

North Carolina vs. Tennesee
The last five teams I have left are all great teams that are hard to separate from each other. When I was picking them, I picked the team I thought was better to win each game. Well, except for this one. Carolina is playing in Charlotte; they don’t lose tournament games in North Carolina. I’d have a hard time deciding whether Tennessee or North Carolina was better, so I’m going with the “home” team.

Final Four

The better team wins each game.  North Carolina is better than Georgetown, UCLA is better than Texas, and UCLA is better than North Carolina.  Championship game score:  72-65.  If you disagree with any of these picks, let me know why.

March 18, 2008 Posted by | ACC, Basketball, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, NCAA, Pac-10, SEC, Sports, WAC | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tournament Breakdown: Part 3

Thanks to the first two parts, this blog has been viewed more today than it has in any single month (before this one, obviously). Part 4 will come after I know the winner of the…play-in game.

Midwest

Kansas vs. Portland State
I’ve criticized Kansas because they didn’t beat great teams this year (1-1 against 5 seeds or higher–both games against Texas), but one thing they do well is beat up on bad teams. I thought Portland State should have been higher because they played some good teams (as many as Kansas did) and came within 12 of winning at Washington State, but they won’t compete with Kansas. Their guards are pretty good and might not get killed by Kansas’s guards, but their top rebounder is only 6’4″. Kansas will kill them inside, which will lead to outside shots.

UNLV vs. Kent State
I think this is the best first-round game that no one is talking about. UNLV protects the ball and turns teams over (11 turnovers per game/8 steals per game), so they could just get lucky and make a run in the tournament. Kent State has inside and outside scorers and also forces a lot of turnovers (8.5 steals per game). Kent State got a win at St. Mary’s, and UNLV had a 29 point win against BYU. I’m taking UNLV because of the tournament experience they got last year.

Clemson vs. Villanova
I’m not as high on Clemson as others are. They play a heavy-pressure, gambling defense and are bad at free throws. If they play a team that protects the ball well or is in a game that comes down to the last few possessions, they might be in trouble. As good as Scottie Reynolds is, he is young and turns the ball over 3 times a game. Villanova as a team had more turnovers than assists this year. Clemson wins.

Vanderbilt vs. Siena
Siena’s great win this year against Stanford came before Brook Lopez was playing. They apparently got some favorable calls in that game too…they shot 32 free throws to Stanford’s 3. If Shan Foster gets hurt for Vanderbilt and the refs call 12 more fouls on Vanderbilt than on Siena, Siena might just pull off an upset.

USC vs. Kansas State
I’ve said the only reason Kansas State made it is because they have a great freshman. This matchup supports my theory–they paired Beasley with OJ Mayo. Kansas State had a great six-game stretch in January (beating Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Kansas), but they were 14-11 without any wins against tournament teams the rest of the year. USC played well against the best big man they faced this year–beating Stanford at home and holding the Lopez twins to 10 combined points when they played at Stanford. They’ll do well enough against Beasley to get the win.

Wisconsin vs. Cal State Fullerton
Like Kansas, Wisconsin wins big against bad teams. Outside their conference season, they did not have a single-digit win against a non-tournament team. They had a couple bad losses (big to Duke and at home to Marquette) but got it together since then. Their only two losses were to Purdue who is a bad matchup for Wisconsin. CSF played a couple tournament teams and lost by double digits to both St. Mary’s and Arizona. They are high-scoring, but they won’t get to 50 in this one.

Gonzaga vs. Davidson
I said at the beginning of the year that I’d pick Davidson in the first round no matter who they played (like I did with Winthrop last year). Gonzaga is a tough game for them though. Unlike a power conference team that might overlook somewhat a team like Davidson, Gonzaga is used to playing teams like them every game in their conference. Gonzaga has good depth and balance, while Davidson gets 1/3 of their scoring from Stephen Curry. I think he is solid enough to get them a win though. They almost beat Maryland last year and had almost everyone back.

Georgetown vs. UMBC
If possible, I think Georgetown is underrated. They won the Big East regular season and easily won their first two conference tournament games before falling to a hot Pittsburgh team. They’ve showed that they can both blow out good teams and win close games. They won six games by three points or less, which will help them in this tournament. UMBC doesn’t have anyone who can challenge Hibbert inside. Their top rebounder is 6’4″. They lost by 24 to West Virginia and shouldn’t be much closer in this one.

Round 2

Kansas vs. UNLV
I think this will be a tougher game for Kansas than most do. UNLV is one of the best in the nation at protecting the ball. If they don’t turn it over and get a good shot each possession, they could beat Kansas. Kansas would need to shoot poorly to lose this one. They’ll be able to look ahead somewhat, which is something UNLV will not be able to do. The two teams are very similar, but Kansas is just better.

Clemson vs. Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt is not very good away from home. They were 2-6 on the road in the SEC and 1-1 in the SEC tournament. They only won by 6 on the road against a Depaul team that only won 11 games all year. Clemson isn’t great on the road either, but they did well in the neutral ACC tournament. Shan Foster is the best shooter in the nation, but will Clemson’s pressure defense give him enough good, in-rhythm looks? I’m taking Clemson, but only because Vanderbilt is bad away from home.

USC vs. Wisconsin
Wisconsin’s relaxed, slow style of play is something Mayo and USC hasn’t seen this year. USC was 2-7 when they didn’t score 60 points this year; Wisconsin allowed 60 points only 9 times all year. Wisconsin is underrated because they play in the Big Ten and aren’t flashy, but they are as good as anyone. They’ll shut down USC’s offense and win this one by 12.

Davidson vs. Georgetown
Another game Davidson can win because Georgetown plays so many close games, and Davidson plays well against good teams. Georgetown is a great team though and is able to play any style. This one will probably come down to the last few possessions, and Davidson could very well pull of an upset. I am picking Georgetown’s talent and experience though.

Round 3

Kansas vs. Clemson
If Clemson makes it this far, it is because their hot streak has continued. I think this is the toughest team Kansas could play in this position–Clemson is a team that is able to push and defend all game like Kansas is. It could come down to which team makes more shots. I see this one coming down to the end, and I’m picking the better free throw shooting team: Kansas.

Wisconsin vs. Georgetown
As I said previously, Georgetown can play any style, including Wisconsin’s super-slow style. This game will be played in the 50’s. Georgetown has actually played more games this year with both teams below 60. They’ve beaten good teams in games like that (Louisville, West Virginia, Villanova). Wisconsin also has played good teams in close, low-scoring games, beating Michigan State and losing to Purdue. The teams are very similar, but Georgetown has played more big games this year, has more tournament experience, and has better outside shooting. That is why I am picking them.

Regional Championship

Kansas vs. Georgetown
Continuing the trend in this region, this will be a very competitive game. In fact, there are five or six teams that have a good chance of getting to the final four.  As said before, Georgetown can play any style…but so can Kansas.  In all previous games, I’ve picked the team I think is better.  I’m going to break that trend here.  I’m picking Georgetown because their tournament experience and Bill Self’s inability to win the big games will work in their favor in an otherwise even game.  Both teams have a tough road to get here though.  One could get knocked off earlier or be so beat up that they lose here.  Don’t bet anything big on this region.

March 18, 2008 Posted by | ACC, Basketball, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, MWC, NCAA, Pac-10, SEC, Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tournament Breakdown: Part 2

West

UCLA vs. Mississippi Valley State
MVSU is the alma mater of Jerry Rice. Even if they had the greatest receiver ever on their team, MVSU still would lose this game by 30. Pick them only if you want to commit bracket suicide.

BYU vs. Texas A&M
BYU has size and experience and can play both inside and outside. Their top two scorers each shoot well over 50% from the field, one of them hitting 46% of his threes (58/125). Texas A&M has done well this year because they have no real weaknesses although they are not great at anything. When they beat Texas, they shot well from outside and Texas didn’t. BYU is bigger than Texas and shouldn’t be bothered as much by A&M’s perimeter defense.

Drake vs. Western Kentucky
These teams seem remarkably similar to me. Both are guard-oriented and shoot well. Two differences I noticed: Drake is more balanced on offense, while WKU has a star (Courney Lee). WKU also has more turnovers than assists this year, but Drake has more assists than turnovers. Those two reasons are why I’m picking Drake. I think their defense is strong enough to shut down one star.

Connecticut vs. San Diego
I was high on San Diego after watching them beat St. Mary’s and Gonzaga in their conference tournament. I was going to pick them to win their first round game…until I saw who they were playing. They don’t have much outside offense besides Brandon Johnson, their point guard. He could go for 30 but they’d lose because they will not get much post offense against Connecticut’s big guys. If you want a 13 or lower seed that can pull an upset though, this would be my pick.

Purdue vs. Baylor
I don’t think many people saw either of these teams in the tournament at the beginning of the season. I wonder how legitimate either of them are now. Purdue beat up on a bad Big Ten and had only one good non-conference win–over an injured Louisville. They did beat Wisconsin, but are they really that good or was it just a really good match up for Purdue? Baylor started hot but has lost 8 of their last 13 games. Granted, 6 of those losses were to tournament teams. Well, crap. I had Purdue picked here but now that I’ve looked closer, I’m thinking Baylor. Baylor has a lot of juniors; Purdue is mostly freshmen and sophomores. Pick Baylor here.

Xavier vs. Georgia
There’s a reason Georgia won only 4 games in the SEC this year. There’s another reason why they won 4 games in the SEC–tornado. Never would have happened if the whole tournament hadn’t turned into a circus. Xavier has been great all year and only lost a couple games in a pretty good conference (probably just as good as the SEC anyway). Xavier is balanced, experienced, good at shooting…they have six guys averaging double-figures in scoring. Georgia made a great run to get here, but they can’t compete with Xavier.

West Virginia vs. Arizona
This match up interests me. I think Arizona is the better team, but how do I explain why they didn’t win more games? Chase Budinger is good enough to win a game by himself, and he might not be the best player on that team. All their stats are good…they just don’t always win. That’s basically why I’m picking West Virginia. If Arizona hasn’t shown the “killer instinct” all year and been able to beat teams that they should, why will they start now? West Virginia is balanced but has a star as well. If Joe Alexander plays like he did down the stretch, he can win a game by himself as well.

Duke vs. Belmont
As much as you may hate Duke, they are a pretty good team. In the past, teams have taken a shot at them by trying to get their big guys in foul trouble or shut down their star. This Duke team’s weakness is their lack of size. Belmont will not be able to exploit that. Their best rebounder is 6’4″ and they don’t even average 2 blocks per game. Duke will win big.

Round 2

UCLA vs. BYU
I think UCLA is the best all-around team in the nation. I’m not going to pick against them ever. I’m also not going to try to come up with a reason why they’ll win each game; I think they’re just better. BYU will keep this one close though.

Drake vs. Connecticut
This game reminds me a lot of Butler vs. Florida in the sweet sixteen last year. Butler nearly won that game. Difference this time is Drake is more experienced than Butler, and Connecticut is less experienced than Florida. I’m taking Drake this time. UCONN lost in the big east tournament to a balanced West Virginia team that is very similar to Drake. Connecticut has been taking it easy in their last few games; you know a team like Drake is going to come hard. Besides, if I think there’s a chance UCONN could lose in the first round, it would be irresponsible for me to pick them farther than this.

Baylor vs. Xavier
I wanted to pick against Baylor in the first round; I’m not sending them to the sweet sixteen. Xavier is a great team that almost beat Ohio State to get the sweet sixteen last year. Baylor is good but not great and hasn’t been here in a really, really long time (last time they won a game was 1950). They’re going in the right direction, but this won’t be the year they win more than one game.

West Virginia vs. Duke
Duke has made the sweet sixteen 7 of the last 8 years. Last year was the one time. Last year’s team was, frankly, not nearly as good as this year’s. These teams are very similar to each other, but in one game, I’m taking Coach K over Bob Huggins. I will say this though: If Arizona has the killer mentality to beat West Virginia, they are good enough to beat Duke. One win might be enough to wake them up and get them to the elite eight. That’s a great low-seed sleeper if you’re looking for one.

Round 3

UCLA vs. Drake
Could this game be like Butler vs. Florida last year? The great mid-major coming closer to knocking off the eventual champion than anyone else? Drake will need to hit jump shots to have a chance; UCLA’s defense is too tough otherwise. This game could be close, but Drake hasn’t played anyone this good ever.

Xavier vs. Duke
Xavier doesn’t have the size to give Duke problems, but they do have more experience. These teams are very similar in every way. The only way I can see to differentiate between them is age and experience. Xavier wins.

Regional Championship

UCLA vs. Xavier
UCLA is the best.  I think BYU would be their toughest competition in this region unless Arizona smells blood and makes it this far.  They just have too few weaknesses to be beat by anything but a great performance.  Granted, anyone can put forth a great performance in any game, but if that were realistic, we might as well close our eyes and randomly pick the winner of each game.  UCLA is the best team; UCLA has no big weakness; I pick UCLA in each game.

March 17, 2008 Posted by | ACC, Basketball, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Horizon, MVC, NCAA, Pac-10, SEC, Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Tournament Breakdown: Part 1

I’ll look at one part of the bracket today. I’ll do another part tonight and the other half tomorrow.

South

Memphis vs. UT-Arlington
I must confess. Because I was busy with high school basketball teams all winter, I have not actually watched Memphis play this year. I’ve seen more of Arlington than I have of Memphis, so I’m not exactly qualified to talk about this game. I do know, however, that Arlington had lost 5 of their last 7 games before their conference tournament and Memphis had lost 1 of their last 31. I do think this is the best chance a 16 has to beat a 1 this year though. The occasional times those games go down to the end, the better team shows their power at the end and pulls away, right? What if, when Memphis starts to pull away, Arlington just puts them on the line every possession and hits a couple big threes?

Mississippi State vs. Oregon
I didn’t think Oregon should be in it; I can’t figure out why Mississippi State isn’t better than they are. Needless to say, I’m picking MSU. Their starting five is about as talented as it gets. Check out their stats. Oregon only had one big conference win–over Stanford. They never beat USC, UCLA, or Washington State. Their non-conference win was over an overrated Kansas State. Explain why they got in. They have a small guard-oriented team that will not match up well against MSU’s size. They’ll need to force a lot of turnovers and hit threes to have a chance.

Michigan State vs. Temple
Michigan State can compete with anyone on the right day (beat Texas, put up 103 on Indiana) but can play terribly on others (lost to Penn State and Iowa). They committed 18 turnovers and shot only 4 free throws against Iowa. I don’t see that happening in the tournament with Tom Izzo as their coach. Temple has gotten hot at the right time, but they’re still not a particularly good team and don’t have the size to defend Michigan State inside.

Pittsburgh vs. Oral Roberts
Oral Roberts is over-seeded here. They aren’t as good as last year’s team that got a 14-seed and lost by 16 to Washington State. However, there are a ton of bad teams at the bottom of this bracket, so I guess the seed is fair. Still, they don’t have much of a chance against Pittsburgh that is finally (mostly) healthy and could make a deep run.

Marquette vs. Kentucky
Remember that Kentucky doesn’t have their best player, Patrick Patterson. Supposedly they’ve played well without him, but they’ve gone 2-2 without him. Both wins were over non-tournament teams. Only three of their wins were over tournament teams. Compare that to Marquette, who has wins at Wisconsin and Villanova and a neutral court win over Notre Dame. They were playing well in the big east tournament until they ran into the Pittsburgh buzzsaw. They only lose to good teams; Kentucky is not one of them.

Stanford vs. Cornell
Even in their losses, Cornell has not been blown out. I don’t know how they play, but they shoot almost 50% from the field and over 40% from behind the three-point line. Stanford is an inside-dominated team with twin seven-footers Robin and Brook Lopez. Judging by stats, Cornell has a team of jump-shooters. This game could come down to whether the game is played on the inside or outside. If Cornell is able to speed the game up and force Stanford to shoot from the outside, they could pull off an upset. I am picking Stanford, however.

Miami vs. St. Mary’s
I haven’t seen Miami play this year. The one time I watched St. Mary’s impressed me even though they lost to San Diego. They play solid defense, forcing almost 8 steals a game. They’re better than you might think. Their only loss to a non-tournament team was at Southern Illinois, which is as tough a place to win as any. Even though I don’t know much about Miami, I’m picking St. Mary’s because I think they’re that good.

Texas vs. Austin Peay
Texas is as good as anyone in the nation. They aren’t a 1-seed only because they’ve lost some bad games. To be fair though, Missouri made an incredible amount of shots to beat them, and Texas Tech shot 43 free throws to beat them. Austin Peay shot very well against Memphis but still lost by 22 because they couldn’t handle Memphis’s talent and athleticism. Don’t expect anything different to happen here.

Second Round

Memphis vs. Mississippi State.
MSU can match Memphis in athleticism, but they turn the ball over far too much and also shoot free throws poorly. If they protect the ball, they can definitely pull off an upset, but I am picking Memphis.

Michigan State vs. Pittsburgh
Pitt’s better…but I’m picking Michigan State. I just like Tom Izzo in the postseason and still think Michigan State can beat anyone in the nation if they play right. Ultimately, I think Pittsburgh’s long run in the Big East tournament will wear them down and cause their loss in this game.

Marquette vs. Stanford
Marquette does not have nearly enough size to handle Stanford. They lost big to Connecticut and lost a close one at home to Georgetown (even though Georgetown had a bad game). If they can force turnovers and get fast break points, they might have a chance, but they are not big enough or good enough at shooting to beat a big team.

St. Mary’s vs. Texas
They played earlier this year. Texas won by 19, despite making only 25% of their threes and 54% from the free-throw line and getting outrebounded by 8. Augustin had 30 points despite making only one three pointer. I don’t see anything different happening this time.

Third Round

Memphis vs. Michigan State
Another game I think Memphis could lose but won’t. I’m ripping the Big Ten here: I don’t believe any team from that conference besides Indiana (with a real coach) can beat an athletic team. Michigan State lost by 19 to the athletic Hoosiers when they still had Sampson as their coach. This game will be closer than that, but Memphis will win fairly easily.

Stanford vs. Texas
Texas is a team that can shoot well enough and get enough fast break points to beat Stanford without competing against their size. It will be competitive, but the game is being played in Houston. Stanford is 2,000 miles away. Texas is 150. That gives Texas an advantage in a fairly even game otherwise.

Regional Championship

Memphis vs. Texas

Texas comes to play in big games. They beat UCLA and Tennessee earlier in the year when both were ranked high and beat Kansas when Kansas was ranked #2. Their loss in the conference championship game wouldn’t have happened if Kansas had shot a normal three-point percentage… Memphis’s early-season wins don’t look as impressive anymore. Oklahoma, USC, Georgetown, Arizona, and Gonzaga have all dropped in the rankings since they played Memphis. They lost at home to the best team they’ve played this year–Tennessee. Oh yeah, the game is played in Texas too. Texas wins and advances to the Final Four.

March 17, 2008 Posted by | ACC, Basketball, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, CUSA, MWC, NCAA, Pac-10, SEC, Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My picks in review

ESPN’s bracketology got all the picks right this year…I missed one.  Darn.  I had Illinois State in rather than Oregon.  Lunardi got 29 of the 65 seeds correct; I had…32.  Ta-da.  I was within one seed on 59 of my 65 picks; he was within one seed on 54 of his picks.  That is all I have to say.

March 17, 2008 Posted by | Basketball, NCAA, Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I need to apologize to Georgia University

I said you should just forfeit instead of holding on to an unrealistic hope.  I was wrong.

But doesn’t this illustrate how bad the SEC was this year?  There’s no way this Georgia team would have won the last couple years.

March 16, 2008 Posted by | Basketball, NCAA, SEC, Sports | Leave a comment

Tournament Teams and Seeds Predicted

This is more for my vanity than anything. I doubt anyone needs to see predictions a couple hours before the actual brackets come out. I just want to prove that I can pick these just as well as the “experts” and that Joe Lunardi and his bracketology are overhyped. I picked a decent amount more accurately than he did last year and am confidant I could do it every year. Why? Because he follows it the whole season and gets hung up on teams that have good starts. The selection committee waits until the end of the year and looks at the entire season. For example, they’re going to see how Indiana has struggled against bad teams lately and won’t put them as high as a 5-seed. With that said…

1-seeds
#1 North Carolina
#2 UCLA
#3 Memphis
#4 Tennessee

2-seeds
Georgetown
Texas
Wisconsin
Kansas

3-seeds
Stanford
Pittsburgh
Xavier
Duke

4-seeds
Washington State
Louisville
Drake
Vanderbilt

5-seeds
Butler
Clemson
Connecticut
Notre Dame

6-seeds
Marquette
Michigan State
Indiana
Purdue

7-seeds
USC
Oklahoma
West Virginia
Arkansas

8-seeds
BYU
UNLV
Gonzaga
Mississippi State

9-seeds
Texas A&M
Kent State
Davidson
Miami

10-seeds
Kansas State
Saint Mary’s
Arizona
Baylor

11-seeds
South Alabama
Temple
Saint Joseph’s
Kentucky

12-seeds
Illinois State
Villanova
Oral Roberts
Western Kentucky

13-seeds
San Diego
George Mason
Cornell
Georgia

14-seeds
Belmont
Boise State
Austin Peay
Siena

15-seeds
Maryland-Baltimore County
Portland State
Cal State Fullerton
Winthrop

16-seeds
Coppin State vs. Mississippi Valley State (play-in game)
Mount St. Mary’s
Texas Arlington
American

What happens if Illinois or Georgia or both win today? My last two teams in were Arizona State and Villanova. Illinois/Georgia would take either Arizona State’s seed or both their seeds if they win. Illinois would get the higher seed if they both win.

UPDATE: I’ve finalized some picks based on how later games have gone today.

March 16, 2008 Posted by | ACC, Basketball, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, CUSA, Horizon, MVC, MWC, NCAA, Pac-10, SEC, Sports, WAC | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment