The Basketblog

Celebrating the love of the Game.

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 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 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

A couple basketball news stories

From both the NBA and the NCAA:

Study shows racial bias by NBA refs.
NCAA rules committee approves longer 3-point line

Ok, I don’t buy all the talk that the NBA official story is completely illegitimate just because the researchers looked at box scores and not game tapes. They looked at enough box scores that the numbers they’d get would be accurate. If they find that officiating teams of 2 white and 1 black refs call more fouls on black players than teams of 2 black refs and 1 white ref (with teams of three refs of one color being more extreme), that is very likely legitimate.

However, I also don’t think that it is a big deal. The percentage was about 4%. A team of white refs calls 104 fouls on black players for every 100 fouls on white players. That is a difference; but sociological studies have consistently shown that some racial bias seeps into all Americans, with almost every study shows that the percentage of bias is greater than the 4% in this one. I have never noticed racial bias, and there’s always someone to jump on the racism story if there is even a hint of bias but that has never happened. Several players have even come out in defense of the officials since the report came out.

Four percent isn’t big enough to notice or big enough to do anything about. Since no one has noticed it until now, let’s just let it go.

——————————————————————-

I think the three-point line lengthening is a great idea. The three-point shot right now is far too easy a shot. Based on point values, shooting 33% from behind the arc is the same as shooting 50% from inside it (10/30 threes = 30 points; 15/30 twos = 30 points). In 2006/07, well over 100 schools shot better than 33% from three-point range in Division I (led by Bradley, I might add). Fifteen teams shot at least 40%, which is comparable to 60% from two-point range.

How many teams, before the three-point line was added, shot 60% from the field? That never happened. Not many individual players even shot 60%, but it only takes a pretty good shooter to hit 40% from three-point range today. This last year, 38 players hit 60% from the field, so there should be about that many hitting 40% from three-point range. Since far more than 38 shoot that well, the three-point shot needs to be made more difficult. If you actually just play the percentages, it would be better to shoot nothing but threes than to shoot nothing but twos.

This move isn’t necessarily about opening up the court like some have claimed; it’s about keeping the game from becoming too easy.

May 3, 2007 Posted by | MVC, NBA, NCAA | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NCAA Championship Tournament: Fourth Round

Stop the presses! Half the games in this round were upsets! In other news, I only had four of my elite eight picks correct but got three of my final four picks correct. Ohio State was the only one I missed. The first three games went pretty much like I expected (nevermind that I predicted Oregon on here; no fool actually though they would win), and I had to watch the very end of the exciting game on a miniature tv sitting in the parking lot of my church. And I missed all of overtime because I was inside. Anyway, I know what happened though and have comments… Continue reading

March 25, 2007 Posted by | ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, CUSA, MVC, NCAA, Pac-10, SEC | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NCAA Championship Tournament: Third Round

Chalk rules this year. The elite eight consists of all four number ones, three number twos, and a number three. Chalk rules and so do brackets picked by those who don’t follow college basketball. I need not say who has the best bracket in my family, but it is not me or my dad. I actually don’t have a bracket anymore.

I burned it. Charcoal lighter, matches, and a bowl of water for safety. It’s now a small black crisp. It’s not that it was in such horrible shape (although it was), it’s that I’m tired of people thinking the bracket matters. I don’t gamble (says the guy who is paying $900 in income tax on poker winnings), so the bracket means nothing to me. When the last two teams in the tournament that I like lost, I just quit caring about who wins and emphasized that fact with fire.

Yeah, all the teams I like are out. That means I now cheer for the teams that will prove me right: UCLA is the best team in the tournament, Ohio State and Greg Oden are weak (they’re trying to prove it; their opponents just aren’t letting them do it…), Florida is not motivated enough to win again, and Kansas is too streaky to advance far. Now on to some comments… Continue reading

March 23, 2007 Posted by | ACC, Big 12, Big East, MVC, MWC, NCAA, Pac-10, SEC | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kansas vs. Southern Illinois

Well, I knew this game was gonna be grind-it-out slugfest, but I never imagined this. SIU is statistically one of the best defensive teams in the country. After watching tonight, they are the best that I’ve seen this year. I’m sure they’ve played games that weren’t as good, heck they may have played games where they’ve been better, but I’ve not seen it. SIU forced 13 KU turnovers in the first 25 minutes of the game. KU averages on 14 turnovers/game. SIU is just a great defensive team who came into San Jose ready to play ball, and they did! They held KU to its lowest point total all season long (61), but what did KU do? They buckled down and played a little bit better. They held SIU to less than 60 because KU is also a very good defensive team. Continue reading

March 23, 2007 Posted by | ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, MVC, NCAA, Pac-10 | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NCAA Championship Tournament: Second Round

See? I told you this round would be better than the first. However, though it looked great compared to the first round, the second round was only an average round; we can still do better! The lowest seed left is still only UNLV’s seven, and there were still only five upsets (only two weren’t a 5 over 4). I’m sure you’re expecting exciting summaries of all the great games on Saturday, but sadly I only saw one of them. CBS had electrical trouble at their broadcasting tower and went out halfway through the Butler/Maryland game and stayed out the rest of the night. I’m currently looking into a lawsuit for causing me emotional anguish. I did see all the games on Sunday though and have comments. …

Continue reading

March 19, 2007 Posted by | ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, CUSA, Horizon, MVC, MWC, NCAA, Pac-10, SEC | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NIT Update

I’ve got your update on the other tournament: Bradley is out of the tournament.

Bradley had a good team this year and was probably a win against Illinois away from making the big dance. They have a good junior class coming in next year, so they should make the postseason again. Yes, junior class. Bradley’s given up on trying to get high school seniors to come and has focused on getting junior college players, with good results. Maybe this is a model more schools who can’t get the top-quality high school recruits should follow. …

Continue reading

March 17, 2007 Posted by | Big East, Big Ten, MVC, NCAA, SEC | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment