Saturday, March 29, 2008

A Time to Build

Hopefully, the UCLA was not merely a loss to end a great season, but a starting point for a bright red Hilltopper future.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Sweetness

More from my blogging for local CBS affiliate WNKY: "Sweetness." And, it's not about Walter Payton.

My Hilltoppers are Sweet 16 bound and will face juggernaut UCLA. Topper fans, keep believing.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Friday, March 21, 2008

Ode to Joy

11.31 pm
Here is a complete bracket after the first round.


4.04 pm
It's only appropriate that I follow the "sadness post" with one of unabashed jubilation. Ty Rogers let fly a 30-footer at the buzzer that had eyes and gave WKU a 101-99 OT win over Drake. It's the first WKU tourney win since 1995 and the first for the Sun Belt in the same time span.

More on this later, as I simply will spend the rest of the day basking in the afterglow. As I wrote earlier in the week, no event is 100% joy/sadness, but this one is close. The tiny slice of sadness in this event is that we will see no more of Drake this season. If not for a superhuman 1st half for WKU, Drake would be moving on. They erased a 16-point deficit in the last 10 mins to send it OT. I wish the win was over someone other than Drake, but it is truly a red letter day in Topperland.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Just A (Sad) Fan

My team is in the bracket. WKU is playing in their first NCAA tourney since 2003. For the vast majority of schools, this is not a long drought. It's seemed LONG in Bowling Green, though. I am very happy that my Toppers are en route to Tampa for their first round game vs Drake. Should be a good one. I should be happy.

Also, this weekend is probably my favorite sports weekend of the year. Actually, it's probably a tie between this one and the last two weekends. I should be happy.

This championship is the greatest championship in sports, and I know that there are some wonderful stories to unfold in the next three weekends. I should be happy.

But, there is a tinge of lament with all this. I can check my biases when evaluating teams by the NCAA selection criteria, but I am a WKU fan and a "mid-major" fan to the core when the bracketing day is done. While I understand why Illinois State and VCU are not IN, that does NOT mean that they are not better teams than Kentucky or Oregon. I think that they are, frankly. But, the nature of the scheduling world, resources, exposure, and other factors does handicap non-power schools to some degree.

Also, as a fan, I don't pick against my team, so I will not be posting my bracket picks. I'll either look ridiculous for picking WKU to win, or I'll have to pick them to lose. So, I'm not filling one out. My rationale does not quite match my esteemed friend at the Mid-Majority's view, but I was moved and convicted by this essay.

Finally, the real downer comes with hearing the entire world talk about this bracketed national title like it simply plowed into the earth after being launched from some distant planet. NOW people are talking about basketball, and most are unaware of the paths that most of these teams had to navigate to get here. It gets reduced to a name on a seed line, and in a lot of cases, teams full of players who will someday be your hometowns' dentists, lawyers, business owners, doctors, teachers, wildlife officers, etc., are seen as warm-up fodder for the teams with big names, big alumni bases, big dollars, big conferences, big exposure, and players who will earn big NBA paychecks. It saddens me to some degree.

But, that's what we do at schools like WKU. We labor in relative obscurity until we breakthrough into the this March attention bonanza. We do unearth an NBA-quality gem every once in awhile (Courtney Lee!), but at best, a few of these guys might get to knock around Europe for awhile if they are lucky, and then come back and get a job like most of us have. It's a shame that WKU is playing Drake in the first round, because the Bulldogs are exactly the kind of team that I celebrate and root for this time of year.

No event brings 100% happiness or 100% sadness, and I am certainly more happy than sad. But now, even if WKU wins, there will still be a tinge of sadness for the loss of Drake and those like them. Barring a George Mason redux of some sort, I'll probably care less about the Final Four than anyone reading this post. That said, let the best weekend of the year commence, and may the obscure prolong their newly found celebrity deep into the bracket.



Monday, March 17, 2008

Committee Comes Through

All things considered, this committee did a very good job. I need more time to say if they were as good as 2005's crew, but Tom O'Connor's group did a great job.

Honestly, who has a right to cry foul? Arizona State? NO. They played the #293 SOS. They weren't scheduling for a bid. They were scheduling for WINS. Illinois State? A team can't be as flawed as they were, lose by THIRTY in the conference title game and complain. Virginia Tech? Sorry, but the committee cannot ignore the first 80% of the season. No one got the shaft.

Now, the inclusion of Oregon over some of these teams can be debated, but not definitively. I had Illinois State in for Oregon, but Illinois State would have been the next team to get the axe. No quibbles from me on who got in.

There are some puzzlers in the seeding. It's amazing that Vanderbilt managed a four seed given their lack of good road wins. And, somehow, Oregon pulled a nine seed, while Temple, the red-hot A10 champ, only garnered a 12. Switching those two on the seed lines would be closer to the truth. Butler feels slightly underseeded as a 7 as does Indiana as an 8. Finally, Wisconsin should have been a two over Duke. Period.

But, these are fairly minor issues compared to last year and especially 2006 (a disaster).

I try not to pay attention to the talking heads too much, but I found the hypocrisy from ESPN's crew appalling. Most of them referenced the "eye test" or the "bald dome index," and advocated using common sense. I have just one question for those trumpeting such: how many times did they watch Drake or South Alabama? I think I know the answer for most of them. So, this "eye test business" is bull.

More bracket breakdown coming tomorrow.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

First Reaction

I'm not going to go into great detail tonight. I want to mull it over and sleep on it before I give a full breakdown, but I think it's safe to say that I feel better about this committee's work than either of the last two years. There are a few puzzling seeds as always (Oregon? Temple? Vandy?), but they put together a field that makes sense for the most part. It's no great travesty that Illinois State, Oregon, Arizona State Virginia Tech, or Ohio State is not in this tourney. They were all DEEPLY flawed.

And I can tell you that both TBB and the SCKySSiP each got 33/34 AL teams correct. I missed two teams by more than 2 seed lines and SCKySSiP missed 4.

Full breakdown coming tomorrow.

Selection Sunday

4.54 pm
Due to one of the most improbably tournament championship runs I have ever witness, the Georgia Bulldogs just knocked someone out of the bracket. In my bracket (and the SCKySSiP's), that someone was the Oregon Ducks.

TBB's Final Bracket Projection

SCKySSiP Mock Committee's Final Projection

Final Lockbox

Complete OSS

I figure that there are 8 Bubble slots, and I would divide the Bubble into two tiers.

Tier 1: Kansas State, Baylor, Arizona, Saint Joseph's
Any of those four COULD miss, but I'd be pretty surprised.

Tier 2: Kentucky, South Alabama, Illinois State, Oregon
Personally, I think South Alabama is IN. But, I'm prepared for them to miss for a number of reasons (Sun Belt, no committee representation, reps from Pac 10 and Big 10, etc). So, even though USA was ahead of Zona on my S-curve, I'd be more surprised if the committee excluded Zona than I would if they excluded USA.

OK, enough. It's bracket time.


3.32 pm
OK. I've made my decision. Here is my final bracket, although the contingencies are still highlighted. I'll adjust them after the scores go final. Lockbox is updated, too.

I may be sorry for leaving Ohio State OUT, since their AD is on the committee, but Oregon simply has a better profile. So, the Buckeyes are out and the Ducks are in. I had to leave Arizona State behind, too, based on their garish #293 non-conf SOS and their #83 RPI. They would have the lowest RPI to EVER receive an AL bid if they get one. I simply do not think their overall profile is good enough to offset these considerable weaknesses.

Of course, if Georgia holds on, none of this matters and the Ducks will be OUT as well. I GUARANTEE you that Kentucky is pulling hard for The Ark. I know that "conferences do not get bids," but it sure would be convenient to simply plug UGA into Kentucky's slot.

Onto the breakdown:

Last Four IN: Kentucky, Arizona, Illinois State, Oregon

Just Missed: Ohio State, Arizona State, Virginia Tech, VCU, UMass, Dayton, Mississippi, Stephen F. Austin (in roughly that order)

SCKySSiP
Here is our mock committee's bracket. I value this process GREATLY, and my projection closely matches this one with a few seeding adjustments. This committee voted teams in during a REPLICATION of the process, NOT a guess at what the committee will do. We did what the actual committee does as best we can.

Multi-Bid Conference Breakdown
Big East (8): Georgetown, Louisville, UConn, Notre Dame, Marquette, Pitt, West Virginia, Villanova
Big XII (6): Texas, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Baylor, Texas A&M
Pac-10 (6): UCLA, Stanford, Washington State, Southern Cal, Arizona, Oregon
SEC (5): Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, Arkansas, Kentucky
Big Ten (4): Wisconsin, Purdue, Indiana, Michigan State
ACC (4): Duke, North Carolina, Clemson, Miami-FL
Atlantic 10 (3): Xavier, Saint Joseph's, Temple
West Coast (3): San Diego, St. Mary's, Gonzaga
Missouri Valley (2): Drake, Illinois State
Sun Belt (2): WKU, South Alabama
Mountain West (2): BYU, UNLV

2.30 pm
OSS is complete, save the three games currently in progress.

Lockbox have been updated as well. I'm not 100% set on this field, but it's where I stand now. I'm really struggling with Ohio State, Oregon, and Arizona State for the last slot. I fear for South Alabama, Illinois State, Villanova, and Kentucky's slots as well, but I feel pretty good about having those teams IN.

I'm hoping Georgia or Illinois can win and end the misery of picking from those three.

I am working on the final update now, and it will come before the Selection Show. I will also put the SCKySSiP's results up, too.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Perfect Storm

10.28 pm

The SCKySSiP work is complete! We have contingencies built for Georgia and Illinois if they were to win. I will post our work tomorrow afternoon before the Selection Show. I'll divulge our one seeds early:

North Carolina, Memphis, UCLA, and the winner of Kansas/Texas tomorrrow

Personally, I'm wrestling with the last two slots for my projection. I will post my final bracket tomorrow afternoon as well.

FTP server is still down, so I will update when I can...hopefully after lunch tomorrow.

3.42 pm

--As you might have noticed, my links to OSS and Lockbox aren't working. Of course, my employer (WKU) would pick THIS weekend to do server maintenance!!! I hear that it's only going to be today, so HOPEFULLY, everything will be up later tonight or tomorrow.

If it's still down tomorrow, I will simply post my final projections and the SCKySSiP's work in text on this blog. Sorry for the OSS trouble. Hopefully, things will be up again very soon.

--That said, VA Tech now is an interesting case. Of COURSE, they are one of the 34 best AL teams right now (about the last 3 weeks, actually). The question is, do they have one of the 34 best profiles? No, they don't--but there recent play makes them a very interesting case.

7.07 am
--The OSS is updated through last night. One game could not be completed (or even started) because of the storm last night in Atlanta. Kentucky and Georgia will tip off at noon today instead, and the rest of the SEC tourney has been moved to GA Tech's Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
--Lockbox and bracket are up to date, but I will tweak the seeding at some point today.

SCKySSiP Mock Selection Committee
I will not be updating quite as often today, because of the SCKySSiP (South Central Kentucky Selection Simulation Project). The ridiculously long name is used for effect. This is a "mock committee" of six folks, and we are replicating the actual selection process as closely as possible. We will be meeting this afternoon until very late tonight voting in teams and seeding teams. This is a replication of the process, not a prediction of what the committee will do. There is a big difference. My personal bracket on this site work in "prediction"--trying to guess what the actual committee will do. The SCKySSiP actually DOES the process. I will post our results and my personal, final prediction tomorrow just before the bracket is released.

What to Watch
--Saint Joseph's vs Temple (A10 Championship). One will go for sure, and maybe both have done enough. I have them both IN today.
--Kentucky vs Georgia. Kentucky can strengthen it's hand with a win here, and can clinch it late in the day if they can win two.
--Virgnia Tech vs North Carolina. Hokies are IN if they win this one.
--Illinois vs Minnesota. One of these spoilers will play for the Big Ten title tomorrow and take someone's bid if they can pull it off.
--Arkansas vs Tennessee. Hogs can LOCK it up here.
--BYU vs UNLV. For the Mt West auto bid.
--Memphis vs Tulsa. For the CUSA bid.
--Kent State vs Akron. For the MAC bid, and to keep Kent State out of the Bubble mess.
--Hartford vs UMBC. For the Am East bid.
--Jackson State vs Mississippi Valley State. For the SWAC bid.
--Coppin State vs Morgan State. For the MEAC bid.
--Pittsburgh vs Georgetown. For the Big East title.
--Boise State vs New Mexico State. For the WAC bid.
--CS-Fullerton vs UC-Irvine. For the Big West bid.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Friday Updates/New Bracket

10.42 pm
--OSS is updated as is the Lockbox, but there are a few games still going on. However, those games DO NOT include Kentucky vs Georgia. That game has been postponed until tomorrow due to a possible tornado and severe weather in Atlanta that damaged the Georgia Dome. Crazy stuff! The winner of that one early tomorrow will have to another later in the day.
--Temple and Saint Joseph's have made heroic Bubble Boy runs to the A10 final.
--Texas A&M locked it up, and pushed Kansas State onto the Bubble. The Wildcats are probably OK, will might be a tad antsy on Sunday after losing 5/7 to close the season.
--Arkansas is likely safe now after beating Vandy, although I'm keeping them on the Bubble for the time being.
--The Bubble Universe will be praying for Kent State to win the MAC title game vs Akron tomorrow. The Flashes will be yet another Bubble team if they lose.
--American punched their ticket by winning the Patriot title game.

4.10 pm
--OSS has been updated.
--Florida State is likely toast after losing to UNC. Virginia Tech greatly helped their case by beating Miami-FL. A win tomorrow would go a long way for the Hokies. Even with a loss to UNC tomorrow, they have played themselves onto the Bubble. Miami-FL has to be considered Bubble, but their resume is pretty stout compared to other Bubble Boys.
--Ohio State lost to Michigan State and is now straddling the fence.
--Mississippi State has done enough. They are IN.
--Arkansas currently leads Vandy in the 2nd half. If they hold on, that will move them to the strong side of the Bubble.

12 noon
The bracket has been tweaked. Lockbox has also been slightly adjusted. Oklahoma has surely done enough, so I LOCKED them IN.

Last Seven IN: Arizona, Ohio State, Villanova, South Alabama, Saint Joseph's, Temple, Illinois State.

Just Missed: Oregon, Arizona State, Syracuse, Florida, Virginia Tech, Mississippi, UMass, Dayton, New Mexico.

These last few slots are VERY much up for grabs and I could easily change my mind tomorrow...or in an hour.

Multi-Bid Conference Breakdown
Big East (8): Georgetown, Louisville, UConn, Notre Dame, Marquette, Pitt, West Virginia, Villanova
Big XII (6): Texas, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Baylor, Texas A&M
Pac-10 (5): UCLA, Stanford, Washington State, Southern Cal, Arizona
SEC (5): Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, Arkansas, Kentucky
Big Ten (5): Wisconsin, Purdue, Indiana, Michigan State, Ohio State
ACC (4): Duke, North Carolina, Clemson, Miami-FL
Atlantic 10 (3): Xavier, Saint Joseph's, Temple
West Coast (3): St. Mary's, Gonzaga
Missouri Valley (2): Drake, Illinois State
Sun Belt (2): WKU, South Alabama
Mountain West (2): BYU, UNLV

11.37 am
The OSS is up to date.

What to Watch
--Florida State can get into the convo with a win over North Carolina. Miami-FL can LOCK it up today. VA Tech can help their cause with a win.
--Temple and Saint Joseph's probably both need to advance to stay alive.
--Kansas State and Texas A&M play each other. One will LOCK it up, the other is probably still OK, but Bubble. Oklahoma State could get back in the Bubble mix with a win over Texas.
--Ohio State needs to beat Michigan State to feel safe. A loss puts them squarely on the Bubble.
--Kent State needs to advance to the MAC title game to harbor AL hopes.
--UNLV needs to beat Utah and get to the MWC title game.
--Arkansas is on the good side right now, but a win over Vandy would make them much more stable. A loss keeps them on the Bubble.
--Kentucky cannot afford a loss to Georgia. They would sweat if they lose.
--Mississippi State can LOCK it up with a win over Alabama. They are likely IN anyway.
--Stephen F. Austin has to win today and get to the Southland title game to have any shot.
--American and Colgate play for the Patriot bid this afternoon (3.45 CT, ESPN2).

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Thursday Updates

11.45 pm

--A tweaked bracket comes tomorrow.
--OSS has been update with just a few games still going.
--Lockbox has been updated. The "blue" teams are gone. Teams are either a LOCK, working on a LOCK with another win (if that teams loses, they go to the Bubble or their existing profile gets them IN), or on the Bubble. This will continue to sort out even more over the next few days.
--Temple and Saint Joseph's helped themselves today. UMass and Dayton did not...and I fear both are going to miss. UMass is not totally dead, but I think Dayton probably is.
--So long, Maryland. Get out your kNITting needles.
--Texas A&M is still not LOCKED, but one more would do it. They are in pretty good shape even if they lose tomorrow.
--Villanova will sweat it out this weekend.
--Kent State TCB.
--UNLV survived a tussle with TCU and stays on the good side of the Bubble.
--Arizona State and Oregon will hang out with Nova in the antacid aisle this week.
--Mississippi and Florida both went down to what have to be considered lesser teams. Both are likely OUT.

2.35 pm

--OSS has been updated, as has the Lockbox (it had a few glitches yesterday).
--Dayton lost to Xavier and will have to sweat...and I don't like their chances.
--Villanova lost to G'town, so they are squarely on the Bubble.


8.41 am
Late Last Night
--Arizona bludgeoned hapless Oregon State in a game they had to win.

The OSS is complete through last night's games and all 30 brackets are now complete as the last of the tourneys get going today.

What to Watch
--The A10. Dayton, UMass, Temple, and Saint Joseph's are all on the Bubble and all could be playing for their lives today. Surprisingly, none of them are playing one another.
--Maryland probably has to beat Boston College to stay alive.
--Ohio State would be wise to beat Michigan State, although they are probably on the good side of the Bubble right now. But, if they lose, they will sweat on Sunday.
--Texas A&M can probably breathe easy if they beat Iowa State today, but a loss could really damage them.
--Villanova can seal it with a win over Georgetown.
--Kent State cannot lose to Toledo and harbor AL hopes.
--UNLV needs to play to their 2-seed to feel safe. New Mexico is in must win mode. They probably need to get to the finals of the Mt West.
--Arizona, Arizona State, and Oregon all could use upset wins today to help stabilize their shakiness.
--Mississippi and Florida must win today.

Enjoy! Updates coming throughout the day.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Wednesday Updates

10.58 pm

The OSS has been updated to show today's completed games with just a couple still going on.

--Congrats to Mt. St. Mary's and Portland State on their bids.
--Any razor thin hope that Rhode Island had is now gone with their loss to Charlotte.
--Pitt LOCKED it up.




3.40 pm

--So long, Syracuse. What a bright orange egg you laid against Villanova. In fact, I replaced you with Villanova in the bracket and in the updated Lockbox.

--Dayton and Saint Joseph's secured must wins to keep hope alive.

--West Virginia all but locked it up by surviving a test from Providence. I upgraded them to "virtual lock" status.

More Tickets

WKU ended a five-year drought by dispatching a feisty Middle Tennessee squad 67-57 in the Sun Belt title game. It was a struggle, but WKU played lock-down defense in the middle of the game, holding MTSU to just one FG during a 10-minute stretch. The Toppers built a 14-point lead during that run, and the Raiders never truly recovered.

And I was there! GREAT trip for me resulting in a sweep by both the WKU men and women.

Congrats also to Butler and Oral Roberts who gave Bubble Boys a night of respite by winning.

We drove back to Kentucky overnight last night, so I'm not 100% today, but I do have:

Updated OSS

Bracket Update (breakdown later if time and my body permits)

I took teams like Ohio State, Arizona, UMass, Oregon, South Alabama, Arizona State, and Syracuse over Villanova, New Mexico, Illinois State, Temple, VCU, Mississippi, and Dayton along with a few fringe others.

More later if possible.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tuesday Update

Through the miracle of remote technology, I was able to update the OSS even though I'm in Mobile. I think this internet thing might catch on.

Sun Belt Tourney
One could analyze the Middle Tennessee/South Alabama game to death, but it all boiled down to two things.

1. Middle Tennessee is playing MUCH better than they did earlier in the season.
2. South Alabama is a tired team.

That's it. The finer details all stem from those two facts.

UALR hung with WKU for awhile, but the Toppers young, improving bigs simply took over the game, especially SO Jeremy Evans. The Topper D dictated the game for the last 15 mins and that was that. Should be a great title game tonight between WKU and MTSU. These are two bitter, regional rivals with absolutely huge stakes on the line.

Bracket coming tomorrow.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Sunday Update

The OSS is updated through tonight's games.

EDIT: WKU DID win over NT (84-70!!!), so I am on the road to Mobile tomorrow morning. I will update everything on late Tuesday or early Wednesday morning.

Congrats to Drake for their auto bid today.

The Colonial, Metro-Atlantic, and Southern conferences award bids tomorrow.

-------------------------------------------------------------
Frequency of updates here is largely contingent upon WKU's success or lack thereof in the Sun Belt tourney. I will likely not be able to update again today until VERY late tonight. If WKU wins tonight, I will get on the road to Mobile, AL, for Monday's night game. If they win Monday, I will not be back until early Wednesday morning after Tuesday night's game.

So, updates could be scarce if WKU is winning over the next couple of days. If not, I will update very frequently, but probably be in a sour mood.

But, we'll know more after WKU's game vs North Texas tonight at 9 pm. I hope to have a bracket update up late tonight or early tomorrow morning as well.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Saturday Updates

Late Night Update (10.45 pm CT)

Lockbox Updated
--Southern Cal has been upgraded to LOCK. The Trojans have done enough.
--Baylor and West Virginia have been upgraded to "virtual locks."

One Stop Updated
--Congrats to Winthrop (Big South auto) on their 8th bid in ten years.
--Belmont (Atlantic Sun auto) is going to their third straight Dance.
--Austin Peay (OVC auto) led wire to wire this season and they smoked Tennessee State in the title game today.

Friday's Aftermath

Bubble Boy Impact
Well, the conference tourney season has popped it's first Bubble. SIU probably needed at least two wins to find their way in, but alas, Northern Iowa's Panthers pounced on the Egyptian Dogs, 54-49 in the Valley quarters last night. SIU will almost assuredly miss the bracket with a 17-14 record, losses in their last two, and six sub-100 losses. Even in a bad year for the Bubble, this will not get it done.

Lockbox has been updated. BYU is now a LOCK. No way they miss at this stage. A couple other teams shifted a bit, too. There are several that are a win away (Kansas State, St. Mary's, Mississippi State, Southern Cal, maybe a couple others).

Conference Tourney Roundup
The OSS has been updated.

Higher seeds went 17-5 yesterday, making their cumulative record 44-13 to this point. I would not call any of the upsets "major," but there was one of note: 6-seed Tennessee State successfully navigated through the quarters and semis of the OVC Tourney (over a pair of Kentucky brethren, Morehead State and Murray State) and will play for a bid today against season-long OVC leader Austin Peay. TSU has won 5 of 6 and one of those was a win over APSU. They have a 13-16 overall record, so I think they qualify as the season's first Cinderella. It will be nice for TSU G Bruce Price to perform on a national stage. He's had a good career at TSU and he's a good player few people know about. The TSU Tigers have not been Dancing since 1994.

Today's GOI
BIG SOUTH CHAMPIONSHIP
--Winthrop vs UNC-Asheville [10:30 AM CT, ESPN2]. These two have been the best in the conference all year. Only one gets to Dance.
OHIO VALLEY CHAMPIONSHIP
--Tennessee State vs Austin Peay. [3 PM CT, ESPN2]. TSU is the underdog (6 vs 1 seed here), but they are in their home city of Nashville playing for a spot in the bracket.
--Towson vs VCU. Rams have to make the final to hang on to AL hopes.
--Creighton vs Drake. Jays must win to harbor any AL hopes. Drake is playing for a protected seed in the Big Bracket.
--Nothern Iowa vs Illinois State. A loss to UNI could be fatal for the Redbirds. A win and loss to Drake keeps them in the AL picture.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Best Weekend #1

The OSS has been updated through last night's games. Higher seeds are 27-8 so far in the tourney season.

Ticket punchers, to your stations! The Atlantic Sun, Big South, Horizon, Missouri Valley, and OVC will crown champions this weekend!

Last Night's GOI

--at Oregon 67, Arizona State 61. These two jokers are destined for the Bubble. There will likely be some sweaty Ducks and Devils come SelSun.
--at Saint Joseph's 71, Xavier 66. Hawks probably had to have it...and they came through. A win at Dayton tomorrow and a decent tourney showing will make the Hawks hard to leave out.
--at UCLA 77, Stanford 67 (OT). Cardinal might have let a 2-seed get away from them in this one.

Weekend Forecast
Tonight
--America East first round
--Atlantic Sun semis
--Colonial quarters
--Horizon 2nd round
--MAAC first round
--Missouri Valley quarters
--Ohio Valley semis
--SoCon first round
--West Coast first round
Saturday
--Auburn at Arkansas. Hogs can't afford to lose this one.
--Saint Joseph's at Dayton. HUGE stakes for both teams.
--North Carolina at Duke. I think this one is televised.
--Miami-FL at Florida State. Noles must have it and then some.
--Louisville at Georgetown. For all the Big East reg season marbles.
--Temple at LaSalle. Owls can lock #2 in the A10.
--UAB at Memphis. Blazers can make a good case if they win here.
--Arizona at Oregon. Zona is probably OK, but it sure would not hurt to win here...but Ducks are fighting for their feathery lives at this point, too.
--Villanova at Providence. Nova can't afford a loss at this stage.
--Marquette at Syracuse. Orange need it in the worst way.
--Kansas at Texas A&M. Golden opportunity for Aggies to make a stand.
--Lots of tourney action! See the OSS.
Sunday
--Kent State at Akron. Flashes must win to prop up AL hopes in case they need it.
--Virginia Tech at Clemson. Surging Hokies could really help themselves here by winning their last 5 ACC games.
--Florida at Kentucky. Bubble Death Match.
--Michigan State at Ohio State. Buckeyes look for monster win #2 this week.
--Maryland at Virginia. Terps must win to stay afloat.
--See OSS for tourney games.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Patriotism and Equality

Conference Tourney Action
Higher seeds went 9-3 last night. Two of those upsets were thrillers in the Patriot, as (7) Bucknell upended (2) Navy by one in TRIPLE OT and (5) Army took out (4) Lehigh by three in single OT. The other was a 10-point win by visiting Troy at Louisiana-Lafayette in Sun Belt actions.

In addition, the Patriot's other two quarterfinal games were each decided by TWO points.

See all results in the One Stop Shop.

Lockbox has been mildly adjusted as well.

Bubble Boys
Who helped themselves?
Texas A&M got a massive road win at fellow Bubbler Baylor to help salve their recent wounds. They could put themselves in great position with a win over visiting Kansas on Sat. Syracuse got a much needed road win at Seton Hall. Cuse are still just 2-5 in their last seven, so they may need to beat visiting Marquette on Saturday and do some damage in the Big East tourney. Temple kept its slim hopes alive by taking care of Duquesne and thus maintaining 2nd all alone in the A10. Oh, where would they be without that home loss to Fordham?

Who got hurt?
Baylor suffered and untimely 14-point home loss to aforementioned Texas A&M. They may need to take care of Texas Tech in Lubbock to rest easy. Florida played Tennessee tough, but they need ACTUAL victories, not moral ones at this stage. There will be no bye for UF in the SEC tourney, and they badly need to win at Kentucky. Oklahoma State is now in must win mode to stay alive after losing at home to Oklahoma. If they can win at Texas, they can get back into the conversation.

Last Night's GOI

--Texas A&M 71, at Baylor 57.
--Tennessee 89, at Florida 86.
--Oklahoma 68, at Oklahoma State 56.
--Syracuse 85, at Seton Hall 73.
--at Temple 90, Duquesne 85. Owls TCB.
--at Vanderbilt 86, Mississippi State 85 (OT). Shan Foster made nine straight threes en route to 42 points. Meditate on that for a minute.

Tonight's GOI
--Arizona State at Oregon. HUGE stakes in this one for both teams.
--Xavier at Saint Joseph's. Hawks probably must have this one.
--Stanford at UCLA. Stanford is gunning for a 2-seed, UCLA is trying to hang on to a 1.
--Atlantic Sun quarters, Big South semis, Missouri Valley first round, and Northeast quarters

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

We Have Life!

I am having a few FTP issues, but those should be sorted out this afternoon. I will update the OSS later today.

Chalk Holds Up
There were 12 games in three conference tourneys last night, and the chalk held up well. In the Big South, Horizon, and Ohio Valley Conference tournaments, the higher seed hosts the first round games. Those teams went 10-2, with Loyola-Chi pulling a 8/5 job on UW-Milwaukee and Tennessee State doing the same to Morehead State in a 6/3 upside-downer.

Today, the Atlantic Sun, Patriot, and Sun Belt will play 13 games total, and the higher seeds host the games in the Patriot and the Sun Belt.

Bubble Talk
FINALLY, a few Bubble Boys are showing life.

Who helped themselves last night? New Mexico, Kansas State, Virginia Tech, Ohio State, Mississippi. New Mexico finally got a big win over UNLV, and are 7-1 in their last 8. Kansas State is all but IN, and will lock it up with a win at Iowa State. VA Tech has obliterated its last two opponents and looks to be very dangerous heading into their game with Clemson this weekend and the ACC tourney. They have won four straight. Ohio State scored a huge win over Purdue, and has Michigan State in Columbus on the weekend. That could put them back into the bracket. Ole Miss is in must win mode and they did win last night over Arkansas.

Who got hurt last night? Ohio, Florida State, Arkansas. Ohio is likely dead. FSU will need to stack up some serious cheese in the ACC tourney. Arkansas is now 2-5 in their last 7. They need to take care of Auburn this weekend or risk missing out.

Last Night's GOI
--at Ohio State 80, Purdue 77 (OT). Step one to getting IN is complete for tOSU. Next up: beat Sparty.
--at New Mexico 59, UNLV 45. I like the Lobos right now. It's nice to see a Bubble Boy winning down the stretch.
--at Virginia Tech 80, Wake Forest 58. Hokies are opening up a can on a regular basis right now. A win at Clemson would make them quite viable.

Tonight's GOI
--Texas A&M at Baylor. Aggies probably need this one to stay on the good side of the Bubble.
--Tennessee at Florida. Gators have a game tailor-made for teams in need.
--Oklahoma at Oklahoma State. HUGE stakes, especially for surging OK State.
--Syracuse at Seton Hall. Orange must have it.
--Duquesne at Temple. Owls must hold onto 2nd in the A10 at all costs.
--Mississippi State at Vanderbilt. Dogs are likely IN, but this would clinch it.
--Atlantic Sun, Patriot, and Sun Belt first round



Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Bubble Boy Breakdown 3/4; Conf Tourneys Begin

The One Stop Shop has more than 1/3 of the 30 brackets complete now. The WCC is also set after last night's results and I will update those tonight. The conference tourney season begins today!!!

The Lockbox is also filling up. And, with lots of teams losing, some teams that have played well lately are getting into the mix. Virginia Tech, New Mexico, South Alabama, Oklahoma State, UAB, and Temple have been trending up at a time when most of the Bubble is crashing (Texas A&M, Maryland, most of the A10 Bubble Boys, etc).

Tomorrow, we'll look at the remaining schedules for some of the Bubble Boys and see who has a leg up in that department.

The Bubble by the Numbers
--31 Automatic Bids. That number will not change this season.
--34 At-Large Bids. That also is a static number.
--23 teams have LOCKED their spots.
--5 other teams are in fantastic shape. They are listed as "virtual locks" in lower case black font in the Lockbox. Twelve of the LOCKS or virtual locks are conference leaders. That means that fourteen At-Large bids are spoken for at this point. It is hard to imagine any of these teams missing even with a few games to go. This could change, but most if not all of these teams are not going anywhere.
--I have six teams listed in blue today. With the LOCKS and "virtual locks" added to this group, that accounts for 22 At-Large bids that are not "bubble slots." Hence, 12 slots are up for grabs. The bottom is rough and the Bubble is very crowded. Some of this will sort out this week and in the conference tourneys. Hopefully, some of these teams will clear things up with a strong finish.
--The Bubble Boys who made it in are in green and those left out are in red in the Lockbox.

Last Night's GOI
--at Kansas 109, Texas Tech 51. And it wasn't as close as the score indicates. All I can say is: WOW.
--at West Virginia 76, Pittsburgh 62. WVA can breathe fairly easy barring a loss at St. John's to end the season which could push them back onto the Bubble. Pitt is still probably OK, but they should go ahead and drill DePaul to remove all doubt.

Tonight's GOI
--Purdue at Ohio State. The Bucks have this one and then Michigan State at home to end the season. These two games will likely decide their bid status. Win both? IN. Split? Bubble. Lose both: OUT.
--UNLV at New Mexico. Rebs are in pretty good shape. Lobos can probably get on the good side of the Bubble with a win.
--Wake Forest at Virginia Tech. Hokies need to keep rolling to have any shot.

CONFERENCE TOURNEYS
And so it begins!!!
--Big South Quarters
--Horizon First Round
--Ohio Valley Quarters

Monday, March 03, 2008

Bracket Update 3/3

Sorry for the little hiatus last week. I was traveling for an education conference, and it was a PACKED schedule on Thurs/Fri. No time to blog, although I did get to hear Robert Kennedy, Jr., speak.

Today's bracket is up. I know I sound like a broken record, but the bottom is really, really bad. There are a number of slots just waiting to be taking by ANY team willing to finish strong.

At the very nasty bottom, I took Illinois State, Maryland, Florida, Kentucky, Saint Joseph's, New Mexico, and Texas A&M. I took them over teams like Syracuse, Oregon, Temple, Ohio State, Rhode Island, UAB, Villanova, Creighton, VA Tech, Villanova, Houston, OK State (watch out for the red-hot Cowboys!), Dayton, WKU, Ohio and SIU. I want to address the Bubble more thoroughly tomorrow or Wed.

The One Stop Shop has been cleaned up a bit (thanks to a couple of very nice, helpful readers) and I have the Sun Belt and Horizon brackets set. I'll work on more of those today. By the end of the week, all 30 conference tourney brackets will be ready to go.

Congrats to Cornell, the first auto qualifier in the 2008 Bracket!

Multi-Bid Conference Breakdown
Big East (8): Georgetown, Louisville, UConn, Notre Dame, Marquette, Pitt, Villanova, West Virginia
Pac-10 (6): UCLA, Stanford, Washington State, Arizona, Southern Cal, Arizona State
Big XII (6): Texas, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Baylor, Texas A&M
ACC (5): Duke, North Carolina, Clemson, Miami-FL, Maryland
SEC (5): Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Arkansas, Mississippi State, Kentucky
Big Ten (4): Wisconsin, Purdue, Indiana, Michigan State
Mountain West (3): BYU, UNLV, New Mexico
Atlantic 10 (3): Xavier, Saint Joseph's, UMass
West Coast (2): St. Mary's, Gonzaga
Missouri Valley (2): Drake, Illinois State

Tonight's GOI
--Texas Tech at Kansas. Raiders are mostly dead, but this Miracle Pill could allow them wiggle their fingers and toes a bit and have a little head jiggle.
--Pittsburgh at West Virginia. Both are likely going to Dance, but WVA needs to hold serve at home here. Do that, and I think the 'Eers will be in pretty good shape.