Monday, December 31, 2012

End of 2012: State of the Sun Belt

The Sun Belt has a new commissioner (Karl Benson) and a number of exiting members (Denver is gone this year and more to follow in coming years), but the song pretty much remains the same.

1. Middle Tennessee harbors some slim at-large hopes, but preseason darling North Texas has been one of the most disappointing teams in the country. Those two, along with re-emerging WKU and South Alabama, were supposed to provide some strength at the top. That has mostly held up, except that North Texas was supposed to be in the national conversation and they have underachieved. The other three have pretty much held to form.

2. Teams have played four or less conference games, and only three teams have winning records: WKU (4-0), MTSU (2-0), and South Alabama (3-1). No team in the West is above water.

3. MTSU is far and away the best performing team according to the efficiency ratings. Their offense grades out at #88 and their defense checks in at a sparkling #22. The Raiders have that special combo of forcing a ton of turnovers (#9 nationally in TO%forced) and preventing 3-point accuracy (#20 best). Their offense and defense are the most effective units in the league. No other unit in the Belt is in the Top 100.

4. However, I don't think MTSU will run away by multiple games in the East. WKU has been severely hampered by injuries and have still managed to go 4-0 in league including two road wins and a win over North Texas. MTSU plays North Texas at home tonight, so they will have to beat the underachieving, but very dangerous, Mean Green to keep pace with WKU.

The major questions include:

1. Will MTSU once again falter late in the season?

2. Will North Texas eventually gel their considerable talent (clearly the best in the league)?

3. Will standard-bearer WKU get healthy and continue their "just win, baby" streak (now 10-0 in their last ten Belt games)?

4. Is there a dark horse in the bunch? Best bets, for my money, are USA and Arkansas State.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

WKU 70, North Texas 64



EFFICIENCY
WKU 109.4
UNT 100.0

Snowy, cold weather cut out the Murray St-Valpo game in the Father-Son Hoops Extravaganza (FSHE), but we still got a fourth game in the books back home at WKU's Diddle Arena on Saturday night. My son turned six years old on December 27 and this was our first overnight basketball trip. We logged 420 miles in 48 hours taking in four college hoops games. This was a worthy cap to the experience.

North Texas has been one of the biggest disappointments in the country so far this season. Super-forward Tony Mitchell is a likely lottery pick and the Mean Green are stacked with big, athletic guards. But, Mitchell has been disappointing at best, and completely non-existent at times as first year coach Tony Benford has not found the best way to gel this team to this point. Nevertheless, UNT is the most talented team in the league, and they would have a very impressive stretch of hoops in the second half.

They would need that great stretch, because the home-standing Toppers were out of our minds from deep early on, making 5-6 threes in the first five minutes. TJ Price, laboring with a ankle injury, got back to his old self by making all four of his treys. Big, lanky seven-foot center Teeng Akol put up eight threes on the night, which sounds insane, but made 3-8 (37.5%). That’s 9 points on 8 shots. That’s equivalent to shooting 56.3% on 2-point shots. The Tops were 9-19 (47.4%) as a team with the longball and that makes the Big Red 18-40 in our last two games. The hot shooting helped build a sizable 15-point lead at one point.

But, the Mean Green would answer with a glimpse of what they could be, namely, the best team in the Sun Belt. They went on a huge run fueled by relentless attacking of the goal in transition that brought them all the way back and even managed to take a one-point lead in the second half. But, the WKU defense tightened the screws, sophomore F George Fant went to work, and then walk-on freshman guard Percy Blade drilled 6-6 free throws in the last two minutes to keep North Texas at bay for the 70-64 win.

North Texas faces Middle Tennessee on Monday (12/31) while WKU embarks on the Arkansas road swing (UALR and Arkansas State) later next week.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Dr. Pepper Classic



Driving rain turned the three hour drive from Bowling Green to Chattanooga into a four hour slog and a late arrival to the Utah Valley/Austin Peay game inside  The McKenzie Arena.



Once inside, Austin Peay and Utah Valley were engaged in a full-fledged track meet, with both teams raining threes from all over the place and neither team able to break away from the other. But, while both teams were hot (UVU: 9-18 from 3, APSU: 12-25), Woverine point guard (and coach's son) Holton Hunsaker absolutely exploded in the second half. Hunsaker's barrage got UVU's nose in front and they were able to hang on for the 84-77 win. When the smoke cleared, the Woverines shot 61% for the game, 50% from three, and 90% from the line. That usually works out well. And, it's worth noting that APSU's Nick Thompson messed around and got a triple-double.

In game two, the points were much harder to come by. Apparently, the first game used up nearly all of the three-point quota allowed by McKenzie Arena. High Point and Chattanooga combined for 5-41 from Three after the  21-43 showing by UVA/APSU.

Still, High Point's freshman forward John Brown got it going in a serious way with nearly a point a minute for much of the first half. Two fouls sent him to the bench late in the half, but he had 13 at the break. However, the home-standing Mocs slashed it's way to a two-point lead behind a lot of drives by speedy guards Ronrico White and Gee McGhee. Chattanooga had a much better second half and finished off the Panthers by virtue of a +5 turnover margin and +8 free throws made.

Team Bracketboard is now holed up with family in Murfreesboro (home of MTSU who plays good hoops as well and faced FIU at 5pm today) and we will head to Murray State later today to catch the Racers against Valparaiso. We will close out this hoops extravaganza back at WKU tonight as the Tops face North Texas at 7pm CT.


Friday, December 28, 2012

WKU 76, FIU 63

EFFICIENCY
WKU 124.6
FIU 103.3

This is the first of five recaps in the Father/Son Hoops Extravaganza (FSHE). My son turned six years old yesterday, and we will be traveling to five games in just over 48 hours this weekend. Later today, we will be in Chattanooga for the Dr. Pepper Classic which includes Austin Peay/Utah Valley and High Point/Chattanooga.

We opened the FSHE with a "home" game in Diddle, as WKU hosted FIU. This was abnormal for a WKU game in that it would have to considered an "offensive" game. Frankly, WKU has not been productive enough on offense to win "offensive" games often. But, tonight was different on a number of levels.

The help came from excellent deep shooting (9-22, 41%). That’s the best shooting from deep all year for the Toppers who came in shooting a paltry 29.5% from Three. Sophomore G Kevin Kaspar and junior PG Brandon Harris combined for 7-12 from long range. That shooting also opened up some passing lanes for WKU's top offensive option, and they did a great job finding PF George Fant inside. Fant rolled up  24 points on 9-12 shooting and a perfect 6-6 free throws.

But, FIU stayed in contact for 3/4s of this game mainly through Malik Smith in the first half. Smith poured in four first half triples and many of those came bounding off screens and letting it fly. It was quite an exhibition and kept the game tied at 33 and the half. FIU also stayed close by winning the rebounding battle, gathering up 37% of their misses, while WKU managed just 28.5%. It would remain close until about 10 minutes remaining, when the WKU defense stiffened and held the Panthers to just 13 points in the last 10 minutes while the Toppers put in 25.

WKU got the expected win, but first year coach Richard Pitino (yes, Rick's son) has FIU looking much better than in past years. Their press is pretty effective, and they have some shooters. They have been in the Sun Belt East basement for years, but I'll be surprised if they finish there this season.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

WKU 77, IUPUI 57

EFFICIENCY
WKU 117.0
IUPUI 86.9

To date, this was probably the best 40-minute effort of the season for WKU (definitely true offensively). Everything looks better when the 3’s go down and what you saw is what I’ve felt all season about the Hilltoppers. When the jumpers go, they are going to be very, very tough because WKU defends for 40 minutes. Topper head coach Ray Harper has been very patient with his young team's struggles to make threes, finish easy shots, poor free throw shooting, and stretches of not valuing the ball. However, he simply does not tolerate messing around on defense. If a player fails to rotate or close out on a shooter a couple of times, the pine awaits.

The WKU defense was good again last night.

1. Defensive FG%: 36.4%, which is excellent. IUPUI 's Jordan Shanklin put on a good show from deep in his homecoming game (he played at Warren Central HS in Bowling Green, KY). Outside of that IUPUI struggled mightily to make shots. WKU shot 55.%.

2. Rebounding. IUPUI got back 31.4% of their misses, but WKU corralled 39.1%. This has been a theme all season.

3. Turnovers. WKU had a -1 margin, committing 15 (22.7%) to the Jags 14 (21.2%). This was about the only dark blotch on the stat sheet for WKU.

Offensively, the Toppers have struggled mightily from deep at times, but found the range last night. (8-21 from 3, 38.1%;). However, if WKU is on your schedule, what you are truly beginning to fret about is a different and alarming trend over the last few games. Three games back gainst Troy, WKU shot 60% on 2-point shots. Then, on Wednesday against SIU, it was 56%. Last night against IUPUI, it was an absolutely scorching 21-31 (67.8%). That is Denver-at-home kind of stuff. If this WKU team converts 50% or more of its 2’s and can manage 33% from deep, WKU opponents have problems because the defense is stiff.

In other Belt news, Middle Tennessee took care of Ole Miss at home. This will largely be viewed as an upset in Hoopdom, but it wasn't. Based on efficiency ratings, MT was favored by one last night. Good win, though, and the Blue Raiders have to be considered the Sun Belt favorite at this stage.

Arkansas State and North Texas also picked up wins last night as the Belt went 4-3 as a league.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Shifting Gears

Until there are enough results to put together a bracket that means anything, this space will be filled by reports from WKU basketball games. There are a few non-conference games left, and I hope to poke around the tempo-free stats and write from that perspective a bit over the next month or so. That might continue until March even during bracket season. We'll see. At any rate, with the semester coming to an end this week, my work responsibilities will be much lighter in December and January. So, there will be more activity here starting very soon, and probably starting tonight as WKU takes on IUPUI in just minutes.

Otherwise, we are just a couple of weeks away from brackets and Lockboxes.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

LIve Brackets Today!

This blog has no purpose until the day that some actual brackets are functional. And, today is that day!

So here are links to both the Charleston Classic and the Puerto Rico Tip-Off as well as the the championship rounds of the 2k Sports Classic.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Good Year for TBB/Essay Win

I scored 14th highest of 115 brackets over at the Bracket Project (I'm TBB) this year. It was a very good year, and I love to see so much consistency between long-time bracketeers and the actual committee. I am very happy I missed on Iona, but wish Drexel had gotten in as well.

Also, I co-wrote a piece that won the Championship Fortnight essay contest over at the Midmajority. It is in fellow Sun Belt and North Texas fan Ross Lancaster's voice and was edited by Denver fan Brendan Loy. Great fun!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

FINAL Bracket: Selection Sunday

This is the final bracket. St. Bonnie did indeed earn their spot and Seton Hall was shaved off.

I think NC State and Cal will get in. It's the last two spots that are a total crap shoot. I took the following for these (admittedly shaky) reasons.

1. Drexel. 24-2 since December 3. 19-1 in last 20 and that loss was in the conference title game against an absolutely smokin' VCU club. Yes, there are plenty of reasons to leave them out, but that's strong stuff compared to most other Bubble team "best reason."

2. South Florida. 13-7 Big East. Most Bubblers don't have late-season wins over clubs like Cincinnati and at Louisville, and the Bulls finished two games clear of Louisville in the Big East.

This is not to say these clubs belong IN over other Bubble teams, but these components spoke loudly to me when looking at the other profiles.

As always, this is a lesson in how the last few spots are a result of a process conducted by ten human beings.

Bracket Update: Selection Sunday

Bracket is up. I have a couple of contingencies worked out for today.

1. Winner of Michigan State/Ohio State gets the final 1-seed.

2. If St. Bonnie wins, Seton Hall gets the axe.

I may tinker and will continue to ponder teams like Northwestern, Iona, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Washington, and some others. The really questionable ones that I have IN at the moment are South Florida, Drexel and Seton Hall. I will not bat an eye if any of those are left out.

Friday, March 09, 2012

A new bracket has been posted. It's "spin the wheel, fill the line" at the bottom. Lots of teams in play, none of whom are easy to put in.

I picked Colorado State, Xavier, Miami (Fl), Texas, NC State, Drexel, Seton Hall (I know...), and Northwestern (I know, I know...) over Mississippi State, South Florida, Washington, Oregon, Saint Joseph's, ORU, Iona, Tennessee, UCF, on and on and on. MANY teams still in the mix.

I am very excited for the A-10 games today. The door is open for a few of those teams with a deep run.

Lockbox and One Stop are up to date as well.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

WKU Season Journey

Can't get enough WKU? You can read nine WKU recaps spanning games in November through the end of regular season via the 800 Games Project over at the Midmajority.

One more to come (the win over North Texas for the NCAA bid) at some point later today or tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

One Stop/WKU Congrats!

I have updated the One Stop Shop. I will work on the bracket/Lockbox late tonight and/or tomorrow.

And, of course, I have a very long and wonderful tale of my 30 hour trip to Hot Springs, Arkansas, and back to witness the WKU Hilltoppers complete their improbable run to the Sun Belt Tourney title! I hope to have that up late tonight.

Monday, March 05, 2012

One Stop Complete, Lockbox Update 3/5

All 30 conference tourney brackets are up and ready/in progress/finished.

Lockbox updated. There are enough bracket projections out there, and I'll update as the week goes along. But, here, I'll mainly focus on the One Stop Shop and the Lockbox.

The Bubble by the Numbers
--31 Automatic Bids. That number will not change this season. Black italics means a team is the projected auto-bid for that conference.
--37 At-Large Bids (AL). That is also a static number.
--20 AL teams are listed in black (or are LOCKS). LOCKS cannot miss, even if they lost out. The black teams could miss in March, but most are a win away at this point.
--I have seven other AL teams listed in blue, which means they are on their way, but losing an early conference tourney game could put them on the Bubble.
--That means 27 AL slots are taken, leaving the Bubble at 10 at the moment. Generally, this number will shrink as we head toward Selection Sunday. Bubble-IN teams are in green, Bubble-OUT teams are in red.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Updated Lockbox 2/28

The LOCKS are flowing now in the Lockbox. More coming as teams cross that "could lose out and still make it" line.

The Bubble by the Numbers
--31 Automatic Bids. That number will not change this season. Black italics means a team is the projected auto-bid for that conference.
--37 At-Large Bids (AL). That is also a static number.
--23 AL teams are listed in black (or are LOCKS). LOCKS cannot miss, even if they lost out. The black teams could miss in March, but most are a win away at this point.
--I have two other AL teams listed in blue, which means they are on their way, but losing out could put them on the Bubble.
--That means 25 AL slots are taken, leaving the Bubble at 12 at the moment. Generally, this number will shrink as we head toward Selection Sunday. Bubble-IN teams are in green, Bubble-OUT teams are in red.

Monday, February 27, 2012

One Stop Shop

The One Stop Shop is up! The tourneys beginning today and in the next few days are ready to go, and I will be filling in and cleaning up the others as the seeds firm up and the start dates approach.

Happy conference tourney season! The Big South gets it rolling tonight with High Point/Gardner-Webb in the 8/9 game and VMI/Radford in the 7/10 tilt.

One Stop Shop, brackets and the Lockbox will be updated as need warrants and time permits.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Bracket Update 2/25

A tweaked bracket is up. I moved West Virginia down a couple of lines after losing last night. The trend is not good for the 'Eers.

Other "last few IN" included Iowa State, Cincinnati, Mississippi State, Texas, Washington, Northwestern, Colorado State, and Arizona. Plenty of teams are alive and well for a bid.

A Lockbox update will come tomorrow at some point.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lockbox Update 2/21

I have updated the Lockbox. Welcome your first LOCKS of the 2012 bracket. Many others are just a win away from obtaining this status. In fact, many more are probably there, but LOCK status is not given away flippantly.

The Bubble by the Numbers
--31 Automatic Bids. That number will not change this season. Black italics means a team is the projected auto-bid for that conference.
--37 At-Large Bids (AL). That is also a static number.
--22 AL teams are listed in black (or are LOCKS). LOCKS cannot miss, even if they lost out. The black teams could miss in March, but it will take a total meltdown at this point.
--I have four other AL teams listed in blue, which means they are on their way, but have a bit more work to do. Some of them will solidify and some will slide onto to the Bubble or out of the bracket entirely. I think of these teams this way: if they win they games they "should," they will likely make it at this point.
--That means 25 AL slots are taken, leaving the Bubble at 11 at the moment. Generally, this number will shrink as we head toward Selection Sunday, and that number is down by two from last week. Bubble-IN teams are in green, Bubble-OUT teams are in red.

Buzzer Bludgeoned

My recap of Saturday's SC-Upstate at Lipscomb tilt housed at the Mid-Majority.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

2/18 Bracket Update

A new bracket is up.

It's ugly at the bottom. Some 5-8 Big Ten teams are in there and that won't stand. They will have to get closer to .500 or be left out, I'll wager.

I am a bit dressed for time at the moment, so the conference breakdown can be seen in the forthcoming Lockbox later today.

Also, I'll be traveling to the SC-Upstate at Lipscomb game tonight with my five-year-old son for some non-WKU action and will have some thoughts on that one.

Happy BracketBuster Day!

Friday, February 17, 2012

On Reading Personalized Sweater Vests

My take (from very good seats!) on last night's WKU victory over FAU.

Pre-weekend bracket and updated Lockbox coming late tonight or early tomorrow.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

UPDATED LOCKBOX

HAPPY #ALL CAPS DAY. HERE IS AN UPDATED LOCKBOX.

The Bubble by the Numbers
--31 Automatic Bids. That number will not change this season. Black italics means a team is the projected auto-bid for that conference.
--37 At-Large Bids (AL). That is also a static number.
--21 AL teams are listed in black (or are LOCKS). The black teams could miss in March, but it will take a total departure from what they have shown to this point.
--I have three other AL teams listed in blue, which means they are on their way, but have a bit more work to do. Some of them will solidify and some will slide onto to the Bubble or out of the bracket entirely. I think of these teams this way: if they win they games they "should," they will likely make it at this point.
--That means 23 AL slots are taken, leaving the Bubble at a robust 13 at the moment. Generally, this number will shrink as we head toward Selection Sunday, and that number is down by one from last week. Bubble-IN teams are in green, Bubble-OUT teams are in red.

Paging Alan Thicke

My write up of Thursday's WKU at MTSU contest via the 800 Games Project at the Mid-Majority.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Bracket Update 2/8

The new bracket is up.

It seems that Kentucky, Syracuse, and Ohio State are strengthening their grip on 1-seeds. It also seems likely that if Missouri, Kansas, or Baylor can win the Big 12 outright and go deep in the conference tourney, they would have the inside track on the last 1-seed. Duke's road win at UNC is huge, and both of those teams are still in the mix. It is hard to imagine any other team jumping all of those clubs for the final #1.

At the bottom, I took Minnesota, Xavier, Miami-FL, Northwestern, BYU, NC State, Purdue, Colorado State, and Seton Hall over a group that included Dayton, Cincinnati, Mississippi, Texas, UNI, Arizona, Arkansas, and Wyoming among others.

Lockbox update coming tomorrow or Friday. I will also make an 800 Game Project trip and write-up for the WKU at Middle Tennessee tomorrow night.

Multi-Bid Conference Breakdown

Big Ten (9): Ohio State, Michigan State, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Purdue, Minnesota, Northwestern

Big East (8): Syracuse, Georgetown, Marquette, Louisville, West Virginia, Notre Dame, UConn, Seton Hall

ACC (6): Duke, North Carolina, Virginia, Florida State, NC State, Miami-FL

SEC (5): Kentucky, Florida, Alabama, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State

Big 12 (5): Missouri, Kansas, Baylor, Kansas State, Iowa State

Mountain West (4): UNLV, San Diego State, New Mexico, Colorado State,

A-10 (3): Temple, Xavier, Saint Louis

West Coast (3): St. Mary’s, Gonzaga, BYU

Missouri Valley (2): Creighton, Wichita State

CUSA (2): Memphis, Southern Miss

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Friday, February 03, 2012

2/3 Lockbox

A bit of tweaking has occurred since Wednesday's bracket.

IN: Washington, Northwestern

OUT: California, Oklahoma


The Bubble by the Numbers
--31 Automatic Bids. That number will not change this season. Black italics means a team is the projected auto-bid for that conference.
--37 At-Large Bids (AL). That is also a static number.
--20 AL teams are listed in black (or are LOCKS). The black teams could miss in March, but it will take a total departure from what they have shown to this point.
--I have three other AL teams listed in blue, which means they are on their way, but have a bit more work to do. Some of them will solidify and some will slide onto to the Bubble (I'm looking at YOU, Alabama) or out of the bracket entirely. I think of these teams this way: if they win they games they "should," they will likely make it at this point.
--That means 23 AL slots are taken, leaving the Bubble at a hefty 14 at the moment. Generally, this number will shrink as we head toward Selection Sunday. Bubble-IN teams are in green, Bubble-OUT teams are in red.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

2/1 Bracket Update

This week's bracket is up, although I had to finish as results from Wednesday night roll in (not condsidered). I wound up taking Saint Louis, Xavier, BYU, Iowa State, New Mexico, Mississippi, UMass, Notre Dame and Colorado State from a group that also included Cincinnati, Northwestern, Oklahoma, Texas, Oregon, Washington, Arkansas, Texas and a smattering of others.

In overall profile, I rather like Cincinnati and Northwestern, but frankly, both are fatally flawed at this stage. The Bearcats have an RPI of 98, with a loss to Presbyterian. Northwestern is 2-6 in league play. If the season ended today, I simply see no way those sins get overlooked.

Full Lockbox coming late tomorrow or on Friday.

Multi-Bid Conference Breakdown

Big Ten (8): Ohio State, Michigan State, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Purdue, Minnesota

Big East (8): Syracuse, Georgetown, Marquette, Louisville, Seton Hall, UConn, West Virginia, Notre Dame

SEC (6): Kentucky, Alabama, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, Florida, Mississippi

Big 12 (5): Kansas, Baylor, Missouri, Kansas State, Iowa State

Mountain West (4): UNLV, San Diego State, Colorado State, New Mexico

A-10 (5): Dayton, Temple, Xavier, Saint Louis, UMass

ACC (4): Duke, North Carolina, Virginia, Florida State

West Coast (3): St. Mary’s, Gonzaga, BYU

Missouri Valley (2): Creighton, Wichita State

CUSA (2): Memphis, Southern Miss




Thursday, January 26, 2012

Lockbox Update 1/26

There has been major Bubble struggles this week, so this Lockbox has several teams "IN" that were not in Tuesday's full bracket.

IN: Oregon, New Mexico, Texas, Saint Louis

OUT: Marshall, UCF, Iowa State, Colorado State

Northwestern and Arkansas were close.


The Bubble by the Numbers
--31 Automatic Bids. That number will not change this season. Black italics means a team is the projected auto-bid for that conference.
--37 At-Large Bids (AL). That is also a static number.
--18 AL teams are listed in black (or are LOCKS). The black teams could miss in March, but it will take a total departure from what they have shown to this point.
--I have six other AL teams listed in blue, which means they are on their way, but have a bit more work to do. Some of them will solidify and some will slide onto to the Bubble (I'm looking at YOU, Alabama) or out of the bracket entirely. I think of these teams this way: if they win they games they "should," they will likely make it at this point.
--That means 24 AL slots are taken, leaving the Bubble at 13 at the moment. Generally, this number will shrink as we head toward Selection Sunday.. Bubble-IN teams are in green, Bubble-OUT teams are in red.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bracket Update 1/24

This week's bracket is up. It is still very fluid at the bottom, as it always is this time of year. I wound up taking Cincinnati, BYU, UCF, Iowa State, Mississippi, Marshall, NC State, and Colorado State from a group that also included New Mexico, Northwestern, Northern Iowa, UMass, Texas, Oregon, Stanford and a smattering of others.

Kansas and Ohio State moved onto the 1-seed line, as Baylor and Duke dropped down.

Full Lockbox coming late tomorrow or on Thursday.

Multi-Bid Conference Breakdown

Big Ten (8): Michigan State, Ohio State, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Purdue, Minnesota

Big East (8): Syracuse, Georgetown, Seton Hall, UConn, West Virginia, Marquette, Louisville, Cincinnati

SEC (6): Kentucky, Alabama, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, Florida, Mississippi

ACC (5): Duke, North Carolina, Virginia, Florida State, NC State

Big 12 (5): Kansas, Baylor, Missouri, Kansas State, Iowa State

Mountain West (4): UNLV, San Diego State, Colorado State

CUSA (4): Memphis, Southern Miss, Marshall, UCF

West Coast (3): St. Mary’s, Gonzaga, BYU

A-10 (3): Dayton, Temple, Xavier

Missouri Valley (2): Creighton, Wichita State


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

First Full Lockbox

The season's first full Lockbox is up. For the uninitiated, this organizes teams by conference and is color-coded to reflect each team's "safety" in regards to the bracket. It is still early, and this is somewhat subjective, but the purpose here is get a sense of how many slots are truly up for grabs.

The Bubble by the Numbers
--31 Automatic Bids. That number will not change this season. Black italics means a team is the projected auto-bid for that conference.
--37 At-Large Bids (AL). That is also a static number.
--13 AL teams are listed in black (or are LOCKS). The black teams could miss in March, but it will take a total departure from what they have shown to this point.
--I have 12 other AL teams listed in blue, which means they are on their way, but have a bit more work to do. Some of them will solidify and some will slide onto to the Bubble or out of the bracket entirely. I think of these teams this way: if they win they games they "should," they will likely make it at this point.
--That means 25 AL slots are taken, leaving the Bubble at 13 at the moment. Generally, this number will shrink as we head toward Selection Sunday.. Bubble-IN teams are in green, Bubble-OUT teams are in red.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Bracket Update 1/17

It is less than eight weeks until Selection Sunday, and the first bracket of the season is up. It is always wild and woolly at the bottom, and with 37 At-large teams and it being January and all, it is even wilder and woollier than it will be closer to Selection Sunday.

At the bottom, I took teams like Northwestern, Stanford, Xavier, Florida State, Marshall, BYU, Denver, NC State, New Mexico, and Minnesota over a host of others too long to list out. That said, Saint Joseph's, Texas, LSU, Ohio, and UCF were right there.

An full-color Lockbox is on deck for tomorrow, with the season's first "Bubble By the Numbers" post.

Multi-Bid Conference Breakdown

Big Ten (9): Michigan State, Ohio State, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Purdue, Northwestern, Minnesota

Big East (7): Syracuse, Georgetown, Seton Hall, UConn, West Virginia, Marquette, Louisville

ACC (5): Duke, North Carolina, Virginia, Florida State, NC State

SEC (5): Kentucky, Alabama, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, Florida

Mountain West (4): UNLV, San Diego State, Colorado State, New Mexico

Big 12 (4): Baylor, Kansas, Missouri, Kansas State

West Coast (3): St. Mary’s, Gonzaga, BYU

CUSA (3): Memphis, Southern Miss, Marshall

A-10 (3): Dayton, Temple, Xavier

Pac-12 (2): Cal, Stanford

Missouri Valley (2): Creighton, Wichita State

Sun Belt (2): Middle Tennessee, Denver


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Pre-Lockbox

This preliminary Lockbox houses teams that are 1) current conference leaders (tie-breaker to the RPI) or 2) very likely to be in the bracket in two months time based on performance to this point in the season. And, I'm talking about no-brainers here. No Bubble Boys listed on this one.

There are some teams included here that have major questions surrounding them (Wisconsin's B1G struggles, Florida's lack of beefy wins, etc), but in those two cases, the efficiency numbers point to ultimate success. Wisconsin is #3 overall in the Pomeroy ratings, sport the nations lowest Turnover%, the nation's best EffectiveFG% defense, and #2 overall Adjusted Defensive Efficiency. The Gators are rated #13 overall with the #1 offense. For now, those two get the benefit of the doubt...for now. Wiscy will have to turn around that conference record and Florida will have to win a lot of SEC games. And, I expect both will do that...for now.

There are a couple of other teams that could fall out of favor, but the purpose here is to get a feel for how many slots are actually out there at any given time. In this case, there are 23 At-Large teams that I would deem "stunners" if they don't show up in March. That means everyone else is playing for about 14 At-Large slots if they fail to win their automatic bid.

Again, this is a pre-Lockbox, so a full one comes later next week. The season's first bracket is coming on Monday.