Friday, March 31, 2006

An Unexpected Champion

I. We will have an unexpected champion no matter what happens in the F4.

II. Congratulations to South Carolina who won their second consecutive NIT last night.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

One Cliche Rings True

"We gotta take it one game at a time." I've yet to see a team play two games simultaneously.

"I didn't play my 'A' game today." A Tiger Woods favorite.

"It was a total team effort." So does this mean that usually it's not a total team effort, but for one game it was?

"Defense wins championships." Hold the phone.

That last one might have some application to this set of Final Four teams. True, Memphis "could not throw it in the ocean" against UCLA, but that a lot of that "brick laying" was due to some "great defense for forty minutes" by UCLA. George Mason has been "giving 110%" on defense all season long. LSU is best known for it's Big Baby, but my "hat's off to them" for their defense as well. Florida is probably the "most balanced" team left, but they "leave it all on the floor" when defending, too.

Take a look at the Adjusted Offensive Efficiency and Adjusted Defensive Efficiency (O/D) of the Final Four teams (out of all 334 D-I teams). Notice that all F4 teams are in top 15 in Adj Def Eff.

Florida: 6/8
George Mason: 53/15
LSU: 42/4
UCLA: 23/3

Three of the four are undoubtedly defensively-driven teams. Florida is simply darned efficient on both offense and defense. Statistically, I guess that "makes them the favorite," but a team does not get to this point unless they are "playing well on both ends."

One thing is for sure: "it's anybody's ball game" this weekend, and "it's not over until the fat lady sings."

Monday, March 27, 2006

Super Patriots

Last Thursday in my article, I had this to say about George Mason's chances to crash the Final Four:

"The big question surrounding the Patriots' inclusion was this: should GMU be in without suspending point guard Tony Skinn in the first round? George Mason answered that question by dispatching Michigan State with relative ease without their floor general. With Skinn back in the lineup, they sent defending national champion North Carolina packing in the second round. This team has been for real all season long, and they are letting the world know it in this tournament.

Why they can get to Indy
The Patriots also do it with defense. They have the #15 rated Defensive Efficency in the country, including the 9th-best field goal percentage defense. GMU defends in the half-court about as well as anyone. In fact, opponents are shooting just 38.6% against Mason this season, including a paltry 32% from three-point range. They like a slow, methodical pace and they love to pound it inside to wide-bodied Jai Lewis (13.8 ppg, 7.9 rpg) on offense.

Why they will fall short
Much like Bradley, GMU will have to play above their offensive means (#67 Offensive Efficiency) to get to Indianapolis. They have the defense to slow down just about anyone, but to beat the top teams in the land, they are going to have to make shots and that is not their forte. So far in the tourney, guards Falorin Campbell and Lamar Butler have stepped up to have big nights in the team's first two games. One or both of those two will need to keep up the good work to keep the Patriots moving in the bracket.

If GMU has a more pedestrian offensive outing, they will be in trouble against Wichita State or the winner of UConn/Washington."

Well, there have been no pedestrian outings. We know GMU is a terrific defensive team and that they have quality post scorers in big Jai Lewis and Will Thomas. The difference between the excellent regular-season Patriots and the NCAA Super-Patriots is the outside shooting. GMU had three players make more than 16 three point FG's during the regular season:

Lamar Butler (69-185, 37.3%)
Tony Skinn (53-156, 34%)
Folarin Campbell (31-92, 33.7%)

GMU had no player that would be considered a great 3-pt shooter. But take a look at what these hombres have done during their four NCAA Tourney games:

Lamar Butler (11-22, 50%)
Tony Skinn (5-13, 38.5%)
Folarin Campbell (8-16, 50%)

When you add a huge spike in three point-shooting efficiency to a great team with a quality defense (#7 nationally in effective FG % defense), you have a buzzsaw on your hands. Michigan State, defending champ North Carolina, Wichita State, and now UConn have all learned that lesson.

Read more about Mason from their official site, CBS' Gregg Doyel, the Chicago Sun Times, and their hometown Washington Post. Or, just about any hoops blog on the net.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

16 Reasons to Live

1. My article on this year's party crashers (Wichita State, Bradley, George Mason) will be up on shortly.

2. Spring has sprung...although it's been sub-32 degrees here in Southern Kentucky for four straight mornings.

3. The Masters is just two weeks away.

4. "Mid-Major" rock stars on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

5. Bob Huggins lives to rant another day in Manhattan, KS.

6. Yoni Cohen (of YOCO hoops) ranks the Sweet 16 games.

7. Stan Heath's cooling of his seat this season.

8. Wonk's knowledge of coaching carousels.

9. My wife's chocolate chip cookies.

10. Today's tip times.

11. Both born on this Sweet 16 date: Chaka Khan and Roger Bannister.

12. My new guitar: the Gibson SJ-100.

13. Overhyped games for big-name recruits. Great set-up for next season-questions like, "How did he slip past (insert Big State U. here) and wind up at (insert Smaller Directional State U.)?"

14. Coach K for giving college hoop fans a common, "like a rock" antagonist.

15. UCLA vs Gonzaga. Who is the underdog again?

16. The success of the Colonial Athletic Association this season. Take heart, non-BCS fans, and follow the example.

Enjoy the games tonight.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Valley Power

Let's have a look at the seeding and success of conferences that put four or more teams into the Dance. Seed averages are for ALL teams from that particular conference, not just teams that survived.

Big East (8): 4 teams left (.500). Avg seed (of all 8 teams): 5.25
SEC (6): 2 teams left (.333). Avg seed: 5.83
Big Ten (6): 0 teams left (.000). Avg seed: 5.00
ACC (4): 2 teams left (.500). Avg seed: 4.5
Pac-10 (4): 2 teams left (.500). Avg seed: 5.5
Big 12 (4): 1 team left (.250). Avg seed: 6.00

MVC (4): 2 teams left (.500). Avg seed: 10.25

(Cue music by Joe Raposo and John Stone)
"One of these things is not like the others, One of these things just doesn't belong,
Can you tell which thing is not like the others, By the time I finish my song?

Did you guess which thing was not like the others? Did you guess which thing just doesn't belong? If you guessed this one is not like the others (HINT: non-BCS), Then you're absolutely...right!"

The MVC has had as much suceess as any of the other "power" conferences with DOUBLE the seed average. Not only that, but ZERO MVC teams were seeded to make the Sweet 16. Of the ten power conference teams left, three are 1-seeds, two are 2-seeds, one is a 3-seed, and two are 4-seeds. So, eight of the eleven BCS conference teams had the path of least resistance. Washington, West Virginia, and Georgetown were able to overcome their seeding disadvantages (5, 6, and 7 seeds, respecively). That's 3 of 18 teams from power conferences seeded 5-12. The MVC had two of their four teams do it.

For more on the success of non-BCS teams, jump over to Catallarchy. It's good stuff.

Game Recaps
I could have written about each individual game yesterday, but why would you want to eat a Bracket Board bologna sandwich when you can have tempo-free steak at Chez Pomeroy? Actually, I was out of town without i-net access last night.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

First Weekend Concludes

Today's Games
--11:10: (5) Pittsburgh vs (13) Bradley. The Panthers may be happy that they do not have to face Kansas, but Bradley is playing some of the best basketball in the country. They have won 8 of 9 with wins over SIU, Wichita State, Creighton, Northern Iowa, and Kansas. The post matchup between Aaron Gray and Patrick O'Bryant should be especially fun. Does Pitt have an answer for Marcellus Sommerville?
--1:15: (1) Memphis vs (9) Bucknell. Bucknell's slow, methodical, defensive style (#1 Raw Def Eff) flustered Arkansas and it could give Memphis trouble as well. But, the Tigers have an awful lot of talent to hold down for 40 minutes. The Bison will have to prevent "The Run" all day if they are to have a shot in this one. The Tigers have a stifling defense of their own (#11 Adj Def Eff), although they like things at a MUCH faster pace than do the Bison.
--1:20: (3) North Carolina vs (11) George Mason. The Heels were pushed to the limit on Friday and need to be focused for a tough GMU squad. PG Tony Skinn is back from his one-game suspension and GMU's confidence must be sky high after thoroughly handling Michigan State without Skinn in the lineup.
--1:30: (1) UConn vs (8) Kentucky. The Huskies had their scare for 30 minutes from Albany, so they should be refocused. UK has really struggled against elite teams this season, and UConn is the elite of the elite. The Cats will need another big day for Round One hero Bobby Perry (or some other role player) to have a shot.
--1:40: (6) West Virginia vs (14) Northwestern State. The Demons will go for upset #2 today against a seasoned Mountaineer club. The Eers looked primed for a run after their first round smashing of Southern Illinois, but NW State is playing with house money and with a lot of confidence.
--3:45: (2) Texas vs (10) NC State. The Pack did not look like a team that is ready to pack it in against Cal. They had lost four in a row to close the season, but looked recharged on Friday. Texas had a tough go with Penn before pulling away late. The Horns had better come ready to rumble today.
--3:50: (2) Ohio State vs (7) Georgetown. The Buckeyes and Hoyas both played grueling first round games, so it will be important for both to come out sharp. Terrance Dials and Roy Hibbert should be a fun matchup to watch down in the blocks.
--4:00: (1) Villanova vs (8) Arizona. This is the kind of 8-seed that 1-seeds hate to face. The Cats have underachieved all year, only to come out and destroy Wisconsin and look threatening in the process. Of course, if the regular season is any indicator, Zona may just sleepwalk through this one. Nova played a brutally unattractive game against Monmouth, so they need to clean things up a bit in this one.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Halfway to 16

Today's Results
--(1) Duke 74, (8) George Washington 61. GW could never put together a serious run at Duke due mostly to bad shot selection and good ol' ice-cold shooting. Like 349 other teams this weekend, the Colonials shot 31%. They hoisted up TWENTY-FOUR more shots than the Dukies and made the same number of field goals, but never really threatened the top seed.
--(3) Florida 82, (11) UW-Milwaukee 60. The Gators look to have some serious bite in the postseason. They have their mojo back and their fine front line was solid once again. Corey Brewer flamed on for 5-8 threes en route to 23 total points. Adrian Tigert had a monster game in the loss (27 and 8).
--(7) Wichita State 80, (2) Tennessee 73. The Vols nearly pulled off the upset, but WSU played heady ball down the stretch and P.J. Couisnard made 6-7 shots to lead the Shockers to victory. Chris Lofton made some big shots for UT, but he finished 6-18 from 3-land overall. As I said in the preview, the upset would have been if the Vols managed to win. The better team won.
--(5) Washington 67, (4) Illinois 64. In a game of runs, UW had the last one as they rallied from an 8-point deficit in the second half to take the game. The big story was that the Huskies outscored the Illini 29-8 at at the free throw line. A last-second three attempt by Dee Brown drew the front iron thus ending a brilliant career.
--(4) Boston College 69, (12) Montana 56. The Grizzlies were crushed on the glass (43-24, 15-2 o-rebs) and Craig Smith went loco for 22 and 16 (8 o-rebs). Montana actually hung around for more than a half before BC cruised home.
--(4) LSU 58, (12) Texas A&M 57. The Tigers' Darrel Mitchell buried a long three with 3.9 seconds remaining to give LSU the win. This game was nip-and-tuck throughout and A&M played with tremendous intensity the entire way. Both clubs made multiple huge shots down the stretch, but A&M failed to get a final shot off after Mitchell's three. LSU will face Duke next weekend.
--(2) UCLA 62, (10) Alabama 59. The Tide managed just 2-11 from longe range, and one of those misses was a Ron Steele three with less than a second left that would have tied it. As expected, the Tide held their own down low, but UCLA's perimeter play was too much as Jordan Farmar and Aaron Afflalo combined for eight triples and a couple of huge buckets down the stretch.
--(3) Gonzaga 90, (6) Indiana 80. If you would have told me that Adam Morrison would only score 14 points (5-17 shooting) in this game, I would have taken IU by double digits. But, Sean Mallon (15 and 9) and JP Batista (20 and 9) picked up the slack and the Zags are back in the Sweet 16 after a considerable drought. The Mike Davis era at IU is officially over.

Today's Matchups (all times CT)
--12:10: (1) Duke vs (8) George Washington. The Colonials have the athleticism and spurtability to cause Duke some trouble if the Devils do not bring their "A" game. If they can neutralize Shelden Williams a bit, they definitely have enough athletes to defend Redick.
--2:20: (3) Florida vs (11) UW-Milwaukee. The Gators seem to have regained their early season form. UWM is tourney-tested, but will probably have a hard time with the numerous Gator bigs. Any team is going to have trouble with Florida's stable of big 'uns.
--2:40: (2) Tennessee vs (7) Wichita State. Make no mistake, the upset will be if UT manages to beat the Shockers.
--4:30: (4) Illinois vs (5) Washington. This is the most intriguing matchup of the day for my money. Brandon Roy and Dee Brown are two of the top gurads in the country and it will be UW's offense (#9 Adj Off Eff) vs the Illini defense (#14 Adj Def Eff).
--4:40: (4) Boston College vs (12) Montana. Montana was the one with the easy win on Thursday. I like BC in this game, but Montana was most impressive against Nevada.
--4:50: (4) LSU vs (12) Texas A&M. There is real upset potential here, mainly because LSU has a history of underachievement. But, this Tiger team is incredibly talented. A&M is playing their best ball right now, so this should be a good one.
--7:00: (2) UCLA vs (10) Alabama. As good as Bama's bigs are, they are going to need another 8-11 Threeland performance (or something similar) from Jean Felix to hang with the Bruins. That's not likely, and neither is a Tide win.
--7:10: (3) Gonzaga vs (6) Indiana. Morrison U. vs Team Enigma. It's going to be interesting. I took the Hoosiers in this one in my bracket.

Friday, March 17, 2006

First Round Complete

I. TBB Goes 24-8 in First Round
After blazing out to a 15-1 start yesterday, I went a very pedestrian 9-7 in games today. The actual tournament bracket is permalinked on the right.

II. Today's Games: Results
--(2) Ohio State 70, (15) Davidson 62. The Wildcats managed just 38% from the floor and still nearly managed the upset.
--(9) Bucknell 59, (8) Arkansas 55. This defensive matchup did not disappoint. The Hogs made a run at the end by making some tough defensive steals, but the Bison made just enough free throws (barely) to hold them off. Bucknell's 11-21 3-pt shooting was the difference.
--(8) Arizona 94, (9) Wisconsin 75. The Cats shot 59% percent from the field and dominated the glass (36-20) in this laugher.
--(14) Northwestern State 64, (3) Iowa 63. The stats do not always tell the story. The Demons were outshot, outrebounded, and outscored from the free throw line, yet came out on top with a three as time was winding down. The Demons forced 18 Hawkeye turnovers, and held them to just 41 field goal attempts while NW State got up 60. It resulted in a 14 over 3 victory for the second consecutive year.
--(6) West Virginia 64, (11) Southern Illinois 46. The Mountaineers kept the Salukis at arm's length the entire contest. SIU attempted just four free throws in this game, and they were indeed Pittsnogled for 18 points.
--(1) Memphis 94, (16) Oral Roberts 78. ORU made a game of it in the first half and made another mini-run midway through the second, but there was too much Rodney Carney. Also, the Tigers shot a ridiculous 62% from the field.
--(7) Georgetown 54, (10) Northern Iowa 49. The slow pace kept this one to UNI's liking, but G'town controlled the game throughout. Roy Hibbert went for 17 and 9, while the Panthers managed a lowly 35% from the field.
--(1) Villanova 58, (16) Monmouth 48. The Hawks were game and kept this one competitive throughout. Nova shot a miserable 31% for the game. If MU could have managed a little better than 35% shooting, they would have had a good chance to do the unthinkable. Nova will need better efforts in the future to make any sort of run.
--(1) UConn 72, (16) Albany 59. The Great Danes led by 12 with under 11 minutes remaining, but UConn exploded on a 34-9 run to close the game.
--(10) NC State 58, (7) California 52. Cedric Simmons and Cameron Bennerman were huge down the stretch and Cal star Leon Powe struggled in a 5-13 shooting night as the Bears succumbed to the Pack. Powe did finish with 14 and 12.
--(2) Texas 60, (15) Penn 52. It was close throughout, but the Longhorns managed to pull away in the dying moments. Both teams shot terribly.
--(5) Pitt 79, (12) Kent State 64. Pitt controlled this one throughout and the Flashes were never able to mount a serious charge.
--(13) Bradley 77, (4) Kansas 73. The Jayhawks are going home early again this season. The Braves rang up 11 of 21 triples including five by Marcellus Sommerville(21 total pts) in a wire to wire win. Much like last year's Bucknell win, this was not THAT big of an upset. BU is very good.
--(11) George Mason 75, (6) Michigan State 65. All of those lackluster performances in the regular season were a harbinger of things to come. MSU's talented, senior-laden core is toast and GMU gets PG Tony Skinn back for their game with...
--(3) North Carolina 69, (14) Murray State 65. Murray State nearly pulled this off even after top scorer Shawn Witherspoon went down with a broken foot. This game was in doubt until the final horn and the Racers held the lead late on multiple occassions.
--(8) Kentucky 69, (9) UAB 65. It's tough to win NCAA games when shooting 31%, but UK did that by outscoring UAB 26-9 at the line. Role player Bobby Perry paced all scorers with 25 and was a difference maker.

III. Today's Games: Preview
--11:15: (2) Ohio State vs (15) Davidson. It's been awhile since the Buckeyes had expectations like this. -
-11:25: (3) Iowa vs. (14) Northwestern State. Defensive-minded Demons will need a top-notch effort to challenge the rugged Hawkeyes.
--11:30: (8) Arkansas vs (9) Bucknell. The Hogs have been hot, but Bucknell has tourney experience. These are two of the top teams in the country in terms of defensive efficiency.
--11:30: (8) Arizona vs (9) Wisconsin. Both of these teams were fairly unimpressive this season. Perhaps an NCAA Tourney win can jumpstart them.
--1:35: (7) Georgetown vs (10) Northern Iowa. G'town will try to get the Big East off the schnide. UNI languished down the stretch, but have been off for nearly two weeks. Maybe they have their heads right.
--1:45: (6) West Virginia vs (11) Southern Illinois. West VA: #11 in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency. SIU: #8 in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency. Putcha hands together for dichotomy.
--1:50: (1) Memphis vs (16) Oral Roberts. ORU is not a run-of-the-mill 16-seed. Memphis should cruise, though.
--1:50: (1) Villanova vs (16) Monmouth. 'Nova's speed could cause this one to get ugly in a hurry.

Tonight's Games: Preview
--6:10: (5) Pittsburgh vs (12) Kent State. Panthers better not be looking forward to Kansas, even though EVERY talking head is.
--6:10: (6) Michigan State vs (11) George Mason. GMU will miss Tony Skinn. It is very difficult to pick against Tom Izzo in the NCAA Tourney.
--6:20: (7) California vs (10) NC State. One team made a run to their conference tourney finals, one has lost five straight. Cal is a tad overseeded, though. I still like the Bears in this one.
--6:25: (1) UConn vs (16) Albany. How can you root against a team called the Great Danes?
--8:30: (3) North Carolina vs (14) Murray State. I would like the Racers chances better against one of the other 3-seeds.
--8:30: (4) Kansas vs (13) Bradley. The Braves are one of the most dangerous 13-seeds ever. I had them pegged as a potential Sweet 16 Team heading into SelSun. But, KU is red hot as well. Tough break...for both, actually.
--8:40: (2) Texas vs (15) Penn. If Texas comes to play, they are one of the top three teams in this tournament.
--8:45: (8) Kentucky vs (9) UAB. Can UK's guards handle the Blazers' helter-skelter style? The answer to that question will likely determine the winner of this game.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

NCAA Updates

The day games are complete.

II. Today's NCAA Matchups
Here are my complete bracket picks. All tip times are CT.
--FINAL: (7) Wichita State 86, (10) Seton Hall 66. Which SHU showed up? The bad one. You know, the one that shoots 34% from the field.
--FINAL: (11) UW-Milwaukee 82, (6) Oklahoma 74. My upset picks are off to a better start than last season. The Panthers took this one despite being outshot and outrebounded.
--FINAL: (4) Boston College 88 vs (13) Pacific 76 (2OT). Tigers nearly pulled off a big one. It took took 20+ from both Jared Dudley and Craig Smith to stave off UOP.
--FINAL: (10) Alabama 90, (7) Marquette 85. Despite Bama's best efforts to fritter away yet another game in the waning minutes, this one made me two for two on upset picks!
--FINAL: (2) Tennessee 63, (15) Winthrop 61. Close...VERY close, but Chris Lofton bailed out the Vols with a tough jumper from the corner with 0.4 seconds left.
--FINAL: (3) Florida 76, (14) South Alabama 50. The Jags played the Gators tough for a half, but there was too much Lee Humphrey (6-8 from three) and Al Horford (14 pts, 13 rebs) on this day.
--FINAL: (12) Montana 87, (5) Nevada 79. My first jinx alert was well placed. The Grizzlies led wire to wire and shot 58% from the floor in the upset win.

Tonight's Matchups
--5:05: (2) UCLA vs (15) Belmont. Battle of the Bruins. Take the ones from Cali.
--6.10: (4) LSU vs (13) Iona. Against my better judgement, I picked LSU to win two games. After last year's UAB debacle, I cannot believe I did that. Their talent is off the charts, and that is hard to ignore. Iona is a dangerous club, too. This could be a really nice game.
--6.20: (3) Gonzaga vs (14) Xavier. Morrison is good enough to win this one.
--6.25: (4) Illinois vs (13) Air Force. Not a good matchup for AFA. (Jinx alert II)
--8.30: (1) Duke vs (16) Southern U. Enjoy the moment, Jags.
--8.30: (5) Syracuse vs (12) Texas A&M. For my money, this is the most intriguing game of the day. Does the 'Cuse have anything left? I thought A&M was a tad underseeded.
--8.40: (6) Indiana vs (11) San Diego State. IU of recent games should be good enough here, but they will have to play well to get by SDSU.
--8.45: (5) Washington vs (12) Utah State. Trendy 5/12 upset pick. I stuck with the Huskies here.

II. WKU Bows out at South Carolina, 74-55
The Hilltoppers, minus three of their top eight players, had one good run in them against the stifling South Carolina defense, but it was not enough. The Toppers trailed by as many as sixteen in the first half, but whittled the margin to just six (48-42) with under eight minutes to go. Alas, the Gamecocks found the stroke from long range late in the game and put away the Toppers. WKU won the battle of the boards and did shoot 33% from Three (6-18), but they failed to get 50% of their misses and the turnovers were constant. The Gamecocks scored 35 points off 23 Topper turnovers. That about sums it up. As was often the case this season, WKU struggled in the halfcourt without a true point guard. More on the Toppers' season and ultimate demise after all of the games are over.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Tops vs. Gamecocks; Bracket Picks

I. Shorthanded WKU Heads to Columbia, SC, For NIT Tilt
Both Western Kentucky and South Carolina lost in their conference championship games leaving them just short of Le Grand Waltz. Ironically, the teams that defeated these two are matched up the first round (South Alabama vs. Florida). South Carolina made their improbable run by going through Tennessee and Kentucky before falling 49-47 to Florida. WKU blitzed New Orleans and survived UL-Lafayette before being steamrolled by South AL.

This Topper team is wounded. Star swingman Courtney Lee is out with a broken hand, reserve PG Orlando Mendez-Valdez is out with a fractured foot, and hard-nosed reserve G/F Butch Jointer is questionable with a foot injury. Jointer likely would have replaced Lee in the starting lineup. On top of that, WKU was saddled with a 6-seed, and must go on the road against a hot SC club. It will take a massive effort to take down the Illegal Fighting Roosters in Columbia.

Keeping hyperactive F Renaldo Balkman off the glass is a must for WKU. The Tops will certainly look for Sun Belt POY Anthony Winchester to have a huge night as well. WKU also must have a productive game from enigmatic G/F Benson Callier and solid interior play from youngsters Boris Siakam, Mike Walker, and Daniel Emerson to have a chance in this game. The recipe for Topper succcess all season long has been to 1) win the overall rebounding battle, 2) retrieve at least 50% of their missed shots, and 3) make a reasonable percentage of their three-point shots (33% or more). If those things happen, WKU has a chance to topple SC on their home court.

Hopefully, the Toppers can make a run through the NIT bracket.

II. Here are my bracket picks. Fair warning, the last four years I have either been off-the-charts good (2002, 2004) or deplorable (2003, 2005). There is rarely middle ground for me on my picks.

III. Here is the all-important viewing guide for Thursday and Friday. A look at each day's prime matchups is coming tomorrow.

IV. What now?
Now that bracketology season is over, I will go back to my roots and do some game logs (or mini-game logs) for some of the tourney games. Living in Kentucky, I can promise that a Kentucky/UAB game log will happen on Friday night. Other game logs TBA.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Lady Toppers Snubbed

I. WKU Lady Toppers Going to the NIT
One would think that a team with an RPI of 17 and an SOS of 45 would be safely in the bracket. Not so. WKU's Lady Toppers missed the NCAA Tournament, capping one of the most disappointing weeks in my decade as a Topper fan.

--Courtney Lee breaks hand, leaving WKU less than 100% for the Belt tourney
--WKU men drilled by 25 in the Belt Championship and just miss the NCAA Tourney
--Lady Tops lose to a good Middle Tennessee team in the Belt Final at MT
--Lady Tops are the only team in the top 39 of the RPI left out...with an RPI of 17! 17!?!?

The Lady Toppers also beat NINE top 100 teams and had just one sub-100 loss. They were projected as a 7-seed on and Jerry Palm had them in as an 11, but they were not in his last four IN. They were safe. Everyone except the selection committee had the Lady Tops in. Chew on this:

RPI: 17
SOS: 45
Record: 24-6
vs Top 50: 1-2
vs Top 100: 9-4
Sub-100 losses: 1
Last ten: 9-1
Road/neutral: 10-6

Texas A&M
RPI: 28
SOS: 50
Record: 23-8
vs Top 50: 1-6
vs Top 100: 12-7
Sub-100 losses: 1
Last Ten: 7-3
Road/neutral: 9-6

It would appear to me that these teams are VERY close. A&M got a 6-seed. WKU is going to the NIT. I'm not an expert on women's hoops, so someone please explain this to me.

Maybe the Missouri State men and the WKU women can meet for some mutual team counseling.

II. The One Stop Shop is now complete. Use the OSS to see who played well in their conference tourneys as you are making your bracket selections.

I will post my bracket picks later today or tomorrow.

Monday, March 13, 2006

The Day After

I. Puzzled Bracket Nation
Whoa. Have so many experts ever been so wrong? I lamented my terrible year for about 30 minutes until I got online and saw that just about everyone was way off. Click here for a comparison of how the experts did (WARNING! Shield the eyes of small children, the elderly, and pets). I did better than some and not as well as a few others. Overall, it was a horrid year for TBB. Certainly the worst I've ever had in the six years I've done this. I had never missed more than two teams until this year (three).

Clearly, this year's committee evaluated teams a little differently than past committees.

II. My piece on the aftermath of the bracket is up on

III. Here is the actual bracket. You may have to shrink it down to print it. I'll work on making it print ready.

The craziest thing about all of this is that our seven-member committee's work largely corroborated what most bracketologists thought was going to happen. When I put together a bracket, it is just my evaluation teams and what I think the committee will do. The SCKySSiP mock committee nominated teams for consideration, just like the real committee. We actually voted every team in, just like the real committee. We voted every seed into their spot, just like the real committee. And we came to a general consensus with a split on the last team in. Three of us liked Seton Hall, four others liked George Mason. Utah State got minimal consideration and Air Force never had a chance. Even with seven people seeing the data in seven different ways, 33/34 at-large teams were pretty much agreed upon.

As I wrote in my piece above, the committee seemed to play favorites to those teams who had representation on the committee. Others, including Jerry Palm from, have echoed as much and I expect many others will as well.

In my personal bracket, I got 62/65 teams right, 25 exactly right, and 49 teams within one seed of actual. Historically, this is terrible. This year, it compares with most other experts out there.

The SCKySSiP got 62/65, 31 exactly right (pretty good this year), and 48 within one seed of actual. If you count them up, the numbers will say we had 29 exactly right, but we had a contingency to switch Iowa and BC if Iowa won and BC lost. That scenario happened and I did not have time to update before the selection show hit the airwaves. These are bad numbers compared to normal seasons, but this was not a normal bracket.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Crunch Time

I. Final Bracket Projection
Here is the final bracket projection. It was really tough at the bottom. The last two slots were pretty much a tossup between Hofstra, Seton Hall, George Mason, and Creighton. My last four IN were Bradley, Cincinnati, Hofstra, and Seton Hall. The first four OUT were Creighton, George Mason, Michigan, and Utah State.

II. SCKySSiP Results
Click here for our seven member selection committee's results. It took many email sessions and about 8 hrs yesterday to complete it. There is a lot of consistency with my individual projections, but the SCKySSiP took George Mason over Seton Hall. It seems like a question of how much damage Tony Skinn's suspension will inflict. The rest of the bracket is pretty close, although we did differ on some team's seeding.

The committee experience is much different than building this alone. The SCKySSiP is a replication of the process, NOT a guess at who the real committee will put in. So all of that voting (and voting, and voting, and voting...) is not attempting to predict what the actual committee will do (like I am). Rather, it is a replication of what they are doing. Big difference.
Our last four IN: Bradley, Cincinnati, Hofstra, George Mason
Close, but just OUT: Seton Hall, Creighton

Just about 35 minutes until we know for sure. I will have a complete bracket evaluation tomorrow on and a full report on the SCKySSiP.

Enjoy SelSun!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

SCKySSiP Complete!

The SCKySSiP's work is done. Our mock selection committee has some contingencies set up for tomorrow's results, and I will post our final bracket tomorrow afternoon. We worked nonstop from about 4 pm until 11 pm today to construct our bracket.

My final projection will be posted tomorrow afternoon as well. I had hoped to update today, but the SCKySSiP consumes a LOT of time. Plus, I had work to do at my "real" job today. As far as my bracket goes, it boils down to four teams fighting for two final at-large bids: Creighton, Hofstra, Seton Hall, and George Mason.

II. The One Stop Shop is complete through tonight's games except for Pacific/Long Beach.
Xavier is the A-10 spoiler. South Carolina is the only other Bubble spoiler that survived today. Nebraska, Utah State, Wake Forest, and Wyoming all lost. Actually, Wyoming was not a true spoiler becuase San Diego State would not have received an at-large bid had they lost.

The Florida Gators just gained hordes of fans across the nation. South Carolina could pop someone's bubble tomorrow by winning the SEC title.

Tomorrow is Selection Sunday! Enjoy it.

Eleven Bids On Tap

I. The One Stop Shop is complete through last night's games.

II. Today/Tonight's GOI.
--First, a quick note on the remaining spoilers: South Carolina, Utah State, Wake Forest, Wyoming, Nebraska, and the A-10. The Gamecocks will have to go through Kentucky today (UK took both meetings during the regular season) to get to the SEC Final and then beat Florida or LSU to blow up another Bubble spot. Utah State will have to beat Nevada tonight. They split with the Wolf Pack in the regular season with each team winning their road game. Wake Forest has made the ACC Semi's after earning the very bottom seed in the conference tourney. They get Duke today. Wyoming could push San Diego State onto the Bubble by defeating them in the MWC Final today. Nebraska could also oust a Bubble Boy if they can take care of two more teams in the Big XII. Of course, the A-10 has already killed one Bubble Boy as Saint Joseph's and Xavier square off for the auto bid.

Eleven bids go out today.
--America East Final: Albany vs Vermont
--Atlantic 10 Final: Saint Joseph's vs Xavier
--Big East Final: Pittsburgh vs Syracuse
--Big West Final: Pacific vs Long Beach
--CUSA Final: Memphis vs UAB
--MAC Final: Kent State vs Toledo
--Mid-Eastern Final: Delaware State vs Hampton
--Mountain West Final: San Diego State vs Wyoming
--Pac-10 Final: UCLA vs Cal
--SWAC Final: Southern U vs Ark-Pine Bluff
--WAC Final: Nevada vs Utah State

Semifinals today: ACC, Big 12, Big 10, SEC

Friday, March 10, 2006

SCKySSiP/A-10 Angst/Bracket

The South Central Kentucky Selection Simulation Project: The Sequel (overly elaborate name used for effect) is now in motion. Basically, this is a mock selection committee comprised of seven members that will replicate the NCAA selection process to the best of our ability. I will give periodic updates on our activities between now and Sunday.

Personally, I thought the actual 2005 NCAA Selection Committee did a pretty good job. I liked Buffalo over UAB, but it was not a travesty…unless you are a Bulls fan.

Last year, the SKySSiP did quite well. Here were the results:

2005 SKySSiP
64/65 teams selected correctly
59/65 within one seed line
34 teams seeded exactly
2 teams missed by more than 2 seed lines

The SCKySSP did about as well as anyone else out there. We got 64 correct and also seeded 59 within one seed line, although we did miss two teams (Vermont and Pitt) by 3 seed lines. Overall, we held our own with the experts. Stewart Mandel from SI got all 65 right. Most impressive.

I will post the results of our labor on Sunday afternoon before the bracket comes out. I will also post my personal projection.

II. Top Four Seeds Lose in A-10
GW, Charlotte, LaSalle, and St. Louis all lost in the A-10 Quarterfinals yesterday. That means that the Bubble popped for someone. Michigan and Florida State both are certainly feeling the squeeze as they lose 1st round games to lower seeded teams yesterday. Air Force's chances are now slumbering in a long dirt nap after losing to Wyoming last night. BYU is officially dead after losing to Utah.

III. The One Stop Shop has been updated through tonight's games that have ended by 11.30 PM CT.

IV. Today's bracket is up.

--Yesterday's carnage caused some change near the bottom. Florida State and Michigan are now OUT. I moved in Creighton and Hofstra. Why?

--FSU: one win over Duke does not a tourney team make.

--Michigan: 3-7 in their last ten (2-7 in their last nine) and a first round conference tourney flameout. I just cannot see the committee overlooking those sins. Maybe I'll change my mind when the full picture is set on Saturday night, but I do not like the Wolverines' chances.

--George Washington fell to a 5-seed, and I once again mixed and matched the 8/9/10 seeds. Those teams look close to me.

--Creighton, Hofstra, Michigan, Florida State, Seton Hall, Maryland, and George Mason were grappling for the final two slots today. The first two made it and the last five were close.

IV. Today/Tonight's GOI
--Patriot Final: Bucknell vs Holy Cross.
Bubble nation cheers for the Bison.
--ACC Quarterfinals
--A10 Semifinals
--Big XII Quarterfinals
--Big East Semifinals
--Big 10 Quarterfinals
--Big West Semifinals
--CUSA Semifinals
--MAC Semifinals
--Mid-Eastern Semifinals
--Mountain West Semifinals
--Pac-10 Semifinals
--SEC Quarterfinals
--SWAC Semifinals
--WAC Semifinals

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Monmouth, Montana Punch Tix

I. Two More Auto Bids
Montana won at Northern Arizona to take the Big Sky auto-bid while Monmouth got past FDU for the Northeast ticket, 49-48. The Knights manage just 15 second half points. Oy.

II. A complete Bubble Boy breakdown is now up on Also, have a look at the current Lockbox.

III. The One Stop Shop is complete through games ended by 9:30 pm tonight.

IV. Bracket Update
I made a couple of changes to today's bracket. I corrected some placement errors from yesterday and I moved Syracuse IN and Seton Hall OUT after the 'Cuse's big win and SHU's dud last night. I also was forced to boot Hofstra after George Washington's loss. I now have Saint Joseph's as the projected A-10 winner.

V. Today/Tonight's GOI (Use the One Stop Shop for matchups)
--First Round action in all of these conferences: ACC, Big 10, Big XII, SEC, and WAC

--Quarterfinals in these conferences: A10, Big East, Big West, CUSA, MAC, Mid-Eastern, Mountain West, Pac-10, SWAC, WAC

--Semifinals in this conference: Southland

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Bracket Update 3/08

I. Bracket Update: 3/08
I have made a few changes to
today's bracket.

1. The more I think about it, the more I fear for Creighton. I left them out today in favor of Florida State. I reserve the right to change my mind...again.

2. Also, I think Michigan is playing for their bid against Minnesota tomorrow.

3. Syracuse just posted a must-win over Cincinnati. This at least makes the 'Cuse viable again. They probably need another one, though.

4. This is so painful, but I left out George Mason because of PG Tony Skinn's suspension. They were Bubble already, and this pushed them over to the bad side.

5. North Carolina moves up to a 2 and Gonzaga falls to a 3. Zags simply do not have the quality wins to hold onto a 2 this season.

6. Moved IN: Florida State and Cal. Dropped OUT: Creighton and George Mason. The Bears are ahead of Arizona and the committee does not like to skip over teams in the conference standings. Cal cannot afford an upset in the Pac-10 Tourney, though.

Multi-Bid Conference Breakdown
Big East (8): UConn, Villanova, Pitt, West Virginia, Georgetown, Marquette, Cincinnati, Seton Hall
Big Ten (7): Ohio State, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan
SEC (6): LSU, Tennessee, Florida, Arkansas, Alabama, Kentucky
MVC (5): Southern Illinois, Wichita State, Missouri State, Northern Iowa, Bradley
ACC (4): Duke, North Carolina, Boston College, NC State
Pac-10 (4): UCLA, Washington, Arizona, California
Big 12 (4): Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M
CUSA (2): Memphis, UAB
Colonial (3): UNC-Wilmington, Hofstra

Last Four IN: Michigan, Hofstra, Florida State, California

First Four OUT: Creighton, Syracuse, Air Force, George Mason

On the Board: Colorado, Maryland, Utah State, Houston, Vanderbilt

II. South Alabama Speeds Past WKU, 95-70
From the under-12 timeout in the first half, this game was over. South Alabama used a superior game plan, superior speed, and scrappy, in-your-face defense to fluster WKU on both ends of floor. The Jags steadily built a whopping 19-point half-time lead with blistering three-point shooting and slick cuts into the paint. Western KY never got rolling on offense and looked lead-footed on defense for the entire game. The Jags saw ten players play double-digit minutes as they cruised home in the second half.

WKU guard and Sun Belt POY Anthony Winchester shot 6-21 from the field including 2-11 from 3-pt range...and the rest of the team followed suit. In fact, the stats were eerily reminiscent of the
Troy debacle where the Toppers went 5-38 from long range. Last night, they went 6-32. It is not often that a team gets up 16 more shots than its opponent and loses by 25, but WKU did just that last night. The Jags strolled to victory behind 62% shooting as a team. Congratulations to USA who clearly proved that the best team from the Sun Belt will be going to the NCAA tourney.

III. Here is today's updated
One Stop Shop. Lockbox or Bracket update coming later if I can find time. Thanks for emailing with corrections. Keep 'em coming if you see them.

IV. Today/Tonight's GOI
--Big Sky Championship Game: Northern Arizona vs. Montana
--Northeast Championship Game: Monmouth at Fairleigh Dickinson
--Big West Semifinals
--Atlantic 10 1st Round
--Big East 1st Round
--CUSA 1st Round
--Mid-Eastern 1st Round/Quarters
--Pac 10 1st Round

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

WKU Wins; OSS Update

I. Western KY Pulls Away Late Past UL-Lafayette, 80-72
ULL star guard Dennis Mitchell had his entire leg wrapped to protect an ailing hamstring. WKU star swingman Courtney Lee again had a heavily bandaged left hand that clearly limited his activity. Both men came out and did whatever they could to give their team a chance to reach the Sun Belt final against South Alabama. Truly, neither player ever really got it going as Lee had a horrid shooting night (3-14) and Mitchell never hit the floor after halftime. The other big guns for each team responded in HUGE ways for their clubs. ULL center Michael Southall scored 30 points in 39 minutes while WKU guard Anthony Winchester did his best Human Torch impression by combusting for 33 points on 10-15 shooting. Most of those buckets were 14-17 footers that came by expertly curling off of fellow Topper screens. AW also went 11-13 from the line, and the two misses came with just just seconds left when the game was out of reach for the Cajuns.

The key to the game was limiting Southall's effectiveness on the glass. Southall grabbed just seven boards, only one of them offensive. In fact, the Cajuns shot a healthy 53% from the floor to WKU's 46%, but WKU controlled the glass (34-26 overall, 13-5 O-rebs) and got up 11 more field goal attempts. The Toppers also shot a blistering 81% from the line to keep the Cajuns at bay down the stretch. WKU will face South Alabama at 8:30 PM CT tonight on ESPN2 for a trip to the NCAA Tournament. These two clearly have been the best teams in the league all season. It should be a dandy in Murfreesboro tonight. I will have a full report tomorrow.

II. The One Stop Shop has been updated through last night's game. Also, I have all of this week's brackets set and ready to go. I also added an "AUTO" page at the end to track all of the automatic bids. Thanks to Ken Pomeroy for directing his readers to the One Stop Shop yesterday. It quintupled my average daily readership yesterday! Behold! The Power of Pomeroy!

Thanks to those who have emailed with corrections. Let me know if you catch others.

III. Today/Tonight's GOI
--Western Kentucky vs South Alabama (Sun Belt). These two teams have been the best in the league all season. A deserving champion and NCAA rep will be crowned.
--UW-Milwaukee vs Butler (Horizon). Ditto.
--Oral Roberts vs Chicago State (Mid-Con). ORU tries to fend off the upstart 6-seed.
--Colorado State vs TCU (Mt West). The winner of this 8/9 game gets San Diego St.
--Mid-Eastern semifinals
--Big Sky semifinals
--Southland Quarterfinals

Monday, March 06, 2006

Bracket/OSS Updates

I. Bracket Update
Check out today's bracket. It is getting VERY crowded on the Bubble with many teams actually trying to play their way IN instead of OUT (like last season). SIU locked up a spot by winning the MVC Tourney and Bradley certainly helped themselves. Indiana, Seton Hall, Cincinnati, Texas A&M, Florida State, and Hofstra have all played like they had to. Other notes:

1. Many are saying that the MVC will NOT get six teams. At this point (in my opinion), that would mean leaving out one of the top 34 at-large profiles according to the selection criteria. I think Creighton is going to be sweating the most of the Valley Boys.

2. If Gonzaga loses tonight or if Illinois or Texas lose in their conference tourneys, North Carolina may be able to snag a 2-seed with an ACC Tourney title.

3. So many of the 8/9 seeds lost this weekend that it was hard to sort those out. In fact, many sat still because others lost.

4. George Mason will be an interesting case. I think they are IN, but it could get dicey if there are upsets in other conference tourneys.

5. If Hofstra loses in the CAA title game, they may still be in the Top 33 RPI. No team better than 33 has ever been left out.

Multi-Bid Conference Breakdown
Big East (8): UConn, Villanova, Pitt, West Virginia, Georgetown, Marquette, Cincinnati, Seton Hall
Big Ten (7): Ohio State, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana
SEC (6): LSU, Tennessee, Florida, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky
MVC (6): Southern Illinois, Wichita State, Missouri State, Northern Iowa, Bradley,
ACC (4): Duke, North Carolina, Boston College, NC State
Pac-10 (3): UCLA, Washington, Arizona
Big 12 (4): Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M
CUSA (2): Memphis, UAB
Colonial (3): UNC-Wilmington, George Mason, Hofstra

Last Four IN: Creighton, Texas A&M, Seton Hall, Hofstra

First Four OUT: Florida State, Syracuse, Air Force, California

On the Board: Colorado, Maryland, Utah State, Houston, Vanderbilt

II. The One Stop Shop is updated through last night's games and prepped for today's matchups. I will have complete brackets for this week's tourneys up today or tomorrow. Please send me an email if you see time, date, or location errors.

III. Today/Tonight's GOI
--UNC-Wilmington vs Hofstra (Colonial Final). An auto-bid for the winner and sweaty SelSun for the loser.
--Gonzaga vs Loyola Marymount (WCC Final). Zags have escaped an awful lot lately. LMU will try to channel the Lions of the late 1980s (Hank Gathers, Bo Kimble, Jeff Frye, and company).
--Saint Peter's vs Iona (MAAC Final). For the auto-bid. Check out Keydren Clark for St. P if you haven't already. He's one of the most prolific scorers in the land.
--MAC Tourney kicks off with first round action.
--Mid-Con and Sun Belt semifinals tonight.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

WKU/More Bids/One Stop Update

I. Tops End UNO's Tumultuous Season, 80-61
Hurricane Katrina, the subsequent displacement from their campus, and star PG Bo McCalebb's torn ACL turned a once-promising Privateer season into a arduous affair that ended today in Murfreesboro, TN. Western Kentucky used superior depth and some excellent bench play to cruise past UNO in the Sun Belt Tournament Quarterfinals. Topper swingman Courtney Lee played with a heavily-bandaged left hand, but still managed to make four triples and lead all scorers with 19 points while adding 3 rebs, 5 ast, and 4 steals. Belt POY Anthony Winchester took just seven shots and scored only seven points, but Topper guard Ty Rogers picked up the scoring slack by going 4-4 from long range and scoring 15 points. Benson Callier added 11 and reserve F Mike Walker chipped in with eight. The Toppers also fetched 16 of their 29 misses leading to 24 2nd-chance points. No Topper played more than 29 minutes which should leave them well-rested for tomorrow night's game with the winner of tonight's nightcap between Troy and UL-Lafayette. UNO deserves a lot of credit for the grit and determination they showed all season under extremely difficult circumstances. Better things are in store in the near future for UNO.

II. Two More Bids
Congrats to these automatic qualifiers:

Southern: Davidson (making amends for last year's loss in the conf tourney after steamrolling the conference for a 16-0 record during the 04-05 regular season)

Missouri Valley: Southern Illinois (at least one MVC team does not have to worry about their Bubble status)

III. The One Stop Shop has been updated through games completed at 7:45 pm CT tonight.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

First Official Bids

I. Congratulations to these four automatic qualifiers.

Ivy League: Pennsylvania (regular season champs)

Atlantic Sun: Belmont
Ohio Valley: Murray State
Big South: Winthrop

Penn won the regular season title with relative ease. Belmont traded punches with Lipscomb atop the A-Sun all season long. Murray State and Winthrop have been the favorites in their respective leagues for weeks if not longer.

II. The One Stop Shop has been updated through games completed at 11:30 pm CT today. Only Santa Clara and Saint Mary's-CA in the West Coast Conference tourney are still playing. I will update the OSS again tomorrow night after I return from the WKU/New Orleans tilt in the Quarterfinals of the Sun Belt tourney in Murfreesboro, TN.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Bracket Update 3/03

I. Bracket Update
Have a look at
today's bracket. The highlights include:
--Ohio State closes the gap on Memphis for a 1-seed. There is still a gap, though.
--SIU, Colorado, and Air Force are bumped OUT by rising Florida State, Texas A&M, and Indiana who all got IN.
--Cal, Syracuse and Cincinnati are hanging by a thread. All need a win or two to end the drama.
--Alert reader "setonhallpirate" has suggested that the NCAA will put Duke in Washington, DC, instead of Atlanta because it is some 130 miles closer and the NCAA will not have to pay airfare to DC. But, something tells me they will be in the South. If they send Duke to DC, that means they will have to send UConn to Atlanta. I'd be slightly surprised if they did that, but SHP makes a good point.

Multi-Bid Conference Breakdown
Big East (8): UConn, Villanova, Pitt, West Virginia, Georgetown, Marquette, Cincinnati, Syracuse
Big Ten (7): Ohio State, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana
SEC (6): LSU, Tennessee, Florida, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky
MVC (5): Wichita State, Missouri State, Creighton, Northern Iowa, Bradley
ACC (5): Duke, North Carolina, Boston College, NC State, Florida State
Pac-10 (4): UCLA, Washington, Arizona, California
Big 12 (4): Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M
CUSA (2): Memphis, UAB
Colonial (2): UNC-Wilmington, George Mason

Last Four IN: Syracuse, Florida State, Indiana, California

First Four OUT: Southern Illinois, Air Force, Colorado, Seton Hall

II. The One Stop Shop has been updated through last night's games.

III. Last Night's GOI
--UCLA 67, at California 58. This keeps Cal on the Bubble.
--at DePaul 108, Syracuse 69. Egads. UGLY. I'm speechless...or text-less. I'm something.
--at Michigan State 74, Wisconsin 65. Spartans keep themselves in the mix for a top 4 seed.
--at UAB 80, Memphis 74. Blazers just took a leap forward.

IV. Weekend Forecast
--Seton Hall at Pitt. Pirates need a big win and this would give them a dandy.
--These conference tourneys are in action today: America East, Atlantic Sun, Colonial, Horizon, Metro-Atlantic, Missouri Valley, Ohio Valley, Patriot, Southern, Sun Belt, West Coast. Click the OSS link above or to the right for times and matchups.
--Kent State at Akron. MAC favorites go toe-to-toe.
--Washington at Arizona. Arizona can tie UW in the loss column if they win here.
--Southern Cal at California. Bears need to win this one.
--West Virginia at Cincinnati. This would let the Bearcats breathe easy.
--Iowa State at Colorado. Buffs are in danger time. Must win here.
--Louisville at UConn. Cards have just a sliver of hope. This would bolster them a bit.
--North Carolina at Duke. Watch it on every ESPN channel.
--Arkansas at Georgia. Hogs are probably IN, but don't want a sub-100 loss at this point.
--Wisconsin at Iowa. For seeding purposes.
--Houston at Memphis. Cougars' last chance.
--Indiana at Michigan. This would make the Hoosiers very hard to ignore.
--Illinois at Michigan State. Illini need this one if they want to be a 2-seed.
--UCLA at Stanford. Cardinal need this one and a deep conf tourney run.
--Texas A&M at Texas Tech. A&M cannot afford a slip here.
--Tennessee at Vanderbilt. 'Dores are playing for their tourney lives.
--Conference tourney action: America East, Big Sky, Big South, Colonial, Horizon, Metro-Atlantic, Mid-Continent, Ohio Valley, West Coast
--Florida at Kentucky. Who would have guessed two weeks ago that UK would be leading Florida in the RPI?
--Florida State at Miami-FL. 'Noles must consolidate huge Duke win.
--Villanova at Syracuse. Cuse find themselves in need of redemption after DePaul debacle.
--Oklahoma at Texas. Oklahoma win would tie them for 2nd with Texas behind Kansas.
--Maryland at Virginia. Terps are in must-win mode.
--Conference tourney action: Metro-Atlantic, Mid-Continent, Northeast, Sun Belt, West Coast

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Complete One Stop Shop

I. Who can trip up the runaway 1-seeds on their road to Indy? Read my thoughts on

II. The One Stop Shop is complete and open for business.
All thirty conference brackets are up. There are conference tourney games every night from now until Selection Sunday.

III. Last Night's GOI

--at Alabama 71, Auburn 61. Tide is in great shape.
--at Arkansas 80, Mississippi State 70. Hogs are also virtually locked.
--at BYU 77, Colorado State 69. Cougars need to win out to MWC final.
--at Florida State 79, Duke 74. 'Noles are back in contention.
--at Houston 74, Rice 71. Cougars are still fringe-Bubble at best.
--at Kansas 75, Colorado 54. Buffs needed this one and got waxed.
--at Maryland 65, Miami-FL 61. At-large hopes for Canes are probably gone for good.
--Vanderbilt 77, at Mississippi 62. This keeps Vandy alive.
--at North Carolina 99, Virginia 52. Cavs are done.
--Indiana 70, at Purdue 59. IU is back in the mix.
--Kentucky 80, at Tennessee 78. Cats locked it up last night with a big road win.
--at Texas A&M 46, Texas 43 . Aggies put themselves into the conversation.

IV. Tonight's GOI
--UCLA at California. Cal could use a big win and an RPI boost (currently 61).
--Syracuse at DePaul. Orange need to TCB.
--Wisconsin at Michigan State. Pretty important for seeding purposes and the Big Televen pecking order.
--Memphis at UAB. This would go a LONG way for the Blazers.
--Atlantic Sun, Big South, Missouri Valley, Northeast, and Southern conference tourneys are all active tonight. Check the OSS above or to the right.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Bubble Shrinks to 8

I. Lockbox Filling Up
Several more teams have been filed away into the Lockbox, but it is far from its capacity of 34 at-large slots. These 27 teams have locked up their slot in the bracket.

Duke, North Carolina, NC State, Boston College, Ohio State, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, UConn, Villanova, Pitt, West Virginia, Georgetown, Marquette, UCLA, Washington, LSU, Tennessee, Florida, Memphis, George Washington, Wichita State, Gonzaga

Michigan, Alabama, Missouri State, George Mason, and Creighton are virtual locks. If something crazy happened, I guess one of these teams could miss, but it's HIGHLY unlikely. That's five more bids for a total of 32.

I think Syracuse, Arkansas, California, Arizona, Northern Iowa, Nevada, and Bucknell are all safe if they avoid an upset loss. Of course, this puts Northern Iowa in an interesting position because they are the lower seed in their 3/6 matchup against Missouri State. Would a first-round loss keep them out? I don't think so...but I am worried enough that I did something I've never done. I de-LOCKED them. That is supposed to be impossible, so I'm forced to admit that I was a tad hasty in giving them LOCK status last week. If they end on a 1-5 note while other teams are surging, it could get dicey for the Panthers. I think they have probably done enough, though. That said, these seven give us 39 teams that are either IN, nearly IN, or likely IN. Thirteen of these teams are currently leading their conference, so that means that 26 bids are spoken for, leaving 8 bids for the Bubble Boys. Here is who is IN today, in order of security:

Kentucky, UNC-Wilmington, Bradley, Colorado, Cincinnati, Seton Hall, Southern Illinois, UAB

These teams were in the mix, especially the first two:

Air Force, Indiana, Utah State, Hofstra, Texas A&M, BYU, Maryland, Florida State, Houston, UTEP

II. Here is the updated One Stop Shop. No conference tourney games tonight. The OSS will be complete with all 30 conf tourney brackets tomorrow.

III. Last Night's GOI
--Illinois 71, at Minnesota 65. Solid win for Illinois. They have an inside track on a 2-seed.
--at Seton Hall 72, Cincinnati 62. Mammoth win for SHU. A win at Pitt this weekend would probably seal it. Will be among the Bubble Boys sweating it out if they fail to do that.
--So long to: UT-Martin, Eastern Kentucky, Austin Peay, Tennessee State, Liberty, Radford, Birmingham Southern, UNC-Asheville, Youngstown State, Cleveland State, and Wright State. They all lost in their conference tourney last night and no shot at at-large bids. Thanks for being a part of the season and the magic of conference tournament time.

II. Last Night's GOI
--Illinois 71, at Minnesota 65. Solid win for Illinois. They have an inside track on a 2-seed.
--at Seton Hall 72, Cincinnati 62. Mammoth win for SHU. A win at Pitt this weekend would probably seal it. Will be among the Bubble Boys sweating it out if they fail to do that.
--So long to: UT-Martin, Eastern Kentucky, Austin Peay, Tennessee State, Liberty, Radford, Birmingham Southern, UNC-Asheville, Youngstown State, Cleveland State, and Wright State. They all lost in their conference tourney last night and no shot at at-large bids. Thanks for being a part of the season and the magic of conference tournament time.

IV. Tonight's GOI
--Auburn at Alabama. In-state rivalry alert! Tide is better, but crazy things happen in rivalry games.
--Mississippi State. If the Hogs are not sealed already, a win here probably does it.
--Colorado State at BYU. Some feel that BYU has at-large chances. I don't see it (yet), but they must certainly win out to the MWC final to have hope.
--Duke at Florida State. This is the 'Noles' season. Win here and they are back in at-large contention. Lose, and they will likely need to win the ACC tourney or at least make a deep run.
--Rice at Houston. Cougars are fringe-Bubble at best.
--Colorado at Kansas. Buffs are squarely on the Bubble. This win would go a long way.
--Miami-FL at Maryland. Two ACC teams with dwindling hopes. One will be slightly revived.
--Vanderbilt at Mississippi. Vandy is on the brink of extinction. Must win out to SEC finals.
--Virginia at North Carolina. It's now or never for the Cavs.
--Indiana at Purdue. Hoosiers have not won on the road since Dec 31. Gotta have this one.
--Kentucky at Tennessee. UK has had oodles of chances for big SEC wins and have come up short every time. They need this one to lock up their bid.
--Texas at Texas A&M. In-state rivalry alert! A&M is playing for their tourney lives at home. We will learn a lot about the Aggies tonight.