Thursday, January 28, 2010

BracketsBusters Standings 2

Buster standings have been udpated through last night's games. I may do one more update before Sunday since it looks like Kentucky is going to get hit with a once-every-few-decades kind of winter storm this weekend (that is, I may be homebound), but my guess is that the ESPN BracketBusters pairings will look something like this on Sunday.

Old Dominion at Northern Iowa
Siena at Butler
Wichita State at Utah State
LA Tech at VCU
William & Mary at Kent State
Western Carolina at Northeastern
College of Charleston at George Mason
Nevada at Murray State
Akron at George Mason
Buffalo at Iona
New Mexico State at Pacific

I would not be surprised to see Green Bay, Creighton, or Illinois State in the mix.

The field will be announced on Sunday, February 1, and games will be played on Feb 19-20.

Tonight's GOI
--California at Arizona State. A couple of Pac-10 teams will win enough games to garner an At-Large. These are two of the better candidates.
--Wake at Georgia Tech. Every game seems terribly meaningful in the ACC right now.
--Oakland at IUPUI. HUGE Summit tilt. Grizz can get two clear or IUPUI will tie and split the home/home with Oakland. HUGE.
--St. John's at Pittsburgh. Johnnies cannot affort to slide to 2-6 in league.
--Wisconsin at Purdue. Badgers trail Sparty by 2, the Boilers trail by three. Purdue can forget about catching MSU if they lose here.
--Seton Hall at South Florida. SHU must find a way to win this kind of roadie.
--Siena at St. Peter's. Peacocks are winners of five straight. Saints are +3 in the MAAC, but has a bunch of road games left.
--Virginia Tech at Virginia. In-state rivalry alert!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Lockbox 1/27

Lockbox has been updated.

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.
--22 teams are listed in black. The black teams could miss, but it would be extremely surprising if they did. It would take a real meltdown to miss.
--I have 9 other teams listed in blue, which means they are on their way, but still have a work to do. Of these 31 black and blue teams, 9 are conference leaders. That means 22 at-large slots appear to be taken at this stage (it's still early).
--Hence, the Bubble stands at 12 slots right now. That is two less than last week, and on Selection Sunday it is usually no more than four or five.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Bracket Update 1/26

First full bracket is up.

At the bottom, I took Florida, North Carolina, Seton Hall, Louisville, St. Mary's, and Richmond over teams like Cincinnati, St. John's, San Diego State, Mississippi State, VCU, Notre Dame, and several others.

Lockbox update coming tomorrow and new BracketBuster standings on Thursday.

Tonight's GOI
--Kansas State at Baylor. Major implications on many levels.
--Rhode Island at Dayton. Both looking to solidify At-Large status.
--Michigan State at Michigan. In-state rivalry alert!
--Northwestern at Minnesota. Both probably feel like they have to have it.
--North Carolina at NC State. Tar Heels are flirting with the Bubble.
--Tulsa at UAB. CUSA showdown!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Lockbox Update

Via a borrowed computer, here is the first real Lockbox. It is still early, so some major sifting obviously will occur over the next several weeks. To refresh readers and inform the unitiated:

BLACK: LOCK, cannot miss (there are none of those yet)

black: Teams who are well on their way. It would be a surprise if they somehow miss.

blue: OK, but need to win games they "should" (define that how you will).

green: Bubble IN

red: Bubble OUT

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.
--21 teams are listed in black. The black teams could miss, but it would be extremely surprising if they did. It would take a real meltdown to miss.
--I have 7 other teams listed in blue, which means they are on their way, but still have a work to do. Of these 28 black and blue teams, 8 are conference leaders. There are also Bubble-IN leaders in the ACC (Virginia) and Pac-10 (Cal). That means 20 at-large slots appear to be taken at this stage (again, it's early).
--Hence, the Bubble stands at 14 slots right now. This will shrink over the coming weeks, and on Selection Sunday it is usually no more than four or five.

Tonight's GOI
--Florida at Arkansas. If the Gators cannot win this kind of roadie, they drop off the Lockbox entirely.
--Pepperdine at Gonzaga. It's not St. Mary's who is currently tied for first in the WCC, it's the Waves.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Virus Alert/GOI

"Virus Alert! Delete immediately before someone gets hurt!" ~ Weird Al

A nasty worm has shut me down and deep sixed any creative work this week. This should be resolved in the next couple of days. Bracket, Lockbox, Buster...all on tap next week.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Weekend Forecast 1/15-1/17

Last Night's GOI
--Gonzaga 89, at St. Mary's 82. Gaels let one of their few chances for a big win get away.
--at UL-Lafayette 55, Denver 49. Business as usual. The Pioneers tank on the road in the Sun Belt.

Weekend Forecast
--Alabama at Arkansas. Tide have to win the roadies against the dregs of the SEC to have AL hopes.
--Oklahoma State at Baylor. Winner will stabilize itself in Monday's bracket.
--Maryland at Boston College. MD=Alabama above.
--Colorado State at BYU. Winner takes sole possession of first in the MtWest.
--Notre Dame at Cincinnati. Both look like Bubble mainstays.
--Siena at Fairfield. A Stag win ties them for first with the Saints+tiebreak advantage. A Siena win makes running the table a somewhat feasible goal as they have already won at Iona.
--Virginia Tech at Florida State. Every ACC game seems important right now.
--Texas Tech at Kansas. KU has a little something to prove after some recent challenges from all types of teams.
--Illinois at Michigan State. Winner takes sole possession of first in the Big 10-11-12.
--Georgia Tech at North Carolina. Part of the ACC pile o' snakes.
--Clemson at NC State. Really, no one is safe. Any road win is huge right now.
--Purdue at Northwestern. Boilers have dropped two straight and face a not-so-easy roadie.
--Wisconsin at Ohio State. A win here makes one wonder if the Badgers aren't as viable a conference champ as Sparty and Purdue.
--Missouri at Oklahoma. Tigers put their 9-game streak on the line against a desperate club.
--Louisville at Pittsburgh. With Nova at Georgetown on Sunday, a win here would give Pitt a shot at sole possession of first coming out of the weekend if the Cats falter.
--Vanderbilt at South Carolina. 'Dores are surging, but a win like this makes USC East much more viable.
--Mississippi at Tennesssee. Rebels need to stack up some Top 100 wins (current tally: 2).
--Texas A&M at Texas. In-state rivalry alert!
--Cal at Washington. Two most like AL-types in the Pac-10.
--Syracuse at West Virginia. Your "TV Power" game of the Saturday.
--Dayton at Xavier. Always a treat...and meaningful.
--Wake Forest at Duke. Duke is nearly unbeatable at home, but Wake has already won at Gonzaga this season. Few teams can boast a true road win of that magnitude.
--Providence at Marquette. Eagles had a ROUGH schedule to start the Big East, but 4 of their next 6 are quite winnable. This is one of those, and they need to pad their record and RPI.
--Georgetown at Villanova. Your "TV Power" game of Sunday.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Daily GOI

Last Night's GOI
--Vanderbilt 65, at Alabama 64. Solid road win for a Vandy club that is coming on. Bama is going to have to find some big wins somewhere.
--at Clemson 83, North Carolina 64. UNC has a ways to go to beat elite teams on the road.
--Pitt 67, at UConn 57. Road wins like this are RARE and cherished.
--Mississippi 80, at Georgia 76. Rebels pull one out on the road.
--Wichita State 84, at Indiana State 73. It's apparent where the Shockers are going: Bubbletown, USA, unless they manage a couple of wins over UNI. They host the Panthers next week.
--at Michigan State 60, Minnesota 53. Despite some struggles, it will not be surprising if Sparty totes a 1-seed in March.
--Wisconsin 60, at Northwestern 50. Hughes was huge in crunch time and secured a precious road win for the Badger (now #9 RPI).
--at St. John's 52, Cincinnati 50. Johnnies are very much in the hunt if they can manage a decent BEAST record.
--Missouri 94, at Texas Tech 89 (OT). Tigers are rounding into form.
--at UNLV 76, San Diego State 66. Rebels looking solid with wins over New Mexico and SDSU in their last two.
--at Virginia 82, Georgia Tech 75. Just 2-3 games into the slate, there is only one ACC team that is unblemished in league play...and it's the Cavs.
--at Virginia Tech 81, Miami-FL 66. Hokies hold serve.

Tonight's GOI
--Gonzaga at St. Mary's. Always a treat, and St. Mary's always needs the games against Gonzaga for marquee wins.
--Denver at UL-Lafayette. The Pioneers currently lead the Belt, but are 1-4 on the road this season. They are 5-1 in league...but all 5 wins were home games and the loss was at Troy. If Denver is going to make the leap, they have to win road games like this one. And, 8 of their next 12 are on the road.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

BracketBusters Standings 1

Time for the first installment of the Buster standings. If I were ESPN/BracketBusters czar, I'd go with these match ups.

William & Mary at Butler
Siena at Northern Iowa
Nevada at Old Dominion
Wichita State at VCU
LA Tech at Missouri State
Western Carolina at Northeastern
Western Michigan at Murray State
Indiana State at Kent State
Charleston at Illinois State
Buffalo at Iona
Fairfield at Pacific

The field will be announced on February 1 and games will be played on Feb 19-20.

Tonight's GOI
--Vanderbilt at Alabama. Big chance for the Tide to score a good home win.
--North Carolina at Clemson. Will tell us a lot about both teams.
--Pitt at UConn. Panthers are one of just two unblemished BEAST teams.
--Mississippi at Georgia. Ole Miss is a "ranked" team that really has not shown jack squat since before Thanksgiving.
--Wichita State at Indiana State. If the Trees want to be in the Valley's upper tier, a win here would send a message.
--Minnesota at Michigan State. Couple of Big 10-11-12 contenders.
--Wisconsin at Northwestern. Cats need some big conference wins to have an AL shot.
--Cincinnati at St. John's. Johnnies need some conference wins pronto (0-3).
--Missouri at Texas Tech. Feels quite Bubbly.
--San Diego State at UNLV. The MtWest is going to be a fun, fun race.
--Georgia Tech at Virginia. Cavs have won 5 straight. If GT is going to contend and be a solid AL team, they need road games like this one.
--Miami-FL at Virginia Tech. Same for the 'Canes. Great record...need some conference roadies to become solid.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Pre-Lockbox 2

OK, one more "pre"-Lockbox and then an actual bracket (Monday) and Lockbox (probably Wed) come next week. I have 49 potential AL teams listed, 12 in black. That means 37 teams are left for 22 spots, so fifteen "blue" teams would have to be cut to make 34 AL's. Again, for pre-Lockbox purposes, I am only using two designations: likely going (black), and work to do (blue). We will evaluate the landscape with more precision next week.

In the Belt
Conference divisional leaders WKU and Denver squared off in Colorado yesterday and, as they usually do, the Pioneers won at home (11-1 this season). They shot a mind-blowing 83.3% on their 2-pt FG's. WKU won practically every other statistical measure, but it was not enough to overcome that inconceivable percentage and the Toppers fell by 5. Denver as 8/12 remaining conference games on the road, while WKU has 8/12 at home before closing their slate with a 3-game road swing at season's end.

Tonight's GOI
--Villanova at Louisville. There are three teams unbeaten in Big East conference play. Here are two of them.
--Oklahoma State at Oklahoma. In-state rivalry alert!

Friday, January 08, 2010

Weekend Forecast

We are enjoying (?) some of the coldest weather in years down here in southern Kentucky, so it is a great weekend for hoops viewing. We are also enjoying WKU being the only team without a loss in the Sun Belt after the Toppers went into Mobile and dispatched a South Alabama team who is likely the second-best club in the league. If they are not, it's Denver, and WKU plays there on Sunday.

Weekend Forecast
--Washington State at Arizona. Cougs have stacked up wins against bad teams, while Zona has stacked up losses against good ones.
--Butler at Wright State. Always a tough trip for the Bulldogs, and both are unblemished in league play.
--William & Mary at Drexel. The Tribe have the juice for an at-large if they can have a monster CAA record. They won at Delaware in OT in their last outing.
--UConn at Georgetown. Blockbuster in the Big East.
--Duke at Georgia Tech. Dukies have played just one true roadie and lost (Wisconsin).
--Northern Iowa at Illinois State. Redbirds try to put a mark on the clear Valley fave.
--Ohio State at Minnesota. Evan Turner is back, so this is a heavy Big Ten tilt.
--Mississippi State at Mississippi. Probably the two best in the SEC West and it's an in-state rivalry alert!
--Kansas State at Missouri. Tigers have played a fluffy schedule and Wildcats have played just one true roadie.
--UNLV at New Mexico. Mammoth MtWest match up.
--West Virginia at Notre Dame. Joyce will be rockin' and ND needs some meaty wins.
--Texas Tech at Oklahoma State. These two feel like Big 12 Bubblers.
--Gonzaga at Portland. Must win if Pilots want to challenge for WCC title.
--Florida at Vanderbilt. Gators will need a good SEC record to get in, while Vandy is putting it together.
--Purdue at Wisconsin. Boilers toughest roadie to date by far.
--Washington at Arizona. Huskies need this one to hang onto the "favorite" label in the Pac-10.
--WKU at Denver. Tops cannot afford many losses on their AL quest.
--Xavier at George Washington. We'll see what the Colonials are made of.
--Florida State at Maryland. Terps have some serious work to do.
--Temple at Rhode Island. Maybe the most intriguing game of the weekend: two top 10 RPI teams that figure to be at the top of the A10.
--Kansas at Tennessee. The OOC match up du jour(s).

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

State of the Sun Belt

Why the Sun Belt you ask? A few reasons:
1. WKU plays in the Belt.
2. It is almost a nation conference (Miami to Denver)...that practically no one cares about unless you read this blog or others like it.
3. Studying a conference far out of the mainstream media gives insight into life for most of DI basketball.

The Sun Belt has not gone exactly to plan in the non-conference. Favorite WKU (who is still the favorite) came out of the gate slowly and then lost 2nd-leading scorer and top rebounded Sergio Kerush for 6-8 weeks (he should return in early-to-mid-February). But, they are 6-1 in their last seven with wins over Vandy in Nashville and at home over Mississippi State, so they are close to where folks expected them to be: 8-4, strong RPI, etc.

Denver has been decent, although they continue to languish in road games (1-4 to date) and South Alabama has been a pleasant surprise (9-4, 3-0 in conference, wins over Arkansas and Florida) despite fourteen (!) new faces this year, but the rest of the league has not lived up to billing.

Outside of WKU and USA in the East, Troy has struggled a bit mainly due to playing 7 of 8 non-conference games against DI teams away from home (they lost that one by 3 to a streaking Marshall club). Someone tell me again how IA football will help basketball and hoops scheduling? They have started 3-0 in conference, but besides a win over a bad Auburn team, they have failed to make much noise. Middle Tennessee was horrid early, starting 1-6, but have been much better since Conference POY candidate Desmond "Boogie" Yates has returned from a knee issue. They are 4-1 in their last five (loss at Vandy). Both FAU (3-9)and FIU (3-13) might have big name coaches (Mike Jarvis and Isiah Thomas), but they have been terrible. Thomas has signed a boatload of talent for next season, so we will see how that works out.

It is even worse out West. Perennial West contender UALR has been plain awful. Their signature bruising defense has been ineffectual and it has led to a 2-11 start including 0-4 in league, which is something Trojan fans simply are not accustomed to. North Texas, another perennial West contender, did nothing special out of conference and have labored to a 2-2 start in league including losses to lowly FIU (at home, no less) and Arkansas State. Speaking of stAte, they labored out of conference, then started 2-1 in league only to get housed by Lamar on Monday. UL-Lafayette has far better talent than their 3-9 record but have been totally unimpressive, and UL-Monroe and New Orleans are about the same caliber as FIU and FAU in the East.

It is bleak. The conference RPI is #23 currently and trails the Ivy and the Ohio Valley (which is a crime in these parts). WKU has a slim shot at an AL run. South Alabama has a long RPI hill to climb and probably lacks the scheduling juice to get into the conversation barring a ridiculous Sun Belt record.

We will check in again at the conference season mid-point.

Last Night's GOI
--Rhode Island 68, at Akron 63. Rams pass another test and validate the AL talk...and their gaudy early RPI.
--at Purdue 79, Minnesota 60. Boilers amplify the message: "We'd like a #1 seed, please."
--at San Diego State 74, New Mexico 64. Big win for a team that seems to be perpetually on the Bubble.

Tonight's GOI
--UNLV at BYU. Two of the Mountain West's best.
--Cornell at Kansas. No one is expected to go into Lawrence and win this season, but it will be interesting to see what kind of game the Big Red play in this one.
--Georgetown at Marquette. Talk about a rough schedule. The Warriors first four games in conference: Villanova (twice!), West Virginia and Georgetown.
--Wisconsin at Michigan State. Similar to Purdue/Minnesota last night, Sparty looks to send a message about who the top contenders for the Big Televen title are going to be.
--Wichita State at Missouri State. Two of a large gang of UNI-chasers in the Valley.
--Louisville at Providence. Important for UL because they are currently 0-2 in road games.
--Northern Iowa at SIU. Panthers get a stiff test in conference and the Salukis are part of that big gang hoping to unseat them.
--Memphis at Syracuse. Tigers are sorely lacking in quality wins.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

"Mid-Majors" Tough At Home, Too

Two Big 6 teams fully expecting to compete for decent NCAA seeding took L's last night in tough "mid-major" venues. UNC famously fell at College of Charleston and SEC West contender Mississippi State was taken out by WKU.

Last Night's GOI
--Pitt 74, at Cincinnati 71. Panthers collect the sweet, sweet nectar of a conference road win.
--at College of Charleston 82, North Carolina 79 (OT). BIG win for the Cougars.
--at WKU 55, Mississippi State 52. After a shaky start, the Hilltoppers are 6-1 in their last 7 (lost at Louisville) including wins over Vanderbilt and Mississippi State. Keep an eye on their AL profile in the coming weeks if they can navigate two tough roadies this week at South Alabam and Denver.

Tonight's GOI
--Rhode Island at Akron. Everyone is learning about the Rams, but the Zips are 9-1 in their last 10 (lost at Texas A&M). Tough test for the AL hopeful Rams.
--Minnesota at Purdue. Boilers are a definite favorite, but Gophers could stamp themselves as a Big Ten title contender with a road win like this.
--New Mexico at San Diego State. Lobos certainly look NCAA-worthy, but the Aztecs have been decent, too. They can ID themselves as a potential AL with a win here.

Monday, January 04, 2010


Next week or the week after, a full-color Lockbox will emerge. For now, this pre-Lockbox displays a list of conference leaders along with a gaggle of teams ranging from "almost certain" to "this will look dumb come late February." And, of course, some teams will charge hard late and jump into the box.

As always, leagues currently with just one team in the At-Large convo have their favorite listed in italics. I have put multi-bid conference teams in just two colors for today's purposes. Teams in black represent those that most everyone would expect to be IN even at this early juncture. If any teams in black miss, it would be a major surprise. Teams in blue have work to do. Many have played well, but have few (or no) strong wins. Others have unpredictable issues to sort out (Tennessee). Some have performed well statistically, but are off to tough league starts (Marquette). There is a lot of guesswork at this point, but this does at least narrow the field a bit.

There are 46 AL potentials listed here, so if one were constructing a bracket, 12 teams in blue would have to be cut.

The first actual bracket will come either next Monday or the following one and will appear every Monday until the season ends. Lockbox updates occur on Wednesdays (usually).

Tonight's GOI
--Pitt at Cincinnati. Should be a bruiser.
--North Carolina at College of Charleston. Always interesting when a team of UNC's caliber and funds plays a real roadie at a non-Big 6 school.
--Mississippi State at WKU. Both looking for a solid OOC win.