Weekly Bracketology – 02.09.09

February 8, 2009

A few notes:

  • As you’ll notice, I included a comment about each and every team in the bracket. I’ll be doing this in each of my final four brackets (2/16, 2/23, 3/2 and 3/7) as we head towards Selection Sunday.
  • Expect a Bubble Watch post from me on Thursday updating the current bubble picture, a feature that will run very similar to ESPN’s weekly bubble watch.
  • As always, any questions/comments/complaints about this week’s bracket, feel free to comment.

Automatic Bids: Boston University, Xavier, North Carolina, East Tennessee State, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Weber State, VMI, Michigan State, Long Beach State, Northeastern, Memphis, Butler, Princeton, Siena, Buffalo, Morgan State, Northern Iowa, San Diego State, Robert Morris, Morehead State, UCLA, Holy Cross, LSU, Davidson, Sam Houston State, Alabama State, North Dakota State, Western Kentucky, Gonzaga, Utah State

Last Four In: Arizona, Miami, Nebraska, Michigan
Last Four Out: Wisconsin, BYU, UNLV, Kansas State
Next Four Out: Mississippi State, Oklahoma State, Providence, Penn State
Also Considered: Georgetown, Texas A&M, Baylor, Creighton, Maryland, Saint Mary’s, Northwestern, Tulsa

020809-bracketology

1 Seeds

  • Connecticut- The #1 overall seed and #1 team in the polls, Connecticut boasts 6 wins against the top 50 and still has two contests against Pittsburgh remaining on the schedule.
  • Oklahoma– The Sooners have the most wins vs. the top 100 (15) of any team, but only 1 of those victories has come vs. the top 25. They’re the #2 overall seed.
  • North Carolina– The projected ACC champion has continued to win while Duke and Wake Forest slipped up multiple times. The showdown with Duke on Wednesday is for a #1 seed.
  • Pittsburgh– Despite two conference losses, Pitt garners the final #1 seed due to their #2 RPI, 4 wins vs. the top 25 and a much stronger non-conference resume than Louisville.

2 Seeds

  • Duke– Despite the throttling by Clemson, Duke still owns the top overall RPI and have 7 wins against the RPI top 50. They can reclaim the ACC automatic bid this week.
  • Louisville– A sexy 9-1 Big East record and 4 wins vs. the RPI top 25 keep Louisville a comfortable 2. They should watch out for pesky Notre Dame this week.
  • Michigan State– The projected Big Ten champion has stayed the same all season- Michigan State. A 7 RPI, 6 SOS and comfortable lead over Ohio State and Illinois means they should stay there.
  • Marquette– The final #2 seed goes to the fourth Big East team in the field already- Marquette. They slipped in Tampa but still 9-1 and 20 wins overall is enough to grab the honor.

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Boom Goes the Dynamite: 02.07.09 Edition

February 7, 2009

dynamite1We’re back with another thrilling edition of Boom Goes the Dynamite where we try to cover every single game on TV. Since we have only two people working on BGTD, we appreciate any reader tips on what games everyone should be watching since there are so many on TV and the Internet. For a rundown of the games today, check out today’s Set Your Tivos.

11:40 AM: ESPN GameDay is live from Spokane site of the Memphis-Gonzaga game tongiht at 9 PM. The crowd is fairly small, but I’ll give the Bulldog fans a break since it started at 8 AM local time on a Saturday morning at a school with just 4,515 undergraduates. I’m still waiting for a basketball GameDay to match a college football GameDay in terms of attendance and crazy fans. Looking at the schedule, I’m going to have go with February 21st when Oklahoma plays Texas in Austin, TX as the ESPN GameDay where the fans actually show up.

Noon: Some great work by the ESPN camera crew making Philadelphia look like something other a dump. The Syracuse-Villanova game should be one of the better ones today with both teams being in the 2nd tier in the Big East after UConn, Pittsburgh, and Louisville. The jury is still out on Marquette after last night’s debacle. Like we said watch the Jonny Flynn versus Scottie Reynolds match-up. The Arinze Onuaku injury could be big particularly with Dante Cunningham on the inside.

12:40 PM: Sorry for the delay in posting, but we’re having some problems with WordPress. Anyways, Villanova is absolutely destroying Syracuse right now. A basket by Cunningham stretches the lead to 21 at 36-15. It might be a while before we have another update on this game unless the Orange make a run. If the game continues like this, Jim Boeheim‘s squad will fall out of the top 25 leaving just 5 Big East teams in the rankings.

1:00 PM: The ESPN announcers just said that Donovan McNabb played some basketball when he was at Syracuse. Either he had some ridiculous intramural basketball career that I’m not aware of or they just assume that every mobile black QB was a two-sports star. I’m guessing it is the latter.

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Checking in on the… Big 12

January 26, 2009

Patrick Marshall of Bluejay Basketball is the RTC correspondent for the Big 12 and Missouri Valley Conferences.

Current Records and my standings (Conference Standings) (Last Week)

  1. Oklahoma (19-1)(5-0) (1)
  2. Texas (14-4) (3-1) (2)
  3. Kansas (15-4)(4-0) (4)
  4. Missouri (17-3) (4-1) (6) 
  5. Baylor (15-4) (3-2) (3)
  6. Oklahoma St. (13-5) (2-2) (8)
  7. Texas A&M (15-5) (1-4) (5)
  8. Texas Tech (11-8) (1-3)(11)
  9. Nebraska (12-6) (2-3) (7)
  10. Iowa St. (12-7) (1-3) (9)
  11. Kansas St. (12-7) (1-4)(10)
  12. Colorado (8-10) (0-4) (12)

As expected, the top of the Big 12 was going to be dominant in conference play this season with a Missouri team really starting to look good.  Baylor and Texas A&M have struggled as of late and they need to get things turned around quickly. 

GAME OF THE WEEK

Oklahoma 72, Nebraska 61—This game had all the drama and the wakeup call needed for Oklahoma.  Nebraska came out with a stifling defense to start the game and double and triple-teamed Blake Griffin and basically took him out of the game.  The Huskers were up 6 at halftime and in the 2nd half, they were not able to play Griffin as well as they did in the first half.  Griffin went 7-8 in the 2nd half from the field and Nebraska was not able to score for  about 5 minutes down the stretch.  By the time they were able to start scoring again, it was too late. 

PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Blake Griffin, Oklahoma—Though I considered DeMarre Carroll (Missouri), Sherron Collins (Kansas) and Craig Brackens (Iowa St.), I have to go with Griffin as he continues to dominate the games he is in and averaged 23 points and almost 18 rebounds a game this week.    He didn’t even play that much the 2nd half against Baylor.  He is well on his way to Player of the Year.

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Checking in on the… Big 12

January 8, 2009

Patrick Marshall of Bluejay Basketball is the RTC correspondent for the Missouri Valley and Big 12 Conferences.

Current Records and my standings (Last Week)

  1. Texas A&M (13-1) (3)
  2. Oklahoma (13-1) (1)
  3. Texas (11-2) (4)
  4. Baylor (12-2) (2)
  5. Kansas (10-3) (6)
  6. Missouri (12-2)  (5) 
  7. Kansas St. (10-3) (7)
  8. Oklahoma St. (10-3) (8)
  9. Texas Tech (10-5) (9)
  10. Iowa St. (10-4) (10)
  11. Nebraska (9-3) (11)
  12. Colorado (7-5) (12)

This week for the Big 12 had some ups and downs.  Let’s check in on these teams. 

TEAM OF THE WEEK

Kansas (2-0 this week)—This young Kansas team is really starting to get it together and have started to win some bigger games.  Mario Little finally made his debut for the Jayhawks but almost went out on the court without his shorts on.  However, it gets real tough for them before heading into conference play as they take on a hot and hyped Siena team and then hit the road at Michigan St.   Kansas gets a little New Year’s gift by getting Jeff Withey (a transfer from Arizona) to play for them, but won’t be able to until December of this year. 

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Checking in on the… Big 12

December 31, 2008

Patrick Marshall of Bluejay Basketball is the RTC correspondent for the Missouri Valley and Big 12 Conferences.

Current Records and my standings (Last Week)

  1. Oklahoma (12-0) (1)
  2. Baylor (10-1) (2)
  3. Texas A&M (11-1) (3)
  4. Texas (10-2) (4)
  5. Missouri (10-2)  (5)
  6. Kansas (8-3) (6)
  7. Kansas St. (8-3) (8)
  8. Oklahoma St. (8-3) (9)
  9. Texas Tech (9-4) (7)
  10. Iowa St. (8-4) (11)
  11. Nebraska (7-3) (10)
  12. Colorado (7-3) (12)

A very bad week for the Big 12.  With about a week left in non-conference play, the cream of the crop is starting to shake out.   Kansas St. and Oklahoma St. did not play this week.

TEAM OF THE WEEK

Texas (1-0 this week)—Texas rebounded after the loss to Michigan St. to take it out on another Big 10 team in the Wisconsin Badgers to get a nice road win.   The news in Texas is that former Florida guard Jai Lucas has chosen to transfer to Texas and will join the Longhorns.  It is still to be determined whether he needs to sit out a full year and become eligible for the 2nd half of next season or if he will be able to play right away.  I can’t see how he could be eligible for the beginning of next season, but stranger things have happened.

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Checking in on the… Big 12

December 23, 2008

Patrick Marshall of Bluejay Basketball is the RTC correspondent for the Missouri Valley and Big 12 Conferences.

Current Records and my standings (Last Week):

  1. Oklahoma (11-0) (1)
  2. Baylor (9-1) (3)
  3. Texas A&M (10-1) (5)
  4. Texas (8-2) (2)
  5. Missouri (9-1)  (4)
  6. Kansas (8-2) (6)
  7. Texas Tech (8-3) (7)
  8. Kansas St. (8-3) (8)
  9. Oklahoma St. (8-3) (11)
  10. Nebraska (7-2) (9)
  11. Iowa St. (7-3) (10)
  12. Colorado (5-3) (12)

Most teams only played one game this week.  The holidays are a little slow for the Big 12 teams.  However what is starting to show is that this conference is wide open and it will be a  battle once conference play starts.  Oklahoma looks a little above the rest, but not much.

TEAM OF THE WEEK

Texas A&M (3-0 this week)—Texas A&M is starting to make me a believer, winning 3 more games this week to move to 10-1.  With some solid wins now over Arizona, Alabama, and an undefeated LSU team, this team is building itself quite a resume.    Things are definitely going their way as they almost got themselves in a position to lose the LSU game, but a controversial call late in the game led to an LSU technical and A&M sealed the win.  They should get a win over Sam Houston St. this week.

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Checking in on the… Big 12

December 16, 2008

Patrick Marshall of Bluejay Basketball is the RTC correspondent for the Big 12 and Missouri Valley Conferences.

Current Records and my standings (Last Week)

  1. Oklahoma (10-0) (1)
  2. Texas (8-1) (3)
  3. Baylor (8-1) (2)
  4. Missouri (8-1)  (5)
  5. Texas A&M (7-1) (7)
  6. Kansas (7-2) (4)
  7. Texas Tech (7-2) (6)
  8. Kansas St. (7-3) (9)
  9. Nebraska (6-2) (8)
  10. Iowa St. (6-3) (10)
  11. Oklahoma St. (6-3) (11)
  12. Colorado (4-3) (12)

This has been a slow week for the Big 12.  Finals are upon us, so just a few games and updates this week.

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Checking in on the… Big 12

December 8, 2008

Patrick Marshall of Bluejay Basketball is the RTC correspondent for the Big 12 and Missouri Valley Conferences.

Current Records and my standings (Last Week):

  1. Oklahoma (8-0) (1)
  2. Baylor (7-1) (2)
  3. Texas (6-1) (4)
  4. Kansas (7-1) (5)
  5. Missouri (7-1)  (7)
  6. Texas Tech (7-1) (8)
  7. Texas A&M (6-1) (9)
  8. Nebraska (6-1) (3)
  9. Kansas St. (5-3) (6)
  10. Iowa St. (6-1) (11)
  11. Oklahoma St. (5-3) (10)
  12. Colorado (3-3) (12)

A light week for the Big 12 as most teams only played once and it was their game in the Big 12/Pac 10 Hardwood Series where the Big 12 dominated.

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Checking in on the… Big 12

December 1, 2008

Patrick Marshall of Bluejay Basketball is the RTC correspondent for the Missouri Valley and Big 12 Conferences.

Current Records and my standings:

  1. Oklahoma (6-0)
  2. Baylor (6-1)
  3. Nebraska (5-0)
  4. Texas (5-1)
  5. Kansas (4-1)
  6. Kansas St. (5-2)
  7. Missouri (5-1)
  8. Texas Tech (6-1)
  9. Texas A&M (5-1)
  10. Oklahoma St. (5-2)
  11. Iowa St. (4-1)
  12. Colorado (3-2)

TEAM OF THE WEEK

Oklahoma (2-0 this week)—Oklahoma won the NIT Tip Off defeating UAB and a pesky Purdue team as the Griffin brothers helped lead the team to victory.  Although  Purdue was able to somewhat contain Blake Griffin, he still came away with 18 points and 21 rebounds and averaged 25 points and 18 rebounds in the two games in New York.

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Checking in on the… Big 12

November 24, 2008

check_in41

Patrick Marshall of Bluejay Basketball is the RTC correspondent for the Missouri Valley and Big 12 Conferences.

Big 12 Conference Week in Review (Nov. 14-23)

Current Records and my standings:

  1. Oklahoma (4-0)
  2. Missouri (4-1)
  3. Nebraska (3-0)
  4. Kansas St. (4-0)
  5. Baylor (3-0)
  6. Texas (2-0)
  7. Kansas (2-0)
  8. Oklahoma St. (4-0)
  9. Texas Tech (4-0)
  10. Iowa St. (3-0)
  11. Texas A&M (3-0)
  12. Colorado (2-1)

TEAM OF THE WEEK

Oklahoma—Oklahoma has gotten off to a fast 4-0 start behind Blake Griffin and his supporting cast.  They survived the Gardner-Webb bug that Kentucky suffered from last year.  Griffin scored 35 points and pulled down 21 rebounds to lead Oklahoma to a win.  Now they head to New York after holding off Stephen Curry and Davidson in their NIT regional.  They get a somewhat favorable matchup against UAB instead of an expected Arizona team.

TEAMS DOING WELL

Nebraska—I actually like Nebraska just for the fact that they are one of the only Big 12 teams that already has a road game under their belt as they made the trip to TCU this week.  Though they only had 21 free throws (most came towards the end) against TCU’s 38 free throws, Nebraska survived their first road test and will build some toughness as they continue a somewhat soft non-conference schedule.  However, Nebraska won against Arkansas-Pine Bluff but according to Doc Sadler, the Huskers were “outworked.”  Maybe next time after the morning shootaround you should keep the players there and let them prepare for the game instead of sending them home.

Missouri—Missouri started the season with a couple warmup games against Prairie View A&M and Chattanooga and then headed to San Juan, Puerto Rico, for a tournament – losing to Xavier, winning against Fairfield and getting a nice win against USC.   The bench for Missouri is starting to feel a little comfortable.  The Tigers’ high pressure defense caused 20 or more turnovers by their opponents the first three games of the season.    Missouri gets a week off before hosting Summit Conference favorite Oral Roberts next Sunday.

Kansas St.-The Wildcats enjoyed a little cupcake city playing against a bad Florida A&M team, a troubled Southeast Missouri St. team and D2 Emporia State, but then took to the road to play against Horizon league favorite Cleveland St. and left with a win—their first true non-conference road win in nearly two years.    Kansas St. is enjoying balanced scoring as they have six players averaging double figures in scoring.

Baylor—Baylor’s documented scoring machine has not disappointed as they are averaging almost 95 points a game.  In addition to what they already had, Baylor got a new scoring threat in Quincy Acy.  The freshman has yet to miss a shot, scoring 18 straight baskets over his 3-game career, breaking a Big 12 record.  With an assist for every two baskets, that means the Bears are doing a good job of playing some team ball.  They get a warm up with Jacksonville on Monday night before heading to Anaheim for the 76 Classic.

Texas—Texas, for being favored in the Big 12, has been relatively quiet to start the season.  They won against Stetson and Tulane to open things up before heading to Maui for the ever popular Maui Invitational.  AJ Abrams moving to point guard hasn’t affected his scoring too much as he leads Texas in scoring with 18 pts per game while expected point guard Dogus Balbay finally made his debut.   Texas has also had the opportunity to build depth as they have 9 players playing more than 13 minutes a game so far.

Kansas—Kansas welcomed a whole new bunch of players to Allen Field House this week as they played their CBE Classic pod against in-state UMKC and Florida Gulf Coast.   As expected, Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich are leading the way for the Jayhawks in scoring.

Oklahoma St.—The cowboys hosted Texas-San Antonio and North Texas as well as Tulsa and Grambling St. with relatively easy wins.  The 3-point shot has almost been non-existent as they have been playing a lot of pick and roll basketball.   Five players are averaging double figures in scoring per game.  Okie St.  will have a challenging week ahead as a part of the Old Spice Classic in Orlando.

Texas Tech—The basketball team must have taken some notes from the football team as far as high paced scoring goes as the Red Raiders scored 167 points and opened the record book against East Central Oklahoma.   But what is even worse is that they did not have any defense either as they gave up 115 points themselves.    You have to kind of feel for Tyree Graham as he played 18 minutes and couldn’t score while everyone else did and mostly in double figures.   With that scoring explosion, through 4 games the Red Raiders are averaging 108 points a game.  Wow.

TEAMS THAT ARE STRUGGLING

Iowa St.—The Cyclones hosted their own multi-team tournament including UC Davis, Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Loyola Marymount.   They didn’t look that great, but with so many new players that is probably expected.  However that opening three games was last weekend.  After 9 days off, the Cyclones headed to Hawaii for what appears to be a vacation and one game, it will be interesting to see how that works for them before turning around and hosting the SWAC’s Mississippi Valley St.

Texas A&M—Texas A&M struggled with Southland favorite Stephen F. Austin sandwiched in between SWAC opponents Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Jackson St.   The game with SFA was tight the whole game and everyone in College Station was holding their breath hoping their basketball team isn’t going to be as bad as their football team was this year.   A&M may be undefeated, but at this point looks like smoke and mirrors so they are considered “struggling.”

Colorado—Colorado opened up against Arkansas-Pine Bluff with a great win and everyone in Boulder was tricked into thinking that they had a basketball team this season.  Then they hosted Big Sky Conference dweller Montana St. and lost.  Whoops.  Well maybe that is a good thing for the Buffalos.

GAME OF THE WEEK

Oklahoma vs. Davidson, NIT Tip Off—Davidson and Stephen Curry gave Oklahoma all they wanted in one of the more exciting games of the season so far.  The Griffin brothers combined for 41 points and 27 rebounds.  Though Oklahoma led by as many as 21 in the game, Davidson crept back in and made it a game to the end.  Great foul shooting led to a win for Oklahoma.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Blake Griffin, Oklahoma—As advertised, Blake was just a beast in Oklahoma’s  4 games they have already played.    He is averaging 25 points and 20 rebounds a game.  That is just ridiculous.

WEEK AHEAD AND GAMES TO WATCH

The Big 12 has played as advertised so far winning the games they are expected to win. This week will be the “Week of Tournaments” where several Big 12 teams will stop playing the cupcakes and play some real competition in the annually known neutral holiday tournaments:

  • 11/24-11/25, Kansas @ CBE Classic (ESPN2 and ESPNU)—Kansas gets a bit of a home court advantage as they play Washington and either Syracuse or Florida at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.
  • 11/24-11/26, Texas  @ Maui Invitational (ESPN Family of Networks)—Texas starts off with St. Joseph’s, then either Notre Dame or Indiana and then possibly North Carolina.
  • 11/26-11/28, Oklahoma @ NIT Tip Off (ESPN2)—Oklahoma gets a bit of surprise when they open up in New York against UAB and then will play either Boston College or Purdue.
  • 11/27-11/30, Baylor @ 76 Classic (ESPN2 and ESPNU)—Baylor opens with Providence and new coach Keno Davis, then most likely Arizona St. and then probably St. Mary’s or Wake Forest.
  • 11/27-11/30, Oklahoma St. @ Old Spice Classic (ESPN2 and ESPNU)—A stacked tournament where the Cowboys open with Gonzaga and then either Maryland or Michigan St.  If they win both of those, then they could likely be playing either Tennessee or Georgetown.
  • 11/28-11/29, Texas A&M @ South Padre Invitational (Fox College Sports Atlantic)—A&M plays Tulsa and then most likely Illinois.
  • 11/28-11/29, Kansas St. @ Las Vegas Invitational (ESPNU and ESPN2)—Kansas St. plays a struggling Kentucky team and then either Iowa or West Virginia in the city that never sleeps.
  • 11/28-11/29, Texas Tech @ Legends Classic (HDNET)—Texas Tech takes their new found high scoring offense into New Jersey hoping to beat Pittsburgh and then either Mississippi St. or Washington St.
  • 11/29, Colorado @ Stanford (Fox Sports Net)—Two teams seeing if they can be considered a player this season.
  • 11/29, Nebraska vs. Creighton (Fox Sports Midwest)—This in-state rivalry will heat up once again and I will actually be there to see it in person.

2008-09 Conference Primers: #2 – Big 12

November 9, 2008

Patrick Marshall of Bluejay Basketball is the RTC correspondent for the Missouri Valley and Big 12 Conferences.

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. Texas   (27-3, 14-2)
  2. Kansas  (24-7, 14-2)
  3. Oklahoma  (27-5, 13-3)
  4. Baylor  (25-5, 12-4)
  5. Oklahoma St.  (19-11, 8-8)
  6. Texas A&M  (19-12, 7-9)
  7. Nebraska  (18-11, 7-9)
  8. Missouri  (18-13, 6-10)
  9. Kansas St.  (18-13, 6-10)
  10. Iowa St.  (16-16, 3-13)
  11. Texas Tech  (15-16, 3-13)
  12. Colorado  (14-16, 3-13)

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What You Need to Know.  Although Kansas won the National Championship last season in dramatic fashion, most of the team won’t be around to try to do the repeat shuffle like Florida did the previous two seasons.  However, that doesn’t mean the Big 12 Conference won’t have an exciting season in the wings.  The buzz around the Big 12 is that sophomore Blake Griffin from Oklahoma (who passed on the NBA, unlike is KU peers) decided to stay another year at Oklahoma to try to lead his team to a championship.  Griffin has already been mentioned for several preseason All-American teams and awards.  Texas returns a great nucleus of talent on a team that tied for the conference championship last year with Kansas.  Baylor is the biggest surprise coming into the season.  Head Coach  Scott Drew has brought this disgraced program back from the ashes a few years ago when Patrick Dennehy was murdered by teammate Carlton Dotson and information was later covered up by then head coach Dave Bliss. Baylor made the NCAA Tournament last season for the first time in twenty years.   Iowa State and Texas A&M are led by former Missouri Valley Conference coaches, Greg McDermott and Mark Turgeon, respectively.  Although Kansas State made a splash back into the national spotlight showcasing Michael Beasley and Bill Walker, they’ll now take a step back into the pack, but with the salaries of their coaches including their assistants, they should be held to high expectations.  Nebraska will be playing small ball this year as they do not have a player over 6’8, but it isn’t like they haven’t triedMissouri is still trying to find its identity and coach Mike Anderson hopes to finally play his type of up-tempo, high pressure defense.  Although only in his third year at the helm, Anderson is on the hot seat.  Colorado has a lot to build on with mostly freshman and sophomores.  Texas Tech got a little head start when legendary coach Bobby Knight passed the keys to his son Pat Knight at the end of last season, while first year coach Travis Ford restarts the Oklahoma State program after the Sutton family was ousted. 

Predicted Champion.  Texas (NCAA #1).  Although Texas  hoped DJ Augustin wouldn’t leave Austin for the NBA, he did.  The Horns return four of five starters, though, (AJ Abrams, Conner Atchley, Damion James and Justin Mason) and most of the team that made it last season to the Elite Eight.  AJ Abrams can hit a shot quickly and from anywhere.  He is the top returning scorer in the Big 12 (16.5 ppg).  Without Augustin, Texas will be relying on Dogus Balbay to run the point.  Unfortunately, Balbay is returning from an injury and played on a Turkish club team with players who received money.  However, Abrams is also an option at point guard and feels confident that he can run the team.  The frontcourt is solid with veterans James (12/10 last season) and Atchley.  Height doesn’t always equal playing ability, but when you have four players on the roster that are over 6’10”  (Atchley, Clint Chapman, Dexter Pittman and Matt Hill) they have the ability to be physical underneath.  The thing that sets Texas apart from the other Big 12 teams is their NCAA Tournament and coaching experience compared to the other contenders.  I expect Texas to take it a step further this year and make a Final Four appearance. 

NCAA Tournament Teams.

  • Kansas (NCAA #4). Some might think that I am crazy for predicting Kansas to finish second in the Big 12 this season with only 2 players coming back with significant playing time (Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich).  Kansas will have seven newcomers to the program and some will be expected to be big players right away including juco All-American Mario Little, freshman twins Markieff and Marcus Morris and freshman guard Tyshawn Taylor.  Expect that there will be some growing pains.  However, Kansas is a beneficiary in scheduling, not only during the non-conference season, but in the Big 12 schedule as well.  The Jayhawks are participating in the CBE Classic that has them playing preliminary games at home and the semis/finals in Kansas City which is also basically at home.  Then in Big 12 play, they play the North schedule which means that they’ll play at Baylor and at Oklahoma only once, play Texas in Lawrence, while those three South teams have to play each other twice.  Playing at Allen Fieldhouse is not an easy task which makes their schedule amenable to success.  The Jayhawks will lose some early non-conference games and probably games they should not, but will be solid come conference and post-season time. The main cogs of the team that won the National Championship last year played together as freshmen and struggled early, but turned out to be one of the big stories as the season went along.  Similarly to that group, this season I see KU only getting past the first round of the NCAAs. 
  • Oklahoma (NCAA #5).  The media has picked Oklahoma to win the conference, Blake Griffin to be POY and Willie Warren to be the ROY. Warren was the leading scorer in the McDonalds All-American game and can seriously dunk.  If you want to see some of the talent Warren has to offer, check out this dunk.   Along with Griffin and talented freshman Warren, the rest of the team will be full of role players.  With so much of the focus on Griffin and Warren, that means that several other players need to step up their play to give Oklahoma additional options along with those two gifted players.  One of those players that might make an impact is 6’9” UCLA transfer Ryan WrightJeff Capel is a capable coach, but his 3rd year in the conference will keep them from winning the conference.  However, expectations are high and I expect Oklahoma to reach the Sweet 16. 
  • Baylor (NCAA #6).  Baylor is a team that returns its top eight scorers from last season led by Curtis Jerrells (15.3 ppg).  They were the Big 12’s highest scoring team and who could forget the epic non-televised 5 OT game with Texas A&M last season.  Kevin Rogers, LaceDarius Dunn and Henry Dugat are scoring machines that provide a depth of experience.  A senior-laden team, Scott Drew has built this team from scratch and is creating dividends by making he NCAA Tournament for the first time in two decades. But Baylor will not win the conference because their defense is suspect and their frontcourt will need to improve.  However, they tasted the feeling of the NCAA Tournament and got knocked out right away, but it will be different this year and I expect that they will make the Tourney again and at least win one game. 
  • Oklahoma St. (NCAA #7).  The Cowboys still have enough in the cupboard to make it to the NCAA Tournament even though they will break in first-year coach Travis Ford.  They are a little thin on the inside but return their leading scorer, James Anderson, and 80% of their scoring.  Having an up-tempo style that Ford likes to run will help minimize the frontcourt deficiencies.  They should do well enough to make it to the NCAAs, but will probably be bounced in the first round.
  • Texas A&M (NCAA #9).  Mark Turgeon in his 2nd year will be able to make one more run with the players that Billy Gillispie left behind before heading to Kentucky.  It remains to be seen if Turgeon will be able to recruit the right players to fit into playing in the Big 12.  Coming from the Valley, it is a big transition to try recruiting the right players for the large conference schools (note:  Bruce Weber (Illinois), Matt Painter (Purdue), Greg McDermott (Iowa St.)).  Though I see A&M sneaking into the NCAAs, this team could very well find itself in the NIT next March. 
  • Nebraska (NCAA #12).  Nebraska will be playing small ball this year and more in the up-tempo style that Doc Sadler would like to play, but the lack of an inside presence and a weak non-conference schedule will put them squarely on the bubble of the NCAA tournament.  This team could realistically have only one loss coming into conference play.  It has everyone coming back except for Aleks Maric who was their productive center, but even the newcomers were around the team and know the system as four players redshirted last season.  Having the confidence-building games will bring Nebraska into conference play on a high and they’ll benefit by playing in the North division, but they will struggle when they have a stretch of four games against South teams and Kansas. However, the Huskers will surprise some people this year, finish 7th in the conference and sneak into the NCAAs as one of the last at-large bids.

NIT Teams. 

  • Missouri (NIT).  The pieces appear to be in place in Columbia for the Missouri Tigers to start making some strides to return to the spotlight again but the depth is not there to run a full court, high pressure defense for Mike Anderson’s system to be completely successful.  They will have some success early in the season, but they will be tired by the time they get to conference play and will fall off from the picture.  They will be the last team into the NIT. 
  • Kansas St. (NIT/CBI).  Michael Beasley and Bill Walker are not there anymore so this team will have some significant challenges to replace those players.  They have a somewhat soft non-conference schedule except for the Las Vegas Invitational which will build up their win total, but will fall short in the Big 12 race to be considered for the NCAAs.  If they do not do well enough for the NIT, they will be in the CBI for the postseason.

Others.

  • Iowa St.  Greg McDermott is still getting his feet wet in his 3rd year as the roster has had a total turnover in the past two seasons (seven new players last year and another six this year).  Like Turgeon, it is hard to tell if he’s getting the right recruits to compete in the Big 12.
  • Texas Tech.  Although Pat Knight received the keys to the team mid-season last year, this team will struggle as they try to find their identity and whether they decide to implement a whole new scheme or keep with what Bobby Knight established and the players that were recruited for his scheme. 
  • Colorado.  Jeff Bzdelik is in year two of a total rebuild of this team, as eight players have left the team since Bzdelik arrived in Boulder in 2007.  They will probably start several freshman who will be overwhelmed.  Their offense is yet to be established as they try to run clock to keep the score in the 50s.  There are too many things going against the Buffs from being a factor this year.

Important Games.  The Big 12 has a great advantage in that they are key players in several major exempt tournaments this year that they can make a splash in:

  • Texas—Maui Invitiational
  • Oklahoma—Preseason NIT
  • Baylor—Anaheim 76 Classic
  • Kansas—CBE Classic
  • Oklahoma St—Old Spice Classic
  • Kansas St.—Las Vegas Invitational
  • Colorado (Rainbow Classic)
  • Missouri (Puerto Rico Tipoff)
  • Texas Tech (Legends Classic)
  • Texas A&M (South Padre)

Also some great non-conference matchups as a part of the PAC-10/Big 12 Challenge:

  • Oklahoma vs. USC  (12.04.08)
  • Texas vs. UCLA  (12.04.08)
  • Kansas @ Arizona  (12.23.08)

It is always a chore to get a large conference school to go on the road to play on a smaller team’s home court, but here are the road tests the Big 12 is taking on this year (not neutral site):

  • Nebraska @ TCU  (11.19.08)
  • Kansas St. @ Cleveland St.  (11.22.08)
  • Iowa St. @ Northern Iowa  (12.03.08)
  • Texas Tech @ Lamar  (12.13.08)
  • Oklahoma St. @ Texas A&M-CC  (12.14.08)
  • Texas Tech @ UTEP  (12.17.08)
  • Iowa St.  @ Houston  (12.18.08)
  • Oklahoma @ Rice  (12.22.08)
  • Texas A&M @ Rice  (12.31.08)
  • Colorado @ SMU  (01.05.09)

Conference Key Games.  These games will decide the conference champ:

  • Texas @ Oklahoma  (01.12.09)
  • Baylor @ Oklahoma  (01.24.09)
  • Texas @ Baylor  (01.27.09)
  • Kansas @ Baylor  (02.02.09)
  • Oklahoma @ Baylor  (02.11.09)
  • Oklahoma @ Texas  (02.21.09)
  • Kansas @ Oklahoma  (02.23.09)
  • Baylor @ Texas  (03.02.09)
  • Texas @ Kansas  (03.07.09)

Neat-O Stats.

  • 4-The number of 20-win seasons in Baylor’s 102-year history.
  • 5-Texas is one of just one of five schools to advance to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament in four of the last six years (Duke, UConn, Kansas, Pitt)
  • 51-4—This is Kansas’ record in the last 55 games dating back to 2006-07 when Kansas lost to UCLA in the Elite Eight.  Their only losses since then leading up to their NCAA Championship last year were to Texas, Kansas St. and Oklahoma St. last season. 

65 Team Era.  The teams in this conference are a combined 268-222 in the NCAA Tournament with 35 Final Four appearances and five National Championships.  As the Big 12 conference, their first National Championship was with Kansas last season (the others were as the Big 8, which merged into the Big 12 in 1996-97).  The conference’s record in this era is 161-112 (.590), which puts it roughly on par with the SEC as a major conference.  Where the league has struggled (until last year, of course) was winning national titles.  Only KU in 1998 and 2008 have won championships during this era. 

Final Thoughts.  The Big 12 will be a top heavy league this year and in some minds might be down compared to years past.  It will have four strong teams that will easily make the NCAA tournament and then there is a log jam between 5-9 on who will step up to either make the NCAA or settle for the NIT for the post season.  It will be interesting to see if Texas will finally outlive the hype that is given to them each year to make it to the Final Four and be in line to play for the National Championship.  Oklahoma is poised to make a run, but if Griffin gets hurt, will they still be able to win games?   It will be interesting to see how Kansas does after winning the championship the year before but losing so much to not be considered able to repeat.  With 10 of the 12 teams in the conference participating in high profile early season tournaments, the Big 12’s season will be defined on how those teams do in those tournaments.  If they are successful, then they will be the talk of this basketball season.  If they fail miserably, expect them to get fewer teams into the Big Dance than they have the last few years.


Midnight Madness Recap

October 18, 2008

Ok, we’ve got some information flowing in tonight this weekend…

The production values on these things are unbelievable, considering they’re still just glorified practices…  from Georgetown

How about Tom Crean’s first Hoosier Hysteria (Indiana)…

It looked like a great time at the Kennel (Gonzaga) on Friday night…

From Michigan State – a nasty 360-degree left dunk from Durrell Summers…

The original venue of Midnight Madness (Maryland)…

Here’s some K-State footage…  what happened to that Beasley kid?

How about a little George Mason love with Michael Jackson in the background…

Dunk you very much at UConn

Some Mackey Madness at Purdue

Here’s an excerpt from Corey Johns, our America East correspondent, at UMBC Sports Blog with a description of their festivities on Fri. night. 

Then came the dunk contest.  Freshmen Brett Burrier (6-6), Jake Wasco (6-9) and Chauncey Gilliam (6-2) and junior Matt Spadafora (6-4) all took the floor for the contest.  The first round Spadafora was the only one to
make both dunks sending him automatically to the finals, and the next guy was up to fan vote, and they choose Chauncey Gilliam.The finals were set and Spadafora hit is first one sending the crowd in an uproar thinking he won it right there, but Gilliam made and even more impressive shot making the crowd even crazier.  With the second shot at a dunk Spadafora barely missed hitting the back of the rim and shooting the ball back out.  Gilliam went on the court with the contest on the line.  He ran up did a 360 hook tomahawk dunk for the win and a floor storming performance as some fans and both the men’s and women’s team’s picked him up and carried him around as he celebrated.

Josh over at Big Ten Geeks, RTC’s Big 10 correspondents, was kind enough to allow us access to some live-blogging he did last night while watching the BTN coverage…

Live-Blogging Midnight Madness in the Big Ten

Josh here, from Big Ten Geeks, blogging the Midnight Madness festivities from…my living room.  But hey, I have the Big Ten Network in HD, and if you’re not one of the 12 or so households that receive the network – no fear! – I’ll be here to give you the rundown.  Looks like we have Wisconsin, Purdue, Indiana, Minnesota, and Michigan State on tap. 

…Jim Jackson just compared Wisconsin to the New England Patriots.  I hope Marcus Landry has strong knees.

…Lots of dancing at the Night of the Grateful Red.  Each of the players has a silly dance routine with a cute co-ed (dance team members?  Does Wisconsin have a dance team?  Does Bo Ryan coach that too?).  Some are…better than others.  Jared Berggren gave a rythmically-challenged dance to Vanilla Ice.

…Man, Wisconsin has a lot of tall white guys.  Bo certainly has a type.

…Wisconsin fans hope Jason Bohannon has a better outside shot this season than pop-and-lock.

…Am I alone for thinking Bo Ryan bears a striking resemblance to Jon Voight?  Everytime I see him, Coach Kilmer’s voice pops in my head.

…Yes, Bo danced again this year, but it wasn’t as good as last year’s Soulja Boy routine.  But how can you top that?

…The festivities are tipping off in Mackey Arena.  Purdue has a Mission Impossible theme going. 

…Chris Kramer – not a dunker.

…BTN cuts away from the dunk competition as super-athlete Lewis Jackson starts his routine.  That’s just bad scouting.

…Hey, Kramer threw one down, and it appears he’s worked his way into the finals.  Well, hey, Purdue figures to rely on outside shooting anyways.

…JaJuan Johnson takes home the crown.  No LewJack highlights to be seen.  Color me disappointed

…Coach Tom Crean figures that IU will shoot a lot of 3s this season.  The talent certainly seems to be on the perimeter.

…Flipping over to ESPNU.  It’s ex-Big Ten coach Bill Self with a blue microphone.  He looks like he’s lost some weight.

…Scrimmage at Purdue.  A lot of defense being played for a scrimmage.  The Boilers will be tough to score on this season.

…Wild prediction time: LewJack will supplant Chris Kramer as the starting PG by the end of the season.  He looks good out there.

…A lot of growing pains at Indiana.  The fans are still figuring out how to cheer their coach.  Right now, they’re adapting the classical two-syllable chant (“Mich-ael Jor-dan” clap clap clapclapclap) to an elongated “To-om Cre-ean.”  Err, needs some work.  A modest proposal: why not go with the two-syllable “TomCrean!” clapclap, or the “U-S-A! U-S-A” three syllable cheer (“Coach Tom Crean! Coach Tom Crean!”)?

..Out to the Barn now.  You really have to like what Tubby’s done in a short time at Minnesota.  I’m sure Billy Gillispie is a great coach, but I can’t help but feel that Kentucky chased away a good one.

…Announcers are debating whether or not Blake Hoffarber should come off the bench.  Please – no!  The Hoff needs minutes!  It would be a mistake to relegate the best returning scorer to anything less than significant minutes.

…Why is Minnesota showing old footage of Flip Saunders runing some globetrotter-type drills?

…Every time I flip over to ESPNU to check out non-Big Ten festivities, I just get Andy Katz arguing with Adrian Branch in a studio.  Madness!

…Cut to the Breslin Center, which is having a flashback night to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the 1979 championship season.  Izzo hints that we might see some crazy 70s hair, mustaches, and short shorts.  Hopefully Goran Suton does not partake in that last one.

…Minnesota scrimmage time!  The Hoff is on the bench and…Tubby calls a timeout?  He can’t help himself, he’s always got to be coaching.

…IU scrimmage time!  Yeah, the Hoosiers will be short this season.  Either Tom Crean is mic’ed up, or he’s just really loud.  Chastising players for a lot of bad shots.

Well, that does it for the BTN’s Midnight Madness coverage.  Fun night for the fans, and it means that the season is just around the corner.

From Greg Miller at S. Illinois

Even though they’re coming off their first non-NCAA Tournament season since 2001, the 2008-09 Salukis had a good crowd on hand at the SIU Arena for this year’s version of Maroon Madness (despite it being a high school football Friday night).  It was the first chance to really get a look at a big group of newcomers that have been highly touted as the best recruiting class in SIU history.  From my perspective, a lot of them showed some serious potential.  Kevin Dillard (2008 Illinois Mr. Basketball) didn’t score much, but his ball-handling skills show he will be able to help Bryan Mullins out a lot at the point this season.  Ryan Hare is an explosive wing out of Chicago who can get the rim quick.  Torres Roundtree put on a well-rounded display.  He threw down an alley-oop from Mullins, drove hard to the rack for an easy lay-up and also did a good job running the break and finding the open man at the other end.  He will be a welcome addition to the backcourt.  Didn’t see a lot from fellow McCluer North alum Anthony Booker.  But size alone, he is a monster.  A legit 6’8 that will definately be able to bang in the Valley.  Justin Bocot was a pleasant surprise.  After sitting out last year with academic problems, Bocot is back and has some serious offensive game.  He showed the ability to get the rim and knock down the long three (depsite having a knuckleball shot).  All in all, it was a showcase for the freshman.  And they showcased some skills.  The one thing that remains to be seen is if these young ‘Dawgs can play that Chris Lowery-defense that has made SIU famous.  Here is a link to some interviews from SIU Media Day and highlights from tonight’s Maroon Madness.

Here are some photos from Memphis tonight…

More to come…


Deal or No Deal – K-State Style

October 15, 2008

We came across a really insightful article today by Bob McClellan on Rivals that analyzed assistant coaching salaries at the top fifteen schools (by final ranking) during the 2007-08 season.  Using FOIA again, McClellan discovered that there are significant inequities in what assistant coaches at several of these top public university programs are paid.  After we picked our jaw up off the floor from awe at the size of these salaries for the assistants (!!!), we immediately focused in on the anomaly that McClellan made the keystone of his story – Kansas State assistant coach Dalonte Hill was paid $400,000 last season and is set to make $420,000 this year.  From the article:

Hill, entering his sixth season as a college assistant, will make more money for the 2008-09 season than the entire three-man staffs at Ohio State, Washington State and Wisconsin and only $5,000 less than the staff at Texas, a survey done by Rivals.com shows. K-State released Hill’s contract in May. The school paid him $400,000 in 2007-08, and it will pay him $420,000 a year – $150,000 in base salary and $270,000 in “additional compensation,” defined as “television, radio, internet, promotional and other services” – for the next four years. He is entering his third year at K-State. Because private universities are not required to release salary information, it’s unknown whether Hill is the highest-paid assistant in college basketball. But based on Freedom of Information requests, Hill is far and away the highest-paid assistant among public universities that finished in the top 15 in the 2008 coaches’ postseason poll.

So what’s the catch here?  Why is Hill making literally hundreds of thousands of dollars more than his peers?  Oh, that. 

After three years with the [Charlotte] 49ers, Bob Huggins lured Hill to Kansas State. Hill was responsible for the recruitment of [Michael] Beasley, who stuck with his pledge to play for the Wildcats even though Huggins left for West Virginia after just one season.  Hill coached Beasley in the AAU ranks, and Beasley called him “like a big brother.” Beasley had committed to Charlotte while Hill was still there. When Huggins lured Hill to K-State, Beasley followed him. By then, Beasley had become the No. 1 prospect in the country.

So all of this talk got us to thinking…  Beasley spent one year at K-State and it’s been argued in this space before that in terms of exposure and notoriety for the program, Beasley was an absolute WIN, even though he only stuck around Manhattan, Kansas, for one season.  But to echo Howie Mandel, was it a good deal for KSU to pay Dalonte Hill so much money considering the financial impact that Beasley had on the program?  The answer, my friends, is a resounding yes

There are multiple ways to measure financial impact, but let’s keep this simple if we can.  We’re only going to consider television and NCAA Tournament revenue because we can easily measure it, although ticket and merchandise sales were both also marginally up for the 2007-08 season.

Television Revenue.  It’s difficult to find hard numbers on what FSN, ESPN and its family of networks pay schools per regular season basketball game, but this much we know to be true: for Big 12 football, ESPN pays $300k per game and FSN pays $150k per game.  Let’s halve that for basketball to $150k/$75k per game.  For ESPNU, ESPN+ and the FSN Regionals, let’s call it $50k per game.  Using this model, in 2006-07, with new coach Bob Huggins but no Michael Beasley, K-State played on ESPN/ABC a total of seven times ($1.05M).  The Wildcats played on ESPNU and the various regional channels another twenty times ($1.0M), which totals out just over $2M in television revenue  in 2006-07 (note: we didn’t speculate about the K-State local channel because it’s unlikely to be substantive).   In 2007-08, with Beasley in tow, K-State played on national television nine times ($1.35M), and the ESPNU/regionals a total of twenty-one times ($1.05M), for a net gain of $300K in television money with Beasley.   (quick note: the Big 12 only participates in limited television revenue sharing, favoring instead a system that favors the teams on television more often – all but one KSU game was televised last year).

NCAA Tournament.  The Big 12, like every other conference, shares NCAA Tournament revenue equally among its member institutions.  In a form of institutional socialism, each school that participates in a game in the Big Dance earns a “unit” of funds available – the more games played, the more units earned (e.g., the Big 12 earned 16 units last year).  The NCAA then takes a six-year average of these units and doles out the aptly-titled Basketball Fund to each league accordingly – truly a payment-for-performance system.  In 2006-07, the Big 12 earned $14.3M ($1.2M per school), and with help from K-State’s two units (the Beasley Effect), the Big 12 stands to earn $15.1M this year ($1.3M per school).  An extra $100k may not seem like much in a vacuum, but the NCAA also provides each school with a $125k appearance fee per school per game (ostensibly for expenses), and since K-State played two games in the Dance, there’s an additional $250k to go along with the prior $100k.  This results in another net gain of $350k from the prior year simply because Michael Beasley was good enough to get the Wildcats into the NCAA Tournament last year.

Result.  So through a simple analysis of television and NCAA Tourney revenues, we can already see a net gain of approximately $650k due to Beasley’s presence.  Keep in mind again that we’re not even taking into account any ticket sales increases or merchandise sales increases that occurred because of the success of Beasley and his team.  Nor are we considering any future residual effects – future exposure in terms of better recruiting and more television appearances as a result of Beasley – and still we’ve determined that, at minimum, Beasley’s one-year contributions to the program were at least $250k more (and likely much more in other impacts) than Dalonte Hill’s salary that season, and therefore, yes, K-State fans, you made a good deal. 


2008 One-and-Dones – Was It Worth It?

July 1, 2008

Happy Fiscal New Year, everyone! 

Along with the turn of the fiscal calendar, July 1 also represents the turn of the academic calendar.  This is particularly appropriate for hoopheads, as the NBA’s season has ended and the draft madness that dominated bandwidth for the last two months after the Mario Miracle has died down to a whimper (well, there’s always 2009, right?).  All there really is to look forward to until October is the Ego Known as Kobe Bryant’s attempt to restore American hegemony in the international (read: Olympics) hoops realm.  That comes in August. 

So now is as good a time as any to take a look back at the 2007-08 season and once again review how the NBA’s one-and-done rule worked out for the schools that enabled it.  You might recall that we took a look at this last year and concluded: Ohio St., UNC, Texas… good.  Georgia Tech, Washington… not so good.  We also mentioned that several schools – Stanford, Tennessee, Arizona and Kansas included – were hanging onto players who could have been one-and-dones, but weren’t.  With the exception of the often comatose Arizona team, the other three as a result had fantastic squads last year. 

To start it off, let’s refresh ourselves with who the Rivals Top 20 recruits were coming into 2007-08.  As you can see below, we added a few columns that outline the player’s freshman numbers (pts/rebs/assts or blocks) and his team’s record as well as whether he went into the draft or is returning next season. 

So was it worth it?  Our takes:

Kansas St.  – Well Worth It.    K-State rode the best.freshman.ever Michael Beasley and sorta-but-not-really one-and-done Bill Walker (he was a medical redshirt in 06-07) as far as it could, which included a third-place finish in the competitive Big 12, a second-round NCAA tournament appearance and the first home win in twenty-four years over its rival and eventual national champion Kansas Jayhawks.  In other words, K-State’s best season in a generation.  The important aspect of Beasley and Walker’s one-and-dones for KSU head coach Frank Martin is to capitalize on future recruiting from the good will and national notoriety mustered by these players while on campus.  If he does not do so, and it’s soon back to the bottom of the Big 12 barrel for K-State, then the potential positive impacts of these stars passing through Manhattan, KS, were missed. 

Memphis – Well Worth It.  This too is a no-brainer.  #1 overall pick Derrick Rose converted a competitive yet incomplete team that would consistently flame out prior to the Final Four against other elite teams into a team that probably should have won the national title.  Rose led Memphis to a 38-2 record and had the Tigers in the argument for the most dominant season in the post-Wooden era before its epic free-throw meltdown in the championship game.  Even only as a runner-up, a Memphis fan would be hard pressed to find much else wrong with the 07-08 season, and as such, the one-year stopover by Derrick Rose was well worth it. 

Memphis Would Take A Rose Every Year (AP photo/Seth Wenig)

UCLA – Worth It.  This was a tough one, because UCLA came into the 07-08 season already having been to the last two Final Fours.  Anything short of that measure was going to be a disappointment (although Bruin fans might argue anything less than a national title is a disappointment).  We’ll argue, however, that Kevin Love brought a toughness and star-quality to Westwood that had been lacking on Ben Howland’s previous teams.  Not to mention that UCLA last season at 35-4 was simply a better team than the ones led by backcourt players (Afflalo and Farmar).  More than anything, Love’s presence solidifed UCLA again as a marquee destination for top-notch recruits, as Howland has penned five of the Rivals Top 50 in the Class of 2008. 

Arizona – Worth It.  It’s quite possible that Jerryd Bayless last season saved Arizona from breaking its NCAA Tournament streak of 24 consecutive appearances.  Arizona certainly didn’t have a great year amidst all the Lute Olson divorce and feud with Kevin O’Neill turmoils, but with a final record of 19-15, you have to figure that Bayless’ fantastic freshman year was worth a few wins that put the Cats back into the field of 65.  But that’s about all it was worth.  It certainly didn’t make Arizona into a contender of any kind, and it’s doubtful whether there will be any residual effects from Bayless’ time in Tucson.   

Indiana – Worth It.  Eric Gordon‘s arrival in Bloomington was worth it if for no other reason than it gave Hoosier fans something to be excited about for approximately three months (Nov-Jan).  Now that the wheels have come completely tumbling off of the Indiana program, we have to wonder just how long their fans will covet and remember the halcyon days when IU was 16-1 and ranked #7 in the AP Poll.  Of course, E-Giddy was partially responsible for Indiana’s subsequent collapse (18.2 ppg on 37.2% FG/25.3% 3FG shooting in the last 13 games (8-5)), but we put most of that on the ultimate dismissal of Kelvin Sanctions whereupon the entire team simply quit playing.  So in our view, this one-and-done represents the last great season that Indiana will have for a while.  Too bad it couldn’t have worked out better for everyone involved. 

Gordon Left More than a Bloody Tooth in His Wake (photo credit:  Bloomington Herald-Times)

USC – Not Worth It.    For a while during the season, it appeared as if the OJ Mayo one-and-done situation might just work out for Tim Floyd and the Trojan Nation.  Similar to K-State, USC hadn’t seen this much hoops attention in years – with Mayo as the headliner, USC played numerous national television games, beat UCLA at Pauley, and ended up tied for third in the rugged Pac-10.  Of course, the wheels came off when USC failed to show up to its hyped battle against K-State in the first round of the NCAAs and the propriety of Mayo’s eligibility was called into question by ESPN soon thereafter.  Throw in Davon Jefferson (a one-and-done from the Class of 2006 who went to prep school for a year before enrolling at USC) and his foolish decision to enter this year’s draft (undrafted) and we’re not sure just how successful USC can claim 2007-08 was.  After all, the 2006-07 edition of the Trojans, led by Nick Young and Gabe Pruitt, also finished third in the Pac-10 but had a better overall record (23-11) and played into the second weekend of March Madness (giving Carolina all it wanted in the process).  Finally, with another uber-recruit, Demar DeRozan, coming to USC next year, Floyd needs to be hyper-vigilant about those nefarious agents and runners in light of the Mayo debacle because more eyes will be watching.   

NC State – Not Worth It.  Hey, remember all the preseason talk about how NC State was the third best team in the ACC, and a definite NCAA Tournament team?  Yeah, we don’t either.  Actually, we do, and few of the pundits will own up to the fact that it was a terrible prediction.  For the record, NC State ended up 15-16, but the Wolfpack were 4-12 in the ACC (worse than the previous year’s 5-11 campaign that inspired such foolishness) and lost their last nine games.  So what did JJ Hickson’s presence in Raleigh bring to the team?  Other than team chemistry problems, of course?  It doesn’t appear that he brought much else than an ability to get himself drafted.  NC State will likely be significantly better without him next season. 

What Chemistry Problems? 

LSU – Not Worth It.  While we’re in the business of ripping bad teams with one-and-done players, we shouldn’t overlook the LSU Tigers.  LSU seems to have one of these guys about every other year anyway, so it probably doesn’t matter much in terms of long-term effects, but a 13-18 record with a loss at Tulane calls into question the value of Anthony Randolph’s tenure on campus in Baton Rouge.  Certainly the mail-it-in coaching style of Mr. Misty Champagne didn’t help things out much, but even with John Wooden coaching that team, we’re not sure how much Randolph could have lifted the Bayou Bengals.

Others.  These teams all had one-and-dones of questionable efficacy.  Put another way, these teams probably wouldn’t have been much better nor worse had these players gone elsewhere.  Exhibit A is Texas A&M‘s DeAndre Jordan.  TAMU was a tourney team anyway, led by Joseph Jones and Josh Carter, and it’s doubtful that Jordan’s four double-figure points games and two double-figure rebounds games in the Big 12 had much of an effect on A&M’s successful season.  Not Worth It.  Syracuse fans may disagree with us here, but despite Donte Greene‘s exceptional first-year numbers, we find it hard to believe that the Orange would have been any less average than they already were last year (21-14, 9-10 Big East).  After all, Jim Boeheim could take five schoolgirls and make them competitive – he just wouldn’t win the title with them (unless Carmela Anthony was on the team).  The question is whether Syracuse fans are pleased with a third-round NIT appearance, and we all know the answer to that – a resounding no.  For a school with multiple F4s and a recent championship banner, missing the NCAAs completely is a failing season, no matter the reasonable expectation.  Not Worth It.  Finally, we look at Ohio St., who took Kosta Koufos to replace last year’s one-and-donest, Greg Oden.  The answer here once again comes down to the question of expectation vs. reality of the situation.  Without Oden, Mike Conley and Daequan Cook, it wasn’t realistic for Thad Matta to make another run at the F4; but the bar has been raised so high at Ohio St. under Matta that a 24-13 season leading to an NIT championship must necessarily be viewed as less-than-stellar.  Winning the Capital One Bowl doesn’t match the Rose Bowl, does it, Buckeye fans?  We’ll call this one a Push.   

Final Thoughts.  With so many freshmen leaving this year from the top 20 Rivals list, we’d guess only Florida with Nick Calathes and Chandler Parsons returning may be a team to really watch closely next year.  Otherwise, keep an eye on UCLA, Wake Forest and UConn, each of which has multiple top twenty players coming onto campus next year. 


2008 NBA Draft Musings

June 27, 2008

Thanks to N-Bug’s liveblog of the NBA Draft last night, we felt like we were almost in the building sniffing David Stern’s manscent and Darrell Arthur’s ire.  What’s the record for lowest pick of someone in the Green Room?  The best we can muster is Rashard Lewis at #32 ten years ago.  Anyone got a lower pick left stewing in the Green Room all night?

Unfounded Rumors of a Kidney Problem Sunk Arthur’s Stock (photo credit: AP)

Darrell Arthur’s Kidney.  The story of last night’s draft, of course, was the unsubstantiated rumor of a serious undisclosed kidney problem that arose during Darrell Arthur’s medical tests.  Luke Winn details the report much better than we can here, but suffice it to say that it now appears that this kidney issue was a complete red herring, and the Memphis Grizzlies (through two subsequent trades) got an absolute steal at the #27 slot.  Winn suggests that the whispers about Arthur’s health could have cost him in the neighborhood of $1.3M over the course of his rookie contract.  Shouldn’t we just go ahead and put Slim Shady at the top of next year’s ROY contenders (Paul Pierce-style) based upon this slight alone?  He’ll have gobs of additional motivation, that’s for sure. 

One-and-Done Redux.  We’ve written about 1-and-dones until we’re blue in the face, but let’s face it, the Class of 2007 is arguably one of the greatest HS classes of all-time.  Four of the top five picks, seven of the top fourteen, and a record ten of the thirty first-rounders were freshmen.  Throw in the eight sophomores chosen in the first round, and that means 72% of the guaranteed contracts that went to American players were to players with 2 years or less of college experience.  Only five seniors were chosen in the first round, and the first at #12 overall, Jason Thompson from Rider, resulted in a perplexed “who?” from much of the crowd and viewing audience.  Again, there is no question that the NBA rule helped in terms of marketing these players.  Thanks to the Season of the Freshman, every basketball fan in America is now intimately familiar with the games of Derrick Rose, Michael Beasley, OJ Mayo, Kevin Love, and so on.  If they’d all gone pro after high school, we’d have little to no clue what those teams were getting.

Mayo Posing as Stringer Bell (photo credit: SI.com) 

Beautiful Disasters.  Two of the one-and-dones who were bound and determined to stay in the draft no matter what anyone told them were DeAndre Jordan and Bill Walker.  (note: we were happy to see that our feelings of overratedness (see: HoopsAddict podcast at 34:30) with Jordan and Anthony Randolph were corroborated on draft night, although not so much with Russell Westbrook, chosen fourth!)  Both got drafted in the second round (#35 and #47 respectively) but last night had to be severely disappointing to both players, as Jordan was being talked about as a lottery pick earlier this draft season, and Walker last year (before blowing out his knee again).  Does Walker with his former #1 player in his class pedigree and seemingly constant knee injuries remind anyone else of Randy Livingston?  But the prize for biggest clowns of the draft go to USC’s Davon Jefferson and Mississippi State’s Jamont Gordon, both of whom were undrafted last night.  As for Jefferson, this one-and-done prospect declared early, signed with an agent (assuring he couldn’t return to USC), and then proceeded to float his way through the pre-draft camp.  He was a possible second-rounder at that point, but his uninspired effort in Orlando ensured that he would be left on the outside looking in.  Gordon’s situation was even worse, as he completely skipped the pre-draft camp (incredulously assuming he was a first-rounder), also signed with an agent, and otherwise did nothing to show that he was a serious candidate for the draft.  Ok, we get it, you reallyreallyreallyreally want to play in the NBA, and you reallyreallyreallyreally think you’re good enough… but you guys really need to start doing some listening when people who make these decisions (scouts, GMs, draftniks) are telling you otherwise.  Good luck in the D-League, guys.   

Katz discusses some of the other early entry disappointments in last night’s draft. 

Sideshow Bob Was Drafted by the Suns Last Night (photo credit: SI.com)

Conference Call.  A year ago Pac-10 coaches were telling us that they had far and away the most talent in the nation, suggesting that there are as many as a dozen first-round picks on their squads in 2007-08.  Well, it turns out they weren’t that far off, as there were seven first rounders last night, including three of the top five (#3 Mayo, #4 Westbrook, #5 Love, #10 Brook Lopez, #11 Jerryd Bayless, #15 Robin Lopez, #21 Ryan Anderson), and twelve players chosen overall.  Also keep in mind that several other probable first rounders from the Pac-10, such as Darren Collison (UCLA), Chase Budinger (Arizona) and Jeff Pendergraph (Arizona St.) elected to stay in college another year.  The Big 12 was next with nine players chosen, including four first rounders and five (!!) players – tying the 2006 UConn Huskies and 2007 Florida Gators – from the National Champs (#13 Brandon Rush, #27 Darrell Arthur, #34 Mario Chalmers, #52 Darnell Jackson, #56 Sasha Kaun).  Throw in former Jayhawk JR Giddens (#30) and an astonishing six players passed through the KU program en route to this draft.  The SEC had six draft picks, and the Big East and ACC had four each.  The usually-pathetic Big 10 once again finished last among the BCS conferences with only three picks.  See table below.

 

Not NBA Material.  We reserve this spot to formally bid adieu to some of the notable collegians who have entertained us for the last four years, but whom the NBA has decided are not worthy to play in their league.  Drew Neitzel (Michigan St.), Demarcus Nelson (Duke), David Padgett (Louisville), Josh Duncan (Xavier), and Pat Calathes (St. Joseph’s) are but a few of the names we’ll probably never see again unless they become coaches someday.  The honor of the biggest undrafted name, though, goes to Tennessee star and cancer survivor Chris Lofton, who holds the all-time mark in the SEC for three-pointers, and ranks third in NCAA history on that measure.  If there’s one guy we’d bank on finding his way to an NBA court near you in the next couple of years (even for a cup of coffee), it would probably be this kid.  He stares toughness and grit directly in the eyes before they walk away in shame.