Archives For NCAAB

Sweet 16 Breakdown: Part 1

Guest Writers —  Thursday, March 28, 2013 — 3 Comments

Well, just like that, the opening weekend of the Big Dance is in the books, and it certainly did not disappoint. It was filled with the usual exciting factors such as double-digit first round upsets, powerhouse conference favorites going up against mid-major Cinderella’s, and even a buzzer beater here and there. The opening weekend also graced us with a few surprises as well—spotlighted by a 15 seed finding its way to the Sweet 16, so much so, that it has been nicknamed “Dunk City” thanks to some serious white-boy alley oops.

Now, we look ahead to some potentially very exciting matchups in the Sweet 16. I will breakdown each matchup, as well as give my prediction on who will advance to the Elite 8.

We will begin by looking at Thursday’s games, and I will be back tomorrow to breakdown Friday night’s slate.

No. 3 Marquette vs No. 2 Miami (6:15 CT, CBS)

Our first matchup of the Sweet 16 brings us to the East Region for a very exciting matchup between two very-skilled teams. The biggest news coming from this one is that Miami will be without starting center and leading rebounder, Reggie Johnson. This is blow to the U. Offensively, Miami posts a 1.14 PPP with RJ. Without him, it drops to a 1.01. Even without Reggie, Miami is just the better basketball team. Marquette is well coached and has a star in Vander Blue (who BTW is playing on another level so far in this tourney), but at the end of the day, Marquette has been the luckiest team in the country. They like to do a lot of scoring inside due to their poor outside shooting, and no RJ gives them a decent shot, but Larkin and Co. will be too much at the end of the night.

Prediction: Miami 70-63

No. 6 Arizona vs No. 2 Ohio State (6:47 CT, TBS)

This game brings us an intriguing matchup between two college hoops powerhouses who both boast coaches who were assistants together at Miami (OH). The game is being played in Los Angeles, which means there are going to be a lot of Zona fans in the house. Location is often overlooked in NCAA Tourney games, but they really do play a factor, especially in games of this magnitude (Just look at Oregon’s run so far – both games played in San Jose). The big time matchup in this one is between two of the tourney’s hottest point guards in Mark Lyons and Aaron Craft. Craft is known for his outstanding pressure defense which should cause problems for Lyons and company, but what most do not know is that against high pressure teams, Nick Johnson does a lot of the distributing, leaving Lyons on the wing and Craft in an unfamiliar spot. Arizona has a height advantage in the frontcourt making OSU vulnerable on the glass, and Ohio State has struggled at times in finding a second scorer behind DeShaun Thomas. I’m calling for the upset in this one.

Prediction: Arizona 65-63

No. 4 Syracuse vs No. 1 Indiana (8:45 CT, CBS)

Indiana came into the tournament being one of the favorites to win the whole thing, but after trailing late against Temple, some fans are concerned if they really have enough consistency to cut down the net in a few weeks. Their matchup with Syracuse should bring fans some relief come Thursday night. Teams that have beaten Syracuse this year have either been able to knock down the 3-ball or rebound the ball, offensively, at a high rate. Luckily for Indiana, they do both well. Also, if Indiana can push the ball in transition avoiding Syracuse to get into a comfortable zone, then good things will happen for the Hoosiers. Temple showed what you could do to an Indiana offense by forcing them to play in their half court offense – make them look LOST. If they do, this will be a low scoring, grind it out ball game that will be close. If not, it could get ugly. Either way, I like the Hoosiers to take home the W.

Prediction: Indiana 71-61 

No. 13 La Salle vs No. 9 Wichita State

The final game of the nightcap brings us a fun one between two teams who were not expected to still be playing at this point – and one will be in the Elite 8. La Salle has made it this far due to the fact of 3-pointers falling for them at a ridiculous rate. Another common theme from La Salle has been their pathetic post defense. Wichita boasts a huge advantage in rebounding as Wichita ranks 27th while La Salle sits at a whopping 292nd. Wichita is very similar to Ole Miss, who had the game in the bag if it wasn’t for the moron we all know as Marshall Henderson chucking up shots at will, when they were successful at scoring inside. Ramon Galloway is a fantastic scorer, but Wichita’s guards should be able to out-physical him and make him uncomfortable. As long as La Salle doesn’t get unconscious from deep, Wichita should have no problem getting the win here.

Prediction: Wichita State 68-59

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By: Lyon Brown

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Guide to Winning Your Office Pool

Philip Matthews —  Wednesday, March 20, 2013 — 3 Comments

According to DePaul mathematics professor Jeff Bergen (via Yahoo! Sports), the odds of someone in the U.S. predicting a perfect bracket if he or she knows basketball (whatever that means) is 1-in-128 billion.

How in the world he came up with this number is way beyond my realm of understanding, but it does lead me to one response: in the words of my good pal Lloyd from Dumb and Dumber, “Sooo you’re telling me there’s a chance?”

That’s right. There is a chance indeed. And who’s to say this feat isn’t attainable by one of us? Even if that’s a stretch (1-in-128 billion), winning that office pool and bragging rights for the year will definitely suffice as a consolation prize. After all you should shoot for the moon. If you miss, then you’ll still land amongst the stars.

Alas, here are just the tricks you need to bring home the coveted office trophy this year. Who knows, mix and match these tidbits correctly and you might just stumble upon something that has a 1-in-128 billion chance of happening.

First of all, some generalities:

Trust your instincts. If you want to do research, then do it. But don’t do too much. Over-thinking and over-analyzing is your enemy. If you’re feeling a particular upset, then go for it. If it proves true, it’ll give you a deep sense of satisfaction that will help heal the wound if you happen to lose your pool. There’s nothing worse than picking a correct Cinderella and chickening out at the last second. Yes, I’ve done this more than I like to remember.

Ignore the past. I’m not saying Davidson, Butler, or VCU won’t make deep runs in this year’s tournament, but I’m not saying they will either. These are completely different teams than those whom were made famous in past tourneys and should be analyzed as such.

4 < Winner < 1. Pick more than one number one-seeded team to be in the Final Four, but less than four. All four number one-seeded teams have only made the Final Four once in 2008. Meanwhile, all number one-seeded teams have failed to make the Final Four just 3 times: 1980, 2006, and 2011. So pick your two or three favorite #1 seeds, and roll with them making it to Atlanta.

Work backwards. Sure the bulk of the fun lies in the madness of the first two rounds, but the vast majority of the pools will be won as the games gain importance. Focus on your Final Four teams, then work backwards and choose your upsets wisely. You won’t win your pool in the first two rounds, but you sure can lose it.

Let’s look at some numbers and see if we can’t work through this equation together.

  • A top three seeded team has won 18 of the past 21 titles. One title has been won by a number four, six, and eighth-seeded team. We’ll play the percentages, so seeds 4 through 16 are out. Good start; we’re down to 12 possible teams cutting down the nets.
  • Jerseys matter. Maybe there is some method to the madness of your sister’s bracket based on her favorite uniforms always beating yours based on basketball expertise. 14 of the last 16 national champs, and 54 of the last 60 final four teams have worn either Nike or Jordan uniforms. This includes Georgetown, Gonzaga, Marquette, Miami, New Mexico, Ohio State, Florida, Duke, and Mich. State. This means top seeds Kansas, Louisville, and Indiana are out. Let’s just hope this isn’t Adidas’ year– a risk we’re willing to take. This puts our number of possible champions at nine.
  • Experience matters. Coaches with past Final Four experience have won 12 of the past 13 national championships and 22 of the past 27 titles. This excludes Mark Few of Gonzaga, Steve Alford of New Mexico, and Buzz Williams of Marquette. We’re down to six– Georgetown, Miami, OSU, Florida, Duke, and Michigan State.
  • Champs go streaking. Wait what? Every Final Four team of the past six years had a winning streak of at least eight games prior to the NCAA tournament. Marquette and Michigan State are the only top 4 seeded teams without such a streak this season; in other words, see ya Tom Izzo and Sparty.
  • Avoid one and done’s in conference tournaments. Since 1985, no team has ever won the title after going one and done in their conference tournament. Duke and Marquette did the latter this season. Duke’s out.
  • Champions play offense and defense. We know defense wins championships, but offense helps a little as well. The past 10 champions have finished in the top 20 of kenpom.com’s offense and defense efficiency ratings. This includes Louisville, Gonzaga, Indiana, Florida, Ohio State, and Pitt this season. So Georgetown and Miami’s chances are done.

 

This narrows down the National Champions to be either the Ohio State Buckeyes or the Florida Gators. At this point, you’ve probably already won your bracket pool, but let’s not settle. I would say the Gators because surely they would eat a Buckeye (a tree, or leaf, or whatever), but further research shows that Gators are indeed carnivores and eat meat, so that rules out that possibility.

In conclusion, it seems best to either let your Aunt Brenda pick the winner or flip a coin– you can’t go wrong with either.

Now that you have your champion, continue to peruse through these tidbits of stats and wisdom and fill in your bracket until your sixth sense tells you it’s perfect. Or just blindly fill out your bracket, listen to no advice whatsoever, and use no common sense, and you’ll be just as likely to win your pool or scratch perfection.

Welcome to March. Let the Madness begin.

NCAA Tournament Bracket

Philip Matthews —  Monday, March 18, 2013 — Leave a comment

Here’s Sports Righting’s printable NCAA Tournament bracket.  Print it out.  Fill it out.  Erase, revise, and repeat.  You only have a few days.  Get to it!  Also, be sure to enter the Sports Righting group on the ESPN Tournament Challenge for a chance to win a $100 gift card to Dicks Sporting Goods.  Good Luck!

NCAA Tournament Bracket

Join Sports Righting’s free Tournament Challenge group on ESPN.com for your chance to win a $100 Dick’s Sporting Goods gift card. All you have to do is:

  1. Go to Sports Righting’s Tournament Challenge group on ESPN.com.
  2. Sign in with your ESPN account or Facebook.
  3. Join the “Sports Righting” group.
  4. Create and fill out a bracket.
  5. Make sure you either “Like” Sports Righting on Facebook or “Follow” Sports Righting on Twitter.

Rules

  1. Only 1 entry per person.
  2. Must either “Like” Sports Righting on Facebook or “Follow” Sports Righting on Twitter.
  3. IF you win, you must provide your name and address to Sports Righting by emailing SportsRighting@gmail.com by May 8, 2013 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Good luck!!!

Moot Realignment

Tyler Raborn —  Friday, February 22, 2013 — 5 Comments

When the phrase “conference realignment” is uttered, most college sports fans can’t help but roll their eyes.

…or throw up.

Yet conference realignment is prevalent in today’s college sports’ landscape.

But why?

As Pete Thamel pointed out in his Sports Illustrated article, conference realignment, such as Maryland joining the Big Ten, has been fueled by revenues from cable deals:

Maryland will join the Big Ten conference in 2014 after a vote by its Board of Regents on Monday to end a 59-year relationship with the ACC. The impetus of the move, primarily, is to help save an athletic department struggling financially and to set up a huge potential payday for the Big Ten through increased cable revenue.

Even the mighty SEC has fallen victim to this greedy desire, as Chris Smith pointed out in his article:

The conference has two deals to renegotiate: a $825 million first-tier rights contract with CBS, and a $2.25 billion second-tier deal with ESPN. Both are 15-year contracts that were signed in 2008 and run through the 2023-24 season. The SEC gets the chance to renegotiate both deals thanks to the recent additions of Missouri and Texas A&M.

The SEC’s first-tier rights deal pays an average $55 million annually, and that payout should move up to a minimum $64 million to equally compensate the two new members.

But has it all been worth it?

Maybe. We don’t know yet. But we can speculate.

Apple fever has been sweeping the United States for the last few years. People who once vowed they’d never give up their Blackberry, including myself, are now on their 2nd iPhone. PC users have become Mac diehards. And some families have given up their cable boxes for the selective programming offered by Apple TV.

That same selective programming, through applications such as Netflix and Hulu Plus, are available on Xbox and Playstation as well.

So where is this all headed?

We don’t know.

There’s a lot of money moving around in Washington from companies to lobbyists that we don’t know about.

But we’re speculating.

If a company could offer totally selective programming, wouldn’t everyone opt to do it?

Instead of paying $63.99 for 300 channels, 293 of which you don’t watch, wouldn’t you rather pay $35 for the channels you do watch? Or more so, $15 simply for the specific shows and events you watch?

Obviously cable companies are doing everything they can to block a transition to selective programming. Yet it seems to be consumer-friendly. Maybe next year, maybe in 50 years, it could happen.

There is a disproportionality in what people watch and how much money those programs make off of their specific event. Yet it seems the programming that is getting the “short end of the stick” could eventually break out of their cable deals and into the free market of “pay-per-program” television.

Imagine turning on your Xbox and being able to select any show, movie, or live sporting event you please for a cost.

This model would also inspire more talented independent people to create shows and movies, if they were given a user-friendly platform. Simply look at what Xbox’s platform has done for small game developers. Or what YouTube has done for creative film students.

The economics behind a shift to this model contain an outrageous amount of variables, which could be credited with the slow and hesitant move to what seems to be an obvious choice for consumers. Yet this article’s purpose isn’t to analyze the percentage chance of this move happening or how quickly it could come. Rather, this article seeks to pose a question to conferences that are realigning:

What if the cable deals that motivated all of the geographically irrational conference realignment fall apart?

You’re all thinking “slim chance.”

I know.

But—what if?

The conferences could begin marching to a different drummer. Cable deals could no longer be the motivating factor, but rather, maximizing viewership of individual events.

When Auburn rolls into Tuscaloosa to play Alabama in the Iron Bowl, and 12 million viewers tune in, Alabama and Auburn could exclusively profit off of that event. Playing rivals could become even more attractive for schools.

Further, big non-conference games could become much more attractive to schools. If Michigan could profit more from a television event that featured them playing Oklahoma, more so than Appalachian State (ha), then they could be more likely to schedule big games.

This could also lead realigned conferences to… realign. Again.

Schools could lose more money from being part of conferences not geographically-friendly. The burden of travel cost on schools could no longer be outweighed by the “profit-sharing” cable deals of certain conferences.

Thus, schools could be inclined to join more geographically-friendly conferences. We could end up with more logically aligned conferences where teams are financially encouraged to play more successful non-conference opponents.

Yes, I know that several schools would be left high and dry without profit-sharing. So maybe some conferences still implore profit-sharing. I don’t know, nor care to study, the exact dollars and cents behind it. But I will say that I am a proponent of free market ideology—so, there’s that.

Either way, the destruction of cable deals could lead to much more fan-friendly conference re-realignment. It could also lead to schools playing more prominent non-conference games.

But…

These possibilites are all “could be” scenarios, rather than “will be.” Too many key pieces, including politicians, cable executives, contract laws, and a plethora of other obstacles, stand in the way of this conference utopia.

So in conclusion… we have no conclusion. Merely a glimmer of hope that one day, this will all make sense.

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By: Tyler Raborn

As Chuck once said about the NBA All-Star game…

Hell, there ain’t but 15 black millionaires in the whole country & half of ‘em are right here in this room.

~Charles Barkley

That quote really doesn’t have anything to do with the content of this article, aside from being about the NBA All-Star game. But Sir Charles said something that remotely applied to this piece—so I had to include it.

The NBA All-Star game brings together some of the most talented basketball players in the world every year. Yet has this talent always been recognized?

In the same manner I analyzed the NFL’s 2011 and 2012 All-Pro teams, I wanted to analyze the 2012 NBA All-Star teams. Here’s a table with all of the 2012 NBA All-Stars and how many stars they were given by Scout and Rivals coming out of high school (players that graduated high school before 2002 were not in the database, and thus not included):

Player

Scout

Rivals

Carmelo Anthony 5 5
LeBron James 5 5
Kevin Garnett - -
Rajon Rondo 5 5
Chris Bosh 5 5
Tyson Chandler - -
Luol Deng 5 5
Paul George 2 3
Jrue Holiday 5 5
Kyrie Irving 5 5
Brook Lopez 5 5
Joakim Noah 4 4
Kevin Durant 5 5
Blake Griffin 5 5
Dwight Howard 5 5
Kobe Bryant - -
Chris Paul 5 5
LaMarcus Aldridge 5 5
Tim Duncan - -
James Harden 5 5
David Lee - -
Tony Parker - -
Zach Randolph - -
Russell Westbrook 4 3

The answer is yes, this talent has almost always been recognized. Relative to the NFL All-Pro teams, players that made a NBA All-Star team were much more likely to have been 5-stars coming out of high school.

So—to end on a word of encouragement—to all of you 2-star basketball players coming out of high school this year: if your dream is to one day be an NBA All-Star, be diligent, work hard…

…and it still probably won’t ever happen.

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By: Tyler Raborn

If you waited until the end of football to tune into this college basketball season, or if you have yet to pay attention, shame on you. Secondly, boy have you missed a lot. We’ve learned to expect the unexpected more than ever up until this point in this season.

Being an SEC guy through and through, it kills me to say this, but the Big Ten is the cream of the crop in college basketball this year. The SEC has Florida. The ACC– Duke and Miami. The Big 12– Kansas and Kansas State. The Big East has the best argument outside of the Big Ten with six teams quietly (due to the obsession with the Big 10 this year) in the top 25, but up until this point in the season the ceiling of potential success for the Big 10 (with Indiana, OSU, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Mich. State) looks to be higher.

With that said, it looks as though there’s not an elite team that’s above the rest like, say, a Kentucky last year. Maybe it’s simply parody. Maybe it’s due to the one-and-done rule that’s being revisited with Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel’s recent ACL injury. Maybe the level of play is lower than in years past, including more teams in the fun, but whatever the reason, it’s just that… fun. And lots of it. Oh, and the best part is, it’s only February.

In case you’re just tuning in or just want some reminders, here are a few lists that will hopefully spark some interest in the rest of the college basketball season for you… or not, whichever you choose, but that’ll be your own fault.

Top games thus far this season: (in no particular order)

#3 Michigan 62 vs. Wisconsin 65– Tied late in regulation, Wisconsin elects not to use an extra foul on Tim Hardaway Jr., and he promptly steps up and drills a three with under 4 seconds left to put the Wolverines up by 3. Game over right? Wrong. Wisconsin inbounds the ball and Ben Brust races up the floor and heaves a 40-footer, and, you guessed it, nails it to send it into overtime. Brust later hit the game winning 3-pointer with 40 seconds left in overtime.

#25 Notre Dame 104 vs. #11 Louisville 101– The 5-overtime game. Not the most well-played game and definitely not the prettiest, but the most entertaining up until this point. As the game progressed, it became almost laughable as it seemed Louisville would ultimately find a way to win countless times, but somehow Notre Dame hung around and extended the game… again, again, again, and again. Louisville’s sideline was tense and enduring Pitino’s tirades in between overtime, and even catching his clipboard he’d launched, while the Irish sideline and Coach Mike Brey were all smiles and having fun as he said afterward. This is probably due to in large part that Louisville, namely Russ Smith, had a shot to win the first four overtimes and a chance to tie the last one, and he obviously failed on all such attempts.

Illinois 74 vs. #1 Indiana 72– Indiana dominated the game for the first 35 minutes or so of game action, and then seemingly on the verge of becoming the elite team of college basketball, they began to crumble. The great Illini comeback was capped off by an incredible backdoor cut on an inbounds play, leading to a wide-open, game-winning layup as time expired.

Both Michigan vs. Ohio State games– In the first meeting on January 13th, Trey Burke’s stepback jumper to tie the game with 17 seconds left went down, then came out, leaving Michigan on the wrong side of the 56-53 decision at the hands of then #15 OSU. Then on February 5th, Michigan got the upper hand 76-74, as guards Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. caught fire in the second half. The game ended somewhat controversially as OSU point guard Aaron Craft drove the basket for what would have been a tying basket, but it was rejected by Tim Hardaway Jr. amidst some contact.

A few players to keep an eye on:

Trey Burke (PG, Michigan)– Most likely the favorite at this point in the Player of the Year race, the Sophomore is averaging 18.2 points per contest and 7 assists per game. He’s the leader of one of the best teams, explosive with the ball in his hands, and just has a knack for getting the ball through the net.

Victor Oladipo (G, Indiana)– Probably my new favorite player in the game. A highlight dunk waiting to happen. A former 3-star recruit coming out of high school, this freakishly athletic guard has transformed himself into one of the premier explosive players in the college game. Most importantly, he’s been at his best in big games for the Hoosiers averaging 20 PPG when his team has played a ranked opponent.

Doug McDermott (F, Creighton)– This guy is no stranger to the avid college basketball fan, but could unfortunately go under the radar to the casual fan because of the lack of media exposure. He averages over 23 points and 7 boards per game and has an outside shot at Player of the Year honors. Look for McDermott to become more of a household name in March.

Mason Plumlee (F, Duke)– Finally, this Senior has played himself into Player of the Year talk by putting up gaudy numbers (18 points and almost 11 boards a game).

Other Notes of Interest:

The “U” is for real. And yes, we’re still talking about basketball. Miami is ranked 2nd in the AP Poll this week–the highest ranking in school history. If beating the then top-ranked Duke Blue Devils by 27 doesn’t get your attention, I’m not sure what will. Also, like any historically good Miami team, this team has swagger. Lots of it. They play hard-nosed, floor-slapping defense, and they’re shoes can be louder than the fans at times. Heck, Lebron James and Dwayne Wade even sat courtside at a recent game. Some thought after his cinderella run at George Mason that Jim Laranega took the Miami job to cruise into retirement, but he’s done a marvelous job with this team and they mean business. It’ll be exciting to see what they can do come tourney time. And keep on eye on Shane Larkin (Yes, Barry Larkin’s son).

Nerlens Noel out for the season. Unfortunately, the worst fear of Big Blue Nation were confirmed this week as explosive shot-blocker Nerlins Noel received news that he tore his ACL Tuesday while blocking a shot against Florida. You hate to see this happen to any player, especially one of his caliber and potential–one who could undoubtedly be playing for a salary this year if it wasn’t for the NBA age limit rule.

Curse of #1 and March Madness coming early. As alluded to earlier, each of the past five weeks, the top ranked team in the nation has gone down. This makes for excitement, as no team is head and shoulders above the rest. This should make March all the more interesting, as the NCAA Tournament generally depends on which team is hot at the right time, but it looks like the field is much more wide open this year. Florida’s Billy Donovan says 30 teams have a shot to make the Final Four. Butler’s Brad Stevens says everyone that gets in has a shot this year. Should be fun.

In conclusion, if you’ve yet to dive into this college basketball season physically and emotionally, yes you’ve missed a lot, but it’s not too late. I’m not sure how the games and story-lines can get much better, but I know they will. March Madness doesn’t disappoint.

**Feel free to agree, disagree, or comment other input as you please. I’m sure I left some top news, info, etc. out.

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By: Philip Matthews