Friday, January 13, 2017

Bracket Update...

Soon...

Update: ACC

Atlantic Coast
Summary: Up until a week ago, you could say 1-12, the ACC was the deepest ever.  That isn’t saying much, because who has 15 teams, but this was a 12 bid league, with only Georgia Tech, BC, and Syracuse on the outside looking in.  Now to maintain that relative strength, the right teams have to win the right games.  Then all the Duke stuff started happening, Wake Forest ran into a wall, and NC State is doing just enough to make the NIT.  That leaves 10 deep, with an ambitious outlook on Pitt and Miami, the latter of which has yet to beat anyone of significance.  It is hard to argue with how good the rest of the teams have played.  Florida State owns a fluky neutral site loss to Temple. Notre Dame took back to back neutral site losses to Nova and Purdue.  UNC lost at Indiana and lost the “game of the year” to Kentucky.  Virginia got pressed by West Virginia.  Duke got Masoned at the Garden by Kansas.  Louisville got tripped up in Nassau by Baylor.  The Hokies blew a big lead in Fullerton to Texas A&M.  Clemson dropped games to Xavier and Oklahoma in Orlando.  Miami also got stung in Orlando by Iowa State and Florida.  Pittsburgh is the only one with a true WTF, pairing a respectable loss to SMU with a terrible loss to Duquesne.

What I got wrong: Clemson is a tough out at home, and they schedule strong in the non-conference slate.  The momentum should carry them to .500.  I was way to high on Larranaga’s ability to make lemonade a second straight season on the Beach.  They are still a Top 50 team, but have work to do.  They cannot slip up again the bottom 5 again.  Most of this is pretty close, with big movers Florida State and Clemson.

Prognosis: Duke has a bullseye on their backs as they clearly do not play on the same level without Coach K righting the officials and putting the fear in the players.  It’s too much to overcome in this conference.  They are looking at 3rd, possibly 5th.  Despite the hot start, do you really see the Irish finishing better than 6th?  Florida State needs to win on the road in this conference to maintain that glidepath.  They got one at UVA, but have Duke and Clemson late, and Notre Dame/Pitt the week before that.  It reeks of 12-6.  I don’t see Georgia Tech, BC, and Wake competing for an actual bid this year, and some how Syracuse is tanking even harder than imagined.  So based on the way the top 5 are playing, Duke has the most potential, Virginia is the most consistent, North Carolina can punish anyone in the nation, but it’s Louisville’s defense that is giving the most fits.  Many teams are showing that aggressive defense may be the best offense.  In this case, the press forces teams to attack fast, and the lane is usually open, so they are willing to give up a 60% 2 point basket over a 40% 3 point basket.  It’s close, and I’ll give the edge to UNC, but nobody is excited to play the Cardinals.  Top ten are in, with UNC on the 1 line, Louisville and UVA on the 2 Duke is a 3, Florida State a 4, Notre Dame a 6, Virginia Tech a 7, Miami and Clemson 9s, and Pittsburgh a 10.  Actual seeds may shift based on the s-curve.  NC State is among the first 10 out, and the rest really have to finish over .500 in the league and grab a scalp in the ACC tourney to move up.


ACC
Preseason
Realtime
1
Duke
North Carolina
2
Virginia
Louisville
3
Louisville
Virginia
4
North Carolina
Duke
5
Miami, FL
Florida State
6
Notre Dame
Notre Dame
7
Florida State
Virginia Tech
8
Virginia Tech
Miami, FL
9
North Carolina State
Clemson
10
Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh
11
Syracuse
North Carolina State
12
Georgia Tech
Wake Forest
13
Clemson
Syracuse
14
Wake Forest
Boston College
15
Boston College
Georgia Tech

Thursday, January 12, 2017

January 12 Poll

January 12 Poll

Moving Out: Indiana, Miami, Texas Christian

  1. Villanova
  2. UCLA
  3. Kentucky
  4. Gonzaga
  5. Kansas
  6. West Virginia
  7. Creighton
  8. North Carolina
  9. Oregon
  10. Florida State
  11. Louisville
  12. Baylor
  13. Wisconsin
  14. Purdue
  15. Saint Mary’s
  16. Arizona
  17. Duke
  18. Virginia
  19. Xavier
  20. South Carolina
  21. Wichita State
  22. Cincinnati
  23. Florida
  24. UNC-Wilmington
  25. Notre Dame

Moving in: Arizona, Florida, Notre Dame


How are they out?: Butler, Southern California, Middle Tennessee State, Maryland, Southern Methodist

Updates: Big East, American, and A-10

Big East
Summary: The B-East is back.  Forget Nova, who is still my #1 team in the land (never bought Baylor stock) with UCLA, Kentucky, Gonzaga, and Kansas rounding out the Top 5.  Look at what Xavier, Creighton, and Butler have been doing to people.  These are not public schools with deep pockets, but private schools with a chip on their shoulder.  Throw in Seton Hall, and overachieving Providence and Marquette teams and they look seven strong.  DePaul may still be lost, but Saint John’s always looks a couple minutes away from putting it together.

What I got wrong: Never underestimate Butler.  Georgetown is probably going to work their way back into contention, but skeptics out there are hoping the whole thing tanks and they rebuild under a new regime.  This has either been the era of underachievement (Ohio, FGCU) or the era of deluded expectations.

Prognosis: Providence hit wall right before the hard games started, tarnishing a possible unexpected bubble run.  I’m keeping the bottom four the same, with the Hoyas narrowly edging out the Johnnies and Friars.  As good as this conference is, somebody has to start taking it on the chin, and I think it will be defensively challenged Marquette. Seton Hall is tall up front, but so reliant upon Angel Delgado, they cannot string together any continuity when he sits with fouls on the road.  I had originally planned on keeping the Top 3 intact, but Xavier has a couple holes that can be exploited, and the Jays are completely unstoppable right now.  That said, the X is built for a deeper NCAA run.  Villanova looks very similar to the 2006-2008 range Florida teams that went back to back.  I won’t commit to that now, but they are certainly in better shape than Kentucky.  UCLA and Kansas have much to bring to the table, but are riskier to even win their conference, let alone get the 1 seed, which Nova is cake walking toward.

BE
Preseason
Realtime
1
Villanova
Villanova
2
Xavier
Creighton
3
Creighton
Xavier
4
Seton Hall
Butler
5
Marquette
Seton Hall
6
Butler
Marquette
7
Georgetown
Georgetown
8
Providence
Providence
9
Saint John's
Saint John's
10
DePaul
DePaul

American Athletic
Summary: Was anyone really surprised when a former Calipari assistant was busted for cheating?  Nah…  I like to break this conference into 3 simple groups.  The HAVEs: Cincinnati, SMU, and Houston.  These teams have already gone out and put together a fair resume, though Houston has the most work to do.  They will need Rob Gray to carry the load, but don’t sleep on Devin Davis returning to add inside presence.  The Bearcats suffocating defense is what coaches have nightmares of, and few teams in the nation have bodies to match up with the Mustangs.  SMU never broke through under Larry Brown.  We will see if Tim Jankovic is a true coaching talent like many of Brown’s protégés, or just another “Coattails Guy.”  The MAYs, Memphis, Temple, UCF, UConn, and Tulsa all have that NIT feel.  I don’t think any of these teams do enough productive things to take enough games off the top 3 to push their computer rankings up.  Memphis stole a win off the Cocks minus Thornwell, which may not be taken into consideration come selection time.  They live and die by Dedric Lawson inside, as they haven’t been able to buy a bucket this year.  Temple’s back to back wins over West Virginia and Florida State in Brooklyn are even more improbable than they sound now, considering they went 8-8 against a mediocre slate of games around it.  Central Florida played a pretty crappy schedule and is relegated to winning the AAC tourney to get a sniff.

What I got wrong: Tulsa- they are not bad, but they lost too much from last year’s Cinderella team to pull it off again.  Memphis hasn’t slid as far as expected.

Prognosis: Cinci and SMU are locks, but Houston can’t slip up and let any of the NIT crowd catch them in the standings.  Losses to the NOTs, USF, ECU, and Tulane, are grounds for automatic disqualification.  Remember when Jeff Lebo was then next big up-and-comer?  I do!  He coached a couple great Tennessee Tech teams… now he is fodder.  Memphis is a play in game candidate if they keep their noses clean. 

AAC
Preseason
Realtime
1
Cincinnati
Cincinnati
2
Southern Methodist
Southern Methodist
3
Houston
Houston
4
Tulsa
Memphis
5
Connecticut
Tulsa
6
Temple
Temple
7
Central Florida
Central Florida
8
Memphis
Connecticut
9
Tulane
Tulane
10
East Carolina
East Carolina
11
South Florida
South Florida

Atlantic 10
Summary:  I feel like the A10 has let me down, but maybe only because the Big East has overachieved.  These are smaller schools and tighter budgets, but the passion, talent, and leadership is there.  I just don’t know why the wins aren’t happening.  If the tourney started today, Dayton would be 10/11 caliber and URI and VCU would be cannibalizing each other to get to the play-in line.  Davidson scheduled ambitiously, but couldn’t rebound from the UNC and Kansas losses.  The Bonnies will hang around, but a soft schedule dooms their 5 losses to date- make it six, as Richmond sticks the knife in them. 

What I got wrong:  Well, George Mason isn’t finishing last.  In November, I was openly lamenting the fact that they had killed a great program by moving way above their heads.  Dave Paulsen has done great work un-fucking the mess Paul Hewitt made, and at least they won’t be perennial basement dwellers.  Davidson should be better than this.  Fordham, much like DePaul, continues to squander talent and resources.  The middle of this conference is just sludge that is difficult to differentiate.

Prognosis: Saint Joe’s looked like one of the few teams that could crack the bubble, but sans Shivar Newkirk they are lucky to reach the NIT without him.  Saint Louis hosts Duquesne as their only real chance to get a conference win this year, unless a team takes the night off. I like Dan Hurley and the balance with which the Rams (URI) are playing.  It may not be enough to dethrone the Flyers or the other Rams (VCU), but it is enough to win league games over the weak sisters and get to the Dance.  Chris Mooney has Richmond off to a hot start in-league.  They blew the Maryland game and I wrote them off shortly after, yet here they are again.  Bottom line, though, the A-10 is much weaker than expected.  Dayton beat their next best competition to start the season, so they remain the favorite.

A10
Preseason
Realtime
1
Dayton
Dayton
2
Davidson
Rhode Island
3
Rhode Island
Virginia Commonwealth
4
Saint Bonaventure
Richmond
5
Virginia Commonwealth
Saint Bonaventure
6
Richmond
Davidson
7
Fordham
La Salle
8
Saint Joseph's
George Mason
9
George Washington
Massachusetts
10
Massachusetts
Saint Joseph's
11
La Salle
George Washington
12
Duquesne
Fordham
13
Saint Louis
Duquesne
14
George Mason
Saint Louis