Wednesday, February 1, 2017
One-Bid League Reality Check
I like to stand by my preseason call as long as possible. Some of these calls, such as Howard in the MEAC, were flawed from the start. Other calls, such as Liberty in the Big South, were sabotaged by injury or circumstance. Sometimes you tried to ride a darkhorse, like Bryant, who just does not have the talent to emerge. And finally, sometimes you think you really understand a team and its ability to deploy a tactic upon lesser competition, only you were dead wrong, as in the case the case of my Horizon picks.
First, preseason to league play, I maintained 25 of 32 projected winners. Better than 75% isn’t bad, but there is still work to be done. Also, it warrants mentioning that for the for the “surely auto-bid” leagues, we are selecting who is most likely to make the field, not necessarily who is going to have the best league win percentages.
Conferences that I definitely need to amend:
Conferences that will not fall my way, but intend to stick with my call to upset the tourney:
Conferences way too close to call:
Big South (Liberty, back from the dead!)
Let me disclose- this is an awful conference this year. I rolled the dice with Bryant early, flopped to Robert Morris, but now it impossible to decide. I love a local pick in Mount St. Mary’s, but not so sure they can sustain their run trotting out a bunch of mites. FDU has warts, and LIU just dumped to a very weak CCSU team. Nobody has shown that they can compete at the “Field of 68” level, but we will reward the Mountaineers for their consistency that will lead them through the NEC.
Straight up, Vermont may be one of the 68 best teams in the country. Seriously, you wouldn’t take them in your bracket over the bottom 10 SEC teams? I originally, and still, wanted New Hampshire to put it all together because they have never been anywhere near the postseason before. Nobody in this league has the ability to solve Vermont’s attack. UMBC may be able to push the pace, but they won’t get the stops. The Cats also live around the rim, so they are less prone to a cold shooting night.
It doesn’t look like the “Community College” turning it around soon enough. There is still a lot to like there, but the results aren’t happening. The Jacks are near the top of the standings, but the kenpom numbers tell another story. New Orleans has come out of nowhere, but I’m leaning toward the Bearkats. After a slow start, they have won 7 in a row, including at New Orleans. Both teams are poor shooting and loose with the ball, but I expect the Privateers to regress (two OT wins).
Akron is one of the few teams enjoying success maintaining a slow tempo when the game has opened up to “embrace the pace”. This is the slowest team Keith Dambrot has put on the floor at Akron, but they work to exploit the 3-point shot, and make just enough to be dangerous. Outside of a sloppy start against Youngstown State, they have beaten everyone they were supposed to beat. They still have Ohio and EMU on the road that could expose a flaw, but I expect them to coast through.
Fun stat: Since reaching the Final Four in 2007, the Georgetown Hoyas have been knocked out of the NCAA tourney 6 straight times by lower seeds. It will be interesting to see if JT3 gets a chance to extend that streak, because it will not be this year.