Monday, February 28, 2005

Predicting the NCAA Tourament Round 5

Over 300 teams are in Division 1 college basketball, but each year only 65 teams are invited to the Big Dance. This year, more than ever, the mid majors are making a strong push to get at large bids. These are my picks for the week. To make these picks I considered the following: won loss record (overall and in conference), SOS, record vs. 1-25, 26-50 and 51-100 in RPI, non-conference SOS, and RPI among other things. Needless to say, a lot of time and information goes into making these picks.

The last 10 picks to get in were in no particular order: Georgia Tech, Iowa State, Houston, West Virginia, Indiana, Minnesota, Buffalo, New Mexico, St. Mary's (CA) and UTEP

The last 10 picks out in no particular order were: Virginia Tech, Memphis, UAB, Saint Joseph's, Utah State, Creighton, Akron, Kent State, Northern Iowa, Boston University

New teams that were added this week are noted in bold. Also, one team is in italics, because they have already made the tournament, because the Ivy League does not have a conference tournament to settle the automatic bid, instead giving it to the regular season champ of the conference, which was Penn. 4 other conference automatic bids will be settled by this time next week as the Big South, Atlantic Sun, Southern, and Ohio Valley will all have their tournament champions by Monday.

Big East (8): UConn, Syracuse, Pitt, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Villanova, BC, West Virginia
Big 12 (6): Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Texas Tech, Iowa State
ACC (5): North Carolina, Wake Forest, Duke, Maryland, Georgia Tech
SEC (5): Kentucky, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi State, LSU
Conference USA (5): Charlotte, Louisville, Cincinnati, DePaul, Houston
Big 10 (5): Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan State, Minnesota, Indiana
Pac 10 (4): Stanford, Washington, Arizona, UCLA
Mid-American Conference (2): Miami (Ohio), Buffalo
Mountain West Conference (2): Utah, New Mexico
West Coast Conference (2): Gonzaga, St. Mary's
Western Athletic Conference (2): Nevada, UTEP
America East (1): Vermont
Atlantic 10 (1): George Washington
Atlantic Sun (1): Central Florida
Big Sky (1): Portland State
Big West (1): Pacific
Colonial Athletic Association (1): Old Dominion
Horizon (1): Wisconsin Milwaukee
Ivy (1): Penn
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (1): Rider
Mid-Continent Conference (1): Oral Roberts
Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (1): Coppin State
Missouri Valley Conference (1): Southern Illinois
Northeast Conference (1): Farleigh Dickinson
Ohio Valley Conference (1): Tennessee Tech
Patriot League (1): Holy Cross
Southern Conference (1): Davidson
Southland Conference (1): SE Louisiana
Southwestern Athletic Conference (1): Alabama A&M
Sun Belt Conference (1): Denver

Teams that have been eliminated from the tourney since last week:

Miami: The Hurricanes beat Florida State last week, but then lost a huge game against Georgia Tech on Saturday. Miami lost by 4 points, and they are now 7-8 in conference, and 16-10 overall. They have one remaining game at Duke this Thursday, and then the ACC tournament. Assuming a loss on Thursday, the Hurricanes are going to need at least 2 wins in the ACC tourney to sneak in the Big Dance.

Virginia Tech: I so much wanted to include them in my predictions because I think that as a team they are a great story. However, getting blown out against N.C. State when they had 7 days to prepare for them is unacceptable. If they can win their last two games against Clemson and Maryland, and then win at least 1 game in the ACC tourney, I think they will be dancing. Otherwise, Seth Greenberg and his team will be in the NIT.

Marquette: All you need to know about this non-selection is that Travis Diener is out for the year. As horrible as it sounds, Marquette does not stand a chance at getting into the NCAA tourney without their leading scorer. He was their leader, the offense was run through him, and he made everyone around him better. Without Diener, this team will struggle.

Memphis: The Tigers had their chance last week to prove to the whole nation on ESPN primetime that they deserved an at large bid. Instead, they blew a lead at home against Louisville, and did not make a field goal over the last 14 minutes of the game. Combine that game with their loss earlier in the week against Charlotte, and you have a team that needs to win their final two games against St. Louis and Cincinnati to get in.

Saint Joseph's: As nice as their record in the A-10 is at 12-2, their record out of conference is just as bad at 3-8. With a loss to URI on Saturday, this team is in need of a big win soon. Luckily, they play George Washington on ESPN2 tomorrow night, and the Colonials are the favorite right now to get the bid from the A-10. Saint Joseph's better have something to prove to me, and the rest of the nation tomorrow night, or else they will continue to stay on the outside looking in.

Gardner and Webb: They still have a very good shot at getting into their tourney, but they must win their conference championship, because the Atlantic Sun is not going to get an at large bid. The reason I predicted that as of today Central Florida would get the bid from this conference, is because even though these two teams are tied in the standings for the lead, Central Florida beat Gardner and Webb last week.

Monmouth (N.J.): Different team, same scenario. Monmouth lost to Farleigh Dickinson on February 19th, so even though they are tied for the lead in conference at 13-4 with Farleigh Dickinson, I predicted UFD, because of the outcome of that game, among other things.

LA Lafayette: Losing both of your games in the week, is not a good plan in the competitive Sun Belt Conference.


Matt

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Viewing Guide for the Week of Feb.28-March 6

Herein, lies the sporting events that will captivate you if only only dare and watch them. Take the risk and watch some college basketball, and you shall not be disappointed.

Monday


College Basketball

Pitt at BC 7pm ESPN
This is BC's last big game before the Big East Tourney. BC got lucky as they only had to play Pitt, Syracuse, and UConn once. Look for Carl Krauser to have a big game.

Oklahoma at Texas 9pm ESPN
In football they call this game "The Red River Shootout." No matter what sporting event, games between these two teams are always a big deal, especially when both of these teams are likely headed to the tourney.

Northern Iowa at Wichita State 9:00
If Wichita State can win this game, I think they are likely going to be in the tourney.

New Mexico at UNLV 11:59 ESPN
You gotta love watching MWC games at midnight on Big Monday's. Here is a chance for most of the nation to see Danny Granger, a forward that is expected by NBAdraft.net to be picked by Charlotte in the second round.

NBA

San Antonio at Cleveland 7:00
If Bruce Bowen is one of the best defenders in the NBA, I would love to be able to see him try and stop Lebron.


Tuesday


College Basketball

Saint Joseph's at George Washington 7pm ESPN2
Who thought St. Joe's would be this good after losing both Jameer Nelson, and Delonte West to the NBA? I sure did not, as St. Joe's is 12-1 in the A 10, and has a decent chance at getting into the tourney.

Mississippi State at Arkansas 7:05 ESPN
A couple of weeks ago Mississippi State was a lock to be in the tourney. Now after losing 3 of their last five games, they are no longer a lock for the tourney, and could really help themselves out by getting a win on national TV against a good Razorbacks team.

Indiana at Wisconsin 9pm ESPN
For a few weeks, people have been saying that Indiana is on the bubble. After starting off the season slow, Indiana has played better in conference play, and stand at 8-5 in the Big 10. A win at Wisconsin would be huge for their tournament chances.

VA Tech at Clemson 9pm
I think VA Tech is on the bubble. Some people think they have no shot at the tourney. They must win this game at Clemson, in order to even be considered to be on the bubble.

NBA

Seattle at Indiana 7pm
Two of the best shooters in the NBA in Ray Allen and Reggie Miller face each for what might be their last time.


Wednesday


College Basketball

Georgia Tech at Wake Forest 7pm ESPN
GT still needs some help in order to get into the tournament, and a win at Wake gives them a great shot at getting in the tourney.

Georgetown at UConn 7:30
Three straight losses has put the Hoyas back on the bubble. UConn on the other hand has been on an excellent run, winning 7 of their last 8, and the only loss was to North Carolina. This is a tough test for a young Hoyas team, but it is a game that means a lot to their tournament chances.

Missouri at Iowa State 8:00
Iowa State started off at 0-5 in the Big 12, then won their next 7 games in conference, and since that huge win in Kansas last week, they have lost to Texas A&M and Nebraska. They need to win their final two games against Missouri and Colorado, and then win their first game in the Big 12 tournament to feel safe about their tourney chances.

DePaul at UAB 8:30
UAB is just 2-4 in their last 6 games, and could use a win against DePaul which has the always dangerous Quemont Greer and Drake Diener (cousin of Marquette player Travis Diener).

NBA

Los Angeles Lakers at Boston Celtics 7:30 FSN
Antoine's first game back in green is against the Lakers and Kobe. The Celts need a win to repay L.A. for the game they lost against them last week out in L.A.


Thursday


College Basketball

Charlotte at Louisville 7pm ESPN2
Do I dare call a game from Conference USA the game of the week? If this isn't the most important game of the week, it certainly ranks up there. Charlotte and Louisville both have identical 12-2 records in conference, and this will determine first place in the conference.

Oregon State at UCLA 10:30

UCLA had a huge win today against ND in South Bend. The Bruins need to win their last two games of the season against the Beavers and the Oregon Ducks in order to feel secure about an NCAA at large bid.

Pacific at Cal State Fullerton 10:05
Could a team like Cal State Fullerton get an NCAA at large bid? As crazy as that sounds, it's not out of the question. At 17-8 and 11-5 in conference they have a chance. If they can beat Pacific, a team that has won 19 straight games, and then at least get to the finals in the Big West tourney, they have a small chance at making the big dance. But, they must win this game.

NBA

Detroit at Phoenix 10:30 TNT
The defending champions visit a team that could win it all this year. The Suns have got deeper with the additions of Walter McCarty, and Jim Jackson and could contest the Spurs for the Western Conference in May.

MLB

Minnesota Twins at Boston Red Sox 7pm NESN
After 86 years the Sox are World Champions. Sox fans all over the world hope that their team can repeat and that 8 months from now, we will be back to back champions.


Friday


NBA

Sacramento at Miami 8pm ESPN
The Kings without Chris Webber will struggle to stay competitive in the West. Look for Shaq to control the paint in this game.

Dallas at Los Angeles Lakers 10:30 ESPN
Dallas always seems to make a trade at the deadline, and this year they picked up Keith Van Horn. This team is so deep and talented, and if they would learn to play defense they could contend in the West.


Saturday


College Basketball

Louisville at DePaul 12pm ESPN
A win by the Blue Demons would be huge in terms of their seeding for the tournament. The Cardinals will be coming off a tough game Thursday night against Charlotte and could be tired. I predict that DePaul will win in a mini-upset.

Pitt at Notre Dame 2pm CBS
3 weeks ago Pitt won a very tough game against ND by 2. The Fighting Irish will look for revenge on Senior Day in South Bend.

Syracuse at UConn 4pm CBS
After losing in early February to UConn at the Carrier Dome, the Orangemen will look to win their last game of the season before the Big East tourney. In order for the Cuse' to win this game, they must get scoring from players not named Hakim or G-Mac. Would the real Josh Pace please stand up.

Arizona at Arizona State 6pm FSN
This could be Ike Diogu's last game at home, and the last chance for many people to see him play in a college uniform. Diogu is a junior who has had a tremendous three years, and he is a candidate to be a first team All-American. A win over Arizona would be a huge step if Arizona State is going to have any chance at all of making the tourney.


Sunday


College Basketball

Illinois at Ohio State 12pm CBS
Illinois will try to finish the regular season undefeated, but the Buckeyes will be pumped up as they cannot participate in the NCAA tourney because of a violation, and this game is basically their national championship.

Kentucky at Florida 2pm CBS
When these two teams meet, there is no need for me to tell you why to watch this game.

Duke at UNC 4pm CBS
The biggest rivalry in college basketball is back. In the first game, Duke survived and beat UNC 71-70. Look for a different ending to the game this time in Chapel Hill.

Wake Forest at N.C. State 6pm FSN
N.C. State absolutely needs to win this game, and a couple games in the ACC tournament in order to even be considered for an at large NCAA bid. Otherwise the Wolfpack are headed for the NIT.


Matt

Friday, February 25, 2005

The Top 5 Point Guards in America are....

Where to do you start when writing an article like this? There are so many talented and exciting point guards in college basketball, that it has been very hard to narrow the list down to just 5. I'm sure some people after reading this article will disagree with the 5 selections that I made. But that's what makes this type of article fun. There is so much room for interpretation and it is interesting to hear opinions' on who somebody thinks is a top 5 point guard in the country. So, without further ado, here is the list:

5. Travis Diener, Marquette
My heart just dropped when I heard that Diener had broke his hand in practice and that he would be out for the rest of the season. Anybody who caught even a glimpse of the Cincinnati vs. Marquette game last night could tell how much they miss their point guard. Diener is not a prototypical point guard in that he is not extremely quick, but he has excellent basketball instincts. He knows how to control a game. He knows when to run, and when to set up the half court offense. There might not be a smarter guard in America in terms of basketball sense. Diener was averaging 19.7 points a game, and 7 dimes a game when he got hurt earlier this week. He also shoots 40 percent from behind the arc. Diener might not be a high draft pick, because he does not have the speed and quickness that other guards possess. NBAdraft.net has Diener getting picked 55th in the draft this coming June. Teams that are picking before the Pistons at the 55th spot would be smart to not let a guy with this talent slip that low in the draft.

4. John Lucas III, Oklahoma State
John Lucas transferred to Oklahoma State in 2003 after playing two years at Baylor. Lucas and other players on that Baylor team were allowed to transfer and would not have to sit out a year due to the scandal in which Patrick Dennehy was killed by teammate Carlton Dotson. Lucas decided to transfer to O.K. State, while his teammates at Baylor, Lawrence Roberts and Kenny Taylor transferred to Mississippi State and Texas, respectively. Lucas also survived a lot in his childhood having grown up the son of John Lucas II, who was an NBA player and coach. He was also an alcoholic, but has now been sober for over 20 years. That did not make the comments and ridiculing stop when John Lucas III was going through school. All of this turbulence seems to have made Lucas stronger. In his first year as the point guard for the Cowboys, he led them to the Final Four. He is the leader of a veteran team, and his team is poised to make another Final Four run, especially with the emergence of freshman JamesOn Curry, who is now starting for the team. Lucas contributes just under 16 points and 5 assists a game, and although he is small in size (5'11) he plays with no fear, and is a guard that is just so fun to watch.

3. Raymond Felton, North Carolina
I know Tar Heel fans are going to be upset that Felton is only third on this list, and that another ACC point guard is ranked ahead of him. I love Felton just as much as any other college basketball fan, but his turnovers are what prompted me to rank him at #3 instead of #2 or #1. Felton averages 12 points, 7 assists, and 2 steals a game. The scary thing for Tar Heels fans is that he also coughs up the ball 3.6 times a game. Most of the nation saw this firsthand a couple of weeks ago when North Carolina played Duke. Felton had eight turnovers in the game, and did not take the open shot with 5 seconds left as he should have, and basically cost North Carolina the game. Besides that one shortfall, Felton is all that you could ask for in a point guard. He is super quick, has a nasty dribble, and he can take it to the rack. He shoots the 3 well, knows how to get his teammates involved, and you can see him directing traffic out on the court anytime you watch an NC game. This Sunday he will be playing against another great ACC point guard that did not make the list in John Gilchrist. That game is very important if the Terps want to make the tournament, and the game can be seen on FSN at 5:30. With a great game and point guard matchup on the line, I think I will have to study for my test later that night, because that game needs to be watched.

2. Deron Williams, Illinois
The thing I love about Deron is that he is so unselfish. His coaches have been preaching at him since the beginning of the season to take more shots, because sometimes he is just too unselfish. In any case, Deron is a guy that I love to watch play for this very reason. He can a score a single point in the game, and still have a huge impact on the outcome. Case in point: Sunday February 6th against Indiana. Deron was 0-7 from the field, and only managed to get on the scoreboard via one free throw. Does this mean he had a bad game? Absolutely not! Deron had 11 assists in the game, most of them setting up fellow guards Dee Brown and Luther Head. From the AP recap of the game,

"Deron Williams couldn't get one shot to fall. A lot of his passes, though, were right on target.

Williams had assists on Illinois' first seven baskets and finished with 11 as the top-ranked Illini remained unbeaten with a 60-47 victory over Indiana on Sunday. It was the lowest-scoring game of the season for Illinois (23-0, 9-0 Big Ten), which held the Hoosiers to their second-lowest output of the season.

``We got a 'W,' That's all I care about,'' said Williams, who was 0-for-7 from the field. His only point was a free throw with 2:15 remaining. ``I just didn't shoot the ball well. I still got my teammates involved. That's what I try to do.''

If that does not characterize the type of player Deron is, I do not know what will. He is the ultimate team player on the undefeated #1 team in the country, and for that reason, among others, he is #2 on my top 5 point guard list.
1. Chris Paul, Wake Forest
The youngest is sometimes the best. Paul, who is only a sophomore is the best point guard in the country, hands down. He is not the leading scorer on the Demon Deacons, but he scores when the team needs him the most. He is a driver, slasher, point guard type who can do it all. He shoots over 52 percent on 3,s, runs the break like a pro, and always come to play in the big games. Last Sunday, Paul scored 27 points, and 7 assists in Wake Forest's loss at Duke. In order for Paul to lead his team to the National Championship, he and his teammates must buy into to the saying, "defense wins championships." Last Sunday they scored 92 points and lost, because they gave up 102. This has become characteristic of the Demon Deacons, as they sometimes lapse and only try to outscore people. Although they have tons of firepower, and an excellent point guard in Paul, they need to buckle down on defense or else they will not be winning the championship. Regardless of the team defense, Paul is the best point guard in the country, and he would be my choice if I had to start a team today, and I could pick any point guard in the country. You can't really go wrong with any of these point guards on this list, but in terms of quickness, ability, basketball skills and potential, nobody has more than Paul.


Everybody who reads this should know that these are not the only guards I considered for this list. Some of the points guards that were considered for this list but did not get chosen in no particular order are: Marcus Williams of UConn, Gerry McNamara of Syracuse, John Gilchrist of Maryland, Jarrett Jack of Georgia Tech, Daniel Gibson of Texas, Aaron Miles of Kansas, Drew Lavender of Oklahoma, Chris Hernandez of Stanford, Carl Krauser of Pitt, Chris Thomas of Notre Dame, and Anthony Roberson of Florida. It was very hard to narrow this list down to just 5 point guards in the country. All of the players just listed are very good, and I am sure that some of you disagree with some of the selections I made for the top 5. I am looking forward to hearing your comments or criticism on why somebody should have been included in this list, but wasn't.



Matt

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Comparing The Brackets

As many of you know who visit the blog regularly, every Tuesday I take a look at what the experts have predicted for the field of 65, and compare their predictions with mine. So, without further ado, here are the links to Joe Lunardi's picks, as well as Bracketology's 101 picks, and Michael Lazarus picks. Michael Lazarus as of Tuesday night at 11:30 did not have his picks up yet on FoxSports.com. Therefore, I am not going to compare my picks to his this week, because I want to post this now.

Joe Lunardi had 4 teams that he picked that I did not and they are UTEP, Minnesota, Wichita State, and Farleigh Dickinson.

Craig and Chris from Bracketology 101 had 6 picks which differed from mine and they are Minnesota, NC State, Creighton, Farleigh Dickinson, Buffalo, and Denver.

I examined all of these teams while making my selections and let me explain why they did not make the field of 65.

UTEP: They lost at Pacific on Bracket Buster Saturday by 7 points. Right now, I think the WCC is only strong enough to get one team into the tourney. Nevada will definitely get in, because they have had a great season. UTEP has 3 remaining games all at home and if they win those 3, and then win at least 1 game in their conference tourney, I think they are in.

Minnesota: The Golden Gophers had a tough week having to face Michigan State and Ohio State. They beat Ohio State by 2, and lost to Michigan State by 19. My problem with the Golden Gophers is that they are only 7-6 in the weak Big Ten. They have 2 games which when you look at the Big Ten standings may not seem tough, but they really are. They have to play Iowa at home and then travel to Purdue. When they travel to Purdue, it will be Senior Day at the game for the Boilermakers. Also, it will be Gene Keady's last home game as Purdue's coach. If they win both of those games, I think they will be in next week.

Wichita State: I am sorry but losing your last 3 games does not bode well to get an at large spot in my predictions, even if the losses were against good teams. Wichita State lost to Bradley (12-12, 5-10 in conference), and then lost to Creighton, and then to the leader of the MAC, Miami (Ohio). This team has a huge game against MVC leader Southern Illinois on Saturday. I cannot wait to see the outcome of this game. They won by 2 the last time these two teams faced, but this time the game is at Southern Illinois with first place in the MVC up for grabs.

Farleigh Dickinson: This team is in second place in their conference, but because of their win against first place Monmouth (N.J.) last week, analysts are picking them for the field of 65. They are still a game behind Monmouth in the standings, and the two teams split the season series. Both teams have 3 games left against teams they should beat, which means one thing: the automatic bid for this conference is going to come down to the conference tournament. Plain and simple.

NC State: This team is only 5-7 in the ACC, and yet some people are still picking them for the field of 65 (I almost picked them myself). Why is this? Well, because they are a good team that has beat some very good opponents this year (Georgia Tech and Maryland twice, VA Tech). They have two absolutely critical games this week against North Carolina and VA Tech. If they can keep the Carolina game somewhat respectable and then beat VA Tech, they might get into my predictions next week, even with a record of 6-8 in the ACC.

Creighton: Talk about giving love to the mid majors! I do not see Creighton getting in right now as they stand at 17-10 overall and 8-7 in the MVC. They have beaten Wichita State twice, Ohio State, Xavier and Northern Iowa. But for me to consider them, they must win their next 3 games (including a tough one against Illinois State) and then win a few games in their conference tournament. Then, and only then, will I pick them.

Buffalo: The MAC might get two teams into the tournament, but in order for Buffalo to get in I feel they must win their final 3 games, including a matchup that will determine who gets second place in the MAC against Akron. Miami (Ohio) looks more and more like a sure thing out of the MAC. Buffalo has some good wins, but they haven't done enough yet to warrant a bid.

Denver: Conference tournament. Those two words explain how you know which team will make it out of the Sun Belt Conference. LA Lafayette is currently in first place in the west division and has the best conference record. Denver has beaten them twice this season, but is in second place. In reality, it does not really matter what their records are in conference, but the bid from the conference is going to be determined by who wins the conference tournament.


Matt

Monday, February 21, 2005

Predicting the NCAA Tourney Round 4

These are the 65 teams that I feel will make the tournament, if the selection committee had to make all their decisions on who's in and who's out, today. New teams that have been added this week are noted in bold.

Big East (7): Boston College, Villanova, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Pitt, Georgetown, UConn
ACC (7): Duke, North Carolina, Wake Forest, Maryland, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Miami
Conference USA (7): Louisville, Charlotte, Memphis, Cincinnati, DePaul, Marquettee, Houston
Big 12 (6): Oklahoma State, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Iowa State, Texas
SEC (5): Kentucky, Florida, LSU, Alabama, Mississippi State
Pac 10 (4): Washington, Arizona, Stanford UCLA
Big 10 (3): Illinois, Michigan State, Wisconsin
A10 (2): Saint Joseph's, George Washington
WCC (2): St. Marys (CA), Gonzaga
America East (1): Vermont
Atlantic Sun (1): Gardner and Webb
Big Sky (1): Portland State
Big South (1): Winthrop
Big West (1): Pacific
Colonial Athletic Association (1): Old Dominion
Horizon League (1): Wisconsin Milwaukee
Ivy League (1): Penn
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (1): Niagara
Mid Continent Conference (1): Oral Roberts
Mid-American Conference (1): Miami (Ohio)
Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (1): Coppin State
Missouri Valley Conference (1): Southern Illinois
Mountain West (1): Utah
Northeast (1): Monmouth (N.J.)
Ohio Valley Conference (1): Tennessee Tech
Patriot League (1): Holy Cross
Southern Conference (1): Davidson
Southland Conference (1): SE Louisiana
Southwestern Athletic Conference (1): Alabama A&M
Sun Belt Conference (1): LA Lafayette
WAC (1): Nevada

Teams that have been eliminated from the tourney since last week:


UAB: 4 straight losses in conference does not bode well for an at large bid.

Minnesota: Losing big to Michigan State, and then barely beating Ohio State did this team in. They certainly have a great chance of being in next week if they beat Iowa and Purdue this week.

Utah State: Losing to Pacific in a game they should have won, and then losing to Cal State Fullerton did this team in. They need to win their last 3 games, and then make some noise in the Big West tournament to get in.

Wichita State: 3 straight losses means no bid for Wichita State this week. They have two huge games coming up: Saturday against Southern Illinois and then on Monday vs. Northern Iowa. If they can win those 2 games, they will be in good position.

Samford:They have lost 3 of their last 4 games, and lost on Saturday to Tennessee Tech, which now leads the conference.

Denver:Losing one game to a team that is below .500 in the conference was enough for Denver to slid out of my predictions in the competitive Sun Belt Conference.


Matt

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Viewing Guide for the Week of Feb. 21-27

These are some of the games that I will be watching and keeping track of this week, and I suggest that you do the same.


Monday


Game 1 of the 2004 World Series St. Louis Cardinals at Boston Red Sox 6pm NESN
This game was an ugly game as the Red Sox committed 4 errors, two by Manny in the eighth inning, and somehow still win the game. Mark Bellhorn who a few days before this game was getting crushed by the media hit the game winning HR in the bottom of the eighth.

Notre Dame at UConn 7pm ESPN
Last time these two teams played, Marcus Williams had 16 assists for UConn, but missed a layup with under 20 seconds left, and the Huskies lost the game. I think UConn will definitely win this game, because they are the better team, and this time the game is being played at Storrs.

Kansas at Oklahoma 9pm ESPN
Kansas has lost their last two games. There is no way that Bill Self lets his Jayhawks lose 3 straight.

Utah at New Mexico 9pm
Can the Utes go undefeated in the MWC? If they beat the Lobos in the Pit, it looks like that will go throughout the season without a loss in conference.


Tuesday

Game 2 of the 2004 World Series Cardinals at Red Sox 7pm NESN
Curt Schilling pitches 6 miraculous innings, and he accomplishes what he came to Boston to do: win a World Series.

Boston Celtics at Los Angeles Lakers 10:30 FSN
20 years ago this was a HUGE rivalry. Now, with both teams struggling to stay above .500 it does not mean as much. In any case, I always love to see the Celts beat the Lakers.

Texas at Texas Tech 8pm ESPN2
Texas has really had trouble winning games since losing P.J. Tucker for the season due to him being academically ineligible. Going to play Texas Tech, will not change that.

Alabama at LSU 9pm ESPN
LSU had two huge wins last week against Florida and Mississippi State. The team that I was not convinced for real last week, has proven to me otherwise.

North Carolina at N.C. State 8pm
Julius Hodge needs to carry his team to a victory over the Tar Heels if the Wolfpack expect to get into the tourney.


Wednesday

Duke at Georgia Tech 7pm ESPN
The Yellow Jackets are firmly on the bubble right now. A win against the Blue Devils would add a big win to their resume.

Memphis at Charlotte 7:30
Memphis has come back from the dead to actually be a force in Conference USA. A win at Charlotte makes their chances of making the tourney almost a sure thing.

BC at Villanova 9pm ESPN2
Villanova is one team that nobody wants to face. After beating unbeaten Kansas last month by 20 points, they showed that they are a team that can beat anybody in the country. BC better beware of the Cats'.

Memphis at Washington 7pm
Who thought that both of these NBA teams would have 30 wins at the All Star Break? Certainly, not me.


Thursday

Game 3 of the 2004 World Series Sox at Cardinals 7pm NESN
Pedro's last game as a Red Sox was a masterpiece, and I recommend you set your VCR's to tape one of the best pitchers who ever pitched for the Red Sox in his last game.

Wisconsin at Michigan State 7pm ESPN
Last time these two teams faced MSU had a comfortable lead with a minute left, only to blow it and see Wisconsin win. The results of this game will be different.

Marquette at Cincinnati 9pm ESPN2
The Bearcats are a very physical team, and if Marquette wants to get into the tourney they must get to .500 in conference play. Right now, they are 5-7 in the CUSA.

Arizona State at Washington 10:30 FSN
Arizona State is one game below .500 in the Pac 10. A win at Washington puts them in the tourney.

Sacramento at Dallas 9:30 TNT
This game showcases two teams that love to run, shoot, and forget about defense. Get the scoreboard ready, cuz in this game both teams are going to score way over 100 points.


Friday

Boston at Utah 9pm FSN
Utah has never been the same since the retirement of John Stockton, and since Karl Malone left. The Celts need this game to prove they can win on the road at a tough arena.

Detroit at LA Lakers 10:30 ESPN
These two teams played in the NBA finals last year. Did you remember that? With the trading of Shaq this game will be significantly different than when these two teams faced each other last June.

Saturday

Game 4 of the 2004 World Series Red Sox at Cardinals 7pm NESN
"Red Sox fans have longed to hear it. The Boston Red Sox are World Champions!" I just can't hear that sentence enough from Joe Buck. Set your VCR's to tape a game that I will watch for the next 60 years of my life.

Kentucky at Alabama 1:30 CBS
Alabama is a team that has a ton of firepower. I expect the Crimson Tide to beat the Wildcats in which some will consider an upset, but really Alabama might be the better overall team in this game.

Connecticut at Pitt 3:45 CBS
The first time these teams met Pitt came back after being down by more than 15 points in the first half. The Huskies will try to get revenge in this game.

Arizona at Washington 4pm FSN
I have been looking forward to this rematch since the second the first game between these two teams ended. Both teams love to run, and play fast break offense. Washington needs to shut down Salim Stoudamire in order to have a chance to win the game.

VA Tech at N.C. State 4pm
Two teams that are firmly on the bubble play in a game that has huge implications.

Phoenix at Dallas 8:30
If you need a reason to watch this game, well then I guess you don't watch enough of the NBA.

Sunday

UCLA at Notre Dame 2pm CBS
UCLA needs to win this game much more than Notre Dame does. If UCLA can get a win against a team that has beaten Connecticut and BC, their chances of getting into the tourney will be pretty good.

Oklahoma State at Kansas 4pm CBS
First place in the Big 12 is up for grabs. Nuff' said.

Boston at Phoenix 8pm FSN
Phoenix scored 74 points in the first half when they came to the Fleet Center last month. The Celts have to slow down the Suns in order to have a prayer in this game. It also gives Celtics fans a chance to see WALTA, who was traded to Phoenix last month.

Matt

Friday, February 18, 2005

G Mac, JamesOn and Savannah State doesn't win a game

Kyle Veltrop argues that with the game on the line, there is no player he would rather have take the shot than Gerry McNamara. I love G Mac, but I'll take my chances with Salim.

Savannah State has done what only one other team in the past 50 years has done, in losing all 28 of their games. Randy Hill has the story.

The player of the year in each conference is...

Looking forward to upsets in the tourney? Look no further than these teams

Arguably the best high school basketball player last year sold dope, got caught, and had his scholarship taken away by North Carolina. Now starting for Oklahoma State, JamesOn Curry is the type of diaper dandy that I love to see play. This article is a must read.

Top 10 games of the weekend according to Gregg Doyel

According to the poll I had on this blog a few days ago, 48% of you thought that the Texas Tech vs. Kansas game was the best game of the year so far. I agree with you.

Salim vs. Redick update from last night's games:

Salim 7 of 14 FG, and 4 of 6 on 3's, 22 points in the Wildcats 25 point win over the Ducks

Redick 7 of 16 FG, and 3 of 8 on 3's, 19 points in Duke's loss to Virginia Tech


Matt

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Salim or Redick: That is the Question

In his latest column at CBS Sportsline, Gregg Doyel rants about Lute Olson and how Lute should keep his mouth shut instead of consistently making comparisons between J.J. Redick and Salim Stoudamire. It is obvious and very true that many of the media people love Redick for his shooting ability and how he has carried Duke this season. Duke is on TV basically every week, which allows the members of the media as well as college basketball fans to see J.J. Redick at his best. Now I know that Redick is a great shooter. But is Redick the best shooter in the country? And is it bad that Lute Olson continues to stick up for his senior shooting guard Salim Stoudamire? I tend to disagree with the column by Doyel and let me tell you why.

Lute Olson has a right that every human being has, and that is of free speech. He has the right to support Salim Stoudamire and call him the best shooter in the country if he wants too. I do not see why Doyel thinks that is such a bad crime to do such a thing. When Mack Brown spoke out in late November and said that his team deserved a BCS bowl game, some people in the media tended to think that it was wrong of him to do so. I was of this opinion at first too, before I realized that there was nothing wrong with doing that. Brown thought his team deserved a BCS bowl game, so that is what he said. Lute Olson thinks Salim is the best shooter in the country, and that is exactly what he said. What is so wrong with that? Am I missing something here?

When you look at the stats, Salim is the best shooter in the country. From the Sportsline article,

"There's a bit of information (our publicist) shared with me about Redick being the best shooter in the country," Olson began. If he hit 71 consecutive field goals, he'd reach Salim's field goal percentage shooting. If Redick made 53 consecutive 3-pointers, he'd tie Salim for 3-point field-goal percentage. How in the world can somebody continue to go on TV and say Redick is the greatest shooter in the country?"

The one person in particular that Lute is referring to is Dick Vitale. Dickie V is a big fan of Redick and he always raves about Redick. Watch the next Duke game on ESPN that Vitale is announcing and you will recognize this within a few minutes. Some people are of the opinion that Vitale has always been a Duke supporter and that he now has fallen in love with Redick over his 3 years at Duke. I would estimate that Vitale has announced at least 5 of Duke's games this year. I know for a fact that he announced both Maryland games, Wake Forest and North Carolina games. I am sure that he has done other Duke games that I have forgotten, or that I may not have watched. I do not think that Vitale has done any Arizona games so far this year (correct me if I'm wrong). The Pac 10 has a schedule where they play games on Thursdays and Saturdays and most of those games are carried by Fox Sports Net. So, while it is Dickie V's opinion that Redick is the best shooter in the country, I am curious to find out if he right in making that statement.

Both Redick and Salim are great players. Both can shoot the 3 as well as drive to the hoop. But when making a comparison it helps to look at the numbers. And if you trust the numbers they prove that Salim is a better 3-point shooter. Some people might say that Redick gets more attention from opposing teams, but that is definitely not true. Both Redick and Salim lead their teams in scoring, and opposing teams come into games knowing that they have to shut down these players in order to have a chance to win. There are many quotes out there from coaches and announcers who favor one of these players or another. One quote comes from USC interim coach Jim Saia who was mentioned in this article as saying,

"On Thursday night, USC interim coach Jim Saia said Stoudamire might be the best college basketball shooter ever."

At ESPN, they keep track of the top 25 players that lead college basketball in 3-point shooting percentage. Salim is leading college basketball shooting just a little under 55 percent for the season from beyond the arc. Where is J.J. Redick on this list? He is nowhere to be found, because to be in the top 25 in 3-point shooting percentage a player must be shooting .485 from downtown. What is Redick's percentage, you ask? Redick is shooting .417 on 3-point shooting for the year.

All I am trying to point out in this article is that if your going to make a statement, such as the one Dick Vitale has made on many occasions it helps to be able to back it up. Vitale is entitled to have his opinion, and many other people in the media agree with him. There is no question that Redick is an amazing shooter, and that he has range that some of us only wish we had. But is he the best shooter in the country? That is a question that can be debated for hours and hours.

What I recommend for those who might have seen only one of these players shoot, and not the other is this: watch Oregon State at Arizona at 4:30, and then Wake Forest at Duke at 6:30 all on FSN this Sunday. Now I realize that to properly answer the question of who is a better shooter it would be better to watch every single game of both of these players, but in the sake of time this is a good place to start. Also, one of these players could have an off night on Sunday and therefore lead some people to believe that that player is not as good as the other. What I am hoping for is a Duke vs. Arizona game in the tournament. Not only would this be a great game to watch, it would help us settle the debate of who is a better shooter. These players would be going against each other, and would probably be guarding each other every time down court. That would be a dream come true for college basketball fans, as they would see two of the best shooters face off against each other, in a winner goes on, loser goes home type of game. Until that game happens, this subject is open for debate. So as I end this article, I'm curious to as to who you think is the better shooter: Salim or Redick? I look forward to reading your comments on this interesting, and easily debatable subject.

Matt

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Comparing the Brackets

Every Tuesday I take a look at what some of the experts have predicted for the field of 65 and compare their predictions with mine. Joe Lunardi's picks from ESPN can be found here, and the site Bracketology 101 has picks every week and they can be found here. Michael Lazarus of Fox Sports picks can be found here.

Joe Lunardi has three picks that differ from my own and they are Kent State, Stanford, and LSU.

Craig and Chris from Bracketology 101 also have three picks which differ from my own and they are Boston University, Stanford, and Western Kentucky.

Michael Lazarus has three picks which differ from mine and they are Sam Houston State, UL Lafayette, and LSU.

I am going to take a look at these 7 teams and explain why they do not make the tourney.

Stanford: They had one game last week against California and beat them 71-56. This really does not mean anything as Cal does not have a good team this year. Stanford now stands at 13-9 and they are 7-5 in the conference. Dan Grunfield who is the leading scorer for the Cardinals was lost for the season after he hurt his knee in the second half. The injury will require surgery, but no date has been set yet. With 6 games remaining in their season, and 4 of them at home the Cardinals have a good shot at convincing me they belong in my predictions. They play USC and UCLA at home this week. If they beat UCLA, which is a very young, but talented team, I think they will be dancing come this time next week.

Kent State: This team has a few things going for them. They have a very good RPI at 39 and their SOS (strength of schedule) is 58. Both are very respectable numbers for a mid major. Usually the bubble teams such as Kent State have RPI's somewhere between 30 and 70 so they are in the right neighborhood. Kent State has also beaten some worthy opponents in Creighton, Florida State and Miami of Ohio (who by the way happens to be 1st in the MAC). They also came very close to beating BC in December, but lost by two points. The reason I did not pick Kent State is because I think the MAC will only get one team into the tourney, and as of right now I think that team is Miami of Ohio. I hold the right to change my opinion on this in the upcoming weeks.

LSU: Yes, its true that LSU is 6-4 in the always tough SEC conference, but when you look at their schedule, who have they beaten? Their 3 best wins are Arkansas, Ohio State, and Mississippi State (whom I think is vastly overrated). Their next 3 games are against Mississippi State, Florida, and Arkansas. If they win 2 of those games, I will look at them much more favorably then I do now, and they will be in my bracket.

Boston University: They had a huge win over Vermont on Saturday, which was the Catamounts first loss in the American East. Still, I do not see how this conference is going to get two bids, and I think that Vermont will be the only team in the tourney from the American East.

Western Kentucky: Craig and Chris from Bracketology 101 pick Western Kentucky to win the Sun Belt Conference, while I am still sticking with Denver. Denver lost to Western Kentucky on the road last week 84-79. Either of these teams could be in the tourney and it is going to come down to whoever wins the conference championship next month and gets the automatic bid.

UL Lafayette: At 9-2 in conference play they are tied for first place in the west division of the Sun Belt Conference with Denver. However, they have lost both of their games to Denver, which prompted me to include Denver in my picks for the tourney instead of UL Lafayette. They do have wins against Southern Illinois and Western Kentucky, but until Denver losses they are going to continue to be my pick to win the Sun Belt Conference.

Sam Houston State: At 8-2, Sam Houston State is one game behind SE Louisiana who is leading the Southland conference at 9-2. Sam Houston State lost the first game they played against SE Louisiana and the rematch is on March 5 and could decide who wins the regular season championship for the Southland conference.

Matt

Monday, February 14, 2005

Predicting the NCAA Tourney Round 3

These are the teams that I feel will make the NCAA Tournament if the season ended today. I consider strength of schedule, conference records, and out of conference opponents when deciding what teams get in every week. New teams that have been added this week are noted in bold.

Big East (7): Connecticut, Syracuse, Boston College, Georgetown, Villanova, Pitt, Notre Dame
ACC (6): North Carolina, Duke, Wake Forest, Maryland, Georgia Tech, Miami
Big 12 (6): Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas Tech, Texas, Iowa State
Conference USA (6): Depaul, Cincinnati, Louisville, Charlotte, Memphis, UAB
SEC (4): Kentucky, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi State
Big 10 (4): Illinois, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Minnesota
Pac 10 (3): Arizona, Washington, UCLA
Big West (2): Pacific, Utah State
West Coast Conference (2): Gonzaga, St. Mary's (CA)
Missouri Valley Conference(2): Wichita State, Southern Illinois
A 10 (2): George Washington, St. Joseph's
Western Athletic Conference (2): Nevada, UTEP
America East (1): Vermont
Atlantic Sun Conference (1): Gardner and Webb
Big Sky Conference (1): Portland State
Big South Conference (1): Winthrop
Colonial Athletic Association (1): Old Dominion
Horizon League (1): Wisconsin Milwaukee
Ivy (1): Penn
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (1): Niagara
Mid Continent Conference (1): Oral Roberts
Mid American Conference (1): Miami (Ohio)
Mountain West Conference (1): Utah
Mid Eastern Athletic Conference (1): Coppin State
Northeast Conference (1): Monmouth (N.J.)
Ohio Valley Conference (1): Samford
Patriot League (1): Holy Cross
Southern Conference (1): Davidson
Southland Conference (1): SE Louisiana
Southwestern Athletic Conference (1): Alabama A&M
Sun Belt Conference (1): Denver

Teams that have been eliminated from the tourney since last week:

Virginia Tech: Two losses last week to Maryland and Virginia means the Hokies are going to the NIT.

Marquette: A loss to TCU, and an overtime win against East Carolina is not enough to keep this bubble team in the tourney this week.

Arizona State: An embarrassing loss to USC and getting blown out at UCLA knocks this Pac 10 team out.

Air Force: They only had one game last week, and beat Colorado State. It came down to one of the last picks, but I decided to include UTEP instead.

Rider: Two losses to Iona, and Manhattan knocked this team out of first place in their conference.

University of Missouri Kansas City: A loss to Oakland, which is one of the lower teams in the Mid Continent Conference, gave Oral Roberts the lead in the conference.


Matt


Sunday, February 13, 2005

Viewing Guide for the Week of February 14-20

These are some of the games that I will be watching and tracking this week. If I were to write down every game that I am interested in, I am afraid nobody would read the article, because it would be too long. Anyways.....

Monday


Pitt at Syracuse 7pm ESPN

In the first game between these two teams, Syracuse had a 17 point lead in the first half only to see Pitt come back and win the game. Syracuse looks for revenge at home in the Carrier Dome.

Kansas at Texas Tech 9pm ESPN

The Red Raiders have certainly flown under the radar this season. With a record of 15-6, and 7-3 in the Big 12, Bobby Knight will get into the tourney as usual. The question is can his team beat the Jayhawks who are undefeated in the Big 12 and only have one loss all season?

Davidson at College of Charleston 7pm

Davidson is 13-0 in conference play in the Southern league, and if they win this game, they will likely go undefeated in the conference.

Florida A&M at Savannah State 7pm

The game of the week. If you think I'm kidding, I'm not. Savannah State is 0-27 and this is their last game and last chance to salvage a win on what has been a horrible season.

Tuesday


Wake Forest at Miami 7pm

Miami is a team that is on the bubble, and could use a huge win to add to their resume. They will get their chance against one of the best teams in the ACC.

Bucknell at Villanova 7:30

Bucknell already beat Pitt this year. Can a team from the Patriot league beat two teams that are in the top 25 from the Big East in the same year?

Wednesday


Minnesota at Michigan State 7:30

After beating Wisconsin on February 5th, the Golden Gophers were heading in the right direction and likely to the tournament. With losses last week to Indiana and Northwestern, they need more quality wins to get into the tournament. However, I do not see the Golden Gophers beating the Spartans and I think Minnesota will be losers of 3 straight after this game, and be going in the direction of the NIT.

Depaul at Charlotte 7:30

Two teams that are headed for the tourney from Conference USA fight for 2nd place in the conference as they both stand at 8-2.

Georgetown at Notre Dame 8pm ESPN Classic

Turn back the clock game with old announcers, old graphics, and old uniforms. This game is a live broadcast by ESPN Classic and viewers can only hope this game is as good as the first time these two teams played when Georgetown won on a dunk at the buzzer.

Texas A&M at Texas 8pm

Texas is playing their way out of the tourney with losses to Iowa State and Colorado in the last week. They need this game to get above .500 in conference play.

Arkansas at Alabama 8pm

Alabama is the one team many people have not seen that is going to make some noise in the tourney. They went to the Elite 8 last year, and could be poised for another long term run in the tourney with the way they are playing this year. Arkansas needs conference wins, as they are 5-6 right now in conference play.

Memphis at Boston 7pm FSN

Boston's record stands at 26-25 with two games left before the All Star Break. I was convinced a few weeks ago that they would go into the All Star Break under .500 and I still feel that way. A loss to Sacramento on Sunday and a loss to Memphis tonight will do just that. (P.S. I hope my prediction is wrong for my beloved Celtics).

Thursday


Louisville at Marquette 7pm ESPN

Louisville beat Marquette by 47 two weeks ago. Somehow, I do not see that happening again in this game.

Oregon State at Arizona State 9pm

Ike Diogu of Arizona State is one of the 3 best big men in the country along with Sean May and Andrew Bogut. Unfortunately his team is 5-8 in the Pac 10 and must get somewhere close to .500 by seasons' end to have a chance to make the tourney.

Dallas at Phoenix 10:30 TNT

Anybody who is an NBA fan, and does not watch this game is crazy. Two high powered offenses and a game that will definitely be settled somewhere around the score of 120 is a matchup that I will not miss.

Friday


Farleigh Dickinson at Monmouth (N.J.) 8pm

Am I the only person looking forward to this game? Monmouth is one game ahead of Farleigh Dickinson in the Northeast standings, and Monmouth hopes to increase their lead to two games with a win tonight.

Saturday


Saturday is Bracket Buster Saturday. There are way too many good games to list in my viewers guide. What I recommend you do is get on your couch at noon, and do not leave until early Sunday morning when the UTEP vs. Pacific game is done with (that game starts at 11:59PM on ESPN).

Illinois at Iowa 12pm ESPN

Iowa took Illinois to OT last month, before Illinois prevailed. Without Pierre Pierce, Iowa will be lucky to keep this game close.

Syracuse at Boston College 7:30 ESPN

ESPN has just announced that they are going to be picking up this game. Here is the link.

How is this game not being televised? What college basketball fan wouldn't want to watch this game? It is an absolute shame that the only Syracuse vs. BC game this year, will not be on TV.

UAB at Cincinnati 4pm ESPN

UAB will get into the tourney for the second year in a row. Still a win over Bobby Huggins team in Cincinnati would be huge, especially since it is on national TV.


NBA 3 point contest and Slam Dunk Contest 8pm TNT

The best part of the All Star weekend is not the game on Sunday, but the dunks and the smooth shooting on Saturday night. Ray Allen, Joe Johnson, and Voshon Lenard will all be competing in the 3 point contest.

Sunday


Pitt at Villanova 1:30 ABC

Villanova has surprised me this year, and they have a team capable of making a run in the tourney. It will be interesting to see how they fare against one of the top teams in the Big East.

Wake Forest at Duke 6:30 FSN

I know I said Savannah State was the game of the week, but this has to be the game of the week that you can actually watch on TV. In the first game between these two teams Wake escaped with a 2 point victory. Look for the Cameron Crazies to make a difference as the sixth man homecourt advantage comes into play.

NBA All Star Game 8pm TNT

Does this game even mean anything to anyone? Is it just me or is this game extremely boring? Anyways at least it is a little better than the Pro Bowl since it is actually during the season instead of after it.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Turnovers Killed the Tar Heels

Back 30 years ago tickets for a Duke vs. UNC matchup would only set a person back $2. Can you imagine that? That is so crazy to think about now, when tickets on ebay for the rematch on March 6 are going for $660(for those of you who think that is insane, there is already 9 bids on those tickets). So many players have come and gone throughout the years, but this rivalry remains as intense as it ever has been. Jerry Stackhouse, Vince Carter, Eric Montross, Shane Battier, Christian Laettner, and Grant Hill have all participated in the greatest rivalry in college basketball. Unfortunately for North Carolina's three seniors that have played and taken part in this rivalry their record now stands at 1-7 against the hated Blue Devils. Jawad Williams, Melvin Scott and Jackie Manuel have endured these years, and I'm sure they will be looking for a different outcome to the game when these two teams meet again on March 6 the last game of the regular season.

This game basically came down to one thing. Turnovers absolutely killed the Tar Heels as they gave Duke the ball 23 times. When one of the best point guards in America, in Raymond Felton has 8 turnovers, you know that as a team your playing great defense. Despite all of this, UNC had a chance to win it, but Felton basically threw the game away, when he decided not to take an open jumper with 5 seconds left. Instead he dribbled to the right, and passed it to David Noel who proceeded to lose the ball out of bounds. Even though it was not a dramatic ending, the ending of the game symbolized how the Tar Heels had played throughout the night, which was sloppy.

One other thing that really hurt the Tar Heels was that some of their best players just had miserable games. Rashad McCants who is the teams leading scorer shot only 3 of 13 from the field and 1 of 8 from behind the arc. Jawad Williams is another guy that the Tar Heels count on and tonight he only had 2 points. Sean May carried the Tar Heels the whole night with 23 points and 18 boards, but on the last possession of the ball game, when the Heels had a chance to win, he did not touch the ball. To go into Cameroon Indoor Stadium you need to have your big players step up. Tonight that did not happen.

Duke on the other hand got the output that they expected from J.J. Redick and Daniel Ewing. Redick was lethal behind the three point line as usual hitting 4 trifectas against UNC. Daniel Ewing had 15 points, and had two three pointers after UNC had tied the game at 53. But the player who stepped up huge in this game, was somebody that no one had talked about coming into this game, DeMarcus Nelson. The freshmen, who last year was California's Mr. Basketball had 16 points, one shy of his career high. DeMarcus also played great perimeter defense and had four steals. Sometimes in big games like this, its the person you least expect to break out, that has a huge game. Monday night JamesOn Curry of Oklahoma State introduced himself to the nation scoring 22 points against in state rival Oklahoma. Tonight the heralded freshmen from Cali showed that he can play with the big boys, as he had the best game of his young career against the school that resides only 8 miles away from Duke.

Last Friday I wrote that North Carolina is the best team in the country. Maybe I should rephrase that. They have the most talent in college basketball right now, but talent does not win a team games. Right now, I believe that when all is said and done that they will be National Champions (and I'm not a UNC fan). But to get there they must take care of the ball, and they need production from McCants, Willaims (Jawad and Marvin), and Raymond Felton consistently. As good as Sean May is, he can only carry this team so far. Every player has off nights, and unfortunately for Tar Heels fans, a few of their players dropped to this level in this game. I can guarantee you one thing, and that is when these two teams face off on March 6, the Heels will be ready. They better be, or else the fans that are willing to pay more than $660 for those tickets, are going to be severely disappointed.


Matt

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Comparing the Brackets

Joe Lunardi of ESPN.com, Michael Lazarus of foxsports.com, and Craig and Chris from Bracketology 101 all predict who they thought would make the tournament as of Monday. I thought it would be interesting to compare what teams they thought would make it in, to what I am predicting.

Joe Lunardi has 4 picks that are different from mine: Iowa, UTEP, St. Joseph's, and Stanford.

Michael Lazarus has 5 picks that are different from mine: Delaware State, Alabama State, St. Jospeph's, Iowa, and Stanford.

Craig and Chris' picks were most alike to the picks I made as we only disagreed on these 3 picks: Iowa, LSU, UTEP.

One team that all three analysts picked that I did not was Iowa. Two of the analysts thought that UTEP, St. Joseph's and Stanford would make the tourney, and I did not pick those teams. I am going to take a look at the 4 teams that these analysts thought would make it, and explain why I did not chose them.

Teams picked by all three analysts to make the tourney.

Iowa: Why are people picking Iowa to make the tourney? Is it because they almost beat Illinois? Frankly, I am not sure why. With the loss of Pierre Pierce this team is headed downhill and fast. They did have some great wins early in the season against Louisville, Texas, Texas Tech and Air Force, but when a team is 3-5 in the Big Ten in a down year, I find it hard to include them in the tourney. Add to that fact, that they just lost their best player makes this team a hard one to include in the tourney.

Teams picked by two of the three analysts.

UTEP: This team has a few big wins against Arizona State and at Nevada. I think that the WCC is only going to get one team in the tourney as of right now. Nevada is atop the WCC standings at 9-2, while UTEP is 8-3. This Saturday UTEP and Nevada play again in a game that will have huge implications on both of these teams chances for the big dance.

St. Josephs: I know St. Joe's is 8-1 in their league. But what some people forget is that they play in the A-10. The A-10 has never really been a good conference, and the conference definitely is struggling this year. When you take a look at their schedule, you can ask yourself who have they really beaten? When you have to argue over whether Xavier or Davidson is your best win of the season, you know you are really stretching. At this point, I just cannot include a team like this in my predictions.

Stanford: Okay, so they do have a win over my favorite team, Arizona. Stanford could have proved something to me last week by either beating Arizona or Arizona State on the road, but they lost both games. Their next 3 games are at home against California, USC and UCLA all games they should win if they want to be in the tourney. If they win those three, they will most likely be in, as far as I'm concerned after those games. But right now, with their record at 12-9 and 6-5 in the Pac 10, I am not going to include them.


Matt

Monday, February 07, 2005

Predicting the NCAA Tournament Round 2

I made a few changes to my predictions on Wednesday. One reader commented that he thought Ohio State was on probabtion and therefore could not participate in the tourney. After doing some research, I found that he was right, so I took Ohio State out of my predictions. I apologize for including them in my predictions, as I should have known that they were on probabtion.

I also added an extra team to my predictions. Another reader commented that I should include 65 teams, instead of 64 because of the play in game that happens on the Tuesday before the tourney starts. I decided to take his advice and add another team. Just to clarify the play in game happens on Tuesday, and whichever team wins that game will most likely go on to be a #16 team in the tourney, while the other team goes home.


These are the teams that I feel will make the NCAA Tournament. More than a few teams have been pushed off the bracket, and that will be normal during this column for the next 6 weeks. New teams that have been added to the bracket from last weeks are noted in bold.

Big East (7): Boston College, Syracuse, Georgetown, Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Villanova, Notre Dame
ACC (7): North Carolina, Duke, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Miami
Big 12 (5): Kansas, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Texas
Conference USA (6): Louisville, Depaul, Cincinnati, Charlotte, UAB, Marquette
Big Ten (4): Illinois, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Minnesota,
SEC (4): Kentucky, Florida, Mississippi State, Alabama
Pac 10 (4): Washington, Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA
West Coast Conference (2): Gonzaga, St. Mary's
Big West (2): Pacific, Utah State
Missouri Valley Conference (2): Wichita State, Southern Illinois
Mountain West Conference (2): Utah, Air Force
America East (1): Vermont
Atlantic 10 (1): George Washington
Atlantic Sun (1): Gardner Webb
Big Sky (1): Portland State
Big South (1): Winthrop
Colonial Athletic Association (1): Old Dominion
Horizon (1): Wisconsin Milwaukee
Ivy (1): Penn
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (1): Rider
Mid Continent Conference (1): University of Missouri Kansas City
Mid American Conference (1): Miami (Ohi0)
Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (1): Coppin State
Northeast Conference (1): Monmouth (N.J.)
Ohio Valley Conference (1): Samford
Patriot League (1): Holy Cross
Southern Conference (1): Davidson
Southland Conference (1): SE Louisiana
Southwestern Athletic Conference (1): Alabama A&M
Sun Belt Conference (1): Denver
Western Athletic Conference (1): Nevada



Matt






Sunday, February 06, 2005

Viewing Guide for the Week of Feb. 7-13

These are the games that I will be watching in the upcoming week, and I suggest that you watch them as well.

Monday


Connecticut at Syracuse 7pm ESPN

This game will be a battle between two great low post players in Hakim Warrick and Josh Boone. This game also features great perimeter play with Rashad Anderson and Gerry McNamara.

Oklahoma at Oklahoma State 9pm ESPN2

Oklahoma won round 1 of this in state rivalry, and O.K. State will try to get revenge on their home floor.

Tuesday


2004 ALCS Game 5 New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox 6pm NESN

Get your VCR's ready. One of the greatest games in all of Red Sox history. David Ortiz comes up big in the 14th inning and provides the winning hit for the Red Sox for the second game in a row.

Boston College at Notre Dame 7pm ESPN2

This could be Boston College's hardest game of the season as they travel to South Bend to play the Fighting Irish.

Phoenix at Sacramento 10pm

Two of the best teams in the West square off.

Wednesday


2004 ALCS Game 6 Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees 6pm NESN

One of the greatest pitching performances by anybody to ever put on a Red Sox uniform. Curt Schilling gave the Red Sox 7 awesome innings and the Sox tied the series at 3-3.

North Carolina at Duke 9pm ESPN

This is one of the games that you look forward to every year, regardless if you root for one of these two teams. North Carolina has the better team this year, but Duke might have the best home court advantage in all of college basketball. This is the game of the week.

Thursday


2004 ALCS Game 7 Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees 7pm NESN

Johnny Damon. After struggling the whole series Damon had two homers and six RBI's to take the AL pennant and be the first team ever to come back from a 0-3 deficit. And to think I was there to witness history. Unbelievable!!!!!!

N.C. State at Wake Forest 7pm ESPN

N.C. State lost both of their games last week to North Carolina and Virginia, and they are not going to make the tournament, unless they get some big wins. A win at Wake would be huge.

Sacramento at Seattle 10:30 TNT

This game promises to be an up-tempo fast break type of NBA game that is rarely seen anymore. You definitely don't want to miss a chance to see fast break NBA basketball like this.

Friday


Denver at Cleveland 8pm ESPN

Lebron vs. Carmelo. Nuff said.

Saturday


Wisconsin at Illinois 1pm CBS

The Illini broke Wisconsin's 38 home game win streak a few weeks ago. The Badgers have a shot at revenge in this game.

Duke at Maryland 9pm ESPN

Different game, but similar scenario. Duke was undefeated until Maryland rolled into Cameron a few weeks ago, and blew up the idea of Duke going undefeated for the season. Duke can get revenge at Maryland's home court in Saturday night primetime ESPN basketball.

Sunday


North Carolina at Connecticut 1pm CBS

Talk about a tough week Going into Cameron is a hard enough week by itself, but having to travel to Storrs to play the Huskies will make for a hard week for the Tar Heels.

N.C. State at Georgia Tech 6pm FSN

Even if N.C. State wins on Thursday against Wake, they still need some more quality wins. After the game against GT, they still have Maryland, North Carolina and Wake again. Talk about a tough couple weeks. I think N.C. State needs to win 3 of those games, and beat up on the other teams they play to get into the tourney. I just don't see it happening.





Friday, February 04, 2005

North Carolina is the best team in the country

I don't care what the records say. I don't care if Illinois is 22-0 and BC is 20-0. The best team in the country is North Carolina and they have two losses. They absolutely demolished N.C. State tonight, and they have a team that does it all. They have depth, they have scoring, they have defense, and they also have a great coach. The game tonight was never in doubt, but it was so fun to watch the Tar Heels pick apart N.C. State. It was a clinic.

Arizona is back!! After worrying about my Wildcats and their horrible performance against Washington State on Saturday, Arizona came out with a vengeance and beat up California 97-76.

Another Pac 10 game, another blowout. The only other great team in the Pac 10 Washington also had an easy time with USC defeating them 99-69.

After being down by 12 at halftime, and in a situation where they could possibly lose twice to St. Mary's in the same year, Gonzaga stormed back in the second half to win 68-63. This was an absolute huge game, and now these two teams are tied for the lead in the WCC at 6-2. I think both of these teams are a lock for the NCAA tourney, unless something crazy happens.

Ike Diogu is the best player you've never heard of. That is, unless you watch a ton of Pac 10 basketball as I do. Ike had 39 points and 10 boards in Arizona State's big win against Stanford. Ike is leading the Pac 10 in scoring, rebounding and blocks. Remember the name, because you will hear it for the next 15 years.

San Francisco might have kissed their NCAA tourney bid goodbye tonight with a bad loss to Pepperdine. UTEP had an even worse loss against Tulsa, and the outcome of that game makes me think that the WAC might just be getting 1 bid into the tourney.

In the crowed conference of the Ohio Valley, I chose on Monday that Tennessee Tech would be the team representing the conference in the tourney. Well, Tenn. Tech just played the other top team Samford and lost 64-57. There is now a 3 way tie for the conference lead as Murray State, Tenn. Tech, and Samford all are at 7-2 in conference. The conference is definitely up for grabs.


Matt

Thursday, February 03, 2005

The Bubble Watch is Back

The bubble watch is back. ESPN.com profiles all the teams that are on the bubble in terms of getting an NCAA tourney bid.

If your team is down by 3 with 30 seconds left and has the ball, you as a coach CANNOT get a T from the ref. That is just plain stupid. Well it happened last night in the Nova vs. UConn game. After Jay Wright got hit with the T, Rashad Anderson from UConn hit 2 free throws to put UConn up by 5. Game Over. Here is what Wright had to say about the game,

"I shouldn't have put our team in that position," Wright said. "I just feel bad for my players because they played so hard. I take responsibility for it."

Arizona fans all around the globe are wishing Will Bynum had never transferred to Georgia Tech. He has stepped up huge while B.J. Elder has been injured and hit the winning 3 for the Yellow Jackets with 3 seconds left against Florida State last night.

Last night, while watching a great night of college ball with George and Jon, I thought it might happen. Yes, the unthinkable was actually a possibility. Savannah State was only down by 7 at halftime to Florida A&M. Then, the second half came. And that second half ended the same way it has all season for Savannah State as they lost their 25th game of the year. Only 3 more chances for this team to win a game this year.

Is there any question that J.J. Redick is the best shooter in college basketball? Redick had 33 points, played all 40 minutes and nearly single-handedly brought his team back late in the game. Coach K had this to say about him,

"His desire to win could not have been exemplified in any higher fashion, he was magnificent," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said, referring to Redick. "His demeanor was the key to bringing us back."

When all was said and done, Wake Forest escaped with a 92-89 win, it what was a marvelous game. The Demon Deacons were lucky that Redick did not hit the shot at the buzzer that would have sent it into OT. You could see it on the players for Wake Forest, as they breathed a sigh of relief after Redick's shot bounced off the backboard and rim.


UAB crushed Marquette last night by the score of 86-63. This was a very important game for both teams, as they are both on the bubble. Although Marquette has 3 easy games coming up, I'm not sure if they have enough to make the tourney.

In the Big Ten, Minnesota beat Michigan 71-54, and Ohio State beat Purdue 75-65. Minnesota is now 15-6, and 5-3 in conference, while Ohio State is 15-7 and 4-4 in conference. Minnesota has the easier record down the stretch, and these two teams meet on Feb. 19 and the winner of that game could very well likely be tourney bound.

Georgetown continues to improve this season, and won last night against Seton Hall 61-51. Georgetown now stands at 14-6, and 6-3 in the very tough Big East. G Town needs to win at least 2 of the games they have against Villanova, Notre Dame, and Connecticut in the next month to be a lock for the tourney.

With only 3 teams seeming to a lock for this years tourney, the SEC is definitely having a down year. So will they get a fourth team? LSU, Florida, Vanderbilt, Arkansas, and South Carolina are all teams that could potentially get an NCAA berth. There are only 4 teams in the SEC that will not be making the tourney and those are Georgia, Tennessee, Auburn and Mississippi. The rest is up for grabs.



Matt

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Bracketology

Joe Lunardi from ESPN.com has his latest Bracketology column out, and Craig and Chris also have predicted the teams they feel will be in tourney over at Bracketology 101. Check out these links to compare their predictions with mine.

Will Savannah State lose every game they play this season? Their record stands today at 0-24. They have four remaining games left in their season, and if they lose them all they will only become the 2nd time in the last 50 years to lose all their games.

Pat Forde from ESPN does a conference midterm article and looks at the teams that are undefeated so far in conference play.

Top 100 prospects in college basketball, and where they are committed to attending school next year.

The Chainsaw tells you all you ever wanted to know about his undefeated teammates.

Attitude has been very important to Villanova's sucess this year.

Midsesason MVP's in the major conferences by Seth Davis.

Matt


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