Saturday, March 19, 2016

Tournament Thoughts: Late Friday

#7 Wisconsin vs. #10 Pittsburgh

Great start by Pitt. Wisconsin couldn't buy a bucket.

Cute little Wisconsin fan screaming her head off.

Every time the announcers said "Vitto Brown" I heard "Nino Brown."

Probably the worst-played game of the first round so far. Should have been able to predict a game like this. Both teams traditionally have plodding, physical teams.

Pitt just doesn't have the shooters are scorers to go to late in games when they absolutely need a basket.

Robinson ran into his own man! He missed his last ten shots of the game. Brutal way to go out for Pitt.

#3 West Virginia vs. #14 Stephen F. Austin I always love to see Devin Williams. His hair and his goggles are old school to me, remind me of a simpler era in corrective eyewear.

It used to be that teams that pulled off a major upset just slowed the ball down and tried to limit possessions to decrease the impact of the talent disadvantage.
But now it seems that the smaller school teams may actually have a shooting and dribbling advantage. They aren't scared to run and they aren't scared to press, and they aren't scared to jack early 3s.
In fact that is quite often the winning formula.

West Virginia turned the ball over 22 times. SFA only 7.

Tyler Walkup made 19 of 20 free throws. That's a player Billy could love. If he played in New York they would call him "Three Story."

Two years ago Stephen F Austin beat VCU in a 12-5 upset, now they've pulled off an even bigger shocker.

Clide Geffrard is the closest thing I've seen all tournament to a member of Mrs. Poop's All-Hair team.

#3 Texas A&M vs. #14 Green Bay

Impressive run by Texas A&M to put Green Bay away. Didn't hurt that Green Bay went ice cold.

But Texas A&M has a lot of athletic size. Most of us were looking for a team to come out of that region. It could be the Aggies. #1 Oregon vs. #16 Holy Cross

Total domination. Oregon not even tested.

#2 Xavier vs. #15 Weber State

The Pitt band is being paid $15 each to wear Weber State shirts and pose as the Weber State band since their band didn't make it. And they even learned the school fight song.

Xavier still has Miles Davis. But they don't have Matt Stainbrook. He is playing in Europe where Miles is known as Kilometers.
They do have Matt's brother, Tim, but he never plays.
They don't have Miles's brother Sammy. Yes, Miles Davis and Sammy Davis.

Big win for Xavier the least respected of the top seeds.

#6 Texas vs. #11 Northern Iowa Texas has Prince Ibeh, pronouced EE-bay. eBay gets $10,000 in free advertising every time he grabs a rebound.

UNI's Wyatt Lohaus is the song of former NBA center Brad Lohaus, but he is nearly a foot shorter.

Holy shit! Holy shit! Holy shit!

And you have the best game of the tournament ladies and gentlemen!
Both teams played well, almost would have liked to see five more minutes of this game.
But we will never forget that heave by Paul Jesperson. He Steph Curry'ed it. Amazing!

#6 Notre Dame vs. #11 Michigan

Michigan came out shooting hotter than a pistol. 7 of 14 from 3 in the first half.

Huge mistake by Notre Dame's Bonzie Colson, grabbing an offensive rebound with 41 seconds left and trying for the putback, off-balance, with two guys on him, instead of holding and kicking back out. Lack of game situation awareness. With a 3-point lead that late you don't need to score.

It didn't come back to bite them though. Great game by both teams, some impressive shooting, great passing, very entertaining game, but the 6 seed held this time.

#8 St. Joseph's vs. #9 Cincinnati

The Hawk will never die.

Kenyon Martin in the crowd.

Another good close game between evenly matched teams. Lots of driving, dishing and 3-point shooting.

Another amazing finish, but a little anticlimactic. It was still in his hand when the game ended. If he'd just flipped it up, it would have been an overtime. <.br>

Friday, March 18, 2016

Tournament Thoughts: Early Friday

#2 Villanova vs. #15 UNC-Asheville

Villanova playing like the top seed the purport to be. Asheville actually made some 3s and kept it close but then Nova buried them.

#7 Oregon State vs. #10 VCU

I've been waiting for this game. Because Oregon State has Gary Payton II and Stevie Thompson Jr.
And Stephen Thompson Sr., the former Syracuse star, is an assistant coach for the Beavers.

Gary Payton keeps a watchful eye from further away though, as a proud father and alumnus.

It looked like VCU was going to run away with this but then Oregon went on a 10-0 run in about two minutes to actually take the lead.

But then VCU forced some turnovers and made some 3s to put the game away.

Mo Allie-Cox is a monster. 6-foot-6, 260 el bees. If he were 3 or 4 inches taller he'd be a great NBA power forward in the Charles Oakley mold.

The Little Glove does look like a heck of a player though.

#4 California vs. #13 Hawaii

Crazy story about Cal assistant Yann Hufnagel who was fired this week for allegedly sexually harassing a reporter. She claims he wanted her to fuck him in exchange for access to the program and accurate information. She says he even gave her false stories as retribution once she rebuffed his advances. He basically admits he wanted to sleep with her but thought she was into him to and didn't harass her or retaliate.

California also has the son of a former NBA player.

Kameron Rooks in the son of former Dallas Mavericks center, Sean Rooks. I had so many of his Upper Deck rookie card.

Cal made a run but Hawaii would not go away. They kept forcing turnovers and Cal couldn't make shots.

The first real upset of the tournament so far.

#2 Michigan State vs. #15 Middle Tennessee

15-2 Middle Tennessee lead! What? Never would have predicted that. And even after Michigan State gathered themselves and got some baskets, the Blue Raiders kept playing.

Michigan State just incredibly sloppy with the ball and lazy on defense. They undermined their own runs with bad defense.

Every time Michigan State cut the lead Middle Tennessee came right back. Tremendous poise not rushing to shoot, but also not getting bad shots.

Amazing! This has to be the biggest upset in tournament history. All the other #2s that lost (Syracuse, Arizona, Iowa State, South Carolina, Georgetown) were not as big a favorite to make the Final Four and win it all than this Michigan State team was.

Tom Izzo is still a great coach, but this is a major blemish on his record.

How do you allow 90 points to a #15 seed? Wow!

This is great for Syracuse, increases their chances to win by about 100% or more, but this is really bad for my brackets. I don't think I had any without Michigan State in the Final Four and in most of them I had State winning it all.

#7 Iowa vs. #10 Temple

Definitely the right call on that controversial out of bounds play, went off the Temple player's leg.

Terrible late game execution by Iowa. They had so many empty possessions, missed free throws and then the dumbest foul in the history of the world. I wouldn't mind fouling a guy with the ball on the floor in a 3-point game, but once he shoots you get out of the way.

I love that play for a last-second shot. Drive hard to the basket get a shot up and crash for the rebound. Definitely got the shot off in the time but Woodbury definitely could have been called for a push in the back.

What a way to end a classic matchup of coaches named Fran.

#2 Oklahoma vs. #15 Cal State Bakersfield

There can't be two 15 over 2 seed upsets can there?

Oklahoma shut that down with a big run midway through the second half.

#5 Maryland vs. #12 South Dakota State

Maryland didn't want to be another a 5-12 victim.

Maryland is just one of those teams, lots of talent, don't always play well, but could be dangerous.

Great comeback by the Jackrabbits, but unfortunate that they couldn't even get a shot off with a chance to tie the game.

Tournament Thoughts: Syracuse vs. Dayton

First two shots are missed 3s by Cooney and Gbinije. Syracuse has no inside scoring, but they can't just settle for 3s. They need to drive and dish.

DaJuan Coleman can't catch a pass or make a layup. And he's often out of position defensively. The team might be better off without him next year.

The nets were too long? Who even makes extra long nets? For what purpose? And I see why that is less than optimal, but why would they have a major impact? A major distraction for shooters?

Billy wanted you all to see this:

Syracuse must make shots to win this game, or any game. They started off 1 for 9 and the 1 was a putback by Roberson. It took nearly 10 minutes to make a shot from beyond 2 feet.

Syracuse should not make this game a 3-point shooting contest because it's much easier to get open shots against this zone than Dayton's man defense.

Franklin Howard is now 1 for 16 on 3-point attempts this season.

Malachi Richardson was the best player in the first half. He kept the team in it when no one could make a shot.

Huge shot by Gbinije to give SU a 10-point lead with 15 minutes left.

Huge run of 3s to give SU a 26-5 start to the second half.

Interesting decision to leave Richardson in with 3 fouls and 16 minutes. The other option is Frank Howard who can't shoot, do I don't necessarily disagree with the decision. He ended up playing 8 more minutes before picking up his 4th, another dumb one, but he played a pick part of that huge SU run.

We entered the part of the game where Syracuse implements what I call the Jim Boeheim Memorial No Points Offense. Lots of teams do it, they try to bleed the clock, which is strategically sound, but they do it too well and end up getting bad shots. There has to be a balance between using time and still getting good shots.

Great game for Richardson, 21 points when he fouled out. Tyler Lydon was second with 14 points.

And Roberson was critical with 18 rebounds. One short of Derrick Coleman's school record for a tournament game, which game in the 1987 title game against Indiana.

Those three guys will all be back next year. Maybe there is hope for the future.

Two things I don't often get to say about Syracuse. They outrebounded their opponent by 20.
And they shot 87% from the line (20-23) while their opponent was 44% (9-19).

Huge victory to at least partially validate their inclusion to the tournament. But that's not important. What matters is beating Michigan State.

Final Score:
Syracuse 70 Dayton 51

Otto feels like break dancing

Tournament Thoughts: Late Thursday

#3 Miami vs. #14 Buffalo

Miami vs. Buffalo, reminds me of the AFC East.

Miami point guard Angel Rodriguez played for Kansas State in 2012 as a freshman in the tournament against Syracuse.

Buffalo just would not quit. Blake Hamilton with a big 3. Ian Eagle made a "Hamilton" joke at one point. I feel like most of the country has no fuckin clue what he was talking about.

But Miami eventually shut it down and won easily.

#1 North Carolina vs #16 Florida Gulf Coast

Some fools said that if a 1 is ever going to lose to a 16, this could be the time. I didn't think it was possible but FGCU certainly held their own.

UNC just has too much talent, especially up front to get upset by a 16.

#5 Indiana vs. #12 Chattanooga

I love Yogi Ferrell as a player. A great distributor.

His sister isn't as enamored with him as I am.
Her shirt said "Yogi isn't famous, he's my annoying brother."

#3 Utah #14 Fresno State

This was my upset special of the first round. 12-5s are so common they no longer count.

I always love seeing Larry Krystowiak roaming the sidelines for Utah.

Huge sequence that referees may have blown costing Fresno St. two points. With the score 47-40 Utah's Brandon Taylor is dribbling, loses his footing. Fresno State has the ball in frontcourt for an easy layup. Right before they lay it in they blew the whistle for a flagrant on Taylor who had grabbed the leg of a Bulldog while flat on his back. I think they're supposed to let the play conclude in that case, not sure of that rule however. But instead of the basket, 2 shots and the ball, they just got 2 shots and they ball, and missed one free throw.

Utah started the game leading 31-16. Fresno State came back with a 32-16 spurt to take a one-point lead.

But then Utah sealed it with a 20-5 run.

#6 Arizona vs. #11 Wichita St.

Wichita State is the best defensive team in the country. They play stifling D and on offense they give the ball to VanVleet and he dribbles around until he finds an open 3-point shooter. That's their game.

Sean Miller completely soaked through his shirt. Does this happen every game? Or is it particularly hot in there?

Arizona goes scoreless for 10 minutes, but trails by "only" 10. Nails 2 3-pointers and gets right back in the game.

Sean Miller got a warning about staying in the coach's box. I have complained about this for years. A rule that is NEVER enforced.

A lot of times conventional wisdom is wrong, especially on these NCAA tournament upsets. But this one looked a little too obvious. Poor Arizona. They didn't get screwed though, just unlucky. I do think Wichita State deserve some preferential treatment because of early-season injuries, but they weren't terribly underseeded, maybe a line or two. The committee cannot consider the past success of a program when seeding. And should not.

But this is only the beginning, a lot of people have them going a lot further, beating Miami and then maybe Villanova or the winner of Iowa vs Temple.

#4 Kentucky vs. #13 Stony Brook

This is not the Kentucky team many people thought they were picking. Pedigree means nothing when the entire team leaves for the pros every year. Tyler Ulis and Skal Labissiere are fine players but they are not Anthony Davis or Karl-Anthony Towns.
I picked them for the Final Four as a UNC alternative on one bracket, but I am little confidence in that pick.

#8 USC vs. #9 Providence

I hope everyone remembers USC coach Andy Enfield from his incredible run in the tournament with Florida Gulf Coast.

And his wife, Amanda Marcum Enfield, the former Maxim model.

Lewis Johnson drinking beet juice, hilarious!

Every time Providence needed a basket Kris Dunn was there. But he got in foul trouble and wasn't prudent enough with his aggressiveness, picking up a 4th with 7 minutes to go. Bur he nailed at least 3 3s when they needed them.

Wow, what a finish! USC just couldn't put them away, missed free throws, failure to grab loose balls. And then how do you let a guy slip under like that? Amazing play drawn up by Ed Cooley.

We're going to hear a lot of excuses about this Seton Hall loss: the altitude, yes Whitehead was sucking wind but Gonzaga (and all the other teams in Denver) are dealing with it too
fatigue after winning the Big East tournament, mostly bullshit, every team plays conference tournaments. It was 5 days ago
officiating, probably the most relevant, because it was uneven at times and the big men Seton Hall needed to defense Sabonnis and Wiltjer were in constant foul trouble

If anything, Seton Hall believed these excuses and felt and looked defeated very early on in this game.

But most likely Seton Hall just played an excellent team that was a bad matchup for them and they had a bad night, especially Whitehead, at the wrong time.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Tournament Thoughts - Early Thursday

#4 Duke vs. #13 UNC-Wilmington:

Duke's Brandon Ingram is 6-foot-9 and only 190 el bees. That is not a lot of el bees for someone that tall.

Speaking of el bees I wonder if Sports anchor at WECT (in Wilmington) John Smist is at this game.

It's a shame that Grayson Allen acted like such a dick, he really is a fine player.

Hard to say this about a Coach K team but Duke often looks disorganized on defense. Like they don't know where to be or aren't giving the effort needed to get there quickly. When Duke has been upset teams didn't slow the game down on them (Lehigh scored 75 in 2012, Mercer scored 78 in 2014).

They have a lot of similar sized athletes, but many of them overlap or completely lack a position.

I don't put too much stock in the motivational abilities of a fiery halftime speech, but Duke certainly came out playing tougher defense than they had in the first half.

Chase Jeter is the name of the child Mrs. Poop would have had if she had married her first choice.

UNCW on the other hand came out a little too aggressive. Their big man CJ Gettys fouled out with 10 minutes left, putting Duke in the bonus.

Great job by the Seahawks as they continued to make shots and put the pressure on Duke. But Duke responded, and when they were able to break they press they got a bunch of easy baskets because UNCW's rim protector had fouled out.
Tons of fouls called on both sides. The refs called it tight, which will surely be controversial, especially on some of the block/charges that were questionable.
#8 Texas Tech vs. #9 Butler: Good game between two good teams. Exactly what an 8-9 game should be.

Tech got an early lead. Butler fought back. When Butler made 3s, they had the advantage, when Tech was going inside they had the advantage. Butler just got hot from the outside late in the game.

Tubby Smith taking his 5th school to the touranemt: Tulsa, Georgia, Kentucky, Minnesota and now Texas Tech. He won at least 1 game with the first three, not Minnesota or Texas Tech yet.

#8 Colorado vs. #9 Connecticut:

UConn always seems to have these huge shot blockers who can't do much else. Hasheem Thabeet immediately comes to mind. Hopefully no one wastes the second pick in the NBA Draft on Amida Brimah.

It looked like Colorado was going to run away with it but they started getting sloppy with the ball and over about a minute stretch UConn cut a 9-point lead to 2. In all, it became a 24-7 run over 8 minutes.

And then it was UConn's turn to try to lose the game, but the Buffs ran out of time. I thought there was a missed foul when Colorado stole the ball down by 3, but it wasn't called and UConn stole it right back.

#4 Iowa State vs. #13 Iona
Iona tried to make a game of it but Iowa State just had too much size. And talented big men.

I really think the Cyclones are a sleeper Final Four team.

#5 Baylor vs. #12 Yale

Those heady Ivy Leaguers once again giving fits to a more athletic team from a big conference.

Interesting story surrounding Yale. Jack Montague was kicked off the team after being accused of sexual assault. He says it was consensual and the school is using him as a "whipping boy" to show they are tough on sexual assault cases.

The only thing more pompous than an Ivy League a capella group, except for an Ivy League a capella group called The Whiffenpoofs.

Yale has Trey Phills, the song of Bobby Phills, the former Hornets guard who got killed while racing his car with David Wesley. Trey was only 3.

With 15 minutes left, trailing by 3 Rico Geathers yelled at Taurean Waller-Prince and Prince shoved him.

First major upset. Another for the Ivies! Yale vs. Duke is a pretty intellectual matchup.

#1 Virginia vs. #16 Hampton

Typical 1 vs 16 matchup. The fact the Virginia won in a blowout doesn't say anything either way about what the team will do in the next game and down the road.

Crazy scene with Tony Bennett nearly passing out during the game. He said he was just dehydrated and that seems right. He seemed ok when he returned for the second half.

#1 Kansas vs. #16 Austin Peay

Similar story, nothing to see here, move along.

#5 Purdue vs. #12 Arkansas-Little Rock

What a comeback by Little Rock, amazing shot-making by Josh Hagans. Maybe a little Curry-inspired there, better to take a shot from a few feet farther out than to get closer and be closely guarded.

When people talk about the importance of guard play in the tournament they are referring to what happened at the end of this game. Purdue couldn't get the ball up the court and into their offense.

Terrible job by Little Rock wasting two possessions with a 1-point lead. You have to continue to attack! Every time they got a lead they killed the whole clock on their next possession and got lousy shots. They also committed two fouls with less than a minute left in overtime. You gotta be smarter than that!

He missed them both!

He fell!

Normally to be a great game you want to have good plays at the end of the game, but this was still exciting because of all the great shots that got them to this point.

What a great way to end the opening session.

12 seeds are 8-6 in the last 4 tournaments. And that includes zero upsets last year.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Upsets and Favorites

Before March Madness gets going I thought I would share some thoughts about the bracket, unfortunately all my thoughts seem to be taken by everyone else too. Kansas, UNC and Michigan State: Almost everyone is picking them for the Final Four and so am I.

Villanova and Virgina: Have recently been high seeds and always disappoint.

Oregon and Xavier: Good teams that are being overlooked because of their pedigree, or lack thereof, don't be surprised to see one in the Final Four.

Oklahoma: I really like this team but I am scared off by how much they rely on the 3-point shot. One bad game and you can lose to anyone.

Fourth Final Four team: If I choose Texas A&M I am going with the same four teams as Pres. Obama, which isn't bad politically, but it is bad strategically. So that leaves me with Duke, Baylor and Texas. I like Texas, but their best interior player, Cameron Ridley, is limited in how many minutes he can play. Believe it or not I'm going with Duke.

12 over 5 upsets: I do like Indiana and they suffered an upset on an unlucky shot in the Big Ten tournament. Baylor is playing Yale, and though Ivy teams do have a history of upsets and near-upsets, I don't think Yale has what it takes. That leaves South Dakota State over Maryland, and Arkansas-Little Rock over Purdue, so I am going to pick them both. UALR because they play a slow style that could breed an upset and SDSU because Maryland has a lot of talent but has terribly underachieved.

11 over 6 upsets: I like Texas and Notre Dame to advance, but I am picking against Seton Hall and Arizona. Seton Hall won a difficult conference and faces a Gonzaga team with a couple of good big men in Sabonis and Wiltjer. Arizona just got a tough draw vs. Wichita State. The Shockers got the 11 seed they deserved, maybe underseeded by a little, but they struggled with injuries so they're actually better than they appear. They play great defense (#1 in kenpom's AdjD) and have two great experienced player in Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker. And I actually have both those teams winning two games. Because...

14 over 3 upset: I am picking Fresno State to beat Utah. Utah is a 3-seed but ranked 28th by kenpom. But they were 13th in what the site classifies as luck. Their luck runs out.

13 over upset: Not picking any because they only one I kind of like is Iona vs Iowa State, but talented big men usually help stave off upsets.

10 or 7 over 2 upset: I am picking Iowa to knock off Villanova, setting up a matchup vs Wichita State in the Sweet 16 for the opportunity to play Kansas for a chance to go to the Final Four. You may remember the battle of Kansas from last year, when a big deal was made of the Jayhawks not playing the Shockers. Wichita State got them last year, the result could be different this time but I have Iowa disrupting it.

As for my pick to win it all. I am going with Tom Izzo and Denzel Valentine.

Song of the Week

"My House" - Flo Rida
This song has been the theme for college basketball all season.
It's the fourth major rap/hip-hop song to sample William Bell's "I Forgot to Be Your Lover".
We made the previous 3 a combined Song of the Week back in 2007.
And I recently learned Billy Idol did a version that is similar lyrically but not musically, called "To Be a Lover".

Monday, March 14, 2016

Pi Day Gets Even Better

When it comes to birthdays, especially in sports, December 30th is the undefeated, undisputed King of Birthdays with LeBron James, Tiger Woods and Sandy Koufax.
February 17th with Jim Brown and Michael Jordan is a close second.
But in the Poop house, it's all about March 14th.
Not only is it Pi Day, 3.14.
It is my all-time favorite player's birthday:

Kirby Puckett would be 55 were he still alive today.

It is also the birthday of Chase's favorite player:

Steph Curry turns 28 today.

And you haven't heard of her yet but you soon will, Simone Biles turns 19 today. She is likely going to be America's Sweetheart emerging from this year's Summer Olympics in Rio. She has won the all-around competition at the last 3 World Championships and is the prohibitive favorite to do so at the Olympics as well.

And if that's not enough, Albert Einstein was born on March 14, 1879, 137 years ago.

Paul Amon is Dead

The tugboat crewmember who died after the ship struck a barge and sank in the Hudson River early Saturday was identified as a Bayville man.

Emergency crews recovered the body of Paul Amon, 52, after the crash, near the Tappan Zee Bridge, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino said at a news conference.

Two others on the 90-foot tugboat, named The Specialist, were missing.

At a previous briefing, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the missing crewmembers were believed to be dead and state police were using sonar to pinpoint the location of the tug.

"You have three people who left for work, who aren't going to come home and that's what today is all about," Cuomo said. "Again, our thoughts and prayers are with the families."

Bracket Breakdown

Two big things are always debated right after the brackets are released:
The best teams to get in -- the #1 seeds -- and the worst teams to get in -- those final at-large berths.

I really have no problem with what they did at the top line, though I can quibble with Virginia over Michigan State, there really isn't much difference between 4 and 5 overall. They'll be able to settle their differences on the court. Michigan State beat UVa in the second round two straight years.

Some people have problems with Oregon, but it goes back to a misunderstanding about the strength of the Pac-12. They have 9 top 50 wins, 10 if you include a victory over #51 USC.

Now we get to the bubble teams. As usual the committee completely effed small conference teams that didn't win their conference tournaments. I like St. Bonaventure. They're in the 7th strongest league and finished 30th in RPI, making them the highest ranked team to get left out. And they have 3 Top 50 wins (St. Joseph's twice & Dayton). But surely they were hurt by losing to Davidson in the conference tournament and losing head-to-head to Syracuse earlier in the year.

A lot of people are also talking about Monmouth. They went 1-1 against the Top 50, beat Notre Dame, lost to Dayton and split against USC #51. And if you are hating on Syracuse for losing to #245 St. John's, how can you advocate for Monmouth, which lost to #222 Canisius, #214 Army & #228 Manhattan. But it would have been nice to see what their bench would have done deep in a close game.

St. Mary's another bubble team, beat Gonzaga twice (and nobody else), but not when it counted, as the Zags earned the WCC berth. And San Diego State, similar story, one big win (California) and a bunch of losses.

Granted Syracuse had a lot more chances against top teams and that's the rub of small conference teams versus the big boys.

But I think Vanderbilt might have an even worse resume than the Orange, 10 spots better in the RPI but only 2-7 against the top 50.

The committee says Tulsa was the last team in, and would have gotten bumped had Memphis earned an automatic bid, but with 4 top 50 wins, I still think they have a better resume than Vanderbilt.

Others are also clowning on Michigan, but at 21-12, 11 of their losses came against top-50 teams.

Overall, I am looking forward to the tournament as always. I don't think there is a clear favorite has there recently has been, but I also don't buy the hype that there are 15-20 teams that can win it all. I'm quite certain the champion is coming off the top 2 lines, but I also think there are upsets that will happen as well.

And March will always be madness.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Committee Does Boeheim a Favor

Syracuse made the tournament by the skin of their collective teeth (though not one of the last four at-large team) despite being the lowest rated team in the RPI (#72) to ever receive an at-large berth.
I don't agree with the decision and thought a bunch of horrible losses (St. John's & Georgetown especially and Clemson too) would have kept the Orange out. Especially because they lost 5 of their last 6 games including what I thought were play-in games against Florida State and Pittsburgh.
But as usual the committee chose to punish mid-major teams that didn't win their conference tournaments.
I'll assess that in another post and I'll conclude here with two things that worked in Syracuse's favor.
Possibly legitimate: Viewing the 4-5 stretch without Boeheim as if they'd lost a player to injury. With him they were 14-8, and were maybe given a little leeway on that regard.
The committee chairman says this was not a factor.
Very legitimate: Syracuse was 5-6 against the RPI top-50. That includes wins over Texas A&M, UConn, St. Bonaventure, Notre Dame & Duke. Obviously that had a serious weighting with the committee.

I feel happy that Trevor Cooney and Michael Gbinije get a chance to play in the tournament in their senior seasons.